Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Cost of Stimulus

From FoxNews:
As President Obama prepares to tie a bow on U.S. combat operations in Iraq, Congressional Budget Office numbers show that the total cost of the eight-year war was less than the stimulus bill passed by the Democratic-led Congress in 2009.

According to CBO numbers in its Budget and Economic Outlook published this month, the cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom was $709 billion for military and related activities, including training of Iraqi forces and diplomatic operations.

The projected cost of the stimulus, which passed in February 2009, and is expected to have a shelf life of two years, was $862 billion.

Counter-Cultural Manifesto

This is an except from an excellent lecture by Archbishop Charles Chaput, given during a recent visit to Slovakia. It is entitled "Living Within the Truth: Religious Liberty and Catholic Mission in the New Order of the World."
Relativism is now the civil religion and public philosophy of the West. Again, the arguments made for this viewpoint can seem persuasive. Given the pluralism of the modern world, it might seem to make sense that society should want to affirm that no one individual or group has a monopoly on truth; that what one person considers to be good and desirable another may not; and that all cultures and religions should be respected as equally valid.

In practice, however, we see that without a belief in fixed moral principles and transcendent truths, our political institutions and language become instruments in the service of a new barbarism. In the name of tolerance we come to tolerate the cruelest intolerance; respect for other cultures comes to dictate disparagement of our own; the teaching of “live and let live” justifies the strong living at the expense of the weak.

This diagnosis helps us understand one of the foundational injustices in the West today -- the crime of abortion.

Read the rest of the talk here.

Falling Support

From Politico:
A new poll shows that public support for health care reform dropped sharply in August – a dagger in Democrats’ hopes that their landmark legislation will help them in November’s midterm.

The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll has support for the bill dropping seven percentage points in August – down to 43 percent – while opposition rose 10 points to 45 percent. That’s the weakest showing since May – and a far cry from the bump proponents had hoped to see as some of the law’s more consumer-friendly provisions kick in.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Proximity of Disingenuousness

Writing for National Review Online, Victor Davis Hanson ticks off a blistering series of unflattering traits persistently afflicting this administration. One stood out above the rest.
Disingenuousness. There is also a growing belief that the Obama administration is advancing an agenda that it cannot be fully candid about, because that agenda does not command broad support. As a result, we are habitually asked to believe that what administration appointees or supporters say is not what they really mean, or at least was taken out of context.

Justice Sotomayor did not really mean that wise Latinas make better judges than white males. Van Jones did not really mean that George W. Bush was in on 9/11, or that white youths are more likely to be mass murderers, or that whites are chronic polluters of the ghetto. Eric Holder no more meant that Americans are cowards than one of Anita Dunn’s heroes really is the mass-murdering Mao. We should not believe that the top priority of the head of NASA is to advance Islamic outreach, or that the president himself thinks that police routinely act stupidly, stereotype, or arrest innocent people on their way to get their kids some ice cream. Imam Rauf did not really say that we created bin Laden, or that we kill more innocent Muslims than al-Qaeda kills innocent non-Muslims.

All this dissimulation started with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose mistake was not saying the outrageous things he said — Mr. Obama and the compliant media had contextualized his corpus of hate well enough — but finally insulting the media at the National Press Club. The former was seen as a misdemeanor; the latter proved a felony.

Do Obama supporters, then, reveal their true beliefs only in gaffes and unguarded moments, while filling their official statements and communiqués with pretense?

Nevada's Chance

Sharron Angle takes aim at Harry Reid, Pelosi and Obama in this sharp commercial:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Question of Trust

A new Rasmussen poll demonstrates how quickly political fortunes can change.
Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on all 10 of the important issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports.

The GOP has consistently been trusted on most issues for months now, but in July they held the lead on only nine of the key issues.

Republicans lead Democrats 47% to 39% on the economy, which remains the most important issue to voters. Those numbers are nearly identical to those found in June. Republicans have held the advantage on the economy since May of last year.

But for the first time in months, Republicans now hold a slight edge on the issues of government ethics and corruption, 40% to 38%. Voters have been mostly undecided for the past several months on which party to trust more on this issue, but Democrats have held small leads since February. Still, more than one-in-five voters (22%) are still not sure which party to trust more on ethics issues.

Hanging in the Balance

From the Associated Press:
Could Democrats be in danger of losing majority control of the Senate in November? A new analysis from FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver suggests that the GOP is gaining momentum heading into the midterm elections, putting at least six or seven Democratic Senate seats at serious risk.

"The Democrats now have an approximately 20 percent chance of losing 10 or more seats in the Senate, according to the model, which would cost them control of the chamber unless Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, who is running for the Senate as an independent, both wins his race and decides to caucus with them," Silver writes in the New York Times.

That analysis directly contradicts what some Republican leaders have said about the November races. All summer, Sen. John Cornyn, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has been downplaying the GOP's chance at taking the majority this fall. Just last week, Cornyn told "Fox News Sunday" that the GOP probably won't make the gains it needs until 2012. "If everything goes our way, I can see a pathway there," Cornyn allowed. "Realistically, I think it'll be a two-cycle effort."

But Democrats in several high-profile races around the country have lost ground against their GOP opponents this summer. They include Barbara Boxer in California and Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada.

Desert Mirage


George Will offers readers his characteristically sobering, yet refreshingly realistic analysis of the Mideast peace talks. From The Washington Post:
The biggest threat to peace might be the peace process -- or, more precisely, the illusion that there is one. The mirage becomes the reason for maintaining its imaginary "momentum" by extorting concessions from Israel, the only party susceptible to U.S. pressure. Israel is, however, decreasingly susceptible. In one month, history will recycle when the partial 10-month moratorium on Israeli construction on the West Bank expires. Resumption of construction -- even here, in the capital, which was not included in the moratorium -- will be denounced by a fiction, "the international community," as a threat to another fiction, "the peace process."

Another Catholic University to Host Obama

Serious Catholics are once again voicing outrage that the president will be given a venue at Xavier University to address the nation in New Orleans on the fifth anniversary of Katrina. Really, this whole "Obama (or some other high-profile, pro-abortion politico) to speak at Catholic university" routine is getting old. I understand the disappointment, but is anyone really surprised that yet another "Catholic" institution of higher learning is selling its soul for the sake of garnering national attention?

At least the local bishop will not attend the speech in New Orleans. Still, why is this spectacle being tolerated by the bishop? It goes without saying that he should not attend, but what about further ramifications for Xavier's betrayal of its Catholic identity? It could be that, as a Jesuit university, Xavier reserves a particular degree of autonomy from the direct jurisdiction of the local bishop. Who knows. But all too often, bishops in this nation feel that if they just avoid the awkward moments, the flames of anger will die off and we can all return to the status quo ante. But the status quo regarding so many of our so-called Catholic schools is a terrible mess.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Stem-Cell Summary

Here's a helpful piece featured on National Review Online which provides key background information to yesterday's court ruling that put a freeze on embryonic stem-cell research.
Monday’s decision from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia halting all federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research is a surprising milestone in the decade-long debate over this morally fraught field — and another opportunity to make the case that medical research must proceed hand-in-hand with respect for life and human dignity.

All Talk

From the the pen of John Bolton, appearing in the New York Daily News:
Secretary of State Clinton's announcement last week that direct Israeli-Palestinian talks will recommence next month poses considerable risk for the United States. The odds are high these negotiations will fail. If so, and combined with U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq, President Obama's commitment to begin withdrawing NATO forces from Afghanistan next summer and Iran's continuing progress toward nuclear weapons, failure means that Washington's Middle East influence will decline.

The conventional wisdom is that it never hurts to talk, and that the United States loses nothing by pursuing an active "peace process," even without concrete results. This is badly wrong, because negotiations are never cost-free. In fact, diplomacy, like all human activity, has both costs and benefits, and the issue in any specific case is whether the benefits of negotiating outweigh the risks. And for Obama, acting as a facilitator or mediator, the key risk is that failure brings the perception of weakness and incompetence.

Whether it's the economy or international affairs we're talking about, "weakness and incompetence" are the defining characteristics of this administration.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Injunction

How we all began

Welcome news, from Reuters:
(Reuters) - A U.S. district court issued a preliminary injunction on Monday stopping federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, in a slap to the Obama administration's new guidelines on the sensitive issue.

The court ruled in favor of a suit filed in June by researchers who said human embryonic stem cell research involved the destruction of human embryos.

Judge Royce Lamberth granted the injunction after finding the lawsuit would likely succeed because the guidelines violated law banning the use of federal funds to destroy human embryos.

"(Embryonic stem cell) research is clearly research in which an embryo is destroyed," Lamberth wrote in a 15-page ruling. The Obama administration could appeal his decision or try to rewrite the guidelines to comply with U.S. law.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What About Re-Election?

Does President Obama actually want to serve out two terms in office? It's a provocative question, to be sure. Here's a thought-provoking piece from the Telegraph that plays around with an idea that is counterintuitive:
There are few Americans who see themselves as bigger than the presidency but Obama could well be one of them. In 2008, Obama showed little appetite for the down-and-dirty aspects of political campaigning.

When things got tough against Hillary Clinton, he all but conceded the final Democratic primaries and let the clock run out. Against John McCain, he developed a campaign plan and refused to deviate from it. McCain was level in the polls when the US economy imploded, handing Obama a relatively comfortable victory.

Obama is the first black American president, an established author, multi-millionaire and acclaimed figure beyond American shores.

It seems highly unlikely that Obama will decide not to run in 2012. But he might well be calculating that a embarking post-presidential role as the leading global thinker in the post-American world as a Republican successor enters office is more attractive than being sullied by the political compromises and manoeuvrings necessary to win.

Obama is post-American in every respect, and he definitely sees himself as bigger than the presidency, not to mention America itself, so in that regard, the commentary has a point. But to suggest that Obama would prefer be a one-term president is a bit of a stretch if you ask me, since that would necessitate him losing to someone else, which is something his pride is incapable of accepting.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bad Review for NR

I'm not at all thrilled with the new design for National Review Online. It's way too busy: several layers of menu bars running horizontally across the top of the screen with varying font sizes, then a vertical list of stories cutting down the middle of the page with more options, wedged in-between the main article on one side and advertisements on the other. The eyes cannot easily navigate this dizzying website.

Editors, PLEASE change this!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Taking the Easy Route

Charles Krauthammer, writing for National Review Online:
It takes no courage whatsoever to bask in the applause of a Muslim audience as you promise to stand stoutly for their right to build a mosque, giving the unmistakable impression that you endorse the idea. What does take courage is to then respectfully ask that audience to reflect upon the wisdom of the project and consider whether the imam’s alleged goal of interfaith understanding might not be better achieved by accepting the New York governor’s offer to help find another site.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Different Kind of American President

Thomas Sowell presents some good questions and makes some good points in his latest piece appearing in National Review Online:
...the most dangerous and most lasting damage that this administration has done to this nation has been in the international jungle, where it is alienating our longtime allies, dismantling our credibility by reneging on our commitments to putting up a missile shield in Eastern Europe, and — above all — doing nothing meaningful to stop the leading terror-sponsoring nation in the world, Iran, from getting nuclear weapons...

How much does our own administration in Washington care about the American people and their national security? This is not a question you would usually have to ask about an administration of either party. But this is not like any other administration, and Barack Obama is unlike any other president of the United States in having come from a background of decades of associations and alliances with people who resent this country and its people.

The Long List of Obama's "Teachable Moments"

From Victor Davis Hanson, writing for National Review Online:
We have learned that President Obama has a bad habit of impugning the motives of those with whom he disagrees. In the Gates case, he rushed to condemn Crowley and the police. Arizonans were not to be seen as desperate citizens trying to enforce federal law, but instead derided as bigots who harass minorities when they go out to get ice cream. And in the mosque case, the president disingenuously implied that opponents of a Ground Zero mosque wanted to deny the legal right of Muslims to build religious centers.

Note that all three issues poll badly for the president, and belie his former image as a conciliator and healer.

Again, why does Obama go off message to sermonize about these seemingly minor things that so energize his opposition and make life difficult for his fellow Democrats?

... as an Ivy League–trained lawyer and former Chicago community organizer, Obama embraces an overarching race/class/gender critique of the United States; the story of America is not so much about an exceptionally independent and prosperous people, a unique Constitution or a vibrant national past in promoting global freedom, but about how the majority oppressed various groups. Clearly, these local instances of purported grievances have excited the president — and almost automatically prompt his customary but unproven declarations that the majority or establishment in each case is biased or unfair.

And that is a big part of what distinguishes conservatives like Reagan from liberals like Obama.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sharing a Church?

Muslims in Spain are (again) calling for the "sharing" of the former mosque, now Cathedral, in Cordoba. The local bishop is to be applauded for immediately slapping down that ludicrous suggestion. How would the Muslim world react if we asked to share Hagia Sophia in Istanbul? They are quick to employ all the familiar, Western rhetoric about tolerance and respect when they are in the minority. What happens when the tables have turned?

Where will CNN feature in-depth stories on the long, violent history of Muslim conquests of Christian lands, spreading from Spain and North Africa, and all the way to Eastern Europe?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Obama: Apologist for Islam

David Pryce-Jones offers a sharp analysis of Obama, Islam and the ground-zero mosque. From National Review Online:
President Obama’s speech on the occasion of the Ramadan dinner in the White House presents difficulties that are becoming his trademark. Why does he find it necessary to be an apologist for Islam? He started it in his speech in Cairo a couple of years back, which also had elements that were downright creepy. Now he justifies the building of a mosque at Ground Zero because Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else. This is obviously true, but a mosque in this site of mass murder committed by Muslims is not about freedom of worship, it is a statement of supremacy and conquest. Non-Muslims are not allowed any place of worship in Saudi Arabia, and they cannot even approach within miles of the cities of Medina and Mecca. Imagine the outcry if Muslims were prevented entering, say, St Peter’s or Westminster Abbey. Yet Obama makes no mention of reciprocity, he passes over the insult and the abuse. Besides, there are plenty of instances when people do have a legal right for something but not the moral right to proceed, so that it is wise to abstain. If this mosque goes ahead, it will prove a constant source of division.

Deliberate Provocation

Two Muslims speak honestly about the planned construction of a mosque near ground-zero. From the Ottawa Citizen:
New York currently boasts at least 30 mosques so it's not as if there is pressing need to find space for worshippers. The fact we Muslims know the idea behind the Ground Zero mosque is meant to be a deliberate provocation to thumb our noses at the infidel. The proposal has been made in bad faith and in Islamic parlance, such an act is referred to as "Fitna," meaning "mischief-making" that is clearly forbidden in the Koran.

The Koran commands Muslims to, "Be considerate when you debate with the People of the Book" -- i.e., Jews and Christians. Building an exclusive place of worship for Muslims at the place where Muslims killed thousands of New Yorkers is not being considerate or sensitive, it is undoubtedly an act of "fitna"

So what gives Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the "Cordoba Initiative" and his cohorts the misplaced idea that they will increase tolerance for Muslims by brazenly displaying their own intolerance in this case?

Do they not understand that building a mosque at Ground Zero is equivalent to permitting a Serbian Orthodox church near the killing fields of Srebrenica where 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered?

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Ground-Zero Mosque

Charles Krauthammer, writing for National Review Online, discusses the implications of erecting a mosque near the site of the 9-11 massacre.
Location matters. Especially this location. Ground Zero is the site of the greatest mass murder in American history — perpetrated by Muslims of a particular Islamist orthodoxy in whose cause they died and in whose name they killed.

Of course that strain represents only a minority of Muslims. Islam is no more intrinsically Islamist than present-day Germany is Nazi — yet despite contemporary Germany’s innocence, no German of good will would even think of proposing a German cultural center at, say, Treblinka.

Which makes you wonder about the good will behind Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s proposal. This is a man who has called U.S. policy “an accessory to the crime” of 9/11 and, when recently asked whether Hamas is a terrorist organization, replied, “I’m not a politician. . . . The issue of terrorism is a very complex question.”

America is a free country where you can build whatever you want — but not anywhere. That’s why we have zoning laws. No liquor store near a school, no strip malls where they offend local sensibilities, and, if your house doesn’t meet community architectural codes, you cannot build at all.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

10 Reasons Why Obama Is a Failure

Don't take my word for it (I could come up with 10X as many reasons), writing for the Telegraph, Nile Gardiner ticks off a litany of valid grievances against this bumbling regime.

Numbers 8 and 10 stand out as my top picks:
8. US foreign policy is an embarrassing mess under the Obama administration

It is hard to think of a single foreign policy success for the Obama administration, but there have been plenty of missteps which have weakened American global power as well as the standing of the United States. The surrender to Moscow on Third Site missile defence, the failure to aggressively stand up to Iran’s nuclear programme, the decision to side with ousted Marxists in Honduras, the slap in the face for Great Britain over the Falklands, have all contributed to the image of a US administration completely out of its depth in international affairs. The Obama administration’s high risk strategy of appeasing America’s enemies while kicking traditional US allies has only succeeded in weakening the United States while strengthening her adversaries.

10. Obama doesn’t believe in American greatness

Barack Obama has made it clear that he doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism, and has made apologising for his country into an art form. In a speech to the United Nations last September he stated that “no one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold.” It is difficult to see how a US president who holds these views and does not even accept America’s greatness in history can actually lead the world’s only superpower with force and conviction.

There is a distinctly Titanic-like feel to the Obama presidency and it’s not hard to see why. The most left-wing president in modern American history has tried to force a highly interventionist, government-driven agenda that runs counter to the principles of free enterprise, individual freedom, and limited government that have made the United States the greatest power in the world, and the freest nation on earth.

This, combined with weak leadership both at home and abroad against the backdrop of tremendous economic uncertainty in an increasingly dangerous world, has contributed to a spectacular political collapse for a president once thought to be invincible. America at its core remains a deeply conservative nation, which cherishes its traditions and founding principles. President Obama is increasingly out of step with the American people, by advancing policies that undermine the United States as a global power, while undercutting America’s deep-seated love for freedom.

Obama's Fading Star

Here's an excellent piece by Fouad Ajami, appearing in The Wall Street Journal, entitled The Obsolescence of Barack Obama:
It was canonical to this administration and its functionaries that they were handed a broken nation, that it was theirs to repair, that it was theirs to tax and reshape to their preferences. Yet there was, in 1980, after another landmark election, a leader who had stepped forth in a time of "malaise" at home and weakness abroad: Ronald Reagan. His program was different from Mr. Obama's. His faith in the country was boundless. What he sought was to restore the nation's faith in itself, in its political and economic vitality.

Big as Reagan's mandate was, in two elections, the man was never bigger than his country. There was never narcissism or a bloated sense of personal destiny in him. He gloried in the country, and drew sustenance from its heroic deeds and its capacity for recovery. No political class rode with him to power anxious to lay its hands on the nation's treasure, eager to supplant the forces of the market with its own economic preferences...

It is in the nature of charisma that it rises out of thin air, out of need and distress, and then dissipates when the magic fails. The country has had its fill with a scapegoating that knows no end from a president who had vowed to break with recriminations and partisanship. The magic of 2008 can't be recreated, and good riddance to it. Slowly, the nation has recovered its poise. There is a widespread sense of unstated embarrassment that a political majority, if only for a moment, fell for the promise of an untested redeemer—a belief alien to the temperament of this so practical and sober a nation.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Failed State

From the Washington Examiner:
It's no coincidence that Christina Romer, chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, announced her retirement the day before Friday's brutal unemployment report. With 131,000 more jobs lost in July, and downward revisions of 97,000 for the previous two months, it's easy to see why she would start looking for the exits.

Romer is best known for drafting the February 2009 report "The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan," which the White House used as an ammunition belt in the fight to gain passage of its $862 billion economic stimulus bill (the actual cost of which exceeds $1 trillion when interest is included). Romer predicted that following passage of the stimulus bill, unemployment would plateau below 8 percent last fall and by this month register at 7 percent. That's not close enough for government work, as unemployment stands at 9.5 percent today. It would be higher except that hundreds of thousands of frustrated job seekers have given up looking for new jobs and dropped out of the labor force.

Predictably, the stimulus bill has proven to be an extraordinary waste of borrowed money that has failed to create jobs, generate economic growth or do much of anything other than line the pockets of White House political allies. That and give $308 million in subsidies to BP before the Gulf oil spill disaster, and subsidize a study on what happens when monkeys snort coke.

Coming Soon

Monday, August 09, 2010

Senate Up for Grabs?

It's a long shot apparently, but if tensions continue to boil across America...

An interesting analysis from Politico:
It’s a hope so audacious that few Republicans will even acknowledge it out loud: the possibility that the balance of power in the Senate might be up for grabs in November. The GOP would have to take 10 seats, knocking off virtually every targeted Democratic incumbent and sweeping the open seats held by both parties.

A new poll conducted for American Crossroads, the independent conservative group founded by Karl Rove and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, suggests the 2010 landscape might be just volatile enough to give Republicans at least a chance at that prize.

The survey, which gauged voter sentiment in 13 of the states with the country’s most competitive Senate races, showed Republican Senate candidates averaging a high single-digit lead over their Democratic opponents, offering the same snapshot of an angry, uneasy electorate shown in poll after poll this year.

The Price of Lavishness

Worth a read, from the Telegraph:
What the great French historian Alexis de Tocqueville would make of today’s Obama administration were he alive today is anyone’s guess. But I would wager that the author of L’Ancien Régime and Democracy in America would be less than impressed with the extravagance and arrogance on display among the White House elites that rule America as though they had been handed some divine right to govern with impunity.

It is the kind of impunity that has been highlighted on the world stage this week by Michelle Obama’s hugely costly trip to Spain, which has prompted a New York Post columnist Andrea Tantaros to dub the First Lady a contemporary Marie Antoinette. As The Telegraph reports, while the Obamas are covering their own vacation expenses such as accommodation, the trip may cost US taxpayers as much as $375,000 in terms of secret service security and flight costs on Air Force Two.

The timing of this lavish European vacation could not have come at a worse moment, when unemployment in America stands at 10 percent, and large numbers of Americans are fighting to survive financially in the wake of the global economic downturn. It sends a message of indifference, even contempt, for the millions of Americans who are struggling just to feed their families on a daily basis and pay the mortgage, while the size of the national debt balloons to Greek-style proportions
.

The First Lady’s ill-conceived trip to Marbella and the complete disregard for public opinion and concerns over excessive government spending is symbolic of a far wider problem with the Obama presidency – the overarching disdain for the principles of limited government, individual liberty and free enterprise that have built the United States over the course of nearly two and a half centuries into the most powerful and free nation on earth.

Are people starting to catch on to this president and his ilk yet?


November, oh November.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The "Moderate" Mosque in NY

In an attempt to pacify the scads of protesters who, for some inexplicable reason, take issue with plans to erect a huge mosque near the precipice of the hallowed 9-11 crater, the aptly named Cordoba Initiative is being billed as a center for moderate Muslim voices in the heart of New York. However, as Andrew McCarthy outlines in his piece appearing in National Review, this line has been used before to describe other mosques (namely, the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Virginia) which turned out to be, well, not so moderate after all.
Dar al-Hijrah (which means “Land of Migration”) was presented as the moderate face of Islam in America — exactly what Bloomberg and other government officials assure us the Ground Zero mosque will become. Prominently featured was Johari Abdul-Malik, Dar’s soft-spoken “director of outreach,” who positively glowed as he spoke about his community’s growth.

There were, however, a few lines that Foggy Bottom evidently decided were best left on the cutting room floor. Like imam Abdul-Malik’s call for “sabotage” terrorist attacks against Israel. As he put it in 2001:

I am gonna teach you now. You can blow up bridges, but you cannot kill people who are innocent on their way to work. You can blow up power supplies . . . the water supply, you can do all forms of sabotage and let the world know that we are doing it like this because they have a respect for the lives of innocent people.

Yes, what better way to show respect! Of course, omitting this speech spared State the embarrassment of explaining that it was given at a conference hosted by the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP). IAP was the Muslim Brotherhood–created headquarters of U.S. support for Hamas. Incidentally, a top IAP official, Nihad Awad, has become one of the Ground Zero mosque’s most visible supporters. Awad also happens to be a founder of the Council on American Islamic Relations, another Muslim Brotherhood creation. CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator by the Justice Department in the Holy Land Foundation case, in which several defendants were convicted for providing Hamas with millions of dollars in funding.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Roughing It

From the New York Daily News, Andrea Tantaros comments on Michelle Obama's quaint Spanish getaway.
Sacrifice is something that many Americans are becoming all too familiar with during this economic downturn. It was a key theme in President Obama's inaugural address to the nation, and he's referenced it numerous times when lecturing the country on how to get back on its feet.

But while most of the country is pinching pennies and downsizing summer sojourns - or forgoing them altogether - the Obamas don't seem to be heeding their own advice. While many of us are struggling, the First Lady is spending the next few days in a five-star hotel on the chic Costa del Sol in southern Spain with 40 of her "closest friends." According to CNN, the group is expected to occupy 60 to 70 rooms, more than a third of the lodgings at the 160-room resort. Not exactly what one would call cutting back in troubled times.

Reports are calling the lodgings of Obama's Spanish fiesta, the Hotel Villa Padierna in Marbella, "luxurious," "posh" and "a millionaires' playground." Estimated room rate per night? Up to a staggering $2,500. Method of transportation? Air Force Two.

To be clear, what the Obamas do with their money is one thing; what they do with ours is another. Transporting and housing the estimated 70 Secret Service agents who will flank the material girl will cost the taxpayers a pretty penny.

1 Judge vs. 7 Million Voters



I'm not an enthusiast when it comes to citing Thomas Jefferson, especially when he opines on matters of religion. But within the narrow confines of the judiciary, he made some incredibly prescient observations. His thoughts are all the more relevant in light of yesterday's utterly insane ruling coming out of California that swept Proposition 8 aside (at least for now).
But the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional, and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action, but for the legislature and executive also, in their spheres, would make the judiciary a despotic branch. — Letter to Mrs. John Adams, Nov. 1804

If [as the Federalists say] “the judiciary is the last resort in relation to the other departments of the government,” … , then indeed is our Constitution a complete felo de so. … The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they may please. It should be remembered, as an axiom of eternal truth in politics, that whatever power in any government is independent, is absolute also; in theory only, at first, while the spirit of the people is up, but in practice, as fast as that relaxes. Independence can be trusted nowhere but with the people in mass. They are inherently independent of all but moral law … — Letter to Judge Spencer Roane, Nov. 1819

You seem to consider the judges the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges … and their power [are] the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and are not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves … . When the legislative or executive functionaries act unconstitutionally, they are responsible to the people in their elective capacity. The exemption of the judges from that is quite dangerous enough. I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves. …. — Letter to Mr. Jarvis, Sept, 1820

The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working underground to undermine our Constitution from a co-ordinate of a general and special government to a general supreme one alone. This will lay all things at their feet. … I will say, that “against this every man should raise his voice,” and, more, should uplift his arm … — Letter to Thomas Ritchie, Sept. 1820

I fear, dear Sir, we are now in such another crisis [as when the Alien and Sedition Laws were enacted], with this difference only, that the judiciary branch is alone and single-handed in the present assaults on the Constitution. But its assaults are more sure and deadly, as from an agent seemingly passive and unassuming. — Letter to Mr. Nicholas, Dec. 1821

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A Question of Limits

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Betsy McCaughey discusses the recent court ruling in Virginia questioning the constitutionality of ObamaCare's mandate to purchase health insurance.
If mandatory insurance is declared unconstitutional, the entire health law could collapse like a house of cards. Most complex legislation states that if one part of the law is struck down, other parts remain enforceable. But authors of ObamaCare chose to omit that clause, suggesting that the health overhaul won't work without mandatory insurance.

The law's defenders say the requirement that everyone purchase health insurance will solve a national problem by reducing the number of uninsured and spreading the cost of care over a larger insurance pool.

Critics say that the requirement tramples the Constitution. Twenty-one states and several individuals are already suing to overturn it. Virginia went one step further, enacting a law that makes it illegal to require any resident to purchase health insurance. The Virginia measure won solid support from both Republican and Democratic state legislators. Despite what Mrs. Pelosi tried to suggest, questioning the constitutionality of ObamaCare is not partisan posturing. A fundamental principle is at stake.

On July 1, before a packed courtroom, attorneys for the state of Virginia argued that if the federal government can require you to buy insurance, it could also force you to buy any product to solve any national problem: a new GM car to bolster Detroit, or stocks to prop up Wall Street.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Broken Window Fallacy

A lesson in basic economics that is badly needed today:

Exporting Terror

Daniel Pipes comments on the troubling trend of radical Islamic cells operating from within Great Britain and explains why this should deeply worry Americans. From National Review Online:
...London’s Centre for Social Cohesion, run by the formidable Douglas Murray, has just published a 535-page opus, Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections, written by Robin Simcox, Hannah Stuart, and Houriya Ahmed. It consists mainly of detailed biographical information on two sorts of perpetrators of what it calls “Islamism related offences,” or IROs — that is to say, incidents where evidence points to Islamist beliefs as the primary motivator.

One listing contains information on the 127 individuals convicted of IROs or suicides in IROs within Britain; the other provides biographies on 88 individuals with connections to Britain who engaged in IROs elsewhere in the world. The study covers eleven years, 1999 through 2009.

Domestic British terrorists display a dismaying pattern of normality. They are predominantly young (mean age 26) and male (96 percent). Nearly half come from a South Asian background. Of those whose educational backgrounds are known, most attended university. Of those whose occupations are known, most have jobs or study full time. Two-thirds of them are British nationals, two-thirds have no links to proscribed terrorist organizations, and two-thirds never went abroad to attend terrorist training camps.

Monday, August 02, 2010

And so it begins

From Politico:
In the first substantive legal ruling on President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, a federal judge has rejected the Justice Department’s request to dismiss a lawsuit from Virginia’s state government challenging the reform’s requirement that individuals purchase health insurance.

U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson ruled that enough factual issues were in dispute in the case to allow the suit, brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, to go forward. At issue is whether the insurance mandate included in the reform exceeds the federal government’s authority under the Constitution — in particular, whether Congress’s ability to regulate commerce allows the federal government to penalize those who decline to buy health insurance...

“Unquestionably, this regulation radically changes the landscape of health insurance coverage in America,” Hudson wrote in a 32-page decision filed Monday morning. “Never before has the Commerce Clause … been extended this far.”

Hudson said there was no clear legal precedent allowing the federal government to impose such a rule, even under Congress’s power to require individuals to pay taxes. However, he also conceded there was no clear precedent to the contrary.

It's going to get very interesting.