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December 21, 2009

Remember the good old days when the national debt was only $8 trillion?

Actually, that was only four years ago.  In the years since, the acknowledged* debt has increased 50%, thanks mostly to the drunken spending binge in which Congress has engaged in the past year or so, with the encouragement of both presidents Bush and Obama (although Bush’s original TARP fund now seems quaint when compared with the spending initiatives of the Obama administration).

The Bureau of the Public Debt allows you to look up the acknowledged national debt for any given date in recent years.  At the moment I took this screenshot, the debt stood at TWELVE TRILLION, ninety-seven billion, nine hundred eighty-three million, one hundred sixty-one thousand, three hundred sixty-six dollars.  And sixty-five cents.

I say “acknowledged” national debt because the government holds substantial amounts of additional debt that are “off the books”.  For example, mandated future payouts in programs like Social Security and Medicare ought to be included because the government is supposedly committed to paying them, but the government doesn’t count these unfunded liabilities as debt until they have to borrow cash to pay them out. 

So how much would these unfunded liabilities add to the debt of the US government?  Richard W. Fisher, who heads up the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, had this to say in May of 2008:

Add together the unfunded liabilities from Medicare and Social Security, and it comes to $99.2 trillion over the infinite horizon. Traditional Medicare composes about 69 percent, the new drug benefit roughly 17 percent and Social Security the remaining 14 percent.

Now there’s a number that I doubt any of us will ever be able to get our minds around.  We could represent it with a stack of crisp, newly-printed dollar bills whose height is 25 times the distance from the earth to the moon (extending the calculation done here), but still, I don’t think anyone can truly appreciate how staggeringly-large that number is.

Just wait until the costs of Obama’s health care plan get added to the total (assuming it passes).  And then there’s Obama’s climate change agenda.  And then there’s the next economic stimulus.  And then there’s…….

Quick Quote: Founder Patrick Henry speaks out on ObamaCare

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.
-- Patrick Henry
In fairness, the federal government as a whole has been guilty of this inversion of the Constitution’s purpose for several generations.  It was bad enough when the Bush administration gave us things like the Medicare Prescription entitlement. It’s just that the current administration has ratcheted things up a few notches from the worst excesses of any previous administration (including perhaps the FDR administration).

(By the way, I’m assuming this quote was actually from Patrick Henry.  I have looked for a site that gives the original reference for the quote, but so far, if there is any citation at all, the websites are citing each other.  If someone can point me to the quote’s actual source, I’d be much obliged.)

Fla. congressman wants online critic fined and “imprisoned for five years”

Most politicians enter the profession knowing that they must develop a thick skin.  Take a stand on anything, and the critics will come out of the woodwork.

Florida Congressman Alan Grayson has distinguished himself by his outrageously extreme characterizations of his political opponents.  A Florida resident, fed up with the embarrassment the congressman has brought to her state, set up the web site mycongressmanisnuts.com to rally support for the cause of unseating him in 2010.

Grayson apparently thinks that the constitutional guarantee of the right of free speech applies only to those who agree with him.  Instead of ignoring the site or defending his actions, he filed a federal complaint against the website owner.

Grayson won’t be content with having the site shut down.  Relying on technicalities related to how the activist set up her fundraising committee, he also wants the site owner fined and “imprisoned for five years”.

Perhaps the My Congressman is Nuts site could launch an investigation into Grayson’s own fundraising activities.  I’ll bet there are a few gems in there worth posting for the world to see.

Not that there isn’t sufficient evidence already that Grayson doesn’t have what it takes to serve honorably in Congress.

(Via: Orlando Sentinel, December 18)

December 16, 2009

Sam Elliot: It’s our duty to reward filmmakers who actively seek to attack our faith

Actor Sam Elliot just knows who is to blame for the fact that the film adaptations of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy will likely never go beyond the first part, The Golden CompassCatholic News Agency reports:
Actor Sam Elliot has blamed the Catholic Church for stopping sequels from being made to the Golden Compass movie based on the first book of Philip Pullman’s atheistic trilogy His Dark Materials. The film, starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Eva Green, grossed more than $380 million worldwide after its Christmas 2007 release, but took in only $85 million in the U.S. According to the Internet Movie Database, the film had a budget of $180 million.
The 65-year-old Elliot, who played a Texan “aeronaut” in the film, charged that a Catholic-led campaign against the movie stopped its sequels from being made.
Of course, the film’s horrible domestic box office take had nothing to do with the fact that the movie was based on the first novel of a trilogy that goes out of its way to deride the faith of Christians in general, and Catholics in particular.
The Golden Compass is the most benign book in the trilogy, and the film adaptation was cleaned up even more. However, it would be hard to cleanse the remaining books sufficiently:
According to CinemaBlend.com, the first book of the His Dark Materials trilogy is the most mild “by far” and the movie had most of its anti-religion references stripped.
“That kind of sanitization would have been impossible when adapting later books,” the movie website continued, noting that the series “quite literally” becomes a story about homosexual angels trying to kill God.
So, Mr. Elliot, tell us more about how the Catholics managed to scuttle what promised to be a beloved film series.

UPDATE: So, is Sam Elliot a Democrat or a Republican?

San Francisco’s city government defies gravity; fails to collapse under its own bloated weight

San Francisco has already been described as an increasingly child-free city.  Lately, many have come to recognize yet another dubious distinction for SF.  Benjamin Wachs and Joe Eskenazi report December 14 in SF Weekly:
Despite its good intentions, San Francisco is not leading the country in gay marriage. Despite its good intentions, it is not stopping wars. Despite its spending more money per capita on homelessness than any comparable city, its homeless problem is worse than any comparable city's. Despite its spending more money per capita, period, than almost any city in the nation, San Francisco has poorly managed, budget-busting capital projects, overlapping social programs no one is certain are working, and a transportation system where the only thing running ahead of schedule is the size of its deficit.
It's time to face facts: San Francisco is spectacularly mismanaged and arguably the worst-run big city in America. This year's city budget is an astonishing $6.6 billion — more than twice the budget for the entire state of Idaho — for roughly 800,000 residents. Yet despite that stratospheric amount, San Francisco can't point to progress on many of the social issues it spends liberally to tackle — and no one is made to answer when the city comes up short.
“Despite its good intentions”… For some, the nobility of one’s intentions cover a multitude of sins.  Sure, many of these problems are worse than ever despite all of the money we’ve thrown at them, but at least we care.

December 9, 2009

Obama administration intends to rule by fiat if Congress doesn’t submit?

[Cross-posted from C-Pol’s companion site, The Global Warming Heretic]

According to a Fox News story today, administration officials acknowledge privately that the EPA’s newly-claimed powers allow the executive branch to function as a dictatorship if it so chooses.
The Obama administration is warning Congress that if it doesn't move to regulate greenhouse gases, the Environmental Protection Agency will take a "command-and-control" role over the process in a way that could hurt business.

The warning, from a top White House economic official who spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity, came on the eve of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's address to the international conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Jackson, however, tried to strike a tone of cooperation in her address Wednesday, explaining that the EPA's new powers to regulate greenhouse gases will be used to complement legislation pending in Congress, not replace it.

"This is not an 'either-or' moment. It's a 'both-and' moment," she said.

But while administration officials have long said they prefer Congress take action on climate change, the economic official who spoke with reporters Tuesday night made clear that the EPA will not wait and is prepared to act on its own.

And it won't be pretty.

"If you don't pass this legislation, then ... the EPA is going to have to regulate in this area," the official said. "And it is not going to be able to regulate on a market-based way, so it's going to have to regulate in a command-and-control way, which will probably generate even more uncertainty."
So.  Obama would prefer that Congress take the actions that the administration demands of it.  But if Congress fails to get its act together, the administration will publicly hold Congress responsible for the economic chaos that will follow.

And that economic chaos is a virtual certainty if the administration resorts to fiat rule through the EPA. Who would want to invest in an economy where regulations are changing suddenly and radically (and almost always to the detriment of businesses)?

EPA declares plant food to be a public health threat

[Cross-posted from C-Pol’s companion site, The Global Warming Heretic]

A bit late in reporting on this, but hey, this is a blog, not a news service.  But just for the record, here’s what happened on Monday, as reported by the Associated Press:
The Obama administration took a major step Monday toward imposing the first federal limits on climate-changing pollution from cars, power plants and factories, declaring there was compelling scientific evidence that global warming from manmade greenhouse gases endangers Americans' health.
Does anyone else see a logical disconnect here?  Not the Environmental Protection Agency, because they’ve consciously named carbon dioxide a dangerous pollutant.  A gas that occurs naturally, the existence of which is essential for plant life – is a dangerous pollutant.

And notice – only “manmade” carbon dioxide seems to be capable of causing global warming.  Oh, and how is it a danger to public health?  They don’t say here, but it’s obvious that they’re playing the Six Degrees game.

So, what kind of powers has the EPA amassed for itself by this “finding”?  The article gives us a taste:
The price could be steep for both industry and consumers. The EPA finding clears the way for rules that eventually could force the sale of more fuel-efficient vehicles and require plants to install costly new equipment — at a cost of billions or even many tens of billions of dollars — or shift to other forms of energy.
It almost certainly goes beyond this.  If human generated carbon dioxide emissions are as dangerous as the EPA says they are, there is no logical or moral reason why the EPA shouldn’t extend its regulatory tentacles into every aspect of our lives.

In other words, this finding will serve as the greatest mechanism ever devised for state control of American people and resources, all in complete, deliberate mockery of the constitutional limits on the powers of the federal government.

It’s almost as if that was the plan.

December 8, 2009

Demographic collapse in socialist paradise

Mark Steyn writes that Vermont (a state renowned for not only tolerating socialists, but electing them as well) is suffering demographic collapse, with children composing a steadily decreasing percentage of an otherwise-stable population:

Throughout Vermont, student enrollment at public elementary and secondary schools is declining. According to figures from the state’s Department of Education, there were 104,559 students at those schools during the 1999–2000 school year. Last year, that figure was down to 92,572.

Which is quite a drop. In fact, Vermont school enrollments have declined 13 years in a row. Since 1996, they’ve fallen by 13 percent, slumping below 100,000 in 2004 and projected to fall below 90,000 in 2014.

This blog has previously remarked on an identical phenomenon occurring in another leftwing paradise, San Francisco.

This may explain the Democrat Party’s seemingly insatiable desire to import voters – they’re trying to replace the ones they’re not (re)producing themselves.

When seconds count, the police are minutes away

A rural Oklahoma woman defends her home and her life in this two-minute excerpt from a 911 call.

It took police about half an hour to arrive – an unpleasant reality in rural areas.

(Via: The Tusk and Hot Air)

December 3, 2009

And the prize for “Most Pathetic Headline of the Week by a Major US Paper” goes to….

…the Los Angeles Times.  Here’s how they titled their story about yesterday’s vote by Honduras’ Congress regarding Manuel Zelaya:

Honduran Congress upholds coup

The LAT seems determined to set in stone the fiction that Zelaya was removed in a coup d'état, rather than in a legal, constitutional action.  If you didn’t catch the “coup” in the title, don’t worry – they use the word four more times in the accompanying article.

The vote was overwhelmingly against Zelaya’s reinstatement (111-14), but the LAT dismisses it by suggesting that this was a vote by the Honduran elite to rid itself of a meddlesome man of the people.

The MSM’s reporting on Honduras’ political situation should be a badge of shame, but you’ll never read that in their newspapers.

December 1, 2009

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Abortion is “preventative care”.

Life News, today:
Yesterday, the Senate began the process of considering amendments to Senator Harry Reid's pro-abortion health care legislation.

The first amendment offered was Mikulski Amendment No. 2791, sponsored by pro-abortion Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, dealing with federally mandated coverage of "preventive care."

The amendment would essentially define abortion as preventative care and could result in mandates to private insurance plans that they define abortion as such and provide coverage of it.

Because of that, the National Right to Life Committee issued a letter to members of the Senate urging them to strongly oppose the Mikulski amendment.

"If Congress were to grant any Executive Branch entity sweeping authority to define services that private health plans must cover, merely by declaring a given service to constitute 'preventive care' then that authority could be employed in the future to require all health plans to cover abortions," NRLC explains.

"Therefore, NRLC opposes both the Mikulski Amendment No.2791, and the underlying language of Section 1001, unless additional language is added to explicitly exclude abortion from the universe of services that might be mandated as 'preventive care,'" the letter continues.

November 30, 2009

An intriguing alternative to Obamunism

As the president’s poll numbers continue to tank, it may be time to start thinking about what politcal/economic system might best serve as a replacement for the one foisted upon us by the Legion of Hope and Change.

With evidence mounting that many Legionaries are heading home dejectedly, it would behoove us to be ready to implement a replacement like the one above – intriguingly called “freedom” – after next year’s mid-term elections.

November 6, 2009

Apparently, only Republicans would attempt to honor those murdered at Ft. Hood

Rosa's Cafe put a note on its Facebook page showing respect for those who were murdered at Fort Hood yesterday.  Check out the very first response.

Happily, nearly all of the following comments piled on her (except for her followup reply which says, in total: "hahahahahaha. wow.").

(Click to view full-sized image)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I wonder if Ms. Covington is in general agreement with the fine, upstanding citizens who displayed this banner at an antiwar rally back in 2003:

If so, then Rosa’s Cafe is well rid of her business.

November 5, 2009

“24” Season 8 trailer

In my opinion, 24 is one of the few oases in the blighted wasteland that is network television.  Here’s the Season 8 promo that premiered during the first game of the World Series:
(Found via Dark Horizons via BibChr)

November 4, 2009

New Jersey, Virginia vote for change; conservatives almost pull off NY-23 upset

Highly partisan George Stephanopoulos, to whom ABC News turns when it wants nonpartisan political analysis, described Democrat Bill Owens’ NY-23 win as “a big loss for Sarah Palin” this morning.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races, which saw Obama-endorsed candidates going down, should not be seen as referenda on the president, White House mouthpiece Robert Gibbs insisted:

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday that voters went to the polls in Virginia and New Jersey to work through "very local issues that didn't involve the president." The presidential spokesman said voters were concerned about the economy.

And yet, the NY-23 race was supposedly all about Sarah Palin.

In the real world, it’s amazing that the Conservative Party candidate almost pulled it off, given that the Republican dropped out and started campaigning for the Democrat.

The message of the NY-23 race is that many conservatives are tired of being part of a political party that can’t shake the habit of putting forth candidates like Dede Scozzafava.  If the GOP becomes a little more reluctant to do this in the future, I will consider the NY-23 race to be a victory.

Creepy compilation

We haven’t seen many new examples of Obama reverence lately, now that the president’s halo is showing signs of tarnish.  Still, it’s useful to see a compilation of videos reflecting the messianic expectations that so many have had for him.

FWIW, I’m not completely sold on the “Hear us” segment.  Many are certain that the people are saying “Hear us, Obama”, but to me it could just as easily be “Hear us, O God”.  That’s bad enough, since it implies that they see Obama as God-sent.

UPDATE: John Nolte at Big Hollywood has many more, most of which I had not seen before.

November 2, 2009

“Former” VP Biden, the gift that keeps on giving

Too bad this was just a brain burp on CNN’s part. 

This is from a CNN article today reporting on the ongoing efforts by Democrats to help Bill Owens overcome the surging candidacy of conservative Doug Hoffman.  Even though alleged Republican Dede Scozzafava is now campaigning for the Democrat, Hoffman currently holds a five-point lead over Owens in the latest Siena College poll.

The CNN article also relates this howler from our esteemed Former Vice President (emphasis added):

"We aren't asking you to switch your party," Biden said at a rally for Democrat Bill Owens in Watertown, New York Monday morning. "We are just saying join us in teaching a lesson to those absolutists who say no dissent is permitted within your own party."

Tell us, Former Vice President Biden, about how famous the Democrats are for permitting dissent within their party in recent years.

Quick Quote: Thomas Jefferson on nanny government

And now, a word from the founder of the Democratic Party:
Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.

– Autobiography, 1821
Reference: Jefferson: Writings, Peterson ed., Library of America (74)

October 30, 2009

Sarah v. Mitt, Mike and Mike

Grant Ellis at American Thinker notes that Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Mike Pence – all named as potential candidates for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination – have all refused to take sides in the congressional race for New York’s 23rd district.

Ellis goes on to say this about Sarah Palin’s unashamed endorsement of conservative Doug Hoffman:

You have to look no further to see why conservatives are so passionate about their support for Palin. Regardless of the arguable notion that she has yet to fully mature, she commands a degree of respect that eludes all others currently on the conservative scene. The reason? She is unwilling (and perhaps unable) to couch her views in muted, plausibly deniable tones. Regardless of the outcome of NY23, Palin wins. She drives debate. She leads. She is "out there" when and where others fear to tread.

C’mon Mitt, Mike and Mike – show us why you’re more worthy of the conservative vote than Sarah is.

(Via Texas for Sarah Palin)

Newt digs his heels in, scolds conservatives for demanding that the GOP stand for something

GOP savior-wannabe Newt Gingrich is confident that a future GOP majority containing the likes of Dede Scozzafava is a goal worth spending what’s left of his political capital.

He’s so confident of this, he’s willing to wag his finger at conservatives who think that the Republican Party ought to stand for something.  The Hill reported October 27:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) late Monday had some choice words for Republicans supporting Conservative Party party candidate Doug Hoffman (N.Y.), accusing them of conducting a "purge" of the GOP.

[…] "This idea that we're suddenly going to establish litmus tests and all across the country we're going to purge the party of anybody who doesn't agree with us 100 percent; that guarantees Obama's reelection, that guarantees Pelosi as Speaker-for-life," he told Fox News last night.
This is such a worn, clichéd argument. Gingrich’s ridiculous hyperbole (“we're going to purge the party of anybody who doesn't agree with us 100 percent”) is unworthy of him.

Gingrich is fighting a straw man.  Are there any prominent conservatives saying that 100 percent agreement is a requirement for their endorsement?  I’m not aware of any.

Does Gingrich think there any principles worth drawing a line in the sand and saying: I will not vote for any candidate that crosses this line

What if there was a candidate running on the GOP line who agreed with Newt on every issue, with the teeny, tiny little exception that he supported the right of neo-Nazis to gas all Jews in America?Would Gingrich scold conservatives for backing an independent candidate against this Republican? 

If not, then I have no choice but to conclude that he doesn’t consider any of Dede Scozzafava’s negatives – such as her enthusiastic support of the right to kill one’s preborn child –  to be troubling enough that he would withhold his endorsement of her.

So, Mr. Gingrich: Should we support anybody that manages to snag the Republican nomination, no matter what they believe?  What price should we be willing to pay to regain a GOP majority?  Should we care how that majority will govern, or is gaining and maintaining power the highest value of the GOP?

October 26, 2009

Newt packing his bags for an ego trip?

Newt Gingrich continues to drop hints that he’s considering a run for the 2012 GOP nomination.  The latest comes from an October 25 appearance on C-SPAN:

When asked what factors would help him decide one way or the other, this is how he replied:

"Callista [his wife] and I are going to think about this in February 2011. And we are going to reach out to all of our friends around the country. And we'll decide, if there's a requirement as citizens that we run, I suspect we probably will. And if there's not a requirement, if other people have filled the vacuum, I suspect we won't."

Mr. G, you’ve alienated so many of your conservative admirers through your bizarre choices in recent years (such as when you swallowed whole the premises of the global warmists, or when you wholeheartedly endorsed a Republican candidate who is more liberal than many Democrats in the district she seeks to represent).  Whatever you mean by the bizarre phrase “requirement as citizens that we run”, you can’t possibly be anticipating the acclamation of conservatives.

Get a clue, Newt.  The reason you’re getting so much media time now is that the left sees you as a means of fomenting disunity on the right. 

Please.  Ignore the voices in your head, and focus on the reality of your situation.  This isn’t about you.

(Via Politics Daily)

October 23, 2009

Dems in Congress have no clue about the constitutional basis of their power

A reporter for CNSNews has been asking prominent congressional Democrats: Where does the Constitution authorize Congress to order Americans to buy health insurance? 
All of the proposed health care “reform” bills have this mandate, so obviously the majority think they have the power to  make the purchase of a product a “condition of lawful residence in the United States” (in the words of the Congressional Budget Office, which notes that such a move by Congress is unprecedented).
Of course, no such power is granted to Congress, but you wouldn’t know it asking congressional leaders.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer thinks that the health care mandate is no different from a general tax law:
Hoyer, speaking to reporters at his weekly press briefing on Tuesday, was asked by CNSNews.com where in the Constitution was Congress granted the power to mandate that a person must by a health insurance policy. Hoyer said that, in providing for the general welfare, Congress had “broad authority.”
“Well, in promoting the general welfare the Constitution obviously gives broad authority to Congress to effect that end,” Hoyer said. “The end that we’re trying to effect is to make health care affordable, so I think clearly this is within our constitutional responsibility.”
Hoyer compared a health insurance mandate to the government’s power to levy taxes, saying “we mandate other things as well, like paying taxes.”
The section of the Constitution Hoyer was referring to, Article I, Section 8, outlines the powers of Congress, including raising taxes, but not the purchasing any type of product or service. The opening paragraph of Section 8 grants Congress the power to raise taxes to, among other things, “provide for the … general welfare of the United States.”
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy simply asserts the authority:
CNSNews.com: "Where, in your opinion, does the Constitution give specific authority for Congress to give an individual mandate for health insurance?"
Sen. Leahy: "We have plenty of authority. Are you saying there is no authority?"
CNSNews.com: "I’m asking—"
Sen. Leahy: "Why would you say there is no authority? I mean, there’s no question there’s authority. Nobody questions that."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is flabbergasted that anybody would question Congress’ power to legislate as it pleases:
CNSNews.com: “Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?”
Pelosi: “Are you serious? Are you serious?”
CNSNews.com: “Yes, yes I am.”
Pelosi then shook her head before taking a question from another reporter. Her press spokesman, Nadeam Elshami, then told CNSNews.com that asking the speaker of the House where the Constitution authorized Congress to mandated [sic] that individual Americans buy health insurance as not a "serious question."
“You can put this on the record,” said Elshami. “That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question.”
The question obviously caught Pelosi by surprise, and her answer amounted to “Who let this guy in here?” Later, her staff gathered its wits and fell back on Congress’ old friend, the omnipotent ‘Interstate Commerce Clause’:
Pelosi's press secretary later responded to written follow-up questions from CNSNews.com by emailing CNSNews.com a press release on the “Constitutionality of Health Insurance Reform,” that argues that Congress derives the authority to mandate that people purchase health insurance from its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce.
Okay, I’m convinced.  How about you?

October 21, 2009

GOP continues its drift to the left

Clueless GOP leaders have apparently come to the brain-dead conclusion that John McCain lost to Barack Obama last November because McCain was too conservative.

Otherwise, why have they spent so much time since then promoting moderate and left-leaning candidates and policies?

In the latest affront to the party’s conservative base, GOP leaders are heavily promoting the candidacy of one Dede Scozzafava in New York’s 23rd congressional district special election.  As National Review notes, Scozzafava falls to the left of many Democrats in this conservative-leaning district:

In spite of its having gone for Obama in 2008, the district’s history suggests that it is basically conservative; Ms. Scozzafava is basically not. Boy, is she not: Not only pro-choice and in favor of homosexual marriage — common if distasteful concessions to the secular liberals’ agenda — she also supports some of the most odious items on the Left’s wish-list, including the “card check” initiative that would put a big cudgel in the hands of Big Labor while effectively disenfranchising millions of American workers who may not desire to become Teamsters, SEIU members, or similar. She signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to oppose tax hikes but immediately declared that she was not bound by having done so. It is no surprise that she is supported by the public-employees unions, ACORN — and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga. (Really.)

You may agree with all of these policy opinions, but if you do, chances are strong that you aren’t a Republican.  Ms. Scozzafava may not feel herself overly bound to that label either:

It may be too generous even to say that Ms. Scozzafava is a RINO — Republican In Name Only — inasmuch as she has emanated mixed signals about her commitment to remaining a Republican post-election. (Her spokesman now affirms to The Weekly Standard that Ms. Scozzafava is a “vote for John Boehner to be speaker of the House of Representatives,” if she is in office in 2011; earlier, her campaign had declined to answer that question.) It is entirely conceivable that Ms. Scozzafava will be tempted to switch to the party whose values she shares. She will be especially vulnerable to that temptation if she should face a tough primary challenge in 2010; given that Ms. Scozzafava is to the left of a great many Democratic voters, to say nothing of the typical Republican, the GOP bosses who foisted her upon the party have all but ensured that she does face such a challenge. They very well may have created the next Arlen Specter.

Not an original thought, but it bears repeating: Voters faced with a choice between a Democrat and a Republican who acts like a Democrat are most likely to pull the lever for the real deal.

UPDATE: I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Newt Gingrich is trying to salvage Scozzafava’s campaign

Once a reliable champion of the conservative view of things, he’s taken a nasty pragmatic turn in recent years.  This was most apparent when he publicly conceded just about every premise of the climate change alarmists, choosing instead to work for free-market remedies.

Now he wants us to believe that conservatism is best served by enthusiastically supporting whoever the GOP throws at us, no matter how odious.

The CQ article linked above ends with a perfect summary of the GOP’s strategy for keeping conservatives on their leash:

The GOP hope to convince conservative voters that a vote for Hoffman is a vote for the Democrats.

They say that a vote for Hoffman is tantamount to a vote for the Democrats. 

Then again, a vote for Scozzafava is a vote for someone who is indistinguishable from the Democrats.  A vote for Scozzafava is another vote in Congress for the Democrat agenda.  A vote for Scozzafava sends a message to the GOP leaders that conservatives care more about party than they do about principle, and that the party can run whoever it pleases without consequence.

Tell me – how can a vote for Scozzafava be anything but a disaster for conservatives?

September 30, 2009

Sarah’s message to the GOP: Conservatives will no longer be kept on a leash

Sarah Palin’s forthcoming wonderfully-named book, Going Rogue: An American Life, is already energizing her conservative admirers – to the point that her publisher is willing to bet a lot of money on the book’s success. WSJ’s John Fund notes yesterday:

Sarah Palin may no longer be governor of Alaska, but she's certainly destined to become a best-selling author. HarperCollins, her publisher, has announced the print-run of her memoir will be a staggering 1.5 million copies -- equal to the print-run of Senator Ted Kennedy's posthumous autobiography published this month. Publishing sources tell me that such a giant run is only ordered up when there is clear evidence from booksellers and surveys of massive interest in a book.

HarperCollins’ confidence appears to be justified. Although the release date is still more than six weeks away, pre-orders have pushed the book to #2 at Amazon and #1 at Barnes & Noble.

As we learn more about how Sarah was “handled” by the McCain campaign last fall, it becomes increasingly clear that the party leadership has nothing more than a milquetoast commitment to the conservative principles they claim to champion.

Conservatives are often accused of hoping for Obama’s failure.  This is true only inasmuch as Obama embodies the radical agenda he’s carrying out. 

More significantly, many if not most conservatives hope for the GOP establishment’s failure, seeing that its agenda appears to be a reversion to the bad old days prior to Reagan: try not to lose any more congressional seats, and play the “we’re only half as bad as the Democrats” game (where Republicans in Congress react to Dem proposals simply by proposing alternatives, rather than by opposing the proposals on principle).

Hurricane Sarah will make landfall soon.  Will the ideological clapboard shacks of the GOP establishment be able to withstand her? 

Yes, some.

Making the rounds…

He was wrongheaded (albeit well-intentioned) on many things, but at least he wasn’t into the total radical transformation of the global economic and political systems.

September 28, 2009

Bill Clinton… world savior?

This is what passes as objective journalism for intrepid AFP reporter Sebastian Smith.  If this had been a true straight-news story, the words world savior would have been in quotes.

Then again, that was Smith’s choice of words, so if this had been a true straight-news story, the words would have been quite different.

(Click to view full-sized screenshot)

Aw, c’mon, Bill. Why don’t you show everyone our secret handshake while you’re at it?

Yawn.  Bill Clinton…. vast right wing conspiracy… yada yada yada.
Bill Clinton was asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" whether the conspiracy is still there.

He replied: "You bet. Sure it is. It's not as strong as it was because America has changed demographically. But it's as virulent as it was."

Clinton said that this time around, the focus is on Obama and "their agenda seems to be wanting him to fail."
For the record, since you seem intent on exposing our nefarious plot: Our agenda is focusing on the failure of Obama’s agenda.  Since the Big O is indistinguishable from his agenda, I guess that means he has to fail as well.

(Credit: Toon found here)

September 25, 2009

More recruits for the Obama Youth Corps

It’s hard to make this stuff up. In which other countries do we have schoolchildren singing the praises of the nation’s leader? Cuba and North Korea come immediately to mind.

I would find this just as creepy if kids had done something similar for Bush or Reagan.

In case you’re wondering what the Burlington, NJ school’s principal thought about this performance, Fox News tells us:
The principal of a New Jersey elementary school where young students were videotaped singing the praises of President Obama is making no apologies for the videotape and says she would allow the performance again if she could, according to parents who spoke with her Thursday night.

Three parents told FOXNews.com that Dr. Denise King, principal of B. Bernice Young Elementary School in Burlington, N.J., defended the controversial performance, which was videotaped and posted on YouTube, when they approached her during a "Back to School" event.

Parent Jim Angelillo said King told him the lesson was merely part of Black History month, and not an attempt to indoctrinate students, as critics have charged. He said he believes teachers have the freedom to express their political views, but not in the classroom.

"Freedom of speech, not freedom to teach," Angelillo told FOXNews.com.

King has long been a fan of Obama, hanging pictures of the president in her school's hallways and touting her trip to his inauguration in the school yearbook.

Included in the full-page yearbook spread were Obama campaign slogans ("Yes we can! Yes we did!") and photos King took in Washington on Jan. 20, when she attended the inauguration.

There also were photos taken at the school depicting students doing Obama-themed activities about their "hopes for the future," featuring posters of Obama. According to the yearbook, students watched the inauguration in class.
9/27 UPDATE: Would these folks on the -- um, earnest -- Left show the same indifference to (or admiration for) a Bush/Reagan anthem? Rhetorical question.

September 24, 2009

Manuel Zelaya is quite possibly insane

In an interview granted to the Miami Herald, deposed Honduran president Zelaya gives more reasons why he should never be permitted to return to power*:

It's been 89 days since Manuel Zelaya was booted from power. He's sleeping on chairs, and he claims his throat is sore from toxic gases and "Israeli mercenaries'' are torturing him with high-frequency radiation.

"We are being threatened with death,'' he said in an interview with The Miami Herald, adding that mercenaries were likely to storm the embassy where he has been holed up since Monday and assassinate him.

"I prefer to march on my feet than to live on my knees before a military dictatorship,'' Zelaya said in a series of back-to-back interviews.

Zelaya was deposed at gunpoint on June 28 and slipped back into his country on Monday, just two days before he was scheduled to speak before the United Nations. He sought refuge at the Brazilian Embassy, where Zelaya said he is being subjected to toxic gases and radiation that alter his physical and mental state.

If not insane, he’s at the very least paranoid and delusional.

* The constitutional reasons to bar him from power are overwhelmingly sufficient; this is just icing on the cake.

(Credit: Image found here)

September 23, 2009

Honduran Foreign Minister: We will not discard our constitution just to please the international community

On August 24 the Foreign Minister of the government* of Honduras issued an “open letter” to the world to defend its actions regarding former president Zelaya.
Naturally, this clear statement of the facts did not get much play among the enemies of constitutional democracy (including our own government and most major press organizations).
I post this for the benefit of those who value truth over ideology.  Please keep these facts in mind as you follow the current situation in Honduras.
An Open Letter to the Citizens of the World
Carlos Lopez Contreras, Foreign Minister of Honduras
As citizens of an increasingly smaller and interconnected global community, we are all responsible for respecting one another and for creating a better world together. Our diverse cultures, religions, and forms of government must continually search for ways to understand one another and work together.
In Honduras, we have always worked diligently to uphold this responsibility as inhabitants of a global village. We have always remained steadfast in our commitment, and this past month is no exception. In fact, it is an example of what we must all vow to do from time to time: hold true to the principals of democracy and the rule of law while protecting the human and civil rights of our fellow citizens in the face of criticism and misunderstanding by certain sectors of the international community.
Let me be clear about what we as Hondurans believe. We believe in the rights of every person to freely express themselves and their beliefs so long as it is done in accordance with the rule of law. We encourage full and equal participation in political discourse and believe that a free and unfettered press is a valuable part of that discourse. We believe that the Honduran government must act in accordance with the Constitution that establishes and limits its power to govern.
As the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I am charged with representing the Honduran government and its people before the world. Now more than ever, my job is to bring an understanding to our shared global community of our dedication to uphold these beliefs, and ask each of you to consider our views as we consider yours.
Yes, Manuel Zelaya was democratically elected as the Honduran President. We cherish democracy.
Yes. as President, he did abuse his power and violate the Constitution. We respect our Constitution.
Yes. his powers as President were automatically forfeited after our Attorney General investigated the violation and our Supreme Court ruled that the violation had occurred. We respect the rule of law.
Yes, the military was ordered to arrest him as part of their Constitutional duty. We know this appearance might seem troubling to some, but it is clearly written in our Constitution -and has always been a part of our Constitution.
Yes, it was a mistake to remove Manuel Zelaya, a Honduran national, from the country. We admit the error and are aware that there are consequences.
Those consequences are that the Constitution and rule of law must be upheld. And so, the Attorney General opened an investigation into the expatriation of Manuel Zelaya on July 4th, and we await the findings of this investigation.
We, the Honduran people, firmly believe that those consequences are not any of the following:
  • The restitution of the Presidential powers of Manuel Zelaya. This is not an option the Honduran Constitution grants to the government. In fact, it is clear that the exact opposite must take place. No powers under any circumstances.
  • The granting of amnesty to Manuel Zelaya by the executive branch.  This is a proscribed duty of the Congress. and the Congress alone. This is their power. and theirs alone.
  • The unilateral decision to negotiate breaking articles of the Constitution in order to satisfy some members of the international community.  Popular opinion by powerful nations does not rule our nation, and should not rule any country.
Please consider what is being asked of our country: Break the Constitution. Ignore the rule of law.
We simply can not do this because of a mistake in expatriating a Honduran national who had been Constitutionally stripped of the powers that democracy provided to him only to have him abuse them.
We would never ask another nation to ignore its Constitution and trample on the rule of law much less purposely violate its Constitution to please our opinion.
Each day, our citizens wake up and hope that through our insistence and dedication that we can bring understanding to others. We are thankful to friends who have courageously spoken up on our behalf. We are grateful for their support, and are humbled that they have chosen to work selflessly alongside us to bring other nations to understanding our commitment to democracy, the Constitution and the rule of law.
We are a little country among the community of nations but our nation’s larger mission is to protect human rights, democracy, the Constitution and the rule of law. We are confident that these are values worth standing firmly in order to uphold. We invite the world to examine our true intentions and decide for themselves. As we prepare to hold free and fair elections this coming November, our faith in these principles could not be more clear.
* Not the de facto government, as the world’s media like to call it, but rather the de jure government.
(Letter text found here.  Official publication copy here.)

September 22, 2009

World’s media continue to lie about the reality of what happened in Honduras

A constitutional crisis is underway in Honduras, but not for the reasons that the media – and the Obama administration, for that matter – would have you believe.

As I have written previously, former president Manuel Zelaya was removed from power in June after a series of moves on his part that violated the Honduran constitution. Completely in accordance with said constitution, the Honduran military, on the orders of the Honduran Supreme Court and with the endorsement of the Honduran Attorney General, arrested Zelaya.

The military exceeded its authority by exiling Zelaya rather than simply taking him into custody, but as far as I can tell, that is the only misstep in the entire drama.

Despite these facts, the Obama administration and the majority of the world’s media have had the audacity to refer to this as a coup.

Now the deposed Zelaya has been smuggled back into the country and is holed up in the Brazilian embassy. The Obama administration, which to date has struggled to find a left-wing regime it couldn’t find common cause with, has pledged its support to Brazil.

An AFP report from today follows the tired old script [emphasis added]:

The United States pledged Tuesday to do whatever it can to help Brazil's embassy in Honduras, which was surrounded by soldiers and had its lights, water and phone lines cut off after deposed President Manuel Zelaya took refuge there.

"Our embassy in Tegucigalpa is in contact with their counterparts in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa and we're discussing what kind of assistance that we can provide to help them during this crisis," said State Department spokesman Ian Kelly.

[…] Honduran soldiers earlier dispersed thousands of protesters who had camped out overnight outside the embassy to protect the man they see as the country's rightful leader, but who was deposed in a military-backed coup in June.

The Honduran government is understandably angry that Brazil would give aid and comfort to a man who through his actions is an avowed enemy of the country’s constitution.

It is to America’s shame that our government continues to pretend otherwise.

9/24 UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, Spain's leftist president Jose Zapatero has joined in the charade (with Reuters' hearty concurrence):

Democracy must be restored in Honduras and a political crisis caused by the overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya must end, Spain's prime minister said at the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday.

"We won't accept the coup," Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told world leaders.

Zelaya was ousted in a June coup in the worst political crisis in Central America in decades.

September 19, 2009

“Cash for Clunkers” was never about economic stimulus

The Boston Globe reports today that – surprise! – President Obama’s “Cash for Clunkers” program did little good for (and perhaps will end up doing harm to) those it purported to benefit:
It has been nearly a month since the car-buying frenzy of the Cash for Clunkers program ended, and many area auto dealers are longing for the good old days of July and August.
Like consumers nationwide, Massachusetts residents rushed to take advantage of the federal voucher program, which offered them up to $4,500 on old gas-guzzlers to be put toward the purchase of new, more fuel-efficient vehicles. About $65 million worth of vouchers were handed out statewide during the monthlong program that ended Aug. 24.
But once the federal money dried up, so did the sales rally. Now, customers at dealerships like Silko Honda in Raynham are few and far between, and inventory is once again accumulating.
Manager Adam Silverleib said business was “pretty intense’’ as a result of the federal stimulus program, with the dealership hustling to accommodate customers and handle the piles of paperwork required for them to receive reimbursement on vouchers. “Now we’re kind of back to where we were in the spring,’’ he said.
In an attempt to draw customers back to showrooms, some dealers are offering new incentives, albeit none as enticing as a $4,500 for a rusting junker. Silko, for example, is promoting 2.9 percent financing on new Accords, along with other deals on its website.
Nationwide, customers snatched up 700,000 new cars, most of them foreign-made, and the government ended up paying out nearly $3 billion toward the purchases. But from the start, analysts predicted that Cash for Clunkers would not boost sales for the year. September’s sales swoon seems to be making their case. Car sales are usually slow after Labor Day, but because of the recession consumers this year are especially reluctant to say yes to major purchases. To make matters worse for dealers, most are still waiting for voucher reimbursements.
“It was probably, in the end, a complete waste of taxpayer money,’’ said John Wolkonowicz, a senior auto analyst at IHS Global Insight, Lexington forecasting firm. “The dealers, who were supposed to be the primary beneficiaries, many were forced into cash flow problems because the government didn’t pay them in a timely fashion.’’
The Globe, in describing the typical C4C trade-in as a “rusting junker”, is misrepresenting reality. A significant number of the trade-ins were in good working order.
Without the C4C program, many (if not most) of the 700,000 purchasers would not have bought a new car this year. Instead, money that would have remained unspent (because consumers were reluctant to make a major purchase in this economy) or that would have been spent on other sectors of the economy ended up being reallocated to these purchases.  How many of these purchasers went even further into debt to take advantage of an irresistible offer? 
So, economically speaking, the C4C program didn’t really do any favors for anyone but those who were already planning to buy a car this year.
What about the dealers? C4C made its appearance in the midst of an economy where the public simply wasn’t interested in buying new cars. There’s no denying that the dealers were hurting.
Setting aside the C4C administrative problems (denied or delayed reimbursements), times were briefly good for the dealers. As the Globe excerpt above shows, a lot of stale inventory was moved off the lots.
But the demand was completely artificial, and once the incentives ended, the dealerships became ghost towns again. This was little more than the burst of energy that comes with a sugar rush, and now the post-sugar crash has come.
In the long term, C4C did not do the dealers (or the manufacturers they represent) any favors.
What about the economically disadvantaged? Even with the incentives, they were still pretty much priced out of the market.  If they want to have their own wheels, they still have to go the used-car route.
But wait! Nearly three-quarters of a million cars that would have been destined for used car lots were deliberately destroyed, regardless of condition! Used car inventories are down, driving up the prices of the used cars that remain.
Far from doing the disadvantaged buyers any favors, C4C may have ended up putting a car even further out of reach for them.
So. Cui bono? Who benefits?
No doubt, the president expected to reap a political benefit from appearing to help those who are suffering in the current economy, but…
He could have done this without requiring that every trade-in be destroyed.
Cash For Clunkers was never about economic stimulus, but rather about the Obama administration’s “green” agenda, which is predicated on the unproven assumption that mankind’s activities are deleteriously affecting our planet’s climate.
There are many on the environmental left who believe that eliminating private ownership of automobiles is a good first step toward restoring the balance between man and nature.  This idea appears to have found fertile soil among some members of the Obama administration.
It may seem far-fetched to suspect the administration of working toward this goal, but think about it: If someone wanted to eliminate private ownership of cars, and he wanted to do it in a way that wouldn’t be politically disastrous, how would he do it differently?
The problems created or exacerbated by the C4C program won’t be obvious until later, and by then Obama will be able to shift the blame elsewhere.
(Credits: Photos found here and here)
9/21 UPDATE: A commenter reminded me of another prominent victim of the C4C program: charities that rely on used-car donations.  See, for example, this August 9 USA Today article.

September 18, 2009

Study: Women are better than men at being nannies (and nanny-staters)

Politico’s Erika Lovley reports September 15:

Are women more effective lawmakers than men?

That’s the preliminary conclusion of a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University and the University of Chicago, who say that on average, women in Congress introduce more bills, attract more co-sponsors and bring home more money for their districts than their male counterparts do.

The study, which examined the performance of House members between 1984 and 2004, found that women delivered roughly 9 percent more discretionary spending for their districts than men.

[…] The researchers also found that women introduced more legislation than men who served in their same districts, often hitting the ground running in their first terms.

“We find that, on average, women sponsor about three bills more per Congress per term than their male counterparts,” said [Stanford Researcher Sarah] Anzia. “They co-sponsor more bills than other members, and they also obtain more co-sponsors for their own bills.”

Of course, it’s important to understand what one means by the word “effective”.

If the purpose of Congress is to serve as an arena where the people’s representatives brawl over who gets how much of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money, then yes: more discretionary spending delivered to one’s district is a sure sign of one’s effectiveness.

If the purpose of Congress is to enact countless laws that reach indecently into every nook and cranny of our lives, then yes: introducing more bills than the next fellow is a sure sign of one’s effectiveness.

But if the acts of Congress are supposed to be constrained within the boundaries set by the Constitution, then these women, far from being “effective”, are a pox on the republic.

Surprise! Employers have no intention of simply absorbing higher costs from health care “reform”

Reuters, September 17:

If U.S. health reform efforts lead to higher costs for employers, employees may end up bearing the brunt, according to a new survey.

Employers will not absorb higher costs, choosing instead either to reduce benefits, lower salaries or cut jobs, the survey from professional services firm Towers Perrin said on Thursday.

Eighty-seven percent of employers said they were very likely or likely to cut benefits if reform leads to higher costs. Only 11 percent said they would accept lower profits.

"They simply don't have money and margins today to absorb additional healthcare costs," said Dave Osterndorf, chief health actuary at Towers Perrin.

When is ceasing an unconstitutional act unconstitutional?

When the unconstitutional act happens to be a sacred cow of the Left, of course.

Politico’s Glenn Thrush reports that New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, in the aftermath of Congress’ overwhelming vote to defund ACORN, has suddenly discovered the Constitution:

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), chairman of subcommittee on the Constitution, makes the case that the bill, if it's ever signed into law, may not stand up to court challenges.

The ACORN bill, he claims, is essentially a "bill of attainder," a measure targeted to benefit or penalize an individual or group which is prohibited in the Constitution, Article 1, Sections 9 and 10.

I get the feeling that Nadler would be nowhere to be found if Congress decided to defund some organization that was favored by conservatives.

But never mind that.  Let’s assume that Nadler is sincere in his belief that the defunding of ACORN is an unconstitutional Bill of Attainder.  We can fix that easily by defunding all private organizations, given that federal funding of such entities is not authorized by the Constitution.

That would resolve the Bill of Attainder controversy quite neatly.  What do you think, congressman?

September 16, 2009

If Obama’s opponents REALLY were motivated by racism…

Neal Boortz today has a slam-dunk retort to those intellectual featherweights who insist that opponents of Obama’s policies are driven by racism:
So .. here is what Jimmy Carter, Bill Moyers, Hank Johnson, much of the Washington and New York press corps, Newsweek Magazine and the brilliant thinkers on the American left would have you believe of Americans right now:
  • We would be more than willing to welcome cap-and-trade with open arms, even if we paid a thousand dollars or more extra every year for our energy use, if Barack Obama were only white.
  • We would be dancing in the streets celebrating the dawning of government control of our health care if only Barack Obama were white.
  • It would be just dandy if government bureaucrats rationed health care for our parents, as long as the president is white.
  • We would jump at the chance of the government owning ALL of the auto manufacturing companies .. not just General Motors ... if the president just didn't have dark skin.
  • We would applaud those ACORN workers giving tax avoidance advice to a pimp and his prostitute if the workers hadn't been black.
  • Most Americans - even ones that don't pay income taxes now - would be more than willing to give 70% of everything they earn to the federal government when asked ... so long as they are asked by a white president.
  • We would have been thrilled, I tell you ... THRILLED to have all of those Islamic goons being held at Guantanamo be not only released, but sent to be school resource officers at our local government schools, if only a white president put that plan in motion.
  • It would be OK if a white president stood back and allowed Iran to build its coveted nukes ... we're only unhappy about that because a black president is doing it.
  • Deficits? We don't care about deficits! Make our children and grand children and great grand children pay through the nose for our president's spending habits ... just so long as the president isn't black.
  • Government pork? Like we actually care? Look ... you folks in Washington can spend all the money you want - how about more studies of the mating habits of Polish Zlotnika pigs? - just make sure it's not a black president who signs the spending bill into law.
  • We wouldn't care if all illegal aliens were counted twice in the next Census ... just so long as the president isn't black.
  • Those Black Panther thugs who threatened voters in Philly? The ONLY reason we're upset that they were given a pass is because Barack Obama is black.
  • Every single member of the president's cabinet could be a tax cheat as far as we're concerned ... just so long as the president is white.
  • Forced unionization? Bring it on! We love card check! We love the idea of union goons threatening and intimidating workers to sign a card saying they want to belong to a union! What we don't like is that a black president is pushing this idea.
  • Single-party talks with that Gargoyle that runs North Korea? It's about time we legitimized that little pipsqueak. We're only mildly upset here because the person who is doing that happens to be black.
  • More regulation of the finance sector? We could care less! For all we care you can nationalize the banks and decree that only the government can make home loans .. .and you can even apportion those home loans on the basis of race if you want to ... just so long as the president is white!
  • Minimum wage? Like we care about that? Raise it to $15 an hour if you want! Just give us our white president back.
Remember, though: These folks are not interested in the truth.  They are interested in accumulating and retaining power. In this quest, the end justifies the means.

Joe Wilson was right at the wrong time

I think Rep. Wilson should have exercised better self control during the president's speech.

Even though Wilson was correct -- Obama was lying about what was in the health care legislation -- his outburst was outrageous enough that the news cycle could be devoted completely to the outburst itself rather than to the substance of his charge. For the media, this was an easy choice.

Accept your rebuke, congressman, and get back into the fight (but more tactfully from now on, please).

August 25, 2009

Obama’s gift to future generations. You shouldn’t have. Really. I’m not kidding.

I really, really hope that a lot of people who voted for Obama are experiencing buyer’s remorse now.

Associated Press, August 26 (emphasis added):

In a chilling forecast, the White House is predicting a 10-year federal deficit of $9 trillion — more than the sum of all previous deficits since America's founding. And it says by the next decade's end the national debt will equal three-quarters of the entire U.S. economy.

August 11, 2009

White House “Reality Check” website fails reality check

CNSNews, August 11:
A new Web site launched Monday by the Obama administration to rebut alleged disinformation about the administration's efforts to reform the health care system claims that reform “would not add one penny to the deficit"--despite the fact that the two health care reform bills that have been analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office are predicted by the CBO to increase the national debt by $239 billion and $1.042 trillion respectively.

The administration, meanwhile, has not produced any health-care reform legislation that has been independently determined to be deficit-neutral.

August 7, 2009

A get-out-of-debt, stay-out-of-debt plan that might actually work

I haven’t been a fan of Saturday Night Live since the original cast moved on to other endeavors, but I’ve gotta say that this clip (from 2005, I think) is a masterpiece.

August 5, 2009

And the award for the most reader-hostile major conservative web site goes to…

I’m sure there are others, but I normally have cause to visit Townhall.com every day, and in my opinion, few news/opinion websites are as difficult to read as that one.  Here’s a random screenshot taken today:

Click the image to view it full-sized, or go to the page itself to get the full effect. 

Visually, the page is a riot of images and color.  An unreasonable amount of time is required to find the text that the page was created for.  Once reading, the reader’s eyes are continually hijacked by the oversized animated ads surrounding the text.

I found one flaw in Townhall’s evil design scheme: As soon as I arrive at the desired page, I can immediately go to the print view, which is far less cluttered and far more readable.

Townhall has one of the best daily collections of conservative opinion; that’s the only reason I go through the trouble to visit at all.

What do you think?  Are any other high-profile conservative websites worthy of inclusion in the Web Design Hall of Shame?

July 29, 2009

Let’s play “Spot the Logical Fallacy”!

This July 29 letter to the editors of the Ventura County (California) Star contains a significant logical fallacy. Do you see it?

Bumper-sticker rage

Knowing the hazards of “road rage,” I recently experienced “parking-lot rage” when confronted by a bumper sticker that read: “I’m a Republican. Not everybody can be on welfare!”

For the person on whose vehicle that appeared: I’m a socially liberal Democrat who’s not spent a single second on welfare.

For those of you on the right whose arch-conservative stance has been allowed to dictate county and city government, nestled as they are in the bosom of the Ronald Reagan Library, who think that bumper stickers are cute and funny and want to know where you can get yours, I proudly pay my taxes, something your respected tea-party people pout about and demonstrate against. How dare you portray me a deadbeat!

I proudly served in the U.S. military, something your recent president and vice president disdained. How dare you question my commitment to this country with your absolutely ignorant bumper stickers! How dare you!

— Bob Jackson, Simi Valley

July 25, 2009

Barack Obama takes a holiday

Lynn Sweet reports that Barack Obama, champion of the common man, will be vacationing with his family next month on Martha’s Vineyard, where the nation’s elites go to get away from the common man. 

Well, the elites can’t get away from them completely – who would clean the house, then?

July 22, 2009

Vegan activists turn to courts in bid to scare people away from meat consumption

Following the time-honored strategy of trying to accomplish through litigation that which they could not accomplish through legislation, vegan radicals at The Cancer Project are trying to get the New Jersey Supreme Court to force hot dog manufacturers to put scary warning labels on hot dog packages.

Los Angeles Times, July 22:

"Warning: Consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increases the risk of cancer."

That's the label that a vegan advocacy group wants a New Jersey court to order Oscar Mayer, Hebrew National and other food companies to slap on hot dog packages.

The nonprofit Cancer Project filed a lawsuit today on behalf of three New Jersey plaintiffs asking the Essex County superior court to compel the companies to place cancer-risk warning labels on hot dog packages sold in New Jersey.

"Just as tobacco causes lung cancer, processed meats are linked to colon cancer," says Neal Barnard, president of the Cancer Project and an adjunct professor at the George Washington University medical school in Washington, D.C. "Companies that sell hot dogs are well aware of the danger, and their customers deserve the same information."

The defendants in the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, include Nathan's Famous Inc., Oscar Mayer-owner Kraft Foods Inc., Sara Lee Corp., Marathon Enterprises Inc. and ConAgra Foods Inc., which owns Hebrew National.

The Cancer Project is an offshoot of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a vegan group that has engaged in, according to PhysicianScam.com, “20 years of animal rights propaganda disguised as medical advice”. 

The purpose of The Cancer Project seems to be to go down the list of foods the vegans think we shouldn’t eat, and allege a cancer link for each one.

Well, what about the cancer claim made in the lawsuit?  The L.A. Times article linked above says this:

In the lawsuit, the Cancer Project cites the role of nitrites, a preservative used in cured and processed meats such as hot dogs in the development of cancer-forming agents. During digestion, it breaks down into nitrosamines and other N-nitroso compounds that are considered carcinogens.

Although some medical studies link red and processed meats to cancer risk, it's not clear whether it is because of the nitrites or other factors such as the high fat content. "There is speculation that nitrosamines can increase cancer risk when consumed in large amounts and frequently. Occasionally should cause no worry. The stuff people typically have with a hot dog may be a more immediate concern: too many calories from all the fat-laden potato and macaroni salads, sugary drinks and sweet desserts," said Keith-Thomas Ayoob, a nutritionist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

An American Institute for Cancer Research report cited in the lawsuit notes that one 50-gram serving of processed meat -- about the amount in one hot dog -- consumed daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer, on average, by 21%. Colorectal cancer kills about 50,000 Americans annually.

But a 2004 analysis by Harvard University researchers of pooled data from 14 studies in North America and Europe could not find a similar link between various red and processed meats and cancer. But they did find that higher consumption of poultry and fish may be associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer.

If they can persuade the NJ Supremes that the science is settled on this issue – despite significant evidence to the contrary – Al Gore might want to enlist their help.

A glimpse into the mind of a Sarah Palin hater

An open letter to “Paul”, an individual who left a comment on this post yesterday:
Paul, you're a real piece of work.

This morning as I got ready for the day, I was pondering the fact that your comment seemed to be written as if you hadn't even read what I wrote.

I knew you had arrived at my site via a "Palin resigns" Google search from your computer at Palomar Community College in California.

Your lengthy response -- only FIVE MINUTES after my post -- impressed me. How quickly I had struck a nerve, and now someone was giving me a piece of his mind!

Something still bothered me, though. As my response to your comment indicated, your rejoinder seemed to ignore the points I was making.

This morning I thought: That was a drive-by cut-and-paste comment. He didn't even read what I wrote. He just found sites talking about Sarah, fired his shot, and sped off.

It took mere moments to confirm my suspicion. Comparing the visitor log to the comment, I saw that your outraged response was posted within seconds of your arrival.

Then I did a Google search on the first sentence of your post. Oops, found it here and here.


You are a glittering example of how many on the Left* engage in debate. You're happy to participate, as long as you don't have to actually hear the other person’s side of the issue.
Paul, if you wish to read what I actually wrote, and post a response based on what I actually wrote, I’ll be happy to interact with you on the issue itself – even if you disagree with me.

I’m not optimistic that you’ll be back, though. That doesn’t appear to be your style.

You’re more likely part of the defamation machine that has been rolled out against Sarah Palin… in which case your comment does fit in with the topic of my post after all.

Thanks for illustrating my point for me.
End of rant.

* Of course, you could be a Romney supporter or an embittered McCain campaign aide. Odds, however, favor your being a bit further to the left.

July 21, 2009

Democrat operatives continue their campaign to destroy Sarah Palin

Just a few days remain before Sarah Palin leaves the Alaska governor’s office, and yet her political enemies (mostly, but not all, Democrats*) are still waging a campaign of frivolous harassment at the expense of the taxpayers of that state.

As this Facebook announcement from Palin’s attorney Thomas van Flein shows, not a single substantial ethics accusation made against her has held up to scrutiny.

To underscore the fact that these complaints are political warfare, van Flein notes that complainants are routinely violating the ethics laws themselves by publicizing the complaints.

Enjoy it while you can, Dems.  In a few days, Sarah will be free to return fire.
Another Ethics Complaint Filed Against the Governor
July 20, 2009, Anchorage, Alaska – Once again, an ethics complaint has been filed and publicly released in violation of state law. This is the sixth complaint filed by Ms. McLeod. In addition, she has filed a lawsuit against the Governor's office and multiple public records act requests. All of her prior complaints that have been ruled on have been dismissed. The Ethics Act serves important state interests in ensuring ethical state government and was intended to prevent the various forms of corrupt misconduct that had plagued the Legislature in prior years and which resulted in the prosecution of legislators and others. It is unfortunate that the law has been abused and trivialized in the current manner.

Today’s complaint, filed just six days before the Governor leaves office, alleges that Governor Palin violated the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act by failing to submit complete gift disclosure forms in a timely manner, and obtained “free” services. The apparent primary goal of this complaint has been achieved, namely, an effort to keep the complainant’s name in the paper. We anticipate another dismissal of this complaint as with the complainant’s other complaints. This is the fourth ethics complaint filed against the Governor since the announcement of her resignation on July 3. In every case, the complainers violated the confidentiality provision of the Ethics Act in making their  complaints public knowledge.

THOMAS VAN FLEIN—Personal Attorney for Governor Palin
* Sarah’s anticorruption crusade in Alaska stepped on quite a few Republican toes as well, so it’s not surprising that some of the snipers are from her own party.

July 20, 2009

Visualizing the cost of the government’s economic “rescue” plan

The inspector general for the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) is preparing to submit a report to Congress tomorrow estimating the ultimate cost of all of the financial bailouts currently underway and in the works. Fox News reports IG Neil Barofsky’s stunning prediction in a July 20 article (emphasis added):
The total price tag for federal support stemming from the financial crisis could reach $23.7 trillion in the long run, the government's top bailout watchdog says in a new report to Congress.
Neil Barofsky, the inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, plans to deliver his report Tuesday to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The $23.7 trillion figure is admittedly a high-ball number and reflects the total potential gross exposure, but Barofsky in his prepared testimony notes that the TARP -- which started as a $700 billion bailout -- has expanded well beyond that.
[…] In supporting documentation obtained by FOXNews.com, the inspector general's office explains that the $23.7 trillion spans about 50 "initiatives or programs" created by federal agencies in the wake of the economic crisis.
The estimate covers commitments that could come from programs at the Federal Reserve, Treasury Department, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Federal Housing Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other agencies.
Almost 24 trillion dollars!
Chances are that few of us have had reason to try to get our minds around a number that big, so let’s go through a little visualization exercise.
A stack of 3000 newly-printed one-dollar bills stands about a foot tall*. To get the height of 23.7 trillion one-dollar bills, the math looks like this:
23,700,000,000,000 ÷ 3,000 = 7,900,000,000 feet
7.9 billion feet is about 1,496,212 miles. The moon is about 238,857 miles from earth; this stack of money is 6.26 times that distance.
Viewed another way, a dollar bill is about six inches long*. 23.7 trillion one-dollar bills laid end-to-end would stretch 11.85 trillion feet, or about 2.24 million miles, almost 9400 times the distance from the earth to the moon.
Where is this money coming from, folks? Of course, a lot of it will be created out of thin air, but the rest of it will be sucked out of the economy in the name of saving it.
* Dollar bill length and stack height estimates are from 87billion.com, a site established a few years ago to help us visualize the amount of money spent in the War on Terror. The site, however, is woefully inadequate for helping us visualize the cost of the bailout, since the money spent on the war to date is just under $900 billion, a number that used to be impressive.

UPDATE: Here's another visualization of what one trillion dollars looks like. Just multiply the final image by 23.7. (Thanks to jellybean for the link)