The latest C-Poll is closed. You can read all about it here!

March 31, 2009

Benito Mussolini speaks out on Obama's auto industry rescue plan

Well, okay, to my knowledge Mussolini never met Obama, but there is a very good chance that he would see in our president a fellow traveler. Consider the Mussolini quote embedded in this item from the WSJ's John Fund, speaking of the Obama administration's auto industry plan.
[T]he Obama White House is now clearly deep into industrial policy by forcing out General Motors chief Rick Wagoner and most of his board. Mr. Wagoner, who joined GM in 1977, agreed to leave as one of the White House's conditions for more federal aid. The moves give President Obama political cover as he contemplates just how much taxpayer money to pour into the auto industry.

But the moves also represent another step on the road to the dystopia that Ayn Rand depicted in her novel "Atlas Shrugged." Rand envisioned an America in which bureaucrats dictated terms to both management and labor as it allocated state favors. As Michael Vadum of the Capital Research Center notes, such state managerialism is a peculiarly foreign concept to America. He quotes the Italian dictator Mussolini as saying: "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." That merger is now underway here, at least until Mr. Obama and his Democrats get through the next couple of elections with the help of a grateful UAW.

The mind-boggling hypocrisy of PETA

The Center for Consumer Freedom reveals that the animal-rights scolds at the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have quite a few skeletons in their closets -- or rather in the dumpsters behind their Virginia headquarters:
Today the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) published documents online showing that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) killed 95 percent of the adoptable pets in its care during 2008. Despite years of public outrage over its euthanasia program, the animal rights group kills an average of 5.8 pets every day at its Norfolk, VA headquarters.

According to public records from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, PETA killed 2,124 pets last year and placed only seven in adoptive homes. Since 1998, a total of 21,339 dogs and cats have died at the hands of PETA workers.

Despite having a $32 million budget, PETA does not operate an adoption shelter. PETA employees make no discernible effort to find homes for the thousands of pets they kill every year. Last year, the Center for Consumer Freedom petitioned Virginia’s State Veterinarian to reclassify PETA as a slaughterhouse.

The CCF press release has links to its supporting documentation.

(Via: Right Mind)

What ARE they teaching in those phishing scam schools these days?

I am Mr. Robert Dutu, and even though I know that you know that I'm trying to scam you, I am going to try to scam you anyway. Oh, you are the CEO of an anti-phishing software company? Excellent. Now, sir, I was wondering if I could have a little bit of your time so I can tell you about a remarkable business opportunity.....

New house bill would let Geithner set ALL salaries in bailed-out companies

The wise are cautious and avoid danger;
fools plunge ahead with great confidence.

The Bible, Proverbs 14:16

The assaults on the pillars of the old Republic keep coming. The inglorious death of the 90% AIG tax didn't deter the architects of our New National Order; they simply regrouped and attacked from another direction.

House Democrats have now introduced a bill that goes far beyond the scope of the AIG bill. Now, the federal government is not only claiming jurisdiction over executive compensation at companies that receive bailout funds, they're claiming jurisdiction over the compensation of all employees at these companies. Retroactively, of course.

Here's how Byron York describes it in the Washington Examiner today:
The new legislation, the "Pay for Performance Act of 2009," would impose government controls on the pay of all employees -- not just top executives -- of companies that have received a capital investment from the U.S. government. It would, like the tax measure, be retroactive, changing the terms of compensation agreements already in place. And it would give Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner extraordinary power to determine the pay of thousands of employees of American companies.

The purpose of the legislation is to "prohibit unreasonable and excessive compensation and compensation not based on performance standards," according to the bill's language. That includes regular pay, bonuses -- everything -- paid to employees of companies in whom the government has a capital stake, including those that have received funds through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The measure is not limited just to those firms that received the largest sums of money, or just to the top 25 or 50 executives of those companies. It applies to all employees of all companies involved, for as long as the government is invested. And it would not only apply going forward, but also retroactively to existing contracts and pay arrangements of institutions that have already received funds.

In addition, the bill gives Geithner the authority to decide what pay is "unreasonable" or "excessive." And it directs the Treasury Department to come up with a method to evaluate "the performance of the individual executive or employee to whom the payment relates."
When the Soviets tried to orchestrate the minutiae of their economy, we mocked them for it, and rightly so. Central control of a nation's economy has never worked anywhere. N.E.V.E.R.

And yet, our rulers plunge forward with great confidence. Maybe it will be different this time.


Lady Liberty is on the rack, and the ratchet has just been been turned another notch. She cries out in pain, but few speak up for her. Her tormentors yawn disinterestedly. They have so much to do; why must they waste their time drawing out her death?

Okay, maybe the preceding was a little melodramatic, but I hope you get my point. It seems abundantly clear to me that our country and its institutions -- everything that made America so attractive to the immigrants of past generations -- will be unrecognizable once the Obama administration and Congress have fulfilled their dreams for us. They are destroying, not building.

March 30, 2009

Hillary: Abortion is one of the top agenda items in Obama administration's foreign policy

She actually used the euphemism "reproductive rights" instead of abortion, but everyone knows that's what she meant.

Speaking March 27 at Planned Parenthood's national conference -- in acceptance of an award named in honor of PP founder and eugenics champion Margaret Sanger -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared:
“[W]e know that Margaret Sanger's work here in the United States and certainly across our globe is not done. Here at home, there are still too many women who are denied their rights because of income, because of opposition, because of attitudes that they harbor. But around the world, too many women are denied even the opportunity to know about how to plan and space their families. They're denied the power to do anything about the most intimate of decisions.”

“I want to assure you that reproductive rights and the umbrella issue of women's rights and empowerment will be a key to the foreign policy of this Administration,” she assured as the crowd applauded.
The Obama administration -- proud participants in the culture of death.

March 28, 2009

March 27, 2009

GOP lawmaker blames Dems for his own ignorance of Constitution

Representative Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, was happy to join the torch-and-pitchfork mob that wants to seize the bonuses that were legally paid to AIG executives. It wasn't until later that he realized that he shouldn'ta hadn'ta gone and done that. Politico, March 26:
A top Republican now has buyer's remorse about his vote last week in favor of a punitive tax increase on AIG employees.

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the top Republican on the budget committee, said Thursday he would have voted against the 90 percent tax increase if he had known that legal scholars would deem it unconstitutional.

"Now, that I know — which I didn't at the time — that this is unconstitutional, I wouldn't have voted the same way," Ryan said during a taping of C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" on Thursday — the show is set to air on Sunday.
Why did he need to hear from "legal scholars" to know that a targeted punitive tax was unconstitutional? I'm not legal scholar, but I have read the Constitution, and a plain reading of Article I, Section 9 makes it clear that Congress is prohibited from doing this kind of thing.

Ryan should have known this -- he really has no excuse. Or does he? Yes, he can blame the Democrats!
Ryan blames confusion about the constitutionality of the plan on Democrats for rushing the bill through the House.

"You rush this thing to the floor. Nobody had time to review it," Ryan said on the C-SPAN program, adding that lawmakers "got conflicting advice on it" before the vote.
It's their fault that my ignorance of the Constitution made it easy for the Dems to draw me into their mob frenzy!

While he now understands that the AIG tax bill is unconstitutional, he still thinks the AIG execs shouldn't receive their bonuses.
But the conservative still agrees with the underlying principle behind the bill.

"The message was sent that should have been sent," Ryan said. "These bonuses were completely ridiculous. They rewarded failure."
If only Congress had the power to punish every "completely ridiculous" -- but completely legal -- act done by private citizens.

March 23, 2009

Obama volunteers will be ready to fight "later, when we have an army"

I've done everything I can to read this quote in context, but every time it comes out looking sinister.

Buried within an otherwise mundane, routine article about Obama supporters working to gin up populist support for Obama's budget, Birmingham, Alabama event organizer Chris DeHaven informed the reporter:
"We're looking for supporters," said DeHaven of Hoover, one of the event's organizers. "We're not looking for a fight. That will come later, when we have an army."
If someone can give me a benign interpretation of this, I'm ready to see it.

To help you out, here's more of the context of the quote:
Volunteers fanned out across the Birmingham area and Alabama Saturday to pump up enthusiasm for President Barack Obama's budget proposal in much the same way they did to win over voters during the presidential campaign.

About 30 volunteers in Birmingham canvassed shopping areas and other high-traffic locations to talk about the need for health care reform, an education overhaul and environmentally friendly energy development.

"If we don't change these three things in the next 10 to 15 years, America is over as we know it," Chris DeHaven, told the group of volunteers before they went their separate ways.

Obama's plan faces criticism from Republicans and others who say it's too expensive. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report Friday saying Obama's agenda would cause huge budget deficits, forcing the country to borrow $9.3 trillion in the next decade.

Those who gathered at Kelly Ingram Park in downtown Birmingham were urged to enlist others who share Obama's vision and to stay away from trying to convert naysayers.

"We're looking for supporters," said DeHaven of Hoover, one of the event's organizers. "We're not looking for a fight. That will come later, when we have an army."

The volunteers are part of Organizing for America, the same grassroots, national network credited in large part with Obama's quick rise from obscurity to president. Birmingham and 11 other sites statewide were part of a national push this weekend by Organizing for America to trumpet Obama's spending proposal.

March 18, 2009

Dodd falls on his sword, sort of (UPDATE: Just kidding -- it's Obama's fault)

CNN's Political Ticker reports that Sen. Chris Dodd has finally admitted what was already well-known:
Senate Banking committee Chairman Christopher Dodd told CNN’s Dana Bash and Wolf Blitzer Wednesday that he was responsible for adding the bonus loophole into the stimulus package that permitted AIG and other companies that received bailout funds to pay bonuses.

On Tuesday, Dodd denied to CNN that he had anything to do with the adding of that provision.
Go to the link to see the video.

Sen. Charles Grassley could not be reached for comment.

UPDATE: This just keeps getting better and better. Dodd says he did it, but he's not taking responsibility. CNN this evening:
Dodd acknowledged his role in the change after a Treasury Department official told CNN the administration pushed for the language.

Both Dodd and the official, who asked not to be named, said it was because administration officials were afraid the government would face numerous lawsuits without the new language.

Dodd, a Democrat, told CNN's Dana Bash and Wolf Blitzer that Obama administration officials pushed for the language to an amendment designed to limit bonuses and "golden parachutes" at those companies.

"The administration had expressed reservations," Dodd said. "They asked for modifications. The alternative was losing the amendment entirely."

On Tuesday, Dodd denied to CNN that he had anything to do with adding the language, which has been used by officials at bailed-out insurance giant AIG to justify paying millions of dollars in bonuses to executives after receiving federal money.

He said Wednesday that the "grandfather clause" language "seemed like innocent modifications" at the time.

"I agreed reluctantly," Dodd said. "I was changing the amendment because others were insistent."
He agreed reluctantly, he says. Then again, just yesterday he lied about whether or not he was involved in the first place, so take that assurance with a grain of salt.

Apparently, AIG didn't pay enough protection money to the Dems in Congress

The Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets website is a treasure trove of information on where the money is flowing in politics. A glance at contributions by AIG employees yields some interesting insights.

The first chart shows overall contributions, organized by election cycle and recipients' party. Until 1992, AIG contributions favored the Republicans, but since then, each election has tipped the balance even more in the Democrats' favor. In the just-concluded cycle, Democrats reaped 69% of AIG contributions.

(Click each image to enlarge)

In congressional elections, Democrats took in over 75% of AIG contributions. Not surprising, since Democrats control both houses, and Congress holds life-or-death regulatory power over corporations like AIG.

So, which members of Congress were the greatest benefactors of AIG largesse? Some familiar names top the list, all of them senators (at the time). The top recipients were also presidential candidates at one time or another in the cycle, so they naturally drew greater attention, with Barack Obama the clear winner in contributions.

Interestingly, close behind Obama in contributions was Senator Chris Dodd. Although his presidential campaign fizzled early, he still managed to far outpace the third-place recipient (McCain). There's no reason this should be puzzling. Dodd is chairman of the powerful Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which happens to have regulatory power over corporations like AIG.

AIG's troubled Financial Products affiliate, where most of the corporation's hemorraghing has occurred, is responsible for the vast majority of employee contributions to Democrats, with that unit favoring the Dems 86%-14%. OpenSecrets doesn't detail the individual recipients of the Financial Products contributions, but simple logic dictates that Dodd was a prime beneficiary.

Perhaps Financial Products thought that it was getting its money's worth when Dodd included an amendment in the stimulus package specifically allowing companies like AIG to pay out contractually-obligated merit bonuses using bailout money.

Dodd, however, apparently felt like he had no choice but to join the dogpile of phony outrage when AIG went ahead and did what the Dodd amendment specifically authorized.

Sigh. What's this country coming to? It used to be that when businessmen bought a politician, he stayed bought.

W shows more class than O does

Politico's Mike Allen notes with approval a pledge made by former president George W. Bush at a speech in Calgary this week:
Getting two standing ovations at his first speech since leaving office, former President George W. Bush said that if President Obama wants help, “he can pick up the phone and call.” Otherwise, Bush said: “He deserves my silence.”

“There's plenty of critics in the arena,” Bush told a crowd in Calgary, Canada. “I think it's time for the ex-president to tap dance off the stage and let the current president have a go at solving the world's problems. If he wants my help and I agree with him, I'll give it.”

This stands in sharp contrast with former...
I stopped the quote midsentence to make a point. Here, since the article is about the behavior of an ex-president toward the sitting president, the logical choice is to contrast W's behavior with that of other recent ex-presidents.

W is following in the footsteps of his father, who famously refused to criticize his successor, despite their profound disagreements. So, no sharp contrast there.

Former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, however, wasted almost no opportunity to criticize W during his eight years in office. Carter was much worse than Clinton in this regard, but Clinton was by no means innocent. So, maybe this is the sharp contrast Mike Allen wants to highlight. Nope, guess again.

Perhaps he wants us to take note of the fact the President Obama is not reciprocating the love. Has there been a president in recent memory who has spent so much time criticizing his predecessor? That's certainly a sharp contrast.

But no, Mike Allen tells us what the real scandal is:
This stands in sharp contrast with former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has twice hammered Obama in media interviews.
That's right. Darth Cheney can still push their buttons. Sweet.

Perhaps the former vice president could fade quietly into the mist -- as so many on the left and in the media desperately wish he would do -- if the Obama administration would stop hammering the Bush administration.

President Obama's relentless blameshifting shows what little class he and his fellow travelers have. This stands in sharp contrast with former President George W. Bush who, despite his many flaws, is an honorable man.

March 17, 2009

Attempts to recover AIG bonuses via taxation are unconstitutional

Fox News reports on one popular idea bouncing around Congress as the torch-and-pitchfork mob tries to figure out a way to punish AIG for honoring their executive compensation contracts (emphasis added):
Senate and House lawmakers on Monday night returned to the idea of imposing heavy taxes to recover the bonus money.

"You can write a tax provision targeted specifically at 98 percent of the taxable proceeds," Dodd said, adding that it wouldn't violate the terms of the AIG contracts.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney D-N.Y, the chair of the Joint Economic Committee, also called for a 100 percent tax on bonuses not related to commissions. And Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., introduced a bill to recover practically all of the money through hefty taxes.

"If (AIG CEO Edward) Liddy does nothing, we will act and will take this money back and return it to its rightful owners, the American taxpayers. We will take this money back by taxing virtually all of it," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday. "So let the recipients of these large and unseemly bonuses, be warned. If you don't return it on your own, we will do it for you."

But while Dodd on Tuesday said lawmakers would continue to pursue this avenue, he added: "I don't know whether or not as a practical matter it will produce the kind of results we're looking for. We're all searching for a way to get this money back and one way or another we're going to figure out how to do it."

Nevertheless, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed to recover a sizeable chunk of the money.

"Remember, we, as a Congress, are not defenseless. We can also do things," the Nevada Democrat said Tuesday, announcing he has tasked Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., with crafting a proposal to recover the bonuses.

Reid said Baucus "is going to make a proposal that I think will certainly send a message to you people at AIG and all others who try to benefit from the hardships the American people face ... AIG recipients of these bonuses will not be able to keep all their money, and that's an understatement."

Emotions are running at a fever pitch, and perhaps that's why our distinguished legislators have overlooked the simple fact that their taxation idea is unconstitutional.

One clause of Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution states simply: "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed." That section applies to the U.S. Congress. Section 10 extends the same prohibition to the states.

An ex post facto law retroactively criminalizes an activity that was legal at the time the activity occurred. The payment of the AIG bonuses certainly was legal, seeing that the payments were specifically authorized by those now pretending to be in a lather over them.

By attempting to seize the bonuses, Congress is in effect criminalizing the payments after the fact.

Not that Congress has been too keen on following the Constitution, but will any influential politician have the guts to stand up and point this out? Or will they, seeking to save their political skins, cower in the shadows?

UPDATE: On the Free Republic post of this article, someone noted that this idea also qualifies as an unconstitutional Bill of Attainder, since the proposed law in effect declares a specific group of people guilty of a crime, and punishes them without a trial.

Political hypocrites feign surprised outrage at AIG bonuses

President Obama and members of Congress say they are shocked -- shocked! -- that AIG would dare use stimulus money to pay executive bonuses.

The problem is that Congress passed, and Obama signed, the law specifically authorizing this.

From But As For Me:
Thanks to our stimulus spending bill search engine and browser, we discovered that Obama granted AIG a free legal pass to give high bonuses because of the following stipulation in Obama’s stimulus bill he personally orchestrated and signed into law:

From page H1412 of the Final Stimulus Bill, “SEC. 111. EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE:

“(iii) The prohibition required under clause (i) shall not be construed to prohibit any bonus payment required to be paid pursuant to a written employment contract executed on or before February 11, 2009, as such valid employment contracts are determined by the Secretary or the designee of the Secretary.”

This amendment provides an exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009, which exempts the very AIG bonuses Obama is condemning every single chance he gets. The amendment is in the final version and is law.

Sen. Dodd was AIG’s largest single recipient of campaign donations during the 2008 election cycle with $103,100, according to opensecrets.org — According to the Wall Street Journal, Sen. Dodd placed this section into the final stimulus bill, making him responsible, along with Obama, for AIG receiving these bonuses.

As we saw earlier, the Democrats may be leading the torch-and-pitchfork mob, but some Republicans are tagging along as well.

No good will come of populist demagoguery like this. Shame on them all.

This is not the Hope you're looking for

Good commentary from The Patriot Post:

Iowa senator should resign or go commit suicide

I don't normally write such dangerously provocative post titles, but I wanted to see what it felt like to express a sentiment like that. For the record, I was fully aware of the way the words would come across to the reader, and I had to work against strong inhibitions every step of the way.

That's more than could be said for Iowa's Republican Senator Charles Grassley.

AP, March 16:
Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley suggested on Monday that AIG executives should take a Japanese approach toward accepting responsibility for the collapse of the insurance giant by resigning or killing themselves.

The Republican lawmaker's harsh comments came during an interview with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, radio station WMT. They echo remarks he has made in the past about corporate executives and public apologies, but went further in suggesting suicide.

"I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed," Grassley said. "But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they'd follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I'm sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.

"And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology."

In his favor, he was speaking off-the-cuff in a radio interview, but that does not excuse him. Public figures have a duty to consider their words before speaking. Instead, Sen. Grassley chose to join the dogpile on the AIG execs in a most undignified manner. Once the inevitable reaction occurred, he insisted (through his spokesman) that he had been misunderstood.

He has disgraced himself with his words. I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward him is if he'd follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I'm sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.

March 16, 2009

Quotations From Chairman Barack Obama

Perhaps we can be forgiven for comparing Obama with socialists when his followers are inviting us to do so. Here is a book that is currently for sale at Amazon:

Here is the publisher's description:
This is the little blue book that right-wing partisans love to hate. Printed in a size that easily fits into pocket or purse, POCKET OBAMA is an anthology of quotations borrowed from Barack Obama's speeches and writings, intended to keep the momentum going for those inspired by his message of hope and change. The portable book serves as a reminder of the remarkable ability of this man to move people with his words, a primer for readers who want to examine the substance of his thought and reflect on the next great chapter in the American story. His captivating oratory has earned comparisons to John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and this collection presents words that catapulted his remarkable rise to the American Presidency and set a true course for the future. Includes themes of democracy, politics, war, terrorism, race, community, jurisprudence, faith, personal responsibility, national identity, and above all, his hoped-for vision of a new America. POCKET OBAMA is essential reading as we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of remaking America.
And don't miss the book that Amazon recommends as a companion book (based on the choices of those who have already bought the Obama book):

As a bonus, go to the page for Mao's Quotations and scroll down to the section entitled "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" to see the kind of company our president is keeping these days.

Obviously, Obama doesn't control the spending habits of the American people, but it's hard to miss the pattern in the free choices of his admirers.

Romney just wants to help a fellow Republican.... stay far, far away from Washington

Mitt Romney is working hard to help Bobby Jindal win re-election. Unconfirmed reports say he hopes that Jindal enjoys continued success as governor of Louisiana, well past the 2012 presidential election cycle. Ahem.

AP, March 16:
Gov. Bobby Jindal is getting fundraising help from former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is expected to be a leading GOP presidential contender again in 2012.

Don't take candy from strangers. But £6,000,000? Why not?

Do you enjoy reading the countless emails offering millions of dollars if only you would help the sender in some noble task? It seems that -- even after all these years -- there are still plenty of naifs out there who actually take the bait, because the flow of such "offers" shows no sign of slowing.

I can think of at least three reasons why I enjoy reading them:
  1. I am amused by their imprecise command of the English language, even though they often purport to come from some highly-educated native of an English-speaking country.
  2. I am intrigued by the social-engineering design of the message -- i.e. what technique they think will persuade the reader to reply. This usually involves an appeal to compassion, adventure, or simple greed.
  3. I note how the average scammer has a (justifiably) low opinion of the average bait-taker's knowledge of how the internet works.
You can see all three points at play in the following message that I received this morning:
From: Mrs Russell Haswell
Reply-to: mrsrhaswell@8u8.com
Date: Mon, 16 Mar 2009 09:18:46 +0100

Here writes Mrs. Russell Haswell, suffering from cancerous ailment of the brain. I was married to Dr. Collen Haswell, an English man who is now dead. My husband was into private practice all his life before his death. Our life together as man and wife lasted for three decades without a child.
My husband died after a protracted illness, before his death, we had an agreement and arragement to uplift the down-trodden and the less-privileged individuals as he had passion for persons who can not help themselves due to physical disability or financial predicament. I can adduce this to the fact that he needed a Child from this relationship, which never came.

When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of £6,000,000.00 (Six Million Pounds sterling) which were derived from his vast estates and investment in capital market with his bank here in UK. Presently, this money is still with the designated Bank, while my Doctor told me recently that I have limited days to live due to the cancerous problems I am suffering from since it affects the delicate part of my brain. With this hard reality that has befallen my family, and me I have decided to donate this fund to you and want you to use this gift which comes from my husbands effort to fund the upkeep of widows, widowers, orphans, destitute, the down-trodden, physically challenged children, barren-women and persons who prove to be genuinely handicapped financially and i do not discriminate any religion for we all look up to one God.

It is often said that blessed is the hand that giveth. I took this decision because I do not have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are bourgeois and very wealthy persons and I do not want my husband’s hard earned money to be misused or invested into ill perceived ventures. I do not want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly manner, hence the reason for taking this bold decision.

As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact details of my Lawyer who will guide you through the clearing process from the bank here in the UK. Please assure me that you will act just as I have stated herein.

If you are interested, Please send your response to this email: mrsrhaswell@8u8.com

Endeavor to send your reply to this email: mrsrhaswell@8u8.com

Mrs Russell Haswell
Note that Mrs. Russell Haswell claims to be in the U.K., and then note the rampant spelling and grammar errors -- including the occasional awkward or clipped English. Hey, wait... don't the British spell it "endeavour"? "Endeavor" is the American English spelling. And... what's up with the random capitalization? And... since when is Russell a woman's name? And... And... And...

The message quite obviously uses compassion as its bait.

To me, the reply email address is always the dead giveaway. Many scams use throwaway addresses from Yahoo, Hotmail or the like, even though the sender is supposed to be (for example) a fantastically rich businessman. Often, the return address is for a Yahoo domain located in a country thousands of miles away from the sender's purported location. That kind is easy.

This one is a little more tricky, but it's not difficult to see through the veil. The message had a From address of info@charity.com (a domain that is currently not in use for any charity-related purpose), but the message itself (and the Reply-to in the message header) refers to mrsrhaswell@8u8.com. If you simply hit Reply on the message, the reply will go to this address.

It's not Yahoo or Hotmail, so maybe it's real. I've never heard of 8u8.com, but I'm not from Britain, and maybe that's a legitimate company there. How can I be sure? By doing a domain search.

The first stop should be a "WhoIs" domain search at a site like Internic. We enter in 8u8.com, and here's what we get back:
Whois Server Version 2.0

Domain names in the .com and .net domains can now be registered
with many different competing registrars. Go to http://www.internic.net
for detailed information.

Domain Name: 8U8.COM
Registrar: ONLINENIC, INC.
Whois Server: whois.onlinenic.com
Referral URL: http://www.OnlineNIC.com
Name Server: NS1.DNS-DIY.COM
Name Server: NS2.DNS-DIY.COM
Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Updated Date: 19-jul-2008
Creation Date: 15-jan-2000
Expiration Date: 15-jan-2010
Okay, we don't have our answer yet, but we've been told exacty where to look. Internic says that the domain is officially registered at a place called OnlineNIC. We go to their WhoIs page and repeat our search. Here's what we get:
Registrant :
Tong Li litie@cnsnn.com +86.13902936686
Tong Li
A801,Block A,WorldTradePlaza,Fuhong Rd,Futian Shenzhen
Shenzhen guangdong CN 518026
Ummmm...... Shenzhen, CHINA? Mrs. Russell Haswell, is there something you aren't telling us?

UPDATE: Simply posting this note has revealed another interesting data point: how widespread the scam message's distribution was. Looking at the visitor log for this site shows that many have arrived via a Google search on "Mrs. Russell Haswell". These visitors hail from the U.S., Britain, Ireland, Slovakia, Poland, Sweden, Spain, Kuwait, Vietnam, Australia and South Africa. I'm actually quite crestfallen, Mrs. Haswell. I thought we had something special.

UPDATE, 3 MARCH 2011: As the first commenter notes, Mrs. Haswell apparently experienced a miraculous recovery in 2009, but she seems to have suffered a relapse.  I'm getting a lot of hits on this post again from people searching for information on "Mrs. Russell Haswell" or "Dr. Collen Haswell".   Thanks for stopping by!

March 13, 2009

Oxford scientist advocates trafficking of body parts from aborted babies

LifeSiteNews, March 12:
An Oxford University stem cell expert has urged the use of aborted children in organ transplants as a solution to the shortage of available organs. Sir Richard Gardner has called for a feasibility study on the possibility of obtaining organs from the bodies of aborted babies.

He said, "It is probably a more realistic technique in dealing with the shortage of kidney donors than others."

The Daily Mail reports that pro-life and Christian groups have called the proposal "morally abhorrent," and said it will result in abortions being timed to suit transplant patients.
I'm wondering if some pro-choicer out there could tell me if they agree that this idea is "morally abhorrent", and if so, why.

Europe may get more than it bargained for in Obama

Victor Davis Hanson writes at NRO on March 13:
Last summer, with several other Americans, I went to a garden reception attended by some French barristers, generals, and assorted professionals in Versailles. Most of them, conservatives and liberals alike, were quite ecstatic about the prospect of Barack Obama as the next American president — except one. He glanced around and then quietly whispered to me, “There is only room for one Obama — and, you remember, we already are the Obama.”

I think we are beginning to understand something of what he meant.

Europe went gaga over the campaign of Barack Obama — especially his serial references to multilateralism, vows to leave Iraq, eco-utopianism, and the soothing way in which he trumped Europe’s own disgust with the Bush administration.

Promises of nationalized health care, higher taxes, Kyoto redux, and more government cheered Europeans, leading them to believe that Obama would steer America on a path closer to their own. (That the French, German, and Italian governments may be slightly to the right of Obama was never mentioned — nor was the fact that in their lethargy Europeans occasionally like to come over here for a swig of old-fashioned rip-roaring America.)

Yet after the first seven weeks of the Obama administration some in Europe may be reminded of the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for.”

Did Obama get outmaneuvered on embryonic stem cell funding?

CNSNews, March 13:
On Wednesday, only two days after he lifted President Bush’s executive order banning federal funding of stem cell research that requires the destruction of human embryos, President Barack Obama signed a law that explicilty bans federal funding of any "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death."

The provision was buried in the 465-page omnibus appropriations bill that Obama signed Wednesday. Known as the Dickey-Wicker amendment, it has been included in the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services every fiscal year since 1996.

The amendment says, in part: "None of the funds made available in this Act may be used for—(1) the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes; or (2) research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death."
Two days after Obama, to much acclaim, restored federal funding of embryo destruction in the name of science, he signed a law effectively outlawing the practice for the remainder of the current federal fiscal year.

Did he know that the Dickey-Wicker amendment was buried in the massive spending bill (as it has been each of the past 13 years)? How is that possible, given the circus of just two days earlier?

Did abortion-advocate congressional leaders know it was in there? The article asserts that the answer is Yes:
Close observers on both sides of the embryonic stem cell issue were well aware of the Dickey-Wicker amendment, and understood that it would pose a legal obstacle to federal funding of embryo-killing research even if President Obama issued an executive order reversing President Bush's administrative policy denying federal funding to that research.
And now, some in Congress are negotiating with pro-life Dems (surprisingly, there are still some) to get Dickey-Wicker repealed.

So how did this slip past Obama? Did he get outmaneuvered in some Congressional power play, or is there something deeper going on?

March 12, 2009

Rendell: Do your patriotic duty by going on food stamps

Here's one for the Newspeak dictionary. Food stamps aren't welfare, they're economic stimulus. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 12:
To those hurt by the recession but too proud to seek government help, Gov. Ed Rendell says: If not for yourself, do it for your country.
He urged people to view food stamps not as welfare, but as economic stimulus.
"Think of it this way: If you avail yourself of these sources of government relief, you'll have money to spend in the economy, and that's exactly what we need to reboot the economy," Rendell said Wednesday at Brashear High School in Beechview.

Energy companies are not feeling the love from the Obama administration

Note to the Obama administration: if you move forward on your plans for punitive taxation of corporations (especially those in the energy sector), don't expect said corporations to just sit there and take it. Reuters, March 12:
ZUG, Switzerland, March 12 (Reuters) - The tidy towns and mountain vistas of Switzerland are an unlikely setting for an oil boom.

Yet a wave of energy companies has in the last few months announced plans to move to Switzerland -- mainly for its appeal as a low-tax corporate domicile that looks relatively likely to stay out of reach of Barack Obama's tax-seeking administration.

In a country with scant crude oil production of its own, the virtual energy boom has changed the canton or state of Zug, about 30 minutes' drive from Zurich, beyond all recognition.

[...] Local authorities say about 13 percent of full-time jobs in Zug canton are in the raw materials sector.

Over the past six months companies including offshore drilling contractors Noble Corp and Transocean, energy-focused engineering group Foster Wheeler and oilfield services company Weatherfield International have all announced plans to shift domicile to Switzerland.

"Switzerland has a stable and developed tax regime and a network of tax treaties with most countries where we operate," Transocean Chief Executive Bob Long said in a statement in October, when it announced its move. "As a result, the redomestication will improve our ability to maintain a competitive worldwide effective corporate tax rate."

March 11, 2009

Premise of the Obama stimulus: Spend money on things that are unprofitable

From "Reality Check", the March 11 edition of the Daily Reckoning's daily e-newsletter [emphasis added]:
Meanwhile, Congress has gotten into the spirit of the Boondoggle Age. It sent a $410 billion spending bill to Obama for his signature. Included in the bill were 7,991 "earmarks," or pet projects that didn't make it into previous bailout, stimulus and boondoggles programs. Included in the spending bill, for example, is a program to pay for eyeglasses for people who are supposed to be blind...and to increase funding for Amtrak. The passenger train system has been losing money for as long as it has existed. According to classical economics (and plain good sense) Amtrak makes us all poorer. It takes valuable resources - labor, steel, electricity and so forth - and turns it into a service - transportation - which consumers judge to be worth less than the resources that went to provide it. Yet, that is the whole theory of the Obama stimulus program!  Spend money on things that are unprofitable. (If they were profitable, they wouldn't need public funding.) Somehow, wasting wealth is supposed to make us all better off.

March 10, 2009

Barack Obama, conscious enabler of the culture of death

Life News reports that not only has President Obama restored federal funding for destructive embryonic stem cell research, he has also rescinded federal funding for research into promising nondestructive alternatives.
President Bush issued [the now-reversed] executive order to press for more research into ways of obtaining embryonic stem cells without harming human life. The order was intended to ultimately fund research into alternatives" to destructive embryonic stem cell research such as altered nuclear transfer (ANT), "regression" (reverting differentiated cells into stem cells), and other methods.

Bush could be said to have been ahead of his time since regression, also known as direct reprogramming, has taken off and the new induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are the talk of the scientific world.
If Obama was truly interested in the medical breakthroughs that stem cell research might offer, why would he cut off all federal funding except that which requires the destruction of human lives? In this twisted age, he ends up being praised for his compassion.

The Life News article quotes bioethics attorney Wesley J. Smith as he speculates about Obama's motivations:
"I can think of only two reasons for this action, for which I saw no advocacy either in the election or during the first weeks of the Administration," Smith says. "First, vindictiveness against all things 'Bush' or policies considered by the Left to be 'pro-life' and second, a desire to get the public to see unborn human life as a mere corn crop ripe for the harvest."
Given the consequences, either motivation is contemptible beyond words.

Quick Quote: You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it

You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anyone anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

-- Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005), Southern Baptist preacher

March 9, 2009

Nancy Reagan's stance on Embryonic SC research understandable, and wrong

Predictably, Ronald Reagan's widow Nancy has issued a statement praising Obama's reversal of W's stem cell policy:
Under fire from congressional Republicans for lifting restrictions on stem-cell research, President Barack Obama got a powerful endorsement for his move Monday from Nancy Reagan, the former’s president’s wife.

“I’m very grateful that President Obama has lifted the restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research,” she wrote in a statement released shortly after Obama reversed the Bush administration limits. “These new rules will now make it possible for scientists to move forward. I urge researchers to make use of the opportunities that are available to them, and to do all they can to fulfill the promise that stem cell research offers."

Nancy Reagan has been an outspoken advocate of stem-cell research – and scientists hope that the research could someday lead to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which afflicted her late husband, Ronald Reagan.

Her statement also illustrates how support for the research crosses party lines, even though many in the anti-abortion movement strongly oppose the research on moral and ethical grounds.
Ever since her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, Nancy has been an ardent proponent of doing whatever it takes to research a cure. The fact that it involves the destruction of living embryos is irrelevant. The fact that her husband would have strongly opposed her point of view is also irrelevant.

This is heartbreakingly personal for her. But that doesn't make it right.

Baptist missionaries seek to fill spiritual void in New England

New England may have been settled by deeply religious people who rejoiced in their freedom to worship God as they chose, but their descendants seem to have utterly abandoned the faith of their forebears. A recent study shows that the region has attained the dubious honor of being the "least religious part of the country", passing up the Pacific Northwest.

The remaining church community is dominated by theological liberalism, and most of the secular residents see little attraction in that.

It's interesting, then, to see that theologically-conservative Baptists are making considerable inroads in this spiritual wasteland, planting many churches in the region in recent years, and pursuing the ambitious goal of planting thousands more in the coming years. Rural areas are witnessing the strange sight of congregations that are teeming with young folks and are growing, not declining.

March 4, 2009

Are 'moderates' starting to experience buyer's remorse over their choice of president?

Jennifer Rubin recounts excerpts from recent essays by self-styled moderate commentators in which they appear to be coming out of their hypnotic trance. Never mind that everything known about Obama prior to the presidential election season indicated sympathies with radical leftist ideologies -- they were certain that Obama was telling the truth when he promised to govern from the center.

One of my favorite quotes from Rubin's article is by David Brooks, who takes every opportunity to avoid being labeled a right-wing conservative by colleagues further to the left. Here's how he expresses his sense of betrayal in the New York Times March 2:
Those of us who consider ourselves moderates — moderate-conservative, in my case — are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was. His words are responsible; his character is inspiring. But his actions betray a transformational liberalism that should put every centrist on notice. As Clive Crook, an Obama admirer, wrote in The Financial Times, the Obama budget “contains no trace of compromise. It makes no gesture, however small, however costless to its larger agenda, of a bipartisan approach to the great questions it addresses. It is a liberal’s dream of a new New Deal.”
Mr. Brooks, Obama has zero -- zero -- history of bipartisan compromise. What made you think this fact would change once any meaningful opposition to his leftist ideology had been neutralized?

If you read on in Brooks' "Moderate Manifesto", you get the sense that he expected Obama to come closer to Brooks' Hamiltonian ideal of "limited but energetic government" (a term of art, that).

This would be worth a good laugh if the misperception hadn't made the difference in bringing Obama to power.

(Image credit: Made In England)