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Archive for June, 2010
June 30th, 2010 at 2:37 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Elena Kagan
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

As the confirmation hearings for Elena Kagan, President Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court,  proceed, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Michael Ramirez sums up her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

June 29th, 2010 at 6:17 pm
Who is Ron Johnson?
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Answer: quite possibly, the margin of victory for Republicans in the United States Senate.

According to a new report from Public Policy Polling today, the largely unknown Johnson (a plastics manufacturer from Oshkosh) is within two points of the Badger State’s liberal stalwart, Senator Russ Feingold.  If the Wisconsin seat flips, it puts Republicans very close to retaking the Senate. Here’s the succint explanation.

Republicans currently have 41 seats in the Senate. Since the tie-breaking vote in the Senate belongs to the Democratic Vice President, Republicans would need a net pickup of 10 seats to retake the majority — an extremely high threshold.

To start with, that means having no Republican incumbents get beat. That shouldn’t be too hard. There aren’t many GOP incumbents around these days, and the ones that are are fairly safe. Only North Carolina’s Richard Burr looks vulnerable this year and he’ll probably be able to ride it out.

The next step is hanging on to the seven open GOP seats: one due to a Republican primary in Utah, the other six owing to retirements in Kansas, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Florida, and New Hampshire. Utah, Kansas, and New Hampshire look very safe right now. Kentucky will be close and will likely hinge on how cautious Rand Paul can learn to be. Florida has scrambled into a three-way race with Charlie Crist’s decision to run as an independent, but look for Marco Rubio to make a strong showing as the year continues. Ohio and Missouri will likely stay tight up through election day.

Assuming a perfect defense, then, Republicans will still need to pickup 10 seats on offense. There are a few pieces of low-lying fruit: North Dakota Governor John Hoeven will almost certaintly win the seat being vacated by Byron Dorgan. The odds also look quite favorable for Dan Coats in Indiana and Mike Castle in Delaware to pick up open seats, and for John Boozman in Arkansas to defeat incumbent Blanche Lincoln.

Factor in those wins and Republicans still need six seats for a majority. And with the Wisconsin race competitive, they now have seven prospects. In addition to Johnson’s challenge to Feingold, there are also serious threats to Democratic incumbents in California, Nevada, Colorado, and Washington. With Republicans competitive for open seats in Illinois and Pennsylvania, the Wisconsin race actually gives the GOP an ever-so-slight margin of error for taking back a majority come election day.

And who is this great white hope of the upper midwest? George Will’s profile in the Washington Post last month provides some insight. If he’s right, this may be one more member of an exceptional senate class in 2010. To wit:

The theme of his campaign, the genesis of which was an invitation to address a Tea Party rally, is: “First of all, freedom.” Then? “Then you’ve got to put meat on the bones.” He gets much of his meat from the Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages. And from a Wisconsin congressman, Paul Ryan, whose “road map” for entitlement reform Johnson praises. Health care? “Mitch Daniels has the solution.” Indiana’s Republican governor has offered state employees the choice of consumer-controlled health savings accounts, and 70 percent now choose them.

“The most basic right,” Johnson says, “is the right to keep your property.” Remembering the golden age when, thanks to Ronald Reagan, the top income tax rate was 28 percent, Johnson says: “For a brief moment we were 72 percent free.” Johnson’s daughter — now a nurse in neonatal intensive care — was born with a serious heart defect. The operations “when her heart was only the size of a small plum” made him passionate about protecting the incentives that bring forth excellent physicians.

This sounds like a conservative who nows how to connect first principles to daily governance. Dare we dream such a thing?

June 29th, 2010 at 1:49 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: The Most Sweeping Financial Overhaul Ever
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

June 28th, 2010 at 7:49 pm
State Department Minces Words

Before leaving office, then President George W. Bush allowed his State Department to take North Korea off the department’s list of “State Sponsors of Terror.”  Earlier this year, an international panel concluded that North Korea was responsible for firing on and sinking a South Korean warship, killing 46 sailors.  Today, President Barack Obama’s State Department said this:

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said during a regular news conference that the sinking was the act of one state’s military against another’s and not an act of terrorism. Thus, it is not ground to put North Korea back on the U.S. terror blacklist.

“It is our judgment that the sinking of the Cheonan is not an act of international terrorism and by itself would not trigger placing North Korea on the U.S. state (sponsors) of terrorism list,” he said.

But Crowley assured head-scratching journalists that if North Korea complies better with “sponsoring” terrorism, the regime will be rewarded.

“We will not hesitate to take action if we have information that North Korea has repeatedly provided support for acts of terrorism,” Crowley added.

So, it sounds like there are two reasons for no relisting North Korea on the “Sponsors of Terror” list.  Both require quibbling with definitions.  First, when a sovereign nation’s military kills members of another sovereign nation’s military, it is not an act of terrorism.  Okay, but it is most certainly an act of war.  Is the Obama State Department implying that North Korea engaged in an act of war?  If so, it seems like there should be consequences for such an act above and beyond concluding that it doesn’t meet an overly technical definition of terrorism.  (Anyone think the South Korean sailors weren’t terrorized as they died?)

The second reason is that “sponsoring” terrorism apparently requires a sovereign nation to have “repeatedly provided support” for acts of terrorism.  But when did sponsoring something require “repeated” support?  Is the local car dealership not a sponsor of a Little League team unless it “repeatedly” sponsors them?  At this point, does “repeated” mean twice, or more than twice?  And is North Korea staying off the list because they did an act directly instead of just “sponsoring” it?  Just tell the North Korean government what it has to do to get back on that list, Mr. Crowley!

People are dying to know.

June 28th, 2010 at 6:54 pm
War on Many Fronts

These days, it seems like war is only the extension of politics by other means; except that even the means are political.

Last week, President Barack Obama minimized conservative harrumphing after firing General Stanley McChrystal by appointing General David Petraeus as his replacement.  Though politically savvy, CFIF Senior Fellow Troy Senik correctly notes that reassigning Petraeus may be a pyrrhic victory since most of the conditions for successfully implementing his counterinsurgency strategy are missing.  When he gets in country, Petraeus’ biggest enemy won’t be the Taliban or a corrupt Karzai government; it’ll be trying to deliver a victory conservatives can stomach on a timetable and troop count demanded by liberals.

Heading back to Washington the war on rationality gets even rougher.  This morning four out of five Supreme Court right-of-center justices voted to extend the Second Amendment’s guarantee of an individual’s right to own a gun to the several states.  The result produces two effects.  First, complete government bans on gun possession are unconstitutional.  Second, eight of the current justices are now on record supporting a liberal theory of constitutional jurisprudence: Substantive Due Process.  Only Justice Clarence Thomas opted for a textually supported, historically rooted commonsense reading of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Since no one tried to dispute his reasoning, it can be assumed that everyone accepted his conclusion – they just didn’t like his premises.

The only element these storylines have in common is one man bearing quiet witness to the power of clear thinking.  While the political class may be unable to sustain a coherent framework for addressing pressing issues, it is a comfort knowing that at least some of those they appoint are capable – and willing – to tackle important matters with precision and daring.

June 26th, 2010 at 9:22 pm
George Will Questions Elena Kagan

Well, not actually.  But reading this list of queries makes one pine for a Senator Will on the Judiciary Committee when its members meet on Monday to begin Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s confirmation process.

Here’s a sampling:

• In Federalist 45, James Madison said: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite.”

What did the Father of the Constitution not understand about the Constitution? Are you a Madisonian? Does the doctrine of enumerated powers impose any limits on the federal government? Can you cite some things that, because of that doctrine, the federal government has no constitutional power to do?

• Is it constitutional for Arizona to devote state resources to enforcing federal immigration laws?

• Is there anything novel about the Arizona law empowering police officers to act on a “reasonable suspicion” that someone encountered in the performance of the officers’ duties might be in the country illegally?

• The Fifth Amendment mandates “just compensation” when government uses its eminent domain power to take private property for “public use.” In its 2005 Kelo decision, the court said government can seize property for the “public use” of transferring it to wealthier private interests who will pay more taxes. Do you agree?

• Should proper respect for precedent prevent the court from reversing Kelo? If so, was the court wrong to undo Plessy v. Ferguson’s 1896 ruling that segregating the races with “separate but equal” facilities is constitutional?

June 26th, 2010 at 8:47 pm
Obama Bank Tax Spreads the Pain Around

If you ever nursed the idea that taxation isn’t a form of punishment, President Barack Obama is here to disabuse you.  A day after Congress passed massive new regulations on the financial industry, the president today called for passage of a 10 year, $90 billion tax on banks and hedge funds to pay for the 2008 financial bailout.  To quote the president:

“We need to impose a fee on the banks that were the biggest beneficiaries of taxpayer assistance at the height of our financial crisis — so we can recover every dime of taxpayer money,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

And yet the tax/fee/legalized theft won’t be levied on just “the biggest beneficiaries.”  It will hit every bank with assets over $50 billion and hedge funds with more than $10 billion.  That means even the financial institutions that have already repaid their bailout debts will be hit with the 0.15% increase in the cost of doing business.

But remember: businesses don’t pay taxes (or fees) – people do.  Keep that in mind when your monthly service fees jump through the roof.

June 25th, 2010 at 4:18 pm
The Best Political Ad of 2010 …
Posted by Troy Senik Print

… comes from a non-candidate. Sic Semper Tyrannis:

June 25th, 2010 at 3:17 pm
The Case Against Financial Regulatory Reform, Summed Up By One of Its Chief Sponsors

Remember when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sought to put the American people at ease by stating “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it?”  

She was talking about ObamaCare, just prior to its final passage.  At the time, few people – including Pelosi and her Congressional colleagues – actually understood the consequences of passing the unpopular 2,000-plus-page bill.  But to Pelosi and her liberal majority, it was “very, very exciting.”  Never mind that it will actually raise health care costs, force people who like their insurance to get a new plan approved by government bureaucrats and limit access to care. Despite all the warnings and opposition from the American people, hindsight is 20/20, you know.

Well, now it appears that another member of the Congressional leadership has decided to follow Pelosi’s lead while announcing his own excitement about the prospect of passing yet another 2,000-page “reform” bill.

At 5:39 EST this morning – when most Americans were still asleep – key House and Senate lawmakers struck a deal on Financial Regulatory Reform, legislation that gives the federal government broad powers over the nation’s financial sector.   As Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) aptly noted, “it deals with every single aspect of our lives.” 

What does that mean for the average American family out there?  Well, according to Mr. Dodd, “No one will know until this is actually in place how it works.” 

Huh?  When the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and a chief architect of this legislation admits that he doesn’t know – indeed, that “no one will know” – the  consequences of a bill that he largely wrote and that ”deals with every single aspect of our lives,” shouldn’t that be reason enough to oppose it?

June 25th, 2010 at 2:06 pm
Video: Obama’s Recovery Summer
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses the Obama Administration’s “Recovery Summer” public relations tour. 

As Giachino points out in the video, “If initiatives like the stimulus package and Obamacare really worked, [the President] wouldn’t have to be touring the country trying to promote them after they have already passed. No amount of speeches will put Americans back to work or plug the gusher in the Gulf of Mexico. It’ll take long hours, hard work and tough decisions.  And unfortunately, those don’t come loaded into the teleprompter.”

 

June 25th, 2010 at 12:56 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: You Can Fire the President?
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

June 25th, 2010 at 12:29 pm
This Week’s Liberty Update
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out.  Below is a summary of its contents:

Senik:  David Petraeus: An Indispensable Man for an Impossible Mission?
Ellis:  Obama Administration Fails at Leadership; Opts for Lawsuits Instead
Lee:  Obama Realizing the Presidency Isn’t a Videogame

Freedom Minute Video:  Obama’s Recovery Summer
Podcast:  Interview with Quin Hillyer, senior editorial writer at the Washington Times and senior editor of The American Spectator
Jester’s Courtroom:  Unhappy Meals

Editorial Cartoons:  Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz:  Question of the Week
Notable Quotes:  Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.

June 25th, 2010 at 10:40 am
Obama’s Oil Spill Commission: Long on Activism, Short on Knowledge and Expertise

More than two months after the BP oil spill began in the Gulf, and amid warranted public anger, President Obama still appears more interested in not letting the crisis go to waste than providing the leadership necessary to help “plug the damn hole.”

The latest evidence is outlined in a piece published earlier this week on Forbes.com, authored by Dr. Michael Economides, an energy analyst, petroleum engineer and Editor-in-Chief of Energy Tribune.

Dr. Economides notes that the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, which is charged with providing recommendations on how to prevent and mitigate the impact of future spills,  is “well-stocked with anti-drilling activists and high-ranking officers of environmental groups” and is “devoid of a single expert on oil production or offshore development.”

Take for example Richard Lazarus, the man President Obama appointed Executive Director of the Commission.   As Dr. Economides points out, “Lazarus’ background is far from technical and, perhaps more ominously, far from unbiased. Lazarus is an environmental lawyer who has, in fact, argued 30 cases in front of the Supreme Court on behalf of environmental interests. Quite simply, Lazarus is an incredibly accomplished, incredibly talented opponent of offshore drilling.” 

And, to say that the resumes of the rest of the members on the Commission are thin on any real technical experience would be an understatement. 

The devastating accident in the Gulf was the result of a complex series of events.  Providing real answers should include the work of experts with industry and technical knowledge, rather than just partisan activists.

In addition to appointing a politically motivated Commission, President Obama’s short-sighted moratorium on offshore drilling, now overturned by the courts, was nothing more than a political decision to score political points.  Strangling commerce and the flow of energy in the U.S. would have severe consequences for those already suffering in the Gulf.   Jobs, revenue and entire local communities are at stake. 

The energy industry and the American economy are in a precarious position.  Now is the time to consider smart policy options, not for more political maneuvering. 

Read Dr. Economides’ entire article here.

June 25th, 2010 at 9:15 am
Podcast: “Ninja Bureaucrats on the Loose”

In an interview with CFIF, Quin Hillyer, senior editorial writer at the Washington Times and senior editor of The American Spectator, discusses the Helen Thomas controversy and changes in the White House press room, as well as what he calls “Ninja bureaucrats on the loose.”

Listen to the interview here.

June 24th, 2010 at 4:49 pm
McCartney Still Bloviating; Elton John Still Surprisingly Brave
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Following on our observations last week about Paul McCartney’s shameless dig at former President Bush during a recent White House concert and Elton John’s brave decision to defy calls to boycott Israel (and Rush Limbaugh’s wedding), it seems the two British rockers are still showing their respective stripes.

In an interview in today’s edition of the British tabloid The Sun, McCartney puts the environmental left’s most poisonous arrow in his quiver:

The Beatles legend said: “Sadly we need disasters like this [the BP oil spill] to show people. Some people don’t believe in climate warming – like those who don’t believe there was a Holocaust.

We’ll leave it to Sir Paul to tell us exactly how an explosion on an oil rig is supposed to provide compelling proof of the reality of global warming.

A better example from amongst the knights of the realm comes from Sir Elton John. While Sir Elton has been known to wander off the sanity reservation from time to time (he famously blamed opposition to Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid on sexism and, on another occasion, fantasized about outlawing the Internet), his recent performance in Tel Aviv wasn’t the rocket man’s only principled stand in the region.  Just a few weeks before, Islamists in Morocco were calling for Elton to be banned from performing in Rabat at the country’s largest musical festival because of his homosexuality. Despite the threats, he refused to cancel his appearance. The audience reportedly ate it up.

At a time when Comedy Central curls into a ball everytime the jihad machine starts warming up, here’s to hoping for more stars with the courage of Elton John.

June 24th, 2010 at 11:03 am
Take Action: Stop Congress’ Assault on Free Political Speech

House Democrats are planning to force a vote TODAY on H.R. 5175, the so-called DISCLOSE Act.  CFIF is asking its activists — and all Americans — to call their Representatives in Congress now to demand they vote “No” on this assault on the First Amendment.

Billed by proponents as a response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, the DISCLOSE Act is nothing more than another attempt by career politicians to silence their critics during elections.  Specifically, the legislation seeks to subject small non-profit organizations like CFIF and others to burdensome and expensive disclosure requirements that will make it virtually impossible to speak out on important public policy issues at times when it is most important to do so – in the months leading up to elections.
 
Alarmingly, the DISCLOSE Act exempts labor unions and other large powerful organizations.  In other words, Congress wants to arbitrarily preserve the free speech and association rights of a handful of politically-favored interests, while at the same time muzzle the voices of smaller groups of Americans, including Tea Party groups.

Such a flagrant assault on the First Amendment must be stopped.  Remember, a vote on the DISCLOSE Act in the House of Representatives is expected to take place today.  

Call your Representative in Congress and urge him or her to vote “No” on H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act.  To find your representative’s contact information, click here.

June 24th, 2010 at 9:37 am
Ramirez Cartoon: They Replaced McCrystal…
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

June 23rd, 2010 at 6:56 pm
Forget the Other 33 Oil Rigs, When Can We Get a Moratorium on the Deepwater Horizon Leak?

See if you can make sense of the following two paragraphs:

Tens of thousands of gallons more oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday after an undersea robot bumped a venting system, forcing BP to remove the cap that had been containing some of the crude.

The setback, yet another in the nine-week effort to stop the gusher, came as thick pools of oil washed up on Pensacola Beach in Florida and the Obama administration tried to figure out how to resurrect a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. (Emphasis mine)

Why on this great blue marble of ours is the Obama Administration trying to force the shut-down of nearly three dozen properly working oil rigs when there are now tens of thousands more gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf from a totally different site?

Maybe it’s debatable whether a moratorium should be sought.  But how can it be that this seems to be the only solution the White House is willing to fight for when it could be doing a lot more good getting the federal bureaucracy to start helping state and local governments clean up the mess right now?  Is the Office of the President of the United States really this impotent?

June 23rd, 2010 at 6:31 pm
Mexico Joins Legal Challenges to Arizona’s SB 1070

Well, that settles it.  If immigration-friendly Mexico supports invalidating Arizona’s illegal immigration law, then I guess the debate is over.

This can’t come as good news to the Obama Administration.  It’s bad enough that “only” an overwhelming majority of Americans support Arizona’s SB 1070.  Now, the biggest cheerleader for Attorney General Holder’s lawsuit comes from the government whose inability to police the drug cartels or provide a stable economic environment for its citizens helps drive illegal immigrants north.

I wonder how long it will be before the president sends his buddy Felipe Calderon a note saying “No gracias, amigo.”

June 23rd, 2010 at 10:23 am
Ramirez Cartoon – Obama: “Take the BP CEO Off the Guest List for the Next Paul McCartney Concert”
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.