Author Archive
May 19th, 2010 at 7:26 pm
US Military Addressing Al-Qaeda’s Expansion in Western Africa

Eric Holder may be unwilling to identify radical Islam as a driving force behind the recent surge in terror threats to the United States, but American special forces aren’t so hesitant.  The Economist reports that the American military is engaging in joint operations in the west African countries of Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal to combat the growing presence of “Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb” (AQIM).

Tuned-in Americans understand that in places like Somalia, radical Islam has found a fertile breeding ground for creating converts out of oppressed, deprived young men and women disgruntled with their lot in life.  It is logical that a place so close to the Middle East, only a short boat ride from Yemen, and so lacking in governance is a training ground for terrorists.

But American intelligence has been keeping an eye on the Sahel for some time.  The Sahel is a stretch of grassland that runs just south of the Saharan Desert, through the aforementioned west African countries.  It is an area subject to extreme drought and is only sparsely populated by tribal people.  Away from the attention of governing authorities, terrorist organizations from countries like Algeria have been able to set up training camps and are attempting to unite a coalition of jihadist organizations that have become increasingly problematic in the region.

Our support goes out to the American servicemen charged with the difficult task of training local forces to combat this growing threat to the security of free people.

May 18th, 2010 at 2:59 pm
“….since the days that I served in Vietnam”

Those words, spoken by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the runaway Democratic candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by Chris Dodd, invoke a powerful sense of respect for one who has put his life on the line in service of our country, if only they were true.  The NY Times report, published today, traces a long history of uncorrected misleading statements and outright falsehoods about Blumenthal’s military service record.

A statement from his campaign asserts:

“(Blumenthal) voluntarily joined the Marine Corps Reserves in 1970 and served for six months in Parris Island, S.C., and six years in the reserves.”

Even that service is to be commended, although the Times reports that Blumenthal received up to five deferments prior to his enlistment.  More important, the statement is utterly inconsistent with recorded evidence in speeches made by the candidate himself.  In 2008, Blumenthal spoke to a veterans’ group in Norfolk saying (video):

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam…And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

The same year, at another event in Bridgeport:

“When we returned, we saw nothing like this…Let us do better by this generation of men and women.”

Nothing Blumenthal says at his press conference today can explain away statements like those.  The words he used clearly convey, and were intended to convey, that he was physically in Vietnam, which is simply untrue.

What was once a very comfortable campaign for Blumenthal to assume the liberal throne in Connecticut now is very much back in play, if he does not do the honorable thing and withdraw.

May 17th, 2010 at 6:08 pm
Sidestepping Constitution is Convenient, but Wrong

Today, in an opinion written by Justice Stephen Breyer, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case of US v. Comstock, which held that Congress has the power to civilly commit sex offenders beyond the period of the sentence received for their crime.  As Cato’s Dr. Roger Pilon points out:

The problem, as Breyer grants, is that Congress has only certain enumerated powers, and the only power it has to criminalize conduct, beyond the three crimes mentioned in the Constitution, is pursuant to one of those enumerated powers — in particular, through the last of its 18 enumerated powers, its power to enact laws that are “necessary and proper” for “carrying into execution” one of the previous 17 enumerated powers or ends. In other words, Congress can criminalize conduct only if doing so is necessary and proper for carrying out one of its other constitutionally authorized powers.

The issue of enumerated powers is at the core of our rapidly declining liberty.  Today’s decision is merely the latest in a long line of rulings that concedes to Congress powers that cannot be found in the text of the Constitution.  In dissent, Justice Thomas joined by Justice Scalia notes:

No enumerated power in Article I, §8, expressly delegates to Congress the power to enact a civil-commitment regime for sexually dangerous persons, nor does any other provision in the Constitution vest Congress or the other branches of the Federal Government with such a power.

Free from constitutional restraint, there is seemingly no end to Washington’s reach.  Sure, today they’re locking up sex offenders, but maybe the next decision validates ObamaCare, which also lacks a constitutional basis for congressional action.

There are a variety of other constitutional ways in which states can ensure the public is protected from dangerous criminals.  So while many might be inclined to cheer a court decision that extends the lockup of some of the country’s most despicable and habitually dangerous criminals, the endless expansion of federal power is a crime against our freedom.

May 15th, 2010 at 4:59 pm
Congress Wants to Limit Your Access to Cash

Of course, they’re not framing it that way.  Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and other Democratic Senators have proposed an amendment to the financial reform package to cap customer ATM fees.  But CNNMoney reports, “some experts suggest that capping fees might result in more harm than good for consumers.”

I realize the free market is too difficult for Senators to understand, but do we really need an “expert” to explain what the consequence of this would be?  ATM’s are a convenience because we’re too busy or lazy to walk inside our bank.  I know my bank doesn’t charge me to use their ATM’s, but other banks will charge me for the convenience of using theirs.  Banks provide more ATM’s because they know that people will go to the closest ATM in a pinch, even if it’s not their bank’s machine.  Customer gets convenience.  Bank makes a few bucks.

By capping these fees, banks will have far less incentive to provide extra ATM’s.  So the next time you are strapped for cash, there may not be a cashbox right around the corner.  And guess what?  Not only will competitor banks cut back their ATM’s, but so will your own bank where, if you’re like me, you can withdraw your cash for free.

Stop trying to help, Congress.  You’ve done far too much already.

May 14th, 2010 at 4:17 pm
The Inmates Are Running the Asylum at the UN

Yesterday, the UN General Assembly announced the results of the election for the open seats on the Human Rights Council.  There were 14 seats available and 14 member-states seeking election, automatically demonstrating how much of a sham this institution is.  A report by Freedom House indicated that of those 14 nations, an incredible nine have human rights records that are questionable or simply not qualified.

The UN Resolution establishing the Council states among other things that:

…the Council shall be responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner…

…the Council should address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and make recommendations thereon…

…Make recommendations to the General Assembly for the further development of international law in the field of human rights…

This organization will now be guided by the enlightened leadership of Libya, Angola, Mauritania, Qatar and Malaysia, the five new members with human rights records of “Not Qualified”.  What makes one unqualified to be a leader in the field of human rights you ask?  According to Freedom House, here’s just a taste:

Angola: “Lengthy pretrial detention is common, and prisoners are subject to torture, severe overcrowding, sexual abuse, extortion, and a lack of basic services”

Libya: “Political parties have been illegal for more than 35 years and organizing or joining anything akin to a political party is punishable by long prison terms and even the death sentence”

Malaysia: “Religious freedom is restricted in Malaysia, as practicing a version of Islam other than Sunni Islam is prohibited”

Hypocrisy of this magnitude has always been rampant on the international scene.  This is but a reminder of the level of compromise required for everyone to get along.  Read the Freedom House report and remember why America is exceptional.

May 13th, 2010 at 4:33 pm
Kagan “Interview” Doesn’t Count as Transparency, Mr. President

Demonstrating again that transparent government was a hollow campaign promise, the White House has released a video of its own “interview” with Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.  The Solicitor General sat down with White House bloggers to share some life background and general thoughts on the law peppered with White House talking points, including my favorite, that she understands how law affects “ordinary people.”

The lack of media access to this critical nominee should not come as a surprise, as Obama himself has not conducted a live solo press conference since last July.  The kicker is the way the administration seeks to manipulate media through such transparent antics as the Kagan interview.  This lack of accountability to the public has even got the folks at CBS riled up:

“This White House has taken its use of the web to a new level with this move,” said CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer. “The ultimate unfiltered message. Kagan ‘in her own words’ without anyone else’s words.”


Doing so allows the administration to better control its message – and, in this case, avoid any uncomfortable questions for their Supreme Court nominee.

CBS should be careful.  Obama doesn’t take kindly to dissenters.

May 13th, 2010 at 2:46 pm
Muslim UCSD Student Endorses Eradication of Jews

In one of the more bone-chilling videos I’ve watched in a long time, a member of the Muslim Students Assocation (MSA) at UC San Diego tells Jewish conservative commentator David Horowitz that she supports genocide against his people.   The video posted on The Daily Caller shows Horowitz asking a simple question of the young woman:

“The head of Hezbollah has said that he hopes that we [Jews] will gather in Israel so he doesn’t have to hunt us down globally. For it or against it?”

The student coolly replies:

“For it”

This is at an American university, coming from a very American sounding voice.  UC San Diego is actually in La Jolla, CA, one of the ritziest zip codes in the country.  Where did this young woman learn to hate Jews with such intensity?

Obama’s foreign policy has consisted of traveling the globe, apologizing to the Muslim world and scolding Israel.  Anyone noticed all the love we’ve been getting back?  Instead, we’ve spawned our own Jihad Janes.  Continuing down this path only emboldens radical Muslims and their sympathizers, some where we’d least expect them.

May 12th, 2010 at 5:46 pm
World Cup Gives Insight into a Closed Society

For the first time in 44 years, Communist North Korea has qualified for the World Cup finals, joining 31 other teams in South Africa this summer for the biggest spectacle in sport. Entering the tournament ranked 106th in the world, the lowest of any team competing, the team is not expected to finish with any points, particularly since it has been drawn in a group with the best in the world, Brazil, and the immensely talented Portugal and Ivory Coast.

Then again, very little is known about the team sent by Kim Jong Il.  The Wall Street Journal has dubbed it The International Team of Mystery.  The last time the North Koreans competed in the Cup, equally underestimated, they managed to force a draw with Chile, then stunned perennial powerhouse Italy, winning 1-0 and advancing to the quarterfinals.  For this tournament, they had to navigate a qualifying season of 16 games, which included past Cup finalists, South Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

But as the WSJ explores, the most interesting thing about this team is the insight we can gain about the most closed culture on the planet.  Only a handful of its players have ever played professionally outside of North Korea, and those that have play in neighboring Russia and Japan.  They provide the only glimpse we have of these athletes’ lives.  One such player, Choe Myong Ho, told Russian media about his training ethic amid reports he did not own a TV or refrigerator:

“What is a refrigerator for? It allows you to get cold drinks in the summer… And if you do that, you could catch a cold and not be able to train.”

Really?  Is that what Glorious Leader told you?  According to the players, Kim Jong Il personally monitors the team’s progress and development.  This includes sending an agent to monitor Hong Young Jo for six months as he joined the professional Russian side FC Rostov.  Mr. Hong leads a quiet life in an apartment next to the stadium.  He has no car.  The joke in town is that he has no idea what his salary is because it all goes to Pyongyang.  The local paper has quoted him saying, “All my thoughts are on football and the party.”

Hopefully, for the sake of competition the North Koreans are able to come out and put on a good show and not be the doormat that everyone expects.  But more importantly, as the team steps into a rare spotlight, hopefully the world is reminded of the oppression of communism.

May 11th, 2010 at 6:35 pm
White House to Bully Food Marketers Using the Pulpit . . . and the FCC & FTC

Today, a White House report brought more news from the Government War on the American Diet.  The First Lady, who has made fighting childhood obesity a signature project, discussed the findings of the report.  Despite administration protestations that they would rely on “bully pulpit” pressure when working with the food industry, suggestions for new federal regulations are being discussed.

The Task Force on Childhood Obesity, which released the report, is the muscle behind Mrs. Obama’s otherwise toothless awareness campaign.  The working group, comprised of the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Interior and Education, as well as senior White House staff, has several regulatory designs in mind.  Just like the Santa Clara Co., California ban on “Happy Meal” toys, the task force recommends that popular media characters only be used to market healthy food.  Coming to a McDonald’s near you, The Ironman Veggie Platter! As CBS News reports:

“If voluntary efforts fail to limit marketing of less healthy products to young viewers, the task force suggests the FCC should consider new rules on commercials in children’s programming. It also challenges food retailers to stop using in-store displays to sell unhealthy food items to children.”

This type of persuasion is akin to a robber pointing his gun at you through his coat pocket.   The robber says, “Give me your money,” but implicit is, “or else I’ll shoot!”  When it comes to government, the “give me your money” option is always on the table.  The report also calls for an analysis of sales taxes on unhealthy food.

This is just another example of the European-style paternalistic state the Obamas have in mind.  Never mind freedom of choice, they’ll choose for us because Father-Government knows best.  Cass Sunstein, Obama’s Regulatory Czar, believes government can nudge the people to make the right decisions for themselves.  But those who wield the power of government know full well if the people don’t budge, they can be coerced.

May 11th, 2010 at 3:32 pm
DCCC Pulls Funding, Clearing Path for Djou

A remarkable event is brewing in President Obama’s old childhood stomping grounds (see CFIF’s Ashton Ellis reporting here).  The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has cleared the path for Republican Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou and his congressional bid for Hawaii’s open seat by pulling all of its resources from his opposition.

In a May 22 special election, the candidates for the seat vacated by Democrat Neil Abercrombie are running without a primary.   Djou could win, with two candidates splitting the Democratic vote.  The DCCC ad pull follows recent polling showing Djou with an 8-point margin over the leading Democrat.

Djou would be the first Republican to represent Hawaii in Congress in twenty years and would be only the third member of the GOP to serve as a representative in the island state’s history.

May 10th, 2010 at 4:43 pm
Dow Surges with News of Trillion Dollar European Bailout Fund

After an erratic end to last week’s trading filled with ‘typos’ and frozen stocks, the Dow and markets all over the world are rallying on news that the European Central Bank will create a trillion dollar fund to buy government and private debt to keep lending liquid.  With the help of the IMF and the Euro-using nations, the fund will prop up troubled governments.

The response of surging stock markets does not mean this is a wise and sound policy.  Investors merely feel the momentary comfort that there will be enough stability in the short term for money to be made.  But this plan is little different from the $50 billion rainy day bailout fund batted around the debate for financial reform here in the United States, other than the sources of funding.

Such measures create perverse incentives for market actors, whether a country like Greece, or private firm like Goldman Sachs, saying, “Go ahead, and continue to take big risks.  Don’t worry about the consequences.  We’ve got your back.”  Why should Greece tackle its massive public sector union crisis?  Why wouldn’t Wall Street firms go out on a limb for a big potential gain, if there were a multi-billion dollar bailout fund to catch them if they fall?

Markets are all about incentives.  Rainy day bailout funds create the wrong incentive.

May 7th, 2010 at 4:15 pm
Unemployment Up in April: Obama Cheers Job Numbers

Only in Washington, D.C. does the title of this post make any sense.  When gauging the state of jobs in our country, most look to the figure produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics referred to as “unemployment.”  That number rose last month from 9.7 to 9.9 percent.  Yet the economy added 290,000 non-farm jobs to payrolls.

Obama is upbeat about the numbers as 290,000 people who were not working last month are today.  The silver lining of the unemployment figure is the assumption that some people who gave up on job searching are back at it and thus are counted in the unemployment number again.

But there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about any assertions the jobs market is rebounding.  Since Obama came into office, Washington has exploded with public sector jobs.  The most illusory job creator is the Census Bureau, which balloons every ten years with temporary positions to complete the national survey.  Of the jobs created last month, the Census created 66,000, building up to the expected 1.2 million temporary jobs at the Bureau, which will not exist next year.

Furthermore, the underemployment rate, which also includes the unemployed who have quit job searching or have taken part-time work because they can’t find a full-time position, continues to climb.   Underemployment has risen from 16.5 percent to 17.1 percent since the beginning of the year.

And Obama has the gall to keep telling us the stimulus, the emergency $787 billion porker that if passed would prevent unemployment from rising above 8 percent, is working.

May 6th, 2010 at 3:27 pm
GOP Donors Demand Crist Return Donations

Earlier this week, I posted that Charlie Crist was in a lifeboat without a paddle.  Now he may have to return the lifeboat as well.  Crist currently has $7.6 million in his war chest, but RCP’s Brendan Farrington reports twenty major Republican donors have demanded he give it all back.  Their letter reads:

“For years you have been one of the Republican Party’s most outstanding and vocal leaders. But now, because of simple self-interest and political calculation, you are walking away from the people and principles that you often told us defined you ‘to your core.'”

Furthermore, they are not simply demanding the return of their own contributions, but those of supporters they brought to the table, writing,

“We helped to support, and yes to bankroll, your political career. For years you have been asking us for money. And for years we have put our names and credibility on the line by asking our friends to donate to you. Those days are over.”

In making his break from the GOP, Crist has repeatedly asserted his allegiances lie first with the people of Florida.  Those donors are people and each made contributions based on his candidacy for the Senate as a Republican.  Gov. Crist may not have a legal obligation to return a cent, but if he’s as committed to Floridians as he says he is, the public trust should compel him to reimburse anyone who feels betrayed.

May 6th, 2010 at 12:11 pm
Democrat Stalwarts: If Nothing Else, Wise Enough to Know When to Quit

Representative David Obey (D-WI), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, announced Wednesday he will not seek reelection this November, leaving a well-worn seat occupied since 1969.  Mr. Obey is the most recent on a lengthy list of long-serving Democrats seeking to “begin a new and exciting chapter” of life, in the words of fellow retiree, Bart Stupak.   Surely this has nothing to do with the widely expected revolt against the party in power.

Still, Obey wants there to be no confusion:

“I’ve won 25 elections. Does anybody really think I don’t know how to win another one?  Or, for that matter, has anybody ever seen me walk away from a fight in my life?”

Even so, after four decades in office, bowing out on one’s own terms is a far more desirable option than being battered or possibly blown away in the storm that’s brewing for this fall election.  Sen. Chris Dodd saw the writing on the wall and accepted his “moment to step aside.”

Dodd, Obey and Stupak all took serious political hits in the last year and a half.  Dodd was at the helm of oversight on Wall Street when things went south.  Obey spearheaded the wildly unsuccessful $787 billion economic stimulus.  Stupak infamously caved during the final ObamaCare vote.  Each has made a career contributing to a legacy of spending that has our country on the brink of financial ruin.

Now, each rides off into the sunset.  Enjoy retirement, fellas.  Don’t worry about the mess.  Our grandchildren will pick it up.

May 5th, 2010 at 7:43 pm
Freddie Mac Back to Remind You of Its Failures

As Goldman Sachs is reeled into court for potential securities fraud, a bigger fish is still swimming free and wreaking havoc on the public.  Freddie Mac, one half of the not-so-dynamic duo of government-backed mortgage peddlers, took another massive hit during the first quarter of the year.  The company, which is largely owned by the federal government after the 2008 bailouts, is set to ask for an additional $10.6 billion in “federal aid,” aka more bailouts.

With assistance and pressure from Washington to make housing affordable for all, one can see how Freddie Mac thinks that money grows on trees.  Unfortunately, all of us in the real world, from whom the government is funded, should be concerned how “We the Taxpayers” are going to come up with another $10 billion to flush down the toilet.  Not to mention why.

More troubling, while Goldman Sachs is getting grilled at congressional hearings, financial reform legislation, which unleashes a broadside against banks, but not a single provision addressing the troublesome Fannie and Freddie, will soon be ushered to a vote.  The Kansas City Star’s E. Thomas McClanahan stated it well:

“Wall Street’s excesses sent the markets and the economy off a cliff, but the seeds of the debacle were planted by politicians and richly fertilized by their creations: Fannie and Freddie…”

The shenanigans on Wall Street may or may not have brushed up against the law, but the opportunity and incentive would not have existed had the federal government and its lending arms, Fannie and Freddie, not insisted on giving mortgages to folks who could not afford them.  Congress should remember as they point a finger at Wall Street that four fingers are pointing back at them.

May 4th, 2010 at 12:03 pm
Violent Rhetoric from the White House?

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that the White House will put its “boot on the throat of BP” to make certain the oil company takes all necessary measures to control the spill and minimize its effects in the Gulf.

The image evoked by Mr. Gibbs is one of the harshest I’ve seen used by the White House against a private organization. Not even Wall Street has been so rebuked. Come to think of it, this administration hasn’t used such language against a sworn enemy like Iran. Stop and think about the image Mr. Gibbs invokes. The boot belongs to the party in power, the White House, while the choking and gasping wind-pipe belongs to BP.

Of course BP is worthy of a tough reprimand and should be held responsible for its role in the Gulf disaster. It’s just unnerving when those in power use such intimidating language when talking about a civil matter.

And it’s the Tea Parties that are accused of over-the-top language?

May 3rd, 2010 at 10:27 am
Crist in a Lifeboat Without a Paddle

Last week, the governor of Florida and candidate for Senate jumped the GOP ship and embraced all the rhetoric one expects from an independent. Having broken his partisan shackles, Crist no longer supports Republican ideas or Democratic ideas, just what he says are good ideas in the best interest of Floridians. He has even gone so far as to go on the record as being undecided as to whom he would support for leadership or with which party he would caucus, if any.

But whom does he think he is kidding? Had he entered this race throwing party affiliation to the wind, then perhaps many would have given him points for courage. The reality is he chose to run as a Republican. When continuously pressed by Fox’s Chris Wallace about the possibility of an independent run, he reasserted his Republican candidacy. Only in the waning hours before a filing deadline facing certain primary defeat at the hands of Marco Rubio did Crist rebuke his entire career as a Republican. As GOP strategist Brett Doster told Politico:

Charlie should get as much credit for his courage and boldness in making this move as the Titanic passengers did for boarding the lifeboats.”

This move represents what is really riling the public about politicians, a lack of integrity. With Obama and the Democrats promising the world and delivering little, Americans are tired of politicians saying one thing and then doing another. They are tired of leaders who look out for themselves first and the people second.

The GOP ship has sailed away from Charlie Crist. In the next few weeks Crist will begin to see just how hard it is to navigate a lifeboat to the shores of victory without his paddle (party organization), his wallet (party fundraising), but more importantly without his integrity.

Tags: , ,