Archive for December, 2010
December 22nd, 2010 at 4:20 pm
Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Very Happy New Year!
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As we gather with friends and family for this joyous holiday season, let us not forget those brave men and women who put themselves in harms’ way to protect our freedoms.  Many of them won’t be with their families; they’ll be on bases, in tents and aboard ships far from home.  So, let’s be sure to keep our troops in our hearts and in our thoughts this Christmas.  And if you see members of our Armed Forces, please make it a point to thank them for all they do every day in the service to our great country.

December 21st, 2010 at 11:10 pm
Joe Manchin Off to a Cowardly Start in the U.S. Senate
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West Virginia’s Joe Manchin was one of the most unlikely success stories of the 2010 midterm elections. Despite hailing from a state where President Obama’s approval ratings were hovering in the high 20s during election season, the conservative democrat relied on a combination of personal popularity and ideological distance from his party’s liberals wing (you may remember the campaign ad where he literally blew away the cap and trade bill) to claim a narrow victory in November.

Because Manchin is filling out the remainder of the late Robert Byrd’s term, he will have to face a re-election campaign in 2012 — and face a heightened level of scrutiny from West Virginia voters in the interim. But the man who claimed that he would boldly confront his party when necessary is instead skipping town every time a tough vote comes up. Thus, Manchin was conveniently celebrating an early Christmas with family in Pennsylvania over the weekend instead of casting a vote on the DREAM Act or the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Depending on how he voted, Manchin would have inevitably alienated either his liberal colleagues in Congress or his conservative constituents back home.  When pressed on his absenteeism, Manchin offered this feeble excuse to the West Virginia Metro News:

Manchin stresses before he left Washington he spoke with the sponsors of both bills and let them know he would not be present for the vote and how he would have voted if he were present.

“I was up front when I knew I would not be here on Saturday. I put that in the Congressional record because I didn’t want anybody to think that I wouldn’t make a vote or had intentionally missed a vote because it was a controversial issue,” the senator said. “I think that anybody who knows me, making decisions has not been hard for me.”

Let’s be clear: the only decision Manchin made was to not discharge his duty as a United States Senator. He can claim his intentions were clear (for the record, Manchin claims that he would have voted against both bills), but intentions and actions are two different things. And as Manchin well knows, the difference is that an actual vote can be used against you in campaign ads. If he doesn’t have the stomach for scrutiny, then he doesn’t have the stomach for the job.

December 21st, 2010 at 1:16 pm
“Net Neutrality” – Obama’s FCC Moves to “Fix” What Isn’t Broken in Party-Line Vote
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So let’s review:

The Internet revolution has brought us a level of innovation and prosperity unprecedented in human history.

Throughout two decades spanning both the Clinton and Bush administrations, deregulation has provided the fertile ground for private investment and productivity measured not in the billions, or even hundreds of billions, but in the trillions.

On that basis, the public opposes federal Internet regulation by a two-to-one margin.

Further, a unanimous D.C. Court of Appeals rejected Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authority to impose “Net Neutrality” just eight months ago.

Finally, a rare bipartisan coalition of 300 members of the House and Senate have admonished the FCC against its rogue “Net Neutrality” scheme.

So what does the unelected FCC do?  Learning nothing from the Administration’s ObamaCare fiasco, it moves full speed ahead with its hyperpartisan “Net Neutrality” agenda by a party-line 3-2 vote anyway.  As dissenting (i.e., sober) FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker summarizes, the FCC’s intervention threatens the future of the Internet:

The rules will give government, for the first time, a substantive role in how the Internet will be operated and managed, how broadband services will be priced and structured, and potentially how broadband networks will be financed.  By replacing market forces and technological solutions with bureaucratic oversight, we may see an Internet future not quite as bright as we need, with less investment, less innovation and more congestion.  Discouragingly, the FCC is intervening to regulate the Internet because it wants to, not because it needs to.”

The FCC’s reckless effort to regulate Internet traffic will now begin a slow death march to ultimate defeat from legal challenges and Congressional action.  In the meantime, unfortunately, the cost will be even more uncertainty at a time when our economy cannot afford it.

December 21st, 2010 at 11:39 am
California (Once Again) a Microcosm of Govt. Financial Crisis

In a not-quite-as-bad-as-reported op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer (D-CA), downplays the Golden State’s fiscal outlier status among the several states.  Setting aside some of his premises, it’s worth zeroing-in on a paragraph that should be the starting point for debates on spending at any level of government.

Fiscally, we have to get smarter, think longer and stop hoping for a miracle. Californians have to assume more responsibility for deciding what they want government to do and how much they’re willing to pay for public services. We have to design a saner system for financing public schools.

Like a majority of voters everywhere, Californians are attracted to pricey programs, but are allergic to their costs.  Ergo, budget deficits.  With House Republicans facing a divided Senate and a liberal President, making a commonsense case for balancing spending with revenues will be the single most important task during the next Congress.  Let’s hope fiscal conservatives at all levels of government are united on this front.

December 21st, 2010 at 11:12 am
WikiLeaks Boss Upset When Tables Turned

Thank goodness WikiLeaks founder and diplomatic saboteur Julian Assange is getting a taste of his own medicine.  In his first interview since being “confined” to a nine-bedroom English mansion while he awaits an extradition hearing to Sweden on sex assault charges, the man who wants more transparency from governments and businesses is less inclined to turn the spotlight on himself.

Speaking from the English mansion where he is confined on bail, the 39-year-old Australian said that the decision to publish incriminating police files about him was “disgusting”. The Guardian had previously used him as its source for hundreds of leaked US embassy cables.

Mr Assange is understood to be particularly angry with a senior reporter at the paper and former friend for “selectively publishing” incriminating sections of the police report, although The Guardian made clear that the WikiLeaks founder was given several days to respond.

Mr Assange claimed the newspaper received leaked documents from Swedish authorities or “other intelligence agencies” intent on jeopardising his defence.

“The leak was clearly designed to undermine my bail application,” he said. “Someone in authority clearly intended to keep Julian in prison.”

How amusing it is to see Assange angered by others’ “selectively publishing” a “leak…clearly designed to undermine (his) bail application…”  I’ll bet there are hundreds of career diplomats similarly peeved at the well-connected Casanova’s preoccupation with his comparatively minor legal problems while they labor to repair his inestimable damage to world order.

December 20th, 2010 at 11:45 pm
Debt Crisis Could Bankrupt Over 100 American Cities in 2011
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Yes, you read that headline correctly. The day of reckoning for spendthrift states and localities is on the way according to Meredith Whitney, a research analyst who accurately predicted the global credit crunch. In a startling piece in the UK Guardian, Whitney predicts that the number of sizable defaults to come in the next year could hit the century mark. The record isn’t pretty:

Detroit is cutting police, lighting, road repairs and cleaning services affecting as much as 20% of the population. The city, which has been on the skids for almost two decades with the decline of the US auto industry, does not generate enough wealth to maintain services for its 900,000 inhabitants.

The nearby state of Illinois has spent twice as much money as it has collected and is about six months behind on creditor payments. The University of Illinois alone is owed $400m, the CBS programme said. The state has a 21% chances of default, more than any other, according to CMA Datavision, a derivatives information provider.

California has raised state university tuition fees by 32%. Arizona has sold its state capitol and supreme court buildings to investors, and leases them back.

Potential defaults could also hit Florida, whose booming real estate industry burst two years ago, said Guy J. Benstead, a partner at Cedar Ridge Partners in San Francisco. “We are not out of the woods by any stretch yet,” he said.

Indeed we’re not. And don’t expect to see a robust private sector recovery as municipal governments crumble throughout the nation.

December 20th, 2010 at 3:29 pm
March 20, 2000: Snowfall Becoming “Very Rare.” December 20, 2010: Snow Grinds Europe to Halt
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March 2000:  Charles Onians of Britain’s The Independent penned a global-warming doomsday warning entitled “Snowfalls Are Now Just a Thing of the Past”:

Britain’s winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change:  snow is starting to disappear from our lives…  According to Dr. David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, within a few years winter snowfall will become ‘a very rare and exciting event.’  ‘Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,’ he said.”

Does “the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia” ring a bell?  It was at the center of last year’s “Climategate” scandal in which global warming alarmists were shown to have manipulated their research and plotted against scientists whose views differed from their own.

Fast forward ten years, to December 2010, and a report from Britain’s Mail Online entitled “Coldest December Since Records Began as Temperatures Plummet to Minus 10 C Bringing Travel Chaos Across Britain”:

Swathes of Britain skidded to a halt today as the big freeze returned – grounding flights, closing rail links and leaving traffic at a standstill.  And tonight the nation was braced for another 10 inches of snow and yet more sub-zero temperatures – with no letup in the bitterly cold weather for at least a month, forecasters have warned.  The Arctic conditions are set to last through the Christmas and New Year bank holidays and beyond as temperatures plummeted to -10 C (14 F).  The Met Office said this December was ‘almost certain’ to become the coldest since records began in 1910.”

Thanks to Al Gore’s amazing Internet, which provides us a record to test the amazingly ludicrous assurances that he and his fellow climate change alarmists have made.

December 20th, 2010 at 10:04 am
Ramirez Cartoon: “We Finally Have Bipartisan Agreement”
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

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

December 18th, 2010 at 7:40 pm
Political Labels are an Act of Civic Candor

No one is better than George Will at puncturing the self-serving equilibrium of excessive political correctness.  His most recent column is no exception.  Taking aim at a confab calling itself “No Labels” and for an end to partisanship, Will fires back with this defense of partisanship:

No Labels, its earnestness subverting its grammar, says: “We do not ask any political leader to ever give up their label – merely put it aside.” But adopting a political label should be an act of civic candor. When people label themselves conservatives or liberals we can reasonably surmise where they stand concerning important matters, such as Hudson’s ruling. The label “conservative” conveys much useful information about people who adopt it. So does the label “liberal,” which is why most liberals have abandoned it, preferring “progressive,” until they discredit it, too.

For the entire column, click here.

December 18th, 2010 at 2:40 pm
Pawlenty Second-Guessing Run for Presidency?

Maybe it’s the fatigue of waging an under-the-radar campaign for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination for two years, but outgoing Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty sounds like he may be second guessing opting for higher office.  Telling a Duluth newspaper that he regretted not running for a third term now that Republicans are poised to run the state legislature, Pawlenty wouldn’t be saying that if his sights were focused exclusively on running for president.

I heard Pawlenty speak at this year’s CPAC, and he seems like one of the best people to run for president in awhile.  But with the 2012 campaign about to kick into gear over the next three months, this statement of public reluctance is not what I would want to hear as a donor or staff member.

December 18th, 2010 at 2:22 pm
Fidel Castro Joins Other Leftists Disappointed With Obama

If the Wikileaks State Department cables are ever compiled into a book, one of the chapters should contain the rise and fall of Fidel Castro’s affinity for President Barack Obama.  It’s hard not to smirk when reading this article from The Guardian outlining the Cuban despot’s excitement that the candidate of “hope” and “change” would take America in a leftward direction.

Considered “obsessed” with Obama by U. S. diplomats stationed in Havana, Castro wrote several op-eds in a state-run newspaper praising the president for his speech in Cairo, Egypt.  The dictator also liked Obama’s stance on global warming.  That is, until The One broke the dear leader’s heart at the Copenhagen Conference.  (Apparently, wanting some concessions from China before handing over climate reparations went too far for Latin America’s oldest communist.)

Get in line, Fidel.  You and Che Guevara-sporting American Left will have to content yourselves “only” with the first critical step towards socialized medicine (Obamacare), and unprecedented nationalizations of the finance and auto industry.

December 17th, 2010 at 5:53 pm
DHS Mum on Downed Mexican Drone near El Paso, TX

Could it be that a loaded gun passing unnoticed through a TSA checkpoint isn’t the only foreign object slipping under the radar of Secretary Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS)?  Reports are surfacing that an unmanned drone aircraft belonging to the Mexican government crashed near a residence in El Paso, TX.  In a move that can only be explained as an attempt to confirm the suspicions of Area 51 types, DHS returned the drone before other U. S. agencies could inspect it.

So far, no one with knowledge is saying why an aircraft similar to the drones the U. S. military uses to kill insurgents in Afghanistan was flying almost a mile into American airspace.  Even more incredible is the acknowledged failure to inspect the vehicle to make sure it actually belongs to the Mexican government and not one of the sophisticated drug cartels it’s battling.

Feeling safe about that southern border yet?

December 17th, 2010 at 4:04 pm
Why Doesn’t the Senate Just Go Home?

After the public death of the omnibus spending bill and a retreat on opposition to tax cuts, why in the world won’t the Democrats running the U. S. Senate simply go home for the holidays?  It’s obvious that a majority of Americans are just plain tired of them, and want to move on.  Yet, here we are on the precipice of another bitter policy fight as Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) readys two more contentious bills for floor votes.

The DREAM Act promises to give backdoor amnesty to tens of thousands of illegal immigrants in exchange for getting a college degree.  The other bill would repeal the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy regarding homosexual service members.

Really?  With nearly double-digit unemployment and a trillion dollar budget deficit, these are the kinds of evergreen, polarizing issues the Senate needs to pass judgment on before it takes a three week vacation?

Forget the shenanigans.  The Senate should extend the continuing resolution to fund the government and get out of town.  We could all use a break.

H/T: The Daily Caller

December 17th, 2010 at 3:17 pm
CNN & Tea Party Express to Host GOP Presidential Debate

Hats off to CNN for continuing to push the format boundaries of presidential debates.  True, the network’s “You Tube” Democratic debate is remembered best (or is it worst?) for relaying a question from a talking snowman, the recent alliance with Tea Party Express to host a GOP presidential debate is intriguing.  According to CNN’s press release the debate will occur over Labor Day weekend in 2011 in Tampa, FL, site of the 2012 Republican National Convention.  For fiscal conservatives, this debate should be an interesting contest between candidates to prove how much they like reducing government.

December 17th, 2010 at 2:45 pm
1 in 65,536: Likelihood that Defective GAO Report Attacking For-Profit Career Colleges Occurred Unintentionally
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It was embarrassing enough when the Government Accountability Office (GAO)  recently withdrew its defective “undercover study” issued last summer as part of the Obama Education Department’s campaign against for-profit colleges.  Readers will recall how the GAO sent undercover “students” to several schools to capture information as evidence for the Education Department and a Senate committee.  This was all part of their larger effort to justify the proposed “Gainful Employment” rule targeting for-profit career colleges that provide critical training and education to struggling Americans.  Worse, this came on the heels of a letter from Senators Tom Coburn (R – Oklahoma) and Richard Burr (R – North Carolina) seeking investigation into allegations of insider trading within the Education Department relating to its campaign to cripple career colleges.

Now comes a report providing greater detail on just how malignant that the defective GAO “undercover” report was.  According to Frederick Hess and Andrew Kelly, fully 16 of the report’s 28 findings required revision.  Tellingly, every single one of those “findings” skewed the same direction – casting for-profit career colleges negatively.  The statistical likelihood of all 16 randomly tilting the same way, according to Mr. Hess and Mr. Kelly, is 1 in 65,536.

That doesn’t suggest extreme coincidence.  It suggests intentional malfeasance.

Amid persistent unemployment and intense global competition, for-profit colleges provide important alternatives for education and job skills.  That is why CFIF has formally petitioned Chairman-Elect Darrell Issa (R – California) of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform  to investigate this matter.  It is also important that supporters and activists across the nation contact their Senators and Representatives to help stop the Obama Administration’s unjustifiable scheme.

December 17th, 2010 at 12:54 pm
This Week’s Liberty Update
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Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

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

Lee:  The “Commerce Clause” – An Invaluable Constitutional Restraint against ObamaCare and Other Tyrannies from the Founding Fathers
Senik:  The First Act of the Obama Presidency Comes to an End
Ellis:  The Lamestream Media’s Perpetual Bias Against Sarah Palin

Freedom Minute Video:  Obama’s Plan to Make College More Expensive
Podcast:  Commentator Asks Whether TSA Searches Are Going Too Far
Jester’s Courtroom:  Bamboo Not So Lucky for One Resident

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.

December 17th, 2010 at 11:53 am
Just the Facts: America Still Leads the World in R&D Spending – By Far
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This week, the Battelle Memorial Institute reported that China will surpass Japan in 2011 as the second-largest spender on research and development, spending $154 billion to Japan’s $144 billion.  An interesting milestone, perhaps, but that should be kept in its proper perspective.  Specifically, that the United States still spends well over twice as much on R&D – over $405 billion in 2011.  That’s significantly more than China and Japan combined.

This isn’t merely esoteric or trivial.  To the contrary, it’s important to keep in mind at a time when naysayers here and around the globe question America’s continuing leadership role, and threaten to undermine American preeminence via regulations such as “Net Neutrality” and other big-government “solutions” in search of imaginary problems.

December 17th, 2010 at 11:16 am
Ramirez Cartoon: How the Lame Duck Became Extinct…
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

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

December 17th, 2010 at 10:18 am
Podcast: Commentator Asks Whether TSA Searches Are Going Too Far
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Radio personality Mike Bates of 1330AM WEBY, Northwest Florida’s Talk Radio, discusses airport security searches and argues that the virtual strip searches and full-body pat downs cross the line.

Listen to the interview here.

December 17th, 2010 at 9:07 am
Video: Obama’s Plan to Make College More Expensive
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In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses the Department of Education’s war on for-profit colleges and universities, and the negative impacts of its proposed “gainful employment” regulations.