Is Obama Still President? (Victor Davis Hanson)

Is Obama Still President? – Victor Davis Hanson

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We are currently learning whether the United States really needs a president. Barack Obama has become a mere figurehead, who gives speeches few listen to any more, issues threats that scare fewer, and makes promises that almost no one believes he will keep. Yet America continues on, despite the fact that the foreign and domestic policies of Barack Obama are unraveling, in a manner unusual even for star-crossed presidential second terms.

Abroad, American policy in the Middle East is leaderless and in shambles after the Arab Spring – we’ve had the Syrian fiasco and bloodbath, leading from behind in Libya all the way to Benghazi, and the non-coup, non-junta in Egypt. This administration has managed to unite existential Shiite and Sunni enemies in a shared dislike of the United States. While Iran follows the Putin script from Syria, Israel seems ready to preempt its nuclear program, and Obama still mumbles empty “game changers” and “red line” threats of years past.

We have gone from reset with Russia to Putin as the playmaker of the Middle East. The Persian Gulf sheikhdoms are now mostly anti-American. The leaders of Germany and the people of France resent having their private communications tapped by Barack Obama – the constitutional lawyer and champion of universal human rights. Angela Merkel long ago grasped that President Obama would rather fly across the Atlantic to lobby for a Chicago Olympic Games – or tap her phone – than sit through a 20th-anniversary commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are beginning to see that the U.S. is more a neutral than a friend, as Obama negotiates with Putin about reducing the nuclear umbrella that protects America’s key non-nuclear allies. Perhaps they will soon make the necessary adjustments. China, Brazil, and India care little that Barack Obama still insists he is not George W. Bush, or that he seems to be trying to do to America what they seek to undo in their own countries.

The world’s leaders do not any longer seem much impressed by the president’s cat-like walk down the steps of Air Force One, or the soaring cadences that rechannel hope-and=change themes onto the world scene. They acknowledge that their own publics may like the American president, and especially his equivocation about the traditional role of American power in the world. But otherwise, for the next three years, the world is in a holding pattern, wondering whether there is a president of the United States to reckon with or a mere teleprompted functionary. Certainly, the Obama Nobel Peace Prize is now the stuff of comedy.

At home, the signature Affordable Care Act is proving its sternest critics prescient. The mess can best be summed up by Republicans’ being demonized for trying to delay or defund Obamacare – after the president himself chose not to implement elements of his own law – followed immediately by congressional Democrats’ seeking to parrot the Republicans. So are the Democrats followers of Ted Cruz or Barack Obama? Is Obama himself following Ted Cruz?

The problem is not just that all the president’s serial assurances about Obamacare proved untrue – premiums and deductibles will go up, many will lose their coverage and their doctors, new taxes will be needed, care will be curtailed, signups are nearly impossible, and businesses will be less, not more, competitive – but that no one should ever have believed they could possibly be true unless in our daily lives we usually get more and better stuff at lower cost.

More gun control is dead. Comprehensive immigration legislation depends on Republicans’ trusting a president who for two weeks smeared his House opponents as hostage-takers and house-breakers. Moreover, just as no one really read the complete text of the Obamacare legislation, so too no one quite knows what is in the immigration bill. There are few assurances that the border will be first secured under an administration with a record of nullifying “settled law” – or that those who have been convicted of crimes or have been long-time recipients of state or federal assistance will not be eligible for eventual citizenship. If the employer mandate was jettisoned, why would not border security be dropped once a comprehensive immigration bill passed? Or for that matter, if it is not passed, will the president just issue a blanket amnesty anyway?

In the age of Obama, we just ran up a $700 billion annual deficit and called it restraint, as if success were to be defined as not adding another $1 trillion each year to the national debt. The strange thing is that after the end of the Iraq War and the winding down in Afghanistan, forced sequestration, new taxes on high earners, and a supposedly recovering and revenue-producing economy, we are still running up near-record deficits. Stranger still, Obama is bragging that the deficit has been cut by billions – as if the 400-pound heart patient can be content that he lost 50 pounds in record time and so trimmed down to a manageable 350 pounds.

The Federal Reserve is pretty well stuck with near-zero interest rates. Even a slight rise would make servicing the huge debt nearly unmanageable. Yet continued record low interest, along with Obamacare, is strangling the economy. Millions of older Americans are learning that a mid-level government employee draws more in pension compensation than a private retiree receives in interest on 40 years’ worth of life savings.

“Millions of green jobs,” “cash for clunkers,” and “stimulus” are all now recognized as cruel jokes. Oddly, the more scandals come to light, the more immune the virtual president becomes. After the politicization of the IRS, the snooping on AP reporters, the Benghazi mess, the NSA eavesdropping, Fast and Furious, the multibillion-dollar overpayment in income-tax credits by the IRS, the Lisa Jackson fake e-mail identities, and the Pigford payments, the public has become numb – as if it to say, “Of course the Obama administration is not truthful. So what else is new?”

Three considerations are keeping the U.S. afloat without an active president. First, many working Americans have tuned the president out and simply go on about their business despite rather than because of this administration. If gas and oil leases have been curtailed on federal lands, there is record production on private land. Farmers are producing huge harvests and receiving historically high prices. Wall Street welcomes in capital that can find no return elsewhere. American universities’ science departments and professional schools still rate among the world’s best. There is as yet no French or Chinese Silicon Valley. In other words, after five years of stagnation, half the public more or less ignores the Obama administration and plods on.

Second, the other half of Americans gladly accept that Obama is an iconic rather than a serious president. Given his emblematic status as the nation’s first African-American president and his efforts to craft a vast coalition of those with supposed grievances against the majority, he will always have a strong base of supporters. With huge increases in federal redistributive support programs, and about half the population not paying federal income taxes, Obama is seen as the protector of the noble deserving, who should receive more from a government to which the ignoble undeserving must give far more. And if it is a question of adding another million or so people to the food-stamp or disability rolls, or ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon or that China does not bully Japan, the former wins every time.

Finally, the media accept that Obama represents a rare confluence of forces that promotes a progressive agenda. His youth, his charisma, his background, his exotic nomenclature, and his “cool” all have allowed a traditionally unpopular leftist ideology to enter the mainstream. Why endanger all that with a focus on Benghazi or the disaster of Obamacare? We have had, in the course of our history, plenty of Grants, McKinleys, Hardings, Nixons, and Clintons, but never quite an administration of scandal so exempt from media scrutiny.

As far as his image goes, it does not really matter to what degree Obama actually “fundamentally transforms America.” For the media, that he seeks to do so, and that he drives conservatives crazy trying, is seen as enough reason to surrender their autonomy and become ancillary to the effort. The media believe that once he is out of office, they can regain their credibility by going after the next president with renewed vigor as recompense.

In other words, the presidency has become a virtual office. Almost half the people and most of the media do not mind, and those who do just plod onward.

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Obama As Chaos (Victor Davis Hanson)

Obama As Chaos – Victor Davis Hanson

Amid all the charges and countercharges in Washington over the government shutdown, there is at least one common theme: Barack Obama’s various charges always lead to a dead end. They are chaos, and chaos is hard to understand, much less refute.

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By that I mean when the president takes up a line of argument against his opponents, it cannot really be taken seriously – not just because it is usually not factual, but also because it always contradicts positions that Obama himself has taken earlier or things he has previously asserted. Whom to believe – Obama 1.0, Obama 2.0, or Obama 3.0?

When the president derides the idea of shutting down the government over the debt ceiling, we almost automatically assume that he himself tried to do just that when as a senator he voted against the Bush administration request in 2006, when the debt was about $6 trillion less than it is now.

When the president blasts the Republicans for trying to subvert the “settled law” of Obamacare, we trust that Obama himself had earlier done precisely that when he unilaterally subverted his own legislation – by quite illegally discarding the employer mandate provision of Obamacare. At least the Republicans tried to revise elements of Obamacare through existing legislative protocols; the president preferred executive fiat to nullify a settled law.

When the president deplores the lack of bipartisanship and the lockstep Republican effort to defund Obamacare, we remember that the president steamrolled the legislation through the Congress without a single Republican vote.

When the president laments the loss of civility and reminds the public that he uses “calm” rhetoric during the impasse, we know he has accused his opponents of being on an “ideological crusade” and of being hostage takers and blackmailers who have “a gun held to the head of the American people,” while his top media adviser Dan Pfeiffer has said that they had “a bomb strapped to their chest.”

When the president insists that the Republican effort to hold up the budget is unprecedented, we automatically deduce that, in fact, the action has many precedents, and on frequent prior occasions was a favored ploy of Democrats to gain leverage over Republican administrations.

In short, whenever the president prefaces a sweeping statement with one of his many emphatics – “make no mistake about it,” “I’m not making this up,” “in point of fact,” “let me be perfectly clear” – we know that the reverse is always true. For Obama, how something is said matters far more than what is said. If he stumbles, as is his wont, through an un-teleprompted remark that on rare occasions can be mostly accurate, that is a serious lapse; if, more frequently, he mellifluously asserts a teleprompted falsehood, there is little worry. The result is not so much untruth, lies, or distortions, as virtual chaos. Is what he says untrue, contradictory of what he said or did earlier, or just nonsensical?

These strange flights of fantasy are not new. When Barack Obama boasts that “American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years,” we know that is despite, not because of, his efforts, remembering that oil and gas leases have markedly decreased during the Obama administration, as they have soared on private and state lands. Again, how do you refute fantasy?

When he brags of the present chaos in the Middle East by saying that “a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa” during his administration, we translate that into 100,000 are dead in Syria and U.S. credibility about red lines is shredded; the Muslim Brotherhood coming to power in Egypt followed by a coup and rule by a junta; “leading from behind” in Libya resulting in a virtual Somalia well before the Benghazi disaster; abdication in Iraq, which is now less stable than it was in 2009; and Vietnam circa 1975 looming in Afghanistan.

When the president boasts that the deficit is actually shrinking under his leadership, we assume he is referring to the forced budget cuts brought about by sequestration that he not only opposed, but also warned would be disastrous.

These paradoxes could be interpreted in various ways. True, Obama is a politician who takes up and discards arguments as he finds them useful, always branding those currently in use as somehow morally superior to the alternative. Obama is also a zealot and a community organizer who is not content with opposing the positions of his opponents, but always must impugn their motives as well.

But a third explanation is more likely. Obama simply couldn’t care less about what he says at any given moment, whether it is weighing in on the football name “Redskins” or the Travyon Martin trial. He is detached and unconcerned about the history of an issue, about which he is usually poorly informed. Raising the debt ceiling is an abstraction; all that matters is that when he is president it is a good thing and when he is opposing a president it is a bad one. Let aides sort out the chaos. Obamacare will lower premiums, not affect existing medical plans, and not require increased taxes; that all of the above are untrue matters nothing. Who could sort out the chaos?

When other presidents act unilaterally, Obama cites his constitutional experience in demagoguing them, as he did against Bush during the crafting of the war on terror legislation. When he wishes either to violate the law or to adopt a prior Bush protocol, then he simply does so, and lets others sort out the inconsistency. Sometimes the result is so chaotic that Obama ends up bragging that he wants to shut down Guantanamo Bay, which he has kept open for five years, as if it was long ago virtually shut down. When we go into Libya, we do so instead of going into Syria because Libya is said to be a war and the violence in Syria a mere police action; when Libya turns out to be a disaster, then we will go into Syria.

During the present crisis, Obama simply asks his aides what are the arguments of the day to be made. When he is instructed that Republicans are doing something bad, something unprecedented, and something anarchic, then like his often referenced hero LeBron James, Obama wants the rhetoric ball to complete the demagogic play, which results in the usual chaotic invective. That the Republicans are doing something that is not unprecedented or anarchic, but similar to what Obama himself and his party have done in the past, is not even noticed.

In the mind of Obama there are many narratives. If something is a little better in the Middle East, but most things are a lot worse, then the little is his, and the most belongs to others. If somebody did not listen to Obama and decided to produce more gas and oil, then what difference does it make – given that at least they produced more gas and oil at the same time that he was in office?

If smaller deficits are deemed by most to be better than larger ones, then Obama agrees and who cares that he was indifferent whether they became bigger or smaller?

The media, of course, accepts that what Obama says on any given day will contradict what he has said or done earlier, or will be an exaggeration or caricature of his opponents’ position, or simply be detached from reality. But in their daily calculus, that resulting chaos is minor in comparison to the symbolic meaning of Obama. He is, after all, both the nation’s first African-American president and our first left-wing progressive since Franklin Roosevelt.

In comparison with those two facts, no others really matter.

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Obama’s Watergates (Victor Davis Hanson)

Obama’s Watergates – Victor Davis Hanson

The truth about Benghazi, the Associated Press/James Rosen monitoring, the IRS corruption, the NSA octopus, and Fast and Furious is still not exactly known. Almost a year after the attacks on our Benghazi facilities, we are only now learning details of CIA gun-running, military stand-down orders, aliases of those involved who are still hard to locate, massaged talking points, and the weird jailing of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

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We still do not quite know why Eric Holder’s Justice Department went after the Associated Press or Fox News’s James Rosen – given that members of the administration were themselves illegally leaking classified information about the Stuxnet virus, the Yemeni double agent, the drone program, and the bin Laden document trove, apparently to further the narrative of an underappreciated Pattonesque commander-in-chief up for reelection.

Almost everything the administration has assured us about the IRS scandal has proven false: It was not confined to rogue Cincinnati agents; liberal and conservative groups were not equally targeted; and there were political appointees who were involved in or knew of the misdeeds.

The NSA debacle can so far best be summed up by citing Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who has now confessed that he lied under oath (“clearly erroneous”) to the U.S. Congress. Even his earlier mea culpa of providing the “least untruthful” statement was an untruth.

TIMELINES

Yet the truth does come out. None of these scandals so far has been as ignored as the initial Watergate break-in and associated Nixon-administration misdeeds. If the doctrinaire press is now leading from behind, instead of launching a full-scale attack as it did in the Watergate years, the media as a whole are far more diverse than in 1973, with so many different venues and agendas that it’s difficult to suppress the truth for long.

Remember, between when the Nixon operatives drew up their initial plans to commit illegal acts in early 1972 and when the media furor over cover-ups and lying forced Nixon out of office in late summer 1974, the time elapsed was over 30 months – a period as long as or longer than the gestation of the present scandals. Recall also that no one died in Watergate; that the IRS resisted, not abetted, calls to go after critics of the president; and that Attorney General John Mitchell did not lie under oath to Congress. Scandals wax and wane, but until the truth is told, they never quite end.

THE DENIALS

There is also nothing new in administration denials. Both President Obama and his press secretary, Jay Carney, characterized the Benghazi, IRS, AP, and NSA allegations as “phony.” So too Nixon’s press secretary, Ron Ziegler, characterized the Watergate break-in as “a third-rate burglary attempt” and insisted that “Certain elements may try to stretch the Watergate burglary beyond what it is.” In August 1972, when news of the break-in first got out, Nixon himself assured the nation, “I can say categorically that… no one in the White House staff, no one in this Administration, presently employed, was involved in this very bizarre incident.” The Obama administration’s variation on outright denial is “What difference, at this point, does it make?” And when Jay Carney declares, “I accept that ‘stylistic’ might not precisely describe a change of one word to another,” I am reminded of Ron Ziegler’s quip, “This is the operative statement. The others are inoperative.”

THE EXODUSES

By the summer of 1974, Richard Nixon was almost alone. His attorney general, John Mitchell; his closest two advisers, Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman; his White House counsel, John Dean; and a score of others – some of them directly involved, others only tangentially mentioned – had resigned, had been fired, or had been indicted. Those not involved simply wanted out of the administration, lest they suffer from guilt by association.

Less than a year after Benghazi, all the chief participants in reacting to the attack are gone from their positions: Susan Rice left the U.N. ambassadorship and is now a very quiet national-security adviser; Hillary Clinton is no longer secretary of state; we have both a new defense secretary and a new CIA director; the ranking military officer responsible for the area around Benghazi, General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, has retired.

Likewise there have been several resignations and suspensions from the IRS. I don’t think James Clapper will last long as director of national intelligence – such a high-ranking official simply cannot confess to lying under oath to a congressional committee and expect ever again to be taken seriously. Eric Holder may prove to be Obama’s version of a steadfast-to-the-very-last General Haig; yet, like the mostly silent Susan Rice, he has been so tainted with scandal as to have little reputation left other than for being loyal to the president, and is thus irrelevant.

I think it is a fair guess that had the public learned the truth about the Benghazi deaths – that a videomaker had no role in the violence and that the administration was paranoid about drawing attention to an ascendant al-Qaeda, U.S. missile-running, and lax diplomatic security – or about the IRS targeting or the NSA surveillance or the AP/Rosen monitoring, Barack Obama would have lost a close election. All these scandals had their geneses before the 2012 election, and all were adroitly hushed up until after Obama’s second inauguration.

That too is in accord with the Watergate pattern. The Nixon administration covered up in Machiavellian fashion the June 1972 Watergate break-in, almost five months before the president’s landslide win. At least six weeks before the election, the nation knew that there were members of the Nixon administration or the Nixon reelection committee involved in Watergate-related misdeeds – but they found that in comparison to Vietnam, the Chinese initiatives, or the economy, the Watergate news was boring. Again, that the Obama scandals were successfully kept hushed up before the 2012 election is not unusual.

Whereas Nixon suppressed the truth and won big in 1972, by the 1974 midterm elections there had been enough blowback from the Watergate scandals that the Democrats picked up four Senate seats and 49 House seats. In other words, 2014 is still a long time away.

THE TARGETS

The Obama administration’s methods and aims – going after political opponents, monitoring a supposedly leaking press, fingering fall guys, soiling the IRS – are likewise Nixonian to the core.

Nixon tried to use the IRS to punish his enemies, although Lois Lerner and William Wilkins appear to have had far less integrity than did Nixon’s IRS chief, Johnnie Walters, who resisted rather than abetted Nixon’s illegal efforts. As in the case of doctoring CIA talking points and pressuring CIA operatives, so too Nixon tried to cloak misdeeds as “national security” operations. Nixon went after members of the press; Obama had the communications of James Rosen of Fox News – and even those of Rosen’s parents – monitored. Mr. Nakoula was the poor soul the authorities almost immediately jailed for his supposedly right-wing, Islamophobic film. He proved a sort of updated version of the caricatured crazy Cuban burglars and the unhinged Gordon Liddy, whose freelancing zeal allegedly caused the Watergate problem in the first place. The only difference is that the latter really did commit relevant illegal acts, while Nakoula’s videomaking was uncouth, not criminal – and irrelevant to the Benghazi deaths.

THE FIFTH

Lois Lerner’s resort to the Fifth Amendment is not new and will not be successful in covering up her record at the IRS. During the Watergate scandals, almost everyone from Charles Colson to John Dean took the Fifth at one point or another while under oath in front of various committees and grand juries. Such stonewalling delayed but did not stop the investigations. I expect more participants in the Obama-administration misdeeds will invoke the Fifth, and the dodges will ultimately have little effect, other than to remind us that many in the administration have lots to hide.

THE FALLOUT

Nixon left office with historic low poll numbers and the economy a wreck. His successful feat of Vietnamization was undone by Congress’s refusal to make good on American promises of aid. His foreign trips were seen as failed efforts to regain political stature back home.

So too already with the unraveling of Obama. Cap-and-trade, green energy, and the idea of global warming are politically dead. So is a new gun-control initiative. The president, not his critics, is dismantling key elements of Obamacare, his signature achievement. Cabinet posts resemble musical chairs. About all we can expect is a new Nixonesque war on someone – post–Trayvon Martin “bigots,” conservatives supposedly waging a “war on women,” “nativists” who sabotaged “comprehensive immigration reform.” In other words, there will be no positive initiatives, just attacks on Them.

The president’s poll numbers are tanking, and even some of the liberal press feels increasingly betrayed. The Middle East is a mess: Syria a charnel house, Egypt pure chaos, Libya the new Somalia, Iraq abandoned, Afghanistan ignored. Al-Qaeda is on the run — toward Westerners everywhere.

The common denominators are perceived presidential weakness, and inattention. But whereas Richard Nixon was seen as a brilliant foreign-policy realist, Obama prior to his scandals was already struggling to overcome the reputation of being a naïf about foreig and cool, distant, and inept at home.

Because something terribly wrong occurred in Benghazi, with the IRS, with the treatment of the Associated Press and James Rosen, and perhaps with Edward Snowden and the NSA, and those involved are seeking to mask their culpability, the scandals grind on. They will not end until the truth sets us all free. So expect a long-drawn-out and sordid saga.

If the administration continues to stonewall and taunt its critics, there will soon appear updated Obama versions of diehard Nixon defenders like Rabbi Korff and Representative Sandman – with plenty of the same old “Let me be perfectly clear” and “Make no mistake about it” presidential denials.

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Zimmerman Case’s Legal Absurdities Astound (Mark Steyn)

Zimmerman Case’s Legal Absurdities Astound – Mark Steyn

Just when I thought the George Zimmerman “trial” couldn’t sink any lower, the prosecutorial limbo dancers of the State of Florida magnificently lowered their own bar in the final moments of their cable-news celebrity.

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In real justice systems, the state decides what crime has been committed and charges somebody with it. In the Zimmerman trial, the state’s “theory of the case” is that it has no theory of the case: Might be murder, might be manslaughter, might be aggravated assault, might be a zillion other things, but it’s something. If you’re a juror, feel free to convict George Zimmerman of whatever floats your boat.

Nailing a guy on something, anything, is a time-honored American tradition: If you can’t get Al Capone on the Valentine’s Day massacre, get him on his taxes. Americans seem to have a sneaky admiration for this sort of thing, notwithstanding that, as we now know, the government is happy to get lots of other people on their taxes, too. Ever since the president of the United States (a man so cautious and deferential to legal niceties that he can’t tell you whether the Egyptian army removing the elected head of state counts as a military coup until his advisors have finished looking into the matter) breezily declared that if he had a son he’d look like Trayvon, ever since the U.S. Department of so-called Justice dispatched something called its “Community Relations Services” to Florida to help organize anti-Zimmerman rallies at taxpayer expense, ever since the politically savvy governor appointed a “special prosecutor” and the deplorably unsavvy Sanford Police Chief was eased out, the full panoply of state power has been deployed to nail Zimmerman on anything.

How difficult can that be in a country in which a Hispanic Obama voter can be instantly transformed into the poster boy for white racism? Who ya gonna believe – Al Sharpton or your lying eyes? As closing arguments began on Thursday, the prosecutors asked the judge to drop the aggravated assault charge and instruct the jury on felony murder committed in the course of child abuse. Felony murder is a murder that occurs during a felony, and, according to the prosecution’s theory du jour, the felony George Zimmerman was engaged in that night was “child abuse,” on the grounds that Trayvon Martin, when he began beating up Zimmerman, was 17-years-old. This will come as news to most casual observers of the case, who’ve only seen young Trayvon in that beatific photo of him as a 12-year-old.

In that one pitiful closing moment, the case achieved its sublime reductio ad absurdum: After a year’s labors, after spending a million bucks, after calling a legion of risible witnesses, even after the lead prosecutor dragged in a department store mannequin and personally straddled it on the floor of the court, the state is back to where it all began – the ancient snapshot of a smiling middle-schooler that so beguiled American news editors, Trayvon Martin apparently being the only teenager in America to have gone entirely unphotographed in the second decade of the 21st century. And, if Trayvon is a child, his malefactor is by logical extension a child abuser.

Needless to say, even in a nutso jurisdiction like Florida, the crime of “child abuse” was never intended to cover a wizened old granny kicking the ankle of the punk who’s mugging her a week before his 18th birthday. But, if ‘aggravated pedophilia’ is what it takes to fry that puffy white cracker’s butt, so be it.

If, for the purposes of American show trials, a Hispanic who voted for a black president can be instantly transformed into a white racist, there’s no reason why he can’t be a child abuser, too. The defense was notified of this novel development, on which the prosecution (judging by the volume of precedents assembled) had been working for weeks or more likely months, at 7:30 that morning. If you know your Magna Carta, you’ll be aware that “no official shall place a man on trial… without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.” But the rights enjoyed by free men in the England of King John in 1215 are harder to come by in the State of Florida eight centuries later.

So the prosecutors decided, the day before the case went to the jury, that Zimmerman was engaged in an act of child abuse that had somehow got a bit out of hand: no “credible witnesses” to this charge had been presented in the preceding weeks, but hey, what the hell? Opposing counsel, taking the reasonable position that they’d shown up to defend Mr. Zimmerman of murder and had had no idea until that morning that he was also on trial for child abuse, check bouncing, jaywalking, an expired fishing license, or whatever other accusation took the fancy of the State of Florida, asked for time to research the relevant case law. Judge Debra Nelson gave them until 1 p.m. At that point, it was 10.30 a.m. By the time the genius jurist had returned to the bench, she had reconsidered, and decided that “child abuse” would be a reach too far, even for her disgraceful court.

The defining characteristic of English law is its distribution of power between prosecutor, judge and jury. This delicate balance has been utterly corrupted in the United States to the point where today at the federal level there is a conviction rate of over 90 percent, which would impress Mubarak and the House of Saud, if not quite yet, Kim Jong-Un. American prosecutors have an unhealthy and disreputable addiction to what I called, at the conclusion of the trial of my old boss Conrad Black six years ago, “countless counts.” In Conrad’s case, he was charged originally with 17 crimes, three of which were dropped by the opening of the trial and another halfway through, leaving 13 for the jury, nine of which they found the defendant not guilty of, bringing it down to four, one of which the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional and the remaining three of which they vacated, only to have two of them reinstated by the lower appeals court. In other words, the prosecution lost 88 percent of the case, but the 12 percent they won was enough to destroy Conrad Black’s life.

Multiple charges tend, through sheer weight of numbers, to favor a result in which the jury convict on some and acquit on others and then tell themselves that they’ve reached a “moderate” “compromise” as befits the reasonable persons they assuredly are. It is, of course, not reasonable. Indeed, the notion of a “compromise” between conviction and acquittal is a dagger at the heart of justice. It’s the repugnant “plea bargain” in reverse, but this time to bargain with the jury: okay, we threw the book at him and it went nowhere, so why don’t we all agree to settle? In Sanford, the state’s second closing “argument” to the strange, shrunken semi-jury of strikingly unrepresentative peers – facts, shmacts, who really knows? Vote with your hearts – brilliantly dispenses with the need for a “case” at all.

We have been warned that in the event of an acquittal there could be riots. My own feeling is that the Allegedly Reverend Al Sharpton, now somewhat emaciated and underbouffed from his Tawana Brawley heyday, is not the Tahrir Square-scale race-baiting huckster he once was.

But if Floridians are of a mind to let off a little steam, they might usefully burn down the Sanford courthouse and salt the earth. The justice system revealed by this squalid trial is worth rioting over.

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More op-eds:

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Obama’s Rule By Decree – Andrew C. McCarthy

Barack Obama has never been clear on the distinction between sovereign and servant, between the American people and those, including himself, elected to do the people’s business. We saw that yet again this week with the president’s unilateral rewrite of the Bataan Death March known as the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare. For this president, laws are not binding expressions of the popular will, but trifling recommendations to be ignored when expedient.

The collapse of law – not just Obamacare but law in general – is the Obama administration’s most egregious scandal. With the IRS here, Benghazi there, and Eric Holder’s institutionalized malevolence crowding the middle, it gets little direct attention. Perhaps it is so ubiquitous, so quotidian, that we’ve become inured to it.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Black Education Tragedy – Walter E. Williams

As if more evidence were needed about the tragedy of black education, Rachel Jeantel, a witness for the prosecution in the George Zimmerman murder trial, put a face on it for the nation to see. Some of that evidence unfolded when Zimmerman’s defense attorney asked 19-year-old Jeantel to read a letter that she allegedly had written to Trayvon Martin’s mother. She responded that she doesn’t read cursive, and that’s in addition to her poor grammar, syntax and communication skills.

Jeantel is a senior at Miami Norland Senior High School. How in the world did she manage to become a 12th-grader without being able to read cursive writing? That’s a skill one would expect from a fourth-grader. Jeantel is by no means an exception at her school.

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America’s Sociopath Fetish – Michelle Malkin

I would like to declare a war on women – namely, all those cringe-inducing ninnies who lust after every celebrity criminal defendant with big muscles, tattoos, puppy-dog eyes or Hollywood hair.

You know who I’m talking about, right? America’s Bad Boy groupies. They’re on the courthouse steps with their “Free Jahar” signs, cooing over how “hot” and “cute” the bloodstained Boston Marathon bombing suspect is. He “can blow me up with babies,” one moral reprobate quipped shortly after his capture. “I’m not gonna lie, the second bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is hot. #sorrynotsorry,” another young girl boasted.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Supposed Crimes Of The Mind – Victor Davis Hanson

When do insensitive words destroy reputations?

It all depends.

Celebrity chef Paula Deen was dropped by her TV network, her publisher, and many of her corporate partners after she testified in a legal deposition that she used the N-word some 30 years ago. The deposition was made in a lawsuit against Deen and her brother over allegations of sexual and racial harassment.

Actor Alec Baldwin recently let loose with a barrage of homophobic crudities. Unlike Deen, Baldwin spewed his epithets in the present. He tweeted them publicly, along with threats of physical violence. So far he has avoided Paula Deen’s ignominious fate.

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Who Is Racist? – Thomas Sowell

I am so old that I can remember when most of the people promoting race hate were white.

Apparently other Americans also recognize that the sources of racism are different today from what they were in the past. According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 31 percent of blacks think that most blacks are racists, while 24 percent of blacks think that most whites are racist.

The difference between these percentages is not great, but it is remarkable nevertheless. After all, generations of blacks fought the white racism from which they suffered for so long. If many blacks themselves now think that most other blacks are racist, that is startling.

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Making Government Smarter – Jonah Goldberg

President Obama wants to make government “smarter.” Who could disagree with that? After all, it’s unlikely that even the biggest fans of big government believe the way government does what it does is the very best, very smartest way imaginable. Whether you’re an anarchist, a Leninist, or somewhere in between, everyone can agree that Uncle Sam could afford a few more IQ points.

Let’s put it another way. If government is going to do X, it should do X the smartest way possible. On that proposition both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party agree.

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The Obama Borg (Victor Davis Hanson)

The Obama Borg – Victor Davis Hanson

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In Star Trek lore, the Borg was a collective of servile drone operatives that sought to assimilate other species into its “hive mind.”

Something akin to that creepy groupthink arose when the Obama administration took power and sought to reformulate the so-called war on terror. Almost immediately, Obama operatives suggested that radical Islamists were no more likely than any other group to commit acts of terrorism. In fact, the very idea of terrorism – not to mention a war against it – was supposedly a Bush-administration construct unfairly aimed at Muslims.

Obama apparently sincerely believed that there was no intrinsic connection between Islamism and terror; or, if there was, Islamic radicalism was no more dangerous than right-wing or supposedly Christian-inspired terror. Or if Islamic radicalism did arise, it might be mitigated by multicultural sympathy and outreach, mostly by contextualizing the violence as an inevitable result of prior Western culpability.

Precisely because the Bush-Cheney protocols had thwarted over 40 post-9/11 Islamist plots, Senator Obama had the latitude, in 2008, to campaign for the presidency on the premise that these measures were both unlawful and superfluous. After he became president and learned of their utility – and assumed the political responsibility for the consequences of abandoning his effective anti-terrorism inheritance – Obama squared the circle of embracing or expanding all the elements of the war against terror by politically correct euphemism.

The result has been that ever since 2009, various members of the administration collective have sought, each according to his station, to bring us into the network of not associating Islamism with terror. And the Borg have certainly been diverse, as all sorts of political appointees, opportunists, and career officers plugged themselves into the hive. Obama may have killed ten times as many suspected Muslim terrorists by drone as did Bush, but we were to assume that the fact that there were no Christian, Jewish, or Buddhist victims of Hellfire missiles was irrelevant.

Shortly after assuming office as the head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano associated the prior “war on terror” with a “politics of fear”: “In my speech, although I did not use the word ‘terrorism,’ I referred to ‘man-caused’ disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.” Again, one wishes to ask her how many Christians have been targeted by Obama-administration Predator drones.

Various members of the Defense Department soon were plugged into the new narrative of “this administration” and, as good automatons, were eager to spread the Borg directives. A memo sent by the Defense Department’s security office to Pentagon staff members read, “This administration prefers to avoid using the term ‘Long War’ or ‘Global War on Terror.’ Please use ‘Overseas Contingency Operation.’”

After the Fort Hood shootings, the Defense Department characterized the murders as “workplace violence,” despite the known fact that Major Hasan had been interviewed by the FBI because of his correspondence with the radical imam Anwar al-Awlaki, and even though he yelled “Allahu Akbar!” as he killed twelve soldiers and one civilian and wounded more than 30 others. The military was absorbed into the non-Islamic groupthink to such a degree that Army Chief of Staff George Casey editorialized of the mass murder of his soldiers: “Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.” Dismantling the “diversity program” would be worse than the slaughter at Fort Hood? These days our martyrs are to die not on the altar of freedom, but on the altar of diversity?

The hive thinking quickly spread throughout the Obama administration’s intelligence apparat, as even those who once worked for George W. Bush and, in fact, had been deeply embedded in the Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism efforts were drawn into the Borg – quite willingly and for careerist reasons. Despite the Muslim Brotherhood’s long history of Islamist-inspired violence, and its decades-long anti-American efforts, James Clapper, director of national intelligence (who had worked for the Bush administration and defended its launching the Iraq War by claiming that Saddam Hussein had sent his WMD stockpiles to Syria on the eve of the American invasion), offered an absurd illustration of hive thinking: “The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ is an umbrella term for a variety of movements. In the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.”

John Brennan – who, like Clapper, in his pre-Borg days both worked in the Bush administration and was criticized for his anti-Islamic-terrorism zealotry (among other things, for supposedly promoting enhanced interrogations in Guantanamo of the now-politically-incorrect category of “enemy combatants”) – also was rewired when he became Obama’s counter-terrorism advisor. Soon he duly opined of the now-taboo idea of jihadism, “Jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself or one’s community.” Apparently the Tsarnaevs got a bit out of hand as they were purifying themselves in their holy struggle on the streets of Boston.

Sometimes the Borg drew in those well outside the military, intelligence, and national-security communities. According to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, when President Obama set out the “foremost” task of NASA, it had nothing to do with space exploration. Rather, the president “wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science… and math and engineering.” I think the Borg logic here is something like the following: Thanks to the legacy of Averroes, America can still get to Mars – and thanks to our recognition of that debt, the Tsarnaevs and Hasans of the world will “feel good” and are going to celebrate diversity rather than kill lots of innocent people.

These examples of the Borg could be vastly expanded, from Homeland Security’s warning of future violence not from Muslim males but rather from “right-wing extremism” — emanating from returning war veterans and anti-abortion activists – to the mandatory substitution of “militant extremism” and “violent extremism” for “Islamic extremism.”

When so many in government have been recircuited into the hive, it is no surprise that the FBI in the field has dropped its proper focus on militant Islam, or that the thug Vladimir Putin proved more helpful than did our own FBI and CIA directors in the Tsarnaev case. After all, the FBI had interviewed, but not detained, a number of men who later proved to be Islamic terrorists, such as the Tsarnaevs, Nidal Hasan, Anwar al-Awlaki, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, and David Coleman Headley. One wonders what common complaint or malady these subjects shared – anti-abortion zealotry, tax resistance, homophobia, secret tea-party sympathies, several tours in Anbar Province, nativist anger at illegal immigrants, or simple head injuries?

What will break up the Borg? Tragically, it may take another Boston-style bombing to send enough rogue voltage through the system to explode the circuitry and free the drones from the hive.

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2013: Welcome To Very, Very Scary Times (Victor Davis Hanson)

2013: Welcome To Very, Very Scary Times – Victor Davis Hanson

On the One Hand…

These should not be foreboding years. The U.S. is in the midst of a veritable energy revolution. There is a godsend of new gas and oil discoveries that will help to curtail our fiscal and foreign policy vulnerabilities – an energy bonanza despite, not because of, the present administration.

Demographically, our rivals – the EU, China, Russia, and Japan – are both shrinking and aging at rates far in excess of our own.

In terms of farming, the United States is exporting more produce than ever before at record prices. Americans eat the safest and cheapest food on the planet.

As far as high-tech gadgetry, the global companies that have most changed the world in recent years – Amazon’s online buying, Google search engines, Apple iPhones, iPads, and Mac laptops – are mostly American. There is a reason why Mexican nationals are not crossing their border into Guatemala – and it is not because they prefer English speakers to Spanish speakers.

Militarily, the United States is light years ahead of its rivals. And so on…

The New Poverty Is the Old Middle Class

We have redefined poverty itself through government entitlements, modes of mass production and consumerism, and technological breakthroughs. The poor man is not hungry; more likely he suffers from obesity, now endemic among the less affluent. He is not deprived of a big-screen TV, a Kia, warm water, or an air conditioner. (My dad got our first color television during my first year in college in 1972, a small 19 inch portable; I bought my first new car at 39, and quit changing my own oil at 44.)

In classical terms, today’s poor man is poor not in relative global terms (e.g. compared to a Russian, Bolivian, or Yemeni), but in the sense that there are those in America who have more things and choices than does he: a BMW instead of a Hyundai, ribeye instead of ground beef, Pellegrino rather than regular Coke, Tuscany in the summer rather than Anaheim at Disneyland, and L.L. Bean tasteful footwear rather than Payless shoes. I was in Manhattan not long ago, and noticed that my cheap, discount-store sportcoat and Target tie did not raise eyebrows among the wealthy people I spoke to, suggesting that the veneer of aristocracy is now within all our reach. When I returned to Selma, I noted that those ahead of me at Super Wal-Mart were clothed no differently than was I. Their EBD cards bought about the same foods.

Put all the above developments together, and an alignment of the planets is favoring America as never before – as long as we do not do something stupid to nullify what fate, our ancestors, and our own ingenuity have given us. But unfortunately that is precisely what is now happening.

The New Hubris

These are the most foreboding times in my 59 years. The reelection of Barack Obama has released a surge of rare honesty among the Left about its intentions, coupled with a sense of triumphalism that the country is now on board for still greater redistributionist change.

There is no historical appreciation among the new progressive technocracy that central state planning, whether the toxic communist brand or supposedly benevolent socialism, has only left millions of corpses in its wake, or abject poverty and misery. Add up the Soviet Union and Mao’s China and the sum is 80 million murdered or starved to death. Add up North Korea, Cuba, and the former Eastern Europe, and the tally is egalitarian poverty and hopelessness. The EU sacrificed democratic institutions for coerced utopianism and still failed, leaving its Mediterranean shore bankrupt and despondent.

Nor is there much philosophical worry that giving people massive subsidies destroys individualism, the work ethic, and the personal sense of accomplishment. There is rarely worry expressed that a profligate nation that borrows from others abroad and those not born has no moral compass. There is scant political appreciation that the materialist Marxist argument – that justice is found only through making sure that everyone has the same slice of stuff from the zero-sum pie – was supposed to end up on the ash heap of history.

Read the News and Weep

That is not conspiracy talk, but simply a distillation of what I read today. On the last day of the year when I am writing this, I offer you just three sample op-eds.

A journalist, Donald Kaul, in the Des Moines Register offers us a three-step, presto! plan to stop school shootings:

Repeal the Second Amendment, the part about guns anyway. It’s badly written, confusing and more trouble than it’s worth. …Declare the NRA a terrorist organization and make membership illegal. Hey! We did it to the Communist Party, and the NRA has led to the deaths of more of us than American Commies ever did. …Then I would tie Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, our esteemed Republican leaders, to the back of a Chevy pickup truck and drag them around a parking lot until they saw the light on gun control.

Note the new ease with which the liberal mind calls for trashing the Constitution, outlawing those whom they don’t like (reminiscent of “punish our enemies“?), and killing those politicians with whom they don’t agree (we are back to Bush Derangement Syndrome, when novels, movies, and op-eds dreamed of the president’s assassination.)

What would be the Register’s reaction should a conservative opponent of abortion dare write, “Repeal the First Amendment; ban Planned Parenthood as a terrorist organization; and drag Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi from a truck”? If an idiot were to write that trash, I doubt the Washington Times or Wall Street Journal would print such sick calls for overturning the Constitution and committing violence against public officials.

Ah Yes, Still More Redistribution

Turning to a column in The New Republic, John Judis, in honest fashion, more or less puts all the progressive cards on the table in a column titled “Obama’s Tax Hikes Won’t Be Nearly Big Enough” – a candor about what the vast $5 trillion deficits of Obama’s first term were all about in the first place.

Here is the summation quote: “But to fund these programs, governments will have to extract a share of income from those who are able to afford them and use the revenues to make the services available for everyone.”

Note that Judas was not talking about the projected new taxes in the fiscal cliff talks, but something far greater to come. He understands well that the “gorge the beast” philosophy that resulted in these astronomical debts will require enormous new sources of revenue, funds “to extract” from “those who are able to afford them” in order to “make services available for everyone.”

That is about as neat a definition of coerced socialism as one can find. Implicit in Judas’s formulation is that only a very well-educated (and well-compensated) technocratic class will possess the wisdom, the proper schooling, and the morality to adjudicate who are to be the extracted ones and who the new “everyone.”

The Constitution – Who the Hell Needs It?

The third item in my year-end reading was the most disturbing. A law professor (could it be otherwise?) named Louis Michael Seidman enlightens us with “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution” – yet another vision of what the now triumphant liberal mind envisions for us all:

As the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.

Did Madison force Obama to borrow a half-billion dollars to fund Solyndra and its multimillionaire con artists?

Note Seidman’s use of “evil,” which tips his hand that our great moralist is on an ethical crusade to change the lives of lesser folk, who had the misfortune of growing up in America – a place so much less prosperous, fair, and secure than, say, Russia, China, the Middle East, Africa, South America, Spain, Greece, Italy, or Japan and Germany (in the earlier 20th century history). When I lived in Greece, traveled to Libya, and went into Mexico, I forgot to sigh, “My God, these utopias are possible for us too, if we just junked that evil Constitution.”

White Guys Did It

The non-archaic, un-idiosyncratic, and anti-downright evil Professor Seidman presses his argument against his inferiors who wrote the “evil” document: “Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.”

Ah yes, old white male Madison, who lacked the insight, character, and morality of our new liberal technocrats in our successful law schools, such as, well, Mr. Seidman himself:

As someone who has taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, I am ashamed it took me so long to see how bizarre all this is. Imagine that after careful study a government official – say, the president or one of the party leaders in Congress – reaches a considered judgment that a particular course of action is best for the country. Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination?

I suppose human nature changes every decade or so, so why shouldn’t constitutions as well?

I can see Seidman’s vision now: Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi decides that semi-automatic handguns, not cheap Hollywood violence or sick video games, empower the insane to kill, and, presto, their “considered judgment” and favored “particular course of action” trump the archaic and evil wisdom of “white propertied men.” But if we wish to avoid the baleful influence of white guys, can Seidman point to indigenous Aztec texts for liberal guidance, or perhaps the contemporary constitution of liberated Zimbabwe, or the sagacity of the Chinese court system?

The Law Is What We Say It Is

Note the fox-in-the-henhouse notion that a constitutional law professor essentially hates the Constitution he is supposed to teach, sort of like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warning the Egyptians not to follow our own constitutional example, when South Africa has offered so much more to humanity than did Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, and others: “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the constitution of South Africa.” Ginsburg obviously vacations in Johannesburg, goes to Cape Town for her medical treatment, and has a vacation home and bank account in the scenic South African countryside.

Seidman looks fondly on Roosevelt’s war against the Constitution (especially the notion that law is essentially what an elected president who has proper “aspirations” says it is):

In his Constitution Day speech in 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt professed devotion to the document, but as a statement of aspirations rather than obligations. This reading no doubt contributed to his willingness to extend federal power beyond anything the framers imagined, and to threaten the Supreme Court when it stood in the way of his New Deal legislation.

No doubt.

Free at Last from Constitutional Chains

In the age of Obama, the constitutional law lecturer who once lamented that the Supreme Court had not gone far enough by failing to take up questions of forced redistribution, Seidman writes:

In the face of this long history of disobedience, it is hard to take seriously the claim by the Constitution’s defenders that we would be reduced to a Hobbesian state of nature if we asserted our freedom from this ancient text. Our sometimes flagrant disregard of the Constitution has not produced chaos or totalitarianism; on the contrary, it has helped us to grow and prosper.

But I thought it was the Constitution, not the anti-Constitution or egalitarian good will, that separated us from Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Tojo’s Japan, Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and most of the miserable places that one sees abroad today, from Cuba to North Korea, which all had and have one thing in common – the embrace of some sort of national, republican, or democratic “socialism” guiding their efforts and plastered about in their sick mottoes.

The progressive mind, given that is it more enlightened and moral, alone can determine which parts of the “evil” Constitution should be summarily ignored (e.g., the Second Amendment) and which should not be: “This is not to say that we should disobey all constitutional commands. Freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property are important, whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation.”

Give Real Freedom a Chance

I am sure that history offers all sorts of examples where people without evil documents like our Constitution protected free speech and religious worship – out of “respect.” Ask Socrates, Jesus, six million Jews, 20 million Russians, or those with eyeglasses during the days of the Khmer Rouge. Apparently, what stops such carnage is not the rule of constitutional law, but good progressive minds who care for others and show respect. I’ll try that rhetoric on the next thief who for the fourth time will steal the copper wire conduit from my pump.

So just dream with Professor Seidman:

The deep-seated fear that such disobedience would unravel our social fabric is mere superstition. As we have seen, the country has successfully survived numerous examples of constitutional infidelity… What has preserved our political stability is not a poetic piece of parchment, but entrenched institutions and habits of thought and, most important, the sense that we are one nation and must work out our differences. No one can predict in detail what our system of government would look like if we freed ourselves from the shackles of constitutional obligation, and I harbor no illusions that any of this will happen soon. But even if we can’t kick our constitutional-law addiction, we can soften the habit… before abandoning our heritage of self-government, we ought to try extricating ourselves from constitutional bondage so that we can give real freedom a chance.

I have seen their future and it is almost here right now. Scary times, indeed.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – The $4 Billion Obamacare Slush Fund For Progressives (Michelle Malkin) – More Op-Eds

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The $4 Billion Obamacare Slush Fund For Progressives – Michelle Malkin

If you like how the Obama administration’s multibillion-dollar “investments” in bankrupt solar companies have turned out, you’ll love the latest federal loan program to nowhere. It’s the Obamacare loyalty rewards program for progressives.

To appease liberal Democrats pushing for the so-called “public option” (the full frontal government takeover of our health care system), the White House settled for the creation of a $6 billion network of nonprofit “CO-OPs” that will “compete” with private insurers. It’s socialized medicine through the side door. House Republicans sliced about $2 billion from the slush fund in last spring’s budget deal and proclaimed the program dead. Hardly.

On Wednesday, the White House trumpeted the release of nearly $700 million in taxpayer-funded low-interest loans for seven CO-OPs in eight states. Administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the fund will pour more money into CO-OP plans nationwide throughout the next year. In 2014, according to Washington bureaucrats, the plans will be offered on the federally approved and federally monitored state health exchange “marketplace.”

Some marketplace. Given how Team Obama has dispensed special Obamacare waivers to scores of campaign donors, it’s a sure bet the CO-OP/exchange mechanism will be brazenly rigged against non-subsidized, for-profit insurers. And against taxpayers. Obama health officials assure us that there will be an “early warning system” in place before loan recipients get into financial trouble. But we know from the half-billion-dollar Solyndra scam that when this administration sees red flags, it’s full speed ahead.

In fact, the Obamacare CO-OP overseers already predict a nearly 40 percent default rate for the loans, according to Kaiser Health. Welcome to the Chicago-on-the-Potomac reverse rule of holes: When you’re in one, keep digging.

So, who are the lucky winners of the Obamacare slush fund lottery? Freelancers CO-OP of New Jersey, New Mexico Health Connections, Midwest Members Health in Iowa and Nebraska, Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative in Wisconsin, Freelancers CO-OP of Oregon, Montana Health Cooperative, and Freelancers Health Service Corporation in New York.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the Freelancers Union – the largest CO-OP loan beneficiary to date, with a total $341 million subsidy – is a left-wing outfit founded by a self-described “labor entrepreneur” and MacArthur “genius.” Sara Horowitz has already snagged countless grants from the city and state of New York, the liberal Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Horowitz and Obama served together, along with former green jobs czar Van Jones, as advisers for the progressive think tank Demos – which in turn partnered with fraud-ridden community organizers ACORN and Project Vote. She also runs a political action committee called “Working Today” that crusades for an expanded government safety net. Crowing about the CO-OP loan from her fellow progressive warrior, Horowitz exulted: “It’s like venture capital for health care.” Or more accurately, to borrow South Carolina GOP Sen. Jim DeMint’s phrase, venture socialism.

While Horowitz plots to rope in 200,000 new clients, existing customers protested in The New York Times over lousy customer service and abrupt changes that resulted in “higher premiums, higher deductibles and more holes than their current plans.” Horowitz is more preoccupied with ensuring that the “social-purpose company” meets social and environmental justice goals than with customer needs.

Another of the Obamacare slush fund winners, Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative in Wisconsin, scooped up a $56.4 million federal loan. The group describes itself as a “coalition of religious groups and other organizations.” Its pedigree is much more radical than that. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted, Common Ground “is the Milwaukee affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation, founded in 1940 by Saul Alinsky, a famed community organizer and author of ‘Rules for Radicals.’ The organization, based in Chicago, bills itself as the oldest and largest community organizing network.”

The Industrial Areas Foundation was funded largely by the Gamaliel Foundation, which employed Obama in Chicago. As I first reported in 2009, Gamaliel’s Gregory Galluzzo wrote that he “met with Barack on a regular basis,” that Obama “acknowledged publicly that he had been the director of a Gamaliel affiliate,” and that “we are honored and blessed by the connection between Barack and Gamaliel.” No kidding. As Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson put it: “These grants/loans reek of political payola.”

Cronies reap. Taxpayers weep.

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Why Apologize To Afghanistan? – Andrew C. McCarthy

We have officially lost our minds.

The New York Times reports that President Obama has sent a formal letter of apology to Afghanistan’s ingrate president, Hamid Karzai, for the burning of Korans at a U.S. military base. The only upside of the apology is that it appears (based on the Times account) to be couched as coming personally from our blindly Islamophilic president – “I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident… I extend to you and the Afghani people my sincere apologies.” It is not couched as an apology from the American people, whose frame of mind will be outrage, not contrition, as the facts become more widely known.

The facts are that the Korans were seized at a jail because jihadists imprisoned there were using them not for prayer but to communicate incendiary messages.

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The Perversion Of Rights – Mark Steyn

CNN’s John King did his best the other night, producing a question from one of his viewers:

“Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?”

To their credit, no Republican candidate was inclined to accept the premise of the question. King might have done better to put the issue to Danica Patrick. For some reason, Michelle Fields of the Daily Caller sought the views of the NASCAR driver and Sports Illustrated swimwear model about “the Obama administration’s dictate that religious employers provide health-care plans that cover contraceptives.” Miss Patrick, a practicing Catholic, gave the perfect citizen’s response for the Age of Obama:

“I leave it up to the government to make good decisions for Americans.”

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The ‘Fairness’ Fraud – Thomas Sowell

During a recent Fox News Channel debate about the Obama administration’s tax policies, Democrat Bob Beckel raised the issue of “fairness.”

He pointed out that a child born to a poor woman in the Bronx enters the world with far worse prospects than a child born to an affluent couple in Connecticut.

No one can deny that. The relevant question, however, is: How does allowing politicians to take more money in taxes from successful people, to squander in ways that will improve their own reelection prospects, make anything more “fair” for others?

Even if additional tax revenue all went to poor single mothers – which it will not – the multiple problems of children raised by poor single mothers would not be cured by throwing money at them.

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Algae, European Gas Prices, And Born In The U.S.A. – Victor Davis Hanson

As gas nears $5-a-gallon out west, the president, who has cancelled a key pipeline and frozen federal leases from Alaska to the East Coast, teaches us about American algae potential, in the way he used to emphasize the importance of tire pressure and “tune-ups.” He castigates the opposition for making political hay out of bad news, in the way he routinely did as a senator in compiling the most partisan voting record in the Senate. Energy Secretary Chu cannot and will not say a word about soaring gas prices, since he is on record not so long ago hoping that they might double – that is, get to $8- to 10-a-gallon as they are in Europe. The Energy Department can do almost everything Americans don’t want, but not the single thing they do want.

The more Afghans kill Americans, the more the president seems to apologize for our troops disposing of confiscated Korans, desecrated by Muslim-terrorist detainees. Would that Obama talk so deferentially to Americans instead of serially emphasizing their laziness, their nativism, and their past transgressions in the Middle East.

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I Tried To Open A Lemonade Stand – John Stossel

Want to open a business in America? It isn’t easy.

In Midway, Ga., a 14-year-old girl and her 10-year-old sister sold lemonade from their front yard. Two police officers bought some. But the next day, different officers ordered them to close their stand.

Their father went to city hall to try to find out why. The clerk laughed and said she didn’t know. Eventually, Police Chief Kelly Morningstar explained, “We were not aware of how the lemonade was made, who made the lemonade and of what the lemonade was made with.”

Give me a break. If she doesn’t know, so what? But kids trying their first experiment with entrepreneurship are being shut down all over America. Officials in Hazelwood, Ill., ordered little girls to stop selling Girl Scout cookies.

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Math Matters – Walter Williams

If one manages to graduate from high school without the rudiments of algebra, geometry and trigonometry, there are certain relatively high-paying careers probably off-limits for life – such as careers in architecture, chemistry, computer programming, engineering, medicine and certain technical fields. For example, one might meet all of the physical requirements to be a fighter pilot, but he’s grounded if he doesn’t have enough math to understand physics, aerodynamics and navigation. Mathematical ability helps provide the disciplined structure that helps people to think, speak and write more clearly. In general, mathematics is an excellent foundation and prerequisite for study in all areas of science and engineering. So where do U.S. youngsters stand in math?

Drs. Eric Hanushek and Paul Peterson, senior fellows at the Hoover Institution, looked at the performance of our youngsters compared with their counterparts in other nations, in their Newsweek article, “Why Can’t American Students Compete?” (Aug. 28, 2011), reprinted under the title “Math Matters” in the Hoover Digest (2012).

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – The Solyndra Fraud (Andrew C. McCarthy) – More Op-Eds

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The Solyndra Fraud – Andrew C. McCarthy

The Solyndra debacle is not just Obama-style crony socialism as usual. It is a criminal fraud. That is the theory that would be guiding any competent prosecutor’s office in the investigation of a scheme that cost victims – in this case, American taxpayers – a fortune.

Fraud against the United States is one of the most serious felony offenses in the federal penal law. It is even more serious than another apparent Solyndra violation that has captured congressional attention: the Obama administration’s flouting of a statute designed to protect taxpayers.

Homing in on one of the several shocking aspects of the Solyndra scandal, lawmakers noted that, a few months before the “clean energy” enterprise went belly-up last week, the Obama Energy Department signed off on a sweetheart deal. In the event of bankruptcy – the destination to which it was screamingly obvious Solyndra was headed despite the president’s injection of $535 million in federal loans – the cozily connected private investors would be given priority over American taxpayers. In other words, when the busted company’s assets were sold off, Obama pals would recoup some of their losses, while you would be left holding the half-billion-dollar bag.

As Andrew Stiles reported here at NRO, Republicans on the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee say this arrangement ran afoul of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This law – compassionate conservatism in green bunting – is a monstrosity, under which Leviathan, which can’t run a post office, uses your money to pick winners and losers in the economy’s energy sector. The idea is cockamamie, but Congress did at least write in a mandate that taxpayers who fund these “investments” must be prioritized over other stakeholders. The idea is to prevent cronies from pushing ahead of the public if things go awry – as they are wont to do when pols fancy themselves venture capitalists.

On the Energy Policy Act, the administration’s malfeasance is significant, but secondary. That’s because the act is not a penal statute. It tells the cabinet officials how to structure these “innovative technology” loans, but it provides no remedy if Congress’s directives are ignored.

The criminal law, by contrast, is not content to assume the good faith of government officials. It targets anyone – from low-level swindlers to top elective officeholders – who attempts to influence the issuance of government loans by making false statements; who engages in schemes to defraud the United States; or who conspires “to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof, in any manner or for any purpose.” The penalties are steep: Fraud in connection with government loans, for example, can be punished by up to 30 years in the slammer.

Although Solyndra was a private company, moreover, it was using its government loans as a springboard to go public. When the sale of securities is involved, federal law criminalizes fraudulent schemes, false statements of material fact, and statements that omit any “material fact necessary in order to make the statements made… not misleading.” And we’re not just talking about statements made in required SEC filings. Any statement made to deceive the market can be actionable. In 2003, for example, the Justice Department famously charged Martha Stewart with securities fraud. Among other allegations, prosecutors cited public statements she had made in press releases and at a conference for securities analysts – statements in which she withheld damaging information in an effort to inflate the value of her corporation and its stock.

That’s exactly what President Obama did on May 26, 2010, with his Solyndra friends about to launch their initial public offering of stock. The solar-panel company’s California factory was selected as the fitting site for a presidential speech on the virtues of confiscating taxpayer billions to prop up pie-in-the-sky clean-energy businesses.

By then, the con game was already well under way. Solyndra had first tried to get Energy Act funding during the Bush administration, but had been rebuffed shortly before President Bush left office. Small wonder: Solyndra, as former hedge-fund manager Bruce Krasting concluded, was “an absolute complete disaster.” Its operating expenses, including supply costs, nearly doubled its revenue in 2009 – and that’s without factoring in capital expenditures and other costs in what, Krasting observes, is a “low margin” industry. The chance that Solyndra would ever become profitable was essentially nonexistent, particularly given that solar-panel competitors backed by China produce energy at drastically lower prices.

Yet, as Stiles reports, within six days of Obama’s taking office, an Energy Department official acknowledged that the Solyndra “approval process” was suddenly being considered anew. Eventually, the administration made Solyndra the very first recipient of a public loan guarantee when the Energy Act program was beefed up in 2009 – just part of nearly a trillion dollars burned through under the Obama stimulus.

For a while after Solyndra tanked, the administration stonewalled the House subcommittee’s investigation, but we now know that minions in the Energy Department and the Office of Management and Budget had enormous qualms about the Solyndra loan. They realized that the company was hemorrhaging money and, even with the loan, would lack the necessary working capital to turn that equation around. Yet they caved under White House pressure to sign off in time for Vice President Joe Biden to make a ballyhooed announcement of the loan in September 2009. An OMB e-mail laments that the timing of the loan approval was driven by the politics of the announcement “rather than the other way around.”

Why so much pressure to give half a billion dollars to a doomed venture? The administration insists it had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Solyndra’s big backers include the George Kaiser Family Foundation. No, of course not. George Kaiser, an Oklahoma oil magnate, just happens to be a major Obama fundraiser who bundled oodles in contributions for the president’s 2008 campaign. Solyndra officers and investors are said to have visited the White House no fewer than 20 times while the loan guarantee was being considered and, later, revised. Kaiser, too, made several visits – but not to worry: Both he and administration officials deny any impropriety. You’re to believe that the White House was just turning up the heat on OMB and DOE because Solyndra seemed like such a swell investment.

Except it didn’t seem so swell to people who knew how to add and subtract, and those people weren’t all at OMB and DOE. Flush with confidence that their mega-loan from Uncle Sam would make the company attractive to private investors, Solyndra’s backers prepared to take the company public. Unfortunately, SEC rules for an initial public offering of stock require the disclosure of more than Obama speeches glowing with solar power. Companies that want access to the market have to reveal their financial condition.

In Solyndra’s case, outside auditors from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) found that condition to be dire. “The company has suffered recurring losses from operations, negative cash flows since inception, and has a net stockholders’ deficit,” the PWC accountants concluded. Even with the gigantic Obama loan, Solyndra was such a basket case that PWC found “substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.”

The “going concern” language is not boilerplate. As Townhall finance maven John Ransom explains, it is a term of art to which auditors resort when there is an extraordinary need to protect themselves and the company from legal liability. Angry investors who’ve lost their shirts tend to scapegoat the loser company’s accountants. In truth, even if the accountants affixed a neon “going concern” sign to the company’s financial statements, investors would have no one but themselves to blame. But it is unusual: The language is absent from the statements of many companies that actually end up going bankrupt. Auditors reserve it for the hopeless causes – like Solyndra.

With no alternative if they wanted to make a play for market financing, Solyndra’s backers disclosed the auditors’ bleak diagnosis in March 2010. The government had thus been aware of it for two months when President Obama made his May 26 Solyndra speech – the speech Solyndra backers were clearly hoping would mitigate the damage.

As president, Obama had a fiduciary responsibility to be forthright about Solyndra’s grim prospects – in speaking to the American taxpayers whose money he had redistributed, and to the American investors who were about to be solicited for even more funding. Instead, he pulled a Martha Stewart.

The president looked us in the eye and averred that, when it came to channeling public funds into private hands, “We can see the positive impacts right here at Solyndra.” He bragged that the $535 billion loan had enabled the company to build the state-of-the-art factory in which he was then speaking. He said nothing about how Solyndra was continuing to lose money – public money – at a catastrophic pace. Instead, he painted the brightest of pictures: 3,000 construction workers to build the thriving plant; manufacturers in 22 states building an endless stream of supplies; technicians in a dozen states constructing the advanced equipment that would make the factory hum; and Solyndra fully “expect[ing] to hire a thousand workers to manufacture solar panels and sell them across America and around the world.”

Not content with that rosy portrait, the president further predicted a “ripple effect”: Solyndra would “generate business for companies throughout our country who will create jobs supplying this factory with parts and materials.” Sure it would. The auditors had scrutinized Solyndra and found it to have, from its inception, a fatally flawed business model that was hurtling toward collapse. Obama touted it as a redistribution success story that would be rippling jobs, growth, and spectacular success for the foreseeable future.

It was a breathtaking misrepresentation. Happily, it proved insufficient to dupe investors who, unlike taxpayers, get to choose where their money goes. They stacked what the administration was saying against what the PWC auditors were saying and wisely went with PWC. Solyndra had to pull its initial public offering due to lack of interest.

But fraud doesn’t have to be fully successful to be a fraud, and this one still had another chapter to go. As the IPO failed and the company inevitably sank in a sea of red ink, Solyndra’s panicked backers pleaded with the administration to restructure the loan terms – to insulate them from their poor business judgment, allowing them to recoup some of their investment while the public took the fall.

It should go without saying that the duty of soi-disant public servants is to serve the public. In this instance, the proper course was clear. As structured, the loan gave the public first dibs on Solyndra’s assets if it collapsed, and, as we’ve seen, the law requires it. There was no good reason to contemplate a change.

In addition, as Andrew Stiles relates, OMB had figured out that there was no economic sense in restructuring: Solyndra was heading for bankruptcy anyway, and an immediate liquidation would net the government a better deal – about $170 million better. The case for leaving things where they stood was so palpable that OMB openly feared “questions will be asked” if DOE proceeded with an unjustifiable restructuring. So, with numbing predictability, the Obama administration proceeded with an unjustifiable restructuring. In exchange for lending some of their own money and thus buying more time, Solyndra officials were given priority over taxpayers with respect to the first $75 million in the event of a bankruptcy – the event all the insiders and government officials could see coming from the start, and that hit the rest of us like a $535 billion thunderbolt last week.

The administration’s rationalization is priceless. According to DOE officials, the restructuring was necessary “to create a situation whereby investors felt there was a value in their investment.” Of course, the value in an investment is the value created by the business in which the investment is made. Here, Solyndra had no value. Investors could be enticed only by an invalid arrangement to recoup some of their losses – by a scheme to make the public an even bigger sap.

The word for such schemes is fraud.

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‘Pass This Jobs Bill!’ – Mark Steyn

The president has taken to the campaign trail to promote his “American Jobs Act.” That’s a good name for it: an act. “Pass this bill now!” he declared 24 times at a stop in Raleigh, N.C., and another 18 in Columbus, Ohio, and the act is sufficiently effective that, three years into the Vapidity of Hope, the president can still find crowds of true believers willing to chant along with him: “Pass this bill now!”

Not all supporters are content merely to singalong with the prompter-in-chief. In North Carolina, a still-devoted hopeychanger cried out, “I love you!”

“I love you, too,” said the president. “But…”

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So A Comatose Guy Walks Into A Bar… – Ann Coulter

Liberals are on their high horses about a single audience member at CNN’s Republican debate whom they believe wanted a hypothetical man without health insurance in a hypothetical coma to die – hypothetically.

(Democrats want people in comas to die only when they are not hypothetical but real, like Terri Schiavo.)

I concur with the audience member who shouted “Yes!” This has nothing to do with any actual people in comas – the people Democrats want to kill – it’s just a big “screw you” to the moderator.

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Obama Plagued By Democrats’ Ingratitude – Byron York

For generations, Democrats longed for a president who could enact national health care. Barack Obama did it.

For years, Democrats longed for a president who could massively increase federal spending, impose broad new regulations and fight for higher taxes. Barack Obama did it.

For much of the past decade, Democrats longed for a president who could pull American forces out of Iraq and redirect U.S. security policy toward al Qaeda. Barack Obama did it – and killed Osama bin Laden, to boot.

Obama did all that, and more. And now many Democrats are afraid to be seen with him. Some gratitude.

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You Can’t Tax The Rich – Thomas Sowell

Ninety years ago – in 1921 – federal income-tax policies reached an absurdity that many people today seem to want to repeat. Those who believe in high taxes on “the rich” got their way. The tax rate on people in the top income bracket was 73 percent in 1921. On the other hand, the rich also got their way: They didn’t actually pay those taxes.

The number of people with taxable incomes of $300,000 a year or more – equivalent to far more than $1 million in today’s money – declined from over 1,000 people in 1916 to fewer than 300 in 1921. Were the rich all going broke?

It might look that way. More than four-fifths of the total taxable income earned by people making $300,000 a year up and vanished into thin air.

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Obama’s Quiver Is Empty – Victor Davis Hanson

Ex-president George W. Bush with accustomed candor once shrugged after the end of his eight-year presidency, “People were kind of tired of me.” That ennui happens eventually with most presidents. But in the case of Barack Obama, our modern Phaethon, his fiery crash is coming after 32, not 96, months.

We can sense the national weariness with Obama in a variety of strange and unexpected ways. There is the self-pitying anguish of liberal columnists who scapegoat him for turning the public against their own leftwing agenda. The current silence of “moderate” Republicans and conservative op-ed writers who once in near ecstasy jumped ship to join Obama is deafening. A growing number of Democratic representatives and senators up for reelection do not want their partisan president to visit their districts in the runup to November 2012. Approval ratings hover around 40 percent.

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The Cash-For-Visas Program – Michelle Malkin

As part of his warmed-over jobs plan, President Obama is repackaging “Buy American” stimulus subsidies to help hard-hit homegrown businesses. At the same time, however, Congress is pushing to expand a fraud-riddled investor program that puts U.S. citizenship for sale to the highest foreign business bidders.

Call it the Buy America Cash-for-Visas plan.

As I first reported 10 years ago, the EB-5 immigrant investor program was created under an obscure section of the 1990 Immigration Act. The law allows 10,000 wealthy foreigners a year to purchase green cards by investing between $500,000 and $1 million in new commercial enterprises or troubled businesses.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – A Post-American Planet (Mark Steyn) – More Op-Eds

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A Post-American Planet – Mark Steyn

That thoughtful observer of the passing parade, Nancy Pelosi, weighed in on the “debt ceiling” negotiations the other day: “What we’re trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget. We’re trying to save life on this planet as we know it today.”

It’s always good to have things explained in terms we simpletons can understand. After a while, all the stuff about debt-to-GDP ratio and CBO alternative baseline scenarios starts to give you a bit of a headache, so we should be grateful to the House minority leader for putting it in layman’s terms: What’s at stake is “life on this planet as we know it today.” So, if right now you’re living anywhere in the general vicinity of this planet, it’s good to know Nancy’s in there pitching for you.

What about life on this planet tomorrow? How’s that look if Nancy gets her way? The Democrat model of governance is to spend $4 trillion while only collecting $2 trillion, borrowing the rest from tomorrow. Instead of “printing money,” we’re printing credit cards and pre-approving our unborn grandchildren. To facilitate this proposition, Washington created its own form of fantasy accounting: “baseline budgeting,” under which growth-in-government is factored in to federal bookkeeping as a permanent feature of life. As Arthur Herman of the American Enterprise Institute pointed out this week, under present rules, if the government were to announce a spending freeze – that’s to say, no increases, no cuts, everything just stays exactly the same – the Congressional Budget Office would score it as a $9 trillion savings. In real-world terms, there are no “savings,” and there’s certainly no $9 trillion. In fact, there isn’t one thin dime. But nevertheless, that’s how it would be measured at the CBO.

Around the world, most folks have to work harder than that to save $9 trillion. That’s roughly the combined GDPs of Japan and Germany. But in America it’s an accounting device. This is something to bear in mind when you’re listening to the amount of “savings” touted by whatever triumphant bipartisan deal is announced at the eleventh hour in Washington.

So I find myself less interested in “life on this planet as we know it today” than in life on this planet as we’re likely to know it tomorrow if Nancy Pelosi and her chums decline to reacquaint themselves with reality. If you kinda dig life on this planet as you know it, ask yourself this: What’s holding the joint up? As the old gag goes, if you owe the bank a thousand dollars, you have a problem; if you owe the bank a million dollars, the bank has a problem. If you owe the banks 15,000,000,000,000 dollars, the planet has a problem. Whatever comparisons one might make with Europe’s soi-disant “PIIGS” re debt per capita or deficit-to-GDP ratio, the sheer hard numbers involved represent a threat to the planet that Portugal or Ireland does not. It also represents a threat to Americans. Three years ago, the first developed nation to hit the skids was Iceland. But, unless you’re Icelandic, who cares? And, if you are Icelandic, you hunker down, readjust to straitened circumstances, and a few years down the line Iceland will still be Iceland and, if that’s your bag, relatively pleasant.

That’s not an option for the U.S. We are chugging a highly toxic cocktail: 21st-century spendaholic government with mid-20th-century assumptions about American power. After the Battle of Saratoga, Adam Smith replied to a pal despondent that the revolting colonials were going to be the ruin of Britain: “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation,” said a sanguine Smith.

That’s generally true. Americans of a certain bent looking at post-war France or Germany might reasonably conclude what’s the big deal about genteel decline. The difference, of course, is that Europe’s decline was cushioned by America. Who’s around to cushion America’s decline?

If the IMF is correct (a big if), China will be the planet’s No.1 economy by 2016. That means whoever’s elected in November next year will be the last president of the United States to preside over the world’s dominant economic power. As I point out in my rollicking new book, which will be hitting what’s left of the post-Borders bookstore business any day now, this will mark the end of two centuries of Anglophone dominance – first by London, then its greatest if prodigal son. The world’s economic superpower will not only be a Communist dictatorship with a largely peasant population and legal, political, and cultural traditions as alien to its predecessors as possible, but, even more civilizationally startling, it will be, unlike the U.S., Britain, and the Dutch and Italians before them, a country that doesn’t even use the Roman alphabet.

The American economy has been “stimulated” to a bloody pulp by the racketeers in Washington, mostly to buy off approved interests. Meanwhile, as Nancy defends life on this planet today, the contours of life on this planet tomorrow are beginning to emerge.

Remember the Libyan War? Oh, come on. It was in all the papers for a couple of days. And then, oddly enough, the media lost interest in Obama’s war.

But it’s still going on, out there on the fringes of the map. “We are generally in a stalemate,” Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced to a roomful of chirping crickets the other day. At the start of NATO’s desultory bombing campaign, the French and the British were demanding that Qaddafi be removed from power, leave Libya, and be put on trial at the Hague. Last week, they subtly modified their position: He can remain in Libya, but he definitely has to step down from power. Expect further modifications in their next ultimatum: He can remain in the presidential palace, but he has to move to the poky guest bedroom under the eaves.

Meanwhile, the Lockerbie bomber has been appearing at delirious pro-Qaddafi rallies. Remember the Lockerbie bomber? He was returned to Libya because he was terminally ill and only had three months to live. That was two years ago. It’s amazing what getting out of the care of the Scottish National Health Service can do for your life expectancy. Likewise, back in the spring, NATO declared that Qaddafi’s presidency only had three weeks to live. Like his compatriot, he seems disinclined to follow the diagnosis.

The Libyan War never caught the imagination of the American public, even though you’re paying for most of it. But in Tehran and Moscow and Beijing they’re following it. And they regard it as a useful preview of the post-American world. Absent American will, even a tinpot desert drag queen can stand up to the great powers and survive. The lesson of Obama’s half-hearted little war isn’t lost in the chancelleries of America’s enemies.

For dominant powers in decline, it starts with the money, for Washington as for London and Rome before it. But it never stops there. The horizons shrivel. Two-bit provocateurs across the map pick off remnants of the old order with ever greater ease.

America has had two roles in a so-called “globalized” world: America’s government was the guarantor of global order; America’s economy was the engine of global prosperity. Right now, both roles are up for grabs. And there are no takers for the former. Pace Nancy Pelosi, “life on this planet as we know it today” is going to change, and very fast.

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It’s Obama’s Economy – Stephen Hayes

According to the Commerce Department numbers released Friday, the U.S. economy is growing at just 1.3 percent. Maybe. First quarter growth, initially reported as a disappointing 1.9 percent, was revised drastically down to just 0.4 percent. Those numbers are depressing enough. The downward revision of first quarter growth suggests that even the woeful second quarter number may be optimistic. And it comes after five consecutive quarters of a slowing economy – with growth of just 3.9 percent, 3.8 percent, 2.5 percent, and 2.3 percent before the economy stalled out at 0.4 percent in the first three months of this year.

That’s not all. Unemployment has risen for three consecutive months. It’s now 9.2 percent. Nearly half of the unemployed have been seeking work for longer than six months – the highest long-term unemployment rate since the Great Depression. And the GDP numbers out Friday suggest that many more American workers will be added to the unemployment rolls in the coming months.

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Against The Boehner Plan – Andrew C. McCarthy

House Speaker John Boehner has a plan that he touts as slashing about $900 billion in government spending – shy of his original claim, only two days earlier, that cuts would amount to $1.2 trillion. It’s nonsense, of course. In Washington, unlike the rest of the known universe, a “cut” is a reduction in the rate of increase. There are never real cuts. In reality, Speaker Boehner’s plan would add $9.1 trillion to the national debt. It is a “cut” only in the sense that the Obama Democrats have rigged matters so that, if nothing changes, autopilot would add $10 trillion.

You could call this a cruel joke on a country that is already well over $14 trillion in debt – a country in which every newly born child opens his eyes as a debtor, well over $30,000 in the hole. But that would be premature, because I haven’t gotten to the punchline yet.

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Obama’s Exclusive George Soros Waivers – Michelle Malkin

“Millionaires and billionaires,” President Obama says derisively, must make more “sacrifices” and live by the same rules the rest of America lives by. But there are seven little words that will never appear on the White House teleprompter: “And that means you, too, George Soros.”

For all his (and his wife’s) bashing of greedy Wall Street hedge-fund managers, Obama has shown nothing but love to the world’s most famous hedge-fund mogul. The feeling is mutual and deep(-pocketed).

Soros and his family shelled out $250,000 for Obama’s inauguration, $60,000 in direct campaign contributions and untold millions more to liberal activist groups pushing the White House agenda. While the class warrior-in-chief assails conniving financiers who exploit loopholes and corporate titans who imperil the planet, he lets the Soros exemptions to his attack-the-rich rules slide like butter on a hot plate.

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The Reagan Playbook No Longer Applies – Jonah Goldberg

The worst thing about the 2008 primaries – other than, you know, the result – was the huge amount of time wasted on what amounted to a Republican Spartacus re-enactment. Instead of each nominee yelling, “I’m Spartacus,” and, “No, I’m Spartacus,” we got, “I’m Ronald Reagan!” and “No, I’m the real Ronald Reagan here.”

The obsession with finding another Reagan was really a veiled slap at the Republican who actually occupied the White House at the time. Nobody was running to be another George W. Bush; nobody promised to give “four more years” of what they got for the last eight.

Everyone understood that running as Bush 2.0 was a bad idea from the outset, but the proof came in the general election, when then-senator Obama managed to paint John McCain as the reincarnation of Bush.

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Seven Types Of Troll: A Spotter’s Guide – James Delingpole

As we all know just because you’re away on holiday doesn’t mean you have to stop thinking about the nasty things in life. That s why I’m dedicating this post to the menagerie – or, if you will, infestation – of trolls which lurk below this blog and who seem to have grown even more active in my absence.

There’s an argument which goes that we bloggers need our pet trolls almost as much as they need us. I’m not sure I value them that highly myself but I do find them a fascinating case study. What intrigues me is their psychopathology. I mean, it takes a certain sort of mentality actively to seek out columnists with whom you disagree and lurk below their blog being spiteful and angry and disruptive. Maybe I’d respect them more if they weren’t cowering behind the mask of anonymity, or if ever for once in their sad, deficient lives they actually strove to engage with the arguments made. But they never do, for such is the nature of trolling.

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Behind The DC Slugfest – Victor Davis Hanson

About 50 percent of taxpayers don’t pay federal income taxes. Almost half of American adults receive either the majority of or all of their income in some form from government. They are naturally desirous of even more entitlements, in the sense that even higher taxes on the top 5 percent might ensure at least some of the needed revenue to pay for them. And if that echelon must pay 70 percent or 80 percent rather than the present 60 percent of all collected income taxes, it would still not be such a bad thing, inasmuch as the circumstances surrounding their earned income must be somewhat suspicious.

In the words of the president, the so-called affluent surely at some point must realize that they have made enough money and have hundreds of thousands in unneeded income that could easily be assessed with higher taxes.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – RomneyCare Is A Problem, Not Part Of The Solution (Mark Steyn) – More Op-Eds

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RomneyCare Is A Problem, Not Part Of The Solution – Mark Steyn

Unless things change, the man (or woman) elected in 2012 will be the last American president to preside over the world’s leading economy. If things get really bad, he will find himself presiding over the early stages of American collapse.

Not “decline” but “collapse.” “Decline” is what happens when you’re Britain in the 1940s and you cede global dominance to a major ally that shares your language, legal system, cultural inheritance and broad geopolitical objectives. That deal isn’t on offer this time round.

Nor was the United Kingdom circa 1948 in thrall to anything like the same levels of spendaholic insanity. The current debate on the “debt ceiling” testifies to how thoroughly public discourse has flown the coop of reality.

Sure, Congress can vote to raise the debt ceiling – just as you and your spouse can reach a bipartisan agreement on raising your own debt ceiling. Go on, try it: Hold a vote in your rec room, come up with a number and then let MasterCard know what you’ve decided on.

In the real world, debt ceilings are determined by the lenders, not the borrowers. In March, Pimco (which manages the world’s largest mutual fund) calculated that 70% of U.S. Treasury debt is being bought by the Federal Reserve.

So under the 2011 budget, every hour of every day, the United States government spends $188 million it doesn’t have, $130 million of which is “borrowed” from itself. There’s nobody else out there.

In other words, however Congress votes, we’re rubbing up against the real debt ceiling – the willingness of the world to continue bankrolling American debauchery.

Barack Obama is offering us a Latin-American future – that’s to say, a United States in which a corrupt governing class rules a dysfunctional morass. He’s confident that, when the moat with alligators is put in, he’ll be on the secure side. If you figure you’ll be, too, you can afford to vote for him.

The rest of us would like a credible alternative. The Republicans have a habit of nominating the guy whose turn it is – Bob Dole, John McCain. This time the guy whose turn it is is Mitt Romney. Unfortunately for him, his signature legislation in Massachusetts looks awfully like a pilot program for ObamaCare. So in recent days he’s been out yet again defending his record.

If I understand him correctly, his argument is that the salient point about RomneyCare and ObamaCare is not that they’re both disasters, but that one’s local and the other’s national, and that Obama has a one-disaster-fits-all approach to health care whereas Romney believes in letting a thousand disasters bloom. Celebrate diversity!

If Mitt can make this fly, he’s some kind of genius. The problems with RomneyCare are well known:

Mitt argued that Massachusetts needed to reform its health care system because the uninsured were placing huge strains on the state’s emergency rooms and the rest of the population had to pick up the tab for the free-riders, and that was driving up Massachusetts health costs. So, as a famous can-do technocrat, he looked at the problem and came up with a can-do technocratic solution.

Three years later, everyone was insured, but emergency room use was higher than ever, and 70% of those newly insured were all but entirely subsidized by the state, and Massachusetts residents were paying 30% more for their health care than the U.S. average, and Boston had the longest wait time in the nation to see a new doctor.


Last year, I gave a speech to the American Society for Cataract and Refractive Surgery at its annual conference in Boston, and got a cheap laugh by telling the assembled ophthalmologists that just by flying in to the convention center they’d dramatically improved the city’s doctor/patient ratio.

American conservatives’ problem with RomneyCare is the same as with ObamaCare – that, if the government (whether state or federal) can compel you to make arrangements for the care of your body parts that meet the approval of state commissars, then the constitution is dead.

And Americans might as well shred the thing and scatter it as confetti over Prince William and his lovely bride, along with an accompanying note saying, “Come back. It was all a ghastly mistake.” For if conceding jurisdiction over your lungs and kidneys and bladder does not make you a subject rather than a citizen, what does?

I doubt Romney thought about it in such terms. In 2006, he was not a philosophical conservative. Like Donald Trump today, he sold himself as a successful business guy, a problem solver who knew how to make things happen. So he made things happen. And, as a result, he made things worse. How does that happen?

Because, to make things happen in a diseased polity such as Massachusetts, you have to get it past the lifetime legislative class and the ever-more-swollen regulatory bureaucracy. And, whatever theoretical merits it might have had when the can-do technocrats cooked it up, by the time it’s been massaged through the legislature and pumped full of steroids by the backstage boys, it will just be the usual oozing pustuled behemoth of drearily foreseeable unforeseen consequences.

The inflationary factor in Massachusetts health care was not caused by deadbeats using emergency rooms as their family doctor but by the metastasizing cost distortions of government intervention in health care.

Mitt should have known that. As he should know that government intervention in college loans has absurdly inflated the cost of ludicrously overvalued credentials and, in a broader sense, helped debauch America’s human capital. As he should know that government intervention in the mortgage market is why every day more and more American homeowners are drowning in negative equity.

So RomneyCare is not just an argument about health care. It exemplifies what’s wrong with American political structures:

It suggests that our institutions are incapable of course correction. It reminds us that Republicans are either easily suckered or too eager to be bipartisan figleafs in embarrassing kindergarten kabuki. It confirms that “technocracy” in politics is a synonym for “more” – more government, more spending, more laws, more bureaucrats, more regulations, more paperwork, more of what’s killing this once great republic every hour of every day.

In defense of Romney, one might argue that politics is the art of the possible. But in Massachusetts what was possible made things worse. That’s the situation the nation is in – and the message that America’s lenders are beginning to get.

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. RomneyCare is not part of the solution; it embodies the problem. If Mitt Romney cannot recognize that, it’s unlikely that he’s the guy to pull American politics back into a passing acquaintance with reality.

To put it in Obama terms, America is a moat, and it’s filled with government spendaholics. You could toss a poor alligator in there, but they’d pick him clean in seconds, and leave what was left for Nancy Pelosi’s shoes.

Click HERE For Rest Of Article

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Demagoguery 101 – Charles Krauthammer

I’m going to do my part to lead a constructive and civil debate on these issues.” – Barack Obama, speech on immigration, El Paso, May 10

Constructive and civil debate – like the one Obama initiated just four weeks ago on deficit reduction? The speech in which he accused the Republicans of abandoning families of autistic and Down syndrome kids? The debate in which Obama’s secretary of health and human services said that the Republican Medicare plan would make old folks “die sooner”?

In this same spirit of comity and mutual respect, Obama’s most recent invitation to civil discourse – on immigration – came just 11 minutes after he accused opponents of moving the goal posts on border enforcement. “Maybe they’ll need a moat,” he said sarcastically. “Maybe they want alligators in the moat.”

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What Happened On AA Flight 1561 – Michelle Malkin

If you listen to the passengers and crew who flew on American Airlines Flight 1561 last weekend, there’s no doubt about what happened on their harrowing trip: A Yemeni man shrieking “Allahu akbar!” at the top of his lungs more than 30 times rushed the cockpit door twice intending to take down the plane and kill everyone on board.

The clammy, sweaty lone male passenger exhibited classic symptoms of what Middle East scholar and author Daniel Pipes has dubbed “Sudden Jihad Syndrome” – a seemingly random outbreak of threatening behavior or violence by a hysterical Muslim adherent who had not previously exhibited signs of Islamic radicalization. It took at least four men to tackle and restrain Rageh Ahmed Mohammed al-Murisi. “There was no question in everybody’s mind that he was going to do something,” passenger Angelina Marty told the San Francisco Chronicle.

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More Gutsy Calls From Obama! – Ann Coulter

Obama has been making “gutsy calls” all over the place!

In full campaign mode, he’s been deploying his administrative agencies to do favors for his big contributors, to the detriment of ordinary Americans.

Last week, Obama made the gutsy call to threaten public schools that are asking students for proof of residency. The memorandum warned school districts that it’s illegal to ask students for proof of citizenship or legal residency status.

Obama’s wealthy donors need illegals so they can get cheap nannies, cooks and pool boys.

On the other hand, illegals being paid off the books are not helping Americans find jobs.

Click HERE For Rest Of Article

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An Ill Season – Andrew C. McCarthy

Screaming “With our blood and soul, we will defend you, Islam,” jihadists stormed the Virgin Mary Church in northwest Cairo last weekend. They torched the Coptic Christian house of worship, burned the nearby homes of two Copt families to the ground, attacked a residential complex, killed a dozen people, and wounded more than 200: just another day in this spontaneous democratic uprising by Muslim hearts yearning for freedom.

In the delusional vocabulary of the “Arab Spring,” this particular episode is known as a sectarian “clash.” That was the Washington Post’s take. Its headline reads “12 dead in Egypt as Christians and Muslims clash” – in the same way, one supposes, that a mugger’s fist can be said to “clash” with his victim’s face. The story goes on, in nauseating “cycle of violence” style, to describe “clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians” that “left” 12 dead, dozens more wounded, “and a church charred” – as if it were not crystal clear who were the clashers and who were the clashees, as if the church were somehow combusted into a flaming heap without some readily identifiable actors having done the charring.

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Reasonable Suspicion – Stephen Hayes

In May 2010, in the aftermath of the attempted bombing of Times Square by a jihadist with ties to the Pakistani Taliban, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an interview to 60 Minutes and made a startling claim about the government in Pakistan. “I’m not saying that they’re at the highest levels, but I believe that somewhere in this government are people who know where Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda is, where Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is, and we expect more cooperation to help us bring to justice, capture or kill, those who attacked us on 9/11.”

Why would Clinton say this? Did the U.S. government have intelligence – an inside source, communications intercepts – that Pakistani officials knew where bin Laden was hiding? Or was America’s top diplomat just engaging in idle speculation about a nation often described as a key ally in the war on terror?

Click HERE For Rest Of Article

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The World Turned Upside Down… Again – Victor Davis Hanson

Every once in a while, the world is turned upside down in just a few years, whether by ideological ferment or force of arms. We may be entering such a phase now – unsure whether the unrest in the Middle East, the rise of China, and the crisis in the EU will sputter and dissipate like the upheavals of 1848 or make the world unrecognizable in the way that Alexander the Great’s ten-year romp, the fall of Constantinople, World War I, World War II, and the collapse of Soviet Communism changed the very map of Europe and Asia.

The question is not whether Greece will default on its massive debt, but, rather, when it does, whether the inevitable default will spread to Spain, Portugal, or even Italy and unravel the European Union, or simply be confined to Greece, returning it to its genteel poverty of the 1970s. Either way, a much weakened Greece will watch an ascendant and Islamist Turkey exercise, in Ottoman fashion, its newfound influence in the Aegean, Cyprus, and the Eastern Mediterranean.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – Next Time, Use FedEx (Ann Coulter) – More Op-Eds

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Next Time, Use FedEx – Ann Coulter

The CIA stepped up the search for Osama bin Laden last week after becoming as sick of royal wedding coverage as the rest of us.

American intelligence operations located Osama by following his trusted couriers, whose names were given up by al-Qaida members during harsh interrogations at CIA black sites under President Bush.

Yes, the same interrogations endlessly denounced by the entire Democratic Party (save Joe Lieberman), the mainstream media, and an especially indignant Jane Mayer in The New Yorker.

The most-wanted terrorist in the world was living in a moldy, million-dollar mansion in a gated community just outside of Islamabad. It took the CIA five years to figure out the four-digit code to get in.

One important missed clue was that Osama was living at 72 Virgins Way. He might still be alive today if only he hadn’t borrowed his neighbor’s shoulder-mounted rocket launcher and never returned it.

Our mighty Navy SEALs not only put a bullet through Osama’s head, but carried off his computers, disks and hard drives. So far, all they’ve revealed is that Osama had multiple Netflix rentals of “Rendition,” “In the Valley of Elah,” “Fahrenheit 9/11″ and “Love Actually.”

Can you imagine what’s on Osama’s hard drives? I mean besides the goat pornography. Pants are wetting throughout Pakistan’s military establishment.

The New York Times reports that the raid that killed Osama is being bitterly denounced on Pakistani TV as a breach of that country’s sovereignty. Osama, our dear allies say, was not a terrorist, nor has al-Qaida ever been unfriendly to Pakistan – unlike the United States, which they call “an enemy of Pakistan and Muslims.”

(Also, bin Laden’s entire video crew is in line at the Islamabad unemployment office today. Thanks, Barack.)

The one Islamic country that openly cheered our taking out bin Laden is Iraq. According to reports from inside the country, TV stations are treating the raid as a great victory for Iraq – the final battle in a war that was mostly fought by Iraqis on Iraqi soil. They view bin Laden’s killing as their own personal triumph in the war against Islamic terrorism.

Similarly, when there was an explosion of violence throughout the Muslim world in response to some Danish cartoons in 2006, guess which Islamic nation was nothing but placid contentment? Again: our plucky Iraq. (Having U.S. Marines in your midst apparently has some sort of calming influence.)

It’s great that we got bin Laden, but if the last Democratic administration had been doing its job, there would have been no Osama bin Laden and no 9/11 attack to begin with.

Democratic presidents are always too busy feverishly redistributing wealth at home to devote serious attention to our national interests abroad.

Obama gets to reap the rewards of Bush-era terrorism policies – policies that he, his fellow Democrats and Jane Mayer hysterically denounced at the time – while Reagan and Bush had to deal with the consequences of Carter’s Iranian policy and Clinton’s bin Laden policy.

According to Michael Scheuer, who ran the bin Laden unit at the CIA for many years, President Clinton was given eight to 10 chances to kill or capture bin Laden but refused to act, despite bin Laden’s having publicly declared war on the United States and launched various terrorist attacks against us, murdering hundreds of Americans.

(If only one of those opportunities had presented itself on the day of Clinton’s scheduled impeachment, instead of Clinton’s bombing Iraq, he might have postponed his problems at home by finally taking out bin Laden.)

Clinton’s CIA director, James Woolsey, never once met with Clinton in a one-on-one meeting. This is in contrast to Monica Lewinsky, who got about a dozen face-to-face – or face-to-something – meetings with the president.

That’s why Sandy Berger, Clinton’s national security adviser, was caught stealing documents from the National Archives during the 9/11 commission hearings. That’s also why Clinton blew a gasket and forced ABC to cancel the DVD release of the docudrama “The Path to 9/11″ – based on the commission’s report.

Bush had to deal with the ticking time bomb of Osama bin Laden left by Bill Clinton.

All presidents have had to deal with the ticking time bomb set by Carter’s passive acceptance of the Iranian revolution in 1979, giving Islamic lunacy its first nation-sponsor.

What ticking time bombs are being set around the globe by our current Democratic president?

Following the Democratic playbook, Obama’s overall approach to national security is to pointlessly fling our influence and military around the globe – in Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan – with no evident national security purpose.

Thanks to our feckless president, most of the Middle East is rapidly degenerating into a terrorist fever-swamp.

The Muslim Brotherhood is emerging as a power broker in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya. Meanwhile, the “democracy” movement in Syria seems likely to end with President Bashar al-Assad gaining a tighter grip on power, after he’s killed enough of his own people to remind them why he’s their president.

All of these countries are becoming worse than they were before. (On the plus side, Obama is set to announce the SEALs have just found Joe Biden.)

But George Bush’s legacy – Iraq – will be standing there, all on its own, the one point of light in a sea of Islamic darkness. And the media will coo about how reassuring it is that we now have a “thoughtful” president in the White House, instead of a cowboy.

Click HERE For Rest Of Article

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The First-Person Presidency – Victor Davis Hanson

Here are a few excerpts from President Obama’s speech on Sunday night about the killing of Osama bin Laden.

“Tonight, I can report… And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta… I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden… I met repeatedly with my national security team… I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action… Today, at my direction… I’ve made clear… Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear… Tonight, I called President Zardari… and my team has also spoken… These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief… Finally, let me say to the families… I know that it has, at times, frayed….”

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Fed Up WEith The Fed? – Thomas Sowell

When people in Washington start creating fancy new phrases instead of using plain English, you know they are doing something they don’t want us to understand.

It was an act of war when we started bombing Libya. But the administration chose to call it “kinetic military action.” When the Federal Reserve System started creating hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air, they called it “quantitative easing” of the money supply.

When that didn’t work, they created more money and called it “quantitative easing 2″ or “QE2,” instead of saying: “We are going to print more dollars – and hope it works this time.”

Click HERE For Rest Of Article

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Holder Vs. Holder – Andrew C. McCarthy

Why does the Obama Justice Department seem to have trouble mounting a full-throated, compelling legal defense of Osama bin Laden’s killing? The problem for Eric Holder the attorney general could be Eric Holder the private attorney.

In 2004, Mr. Holder chose to file an amicus brief on behalf of Jose Padilla, the al-Qaeda terrorist sent to our country by bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to carry out a post-9/11 second wave of attacks. In the brief, Holder argued that a commander-in-chief lacks the constitutional authority to do what his boss, the current commander-in-chief, has just done: determine the parameters of the battlefield.

Click HERE For Rest Of Article

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The Fog Of Fog – Michelle Malkin

The official White House account of Osama bin Laden’s demise has seen more slapdash cosmetic surgery over the past week than your average “Real Housewives” reality-show star. President Obama’s allies attribute the bungled “narrative” (their word, not mine) to the “Fog of War.” But each passing day – and each new set of hapless revisions – shows that what really ails the administration is the Fog of Fog.

Errors happen. Miscommunications happen. Confusing the name of which of bin Laden’s myriad sons died (Hamza, not Khalid), for example, is no biggie.

But the hourly revamping of key details of Sunday’s raid suggests something far beyond the usual realm of situational uncertainty that accompanies any military operation.

Click HERE For Rest Of Article

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Why Pakistan Knew It Could Hide Osama – Mark Steyn

As my old friends at The Spectator in London pointed out Monday morning, I scooped the entire planet in breaking the news of Osama bin Laden’s death: “Osama bin Laden is dead, says Mark Steyn.” This was in The Spectator’s edition of June 29, 2002, which turned out to be a wee bit premature. I jumped the gun, much like Osama’s missus in Abbottabad, but by nine years.

Nor, to be honest, was a teensy-weensy near-decade discrepancy in the date the only problem with my scoop. Much of that Spectator piece was preoccupied with the usual assumptions about Public Enemy Number One – caves, dialysis, remote wild Pakistani tribal lands where Western intelligence hasn’t a hope of penetrating unless you turn a cousin of the village headman, etc.

Click HERE For Rest Of Article

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Gasoline And Onions – John Stossel

The speculators are ripping us off!

“The skyrocketing price of gas and oil has nothing to do with the fundamentals of supply and demand, and has everything to do with Wall Street firms that are artificially jacking up the price of oil in the energy futures markets… (T)he same Wall Street speculators that caused the worst financial crisis since the 1930s through their greed, recklessness and illegal behavior are ripping off the American people again by gambling that the price of oil and gas will continue to go up.”

Here we go again. That quote was Sen. Bernie Sanders doing what some always do when the price of oil spikes: complain about speculators.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – Cometh The Hour, Punteth The Man (Mark Steyn) – More Op-Eds

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Cometh The Hour, Punteth The Man – Mark Steyn

There’s something sad about a man so carelessly revealing himself as entirely inadequate to the moment. Government spending is an existential threat to the United States. Whether or not anyone at the White House knows this, the viziers decided to shove the sultan out on stage with a pitifully unserious speech retreating to all his lamest tropes – the usual whiny, petty, and unpresidential partisan snippiness, and the ponderous demolition of straw men even he barely bothered to pretend he believed in:

Politicians are often eager to feed the impression that solving the problem is just a matter of eliminating waste and abuse – that tackling the deficit issue won’t require tough choices.

Yeah, right. Why don’t we start by eliminating whatever dope got paid to write that sentence?

This speech failed Rich’s “What’s yours?” test. In fact, it more or less declared to the world that this administration has no plan, and has no plan to plan on getting a plan anytime soon. But America is not Greece. There is no Germany to bail us out. Only we can do it. And the president just signaled to the world that that’s not going to happen. Here’s one example of his and his speechwriters’ hideous laziness:

If there are bright young Americans who have the drive and the will but not the money to go to college, we can’t afford to send them… South Korean children are outpacing our kids in math and science.

That last bit is true – but it’s nothing to do with money. According to the most recent OECD figures (2007), the Koreans spent $5,437 per primary-school pupil; we spent $10,229. For education as a whole, the Koreans spent $7,325 per pupil; we spent $14,269. They not only “outpace our kids in math and science”; they do it by only spending half as much.

That’s the problem, and whichever hack speechwriter put those ridiculous words in the president’s mouth surely knew it. As did the president. We spend more than anyone but the Swiss on education, and by any rational measure at least half of it is entirely wasted: That model is why this country is dying, and the president just went on TV and bragged to the world he has no plans to change it.

The whole speech was like that, a litany of brain-dead slapdash rhetorical questions that for sentient beings are no longer rhetorical: My fellow Americans, do we want an America where our most lethargic and mediocre youth are denied a leisurely half-decade acquiring a fraudulent six-figure credential in some worthless pseudo-discipline simply because we can’t afford it?

Well, it’d be a start.

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On This Aborted Fetus, Democrats Plant Their Flag – Ann Coulter

Back in February, Obama’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jacob Lew, promoted the White House’s allegedly draconian budget cuts in The New York Times.

Saying Obama was going to cut the 2012 budget to the bone, Lew droned on about the “difficult” cuts to “important” programs and the “many tough choices and deep cuts” in the proposed budget.

All told, the White House’s brutal, Depression-era austerity plan would have snipped a couple of billion from our multi-trillion dollar federal budget.

Click HERE For Rest Of Article

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Welcome Budget-Cut Talk – John Stossel

Finally. A serious budget plan. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s proposal has the head-in-the-sand crowd horrified. A Washington Post columnist called it “radical… irresponsible… extreme.”

Ryan’s plan offers some great things: less spending than President Obama wants; a path to a balanced budget; repeal of Obamacare; an end to corporate welfare. And it would make the social safety net sustainable rather than open-ended and going broke.

It even inspired President Obama to say he’d come out with his own deficit plan, although he reportedly “will not offer details,” just “goals.”

Click HERE For Rest Of Article

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The Razor’s Edge – Victor Davis Hanson

We calibrate California’s decline by its myriad of paradoxes. The nation’s highest bundle of gas, sales, and income taxes cannot close the nation’s largest annual deficit at $25 billion. Test scores are at the country’s near bottom; teachers’ salaries at the very top. Scores of the affluent are leaving each week; scores of the indigent are arriving.

The nation’s most richly endowed state is also the most regulated; the most liberal of our residents are also the most ready to practice apartheid in their Bel Air or Palo Alto enclaves.

We now see highway patrolmen and city police, in the manner of South American law enforcement, out in force.

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Eat The Rich – Walter Williams

I’ve often said that I wish there were some humane way to get rid of the rich. If you asked why, I’d answer that getting rid of the rich would save us from distraction by leftist hustlers promoting the politics of envy. Not having the rich to fret over might enable us to better focus our energies on what’s in the best interest of the 99.99 percent of the rest of us.

Let’s look at some facts about the rich laid out by Bill Whittle citing statistics on his RealClearPolitics video “Eat the Rich.”

This year, Congress will spend $3.7 trillion dollars. That turns out to be about $10 billion per day. Can we prey upon the rich to cough up the money?

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Make 70 The New 65 – Michelle Malkin

It’s time for a 21st-century retirement age. If 40 is the new 20 and 50 is the new 30, why shouldn’t 70 be the new 65?

The last time Washington politicians tinkered ever so gingerly with the government-sanctioned retirement age, Ronald Reagan was in office and Generation X-ers were all in diapers. Since then, American life expectancy has increased by half a decade and continues to rise – while the “traditional” retirement age (established eight decades ago) has only recently begun phasing up to 67 and the official “early” retirement age (established four decades ago) remains stuck at 62.

There is simply no good reason 21st-century workers should operate under obsolete 1930s-era expectations and 1970s rules.

Click HERE For Rest Of Article

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Taxes And Politics – Thomas Sowell

Someone once said that taxes are the price we pay for civilization. That may have been true when he said it, but today taxes are mostly the price we pay so that politicians can play Santa Claus and get reelected.

That’s not the worst of it. We may think of taxes as just a source of government revenue. But tax rates are a big political statement on the left, whether they bring in any revenue or not.

For more than 80 years, the political Left has opposed what it calls “tax cuts for the rich.” But big cuts in very high tax rates ended up bringing in more revenue to the government in the Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush 43 administrations.

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*VIDEO* Bill Whittle: Eat The Rich!

Daily Benefactor Columnists – Napolitano: The Ball’s In My Court Now (Ann Coulter) – More Op-Eds


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Napolitano: The Ball’s In My Court Now – Ann Coulter

After the 9/11 attacks, when 19 Muslim terrorists – 15 from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates and one each from Egypt and Lebanon, 14 with “al” in their names – took over commercial aircraft with box-cutters, the government banned sharp objects from planes.

Airport security began confiscating little old ladies’ knitting needles and breaking the mouse-sized nail files off of passengers’ nail clippers. Surprisingly, no decrease in the number of hijacking attempts by little old ladies and manicurists was noted.

After another Muslim terrorist, Richard Reid, AKA Tariq Raja, AKA Abdel Rahim, AKA Abdul Raheem, AKA Abu Ibrahim, AKA Sammy Cohen (which was only his eHarmony alias), tried to blow up a commercial aircraft with explosive-laden sneakers, the government prohibited more than 3 ounces of liquid from being carried on airplanes.

All passengers were required to take off their shoes for special security screening, which did not thwart a single terrorist attack, but made airport security checkpoints a lot smellier.

After Muslim terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria tried to detonate explosive material in his underwear over Detroit last Christmas, the government began requiring nude body scans at airports.

The machines, which cannot detect chemicals or plastic, would not have caught the diaper bomber. So, again, no hijackers were stopped, but being able to see passengers in the nude boosted the morale of airport security personnel by 22 percent.

After explosives were inserted in two ink cartridges and placed on a plane headed to the United States from the Muslim nation of Yemen, the government banned printer cartridges from all domestic flights, resulting in no improvement in airport security, while requiring ink cartridges who traveled to take Amtrak.

So when the next Muslim terrorist, probably named Abdul Ahmed al Shehri, places explosives in his anal cavity, what is the government going to require then? (If you’re looking for a good investment opportunity, might I suggest rubber gloves?)

Last year, a Muslim attempting to murder Prince Mohammed bin Nayef of Saudi Arabia blew himself up with a bomb stuck up his anus. Fortunately, this didn’t happen near an airport, or Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano would now be requiring full body cavity searches to fly.

You can’t stop a terrorist attack by searching for the explosives any more than you can stop crime by taking away everyone’s guns.

In the 1970s, liberal ideas on crime swept the country. Gun owners were treated like criminals while actual criminals were coddled and released. If only we treated criminals with dignity and respect and showed them the system was fair, liberals told us, criminals would reward us with good behavior.

As is now well known, crime exploded in the ’70s. It took decades of conservative law-and-order policies to get crime back to near-1950s levels.

It’s similarly pointless to treat all Americans as if they’re potential terrorists while trying to find and confiscate anything that could be used as a weapon. We can’t search all passengers for explosives because Muslims stick explosives up their anuses. (Talk about jobs Americans just won’t do.)

You have to search for the terrorists.

Fortunately, that’s the one advantage we have in this war. In a lucky stroke, all the terrorists are swarthy, foreign-born, Muslim males. (Think: “Guys Madonna would date.”)

This would give us a major leg up – if only the country weren’t insane.

Is there any question that we’d be looking for Swedes if the 9/11 terrorists, the shoe bomber, the diaper bomber and the printer cartridge bomber had all been Swedish? If the Irish Republican Army were bombing our planes, wouldn’t we be looking for people with Irish surnames and an Irish appearance?

Only because the terrorists are Muslims do we pretend not to notice who keeps trying to blow up our planes.

It would be harder to find Swedes or Irish boarding commercial airliners in the U.S. than Muslims. Swarthy foreigners stand out like a sore thumb in an airport. The American domestic flying population is remarkably homogenous. An airport is not a Sears department store.

Only about a third of all Americans flew even once in the last year, and only 7 percent took more than four round trips. The majority of airline passengers are middle-aged, middle-class, white businessmen with about a million frequent flier miles. I’d wager that more than 90 percent of domestic air travelers were born in the U.S.

If the government did nothing more than have a five-minute conversation with the one passenger per flight born outside the U.S., you’d need 90 percent fewer Transportation Security Administration agents and airlines would be far safer than they are now.

Instead, Napolitano just keeps ordering more invasive searches of all passengers, without exception – except members of Congress and government officials, who get VIP treatment, so they never know what she’s doing to the rest of us.

Two weeks ago, Napolitano ordered TSA agents to start groping women’s breasts and all passengers’ genitalia – children, nuns and rape victims, everyone except government officials and members of Congress. (Which is weird because Dennis Kucinich would like it.)

“Please have your genitalia out and ready to be fondled when you approach the security checkpoint.”

This is the punishment for refusing the nude body scan for passengers who don’t want to appear nude on live video or are worried about the skin cancer risk of the machines – risks acknowledged by the very Johns Hopkins study touted by the government.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that we need to keep the government as far away from airport security as possible, and not only because Janet Napolitano did her graduate work in North Korea.

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Obama Caves On Civilian Trial For KSM – Andrew C. McCarthy

Let’s review the state of play, shall we? Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama blasted the Bush administration’s decision to treat al-Qaeda terrorists as enemy combatants and detain them without trial at Guantanamo Bay.

Now, two years into his presidency, Obama has decided to treat al-Qaeda terrorists as enemy combatants and detain them without trial at Guantanamo Bay. The media is reporting that the administration will hold Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other 9/11 plotter indefinitely, granting them neither a civilian nor a military trial.

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How To Control Congress – Walter Williams

Let’s assume that each of our 535 congressmen cares about the destructive impact of deficits and debt on the future of our country. Regardless of party, congressmen face enormous lobbying pressures and awards to spend more and little or no pressure and awards to spend less.

The nation’s founders would be horrified by today’s congressional spending that consumes 25 percent of our GDP. Contrast that to the years 1787 to the 1920s when federal government spending never exceeded 4 percent of our GDP except in wartime. Today, federal, state and local government consumes 43 percent of what Americans produce each year.

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Natural Is Not Always Better – John Stossel

It’s not what we don’t know that causes us trouble. It’s what we know that isn’t so. Whichever famous writer said that (it’s been attributed to many), what he said carries truth. What are some of the things we know that aren’t so? Here’s one: Grass-fed “free-range” beef cattle are better for the environment – and for you – than factory-farmed corn-fed cattle.

It does seem to make sense that the steer raised in the more “natural” environment would be better for the world. Michael Pollan, the prolific food author and activist, wrote in The New York Times that “what was once a solar-powered ruminant (grass-fed steer) (has been turned) into the very last thing we need: another fossil-fuel machine.” How so?

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End Deficit Reduction Commissions – Thomas Sowell

Another deficit-reduction commission has now made its recommendations. My own recommendation for dealing with deficits would include stopping the appointment of deficit-reduction commissions. It is not the amount of money that these commissions cost that is the issue. It is the escape hatch that they provide for big-spending politicians.

Do you go ahead and spend the rent money and the food money – and then ask somebody else to tell you how to escape the consequences? If President Obama or the Congress were serious about keeping the deficit down, they could have had this commission’s recommendations before they spent hundreds of billions of dollars, handing out goodies hither and yon to their pet constituencies.

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Where’s My ObamaCare Waiver? – Michelle Malkin

More than one million Americans have escaped the clutches of the Democrats’ destructive federal health care law. Lucky them. Their employers and labor representatives wisely applied for Obamacare waivers earlier this fall and got out while the getting was good.

Now, it’s time for Congress to create a permanent escape hatch for the rest of us. Repeal is the ultimate waiver. As you’ll recall, President Obama promised repeatedly that if Americans liked their health insurance plan, they could keep it. “Nobody is talking about taking that away from you,” the cajoler-in-chief assured.

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Dead Souls – Victor Davis Hanson

Millions of us shuffle around, sighing that most of what we hear pounded into our brains is either banal or as untrue as it is dangerous to identify it as such. So we ignore it, we the dead souls who live in the world of unmentionable thoughts.

Here is a daily inanity: “The great majority of Muslims are moderates,” and its ancillary “Only a tiny percentage of Muslims are terrorists.” Both are true, but they have value as admonishments only if there were a widespread Western effort to demonize Islam and persecute Muslims, or we knew that mass destruction required millions of conventional troops. But neither is true.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – The ‘Gridlock’ Bogeyman (Thomas Sowell) – More Op-Eds


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The ‘Gridlock’ Bogeyman – Thomas Sowell

Whenever the party that controls the White House does not also control Capitol Hill, political pundits worry that there will be “gridlock” in Washington, so that the government cannot solve the nation’s problems.

Almost never is that fear based on what actually happens when there is divided government, compared to what happens when one party has a monopoly of both legislative and executive branches.

The last time the federal government had a budget surplus, instead of its usual deficits, there was divided government. That was when the Republicans controlled the House of Representatives, where all spending bills originate, and Bill Clinton was in the White House. The media called it “the Clinton surplus.”

By the same token, some of the worst laws ever passed were passed when one party had overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress, as well as being led by their own president of the United States. Obamacare is a product of the kind of arrogance that so much power breeds.

It was the same story back in the famous “first hundred days” of the New Deal in 1933. The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 clamped down on the American economy the kind of pervasive government control seldom seen outside totalitarian countries.

It was the Obamacare of its time, but covering industries right down to local dry cleaners. One man was sent to jail for charging less than the government-specified price for pressing a suit of clothes. This typified the mindset of the New Deal.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court eventually declared the National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional. But, before that happened, the N.I.R.A. probably did more to prevent the economy from recovering from the Great Depression than any other law or policy. Even liberal icon John Maynard Keynes said at the time that the N.I.R.A. “probably impedes recovery.”

You cannot tell what effect a law or policy will have by what politicians call it, whether they label it a “recovery” program or a “stimulus” program.

Those who fear gridlock in Washington today implicitly assume that government actions are needed to “solve” the economy’s “problems.” That assumption has been so pervasive over the past 80 years that many people fail to realize that the republic existed for nearly twice that long before the federal government intervened to get the economy out of a recession or depression.

During all that time, no depression ever lasted even half as long as the Great Depression of the 1930s, when first President Herbert Hoover and then President Franklin Roosevelt intervened.

For most of the history of this country, there was no Federal Reserve System, which was established in 1914 to prevent bank failures and the bad effects of large expansions or contractions of the supply of money and credit. But bank failures in the 1930s exceeded anything ever seen before the Fed was established. So did the contraction of money and credit during the Great Depression.

The seductive notion that some Big Daddy in Washington can solve our problems for us – whether healing the sick, preventing poverty, or “growing the economy” – is encouraged by politicians for obvious reasons, and the media echoes the idea.

Both in Washington and in the media, there is virtually zero interest in comparing what actually happens when the federal government intervenes in the economy and when it does not.

More than a century and a half of ignoring downturns in the economy never produced a depression as deep or as long as the 1930s depression, with its many federal interventions, first under Hoover and then under Roosevelt.

The unemployment rate was 6.3 percent when the first big intervention took place, during the Hoover administration. It later peaked at 25 percent, but its fluctuations were always in double digits throughout the 1930s, as FDR tried one thing after another. As late as the spring of 1939, nearly a decade after the stock market crash of 1929, unemployment hit 20 percent again.

It is not a matter of faith that a market economy can recover on its own. It is a matter of faith that politicians speed recovery. But there is no way that Barack Obama is going to stop intervening in the economy unless he gets stopped. Only gridlock can do that.

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Remembrance – Mark Steyn

On CNN the other day, Larry King asked Tony Blair what it was he had in his buttonhole. It was a poppy – not a real poppy, but a stylized, mass-produced thing of red paper and green plastic that, as the Prime Minister explained, is worn in Britain and other Commonwealth countries in the days before November 11th.

They’re sold in the street by aged members of the Royal British Legion to commemorate that moment 83 years ago today, when on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the guns fell silent on the battlefields of Europe.

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Repeal The 26th Amendment! – Ann Coulter

Jimmy Carter was such an abominable president we got Ronald Reagan, tax cuts, a booming economy and the destruction of the Soviet Union. Two years of Bill Clinton and a Democratic Congress got us the first Republican Congress in half a century, followed by tax cuts, welfare reform and a booming economy – all of which Clinton now claims credit for.

Obama’s disastrous presidency has already produced Republican senators from Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Illinois; New Jersey’s wonder-governor Chris Christie; and the largest House majority for Republicans since 1946. We deserve more.

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I’m Politically Incorrect – John Stossel

This week, I held a bake sale – a racist bake sale. I stood in midtown Manhattan shouting, “Cupcakes for sale.” My price list read: Asians – $1.50. Whites – $1.00. Blacks/Latinos – 50 cents. People stared. One yelled, “What is funny to you about people who are less privileged?”

A black woman said, angrily, “It’s very offensive, very demeaning!” One black man accused me of poisoning the cupcakes. I understand why people got angry. What I did was hurtful to some. My bake sale mimicked what some conservative college students did at Bucknell University.

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The Obama Fabulists – Victor Davis Hanson

During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama was billed as a cool rationalist – a sober and judicious intellectual so unlike the inattentive and twangy “smoke ‘em out” George W. Bush, so rational in contrast to the herky-jerky and frenetic John McCain. Like Senator Kerry, our professor president now laments Americans’ descent into emotion.

“Facts and science and argument does [sic] not,” our president moans, “seem to be winning the day.” The largely academic intellectuals whom Obama brought into his administration promised to bring their erudition and logic both to reading public opinion and to providing commensurate winning solutions.

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Throw Carol Browner Under The Bus – Michelle Malkin

Energy czar Carol Browner needs to go the way of disgraced green jobs czar Van Jones: under the bus and stripped of her unbridled power to destroy jobs and lives in the name of saving the planet. ASAP.

One of the Beltway’s most influential, entrenched and unaccountable left-wing radicals, Browner has now been called out twice by President Obama’s own federal BP oil spill commission and Interior Department inspector general. How many strikes should a woman who circumvented the Senate confirmation process and boasts a sordid history of abusing public office get?

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Earmarks Aren’t Even The Beginning – Andrew C. McCarthy

In offering himself as the next speaker of the House after last Tuesday’s sea-change election, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed of about 800 words. The word “debt” is not one of them, nor does the concept appear. That’s a bit odd, no?

The debt is what the election was about: the growth-killing tab that runs up another $4 billion every day – even days when President Obama is not touring the Far East with 3,000 courtiers in his retinue. The debt, driven by unconstitutional and unsustainable federal intrusions into everything from how much carbon dioxide we emit to which light bulbs we use, is what in turn drives unemployment.

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