Obama’s Massive Fraud (Andrew C. McCarthy)

Obama’s Massive Fraud – Andrew C. McCarthy

If you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan. Period.” How serious was this lie, repeated by Barack Obama with such beguiling regularity? Well, how would the Justice Department be dealing with it if it had been uttered by, say, the president of an insurance company rather than the president of the United States?

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Fraud is a serious federal felony, usually punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment – with every repetition of a fraudulent communication chargeable as a separate crime. In computing sentences, federal sentencing guidelines factor in such considerations as the dollar value of the fraud, the number of victims, and the degree to which the offender’s treachery breaches any special fiduciary duties he owes. Cases of multi-million-dollar corporate frauds – to say nothing of multi-billion-dollar, Bernie Madoff–level scams that nevertheless pale beside Obamacare’s dimensions – often result in terms amounting to decades in the slammer.

Justice Department guidelines, set forth in the U.S. Attorneys Manual, recommend prosecution for fraud in situations involving “any scheme which in its nature is directed to defrauding a class of persons, or the general public, with a substantial pattern of conduct.” So, for example, if a schemer were intentionally to deceive all Americans, or a class of Americans (e.g., people who had health insurance purchased on the individual market), by repeating numerous times – over the airwaves, in mailings, and in electronic announcements – an assertion the schemer knew to be false and misleading, that would constitute an actionable fraud – particularly if the statements induced the victims to take action to their detriment, or lulled the victims into a false sense of security.

For a fraud prosecution to be valid, the fraudulent scheme need not have been successful. Nor is there any requirement that the schemer enrich himself personally. The prosecution must simply prove that some harm to the victim was contemplated by the schemer. If the victim actually was harmed, that is usually the best evidence that harm was what the schemer intended.

To be more illustrative, let’s say our schemer is the president of a health-insurance company, and that it was clearly foreseeable to him that his company’s clients would lose their current insurance plans if the company adopted his proposal of a complex new health-insurance framework. In fact, let’s assume that the schemer not only had analyses showing that clients would lose their plans but that he also had a history of openly favoring a “single-payer” insurance system – i.e., an unconcealed desire to move everyone from private to government-managed insurance arrangements.

Now, suppose the schemer nevertheless vowed to the company’s clients, to whom he bore fiduciary obligations, that they needn’t fear his proposed new insurance framework; under it, he promised time after time after time, if they liked their current plans, they would be able to keep those plans. And let’s say that, on the basis of that repeated vow, the clients supported the schemer’s reappointment as president and his proposed new framework. On these facts, the clients’ subsequent loss of their current insurance plans helps prove the schemer’s fraudulent intent. The schemer has committed not just a fraud but a carefully thought-out, fully successful fraud, replete with suffering victims.

The concept of fraudulent deception, like the concept of perjury and other forms of actionable false statement, often entails not only affirmative lies – e.g., the general manager who tells a baseball player, “I will not trade you if you sign the contract,” and then proceeds to trade the player after he signs; the concept also commonly involves the omission of material facts (what’s called “material omission”) – e.g., the general manager who tells the player, “I will not trade you if you sign the contract,” under circumstances where, unbeknownst to the player, the general manager has already made arrangements to trade him.

A material omission is the intentional failure to state any fact the communication of which would be necessary to ensure that statements already made are not misleading. The concept of material omission is a staple of fraud prosecutions. A good example is the Obama Justice Department’s ongoing and transparently political effort to portray financial institutions – as opposed to government policies – as the proximate cause of the mortgage-industry collapse that resulted in our national economic meltdown.

Attorney General Eric Holder’s minions have recently sued Bank of America and UBS. The complaints filed in court by prosecutors allege that these financial institutions defrauded investors in the sale of mortgage-backed securities by failing to disclose important facts about the underlying mortgages. Indeed, prosecutors asserted that financial institutions’ statements about these securities were both lies and, even where arguably true, material omissions. That’s because the statements withheld from investors the fact that the institutions well knew, based on internal analyses, that many of the mortgages backing the securities would go into default.

Recall that President Obama knew three years ago, based on internal analyses, that because of his administration’s own regulation-writing, millions of Americans would lose the health plans he nonetheless continued to promise they could keep. The president hid the data… just as did those financial institutions that his trusty attorney general has sued. Comparatively speaking, though, the financial institutions defrauded significantly fewer victims. Thus it is noteworthy that Holder is now demanding that the institutions pay hundreds of millions of dollars for their fraudulent misrepresentations.

Even that is not good enough for some prominent Democrats. Senator Carl Levin, for example, blasted the Justice Department for not pursuing a criminal fraud case against Goldman Sachs. Goldman had not made false statements in marketing the securities in dispute; but it did fail to disclose that it had shorted the same securities – i.e., it was quietly betting against the same securities it was selling. (I wrote sympathetically toward Goldman here, and Nicole Gelinas posted a characteristically smart rebuttal here.) Senator Levin railed at Holder’s decision not to file criminal charges, portraying it as an abdication in the face of behavior that was “deceptive and immoral.” Of course, if you want to talk about “deceptive and immoral,” Obama was snowing ordinary Americans, not savvy investors; and he was not just betting against the insurance plans he was promising to preserve; he was personally working to wipe them out.

The Justice Department is notoriously aggressive when it comes to material omissions by public corporations. Any public statement – not just in a required SEC filing but in any public context – may be deemed actionable if its purpose is to deceive the general public about a company’s condition. For example, as I’ve noted before, the Justice Department indicted Martha Stewart for fraud over press statements that did not disclose damaging information about her company.

Ms. Stewart, naturally, was fearful that truthful statements would send the stock price plummeting. Obama, by comparison, was not lying merely to prevent a company from losing value. His fraud was, first, to induce passage of a plan designed gradually to destroy the private health-insurance market – a plan that barely passed and never would have been enacted if he’d been honest. And later, his fraud was to procure his reelection and the guaranteed implementation of Obamacare; had he been honest, he would have been defeated and Obamacare forestalled.

Barack Obama is guilty of fraud – serial fraud – that is orders of magnitude more serious than frauds the Justice Department routinely prosecutes, and that courts punish harshly. The victims will be out billions of dollars, quite apart from other anxiety and disruption that will befall them.

The president will not be prosecuted, of course, but that is immaterial. As discussed here before, the remedy for profound presidential corruption is political, not legal. It is impeachment and removal. “High crimes and misdemeanors” – the Constitution’s predicate for impeachment – need not be indictable offenses under the criminal code. “They relate chiefly,” Hamilton explained in Federalist No. 65, “to injuries done immediately to the society itself.” They involve scandalous breaches of the public trust by officials in whom solemn fiduciary duties are reposed – like a president who looks Americans in the eye and declares, repeatedly, that they can keep their health insurance plans… even as he studiously orchestrates the regulatory termination of those plans; even as he shifts blame to the insurance companies for his malfeasance – just as he shifted blame to a hapless video producer for his shocking dereliction of duty during the Benghazi massacre.

It is highly unlikely that Barack Obama will ever be impeached. It is certain that he will never again be trusted. Republicans and sensible Democrats take heed: The nation may not have the stomach to remove a charlatan, but the nation knows he is a charlatan. The American people will not think twice about taking out their frustration and mounting anger on those who collaborate in his schemes.

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Related article:

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2010 Video: Obama Admits Millions ‘Might Have To Change Their Coverage’ – Big Government

Last night on Fox News’ “Special Report” and CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” video aired of President Obama admitting that due to ObamaCare, “8 to 9 million people… might have to change their coverage.” The key words there are “have to.”

The setting is the February of 2010 health care summit with Republicans. Minority Whip Eric Cantor is addressing the president directly on the issue of people losing their insurance due to the Affordable Care Act:

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CANTOR: …Because I don’t think you can answer the question in the positive to say that people will be able to maintain their coverage, people will be able to see the doctors they want, in the kind of bill that you are proposing:

OBAMA: Since you asked me a question, let me respond. The 8 to 9 million people you refer to that might have to change their coverage – keep in mind out of the 300 million Americans that we are talking about – would be folks who the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, estimates would find the deal in the exchange better – would be a better deal. So, yes, they would change coverage because they got more choice and competition.

So even though the president knew that 8 to 9 million people “might have to change their overage” way back in February of 2010, afterwards, for three-plus years – especially while running for reelection – Obama continued to reassure the American people that if you like your health care plan, you can keep it. Period. End of story.

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The question of what the president knew and when he knew it is now answered.

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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 – A Brass Age (Thomas Sowell) – More Op-Eds

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A Brass Age – Thomas Sowell

This may be the golden age of presumptuous ignorance. The most recent demonstrations of that are the Occupy Wall Street mobs. It is doubtful how many of these semi-literate sloganizers could tell the difference between a stock and a bond.

Yet there they are, mouthing off about Wall Street on television, cheered on by politicians and the media. If this is not a golden age of presumptuous ignorance, perhaps it should be called a brass age.

No one has more brass than the president of the United States, though his brass may be more polished than that of the Occupy Wall Street mobs. When Barack Obama speaks loftily about “investing in the industries of the future,” does anyone ask: What in the world would qualify him to know what are the industries of the future?

Why would people who have spent their careers in politics know more about investing than people who have spent their careers as investors?

Presumptuous ignorance is not confined to politicians or rowdy political activists, by any means. From time to time, I get a huffy letter or e-mail from a reader who begins, “You obviously don’t know what you are talking about…”

The particular subject may be one on which my research assistants and I have amassed piles of research material and official statistics. It may even be a subject on which I have written a few books, but somehow the presumptuously ignorant just know that I didn’t really study that issue, because my conclusions don’t agree with theirs or with what they have heard.

At one time I was foolish enough to try to reason with such people. But one of the best New Year’s resolutions I ever made, some years ago, was to stop trying to reason with unreasonable people. It has been good for my blood pressure and probably for my health in general.

A recent column of mine that mentioned the “indirect subsidies” from the government to the Postal Service brought the presumptuously ignorant out in force, fighting mad.

Because the government does not directly subsidize the current operating expenses of the Postal Service, that is supposed to show that the Postal Service pays its own way and costs the taxpayers nothing.

Politicians may be crooks but they are not fools. Easily observable direct subsidies can create a political problem. Far better to set up an arrangement that will allow government-sponsored enterprises – whether the Postal Service, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the Tennessee Valley Authority – to operate in such a way that they can claim to be self-supporting and not costing the taxpayers anything, no matter how much indirect subsidy they get.

As just one example, the Postal Service has a multi-billion-dollar line of credit at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Hey, we could all use a few billions, every now and then, to get us over the rough spots. But we are not the Postal Service.

Theoretically, the Postal Service is going to pay it all back some day, and that theoretical possibility keeps it from being called a direct subsidy. The Postal Service is also exempt from paying taxes, among other exemptions it has from costs that other businesses have to pay.

Exemption from taxes, and from other requirements that apply to other businesses, are also not called subsidies. For people who mistake words for realities, that is enough for them to buy the political line – and to get huffy with those who don’t.

Loan guarantees are a favorite form of hidden subsidies for all sorts of special interests. At a given point in time, it can be said that these guarantees cost the taxpayers nothing. But when they suddenly do cost something – as with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – they can cost billions.

One of the reasons for so much presumptuous ignorance flourishing in our time may be the emphasis on “self-esteem” in our schools and colleges. Children not yet a decade old have been encouraged, or even required, to write letters to public figures, sounding off on issues ranging from taxes to nuclear missiles.

Our schools begin promoting presumptuous ignorance early on. It is apparently one of the few things they teach well. The end result is people without much knowledge, but with a lot of brass.

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Obama’s Green Robber Barons – Michelle Malkin

Had enough of fat cat Barack Obama, his jet-setting wife and his multi-millionaire Chicago consigliere/real-estate mogul Valerie Jarrett attacking the “rich”? Well, brace yourselves. You’ll be hearing much more from the White House about the “wealthy few” who aren’t paying their “fair share” as Obama’s re-election campaign doubles down on class-war demagoguery.

As usual, there’s always a set of immunity charms for the privileged friends and family of the ruling class. When it comes to all the Green Robber Barons who’ve reaped an obscenely unfair share of billions of tax dollars from the Obama administration, the envy trumpeteers will be quieter than a nest of mute church mice.

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What Really Happened In The Gingrich Ethics Case? – Byron York

The Romney campaign has been hitting Newt Gingrich hard over the 1990s ethics case that resulted in the former Speaker being reprimanded and paying a $300,000 penalty. Before the Iowa caucuses, Romney and his supporting super PAC did serious damage to Gingrich with an ad attacking Gingrich’s ethics past. Since then, Romney has made other ads and web videos focusing on the ethics matter, and at the Republican debate in Tampa Monday night, Romney said Gingrich “had to resign in disgrace.”

In private conversations, Romney aides often mention the ethics case as part of their larger argument that Gingrich would be unelectable in a race against President Obama.

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Schools Of Education – Walter Williams

Larry Sand’s article “No Wonder Johnny (Still) Can’t Read” – written for The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, based in Raleigh, N.C. – blames schools of education for the decline in America’s education. Education professors drum into students that they should not “drill and kill” or be the “sage on the stage” but instead be the “guide on the side” who “facilitates student discovery.”

This kind of harebrained thinking, coupled with multicultural nonsense, explains today’s education. During his teacher education, Sand says, “teachers-to-be were forced to learn about this ethnic group, that impoverished group, this sexually anomalous group, that under-represented group, etc. – all under the rubric of ‘Culturally Responsive Education.'”

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The Sinking Of The West – Mark Steyn

Abe Greenwald of Commentary magazine tweets: Is there any chance that Mark Steyn won’t use the Italian captain fleeing the sinking ship as the lead metaphor in a column on EU collapse?

Oh, dear. You’ve got to get up early in the morning to beat me to civilizational-collapse metaphors. Been there, done that. See page 185 of my most recent book, where I contrast the orderly, dignified, and moving behavior of those on the Titanic (the ship, not the mendacious Hollywood blockbuster) with that manifested in more recent disasters. There was no orderly evacuation from the Costa Concordia, just chaos punctuated by individual acts of courage from, for example, an Hungarian violinist in the orchestra and a ship’s entertainer in a Spiderman costume, both of whom helped children to safety, the former paying with his life.

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Newt Was Right – Andrew C. McCarthy

Newt Gingrich’s ardent admiration for Franklin Delano Roosevelt owes more to the latter’s unflinching wartime leadership than his welfare-state policy prescriptions. This week, though, the former Speaker is also undoubtedly in accord with FDR’s aphorism, “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” To his great credit, Newt has made an enemy of CAIR.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, that is. The nation’s best known cheerleader for radical Islam – or, as Fox News compliantly puts it, “the largest Muslim civil liberties group in the United States” – has issued a blistering press release that labels Gingrich “one of the nation’s worst promoters of anti-Muslim bigotry.”

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The NYT Shilling Again For Leftwing Murderers – David Horowitz

The New York Times, which played a key role in getting convicted and unrepentant murderer Kathy Boudin a parole, has now published a similar massive plea posing as a news story for her accomplice, Judy Clark. The piece is maliciously titled “The Radical Transformation of Judy Clark” as though Clark, understanding the heinous nature of her crime which left 9 children fatherless, is prepared to renounce the life that led to it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Of course Clark is in her sixties now and regrets her separation from the infant she abandoned to commit the crime (her last crime not her only crime). Her daughter is now 31 and she would obviously like to be able to share the kind of life with her that her victims cannot share with their dead fathers.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – The Solyndra Stonewall (Stephen Hayes) – More Op-Eds

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The Solyndra Stonewall – Stephen Hayes

About 24 hours after he recited the oath of office, Barack Obama addressed senior executive branch officials and cabinet secretaries at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The new president promised that his administration would bring a new openness to Washington, with strict ethics requirements and a presumption in favor of public disclosure of, well, almost everything. “For a long time now, there’s been too much secrecy in this city,” he declared. “The old rules said that if there was a defensible argument for not disclosing something to the American people, then it should not be disclosed. That era is now over. Starting today, …this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information but those who seek to make it known.”

Think about that promise as you consider the Obama administration’s response to the congressional investigation of a $535 million loan guarantee to the bankrupt solar panel manufacturer Solyndra.

After the Department of Energy complied with an initial Solyndra document request from the House Energy and Commerce Committee in February 2011, the Obama administration became largely uncooperative. When there has been a defensible argument for not disclosing something, the administration has used it. Officials have withheld thousands of pages of documents. They have ignored requests for information as a matter of routine. In late June, the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget did not show up at a congressional hearing for which he was the only witness. In late July, OMB failed to meet a deadline to provide documents that had been subpoenaed by the Energy and Commerce Committee. In October, after the head of the Department of Energy’s loan program resigned, the administration finally provided some of the requested documents—but did so late on a Friday of a three-day weekend and only after briefing select reporters in advance to spin the damaging materials.

These are the “old rules.” As questions surrounding the Solyndra loan grow more serious, the Obama administration is digging in. It’s not hard to see why.

Late last week, for instance, the administration muzzled a key figure in the developing controversy. The Department of Energy denied a request from the House Energy and Commerce Committee for a transcribed interview, under oath, with Susan Richardson, chief counsel to the Department of Energy program that granted the risky loan to Solyndra. Richardson is the author of two memos from earlier this year about the restructuring of that loan – changes which ensured that private investors, including several prominent Obama supporters, would be paid back before taxpayers in the event of a default.

The two memos are nearly identical except for their dates and, perhaps significantly, the addressees. The first, labeled “draft” and dated January 19, 2011, is a “Memorandum for the Secretary” – Energy Secretary Steven Chu – to be delivered “through Scott Blake Harris,” the department’s general counsel. A second version, dated February 15, 2011, is addressed directly to Harris, with no mention of Chu.

Why the difference? Perhaps Richardson, or someone in her employ, didn’t want to burden a busy Secretary Chu with more paperwork. Or maybe Richardson thought it was up to Harris to decide if the issue was important enough to be brought to Chu’s attention.

Those are the charitable explanations. Here’s another possibility: Richardson may have sought to protect Chu from the political fallout if an increasingly flimsy Solyndra collapsed. No one, after all, had been a bigger advocate for the Solyndra loan than Steven Chu. From the beginning, Chu sought to expedite the loan guarantee, even if that required changing the rules meant to protect taxpayers. In February 2009, for example, Chu complained to the Wall Street Journal that paperwork requirements were burdensome. “It might be too much,” he said.

A month later, Chu had apparently made some progress. The Solyndra loan application had been denied by the Bush administration in mid-January 2009. But the new rules yielded different results. “We’ve accelerated and streamlined the process and the loans are coming out,” he said. “We’re trying to streamline it so that the period of time will be reduced from a scale of four years to several months.”

Two years later, as Richardson was preparing her memo justifying the loan restructuring, the political implications of a Solyndra collapse were on the minds of top Obama administration figures. Officials at the Office of Management and Budget thought Solyndra so important, in fact, that they recommended having a top OMB representative raise the issue directly with Chu.

An email between OMB officials dated January 31, 2011, notes that an upcoming meeting about the loan program “might present an opportunity to flag to DOE [Department of Energy] at the highest level the stakes involved, for the Secretary to do as he sees fit (and be fully informed and accountable for the decision).”

The email further suggests that the OMB director “privately” point out the risks of restructuring and the potential political implications to Chu:

While the company may avoid default with a restructuring, there is also a good chance it will not. If Solyndra defaults down the road, the optics will arguably be worse than they would be today… [Q]uestions will be asked as to why the administration made a bad investment not just once (which could hopefully be explained as part of the challenge of supporting innovative technologies), but twice (which could easily be portrayed as bad judgment, or worse). In addition, the timing will likely coincide with the 2012 campaign season heating up, whereas a default today could be put in the context of (and perhaps even get some credit for) fiscal discipline/good government because the administration would be limiting further taxpayer exposure…).

Prescient words. The important question, however, is this: Did Richardson leave Chu off the February 15 memo to protect him? And if so, did someone tell her to do so?

We don’t know. Testifying under oath, however, would allow Richardson to answer those questions and others that might help shed light on the whole sorry mess. That the Obama administration is blocking her – and refusing to cooperate fully with congressional investigators – makes clear the president and his lieutenants are less interested in sharing the facts of the case than in hiding them. As President Obama put it in January 2009: “The way to make government responsible is to hold it accountable. And the way to make government accountable is make it transparent so that the American people can know exactly what decisions are being made, how they’re being made, and whether their interests are being well served.” He was right.

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Our Libyan Adventure – Andrew C. McCarthy

“Are you suggesting that we would be better off with the Qaddafi dictatorship still in effect?” asked Chris Wallace, browbeating presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.

And why shouldn’t he? After all, the Fox News anchor had just gotten Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Lindsey Graham to perform the requisite “Arab Spring” cartwheels over the demise of Libyan strongman Moammar Qaddafi. Apparently, when leading from behind ends up leading to a vicious murder at the hands of a wild-eyed mob, even folks who once got the sniffles over fastidiously non-lethal waterboarding can feel good about pulling out their party hats.

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If I Were A Liberal… – Ann Coulter

If I were a liberal, I would have spent the last week in shock that a Democratic audience in Flint, Mich., cheered Vice President Joe Biden’s description of a policeman being killed. (And if I were a liberal desperately striving to keep my job on MSNBC, I’d say the Democrats looked “hot and horny” for dead cops – as Chris Matthews said of a Republican audience that cheered for the death penalty.)

Biden’s audience whooped and applauded last week in Flint when he said that without Obama’s jobs bill, police will be “outgunned and outmanned.” (Wild applause!)

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ObamaCare Declares War On Doctors – Dick Morris And Eileen McGann

The worst fears about Obamacare are now being realized in a decision on Monday by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MPAC) established by the law to supervise $500 billion in Medicare cuts. MPAC, whose decisions have the force of law, has voted to impose drastic pay cuts on all doctors under Medicare and, by extension, under Medicaid (which tends to follow suit).

The cuts will effectively reduce the real pay for specialists by 50% over the next ten years – including a 25% reduction over the next three years – and cut general practitioners’ pay by one-third over ten years (and that assumes that inflation stays down at 3% a year).

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The Media And “Bullying” – Thomas Sowell

Back in the 1920s, the intelligentsia on both sides of the Atlantic were loudly protesting the execution of political radicals Sacco and Vanzetti, after what they claimed was an unfair trial. Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote to his young leftist friend Harold Laski, pointing out that there were “a thousand-fold worse cases” involving black defendants, “but the world does not worry over them.”

Holmes said: “I cannot but ask myself why this so much greater interest in red than black.”

To put it bluntly, it was a question of whose ox was gored. That is, what groups were in vogue at the moment among the intelligentsia. Blacks clearly were not.

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Joe Biden: Beltway Bubble Boy – Michelle Malkin

Last fall, before the midterm shellacking, Vice President Joe Biden admonished rank-and-file Democratic voters to “stop whining.” Uncle Tough Guy should practice what he screeches. The 2012 campaign has barely begun, but Biden’s thin skin makes a spring roll wrapper look impenetrable.

Biden’s office is now calling for an official investigation of a young editor who dared to question His Highness. Jason Mattera of the conservative-leaning Human Events magazine confronted the veep last week on his hysterical claims that rape and murder would increase if Congress didn’t ram through the half-trillion-dollar White House jobs bill.

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American Imperialism? Please – Jonah Goldberg

And so it ends. The United States is leaving Iraq.

I’m solidly in the camp that sees this as a strategic blunder. Iraqi democracy is fragile, and Iran’s desire to undermine it is strong. Also, announcing our withdrawal is a weird way to respond to a foiled Iranian plot to commit an act of war in the U.S. capital. Obviously, I hope I’m wrong and President Obama’s not frittering away our enormous sacrifices in Iraq out of domestic political concerns and diplomatic ineptitude.

Still, there’s an upside. Obama’s decision to leave Iraq should deal a staggering blow to America’s critics at home and abroad.

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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 – The Imperial Presidency (Mark Steyn) – More Op-Eds

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The Imperial Presidency – Mark Steyn

Rick Perry, governor of Texas, has only been in the presidential race for 20 minutes, but he’s already delivered one of the best lines in the campaign:

“I’ll work every day to try to make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as I can.”

This will be grand news to Schylar Capo, eleven years old, of Virginia, who made the mistake of rescuing a woodpecker from the jaws of a cat and nursing him back to health for a couple of days, and for her pains, was visited by a federal Fish & Wildlife gauleiter (with accompanying state troopers) who charged her with illegal transportation of a protected species and issued her a $535 fine. If the federal child-abuser has that much time on his hands, he should have charged the cat, who was illegally transporting the protected species from his gullet to his intestine.

So eleven-year-old Schylar and other middle-schoolers targeted by the micro-regulatory superstate might well appreciate Governor Perry’s pledge. But you never know, it might just catch on with the broader population, too.

Bill Clinton thought otherwise. “I got tickled by watching Governor Perry,” said the former president. “And he’s saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to Washington to make sure that the federal government stays as far away from you as possible — while I ride on Air Force One and that Marine One helicopter and go to Camp David and travel around the world and have a good time.’ I mean, this is crazy.”

This is the best argument the supposedly smartest operator in the Democratic party can muster? If Bill Clinton wants to make the increasingly and revoltingly unrepublican lifestyle of the American president a campaign issue, Governor Perry should call his bluff. If I understand correctly the justification advanced by spokesgropers for the Transport Security Administration, the reason they poke around the genitalia of three-year-old girls and make wheelchair-bound nonagenarians in the final stages of multiple sclerosis remove their diapers in public is that by doing so they have made commercial air travel the most secure environment in the United States. In that case, why can’t the president fly commercial?

You’d be surprised how many heads of state do. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands flies long haul on KLM. Don’t worry, she’s not in coach all night squeezed next to the mom with the crying baby and the party of English soccer hooligans baying moronic victory chants all night. She rides up front and has so many aides that sometimes she’ll book the entire first class cabin! By contrast, the president of the United States took his personal 747 (a transatlantic aircraft designed to hold 500 people that costs a fifth of a million dollars per hour to run) to go from Washington to a Democratic party retreat in Williamsburg, Va., 150 miles away.

Queen Margrethe of Denmark flies commercial, too. For local trips she has a small Challenger jet. When she’s not zipping around in it, they use it for fishery enforcement off Greenland. Does that detail alone suggest that a thousand-year dynasty dating back to King Gorm the Sleepy (regnant 936–958) travels in rather less luxury than the supposed citizen-executive of a so-called republic of limited government? Undoubtedly King Gorm the Sleepy would have slept a lot better on Air Force One, yet the Danish royal family seems to get by.

Symbols are important. In other circumstances, the Obamas’ vacation on Martha’s Vineyard might not be terribly relevant. But this is a president who blames his dead-parrot economy on “bad luck” — specifically, the Arab Spring and the Japanese tsunami: As Harry S. Truman would have said, the buck stops at that big hole in the ground that’s just opened up over in Japan. Let us take these whiny excuses at face value and accept for the sake of argument that Obama’s Recovery Summer would now be going gangbusters had not the Libyan rebels seized Benghazi and sent the economy into a tailspin. Did no one in the smartest administration in history think this might be the time for the president to share in some of the “bad luck” and forgo an ostentatious vacation in the exclusive playground of the rich? When you’re the presiding genius of the Brokest Nation in History, enjoying the lifestyle of the super-rich while allegedly in “public service” sends a strikingly Latin American message. Underlining the point, the president then decided to pass among his suffering people by touring small town Minnesota in an armored Canadian bus accompanied by a 40-car motorcade. In some of these one-stoplight burgs, the president’s escort had more vehicles than the municipality he was graciously blessing with his presence.

By sheer coincidence, I happen to be writing a conspiracy thriller in which a state-of-the-art Canadian bus transporting Pres. Michael Douglas on a tour of Minnesota goes rogue and takes over the government of the United States. Eventually, crack CIA operative Keira Knightley breaks in the rear window and points out to the Canadian bus that it’s now $15 trillion in debt. In a white-knuckle finale, the distraught and traumatized bus makes a break for Winnipeg pursued by Chinese creditors.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Instead of demonstrating the common touch — that Obama is feeling your pain Clinton-style — the motorcade tour seemed an ingenious parody of what (in Victor Davis Hanson’s words) “a wealthy person would do if he wanted to act ‘real’ for a bit” — in the way that swanky Park Avenue types 80 years ago liked to go slumming up in Harlem. Why exactly does the president need a 40-car escort to drive past his subjects in Dead Moose Junction? It doesn’t communicate strength, but only waste, and decadence. Are these vehicles filled with “aides” working round the clock on his super-secret magic plan to “create” “jobs” that King Barack the Growth-Slayer is planning to lay before Congress in the fall or winter, spring, whatever? If the argument is that the president cannot travel without that level of security, I note that Prince William and his lovely bride did not require a 40-car motorcade on their recent visit to Los Angeles, and there are at least as many people on the planet who want a piece of Wills and Kate as do of Obama. Like the president, the couple made do with Canuck transportation, but in their case they flew in and out on a Royal Canadian Air Force transport described as “no more luxurious than a good motor home”: The shower is the size of a pay phone. It did not seem to diminish Her Royal Highness’s glamour.

I wish Governor Perry well in his stated goal of banishing Washington to the periphery of Americans’ lives. One way he could set the tone is by forgoing much of the waste and excess that attends the imperial presidency. Believe it or not, many presidents and prime ministers manage to get by with only a 14-car or even a four-car motorcade. I know: Hard to imagine, but there it is. A post-prosperity America that has dug itself into a multi-trillion-dollar hole will eventually have to stop digging. When it does so, the government of the United States will have to learn to do more with less. A good place to start would be restoring the lifestyle of the president to something Calvin Coolidge might recognize.

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History, Hardliners, And Humility – Andrew C. McCarthy

Liberty must always be exercised, and may only be maintained, “in a way of subjection to authority.” This sounds like it could have been written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the trailblazer of the modern Left, whose “social compact” decreed that any dissenter from “the general will” would be compelled to obey — meaning “nothing less than that he will be forced to be free.” Or it could be the handiwork of any of a thousand Muslim jurisprudents teaching that submission to Allah and His law is the essence of Islam.

But it is neither. Those are the words of John Winthrop, the legendary founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the man Paul Johnson, the peerless British historian, calls “the first great American.”

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For Whom The Bell Tolls – Thomas Sowell

The orgies of violent attacks on strangers in the streets — in both England and the United States — are not necessarily just passing episodes. They should be wake-up calls, warning of the continuing degeneration of Western society.

As British doctor and author Theodore Dalrymple said, long before these riots broke out, “The good are afraid of the bad, and the bad are afraid of nothing.”

Not only the trends over the years leading up to these riots but also the squeamish responses to them by officials — on both sides of the Atlantic — reveal the moral dry rot that has spread deep into Western societies.

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Murdoch, Hackgate, Climategate, The Guardian And The Vile Hypocrisy Of The Left – James Delingpole

The liberal-Left has many vices. But surely the most noisome one of all (in a crowded field) is its rank hypocrisy. If you’re going to take the moral high ground – as Lefties will insist on doing at every opportunity – the very least you owe the world in return if you have a shred of compunction, decency or intellectual consistency is to demonstrate more integrity than those you are impugning. And if you can’t do that, then bloody well shut up.

In the last few months, you can’t have helped noticing, the liberal-Left media, led by the BBC and the Guardian, have been dwelling on the News International phone hacking scandal with a shrillness and hysteria and foaming moral outrage out of all proportion to the nature of the offence.

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Smacking Down Progressives Of Pallor – Michelle Malkin

Is there anything more condescending than a porcelain-skinned Hollywood liberal who attempts to show her presumed solidarity with minorities by referring to them as “people of color”?

Yes, there is: Two porcelain-skinned liberals attempting to show their allegiance to “diversity” by attacking “people of color” who happen to disagree with their radical politics.

Such an exchange took place on a little-watched television show on Al Gore’s obscure cable network Wednesday night. I am spotlighting the diatribe for you not because the speakers involved hold any sway with the American electorate, but because paternalistic racism is so prevalent among the media-entertainment elite.

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The Adventures Of Captain America – Jonah Goldberg

Before President Obama headed off to his rented 28-acre retreat in Martha’s Vineyard, he spent a few days campaigning around the Midwest in his new million-dollar, Canadian-made campaign bus, paid for at government expense. He even unveiled what many believe will be his new reelection theme: “Country first.”

According to his new stump speech, if you oppose his agenda, then you don’t care about America as much as he does.

“There is no shortage of ideas to put people to work right now. What is needed is action on the part of Congress, a willingness to put the partisan games aside and say we’re going to do what’s right for the country, not what we think is going to score some political points for the next election,” Obama explained in Cannon Falls, Minn., in an event that the White House insisted had nothing to do with campaigning.

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The Crisis – William Kristol

In his Inaugural Address, President Obama quoted from Thomas Paine’s The Crisis: “Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it.”

And so, ironically, it will be told to the future world that in 2009 and 2010, Americans from city and country, alarmed at the common danger of President Obama’s agenda, came forth to meet it. They repudiated his program, after he’d sought to take advantage of the crisis he inherited to move the country to the left, and after he’d enacted much of his agenda—and made the crisis worse.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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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THE DAILY BENEFACTOR now provides you with a large selection of NEWS WIDGETS containing RSS feeds from the most comprehensive news sources on the internet, such as THE DRUDGE REPORT, GATEWAY PUNDIT, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER, WORLDNETDAILY, POLITICO, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, CNS, MICHELLE MALKIN, BREITBART, and THE JERUSALEM POST. Check them out!

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