Daily Benefactor Columnists – A Defining Moment (Thomas Sowell) – More Op-Eds

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A Defining Moment – Thomas Sowell

Governor Mitt Romney’s statement about not worrying about the poor has been treated as a gaffe in much of the media, and those in the Republican establishment who have been rushing toward endorsing his coronation as the GOP’s nominee for president – with 90 percent of the delegates still not yet chosen – have been trying to sweep his statement under the rug.

But Romney’s statement about not worrying about the poor – because they “have a very ample safety net” – was followed by a statement that was not just a slip of the tongue, and should be a defining moment in telling us about this man’s qualifications as a conservative and, what is more important, as a potential president of the United States.

Mitt Romney has come out in support of indexing the minimum-wage law, to have it rise automatically to keep pace with inflation. To many people, that would seem like a small thing that can be left for economists or statisticians to deal with.

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But to people who call themselves conservatives, and aspire to public office, there is no excuse for not being aware of what a major social disaster the minimum-wage law has been for the young, the poor, and especially for young and poor blacks.

It is not written in the stars that young black males must have astronomical rates of unemployment. It is written implicitly in the minimum-wage laws.

We have gotten so used to seeing unemployment rates of 30 or 40 percent for black teenage males that it might come as a shock to many people to learn that the unemployment rate for 16- and-17-year-old black males was just under 10 percent back in 1948. Moreover, it was slightly lower than the unemployment rate for white males of the same age.

How could this be?

The economic reason is quite plain. The inflation of the 1940s had pushed money wages for even unskilled, entry-level labor above the level specified in the minimum-wage law passed ten years earlier. In other words, there was in practical effect no national minimum-wage law in the late 1940s.

My first full-time job, as a black high-school dropout in 1946, was as a lowly messenger delivering telegrams. But my starting pay was more than 50 percent above the level specified in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

Liberals were of course appalled that the federal minimum-wage law had lagged so far behind inflation – and, in 1950, they began a series of escalations of the minimum-wage level over the years.

It was in the wake of these escalations that black teenage unemployment rose to levels that were three or four times the level in 1948. Even in the most prosperous years of later times, the unemployment rate for black teenage males was some multiple of what it was even in the recession year of 1949. And now it was often double the unemployment rate for white males of the same ages.

This was not the first or the last time that liberals did something that made them feel good about themselves while leaving havoc in their wake, especially among the poor whom they were supposedly helping.

For those for whom “racism” is the explanation of all racial differences, let me assure them, from personal experience, that there was not less racism in the 1940s.

For those who want to check out the statistics – and I hope that would include Mitt Romney – they can be found detailed on pages 42 to 45 of Race and Economics, by Walter Williams.

Nor are such consequences of minimum-wage laws peculiar to blacks or to the United States. In Western European countries, whose social policies liberals consider more “advanced” than our own, with more generous minimum-wage laws and other employer-mandated benefits, it has been common in even prosperous years for unemployment rates among young people to be 20 percent or higher.

The economic reason is not complicated. When you set minimum-wage levels higher than many inexperienced young people are worth, they don’t get hired. It is not rocket science.

Milton Friedman explained all this, half a century ago, in his popular little book for non-economists, Capitalism and Freedom. So have many other people. If a presidential candidate who calls himself “conservative” has still not heard of these facts, that simply shows that you can call yourself anything you want to.

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Obama Vs. The Clergy – Michelle Malkin

President Obama and his radical feminist enforcers have had it in for Catholic medical providers from the get-go. It’s about time all people of faith fought back against this unprecedented encroachment on religious liberty. First, they came for the Catholics. Who’s next?

This weekend, Catholic bishops informed parishioners of the recent White House edict forcing religious hospitals, schools, charities and other health and social service providers to provide “free” abortifacient pills, sterilizations and contraception on demand in their insurance plans – even if it violates their moral consciences and the teachings of their churches.

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Syria: It’s Not Just About Freedom – Charles Krauthammer

Imperial regimes can crack when they are driven out of their major foreign outposts. The fall of the Berlin Wall did not only signal the liberation of Eastern Europe from Moscow. It prefigured the collapse of the Soviet Union itself just two years later.

The fall of Bashar al-Assad’s Syria could be similarly ominous for Iran. The alliance with Syria is the centerpiece of Iran’s expanding sphere of influence, a mini-Comintern that includes such clients as Iranian-armed and -directed Hezbollah, now the dominant power in Lebanon; and Hamas, which controls Gaza and threatens to take the rest of Palestine (the West Bank) from a feeble Fatah.

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Obama’s Racial Politics – Walter Williams

There’s been a heap of criticism placed upon President Barack Obama’s domestic policies that have promoted government intrusion and prolonged our fiscal crisis and his foreign policies that have emboldened our enemies. Any criticism of Obama pales in comparison with what might be said about the American people who voted him in to the nation’s highest office.

Obama’s presidency represents the first time in our history that a person could have been elected to that office who had long-standing close associations with people who hate our nation. I’m speaking of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s pastor for 20 years, who preached that blacks should sing not “God Bless America,” but “God damn America.”

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The Liberal Enforcers – Mark Steyn

As Senator Obama said during the 2008 campaign, words matter. Modern “liberalism” is strikingly illiberal; the high priests of “tolerance” are increasingly intolerant of even the mildest dissent; and those who profess to “celebrate diversity” coerce ever more ruthlessly a narrow homogeneity.

Thus, the Obama administration’s insistence that Catholic institutions must be compelled to provide free contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients. This has less to do with any utilitarian benefit a condomless janitor at a Catholic school might derive from Obamacare, and more to do with the liberal muscle of Big Tolerance enforcing one-size-fits-all diversity.

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It’s Not (Only) The Economy… And We’re Not Stupid – William Kristol

“It’s the economy, stupid,” was a useful slogan for the 1992 Bill Clinton campaign. Of course, it wasn’t really true. The Clinton campaign was about much more than the economy. It was about “ending welfare as we know it,” for example, and putting government on the side of those who “work hard and play by the rules” – all of this part of a broader redefinition of the Democratic party away from the failed liberalism of Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis.

And the collapse of the Bush administration in 1992 was also, as it happens, about much more than the economy, which was in fact coming back strong in the fall of that year.

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5 Things Conservatives Can Learn From Liberals – John Hawkins

There are a lot of things NOT to like about liberals, but you have to give them some credit. These are people who are badly, dangerously, and devastatingly wrong on almost every issue of consequence and yet, year after year, they hang in there at a rough parity with conservatives. So, they may do a lot wrong, but there are things we can learn from the Left.

1) Fight Harder: Liberals win a lot of battles just because they’re willing to fight harder. Look at what happened to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Komen decided not to keep giving free money to Planned Parenthood and liberals, who aren’t even willing to oppose cancer unless some babies can be aborted to even it out, raised so much hell that Komen had to engage in a public face-saving maneuver.

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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 – The Arizona Shootings Were Like Kwanzaa Come Early For America’s Liberal Fascists (James Delingpole) – More Op-Eds

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The Arizona Shootings Were Like Kwanzaa Come Early For America’s Liberal Fascists – James Delingpole

How sick do you have to be to start making political capital out of the killing of six people including a nine-year old girl, long before anyone has the remotest clue what the murderer’s motives were, or his political affiliations, or his state of mind?

Not sick at all, to judge by the response of so many US Tweeters in the immediate aftermath of the Arizona shootings. When you’re a liberal, it seems, cloying sanctimoniousness, grotesque moral posturing, double standards, hypocrisy and cynical, malevolent smearing all come as naturally and healthily as breathing.

As Toby Harnden reports, barely were the bodies cold when the liberal fascists started pointing the finger of blame: it was Sarah Palin’s fault, of course; Sarah Palin’s and Glenn Beck’s and, of course, the Tea Party’s. Definitely not a crazed killing spree by a deeply confused young man, no, sirree. After all, as Rahm Emmanuel would say, you must “never let a crisis go to waste.”

So let us compare and contrast the liberal blogosphere and media’s response to the Arizona shootings (ie it was all the Right’s fault) and its response to, say, the Fort Hood killings or the 2002 Beltway sniper murders. In the latter two cases, liberals walked on eggshells to avoid admitting these had anything whatsoever to do with the Religion of Peace (TM). And we’re not talking about just the first few hours afterwards when a certain amount of circumspection might have been excusable. As I mention in 365 Ways To Drive A Liberal Crazy, once the liberal MSM discovered that the Beltway assassinations were not after all the crime of an “angry white man” but of an embittered, black Muslim convert calling himself John Muhammad, it went into instant denial mode. In news reports he was referred to by his pre-conversion name, John Williams, just in case anyone got any politically incorrect ideas.

It was the same with the Fort Hood killings. As I noted at the time, the liberal blogosphere and MSM simply couldn’t bring itself to admit that Major Malik Nadal Hasan’s killing spree had anything whatsoever to do with the famously peace-loving religion of Islam. Even after it emerged that he’d been in contact with the notorious Islamist terror guru Anwar al-Awlaki, still liberals sought desperately to make out that Major Hasan was just an ordinary chap who’d been crazified by exposure to one of Amerika’s evil, unjust wars.

One of the Tweets I got from one of my nicer, better-meaning liberal friends last night was:

interesting to note the parallel between the dangers to politicians from extremists in Pakistan and United States

But actually, this says more about the dubious moral relativism of the liberal mindset than it does about empirical truth. There is simply no reasonable and fair comparison to be made between the assassination of poor brave Salmaan Taseer, Governor of Punjab province, and the attempted murder of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. And if you want to know why, compare and contrast the local reactions to these respective tragedies.

In Pakistan, Salmaan Taseer’s killer was showered with flower petals by his many sympathisers. In the USA, Jared Loughner’s actions have attracted universal condemnation from both left and right.

And if anyone is gloating about the suffering and death inflicted on Congresswoman Giffords and her entourage, it most certainly isn’t her opponents in the Tea Party. It’s all those unprincipled grievance mongers on the liberal-left.

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The Constitution Fetish – Andrew C. McCarthy

Is there anything richer than a gaggle of smarmy progressives snickering at the conservative “Constitution fetish”? “Fetish” is the fashionable Left’s latest suggestive imagery turned talking point, a dig at the new Republican majority in the House, which began its session this week by reading the Constitution aloud. It’s as if Dracula were complaining about a crucifix fetish.

“Fetish,” like “tea-bagger,” slides easily off the tongues of the Big Thinkers who get their dithering law from Dalia Lithwick and their sophomoric style from Bill Maher. If there is no Obama to send a thrill up their legs, it takes an organic Constitution throbbing with active liberty to ring their chimes.

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True Or False – Walter Williams

So many statements we accept as true, plausible or beyond question; but are they? Let’s look at a couple of important ones: global warming and U.S. manufacturing decline.

In 2000, Dr. David Viner of University of East Anglia’s disgraced Climatic Research Unit advised, “Within a few years winter snowfall will become a very rare and exciting event.” “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is.” Britain’s Meteorological Office said this December was “almost certain” to become the coldest since records began in 1910. Paul Michaelwaite, forecaster for NetWeather.tv, said, “It is looking like this winter could be in the top 20 cold winters in the last 100 years.”

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Surge Or Retreat? – William Kristol

In the past four years, administrations of both parties have had to surge ground troops to war theaters in order to make success possible in missions central to the national security of the United States. Just last week, the Obama administration announced an additional 1,400 Marines would be deployed to southern Afghanistan to help secure the progress the surge has achieved there.

But now President Obama, to save $6 billion a year – one half of one percent of the federal budget deficit – has announced a cut of some 47,000 troops from the end strength of the Army and Marine Corps. We paid a big price for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s obdurate refusal to increase the size of the armed forces after 9/11.

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The Other New Chicago Crony Chief Of Staff – Michelle Malkin

Fun fact: Bill Daley isn’t the only new chief of staff in the White House with longtime ties to the Chicago Way. Yep, it’s No Windy City Corporate Lawyer Left Behind Week in the nation’s capital.

On the other side of the White House, deep-pocketed campaign finance mega-bundler Tina Tchen was named first lady Michelle Obama’s new right-hand woman. Or rather, left-hand woman. The self-described “progressive” attorney from Chicago is taking over as chief of staff in the East Wing following the expected departure of Susan Sher. Tchen personally raised more than $200,000 for the Obama presidential campaign while a lawyer at white-shoe Skadden Arps.

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Who Are The Real Hijackers Of Islam? – Jonah Goldberg

For years, we’ve heard how the peaceful religion of Islam has been hijacked by extremists. What if it’s the other way around? Worse, what if the peaceful hijackers are losing their bid to take over the religion? That certainly seems to be the case in Pakistan. Salman Taseer, a popular Pakistani governor, was assassinated this week because he was critical of Pakistan’s blasphemy law.

Specifically, Taseer was supportive of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who has been sentenced to death for “insulting Muhammad.” Bibi had offered some fellow farm laborers some water. They refused to drink it because Christian hands purportedly make water unclean. An argument followed.

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Investigate This! – Ann Coulter

The Republicans are back in charge in the House of Representatives this week, and not a moment too soon! Forget “stimulus” bills and “shovel-ready” bailouts (for public school teachers, who need shovels for what they’re teaching), the current financial crisis, which is the second Great Depression, was created slowly and methodically by Democrat hacks running Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the past 18 years.

As even Obama’s treasury secretary admitted in congressional hearings, “Fannie and Freddie were a core part of what went wrong in our system.” And if it’s something Tim Geithner noticed, it’s probably something that’s fairly obvious.

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