Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tea parties are a new Great Awakening

Glenn Harlan Reynolds: Tea parties are a new Great Awakening Washington Examiner

By: Glenn Harlan Reynolds

This past weekend's National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tenn., made it clear that the Tea Party movement is part of something bigger: America's Third Great Awakening.

America's prior Great Awakenings, in the 18th and 19th centuries, were religious in nature. Unimpressed with self-serving, ossified and often corrupt religious institutions, Americans responded with a bottom-up reassertion of faith and independence.

This time, it's different. It's not America's churches and seminaries that are in trouble: It's America's politicians and parties. They've grown corrupt, venal and out-of-touch with the values, and the people, whom they're supposed to represent. So the people, once again, are reasserting themselves.

Most of the attention focused on this weekend's convention seemed to involve the keynote speaker, Sarah Palin. But the key phrase in her speech was this one: "All power is inherent in the people."

And the biggest action item that she presented the crowd with wasn't to support Sarah Palin, but to challenge incumbents in primary races. Primary battles aren't "civil war," she said. They're the kind of competition that produces strength in the end.

This seemed to resonate with what I heard from conference attendees. Over and over again, I heard from Tea Party Activists that they were planning to take over their local Republican (and, sometimes Democratic) party apparatus starting at the precinct level and shake things up.

The sense was that party politics have been run for the benefit of the party insiders and hangers-on, not for the benefit of constituents and ideals. And most of the conference, in fact, was addressed to doing something about that, with sessions on organizing, media skills and the like.

Even the much-hyped counter-Tea-Party protest, featuring three activists from the Tennessee Tea Party Coalition, underscores this point. Despite their small numbers, they drew a large press gaggle hoping to get some negative energy going.

I watched as Knoxville Tea Party organizer Antonio Hinton -- who drew the largest crowd, perhaps because he is black, or perhaps because he's an excellent speaker -- was asked repeatedly by the press to say something negative about Sarah Palin or the National Tea Party Convention, but he called Palin "a breath of fresh air."

And he stressed that he and his cohorts -- representing a collection of several dozen Tea Party groups around Tennessee -- weren't so much there to complain about the convention as to point out that there was a lot more to the Tea Party movement than that one meeting.

They were right. The Tea Party movement is bottom-up, not top-down. Lots of Tea Party people think well of Sarah Palin, but people I've talked to, both there and at other events, aren't looking for a charismatic leader.

Accustomed to major-media treatment that strongly implied that anyone favoring small government must be some kind of fringe wacko, they're discovering that lots of people feel the way they do, and that they can wield a lot of power if they try.

In less than a year, the Tea Party movement has gone from a few spontaneous protests against Obama's stimulus bill to a nationwide phenomenon rating major-media coverage, with several political scalps on its belt.

It's fun to put on a protest rally for the first time and have it work out, but it's even more fun to elect -- or defeat -- a candidate. Or, as Tea Party activists are beginning to do, to run for office yourself.

Over the next couple of years, these multitudes of virgin political operatives are going to acquire considerably more experience and self-assurance, which means they're probably going to become considerably more effective, too. Politics may not be the same when they're done.

Examiner contributor Glenn Harlan Reynolds covered the National Tea Party Convention for He blogs at

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Who’s Showing Up at the Tea Party?

Who’s Showing Up at the Tea Party? - By Jack Fowler - The Corner - National Review Online By Jack Fowler

Lots of Independents. The Sam Adams Alliance has done an interesting market-research study on the growth of the tea party and the make-up and impact of the so-called “Next Wave” — the new/recent entrants to the movement. Here are the highlights:

● Tea Party momentum is building: 74.5 percent of Next Wavers said the movement is “gaining active supporters” and 66 percent indicated that the movement is “more enthusiastic.”

● There was a nearly 30-point drop among Tea Party activists in their affiliation with the Republican brand.

● There is a decrease in Republican sources of entrants to the Tea Parties and an increase in independents: 20 percent of Next Wavers were independents prior to the Tea Parties (compared with 12.6 percent of Early Adopters that were independents) and 74 percent of Next Wavers were Republicans prior, compared to 81 percent of Early Adopters.

● The longer a Tea Party activist is in the movement, the more likely they are to be optimistic about the political landscape.

● Of those who were inspired by an individual to join the Tea Party movement, 63.6 percent—the largest number—cited a friend as being instrumental in their involvement. Only 37.5 percent of Early Adopters were recruited by friends. Rather, media personalities brought the highest number into the movement.

● 89.3 percent of Tea Party activists have been active in introducing new people into the movement.

● Both Early Adopters and Next Wave activists were new to politics; 40.5 percent of Early Adopters and 43.6 percent of Next Wave activists said they were uninvolved/rarely involved with politics prior to their Tea Party involvement.

The complete study can be found here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The public hates almost everything Congress has done | Washington Examiner

The public hates almost everything Congress has done Washington Examiner

By: Byron York

Gallup has released a new poll asking respondents to assess the major accomplishments of Congress in the last two years: the national health care bill, the stimulus, the bailout of auto companies, the bailout of major banks and financial institutions, and the financial regulatory reform bill. The pollsters found majority opposition to all those measures, with the exception of financial reform.

The numbers: Bank bailouts, 61 percent disapprove versus 37 percent approve; national health care, 56 percent disapprove versus 39 percent approve; auto bailouts, 56 percent disapprove versus 43 percent approve; stimulus, 52 percent disapprove versus 43 percent approve. Only financial reform, with 61 percent approve versus 37 percent disapprove, is a winner for the representatives and senators seeking re-election.

Although the bank bailout was passed with significant bipartisan support, the news is terrible mostly for the House and Senate Democratic leadership. It's even worse for Democrats when you single out the opinions of independents. Just 32 percent of independents approve of the bank bailouts; 35 percent approve of national health care; 38 percent approve of the stimulus; and 40 percent approve of the auto bailouts. Sixty-two percent of independents approve of financial regulatory reform.

The most partisan division is found over the national health care bill. Sixty-nine percent of Democrats approve of the bill, opposed to just 13 percent of Republicans, and 35 percent of independents, who approve.

Given the bleak news for Democrats, it's no surprise that you're seeing more and more stories like this. The current Democratic majority is a party that wants to look to the future, not events in the distant past of 2009 and 2010.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Obamacare is even worse than critics thought

Examiner Editorial: Obamacare is even worse than critics thought Washington Examiner

September 22, 2010

Much more has been revealed about Obamacare since President Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi pushed the bill on Americans six months ago. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP file)

Six months ago, President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rammed Obamacare down the throats of an unwilling American public. Half a year removed from the unprecedented legislative chicanery and backroom dealing that characterized the bill's passage, we know much more about the bill than we did then. A few of the revelations:

» Obamacare won't decrease health care costs for the government. According to Medicare's actuary, it will increase costs. The same is likely to happen for privately funded health care.

» As written, Obamacare covers elective abortions, contrary to Obama's promise that it wouldn't. This means that tax dollars will be used to pay for a procedure millions of Americans across the political spectrum view as immoral. Supposedly, the Department of Health and Human Services will bar abortion coverage with new regulations but these will likely be tied up for years in litigation, and in the end may not survive the court challenge.

» Obamacare won't allow employees or most small businesses to keep the coverage they have and like. By Obama's estimates, as many as 69 percent of employees, 80 percent of small businesses, and 64 percent of large businesses will be forced to change coverage, probably to more expensive plans.

» Obamacare will increase insurance premiums -- in some places, it already has. Insurers, suddenly forced to cover clients' children until age 26, have little choice but to raise premiums, and they attribute to Obamacare's mandates a 1 to 9 percent increase. Obama's only method of preventing massive rate increases so far has been to threaten insurers.

» Obamacare will force seasonal employers -- especially the ski and amusement park industries -- to pay huge fines, cut hours, or lay off employees.

» Obamacare forces states to guarantee not only payment but also treatment for indigent Medicaid patients. With many doctors now refusing to take Medicaid (because they lose money doing so), cash-strapped states could be sued and ordered to increase reimbursement rates beyond their means.

» Obamacare imposes a huge nonmedical tax compliance burden on small business. It will require them to mail IRS 1099 tax forms to every vendor from whom they make purchases of more than $600 in a year, with duplicate forms going to the Internal Revenue Service. Like so much else in the 2,500-page bill, our senators and representatives were apparently unaware of this when they passed the measure.

» Obamacare allows the IRS to confiscate part or all of your tax refund if you do not purchase a qualified insurance plan. The bill funds 16,000 new IRS agents to make sure Americans stay in line.

If you wonder why so many American voters are angry, and no longer give Obama the benefit of the doubt on a variety of issues, you need look no further than Obamacare, whose birthday gift to America might just be a GOP congressional majority.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Origins of Barack Obama's Petulance

Like a Dog: The Origins of Barack Obama's Petulance

‘Like a Dog’: The Origins of Barack Obama’s Petulance By Victor Davis Hanson

I would be miffed too if I were Obama

Obama in just twenty months has developed a reputation for being petulant, unusually sensitive to the normal run-of-the-mill criticism. His latest pushback was his strangest so far: “And they’re not always happy with me. They talk about me like a dog. That’s not in my prepared remarks, it’s just — but it’s true.”

Given that Obama has previously called out talk radio critics by name — Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh — attacked everything from limb-lopping surgeons to vacationing at Las Vegas, and in condescending fashion tsk-tsked those who attend Glenn Beck rallies, rural Pennsylvanians, and his own “typical white person” grandmother who raised him, his thin-skin touchiness seems inexplicable.

Surely the most powerful man in the world knows that when you elevate talk radio critics to near-equal adversaries, then one cannot complain that they press their now high-profile serial attacks even further.

Add that his team has indulged in invective like few recent administrations — whether Obama’s own slur against the stereotyping and stupidly acting police, Eric Holder’s collective denunciation of Americans as “cowards,” Van Jones’ various hysterics (e.g., polluting and mass-murdering whites, Bush in on 9/11, etc.), Anita Dunn’s attacks against Fox News, or the generic “Bush did it” chorus.

The wonder is not that Obama is angry at criticism, but why he is so surprised in a weird “how dare they?” fashion.

Various explanations come to mind. Like the early presidential years of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, Obama has experienced a radical drop in approval ratings. His preconceived notions about the world abroad have proven shockingly therapeutic. He must be disappointed that an Ahmadinejad or Putin is not swayed by his charisma and does what he pleases, which is mostly to oppose America and its interests whenever he can. Messianic disappointment with an unappreciative lesser world can explain a lot.

Keynesian economics did not pan out. Pundits without the responsibility of governance, who advised him to borrow trillions, now abandon him for not borrowing more trillions. He must be confused why he is both being attacked by friends and yet unable to borrow his way to recovery.

Yet Obama’s petulance, I think, more likely derives from a certain surprise — leading to anger — that originates from novel and sudden demands for accountability. Quite simply, no one has dared question Obama before — much less press him for deeds to match his mellifluous words.

Did he really think he could talk his way through four years of the American presidency?

Apparently, he did, and apparently he was almost right — given that rhetoric and sophistry earned him the presidency in the first place. In what follows, I hold some empathy for Obama’s pique; you see in some sense those around him suddenly changed the rules, and what in the past had been habit and custom no longer quite applied.

An Old Story

This is an old story with a long heritage. We know Obama got into Columbia; we have no idea what he accomplished there — or whether his undergraduate transcript merited admission to Harvard Law School. Obama may have charmed his way into Harvard Law Review, but in brilliant fashion he seems to have guessed rightly that once there he would be singularly exempt from the usual requirements of quantifiable achievement.

A part-time visiting law professorship at the University of Chicago Law school rarely leads to a permanent tenure-track position, much less a tenured billet– and never without a body of published articles and books. In Obama’s case those protocols simply did not apply. He was not only offered whatever he wanted, but as Justice Kagan reminded us, Obama was courted by Harvard Law School as well.

Most candidates for state office do not sue to remove their opponents from the ballot. Obama petitioned (successfully) that most of them be disqualified in 1995. It is likewise rare for the sealed divorce records of a front-running primary rival to be mysteriously leaked, prompting a veritable uncontested nomination. But after Democratic rival Blair Hull imploded from such revelations, so did Obama’s general election Republican opponent Jack Ryan, who dropped out of the race after his divorce proceedings were eerily likewise exposed. Lightning does strike twice in the same place for the blessed Obama.

Obama had served in the Senate for about two years, when he announced his candidacy for the presidency. That too is rare, but not unprecedented; what was singular was his claim that he was a bipartisan uniter, when, in fact, he compiled the most partisan voting record among 100 senators of either party. He sponsored no major legislation; his memoirs reflected others’ interest in him, not his own record of lawmaking. His themes were winning over adherents rather signature accomplishments.

The exotic name, the mixed racial heritage, and the street cred cool, juxtaposed to the nerdy professorial sermonizing, trumped the need to author or repeal significant laws or create lasting community institutions — or to leave any footprint of achievement at either the University of Chicago, the Illinois legislature, or the U.S. Senate. Running for office or courting appointments or angling for promotions seemed divorced from worry about doing anything when such wishes were granted. Obama’s tragedy is that there is nothing left he can run for, no further adulatory confirmation for just being Obama. Performance for the first time in his life is now all that counts.

Names and images matter in America. Just as a hypothetical moderately attractive blond but empty “Pam Hill” would not earn the high profile accorded to her double-ganger Paris Hilton of similar non-achievement, so too a Barry Dunham does not catch on in the progressive political world in the manner of a Barack Obama.

Nobel Peace Prizes traditionally are awarded to those after a lifetime of activism, often after some exposure to danger, or at least a sizable body of inspirational literature. Obama simply had no such record. He is our collective Peter Sellers of Being There. To paraphrase the embarrassed awards committee, Obama was granted the prize more on his symbolic potential, rather than on the basis of anything he did. Like hundreds of other liberal elites, the Nobel committee seemed to draw more personal fulfillment and satisfaction for bequeathing the award than did Obama in receiving it.

Yes, Race Was a Factor

Throughout the Obama presidential odyssey, an enthralled media variously dubbed him a “god,” confessed to tingling sensations when he spoke, and in vicious fashion turned on any politician who tried to question Obama’s actual record of achievement — whether Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin.

There is no need to pursue the journalistic malfeasance that allowed the president of the United States to be inaugurated without any real past scrutiny. Suffice to say that any future presidential candidate who promises to cool the planet and lower the rising seas will be laughed out of contention — even if he puts “yes, we can” into Latin on his pre-presidential seal.

Race was a factor. Here the left is correct in assessing its importance in evaluating Obama, although not quite in the way they think. At various times, a disturbing racialist trope emerged that suggested white liberals were enthralled almost solely by Obama’s mixed heritage, his diction, and comportment. Not to mention the overall sense that he was a moderate and charismatic African-American that knew precisely how to put anxious well-meaning folks like themselves at ease — and that this was simply not true of the majority of other African-American politicians, and that this in and of itself would suffice.

Promoting Obama offered blanket exemption from even the suggestion of prejudice — a sort of cheap flip of a “get out of jail free” card than ensured liberal elites could otherwise pursue their sheltered lives without guilt or worry over demands for daily interaction with most African-Americans. Elect Obama, worry not what he did — and at last live guilt-free lives in seclusion.

That is a serious charge that should not be made lightly, but the emphasis on Obama’s diction, pigment, and appearance — rather than his actual record — is not my own.

Joe Biden, for example, blurted out, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” Apparently Biden meant that the antithesis of Obama’s profile — a non-mainstream African-American, who spoke a southern patois and who did not appear bright and clean and handsome — most definitely was not to be a storybook candidate and perhaps likely to put off white liberals like Biden. (Note that Biden did not mention any particular achievement of Obama, merely the impression that he made on those like himself.)

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was perhaps cruder even than Biden. It was reported that he had characterized Obama as a “light-skinned” African American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” Again, Reid’s implied antithesis — a dark-skinned African American who spoke with a Negro dialect all the time — would probably offend progressives like Reid. (Note here that Harry Reid seems to have been the first serious observer to publicly describe one of Obama most off-putting characteristics — the near cynical fashion in which he turns on not slightly, but entirely, different cadences and intonations to cater to particular crowds.)

Progressive Condescension

In short, Obama seems aware that a particular cadre of influential white liberals has traditionally accorded him deference not warranted by actual achievement, but rather by his projection of a progressive persona, as crudely outlined by a Biden or Reid — and that this by now is a normal course of events rather than an aberrant experience. Hence his anger that all that has at last begun to end.

It is hard to think that an Elena Kagan, dean of Harvard Law School, would have gushed over the rather undistinguished legal record of Barack Obama, had he been either a well published but obese white Harvard Law graduate, or a conservative African-American antipode to the Biden-Reid stereotype, perhaps in the Clarence Thomas mold. After all, it was not just Obama’s appearance or skin color or cadences that so impressed Biden and Reid and won over liberal Americans, but his politics as well that earned him an exemption not accorded even to an equally professional appearing Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice.

Now What?

But enough speculation over motives for the origins of Obama’s strange and growing petulance. All that matters for the country is that the current president of the United States seems surprised that as our chief executive he is earning scrutiny not previously accorded him — and that he finds that demand for accountability both exasperating and abjectly unfair. Thus this week’s latest “like a dog” whine.

For some reason, Obama believed that those who expected after his campaign promises a real upturn in the economy, or fiscal responsibility, or inspired foreign policy would be satisfied, as they had in the past, merely with soaring rhetoric and superficial reassurance. When they were not, and voiced such displeasure, as ingrates they had supposedly reduced Obama to canine-like status.

There is no need to add that abroad an Ahmadinejad, Assad, or Putin does not care a bit for the supposed personal chemistry or ethnic profile of Obama. Whether he was “clean” or not would be an absurdity to them. We sense only that those authoritarian sorts seem so far to like the idea that Obama speaks ambiguously about his country’s past and future, and appears more comfortable in pondering alternatives than making decisions.

Given all that, it is understandable both why America is very worried about what it has wrought — and why Barack Obama is miffed and lashes out.

You would too if both accountability and criticism were novel experiences at 49.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Kennedy vs. Obama/media on tax cuts for growth, jobs

Big Labor’s Legacy of Violence

Big Labor’s Legacy of Violence - Michelle Malkin - National Review Online

When it comes to terrorizing workers, the head of the AFL-CIO knows whereof he speaks

To mark Labor Day 2010, President Obama will join hands with AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka in Milwaukee, and they will pose as champions of the working class. Bad move. Trumka’s organizing record is a shameful reminder of the union movement’s violent and corrupt foundations.

The new Obama/AFL-CIO power alliance — underwritten with $40 million in hard-earned worker dues — is a midterm shotgun marriage of Beltway brass knuckles and Big Labor brawn. Trumka warmed up his rhetorical muscles this past week with full-frontal attacks on former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. He indignantly accused her of “getting close to calling for violence” and suggested that her criticism of tea-party-bashing labor bosses amounted to “terrorizing” workers.

Trumka and Obama will cast Big Labor as an unassailable force for good in American history. But when it comes to terrorizing workers, Trumka knows whereof he speaks.

Meet Eddie York. He was a workingman whose story will never scroll across Obama’s teleprompter. A nonunion contractor who operated heavy equipment, York was shot to death during a strike called by the United Mine Workers 17 years ago. Workmates who tried to come to his rescue were beaten in an ensuing melee. The head of the UMW spearheading the wave of strikes at that time? Richard Trumka. Responding to concerns about violence, he shrugged to the Virginian-Pilot in September 1993: “I’m saying if you strike a match and you put your finger in it, you’re likely to get burned.” Incendiary rhetoric, anyone?

A federal jury convicted one of Trumka’s UMW captains on conspiracy and weapons charges in York’s death. According to the Washington, D.C.–based National Legal and Policy Center, which tracks Big Labor abuse, Trumka’s legal team quickly settled a $27 million wrongful death suit filed by York’s widow just days after a judge admitted evidence in the criminal trial. An investigative report by Reader’s Digest disclosed that Trumka “did not publicly discipline or reprimand a single striker present when York was killed. In fact, all eight were helped out financially by the local.”

In Illinois, Trumka told UMW members to “kick the s**t out of every last” worker who crossed his picket lines, according to the Nashville (Ill.) News. And as the National Right to Work Foundation, the leading anti-forced-unionism organization in the country, pointed out, other UMW coalfield strikes resulted in what one judge determined were “violent activities#…#organized, orchestrated and encouraged by the leadership of this union.”

Trumka washed off the figurative bloodstains and moved up the ranks. As AFL-CIO secretary, he notoriously refused to testify in a sordid 1999 embezzlement trial involving his labor-boss brethren at the Teamsters Union. No surprise. Thugs of a feather: Trumka’s violence-promoting record echoes the riotous Teamsters strikes dating back to the 1950s, when the union organized taxicab companies to target workers with gas bombs, bottles, and fists.

And now, Trumka is spearheading a Democratic get-out-the-vote campaign by far-left groups — publicized in the revolutionary-Marxist People’s World — to “energize an army of tens of thousands who will return to their neighborhoods, churches, schools and voting booths to prevent a Republican takeover of Congress in November and begin building a new permanent coalition to fight for a progressive agenda.”

Take those as literal fighting words. The bloody consequences of compulsory unionism cannot be ignored.

— Michelle Malkin is the author of Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks
& Cronies (Regnery, 2010). © 2010 Creators Syndicate, Inc

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Civic Engagement--Tea Party movement our only hope

Civic Engagement - By Yuval Levin - The Corner - National Review Online By Yuval Levin

Amidst panels and assorted conversations at the annual convention of the American Political Science Association, I am struck by how the very people who claim to be most eager to see a revival of American civic engagement and citizen activism are also the ones who seem most hostile to the Tea Party movement. What do they think civic activism looks like? A Norman Rockwell painting of a New England town meeting?

The fact is, the Tea Party movement is the best example of spontaneous, engaged, and constructive citizen activism we have seen since the civil rights movement. Some communitarian intellectuals may not agree with the opinions being expressed and the goals being pursued, but surely they have to admit that these are citizens moved to speak up by very public-spirited concerns, who are driven by a love of country and an extraordinary reverence for the Constitution, and who—by protesting peacefully, petitioning office holders, reading, and writing—are pursuing reforms of public policy. These folks aren’t bowling alone; they’re uniting to improve the country as they see it.

Yet somehow the people who claim to have been looking under every rock for some sign of life in American civil society refuse to consider that maybe this is the change they have been waiting for.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New evidence undermines feds' case against Arizona

New evidence undermines feds' case against Arizona Washington Examiner

By: Byron York

You've heard a lot about the Justice Department's lawsuit to stop the new Arizona immigration law. But that's just one part of the Obama administration's multi-front war on immigration enforcement in Arizona.

In addition to the drive to kill the new law, Attorney General Eric Holder is also suing the Maricopa Community College system in Phoenix, alleging it broke the law by requiring a job seeker to provide a green card before being hired. And on Thursday the Justice Department filed suit against the Maricopa County Sheriff's office, run by the flamboyant Joe Arpaio, as part of an extended investigation into alleged civil rights violations there.

Despite the splash of attention from the newest lawsuit, the Justice Department's investigation of Arpaio could end badly for Holder. When the Department first informed Arpaio that a probe was under way, back in March 2009, it sent a letter saying the investigation would focus on "alleged patterns or practices of discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures." But now we learn that just six months before that, in September 2008, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, did its own investigation of Arpaio's office -- and gave it a clean bill of health. Arpaio's lawyers recently got a copy of the ICE report through the Freedom of Information Act.

ICE officials evaluated how the sheriff's office performed under a law that allows specially trained local law enforcement officers to enforce parts of federal immigration law. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which is the largest sheriff's office in the Arizona, has 189 officers who have been trained by ICE to enforce federal immigration statutes.

The report, crammed with acronyms and bureaucratese, is not light reading. But struggle through it, and the key sentence is this: "The OI and DRO supervisors consider the conduct and performance of the MCSO ... officers to be professional and meeting the requirement of the MOA." Translated, that means officials from the Homeland Security Department's Office of Investigation (OI), along with officials from the Detention and Removal Operations office (DRO), concluded that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), in its handling of illegal immigrants, acted in a professional manner and complied with a memorandum of agreement (MOA) under which the government gave them the authority to enforce federal law. That agreement included a ban on racial profiling.

ICE investigators also interviewed top federal officials involved in illegal immigrant cases in Arizona. They found an "excellent" working relationship between the sheriff's office and the feds. ICE talked as well to federal prosecutors in Phoenix, who described the cases brought by Maricopa County as "high quality."

In all, it's a quite positive assessment of an operation that just six months later would come under the Justice Department's microscope for alleged civil rights violations. It also lends indirect support to Arpaio's contention that the Justice Department investigation is politically motivated.

A tidbit of information contained in other government documents released under the Freedom of Information Act also suggests politics may be involved. Arpaio's lawyers found a March 11, 2009, e-mail, sent just after the Justice Department investigation was announced, from an ICE employee to John P. Torres, then the acting assistant secretary of ICE. "Did you see this?" the e-mail said, attaching a news report on the investigation. "Yes," Torres responded a few minutes later. "Interesting politics at play."

What happens now? It's been nearly a year and a half since the investigation began, and the Justice Department has not charged the sheriff's office with violating anyone's civil rights. Instead, Thursday's lawsuit goes after Arpaio for allegedly failing to cooperate fully in the probe.

"It's a totally political lawsuit," says Bob Driscoll, a former Bush Justice Department Civil Rights Division official who is representing Arpaio. "They want to find evidence of discrimination, but all they're finding is evidence of law enforcement that includes immigration enforcement." (The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.)

Failing to find proof of real discrimination in Maricopa County could ultimately doom the administration's entire crusade in Arizona. The much-publicized suit against the new immigration law is based on the possibility that it might result in future discrimination, but at the same time the department is struggling to find evidence of civil rights violations in Arpaio's office, which uses enforcement techniques similar to those outlined in the new law. There's a real chance that in the end Obama's war on Arizona will come to nothing.

Byron York, The Examiner's chief political correspondent, can be contacted at His column appears on Tuesday and Friday, and his stories and blogposts appear on

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hating your countrymen is the new patriotism

Hating your countrymen is the new patriotism Washington Examiner By: Matthew Sheffield

In political debates, liberals often accuse conservatives of saying that liberals hate America. This was particularly common as the left in this country began turning firmly against the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Dissenting from the policies of the ruling Republicans, according to the left, was not just a political opinion, it was really an act of patriotism.

With Barack Obama as president, that line of argument has gone the way of the dodo on questions of foreign policy but the attitude behind it is manifesting itself in the debate over the propriety of the proposed Islamic cultural center/mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York City. The project is widely unpopular with the American public and also among New Yorkers but for some reason it seems to have found a number of passionate defenders among the liberal commentariat, top Democratic politicians, and the left-wing blogosphere.

Critics of the “Ground Zero mosque” do not simply hold an incorrect opinion in the minds of defenders like New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, they are “un-American” for allegedly believing that all Muslims are the same as the al Qaeda terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center.

Mosque critics believe no such thing but that does not matter to its liberal defenders, many of whom seem to have taken a renewed sense of patriotic furvor in embracing this argument.

It’s a puzzling argument to those of us who don’t buy into it. How can being in favor of an Islamic mosque and cultural center in close proximity to a place that was destroyed by Islamic terrorists possibly be patriotic? In his Best of the Web column for the Wall Street Journal, James Taranto answers this question by arguing that liberal elites have a very different view of what patriotism entails than most Americans:

What is the nature of this contempt [for mosque opponents]? In part it is the snobbery of the cognitive elite, exemplified by a recent New York Times Web column by Timothy Egan called “Building a Nation of Know-Nothings”–or by the viciousness directed at Sarah Palin, whose folksy demeanor and state-college background seem terribly déclassé not just to liberals but to a good number of conservatives in places like New York City.

In more cerebral moments, the elitists of the left invoke a kind of Marxism Lite to explain away opinions and values that run counter to their own. Thus Barack Obama’s notorious remark to the effect that economic deprivation embitters the proles, so that they cling to guns and religion. [...]

The Ground Zero mosque is an affront to the sensibilities of ordinary Americans. “The center’s association with 9/11 is intentional and its location is no geographic coincidence,” as the Associated Press has reported. That Americans would find this offensive is a matter of simple common sense. The liberal elites cannot comprehend common sense, and, incredibly, they think that’s a virtue. After all, common sense is so common.

The British philosopher Roger Scruton has coined a term to describe this attitude: oikophobia. Xenophobia is fear of the alien; oikophobia is fear of the familiar: “the disposition, in any conflict, to side with ‘them’ against ‘us’, and the felt need to denigrate the customs, culture and institutions that are identifiably ‘ours.’ ” What a perfect description of the pro-mosque left. [...]

There is one important difference between the American oik and his European counterpart. American patriotism is not a blood-and-soil nationalism but an allegiance to a country based in an idea of enlightened universalism. Thus our oiks masquerade as–and may even believe themselves to be–superpatriots, more loyal to American principles than the vast majority of Americans, whom they denounce as “un-American” for feeling an attachment to their actual country as opposed to a collection of abstractions.

In short: liberals don’t hate America, they simply hate Americans, especially when they won’t go along with such obviously good things such as President Obama’s healthcare law, “economic stimulus” spending, nationalizing student loans, unilaterally disarming American nuclear weapons, or raising taxes in an anemic economy. Having fully embraced the notion that Judeo-Greco-Roman society has engaged in systematic “cultural imperialism,” the modern Left has embraced what might be termed “cultural inferiorism” as a means to atone.

One could argue that conservatives and libertarians are prone to similarly negative views about the public–particularly when it votes for politicians loathed by the Right–however, it seems to me that when such sentiments are expressed, they tend to proceed more from disappointment than the fulminations against the public one regularly sees expressed by liberals (the supposed movement “for the people”).

The reason for this rhetorical disparity is that conservatives and libertarians seem to have a much better grounding in the idea that they have a political ideology. Liberals lack this sense, believing their ideology to be literally incommensurable to other ideologies. To oppose liberalism is thus not only intellectually incorrect, it is also an affront to common decency.

And that, dear reader is why, if you oppose the Ground Zero mosque you are indeed un-American. To those who think otherwise, congratulations on your supreme enlightenment.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hurricane Katrina and the Race Card: Five Years Later

Hurricane Katrina and the Race Card: Five Years Later - Article - National Review Online

West and other race-baiters have not been held accountable for their lies and distortions.

This weekend, on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, civil-rights activists and hip-hop stars will hold what they call a “healing ceremony” to commemorate the disaster. President Obama will speak at a separate event in New Orleans on Sunday. But don’t expect any of these reconciliation-seeking leaders to confront the indelible stain of racial demagoguery left by the Left in Katrina’s aftermath. Hating George W. Bush means never having to say you’re sorry.

The Olympic gold medal for racial grievance-mongering went to rapper Kanye West, who railed during a supposedly nonpolitical nationwide telethon that the government was shooting “us,” that “those are my people down there,” and that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people!” West’s vulgar exploitation of a charity drive — which was meant to unite America — left most viewers with the same aghast, frozen expression as the one on comedian Mike Myers’s face as he tried to rescue their fundraising segment from the sewage.

Not to be outdone, the Congressional Black Caucus convened a press conference to blast news reporters for describing Katrina victims as “refugees.” Yes, really. The Rev. Jesse Jackson echoed their complaint: “It is racist to call American citizens refugees.” Refugees are, by dictionary definition, “exiles who flee for safety.” How this could be construed as bigoted remains as much a mystery as the source of unhinged Huffington Post blogger and self-proclaimed “social-justice advocate” Randall Robinson’s bogus claim “that black hurricane victims in New Orleans have begun eating corpses to survive.”

Robinson retracted the report, but did not apologize for spreading the black-cannibalism tale around the world and using Katrina to vent his anti-American venom about his country being a “monstrous fraud.” Nation of Islam race-hustler-in-chief Louis Farrakhan trafficked in his own baseless conspiracy-mongering about “a 25-foot-deep crater under the levee breach” indicating that the levee “may have been blown up to destroy the black part of town and keep the white part dry.” Director Spike Lee stoked the levee truthers further, declaring, “If they can rig an election, they can do anything!”

New Black Panther party head Malik Zulu Shabazz chimed in, calling the Katrina rescue and recovery operation a “racist occupation of subjugation rather than a relief effort,” and saying it was designed “to keep non-white people in a state of subjugation on all levels, and they are viewed as expendable in order to protect the interest of the system.” Donning her own tinfoil hat, Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee suggested that Republican suppression of the black vote in 2000 and 2004 was to blame for the government’s botched Katrina response.

Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel drove the racial wedge in deeper by comparing President Bush to brutal Alabama segregationist Bull Connor. “If there’s one thing that George Bush has done that we should never forget,” Rangel spewed, “it’s that for us and for our children, he has shattered the myth of white supremacy once and for all.” At a House hearing, a Katrina witness testified unchallenged that black New Orleans residents were victims of “genocide and ethnic cleansing.”

The execrable Jimmy Carter waited a few months to unleash his own Bush-bashing bile — at the funeral of Coretta Scott King, no less — in February 2006. “We only have to recall the color of the faces of those in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, those who were most devastated by Katrina, to know that there are not yet equal opportunities for all Americans.”

Carter’s speech not only lacked basic decency. It lacked any grounding in reality. According to statistics released just months after the storm by the primary morgue that processed the bodies of the deceased, 48 percent of those who died in the natural disaster were black, 41 percent were white, with another 8 percent unknown and 2 percent Hispanic. Little-noted follow-up analysis confirmed those preliminary results and also debunked the myth that the poor were disproportionately affected by the storm.

Five years later, the same color-coded paranoia and political opportunism that poisoned the Hurricane Katrina recovery permeates every current conflict in the public square: Ground Zero mosque opponents are all suspiciously funded bigots, according to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The tea-party movement is the new Bull Connor, according to every liberal New York Times columnist. President Obama’s critics hate black people, according to every major black Hollywood director and hip-hop mogul. As for the soul-fixing, Nobel Peace Prize–winning commander-in-chief whose election was supposed to heal the divide, I will guarantee you he won’t ever lift a finger to repudiate the cynical smear tactics against his unjustly accused predecessor.

Post-racial America, we never knew you.

— Michelle Malkin is the author of Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies (Regnery, 2010). © 2010 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Obama’s Economic Slide

Obama’s Economic Slide - The Corner - National Review Online

By J. D. Foster

The Commerce Department today revised down its estimate for second quarter gross domestic product from 2.4 percent to 1.6 percent. This is not a sign of a weakening economy but of a weak economy last spring. The weakness was especially pronounced, as the bulk of what growth did occur was due to a building of inventories and a temporary (and now apparently reversed) blip in home sales.

Most of the data since the second quarter ended — from industrial orders to labor markets to housing — has worsened further. What we are seeing is an economy that tried to recover last winter, slowed, and is now sliding steadily to stagnation. Not yet a recession, it is certainly the Obama slide.

The great American jobs machine has stalled. Whether it revives anytime soon or continues to flounder is the 7-millions-jobs question. What is certain is that the economy should be steadily strengthening. The basic forces of growth and prosperity remain in place, much as they have always been. But something is holding the economy back. That something is Washington.

The key factor that always escapes the economic models — and is now missing from the economy — is confidence. The inherent, pervasive optimism that traditionally propels investment and saving, hiring, and extra effort is simply missing. The federal government spent enormous sums to spur the economy. The American people were never comfortable with the associated buildup in the national debt, but they were willing to give the new president and his Congress the benefit of the doubt. They hoped; they were misled; it failed. Now hope has been replaced by worry, and Washington continues to give us reason to worry.

In addition to a big stimulus program, Obama ran on the idea of heaping new taxes on upper-income taxpayers, including those small businesses that he says (correctly) are critical to the recovery. Congress did nothing. And so as 2011 creeps over the horizon, so too does a massive tax hike on middle-class families, upper-income workers, small businesses, savers, family farms, and on and on. Having done nothing about this tax cut for the last nearly two years, all these prospective tax-hike victims can only assume that Congress intends to hit them with the full tax hike from allowing the 2001 and 2003 tax relief to expire.

The tax hike itself is bad enough, falling as it will on a stuttering economy. But the bigger issue is still confidence. There is no economic policy rationale to justify raising taxes on a weak economy. None. Yet Obama and Congress are so desperate for revenues to pay for their massive spending surge that they’re willing to raise taxes. Yes, the tax hike is foolish and unjustifiable, but far more debilitating to the confidence the economy needs to grow is what Congress’s tax policies say about its willingness to accept sustained high levels of joblessness — or, alternatively, what it says about President Obama’s understanding of how our economy really functions and what it takes to prosper. No wonder confidence is lagging. No wonder the economy is flagging. The only wonder is that the president appears dead-set against changing course — even in the face of the Obama slide.

— J. D. Foster is the Norman B. Ture senior fellow in economic policy at the Heritage Foundation.

Friday, September 17, 2010

How Democrats lost center

How Democrats lost center--Rich Lowry - By RICH LOWRY

The frustrations of minority status can drive a political party batty.

The temptation is to substitute bel ligerence for thought, insist on a self-destructive purity, lash out at the American public and question the wisdom and viability of the country's institutions. Indulging in these tendencies almost always makes a party's position worse rather than better.

The Obama Democrats may be the first party to engage in this self-defeating behavior -- borne of a frustrated desperation -- while holding the presidency and both houses of Congress by substantial margins.

Through an accident of timing (a national election coinciding with a financial crisis) and the exhaustion of the Bush-DeLay Republicans (who lost power almost by default), liberals took the commanding heights of the federal government while remaining a minority disposition in our national life. In short, they became a rump majority.

Through President Obama's alchemy, these temporarily enlarged congressional numbers were supposed to be transformed into a permanent realignment. It hasn't worked out, obviously.

In the last 20 months, Democrats have had the power to do almost everything they want, except command the allegiance of the public. That has made them and their allies feel embattled, isolated and perpetually aggrieved. They act like a forlorn minority at the same time they control every lever of elective power in Washington.

The ultimate source of the Democrats' discontent is quite simple: They've lost independents. In 1994, in taking Congress, Republicans won independents by 14 percentage points. In 2006, in taking it back, Democrats won independents by 18 points. In the latest Gallup survey, Republicans lead among independents by 11 points, a trend that puts at risk Nancy Pelosi's misbegotten speakership.

Both Republicans and Democrats have bounced around in the mid-30s to 40s in terms of their proportion of the public since 1984, while independents have hovered in the mid-20s. During its recent tailspin, the GOP's share declined from 40 percent in 2002 to 33 in 2008, with independents picking up from 22 to 28. Whoever gets those independents wins. And as Republican pollster David Winston points out, they reflect the basic center-right contour of American opinion.

Since 1992, according to Gallup, ideological opinion has been roughly constant: Self-described moderates have been 40 percent or a little lower; conservatives in the high 30s (although they've spiked to 42 lately); liberals in the high-teens to low-20s.

Both sides need the center, but especially liberals. It'd be rank foolishness to try to govern on the strength of only one-in-five people. But such has been the Obama-Pelosi project -- with unsurprising results.

The average of Obama's approval rating among independents is a dismal 37.9 percent. This meltdown should have launched a thousand agonized liberal op-eds, conferences and strategy papers on how to win back the center. If, that is, liberalism had any realistic sense of its limits.

In the midst of a catastrophic loss of the middle, Obama's supporters exhort him to get more angry, insistent and ambitiously liberal. Having already pushed for a bridge too far, they want to go farther still. When they can't, they conclude it's a damning indictment of Obama's failure of nerve and the nation's ungovernablility.

There's little acknowledgment that the country is in a different place than they are. To the extent there is, so much worse for the country, which is condemned for its backwardness and intolerance. The majority is not just wrong on immigration enforcement and the Ground Zero mosque, it's contemptible. Who knew that the American public would get accused of bigotry more often after electing an African-American president than before?

As former Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner writes, liberals "are expressing deepening alienation from our nation and turning on the American people with a vengeance." They thought they had a mandate from heaven in 2008 and can't bear the thought that they deluded themselves. They've gone from triumphalism to a petulant and uncomprehending tantrum in less than two years. The rump majority looks more exhausted by the day.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Environmental Protection Agency Reviewing Petition to Ban Lead Bullets

Environmental Protection Agency Reviewing Petition to Ban Lead Bullets BY John McCormack

Will Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson make a back door move to ban lead bullets the day before the November 2 elections?

Several environmentalist groups led by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) are petitioning the EPA to ban lead bullets and shot (as well as lead sinkers for fishing) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Although EPA is barred by statute from controlling ammunition, CBD is seeking to work farther back along the manufacturing chain and have EPA ban the use of lead in bullets and shot because non-lead alternatives are available. But here's the catch: the alternatives to lead bullets are more expensive. A ban on the sale of lead ammunition would force hunters and sport shooters to buy non-lead ammunition that is often double the cost of traditional lead ammunition. A box of deer hunting bullets in a popular caliber could be upwards of $55.

Although the EPA could have dismissed the request due to a lack of jurisdiction, it is obliging CBD. The EPA has asked for public comment on banning lead in ammunition, and an EPA notice was published seeking public comment that closes on October 31. Jackson would then make a decision to accept or reject the petition on November 1. You might say that even considering enacting what is effectively a new tax on hunters and gun owners--seemingly the only non-liberal group the Obama administration hasn't yet intentionally provoked--is less-than-perfect timing for the already beleaguered Democrats as the midterm elections approach.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a trade association for the firearm and ammunition industry, has hit back against the petition sending Jackson a letter documenting why EPA has no jurisdiction and outlining the damage that banning lead ammunition would do to U.S. industry and jobs, conservation, and law enforcement. The NSSF estimates that more than 90 percent of hunters and sport shooters use traditional lead ammunition. If all hunters were forced to buy non-lead bullets that are made out of metals like tungsten, bismuth, and copper alloys, demand could easily begin to outstrip the supply and prices would go even higher.

Bill Clinton famously blamed the NRA and gun owners for sweeping Democrats from control of the House in 1994 after he pushed them to pass the Assault Weapons Ban. For Democrats, especially those in rural and conservative districts that are already facing voters’ wrath, gun control could once again be an issue that helps defeat them and swings control of the House and perhaps even the Senate to the GOP.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The last refuge of a liberal

By Charles Krauthammer

Liberalism under siege is an ugly sight indeed. Just yesterday it was all hope and change and returning power to the people. But the people have proved so disappointing. Their recalcitrance has, in only 19 months, turned the predicted 40-year liberal ascendancy (James Carville) into a full retreat. Ah, the people, the little people, the small-town people, the "bitter" people, as Barack Obama in an unguarded moment once memorably called them, clinging "to guns or religion or" -- this part is less remembered -- "antipathy toward people who aren't like them."

That's a polite way of saying: clinging to bigotry. And promiscuous charges of bigotry are precisely how our current rulers and their vast media auxiliary react to an obstreperous citizenry that insists on incorrect thinking.

-- Resistance to the vast expansion of government power, intrusiveness and debt, as represented by the Tea Party movement? Why, racist resentment toward a black president.

-- Disgust and alarm with the federal government's unwillingness to curb illegal immigration, as crystallized in the Arizona law? Nativism.

-- Opposition to the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history, as expressed in Proposition 8 in California? Homophobia.

-- Opposition to a 15-story Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero? Islamophobia.

Now we know why the country has become "ungovernable," last year's excuse for the Democrats' failure of governance: Who can possibly govern a nation of racist, nativist, homophobic Islamophobes?

Note what connects these issues. In every one, liberals have lost the argument in the court of public opinion. Majorities -- often lopsided majorities -- oppose President Obama's social-democratic agenda (e.g., the stimulus, Obamacare), support the Arizona law, oppose gay marriage and reject a mosque near Ground Zero.

What's a liberal to do? Pull out the bigotry charge, the trump that preempts debate and gives no credit to the seriousness and substance of the contrary argument. The most venerable of these trumps is, of course, the race card. When the Tea Party arose, a spontaneous, leaderless and perfectly natural (and traditionally American) reaction to the vast expansion of government intrinsic to the president's proudly proclaimed transformational agenda, the liberal commentariat cast it as a mob of angry white yahoos disguising their antipathy to a black president by cleverly speaking in economic terms.

Then came Arizona and S.B. 1070. It seems impossible for the left to believe that people of good will could hold that: (a) illegal immigration should be illegal, (b) the federal government should not hold border enforcement hostage to comprehensive reform, i.e., amnesty, (c) every country has the right to determine the composition of its immigrant population.

As for Proposition 8, is it so hard to see why people might believe that a single judge overturning the will of 7 million voters is an affront to democracy? And that seeing merit in retaining the structure of the most ancient and fundamental of all social institutions is something other than an alleged hatred of gays -- particularly since the opposite-gender requirement has characterized virtually every society in all the millennia until just a few years ago?

And now the mosque near Ground Zero. The intelligentsia is near unanimous that the only possible grounds for opposition is bigotry toward Muslims. This smug attribution of bigotry to two-thirds of the population hinges on the insistence on a complete lack of connection between Islam and radical Islam, a proposition that dovetails perfectly with the Obama administration's pretense that we are at war with nothing more than "violent extremists" of inscrutable motive and indiscernible belief. Those who reject this as both ridiculous and politically correct (an admitted redundancy) are declared Islamophobes, the ad hominem du jour.

It is a measure of the corruption of liberal thought and the collapse of its self-confidence that, finding itself so widely repudiated, it resorts reflexively to the cheapest race-baiting (in a colorful variety of forms). Indeed, how can one reason with a nation of pitchfork-wielding mobs brimming with "antipathy toward people who aren't like them" -- blacks, Hispanics, gays and Muslims -- a nation that is, as Michelle Obama once put it succinctly, "just downright mean"?

The Democrats are going to get beaten badly in November. Not just because the economy is ailing. And not just because Obama over-read his mandate in governing too far left. But because a comeuppance is due the arrogant elites whose undisguised contempt for the great unwashed prevents them from conceding a modicum of serious thought to those who dare oppose them.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Another Failed Eliminationist Narrative

Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion: Another Failed Eliminationist Narrative

Another Failed Eliminationist Narrative

Bill Sparkman. Amy Bishop. The Fort Hood Shooter. The IRS Plane Crasher. The Pentagon Shooter.

People who had nothing to do with each other in the real world. In the blogosphere, each of these people was linked by a macabre desire by the left-wing blogosphere to find a crime which fit a narrative of right wing violence inspired by talk radio, Fox News, "wingnut" bloggers, and Tea Partiers.

It's the narrative pushed by Dave Neiwart of Crooks and Liars about an "eliminationist" radical right. You could say that Neiwart fancies himself the new Richard Hofstadter, and "eliminationist" is the new "paranoid style" in American politics.

In each case, the facts did not fit the narrative. But the narrative was pushed anyway.

Add the Anti-Muslim Cabbie Stabber to the list. That person is Michael Enright.

The narrative which exploded immediately in the left-wing blogosphere was that right-wing incitement related to the Corboda Mosque and Islamic Center incited Engright to stab a Muslim cab driver, after questioning the driver as to his faith. Here is a taste of the initial reaction from leading blogs:

•Think Progress: "The first casualty of the “Ground Zero mosque.”"

•Michael Tomasky: "Anyone surprised that a Muslim cab driver was stabbed in New York? If you are surprised, you've been sleepwalking the last two weeks."

•Juan Cole: "Newt Gingrich and Rick Lazio may as well have kept Enwright in their basements in chains and whipped him into a frenzy as to spew their hatred on the airwaves."

•Gawker: ""Ground Zero mosque" mania reaches exciting new heights."

•Crooks and Liars: "GOP, What Have Your Wrought?"

•New York Magazine: "But with the tension so high right now on the issue of tolerance of Muslims, the correlation between the two is troubling enough."

•Little Green Footballs: "With the bigotry and hatred continuously pouring out of Fox News, right wing websites, and talk radio, it was only a matter of time."

•Bob Cesca: "Claiming to be a Muslim that close to Ground Zero is a stab in the heart to whatever."

•TPM Livewire: "Okay so: Anyone else sadly not surprised at a Muslim hate crime in New York City these days?"

As the facts have come out, that Enright is far from a right-wing zealot and actually works for an "Interfaith" group which supports the Cordoba Mosque, the left-wing blogosphere is backtracking. Enright was extremely drunk at the time of the incident (no excuse, but a fact), and a crime appears to have been committed. That is all (and enough), and fortunately there do not appear to be serious injuries.

The Anti-Muslim Cabbie Stabber joins the others in the rogues gallery of criminals who disappointed the left-wing blogosphere by failing to fit the eliminationist narrative.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Senator Schumer’s Attempt to Silence Political Speech

Senator Schumer’s Attempt to Silence Political Speech By David Bossie

When Senator Chuck Schumer staged an elaborate press conference on the steps of the Supreme Court to unveil his Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act (“DISCLOSE Act”) he noted that:

“Anyone who wants to hide, will not do an ad after this legislation passes. And I think there are a lot of people who like to hide … so I think there’ll be many fewer of them.”

His words revealed the true motivation of this legislation – it is not transparency but rather silencing speech in this critical election year. The Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC restored the First Amendment protection to political speech. Small businesses, corporations, unions, and membership based organizations may now have a voice in the public discourse. The Democratic leadership that is tasked with re-electing incumbent politicians and trying to minimize Democratic losses this November were understandably fearful of what the public may say now that their voices have been restored. One issue the Democrats would rather not let the American people be reminded of is the national 9.5% unemployment rate.

Their solution was the DISCLOSE Act, a piece of legislation that creates a burdensome new regulatory scheme as well as requires that political ads feature disclaimers which may be as long as 14 seconds in length. This will increase the costs to small businesses and membership based organizations that seek to have a voice – many won’t be able to afford the additional compliance costs and will have their voices silenced.

In the four months since Senator Schumer introduced the DISCLOSE Act, we’ve seen it is just one part of a systemic campaign to chill political speech.

Target, a national corporation headquartered in Minnesota chose to make a contribution to MN Forward, an independent expenditure organization whose mission is “to ensure that private-sector job creation and economic growth are at the top of the agenda during the 2010 campaign.” MN Forward has been supportive of Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.

The contribution was made public, and liberal groups have sought to attack the corporation for exercising its rights. has gone so far as to demand a boycott of Target stores. They are attacking Target based on the values and positions of Tom Emmer. It’s important to note that Target did not in fact make a donation to Emmer, but rather to a pro-business political committee.

The facts reveal this contribution was motivated by economic interests. Such speech is exactly what Senator Schumer seeks to discourage with the DISCLOSE Act. His intent to chill speech was again made very clear in a recent email:

“When you buy toothpaste now, the money you spend can be used directly for television ads attacking people that you believe in without you even knowing.”

“Well if you’ve ever shopped at Target, the money you spent on toothpaste might be part of the $150,000 Target donated to run TV ads for an anti-gay, anti-minimum wage candidate in Minnesota just recently.”

“Target apologized for its donation (without taking its money back) once a lot of people got really mad, but next time Target — or any other corporation — is going to be a lot smarter about it.”

Corporate expenditures were legal in at least 26 states prior to the Citizens United decision. While in their respective state legislatures both Barack Obama and Congressman Chris Van Hollen were the beneficiaries of corporate donations. If such contributions did not corrupt Obama and Van Hollen, why now are they so problematic? The DISCLOSE Act is merely a solution in search of a problem.

The campaign against the Freedom of Speech is even more glaring in New York City. The Public Advocate for the City of New York, Bill de Blasio, is using his government position and government owned and operated website to lead a campaign against corporations that dare to assert their First Amendment rights. His website is a clear attempt to dissuade corporations from exercising their First Amendment rights.

For those unfamiliar with the position of “Public Advocate”, de Blasio’s website describes the elected office as “the job of the Public Advocate is, most fundamentally, that of a watchdog, ensuring that all New Yorkers receive the City services they deserve and have a voice in shaping the policies of their government.” I’m not sure if that sounds more like a community organizer or a lobbyist, but regardless, it does not sound like an appropriate forum to wage a political campaign against the First Amendment.

It’s time that incumbent Democrat politicians stop focusing on misguided efforts to minimize Democratic losses this November and start focusing on real issues. With public opinion of Congress currently hovering around 20 percent, the Democrats will lose seats this November based on their record and their policies – their attempts to silence political speech will not prevent that.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

If Hypocrisy is the Target, Has Hit the Bull’s-eye

If Hypocrisy is the Target, Has Hit the Bull’s-eye  By Bert Gall

As we’ve noted, Target has drawn heavy fire for its donation to an organization that’s speaking out in support of Minnesota gubernatorial candidate who opposes gay marriage. One of the latest examples of this criticism is a humorous viral video featuring a flash mob that performs a song called “Target Ain’t People”—set to the tune of Depeche Mode’s hit song “People are People”—in the middle of a Target store as employees and customers look on with varying degrees of bemusement.

A link to the video is here. A small sample of the lyrics follows:

I can’t understand what makes Target

think they’ll get away. Gonna make them pay.

Target ain’t people so why should it be

allowed to play around with our democracy.

Later, the performers tell their audience: “Boycott Target. Take America back!”

You could dismiss this video as the frivolous ramblings of slackers who like to dress up in costumes and make an annoyance of themselves instead of, you know, getting a job. But that would be a mistake. That’s because the video unwittingly provides all the insight you’ll ever need into what makes critics of Citizens United tick.

For all their railing against Target spending money on speech, it’s clear that the not-ready-for-prime-time players don’t think that corporations like Target can make them do their bidding. They want the audience to know that they’re smarter and hipper than that. And they clearly believe that there are at least some like-minded individuals of a progressive political mindset who will join them in their anti-Target crusade.

But they’re worried that the unwashed masses aren’t as enlightened as they are, which is why they want corporations like Target to be banned from spending money on political speech during election season.

In other words, they subscribe to the same condescending attitude that is at the heart of all criticism of Citizens United: Most of the public is made up of idiots, and they’ll vote however corporations tell them to.

But wait just a second. Those who stay with the video to the very end learn that the advertisement was funded by—a corporation whose business is to influence elections. It looks like we’ll need to add a lyric to the flash mob’s song: is a corporation so why should it be

paying for a video that promotes hypocrisy?

The answer, presumably, is that thinks it’s okay for the right kind of corporations—those who can always be counted on to promote a progressive political agenda—to engage in as much robust political speech as they’d like.

I’m sure it’s merely a coincidence that happens to be one of those corporations.

For links:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Liberals and the Myth of an Anti-Muslim Backlash

Liberals and the Myth of an Anti-Muslim Backlash By Jonah Goldberg

Here's a thought: The 70% of Americans who oppose what amounts to an Islamic Niketown two blocks from ground zero are the real victims of a climate of hate, and anti-Muslim backlash is mostly a myth.

Let's start with some data.

According to the FBI, hate crimes against Muslims increased by a staggering 1,600% in 2001. That sounds serious! But wait, the increase is a math mirage. There were 28 anti-Islamic incidents in 2000. That number climbed to 481 the year a bunch of Muslim terrorists murdered 3,000 Americans in the name of Islam on Sept. 11.

Now, that was a hate crime.

Regardless, 2001 was the zenith or, looked at through the prism of our national shame, the nadir of the much-discussed anti-Muslim backlash in the United States. The following year, the number of anti-Islamic hate-crime incidents (overwhelmingly, nonviolent vandalism and nasty words) dropped to 155. In 2003, there were 149 such incidents. And the number has hovered around the mid-100s or lower ever since.

Sure, even one hate crime is too many. But does that sound like a anti-Muslim backlash to you?

Let's put this in even sharper focus. America is, outside of Israel, probably the most receptive and tolerant country in the world to Jews. And yet, in every year since 9/11, more Jews have been hate-crime victims than Muslims. A lot more.

In 2001, there were twice as many anti-Jewish incidents as there were anti-Muslim, again according to the FBI. In 2002 and pretty much every year since, anti-Jewish incidents have outstripped anti-Muslim ones by at least 6 to 1. Why aren't we talking about the anti-Jewish climate in America?

Because there isn't one. And there isn't an anti-Muslim climate either. Yes, there's a lot of heated rhetoric on the Internet. Absolutely, some Americans don't like Muslims. But if you watch TV or movies or read, say, the op-ed page of the New York Times - never mind left-wing blogs - you'll hear much more open bigotry toward evangelical Christians (in blogspeak, the "Taliban wing of the Republican Party") than you will toward Muslims.

No doubt some American Muslims - particularly young Muslim men with ties to the Middle East and South Asia - have been scrutinized at airports more than elderly women of Norwegian extraction, but does that really amount to Islamophobia, given the dangers and complexities of the war on terror?

For 10 years we've been subjected to news stories about the Muslim backlash that's always around the corner. It didn't start with President Obama or with the "ground zero mosque." President George W. Bush was his most condescending when he explained, in the cadences of a guest reader at kindergarten story time, that "Islam is peace."

But he was right to emphasize America's tolerance and to draw a sharp line between Muslim terrorists and their law-abiding co-religionists.

Meanwhile, to listen to Obama - say in his famous Cairo address - you'd think America has been at war with Islam for 30 years and only now, thanks to him, can we heal the rift. It's an odd argument given that Americans have shed a lot of blood for Muslims over the last three decades: to end the slaughter of Muslims in the Balkans, to feed Somalis and to liberate Kuwaitis, Iraqis and Afghans. Millions of Muslims around the world would desperately like to move to the U.S., this supposed land of intolerance.

Conversely, nowhere is there more open, honest and intentional intolerance - in words and deeds - than from certain prominent Muslim leaders around the world. And yet, Americans are the bigots.

And when Muslim fanatics kill Americans - after, say, the Ft. Hood slaughter - a reflexive response from the Obama administration is to fret over an anti-Islamic backlash. It's fine to avoid negative stereotypes of Muslims, but why the rush to embrace them when it comes to Americans?

And now, thanks to the "ground zero mosque" story, we are again discussing America's Islamophobia, which, according to Time magazine, is just another chapter in America's history of intolerance.

When, pray tell, will Time magazine devote an issue to its, and this administration's, intolerance of the American people?

Friday, September 10, 2010

What will it take to make you do something?!

Tea Party Group Hit With Death Threats

Tea Party Group Hit With Death Threats - Washington Whispers ( By Paul Bedard

One of Washington's principal supporters of the Tea Party movement, former GOP Majority Leader Dick Armey's FreedomWorks, has been receiving death threats and profanity-laced phone calls as it gets involved in the fall elections. The number and intensity have reached such heights that the organization is leaving its downtown location near the FBI and moving to a high-security building near the U.S. Capitol.

"FreedomWorks and Dick Armey receive dozens of threatening and harassing calls and E-mails each day. Many imply violence and use of weapons," spokesman Adam Brandon tells Whispers. "As we get closer to the election we expect the harassment to increase."

He says that FreedomWorks will hire additional security, meaning less money for its election-eve, get-out-the-vote, or GOTV, campaign. "Unfortunately, we may have to use resources for security guards that we would rather use for GOTV," he said.

The group plans to move to 400 North Capitol Street NW, a secure building two blocks from the U.S. Capitol. That building also houses Fox News Channel's Washington Bureau and several other media outlets.

FreedomWorks provided some of the recordings of the threatening calls to Whispers and they include physical threats and profanity aimed at the group, Tea Party spokesmen and even conservative talkers. "You guys better watch it," says one caller. "Now, we are going to destroy and obliterate Rush [Limbaugh] and Sean Hannity," said another. "Those two guys are dead."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thoughts on Afghanistan

Thoughts on Afghanistan by John Hinderacker/Powerline
We started out as warbloggers, largely, and over the years we've no doubt written more about the war against Islamic terrorism than anything else. So it's a little disorienting to see the war in Iraq winding down, and the war in Afghanistan ramping up, without having a great deal to say about either conflict.

Will the war in Iraq be judged a success? Ask me in 20 years. While Doug Feith tells us the Department of Defense was never focused on bringing democracy to the Arab world, I'm pretty sure that was a big part of President Bush's motivation, as it was of mine. I base this on the fact that Bush said so, repeatedly, in his speeches. Liberals either paid attention or didn't, depending on how they evaluated their tactical interests at the moment.

As for Afghanistan, this is the kind of story that makes us want to take to the battlements: "Taliban take comfort in US withdrawal plans: general."

Taliban insurgents have been given hope they can prevail in the war as a result of President Barack Obama's July 2011 deadline to start withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan , the top US Marine said. ...
"In some ways, we think right now it's probably giving our enemy sustenance," Conway said of the July 2011 target date.

"We think that he may be saying to himself -- in fact we've intercepted communications that say, 'Hey, you know, we only have to hold out for so long.'"

That's red meat for us conservatives. Still, we have been in Afghanistan since, what--the end of 2001? It is understandable that most Americans want some sort of a resolution. I fully support our current "surge" efforts in Afghanistan, and I think it is a good thing whenever a Taliban fighter is killed. At the same time, it seems obvious that the primitiveness of Afghan society and the Afghan economy limit, rather severely, the results we can achieve there. On no account do we want the success of our policy to be held hostage to the sheer perversity of Afghan culture. Our soldiers are great at shooting bad people and blowing up their infrastructure, but bringing Islamic fundamentalists into the 10th century is beyond their ken. Or anyone's.

At the American Interest, Peter Berger has a perceptive analysis of the options open to us in Afghanistan, titled "American National Interest and the Stoning of Women." None of our options, he argues, is good.

As to the United States, it is certainly in its national interest to separate the Taliban from al-Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates--after all, this is why the American invasion of Afghanistan took place to begin with. It is doubtful whether the national interest means preventing executions by stoning or other traditional Islamic penalties--or for that matter the whole panoply of women's rights as understood in Western democracies. ...

It seems to me that the American national interest is unclear on the question of whether to stay in Afghanistan or to look for an exit as quickly as possible. There are reasonable arguments on both sides. On the one hand, an American exit which will be widely seen as a defeat would have potentially catastrophic consequences, not only on the international position of the United States, but in the wider Middle East and beyond--destabilizing Pakistan, encouraging radical Islamism everywhere, enhancing the power of Iran (more so, of course, if it develops atomic weapons)--and encouraging adversaries beyond the region, such as North Korea and Venezuela. On the other hand, Bob Herbert might be right that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable, and that it will require years, maybe decades, of a useless expenditure of lives and resources, which will serve to destabilize American society itself.

A realistic assessment of the costs and benefits of policy alternatives is one thing, a moral assessment quite another. ...

Both critics and supporters of the war in Afghanistan bring up the Vietnam analogy--the critics by seeing Afghanistan as a comparable "quagmire," the supporters by saying that the anti-war movement at home was the major cause of the American defeat. ...

However, in a moral perspective, there is a disturbing similarity, brought out by the horror described in the opening section of this post: the departure of the United States from Vietnam in 1975 was probably in its national interest. It had some terrible consequences in the region--the brutal re-education camps in South Vietnam after its occupation by the North, the many deaths on the sea of the "boat people," and, most terrible of all, the "auto-genocide" by the victorious Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. When all is said and done, are we once more going to abandon to their enemies those who trusted in us?

A very old insight has to be relearned many times--that one cannot act politically without getting one's hands dirty, often enough with blood.

This put me in mind of probably the most searing post we've ever done here, by Scott, which tells the sad story of Sirik Matak, former Prime Minister of Cambodia, who made the mistake of trusting the United States government:

Dear Excellency and Friend:

I thank you very sincerely for your letter and for your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you, and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection, and we can do nothing about it.

You leave, and my wish is that you and your country will find happiness under this sky. But, mark it well, that if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is no matter, because we are all born and must die. I have only committed this mistake of believing in you [the Americans].

Prime Minister Matak was shot and left to die by Communists. A worse fate awaits a great many Afghan women, and no small number of Afghan men, if we decide that we are tired of dealing with such a backward culture.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cash for clunkers fiasco

By Jonah Goldberg

Jason Kuznicki revisits cash-for-clunkers.

No, the appropriate course would be to generalize, and to destroy all goods in exchange for government scrip. Then we could play Monopoly, I guess, for what all good the money would do. But we’d have to scrape a board in the dirt to do it.That’s because money isn’t wealth. Money is at best a measure of wealth, which actually consists of goods. Money retains its value as long as there are goods to be traded for it. When the goods disappear, the economy grows poorer, regardless of how the money is shuffled around.And the payback isn’t long in coming — today’s used car prices are soaring owing to reduced supply. (This link gives even more dramatic numbers, but I’m less sure of them. h/t Radley Balko.)See how that works? You can’t get something for nothing. Cash for Clunkers turns out to have been a highly inefficient wealth-transfer program, that is, one that destroyed a bunch of wealth along the way. It gave wealth to those already relatively wealthy people who did the government’s bidding (that is, those who could afford to part with a used car and buy a new one). And now it’s taking wealth from those relatively poor people who need a used car today — in the form of higher prices.Along the way, it destroyed hundreds of thousands of cars — that’s the real wealth these poor people don’t have access to anymore, because the scrapped cars aren’t a part of the economy.And this is what passes for a successful government program.

As for the Bastiat reference see my old column here.

More Bad Housing News

By Daniel Foster

Well, it isn’t all bad. At least the housing market appears to be finding a bottom — despite the billions and billions of taxpayer dollars outlaid to cushion its fall:

WASHINGTON — Sales of new homes dropped sharply last month to the slowest pace on record, the latest sign that the economic recovery is fading.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new home sales fell 12.4 percent in July from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 276,600. That was the slowest pace on records dating back to 1963. The past three months have been the worst on record for new home sales.
Weak sales mean fewer jobs in the construction industry, which normally powers economic recoveries. Each new home built creates, on average, the equivalent of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

“If new homes aren’t selling, there’s no incentive to build more,” said Nigel Gault, chief economist at IHS Global Insight.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Medical Care Facts and Fables

Medical Care Facts and Fables - Article - National Review Online

Obamacare threatens the unparalleled success of US medicine.

There is so much political spin, and so many numbers games being played, when it comes to medical care that we have to go back to square one and the simplest common sense in order to get some rational idea of what government-run medical care means. In particular, we need to examine the claim that the government can “bring down the cost of medical care.”

The most basic fact is that it is cheaper to remain sick than to get medical treatment. What is cheapest of all is to die instead of getting life-saving medications and treatment, which can be very expensive.

Despite these facts, most of us tend to take a somewhat more parochial view of the situation when it is we ourselves who are sick or who face a potentially fatal illness. But what if that decision is taken out of your hands under Obamacare and is made for you by a bureaucrat in Washington?

We won’t know what that leads to until the time comes. As Nancy Pelosi said, we will find out what is in the bill after it has passed. But even now, after Obamacare has been passed, not many people want to read its 2,400 pages. Even if you did, you would still not know what it would be like in practice, after more than 150 boards and commissions issue their specific regulations.

Fortunately — in fact, very fortunately — you don’t have to slog through 2,400 pages of legalistic jargon or turn to a fortune teller to divine the future. A new book, The Truth About Obamacare, by Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute, lays out the facts in the plainest English.

While she can’t tell you the future, she can tell you enough about government-run medical systems in other countries that it will not take a rocket scientist to figure out what is in store for us if Obamacare doesn’t get repealed before it takes full effect in 2014. It is not a pretty picture.

We hear a lot about how wonderful it is that the Canadians or the British or the Swedes get free medical treatment because the government runs the system. But we don’t hear much about the quality of that medical care.

We don’t hear about more than 4,000 expectant mothers who gave birth inside a hospital, but not in the maternity ward, in Britain in just one year. They had their babies in hallways, bathrooms, and even elevators.

British newspapers have for years carried stories about the neglect of patients under the National Health Service. When nurses don’t get around to taking a pregnant woman to the maternity ward in time, the baby doesn’t wait.

But the American media don’t tell you about such things when they are gushing over the wonders of “universal health care” that will “bring down the cost of medical care.”

Instead, the media spin is that various countries with government-run medical systems have life expectancies that are as long as ours, or longer. That is very clever as media spin, if you don’t bother to stop and think about it.

Sally Pipes did bother to stop and think about it in The Truth About Obamacare. She points out that medical care is just one of the factors in life expectancy.

She cites a study by Profs. Robert Ohsfeldt and John Schneider at the University of Iowa, which shows that, if you leave out people who are victims of homicide or who die in automobile accidents, Americans live longer than people in any other Western country.

Doctors do not prevent homicides or car crashes. In the things that doctors can affect, such as the survival rates of cancer patients, the United States leads the world.

Americans get the latest pharmaceutical drugs, sometimes years before those drugs are available to people in Britain or in other countries where the government runs the medical system. Why? Because the latest drugs cost more and it is cheaper to let people die.

The media have often said that we have higher infant mortality rates than other countries with government medical-care systems. But we count every baby that dies and other countries do not. If the media don’t tell you that, so much the better for Obamacare.

But is life and death something to play spin games about?

— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2010 Creators Syndicate, Inc.