• Jim Connaughton, Executive Vice President for Baltimore-based Constellation Energy, a very nice and pleasant fellow who ran the Bush climate show as chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). He was flat-out for cap-and-trade legislation (or regulation) of carbon dioxide, advocating a "stringent" target. No one can be for such a plan unless they believe that global warming is a problem so severe that it requires such a major intervention. He's the number one candidate to be Romney's EPA administrator.
• Brian Hannegan, Vice President for Environment and Renewables at the Electric Power Research Institute. This actually means "Vice President in support of subsidies and handouts" to power generation technologies that can't compete with natural gas and coal. EPRI has always been the grand master of this Washington game, and a position high in the Romney Administration will only guarantee more of the same. Hannegan was Chief of Staff at CEQ and would likely work for Connaughton at EPA.
• Andy Karsner, who was Assistant Energy Secretary. He developed the Department of Energy loan guarantee program that funded Solyndra. It's a fact that the Bush Administration tried to ram through the Solyndra loan in its final two weeks, but the Department's credit committee held it up subject to further scrutiny, as the Administration's clock expired. When the government pays off your loan for your product that cannot do so, this is known as a subsidy. Karsner could be Secretary of Energy.
•Jeff Holmstead, head or the Office of Air and Radiation in the G.W. Bush EPA and Associate Counsel for G.HW. Bush, where he was instrumental in getting the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 passed. No doubt he knew where the words "carbon dioxide" were inserted and what grief they would eventually cause, culminating in EPA's stringent car fuel economy standards and power plant regulations. While his heart may be in the right place, he's a serial meddler which can only come to no good in Washington.
We can't expect Romney to have particular expertise on climate change, but we can expect that his advisers will help shape his policies and programs, which, given this group, is very scary.
Romney made a tremendous mistake on climate change when he was Governor of Massachusetts, when he tapped John Holdren, a radical population-control advocate, to advise him on his cap-and-trade proposal (!). Holdren is now President Obama's Science Advisor and is the eminence behind all of the Administration's green shenanigans.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's updated policy on criminal background checks is part of an effort to rein in practices that can limit job opportunities for minorities that have higher arrest and conviction rates than whites.
"The ability of African-Americans and Hispanics to gain employment after prison is one of the paramount civil justice issues of our time," said Stuart Ishimaru, one of three Democrats on the five-member commission.
But some employers say the new policy -- approved in a 4-1 vote -- could make it more cumbersome and expensive to conduct background checks. Companies see the checks as a way to keep workers and customers safe, weed out unsavory workers and prevent negligent hiring claims.
The new standard urges employers to give applicants a chance to explain a report of past criminal misconduct before they are rejected outright. An applicant might say the report is inaccurate or point out that the conviction was expunged. It may be completely unrelated to the job, or an ex-con may show he's been fully rehabilitated.
The EEOC also recommends that employers stop asking about past convictions on job applications. And it says an arrest without a conviction is not generally an acceptable reason to deny employment.
While the guidance does not have the force of regulations, it sets a higher bar in explaining how businesses can avoid violating the law.
"It's going to be much more burdensome," said Pamela Devata, a Chicago employment lawyer who has represented companies trying to comply with EEOC's requirements. "Logistically, it's going to be very difficult for employers who have a large amount of attrition to have an individual discussion with each and every applicant."...
The EEOC also has stepped up enforcement in recent years. It currently is investigating over 100 claims of job discrimination based on criminal background checks.
Earlier this year, Pepsi Beverages Co. paid $3.1 million to settle EEOC charges of race discrimination for using criminal background checks to screen out job applicants, some who were never convicted.
Constance Barker, one of two Republicans on the commission, was the only member to vote against the new policy. She blamed colleagues for not letting businesses see a draft of the guidelines before voting to approve them.
"I object to the utter and blatant lack of transparency in the process," Barker said. "We are now to approve this dramatic shift ... without ever circulating it to the American public for discussion."
But other members said the commission held a major hearing on the issue last year and took more than 300 comments.
Nancy Hammer, senior government affairs policy counsel at the Society for Human Resource Management, said a big concern is the potential conflict between the new guidance and state laws that require criminal background checks in certain professions.
Nurses, teachers and day care providers, for example, are required by some state laws to have background checks. The new guidelines say a company is not shielded from liability under federal discrimination laws just because it complies with state laws.
Devata, the employment attorney, said the new guidelines may have a chilling effect that discourages employers from conducting criminal checks.
"I think some businesses may stop doing it because it's too hard to comply with all the recommendations in the guidance," she said.
The NAACP praised the new guidelines, saying they would help level the playing field for job applicants with a criminal history.
"These guidelines will discourage employers from discriminating against applicants who have paid their debt to society," NAACP President-CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said.
This past week, one of his campaign websites posted an item entitled "Behind the curtain: A brief history of Romney's donors." In the post, the Obama campaign named and shamed eight private citizens who had donated to his opponent. Describing the givers as all having "less-than-reputable records," the post went on to make the extraordinary accusations that "quite a few" have also been "on the wrong side of the law" and profiting at "the expense of so many Americans."
These are people like Paul Schorr and Sam and Jeffrey Fox, investors who the site outed for the crime of having "outsourced" jobs. T. Martin Fiorentino is scored for his work for a firm that forecloses on homes. Louis Bacon (a hedge-fund manager), Kent Burton (a "lobbyist") and Thomas O'Malley (an energy CEO) stand accused of profiting from oil. Frank VanderSloot, the CEO of a home-products firm, is slimed as a "bitter foe of the gay rights movement."
These are wealthy individuals, to be sure, but private citizens nonetheless. Not one holds elected office. Not one is a criminal. Not one has the barest fraction of the position or the power of the U.S. leader who is publicly assaulting them.
"We don't tolerate presidents or people of high power to do these things," says Theodore Olson, the former U.S. solicitor general. "When you have the power of the presidency—the power of the IRS, the INS, the Justice Department, the DEA, the SEC—what you have effectively done is put these guys' names up on 'Wanted' posters in government offices." Mr. Olson knows these tactics, having demanded that the 44th president cease publicly targeting Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries, which he represents. He's been ignored.
The real crime of the men, as the website tacitly acknowledges, is that they have given money to Mr. Romney. This fundraiser of a president has shown an acute appreciation for the power of money to win elections, and a cutthroat approach to intimidating those who might give to his opponents.
He's targeted insurers, oil firms and Wall Street—letting it be known that those who oppose his policies might face political or legislative retribution. He lectured the Supreme Court for giving companies more free speech and (falsely) accused the Chamber of Commerce of using foreign money to bankroll U.S. elections. The White House even ginned up an executive order (yet to be released) to require companies to list political donations as a condition of bidding for government contracts. Companies could bid but lose out for donating to Republicans. Or they could quit donating to the GOP—Mr. Obama's real aim.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Egyptian husbands will soon be legally allowed to have sex with their dead wives - for up to six hours after their death.
The controversial new law is part of a raft of measures being introduced by the Islamist-dominated parliament.
It will also see the minimum age of marriage lowered to 14 and the ridding of women's rights of getting education and employment.
Al Arabiya has more:
Many members of the newly-elected, and majority Islamist parliament, have been accused of launching attacks against women's rights in the country.
They wish to cancel many, if not most, of the laws that promote women's rights, most notably a law that allows a wife to obtain a divorce without obstructions from her partner. The implementation of the Islamic right to divorce law, also known as the Khula, ended years of hardship and legal battles women would have to endure when trying to obtain a divorce.
Egyptian law grants men the right to terminate a marriage, but grants women the opportunity to end an unhappy or abusive marriages without the obstruction of their partner. Prior to the implementation of the Khula over a decade ago, it could take 10 to 15 years for a woman to be granted a divorce by the courts.
So here we have a promising, principled, high quality conservative about to defeat an 81 year old moderate (Bill Kristol referred to him as an "elderly RINO") and what does the establishment do? Guess. Young Guns, a PAC started by senior staffers of Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, just gave over $100k to Dick Lugar in order to defeat his primary challenger. I would understand if, instead of Mourdock, the challenger was Christine O'Donnell. But I don't understand this. Hopefully this was just an idiotic mistake but given how the establishment systematically assaulted all conservative challengers to Mitt Romney, I'm not so sure. My decision to vote for Gary Johnson for President, instead of just accepting whatever drek the establishment decides to back, feels good already.
Supreme Court Justices Make a Mockery of the Obama Administration's Argument Against the Arizona Immigration Law
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Looking back before Reagan, I think the last Republican President I actually would have liked was Calvin Coolidge, who was elected in 1924, a whopping 88 years ago (even Reagan's 1980 election was a hell of along time ago, a whopping 32 years). So in 88 years, there have been a total of 2 Republican Presidents and only 3 nominees (add Barry Goldwater in 1964 to the mix) who believed in small government, free markets and individual liberty. Being a Republican who believes in those things seems to be a great way to torture yourself. You are constantly tempted into thinking "maybe this time" but more often than not they end up giving you someone you despise but feel you have to support as they are the lesser of two evils. Well, I am done supporting any sort of evil, lesser or otherwise. Alternating the Presidency between lesser evils and full-on evils are how we got into the mess we are in. When the Democrats are in charge, the size and scope of government is increased dramatically (except under Clinton, where he tried to nationalize healthcare but was stopped and then a Gingrich-led Republican Congress kept him in check) and when the Republicans are in charge, government also increases, albeit at a slower rate. We're now to the point where even if we cut all discretionary spending to zero, we will just be balancing the budget, thanks to all the promises of entitlements made in prior administrations (Mary Meeker has a great presentation on how screwed we really are).
Romney is just the last straw for me. I can't really say for certain what I agree with him on or exactly how he differs from how Obama has been governing (as George Soros said, "If it's between Obama and Romney, there isn't all that much difference except for the crowd that they bring with them"). He believes in the individual mandate as a way to reform healthcare despite it being an abrogation of individual liberty. He is going to raise taxes if elected President, he has said as much. I'm not even sure how his foreign policy would be different. So far, all I understand is that he would leave Afghanistan 3 months later than Obama and would only criticize Israel in private. Sure, I'm sure his decisions would be less bad than Obama, his regulations less over-reaching, but that is simply not enough for me. And the worst part of this whole process was that so many conservatives stood on the sidelines, not doing all that they could to keep a progressive from becoming the GOP nominee. Where was Sarah Palin's endorsement? Where was Jim DeMint's? Why weren't they out there campaigning, highlighting Romney's terrible record as Governor? The establishment had clearly decided on a candidate and these so-called iconoclasts didn't want to hurt their own careers. They just wanted to go along to get along. The conservative press was no better. They didn't want to hurt their future access to politicians and/or the White House.
So what now? Ideally, I'd like the Tea Party to get together and form a proper political party and then act somewhat like the Conservative Party of New York. Sometimes they would endorse the Republican, but if they don't agree with the choice, they would field their own candidate. That would act as an incentive for the Republicans to nominate a candidate that is acceptable to conservatives. Having a convention before the Republican primaries even start would probably maximize the Tea Party's impact. Imagine if a conservative nominating convention had come together and endorsed just 1 of the conservatives running for the nomination before Iowa. Instead of the vote being horribly split, allowing the only moderate in the race to win race after race with under 50% of the vote, the story might have been vastly different.
For 2012, I seem to have only two choices. Vote for the Constitution Party candidate or the Libertarian Party candidate. There is clearly a lot of overlap between the two groups (Ron Paul actually endorsed the Constitution Party candidate in 2008) but the Constitution Party is just a bit too anti-immigrant (even legal immigrants) and socially conservative for my taste. Heck, their last nominee, Chuck Baldwin, even said that people "misunderstand Southern slavery". What exactly is there to misunderstand about chattel slavery? Now, it's okay to sympathize with Confederate arguments over states rights, but slavery? That just goes way too far for me. I would find the Confederacy a lot more sympathetic if they had freed the slaves and then fired on Fort Sumter.
That leaves the Libertarian Party. I don't agree with parts of the platform, that's for sure. After watching the towers go down from my midtown office on 9/11, I can't agree with their dovish foreign policy. But on just about everything else, they are right on. Small government and individual liberty permeate every fiber of their being. As long as you aren't directly harming someone else or violation there own rights, you can run your business the way you want. And if you want to smoke or eat a plant in the privacy of your own home, what right does anybody have to say you can't? They even are likely to nominate a pretty good candidate this time around in the former two term Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson. Check out what the Club for Growth wrote about him:
Overall, Governor Johnson has an excellent record on taxes and consistently pushed for tax cuts despite having to deal with the liberal New Mexico Legislature. Late in his second term, the Cato Institute found that Johnson was one of "four governors proposing or enacting the largest income tax rate cuts during their tenures."
In his first term, Governor Johnson proposed reducing the top rate of the state personal income tax from 8.5% to 8%, along with other tax cuts, but was rebuffed by the Legislature. He signed a repeal of a 1993 6-cent-a-gallon tax hike. In 1997, Governor Johnson again proposed to cut the top rate, this time to 8.3%. The legislature proposed to cut it to 8.2%, but offset some of the revenue losses from this and other tax cuts with a cigarette tax increase. According to Cato, Johnson signed the income tax cut, and "vetoed the cigarette tax hike."
Unlike some of the other Republican candidates for President this year and in past election cycles, Gary Johnson never raised the cigarette tax. While the tax on cigarettes has little relevance to economic growth, the fact that he held the line on such taxes demonstrates how strongly he opposes tax hikes. In 1999, he vetoed a 12-cent-a-pack cigarette tax hike —"not because he liked smoking, he says, but because he opposes all tax hikes." New Mexico's cigarette tax rate stayed the same from 1995 to 2003.
In 2001, Governor Johnson vetoed a bill to cut the top income tax rate from 8.2% to 7.7% because it also lowered the dollar amount that the top rate kicked in. His proposal would have cut the income tax by $72 million while the legislature wanted just a $32 million cut and a $30.5 million one-time rebate. Johnson later said he regretted vetoing the legislature's version. Over the course of his two terms, Governor Johnson "cut the state income tax, the gasoline tax, the state capital gains tax, and the unemployment tax."
As a candidate for President, Governor Johnson has indicated his support for a flat tax. He also supports eliminating the corporate income tax. He called the 2010 deal to temporarily extend the Bush tax cuts for two years "not a good one" because it didn't make them permanent.
Governor Johnson was one of the most anti-spending governors in New Mexico history.
Governor Johnson set a state record for vetoes as Governor, earning the title "Governor No" after 742 total vetoes of bills over two terms. In an interview with John Stossel on Fox News, Governor Johnson bragged that one of his veto messages was "I'm vetoing this piece of legislation because it's just way too long and we don't understand what it says."
Governor Johnson looked for private alternatives to the infrastructure spending that too often busts state budgets. For example, Highway 44 between Albuquerque and Farmington was "designed, financed, built, and guaranteed by a private company."
In 2000, he refused to sign a budget and forced a special session with the legislature over funding priorities, a battle which ended with Johnson signing a $3.5 billion dollar budget but vetoing several small spending priorities such as $5 million on expanded Medicaid. He threatened to shut down state government when the legislature fought him and even threatened to let prisoners out of jail if the state couldn't afford to house them.
On federal issues, Governor Johnson says he would have opposed TARP. "Government should not have been involved in this…Why should Goldman and AIG be saved but not Lehman?" He also wants to eliminate government subsidies for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He says he would have voted against the stimulus.
He has said that he would cut the federal budget by 43%, "Start out with the big four - Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and defense," Johnson said in New Hampshire in early 2011.
In 1999, Johnson vetoed a bill which would have raised the minimum wage from $4.25 per hour to $5.65. He also signed a law deregulating New Mexico's electricity market that allowed residential, small-business customers and schools to start shopping for their electricity supplier. He's argued that when a Democrat negotiates with labor unions through collective bargaining it's a "giveaway" instead of a negotiation. He says he doesn't believe in cap-and-trade legislation, saying that "I do not believe that taxing carbon emissions is the way to go forward." Governor Johnson also opposes so-called "Net Neutrality" regulations that would lead to a larger government role in the use of Internet bandwidth.
Pretty good stuff. Gary Johnson will govern this country, the way it should be governed. I know some people will say that I am throwing away my vote or voting for Obama. I am voting FOR small government and individual liberty, how can that be a waste? If the Republicans had really been interested in my vote (as well as the votes of other Republicans like me) they would not have nominated someone who believes that government knows best.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
The morning of April 17, on the tarmac at Reagan National Airport: The Delta (DAL) shuttle to LaGuardia appeared to be No. 287 in line for takeoff. The plane was full, mainly with purposeful-looking middle-aged men in quality suits, fully absorbed in whatever it is that absorbs them.
Suddenly, a commotion: All at once, the passengers contorted themselves to get a view out of the starboard windows.
And there it was. The actual shuttle, the space shuttle Discovery, piggybacking a ride atop a Boeing 747, on the way to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, where it would be retired. A ripple of excitement -- boyish, unvarnished excitement -- moved through the cabin.
It was an entrancing sight, and completely improbable, especially to people like me, who still don't quite understand how a 747 gets into the air, even without a space shuttle as carry-on luggage.
The 747 and the space shuttle made a pass over the Washington Monument and the capital's other grand marble temples, all consecrated to the American idea. They gleamed in the sun as they received a salute from a spacecraft that represented the physical manifestation of American ingenuity and confidence.
Then the 747 left our view. We settled back into our seats, having been elevated for a moment by a magnificent and elegiac vision -- elegiac, because the end of the shuttle program marks the first time since the dawn of the Space Age that the U.S. government has no immediate plan to launch humans into space....
We returned to the terminal, and I watched on CNN as Discovery finished the journey to its nursing home in the Virginia countryside. Only then did the obvious thought cross my mind: Newt is right.
This isn't a thought that has often crossed my mind, especially over the past several months, but on the matter of space exploration and the role it has played in teaching Americans that they are capable of performing exceptional acts of creativity and bravery, Newt Gingrich is exactly right.
So I called him and told him so. He is, from what I'm told, still busy running for president. But he seemed happy to talk about space and the terrible mistake the Obama administration made by canceling the Constellation program, which was meant to get Americans back to the moon.
Gingrich was particularly keen to talk about his Republican rivals, who had savaged him during a debate in Florida for proposing that the U.S. -- mainly with private funding -- establish a colony on the moon.
This is what Mitt Romney said at the time: "If I had a business executive come to me and say they wanted to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, I'd say, 'You're fired.' The idea that corporate America wants to go off to the moon and build a colony there, it may be a big idea, but it's not a good idea."
The small-minded Rick Santorum piled on, saying, "Let's just be honest, we run a $1.2 trillion deficit right now ... and to go out there and promise new programs and big ideas, that's a great thing to maybe get votes, but it's not a responsible thing."
Gingrich told me he was "shocked that night" by Romney and Santorum. "If I had been clever, I would have said to Romney, 'You would have fired Christopher Columbus and John F. Kennedy because they were proposing daring and large things. They were proposing to go out and discover entire new worlds, and they did.'"
He believes that human settlements on the moon, or on Mars, are inevitable. "I can tell you flatly that there will be a human colony on the moon," he said. "It may be Chinese, but there will be a colony on the moon. Anyone who watches the Chinese space program and doesn't think we're facing a competitor is foolish."
The projected assets of the DI Trust Fund decline steadily, fall below 100 percent of annual cost by the beginning of 2013, and continue to decline until the trust fund is exhausted in 2016. The DI Trust Fund does not satisfy the short-range test of financial adequacy because the test requires that the trust fund remain above 100 percent of annual cost throughout the short-range period.
Just as a reminder that Social Security consists of two parts. Retired workers, their families, and survivors of deceased workers receive monthly benefits under the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) program. Disabled workers and their families receive monthly benefits under the Disability Insurance (DI) program. So it is this second fund that is going bankrupt in just 4 years, the OASI fund is supposed to be good until 2035. Though that has some rosy assumptions built in like no recessions. Ever. Which is pretty amazing considering the 3.4% of GDP worth of tax increases coming next year. The real date of bankruptcy could easily occur before 2030. By their own admission, the Social Security Trustees are constantly over-estimating income:
Anyway, back to the DI program. While smaller than the OASI program, it is still a behemoth compared to just about everything else. In 2011, it paid out a total of $132 billion and they estimate that payments will balloon to $201 billion in 2021. That is one hell of a big program to have to bail out and that is probably what the next President will have to do, in one form or another. Could he borrow from the OASI program? Sure. But that will only accelerate the date of its bankruptcy, probably to some point in the middle of the next decade.
The promises the government made to people are bankrupting this country and we can't wait anymore before tackling them. The more we wait the worse it will be. Doesn't it make more sense to reform a retirement program when the beneficiaries affected are 45-55 years old rather than when they are 65 and have no time to alter their finances?
The worst part is that I have no faith in either Obama or Romney to do what is needed. If you want to manage the decline, they are your men. If you want to actually change something for the better, they clearly aren't. Time to pray for a miracle.
Monday, April 23, 2012
multiplier on taxes is 3 (a dollar of tax increases lowers GDP by $3) we could see GDP fall by 10.2%!
Now I know that there is a good chance that as we are looking at the fiscal cliff, that Obama and Congress will kick the can down the road again with some sort of temporary fix, letting the next President and Congress deal with it. But, I also think there is a chance that they aren't able to. How do you kick so many cans down the road at the same time, especially at the height of campaign season with so many people out of their offices and with every move under the microscope. Republicans will be under pressure not to help Obama (especially after being screwed in previous dealings with the President e.g. the Supercommittee) and Democrats will be under pressure to not "cut" taxes again on the "rich". There are also just too many programs to extend with too many moving parts. Think about it even if they decide to keep the Bush tax cuts, that only eliminates about one third of the fiscal cliff, they need to agree on a plethora of other issues to meaningfully minimize the cliff.
I also think that it is only a matter of time before the uncertainty of what is going to happen in 2013 bleeds into this year. Right now, very few people are talking about this and people seem to be spending like normal, but what happens when September rolls around and people see this looming iceberg right in front of them? They will very easily be able to calculate that they will be making thousands less next year than this year. It's just insane.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Egypt on Sunday unilaterally cancelled its agreement to supply Israel with natural gas, in what appeared to be a grave indication of the deteriorating relations between the countries. Cairo communicated its decision to the Israeli government on Sunday afternoon, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported. The news report described the decision as an abrogation of part of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, with profound economic and diplomatic implications. ... The original Egypt-Israel peace treaty, signed in 1979, provided for Egypt to supply Israel with oil. As Egypt’s capacity to do so dwindled, the relevant clause was amended to apply to natural gas. Sunday’s decision represented a unilateral abrogation of an element of the overall treaty, Channel 2 reported, and thus highly significant with respect to Israeli-Egyptian ties. Egyptian-Israeli relations have been in the spotlight ever since the collapse of president Hosni Mubarak’s regime at the start of 2011. Relations with Israel in general, and the gas supply deal in particular, have been criticized at mass protests and by would-be presidents alike.Looks like its time to cut off all aid to Egypt.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Just amazing. She actually apologizes for pro-Israel stances taken in the United States and says that they aren't what this country stands for. WTF? I thought they are exactly what this country stands for. Israel is the most free, most inclusive country the entire region. People who are beheaded in Arab nations get parades thrown for them in Israel. People who are sold into slavery in the Arab world are accepted with open arms in Israel. Essentially the gist of her response is, "oh, we just take money from the Jews, we don't actually do what they want us to do, we're actually on your side."
QUESTION: My name is Ivan. After the electoral campaign starts in the United States – it started some time ago – we noticed here in Tunisia that most of the candidates from the both sides run towards the Zionist lobbies to get their support in the States. And afterwards, once they are elected, they come to show their support for countries like Tunisia and Egypt for a common Tunisian or a common Arab citizen. How would you reassure and gain his trust again once given the fact that you are supporting his enemy as well at the same time?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say you will learn as your democracy develops that a lot of things are said in political campaigns that should not bear a lot of attention. There are comments made that certainly don't reflect the United States, don't reflect our foreign policy, don't reflect who we are as a people. I mean, if you go to the United States, you see mosques everywhere, you see Muslim Americans everywhere. That's the fact. So I would not pay attention to the rhetoric.
Secondly, I would say watch what President Obama says and does. He's our President. He represents all of the United States, and he will be reelected President, so I think that that will be a very clear signal to the entire world as to what our values are and what our President believes. So I think it's a fair question because I know that – I sometimes am a little surprised that people around the world pay more attention to what is said in our political campaigns than most Americans, say, are paying attention. So I think you have to shut out some of the rhetoric and just focus on what we're doing and what we stand for, and particularly what our President represents.
"Obama, it would seem, wants to deny to others what he will not deny to himself. He wants to deny to the children of others what he will not deny to his own children. He wants to amass riches, but he doesn't want you to amass wealth. He doesn't mind private school for his own children, but he minds it for your children. He doesn't mind eating whatever he wants to eat, but he minds what you eat. He doesn't mind taking that 747 one frivolous trip after another, one self-serving fundraising after another, but he minds what you drive and how much fuel you use. And we can go on and on.
"That's the nature of an imperial president. That's the nature of a society in which the president views himself as the sovereign and his wife views him as taking us out of the dark and bringing us into the light, like Jesus if you will. While the rest of us are here to serve. Second-class citizens, got to get skin in the game."
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
But another reason, he continued, is that Ashton has earned "a status as a genuine, open-minded but tough-thinking negotiator who the Iranians trust and are willing to deal with," and one "who can keep the sometimes fractious P5+1 together." At the pre-talks dinner, Ashton "rebuilt a rapport with Jalili," he continued. "During the talks, she ran the show — choreographing the political directors, ensuring their intervention matched her script. As the day progressed, she 'deployed' the Russians and even the Turks to engage with the Iranians and persuade them to engage constructively."
"Finally, in one-to-one negotiations, she headed off unrealistic Iranian demands and got everyone to agree … that a next meeting had to be held; and crucially … that it had to take place quickly so as not to drag this process out more than it needs to," he said. Indeed, the next Iran nuclear talks, scheduled to take place May 23 in Baghdad, is a couple weeks later than the Americans had hoped, diplomats told me. Washington had been hoping for a May 10 meeting date. But Ashton's schedule could not accommodate one before May 23.
Catherine Ashton is no friend of Israel or the Jewish people. And I'm not talking about the kerfuffle over her comments equating the massacre in Toulouse with Gaza. Take a look at the contents of this speech she gave in 2010.
Our aim is a viable State of Palestine in the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza strip, on the basis of the 1967 lines. If there is to be a genuine peace a way must be found to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of Israel and Palestine. And we need a just solution of the refugee issue. The possibility now before us of proximity talks could be the beginning of a new opportunity to find a solution. But we have to be clear: talks not for the sake of talks. We want results and genuine commitment, not a restating of well-known positions. We need a process that leads to outcomes. Recent Israeli decisions to build new housing units in East Jerusalem have endangered and undermined the tentative agreement to begin proximity talks.
The EU position on settlements is clear. Settlements are illegal, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible. A solution that the Israeli Prime Minister says he supports. He is
right, and these talks are urgent. Urgent because I fear for the future. Urgent, because Israel has a popular Prime Minister who owes it to his people to move to the solution he supports. Urgent, because the Palestinians, despite everything, and with your and our support, are willing to engage.
But there are many obstacles. The decision to list cultural and religious sites based in the occupied Palestinian territory as Israeli is counter-productive. The blockade of Gaza is unacceptable. It has created enormous human suffering and greatly harms the potential to move forward.
In other words, she has accepted the Palestinian position as her own and demands that Israel not only give up 100% of the West Bank, Gaza and potentially Jerusalem but also endanger pre-1967 Israel by allowing Palestinian refugees in. She thinks that Israel shouldn't build apartments (that are open to both Jews and Arabs) in "disputed" territories. She doesn't even think that Israel has a right to designate ancient Jewish religious sites as religious sites if they are in the wrong area. For example, the Cave of Machpelah, where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are buried, is the 2nd holiest shrine in Judaism is in Hebron. Someohow, Ashton doesn't believe we have a right to claim it as our own.
And this is the person who is supposed to safeguard Israel by getting Iran to disarm? No wonder the Iranians trust her!
Hungary and Poland are definitely the worst with 69% of Hungarians and 50% of Poles saying that Jews have too much influence in their countries. What's really surprising is how much the Portuguese dislike the Jews. 52% think that Jews try to take advantage of the holocaust, 54% think Jews don't care about anyone but other Jews and 49% think Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians (Remind me to oppose a bailout of Portugal).
Amongst the other western European countries, levels are lower but still at very disturbing levels. 28% of the French think Jews have too much influence in that country. 20% of Germans think so too, which is an amazingly high number considering Jews make up just about 0.1% of that country after they tried to kill them all. 48% of Germans think Israel is committing genocide against Israel, almost the same percentage that think Jews try to take advantage of the holocaust. Makes you think they have no gone full circle and their guilt has turned into bitterness towards their victims. Even in relatively friendly Netherlands, 39% think Israel is committing genocide and 41% understand why people don't like Jews.
I'm so glad I don't live there.
Monday, April 16, 2012
Romney said the GOP must offer its own policies to woo Hispanics, including a "Republican DREAM Act," referring to the legislative proposal favored by Democrats that would offer illegal immigrants a limited path to citizenship, to give Hispanic voters a real choice between parties.
Now contrast that with this statement at the Fox News debate in South Carolina:
ROMNEY: And I have indicated I would veto the DREAM Act if provisions included in that act to say that people who are here illegally, if they go to school here long enough, get a degree here that they can become permanent residents. I think that's a mistake. I think we have to follow the law and insist those who come here illegally, ultimately return home, apply, and get in line with everyone else.
Or this from the Fox News debate in September:
It's amazing that the candidate who continually beat up Perry and Gingrich for being "soft" on immigration is so quickly softening his stance. I wonder what other flip flops are coming.
WALLACE: Governor Romney, I want to continue a conversation that you had with Governor Perry in the last debate.
In Massachusetts, you vetoed legislation to provide interstate tuition rates to the children of illegals. Governor Perry of course signed the Texas Dream Act to do exactly that. But what about Governor Perry's argument that it's better to get these kids an education and to get them jobs than to consign them just to being a burden on the state?
ROMNEY: It's an argument I just can't follow. I've got be honest with you, I don't see how it is that a state like Texas -- to go to the University of Texas, if you're an illegal alien, you get an in-state tuition discount. You know how much that is? That's $22,000 a year.
Four years of college, almost $100,000 discount if you are an illegal alien go to the University of Texas. If you are a United States citizen from any one of the other 49 states, you have to pay $100,000 more. That doesn't make sense to me. And that kind of magnet --
ROMNEY: That kind of magnet draws people into this country to get that education, to get the $100,000 break. It makes no sense.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Big thanks to Politijim for setting this up!
Friday, April 13, 2012
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is allowing U.S. funds to flow to the West Bank and Gaza despite a hold by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., a rare display of executive-branch authority that angered the key lawmaker concerned about protecting her congressional oversight role.
A State Department official said that a letter was delivered on Tuesday to key members of Congress informing them of Clinton's decision to move forward with the $147 million package of the fiscal year 2011 economic support funds for the Palestinian people, despite Ros-Lehtinen's hold. Administrations generally do not disburse funding over the objections of lawmakers on relevant committees....
"The U.S. has given $3 billion in aid to the Palestinians in the last five years alone, and what do we have to show for it?" Ros-Lehtinen said on Wednesday in a statement to National Journal. "Now the administration is sending even more. Where is the accountability for U.S. taxpayer dollars?"
Back in May 2007, Dr. Izzat Atiya, head of Al Azhar University's Department of Hadith, issued a fatwa, or Islamic legal decree, saying that female workers should "breastfeed" their male co-workers in order to work in each other's company. According to the BBC:
He said that if a woman fed a male colleague "directly from her breast" at least five times they would establish a family bond and thus be allowed to be alone together at work. "Breast feeding an adult puts an end to the problem of the private meeting, and does not ban marriage," he ruled. "A woman at work can take off the veil or reveal her hair in front of someone whom she breastfed."
Atiya based his fatwa on a hadith—a documented saying or doing of Islam's prophet Muhammad and subsequently one of Sharia law's sources of jurisprudence. Many Egyptians naturally protested this decree—hadith or no hadith—though no one could really demonstrate how it was un-Islamic; for the fatwa conformed to the strictures of Islamic jurisprudence. Still, due to the protests—not many Egyptian women were eager to "breastfeed" their male coworkers—the fatwa receded, and that was that.
However, because it was never truly rebutted, it kept making comebacks.
For instance, three years later in 2010, a high-ranking Saudi, Sheikh Abdul Mohsin al-Abaican issued a fatwa confirming that "women could give their milk to men to establish a degree of maternal relations and get around a strict religious ban on mixing between unrelated men and women." But unlike Atiya's fatwa, "the man should take the milk, but not directly from the breast of the woman. He should drink it [from a cup] and then [he] becomes a relative of the family, a fact that allows him to come in contact with the women without breaking Islam's rules about mixing."
Now, a report titled "Kuwaiti Activists: Husband Breastfeeding from Wife not Prohibited," published earlier this month by Arabic RT (see also Garaa News) opens by announcing that "The adult breastfeeding fatwa has returned once again to the spotlight, after Kuwaiti Islamic activists supported the adult breastfeeding fatwa issued by the Egyptian Salafi, Sheikh Jamal al-Murakbi [different from Al Azhar's Sheikh Atiya]. This time around, the Kuwaitis examined the adult breastfeeding fatwa in the context of relations between a man and his wife."
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
(h/t Legal Insurrection)
If you look back to 1980, Reagan won for a similar reason, he was really the only conservative running while a gaggle of liberals and moderates split the same vote. George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, Howard Baker, uber-liberal John Anderson and the LBJ-like John Connally were just not viable choices for true conservatives who believed in individual freedom and small government. If 1980 had been like 2012 and Reagan had to compete against the likes of Jesse Helms, Paul Laxalt and Jack Kemp for the nomination against sole moderate George H. W. Bush, Reagan would have been a primary election footnote. The math simply would not have worked.
Why did we have so many conservatives? Because 2010 was just such a banner year that it was easy for the candidates to think that the Tea Party would help propel them to the nomination and the Presidency. People who were obviously not of Presidential timber or gravitas like Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum threw their hats into the ring thinking that if they could just outlast the others, they could do it. There just needs to be a way to structure things in the future so it doesn't happen again or else we will be stuck with the likes of Mitt Romney and his vacuous minions as our "representatives". Maybe a national conservative pre-primary primary to help focus on one candidate? Or a national Tea Party nominating convention before the primary season? I realize this will be difficult as we are all free thinkers and we just might not cooperate if our favored candidate is told to quit the race early in favor of someone else. Plus, let's not forget the inflated egos of the candidates themselves. This might end up being a pipe dream but having some sort of gatekeeper to make sure only one conservative gets through to the actual primary process will probably serve us all a whole lot better than the way things are now, a general election between Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dumbass.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Latino Cartoonist, Who Attempted To Highlight Media Bias in Martin Case, Is Fired From Student Newspaper
Simon Deng: The UN Ignores Arab Acts of Enslavement and Genocide So They Can Continue To Attack Humane Israel
Why are we in the UN again?
I came here as a friend of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. –Like you, I came to protest this third Durban conference which is an effort based on a set of lies and organized by nations who are themselves are guilty of the worst kinds of oppression. Durban III will not help the victims of racism. It will only isolate and target the Jewish state. It is a tool of the enemies of Israel. The UN has lost its way. It's obsession with the Jewish obvious: . For over 50 years, 82 percent of the UN General Assembly emergency meetings have been about condemning one state – Israel. Hitler couldn't have been made happier.
Given all the good Israel does in the world, given its democracy and its striving to follow the highest standards of human rights, even in the face of the most brutal , the most fanatic enemies, the Durban Conference is an outrage. All decent people will know that.
But friends, I come here today to make a different case. I come with what you might at first think is a radical proposition: I come to tell you that there are peoples who suffer from the UN's anti-Israelism even more than the Israelis. I belong to one of those people.
Please hear me out.
By exaggerating Palestinian suffering, and by blaming the Jews for it, the UN has muffled the cries of those who suffer on a far larger scale.
For over fifty years the indigenous black African population of Sudan — Christians and Muslims alike — have been the victims of the brutal, racist Arab Muslim regimes in Khartoum.
In South Sudan, my homeland, about 4 million innocent men, women and children were slaughtered from 1955 to 2005. Seven million were ethnically cleansed and they became the largest refugee group since World War II.
Everybody at the United Nations is concerned about the so-called Palestinian refugees. They dedicated a separate agency to provide for them; this agency, UNWRA, treats them with a special privilege.
Meanwhile, my people, ethnically cleansed, murdered and enslaved, are relatively ignored. The UN even resisted using the word "slavery" to describe the enslavement of tens of thousands of my people. Why? Because slavery is a crime against humanity. When Khartoum insisted that the term "abducted people" be substituted for the word "slaves," the UN, caved to Arab pressure and agreed. Try that in America. Try calling Frederick Douglas an "abducted person." It's outrageous.
The UN refuses to tell the world the truth about the root causes of Sudan's conflicts. Take Darfur, for example. Who knows really what is happening in Darfur? It is not a "tribal conflict." It is a conflict rooted in Arab colonialism, as it has typically been practiced in Africa. In Darfur, a region in the Western Sudan everybody is Muslim. Everybody is Muslim because the Arabs invaded the North of Africa and converted the indigenous people to Islam. The Darfuris are not Muslim enough in the eyes of the Islamists in Khartoum. And they also do not want to be Arabized. They like their own African languages and dress and customs. They resist Arabization. The Arab response is genocide! But nobody tells the truth about Darfur.
In the Nuba Mountains, another region of Sudan, genocide is taking place as I speak. The regime is targeting the black Africans – Muslims and Christians. This happened to the Nuba people before. In the 1990's hundreds of thousands were murdered; a large number of women were raped; children were abducted and forcibly converted to Islam. Nobody at the UN told the truth about the Nuba Mountains.
Do you see a massive amount of outrage and reports and protests about this coming out of the UN or Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International? Do you hear them condemn Arab anti-black racism?
Look at the pages of the New York Times, or the record of the UN condemnations, What you will find is "Israeli crimes" and Palestinian suffering. My people have been driven off the front pages by exaggerations of Palestinian suffering. Why? Because what Israel does is portrayed as a Western sin that we are all supposed to address. The truth is that the West commits a real sin when it abandons us: the actual victims of non-Westerns. Our suffering has become almost tabu.
Let me return to the topic of slavery. Because, while there are issues that divide public opinion, we can all agree that for one man to own another is a sin, and it should be stopped. The Americans tore themselves apart over the issue of slavery.
Chattel slavery, a centuries-long practice in Sudan, was revived as a tool of war in the early 90s. The Islamist regime in Khartoum declared jihad and therefore legitimized taking slaves as war booty. Arab militias were sent to destroy Southern villages and were encouraged to take African women and children as slaves. We believe that up to 200,000 were kidnapped, brought to the North and sold into slavery.
I am a living proof of this crime against humanity.
I don't like talking about my experience as a slave, but I do it because it is important for the world to know that slavery exists even today.
I was only nine years old when I was made a slave. An Arab neighbor named Abdullahi tricked me into following him to a boat destined to Northern Sudan where he gave me as a gift to his family. For three and a half years I was their slave going through something that no child should ever go through: brutal beatings and humiliations; working around the clock; sleeping on the ground with animals; eating the family's left-overs. During those three years I was unable to say the word "no." All I could say was "yes," "yes," "yes."
The United Nations knew about the brutal enslavement of South Sudanese by the Arabs from the early days of the conflict.. Human Right Watch issued extensive reports about the issue. These reports gathered dust on UN shelves. It took UNICEF – under pressure from the Jewish –led American Anti-Slavery Group — sixteen years to acknowledge what was happening.
As soon as the Sudanese government and the Arab League pressured UNICEF, the UN agency backtracked, and proceeded to criticize the NGOs that worked to liberate Sudanese slaves. In 1998, Dr. Gaspar Biro, the courageous UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan who reported on slavery, resigned in protest of the UN's actions.
My friends, today, tens of thousands of black South Sudanese still serve their masters in the North and the UN is silent about that. It would offend the OIC and the Arab League. So much for "human rights for everybody.
As a former slave and a victim of the worst sort of racism, allow me to explain why I think calling Israel a racist state is absolutely absurd and immoral.
I have been to Israel five times visiting the Sudanese refugees. Let me tell you how they ended up there. These are Sudanese who fled Arab racism, hoping to find shelter in Egypt. They were wrong. In 2005, the refugees camped outside the offices of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Cairo looking for mercy. Instead, the United "do-nothing" Nations closed their doors and left the helpless women and children at the mercy of the ruthless Egyptian security forces who brutally slaughtered at least twenty six of them.
After this event the Sudanese realized that the Arab racism is the same, whether it is in Khartoum or in Cairo. So they continued looking for a shelter and they found it in Israel. Dodging the bullets of the Egyptian border patrols and walking for very long distances, the refugees' only hope was to reach Israel's side of the fence, where they knew they would be safe.
The fact that even Darfuris, who are Muslims chose Israel above all the other Arab-Muslim states of the area, speaks volumes.. Israel is racist? Israel is against the Muslim world? Ask the thousands of black Muslim Darfuris who found shelter inside the Jewish state!
When I asked the refugees about the treatment they receive in Israel, their response was absolutely the opposite of what the United Nations alleges. They were welcomed and treated like human beings. Compared to the situation in Egypt, they described their lives in Israel as "heaven." No-one called them "abid" – an Arabic word for slaves often used in Sudan, Egypt and other Arab nations.
Is Israel a racist state? To my people, the people who know racism – the answer is absolutely not. It is a state of people of the colors of the rainbow. Jews themselves come in all colors, even black. I met with Ethiopian Jews in Israel. Beautiful black Jews. And Israel is a state that has taken my own black people in, rescued them, and helped them.
So, yes … my claim may be a radical claim: I claim that the victims who suffer most from the UN anti-Israel policy are not the Israelis but all those people who have to be ignored in order for the UN to tell its big lie against Israel: all those victims of non Western abuse, especially all those victims of Arab/Muslim abuse: women, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, homosexuals, in the Arab/Muslim world. These are the biggest victims of UN Israel hatred.
So far, the Israelis have only been cursed by the UN. But look at the situation of the Copts, the Christians in Iraq, and Nigeria, and Iran, Hindus and Bahais who suffer from Islamic oppression. The Sikhs. We all suffer. We are ignored, we are abandoned. So that the big lie against the Jews can go forward.
Before I conclude let me tell you a story that reflects a special connection that the people of South Sudan feel towards Israel. In 2005, I visited one of the refugee camps in South Sudan. I met a twelve year old girl who told me about her dream. In a dream she wanted to go to school to become a doctor. And then, she wanted to visit Israel. I was shocked and numb. How could this refugee girl who spent most of her life in the North know about Israel? When I asked why she wanted to visit Israel, she said: "This is our people." I was never able to find an answer to my question.
On July 9 of 2011 South Sudan has become an independent state. We achieved freedom despite the opposition from the Arab world and despite the United Nations whose General Secretary Bi Ki Moon lobbied for the unity of Sudan. For South Sudanese, that would mean continuation of oppression, brutalization, demonization, Islamization , Arabization and enslavement.
In a similar manner, the Arabs continue denying Jews their right for sovereignty in their homeland and the Durban III conference continues denying Israel's legitimacy.
As a friend of Israel, I salute the President of the Republic of South Sudan Salva Kiir who had the courage to publicly state that South Sudan embassy in Israel will be built— not in Tel Aviv, but in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people.
I also want to assure you that my own new nation, and all of its people, will oppose racist forums like the Durban III. We will oppose it by simply telling the truth.
My Jewish friends taught me something I now want to say with you .
AM YISROEL CHAI!
The people of Israel lives!