Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Adam Lambert's A Patriot, Bill O'Reilly's A Pinhead


As a fan of Bill O'Reilly's, I'm not shy about "letting him have it," when I disagree with him. In that spirit, I sent him the following email:


Bill, you're a pinhead for calling Adam Lambert "this gay guy." There's much more to him, so stop defining him by one "over the top" performance. The fascinating thing about "this guy" is the thousands of older women who turn into screaming "teeny-boppers" when they see him perform! I think Ms. Walters is secretly a "Glambert," as they call themselves.


I kept it pithy, and tried to avoid bloviating, as any fan of "the Factor" knows to do, when emailing the show. However, I've been wanting to write about Adam for some time, well before the current AMA "controversy." O'Reilly's disparaging comments about him, while interviewing Barbara Walters last Wednesday night, seems to have given me the final bit of motivation I needed to actually write this. It's also a good starting point, given Bill's misinformed attitude, and how influential he is.


I am not, and have never been a fan of "American Idol." I enjoy watching the early "tryouts," for the mostly awful performances, on occasion, but I never tuned in to watch a specific performer, after they "get to Hollywood." Not to take anything from the talented people who have been on the show, but it all seemed a bit generic, to my taste. Most of what I know about them, and the show, comes from Page Six of the NY Post.


That all changed with a guy named Adam Lambert, and his version of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." My GF saw it, and showed it to me on "Youtube," and I was blown away. After that, I started watching his performances almost every week, leading up to his second place finish in the season finale. There was already some controversy around him at this point, because he was clearly the best performer, yet he didn't win. Not being an "Idol" fan myself, I'll take Simon Cowell's word that Adam is the closest thing to what the show has searched for, in it's entire history.


Adam was bigger than "Idol," and Simon knew it. He was also that most unusual of "phenomenons," one who genuinely cared about the fans who gave him that status. My GF joined Adam's "official" fan site, and became one of his legions of "Glamberts." I saw, firsthand, the effect he has on these fans, and it's a good thing. He encouraged them to give to charity, and they responded overwhelmingly. He selected a long list of specific arts classes and programs that were in need of funding, from across the nation. It ranged from basic art supplies for an elementary school, to synthisizers for HS music classes, among other things. Every project was fully funded by people donating as "fans of Adam Lambert," and it was the most money ever raised from an "AI" contestant ($250,000 and counting: you can still donate at this link).


That's the first reason why I call Adam Lambert a patriot, which brings me back to Bill O'Reilly. The title of this column is a play on the title of one of his regular segments, "Pinheads and Patriots," where he basically cites a daily example of each. Often, he commends people as patriots for using their fame for charitable causes. Perhaps Adam wasn't on O'Reilly's "radar" yet, but he was on mine, and much of America's.


This brings me to the second reason I consider Adam a patriot: He's a true American success story. He's "put in his dues" for years, trying to get "the big break," if you'll pardon the cliches. No one should judge his entire career by his performance on the American Music Awards. It was not his best vocal performance, and I'll take his word that the "risque" elements were a "spur of the moment" idea. Both seem attributable to the anxiety and excitement of his first "post-Idol" national TV apperance. I've seen him perform, and know that his talent will overcome any adversity caused by the AMA show.


He's also a class act. My GF follows all things Adam, so I hear all about him, all the time. I've also watched most of his interviews, and I've never heard the man put down any of his multiple critics. He also goes out of his way to be accessible to his fans, both at live shows, and online. These are among the reasons that his fan support runs so deep, and I'm proud to include myself in that group. He's an all-around "patriot," in my book.


I'm also a huge fan of O'Reilly's, which is why I got so ticked off at his comments about Adam. I'll cite three comments he made: "That gay guy," "He trades on that," and the third was a reference to "send(ing) him to Iran." Bill, you have to know you came off like a pinhead with those first two, in the interview with Ms. Walters. You didn't give Ms. Walters a chance to say anything interesting about him, by setting up a stereotypical "straw man" for her to fight. Low blow, sir.


I think it was at the end of a story about Iran, when Bill made a quip that (I'm paraphrasing) "We should send that guy (Adam, who was discussed earlier) to Iran." O'Reilly gets a "double pinhead" for this one, because I had to do a theoretical psychoanalysis of him, to try to make it sound not offensive to the fans on Adam's official website (link):


Right now, Iran is having a liberal revolution, and people are dying in the streets for much lesser "offenses" than being homosexual. I suspect that, like most things American, Adam probably has a huge "underground" following in that nation. O'Reilly, for all of his apparent coarseness, is a pretty smart guy, so I think he knows this.


Adam symbolizes "gay culture" to O'Reilly, though that is a misinformed view. To his eye, our culture already accepts gays, while Pres. Ahmedinejad claims "there are no homosexuals" in Iran. In that context, I can see why he would want to "send" Adam to Iran. Perhaps such an "in your face" display, as in the AMA performance, is what Iran's gay population needs to rally around, to finally be heard.


You see, most of them interpreted what Bill said as wanting Adam put to death. That's not an unreasonable interpretation, either. I know, it was an off-the-cuff remark, but what were you thinking, Mr. O'Reilly? You frequently call Ann Coulter a "bomb thrower" on your show, and you make quips like this? Luckily, Adam doesn't exactly "trade on" his sexual orientation, having declined offers to become a gay spokesman. This gets back to the "class" factor. Adam didn't try to use the "gay outrage" card against O'Reilly. In fact, he hasn't even mentioned it, even when he was on "the View" (from what I hear: I haven't seen it yet).


Bill O'Reilly is known for his abrasive style, and his pomposity. I like that about him, esecially when I agree with him! Of course, when I can expose his "abrasive pomposity" as ill-considered, I'm gonna take a shot at him over it. When he unfairly attacks someone else that I am fan of, he gets both barrels. (Note: This column is "both barrels" of the "shot." I'm writing, here, not plotting!) I hope Mr. O'Reilly has had time to do more research on Mr. Lambert, and treat him in a truly "No-Spin" way.


Until then, everybody should listen to Adam Lambert's debut disc! Go beyond the controversy, and listen to him yourself. A good place to start is the Adam Official website. I also have to give a "shout out" to the fans there, who were a big help for me to discuss these issues with. They're a great community, supporting a great artist!




Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Swiss Culture War: Ban On Minarets




Well, this is an interesting story. The Swiss people, the ones who reflexively think of Americans as "bigots" or "racists," have just voted to ban "minarets" from being constructed on Mosques in Switzerland. Quel surprise! The polls said it only had 37% support, but it appears that people lied to the pollsters.


We've been here before, and to see Switzerland going through this is dismaying. In a free society, any religion can build any place of worship they like, subject to secular/cultural legal codes. The cultural aspect is the most chafing, because people are attached to the architecture of their habitat. Some may see minarets as a physical threat to that part of their culture.


Here in the US, there is no law against minarets. Muslims are free to build Mosques in any way they want, and they have. They have also adapted other buildings to this use, as all religions have done in this country. I understand that the Swiss don't have as diverse a population as the US, but their government acts as if it is the "perfectly secular state."


That's why this "news flash" is important. The opposition isn't from zealous Christians, but from gay activists, atheists, and women's rights advocates. The Swiss are re-learning that they still need the support of the people, which they don't have. The EU is going to step in and "fix" this, supposedly.


They're in for a rough ride. Whether the EU bureaucrats prevail, reversing the minaret ban, or not, this is part of a larger cultural wave throughout Europe. If we are free, we have to assert freedom for all who live under our laws. Let Muslims build mosques, but forbid sharia law, except where it comports with Western civil and criminal law.


I disagree with Switzerland's ban on minarets, but understand why they voted for it. There are larger issues at work here, and the Swiss people are "sending a message," politically. Was it "bigoted," "racist," or "anti-Islamic?" Or was it "pro-secular Swiss?" The answer lies in the cultural realm. Gay, atheist, and women's rights advocates are in confrontation with Islamic culture. This is just the latest front in that confrontation.


Would Switzerland allow a Christian group to build several huge new churches, in the style of St. Peter's Bascilica in Rome? Probably not, and not just because there is no demand for it. Europe sees such displays of religious-inspired architecture as a relic of the past. They associate it with corruption and oppression, which is precisely why they voted against the minarets.


Here is the reporting I found on this:





Swiss Ban Mosque Minarets in Surprise Vote - ABC News


Swiss Approve Constitutional Ban on Mosque Minarets ...


Swiss voters back minaret ban: report Reuters

Monday, November 30, 2009

Speaking Truth To Power: Global Warming Science Fraud Exposed

Did anyone else hear about the scientists caught planting Bobcat/Lynx fur, to fudge results determining it's range area? I doubt it, but it happened, a few years back. They said they were actually "testing" the lab that they sent the fur to, because "biologists were skeptical that the lab would produce accurate results; they were suspicious of test results, ironically enough, because another lab had found more lynx than the biologists thought was likely." Really. A similar problem is happening in the global warming community. Apparently, the evidence has indicated that temperatures aren't predictable by any of the "global warming" models. Perhaps they were doing an "unauthorized" data entry to check that other "scientists" weren't cheating on their results.


"What is he talking about?" you might ask. I'm referring to the recently leaked emails between researchers from the University Of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, working with the UN IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change). It seems that someone allegedly hacked into the university's system, and stole a huge amount of data, including emails that expose fraudulent reporting of climate records. The scientists involved have admitted they wrote the emails: one of them seeks to redefine the meaning of the word "trick" for his actions. He may be from England, but he definitely went to the "Bill Clinton" school of legal defense.


So now there's evidence of fraud in the science behind global warming theories. How is any rational person going to accept all of the "cures" that the government wants to thrust on taxpayers, at considerable expense? It's interesting that some scientists complained of "political" interference over global warming, when Bush was in office. Could it have been that the Bush Administration was suspicious of the scientists' objectivity? If so, it appears to be justified. This is why the "lame stream media" are ignoring this story. "Objective" reporting is shunned, in favor of "ideological" reporting, and story selection.


Furthering that goal, the one major cable news network (FOX) that has run this story is called "biased," in the face of plain facts. It's almost funny, that the "LSM" want the public to get important news from another outlet. Did they learn nothing from the ACORN corruption story, which keeps expanding? Al Gore's movie was just the tip of the iceberg, regarding the global warming science fraud. These emails show how widespread it is, in the scientific community. Perhaps we can let some unbiased scientists examine this theory.


The opposition is led by Rush Limbaugh: "Do you know that the Fox News Channel is the only television outlet to report on ClimateGate? The rest of the media is totally ignoring it. The Washington Post is actually attacking the "deniers." This whole hoax has been fully exposed. These people were hiding data. They were hiding data from a Freedom of Information request. There are e-mails from the guy that ran the place, this university in England, to all of his contributors and all the members of his committee: "Don't release any information. I'll delete it rather than release it, if I have to." They made up numbers. They totally ignored numbers that disproved global cooling. This is a giant, giant, giant scam. It deserves a huge investigation. And Obama, if he was worth his salt, would be the first one demanding it because this has been allowed to hijack an international agenda that is oriented toward further fleecing of the United States. That's all it is."


Meanwhile, our president is going to Copenhagen to assert that the US is "committed" to action on climate change. He's talking out of his ass, and everyone in the world knows it. It's unfortunate, but he has to say these things for posterity, in case he actually gets his "cap and tax" policy through the congress. That's not gonna happen, at least in an election year. This story is a huge "nail in that coffin," so to speak. A president who says he will "rely on science" for policy decisions will be undermined when the scientists lie.


Here's an excerpt from Politico.com: "I think we go into Copenhagen with a very, very strong hand," said one of the officials. "We have done I think more than anyone could have expected us to do in a short time."


The targets, said Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ed Markey will demonstrate U.S. leadership on the climate issue and encourage other nations to make firm commitments.


"The Obama administration will be able to say to the world we are no longer going to preach temperance from a bar stool. We are now ready to begin to make a commitment," he told POLITICO.


I also liked this quote, from a supporter of "climate-change" legislation, regarding the Copenhagen meeting: "They're looking for that assurance from the president himself that this is going to get done," said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists. I'm always concerned about groups with the word "concerned" in their names, but it looks like they're "looking for love in all the wrong places," if they think the President's "assurance" means anything. His word is as good as dirt, starting with his promise of closing GITMO, continuing with his promise to end "don't ask, don't tell," and his repeated blown deadlines on passing health care reform, or making a decision on troop committments in Afghanistan.


These are just the top few of a long list. It looks as if President Obama IS preaching temperance from a bar stool. If anything, his actions have harmed the nation. "9/11" trials in NYC? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, SIR! Promoting a highly divisive (and expensive) "health care" program, in the deepest recession since the early '80's, while we're in a two-front war? Now, you want us to pay for another liberal scam? I don't think so.


The public is solidly against higher energy taxes, which is what "cap and trade" promises to do. Now that there is evidence of it being based on fraudulent science, public opposition in the US will increase, regardless of media attempts to "shovel it under the rug." Energy conservation should be a high priority, but it will be driven by economics, not government regulation. If China and India won't restrict their economic growth for the global warming theory, don't expect the US to.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ad Wars: Take A Page From Bush's Social Security Opponents


Some enterprising GOP media type ought to resurrect those commercials against Bush's Social Security reform. If you don't remember, they had a construction crew showing up at a woman's house, saying they were there to fix the sink. As she protests, they start tearing her house down, with big machines. All that has to be done is switch the tagline to "health care reform."


Since "Harry and Louise" have "switched sides," in ads supporting the current health care bill, why can't it's opponents steal an idea from the people who opposed Bush's Soc Sec reforms? All's fair in the political ad wars, and in this case, the message fits perfectly. Maybe they can add a guy giving the woman the bill, at the end. Just a quick thought...




Sunday, November 01, 2009

Scozzafava Drops Out of NY 23 Congressional Race, Boosting Hoffman

UPDATED 11/01: "Republican Endorses Democrat in NY 's 23rd CD Race"

It looks like Dede Scozzafava took LEAVWORLD's advice, and dropped out of the special election in NY's 23rd Congressional District. She did the right thing, and deserves credit for doing so. I'm sure it was political pressure that did it, and not anything I wrote. Palin was the first "big name" to endorse the Conservative candidate, Hoffman, and several high-level GOP pols followed her lead. Now, it's a two-way race, with liberal against conservative policies. I can already hear the libs citing this as "the triumph of the Neanderthals" if Hoffman wins. Nothing could br further from the truth. Conservatives are often thoughtful, and principled. The problem all along is that the GOP has drifted away from conservative principles, though the drift could be described as "thoughtful."

It looks as if the "tea party" movement has some legs. What does one call the new generation of conservatives? "Neo-neo conservatives?"Maybe "the Sleeping Conservative Giant That Pres. Obama Woke Up? Whatever it is, it's not really new. It's people getting involved in politics, and it can go in either political direction. I predicted the NYS GOP losses of '06 in a four-part series of columns, before the election. (
link) I feel a similar vibe now, and the pendulum is swinging in the other direction.

Let's go at it, toe to toe, and see who wins. Obama has held fundraisers for the Democrat, and the Conservative candidate "matched up" better against him than the Republican did. It's definitely an interesting election, with both national and local political implications. Stay tuned!


PS: All things considered, Hoffman should run again, next year. I suspect he would win a GOP primary.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Double Jeopardy In Jeopardy: Obama Signs Hate Crime Expansion

Crossposted from Stop The ACLU:


by Hans Bader


Today, President Obama signed into law a bill that will dramatically expand the federal hate crimes law, enabling prosecutors to bring federal charges against people who were previously found innocent of hate crimes in state court. The hate-crimes provisions were added to a defense appropriations bill, which the President signed in a White House signing ceremony this afternoon at around 2:30 p.m.


The new law dramatically expands the reach of the existing federal hate-crimes law that was already on the books, by getting rid of the requirement that a hate crime affect federally-protected activities to be prosecuted in federal court. It also adds sexual orientation, gender, disability, and transgender characteristics to a law that was originally designed to protect racial minorities.


The hate-crimes bill was opposed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for allowing the reprosecution in federal court of people found innocent in state court. The Commission called the new law a “menace to civil liberties” because it is an end-run around constitutional guarantees against double-jeopardy.


As explained earlier, the bill’s sponsors seek to use it to reprosecute people in federal court who have already been found innocent of hate crimes in state court, taking advantage of the “dual sovereignty” loophole in constitutional protections against double jeopardy. Civil libertarians like Nat Hentoff and Wendy Kaminer thus object to the bill on double-jeopardy grounds. Backers of the bill, like the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and Commissioner Michael Yaki, supported the bill partly as a way of prosecuting all over again people who were either found not guilty, or who were convicted only of ordinary crimes, while being acquitted of hate-crimes (like the teenagers acquitted of hate crimes in the Shenandoah incident, and the California case of Joseph Silva and George Silva).


Such re-prosecutions can be an enormous waste of money, and grossly unfair to the people who are reprosecuted, driving them into bankruptcy to pay lawyers to represent them all over again when they have already been found innocent in state court after an expensive trial. When the government re-prosecutes someone, it gains an enormous tactical advantage over the defendant from using the prior prosecution as a test-run, even if the defendant is innocent — making a guilty verdict possible even if the defendant is in fact innocent.


The bill also raises serious constitutional federalism issues under the Supreme Court’s Morrison decision.


Passage of the bill was aided by lousy reporting, in which some journalists, like Reuters, depicted the bill as simply a harmless measure to add sexual orientation to the list of protected characteristics covered by the federal hate-crimes law, ignoring its many other, far more important (and dangerous) changes to federal hate-crimes law.


Many supporters of the hate crimes bill want to allow those found innocent to be reprosecuted in federal court. As one supporter put it, “the federal hate crimes bill serves as a vital safety valve in case a state hate-crimes prosecution fails.” The claim that the justice system has “failed” when a jury returns a not-guilty verdict is truly scary and contrary to the constitutional presumption of innocence and the right to trial by jury.
But it is a view widely shared among supporters of the hate-crimes bill. Syndicated columnist Jacob Sullum pointed out in 1998 that Janet Reno, Clinton’s Attorney General, backed the bill as a way of providing a federal “forum” for prosecution if prosecutors fail to obtain a conviction “in the state court.”


Supporters of the hate crimes bill also see it as a way to prosecute people even in cases where the evidence is so weak that state prosecutors have decided not to prosecute. Attorney General Eric Holder has pushed for the hate crimes bill as a way to prosecute people whom state prosecutors refuse to prosecute because of a lack of evidence. To justify broadening federal hate-crimes law, he cited three examples where state prosecutors refused to prosecute, citing a lack of evidence. In each, a federal jury acquitted the accused, finding them not guilty.


As law professor Gail Heriot notes, “Some have even called for federal prosecution of the Duke University lacrosse team members–despite strong evidence of their innocence.” Advocates of a broader federal hate-crimes law have pointed to the Duke lacrosse case as an example of where federal prosecutors should have stepped in and prosecuted the accused players — even though the state prosecution in that case was dropped because the defendants were actually innocent, as North Carolina’s attorney general conceded (and DNA evidence showed), and were falsely accused of rape by a woman with a history of violence (including trying to run over someone with her car) and making false accusations.


The Obama administration has long supported the hate-crimes bill, which it used as a wedge issue in the 2008 election.


As law professors like Jonathan Turley and Eugene Volokh have noted, the Obama administration recently urged restrictions on hate speech at the United Nations, joining in calls to treat such speech, protected by the First Amendment under Supreme Court rulings, as a human-rights violation in violation of international human-rights treaties. In the U.S., college hate-speech codes have been used to discipline students for criticizing affirmative action, discussing the racial implications of the death penalty, and calling homosexuality immoral. In Canada and Britain, hate speech laws have been used to punish religious criticism of Scientology and homosexuality.

Friday, October 23, 2009

NYS GOP Runs "WFP" Candidate in Congressional "Special Election," Snubbing Conservative Hoffman


Newt Gingrich should know better (link), but it's not surprising that some national and NY State Republicans have chosen Dede Scozzafava as the GOP candidate in NY's 23rd Congressional District, forcing a three-way race with a strong showing from the Conservative Party candidate, Doug Hoffman. Ms.Scozzafava is an embarassment. She supports "card check" legislation, and was endorsed by the Working Families Party, the political arm of ACORN. Maybe this election could be decided by who can go out and get the most people to sign cards, instead of voting.


Interestingly enough, ACORN's political partner, the Service Employees International Union, has endorsed the Democrat, Bill Owens. While it looks like the lefties are "hedging their bets," there's also this Politico story (link): "'Chairman Steele hasn’t put up a cent, not even the obligatory $5,000,' said a New York-based GOP operative. 'There’s been no support from the RNC. Democrats are going all out for this race. Everyone’s in the same direction.' ...So far, the National Republican Congressional Committee has been Scozzafava’s only lifeline, spending $355,000 for ads on her behalf." I'm on Steele's side on this one.


Obama held a fundraiser for Owens in NYC (link), and "The Club for Growth has spent $146,000 with its own anti-Scozzafava ads — and has committed an additional $100,000 to the race," according to the Politico story. So she's being outspent from both the left and the right...this is a bad thing? It looks like the NYS GOP, and the NRCC are learning an age-old lesson of politics: when your party is a zombie-like mirror of the other party, your party is already dead. People are being driven to the right, as shown by Hoffman's numbers. Scozzafava should drop out, and endorse the election of a Conservative to Congress from the 23rd District of New York!


Barring that, the Democrat will probably win. I don't live in that district, so I don't have a vote. As a NY'er, though, I have an interest in my state's congressional delegation, as a whole. That's why I'm hoping against the odds that Doug Hoffman wins this special election. Even if he doesn't win, but beats Scozzofava, the NYS GOP leadership needs to step aside for some new blood. We just need at least 50 more "Hoffmans" to step up to the plate of NY politics.


There is a signifigant conservative presence in NY, both the city and the state. These are known as "disaffected voters," who don't bother voting, when there are no candidates that have conservative principles. Notice that Peter King remains in office because of his conservative voting record, and I'd like to see Mr. Hoffman become his peer.


PS: Since the first draft of this column, Sarah Palin has endorsed Hoffman. This race will be talked about alot before election day, and I'm just catching up. Here are some additional links:


Michelle Malkin on Scozzafava


Glenn Beck interviews Hoffman transcript



DougHoffmanforcongress.com

Rahm Emmanuel: The Most Dangerous Man In America?


This guy's going to destroy Obama's presidency, and tear our nation apart. Where is TIME magazine on this story?





Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why the White House Will Lose It's "War on Fox News"


White House Communications Director Anita Dunn said this on CNN: "If you were a Fox News viewer in the fall election, what you would have seen would have been that the biggest stories and biggest threats facing America were a guy named Bill Ayers and something called ACORN. I mean, the reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party. And it's not ideological. I mean, obviously there are many commentators who are conservative, liberal centrist, and everybody understands that. What I think is fair to say about Fox and certainly the way we view it is really that it is more a wing of the Republican Party."


Wow. I was a FNC viewer in the fall election, and I remember it a bit differently. McCain was routinely criticized, especially his actions during the financial collapse. Obama was covered as the untested "phenomenon." Of course he received a higher level of scrutiny, on Fox, at least. He was much more of an unknown. He was heavily criticized by Sean Hannity, but got a fair interview from Bill O'Reilly. The biggest threats to America FNC reported on were the global financial crisis, Al Queda, Iran, and North Korea. ACORN turned out to be a bigger scandal than FNC was reporting at the time, so maybe Ms. Dunn shouldn't have brought them up in her statement.


Speaking of which, wasn't much of the rest of the "elite" media getting spoofed for being "in Obama's pocket" on all the comedy shows? What if we "flip" Director Dunn's statement: "If you were a MSNBC viewer in the fall election, what you would have seen would have been that the biggest stories and biggest threats facing America were a guy named Rush Limbaugh and something called FOX NEWS. I mean, the reality of it is that MSNBC often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Democratic Party. And it's not ideological. I mean, obviously there are many commentators who are liberal, conservative centrist, and everybody understands that. What I think is fair to say about MSNBC and certainly the way we view it is really that it is more a wing of the Democratic Party." Wow, again. If I was president, I would sooner hire Dennis Miller as my White House Spokesman than let any of my staff say that (whether I believed it or not)!


It looks to me as if the WH is "projecting" their relationship with MSNBC onto Fox News. If I remember correctly, Pres. Bush had a few "problems" with FNC during his WH tenure. When FNC, or even Limbaugh would criticize the administration, they sent out people to respond. They also sent people to MSNBC, CNN, and the rest of the major news outlets, on a regular basis. This administration's "boycotting" of FNC is a bad move, politically. If this kind of statement is what they're putting out to the rest of the media, they're shooting themselves in the foot.


This is part of a bigger picture, of course. There is revived talk about restricting speech on talk radio, and the internet. At this point, I'm starting to see a pattern to this administration: lot's of talk, and no action. I doubt they'll have the ability to stay off of Fox News Channel until the end of the year (as they've advised FNC), much less bring back the "fairness doctrine." FNC is not going to stop covering the news, whether the Obama Administration gives them any interviews or not. There are too many "big news" things on the OA's plate for them to deal with the whole "free/critical speech" issue. As it is, it looks like they're farming it out to people who think nothing of insulting millions of people, in an official capacity. Many FNC viewers happen to be some of the same people who are protesting in opposition to his health care initiative, which makes the statement seem even more political.


All administrations take media criticism, and they usually have to respond to it, sooner or later. Eventually, others in the media will ask the questions being asked now on FNC, as happened during the campaign. Remember that? George Stephanopoulos got criticized for asking Obama a question about Bill Ayres. It was said that he got the question from Sean Hannity, and maybe he did. So? It was a legitimate question, to such an "unknown" candidate. The media "backlash" to the question is more telling than Obama's actual response to the question. These media people know how to stick to the script: Demonize Fox, Rush, Hannity, Beck, and all of the people that listen to them.


I'm OK with that. As a conservative, I'm proud to be "demonized" for who I listen to (and used to it). MSNBC and CNN are FNC's competitors, and they're getting their clock's cleaned in the ratings, so it's understandable. Watching the administration "echo" these criticisms is fine, too. They're not exactly "making friends and gaining influence" with this tactic, while the "opposition" is gaining exposure, and growing. It's taking more "political capital" for the OA to get anything done, every passing day, and the days turn to weeks, then months. Let's see how long until an administration official shows up on Fox again. My money's on "before the new year."


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Pakistan Orders Major Offensive: Will Obama Match it on the Afghan Side?

Something has been bothering me about our situation in Afghanistan. It seems that Pakistan is actually engaging Al Queda and the Taliban, and we're debating a "surge" in troops on the Afghan side of the border. It's a very complicated situation, but in simple terms, here's what it looks like: Pakistan is actually "stepping up to the plate" in this front of the war, and perhaps driving some of the foreign fighters back into Waziristan.(link)


Pakistan has largely beaten back a Taliban insurgency in the northwestern Swat Valley in recent months and intelligence officials say the country is preparing a major offensive against al-Qaida and the Taliban in South Waziristan. The military has been blockading the region and seeking to encourage other tribes to rise up against Hakimullah.


So what's happening on the Afghan side of the Waziristan border? (link)


"I don't foresee the return of the Taliban. Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling," Jones said. "The al-Qaida presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies."


In fact, Jones numbers may be correct, but he doesn't mention the numbers of Al Quaeda across the Waziristan border who do have the "ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies." Osama escaped from Afghanistan into Pakistan after the battle of Tora Bora, according to many accounts (JF Kerry's, among other notables). Waziristan is the area he actually escaped to (link), and the Pakistani military is finally moving in that direction. This should be encouraging to the US, but our current administration is waffling on "stepping it up" on the Afghan side of the border.


Then there's this, also from the second link:


Administration officials have tried, instead, to focus some of the debate on Pakistan, noting that Islamabad has stepped up its campaign against militants along the border. Those efforts, said Jones, could provide a key shift in the war.


"We hope that will lead to a campaign against all insurgents on that side of the border, and if that happens, that's a strategic shift that will spill over into Afghanistan," he said.


Being a layman, I don't have all the intel that the policy makers have. Still, it looks as if it's been "spilling over" into Afghanistan since Pakistan started their campaign. US casualties have been increasing for months. I remember something Obama said during the campaign, about chasing down Osama across the border, if need be. This looks like the best chance he'll get to fulfill that declaration, and for some reason now our strategy needs "reassessment?"


Maybe it does. The Taliban and Al Queda seem to be quite comfortable operating in Afghanistan to a degree not seen in years. Something has to change there, and soon. Karzai's election was as fraudulent as Ahmedinejad's, though without the ensuing violence. That's the political part of the equation, and it will factor into the military equation. President Obama is between "a rock and a hard place" on this one. He should authorize more troops, and change the "strategy" simultaneously.


Clamp the vise on both North and South Waziristan, in cooperation with Pakistan. This is the "dead-ender's" last refuge, and the suspected location of Osama. I don't understand how this could be a partisan issue, since the president campaigned on it. However, the liberal congressional caucus is "showing their power" by introducing a bill to defund any "surge" in Afghanistan troop levels. LOL-That won't go anywhere, yet, but Pres. Obama's waffling isn't reassuring, either. Let's see some action, Mr. President.




Thursday, September 17, 2009

Is PBS' "Newshour" Becoming MSNBC? Gwen Ifill Cites "Tea Baggers"

The "Newshour" program on PBS had a segment on race in the debate about Pres. Obama's "health care reform" (link to transcript). It's worth a look, but one comment by the moderator, Gwen Ifill, prompted me to send them the following response:


IFILL: "So whether it's Jeremiah Wright or Henry Louis Gates, Jr., or what Jimmy Carter said about this, the Tea Baggers or whoever, it's always going to be with us?"


I found myself outraged at Ms. Ifill, during the round table about race in the health care debate, when she used the words "tea baggers" to describe the "tea party" movement. In what was otherwise a reasoned debate about the language used, and it's effect on people of African heritage, she chose to use a derogatory term for another group of Americans. "Tea Party" protesters come in all colors and political stripes, but from what I've seen, they're mostly Caucasian conservatives. After I stopped yelling at my TV, I had to appreciate the irony. Apparently, it's all in the "ear of the listener," whether something is offensive or not. I'm sure Ms. Ifill wasn't intending to offend anyone, but perhaps she needs to be "educated" about different sensibilities than her own. "Teabagging" is a slang reference to a sex act, and a "teabagger" is a person who performs that act. I expect that kind of crude reference on MSNBC, but not on the NEWSHOUR.


I have been a viewer since it was the half-hour "Report," back in the seventies. I am also an admirer of Ms. Ifill's, which is why I am writing this note to her. I hope she understands that my feelings are just as valid as hers, and everyone else's. I'm no fan of political correctness, but in a debate about sensitivity to language, her choice of words was a glaring example of insensitivity to people who are part of the "Tea Party" movement. I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts.


I don't really think that the Newshour is slipping to the shoddy level of journalism practiced on MSNBC, but it's a "slippery slope," as they say. Once this kind of slur is considered "acceptable," who knows what will be next. PBS does broadcast Bill Moyers, who is barely a notch above MSNBC on the "partisan" scale. I'd hate to see the Newshour slide any further down that path than they already have. It seems a small thing, but perhaps I haven't been pointing out examples like this often enough, because I do like the show, and have been such a long time viewer.


You're back on my "radar," Newshour, and I intend to hold your feet to the fire.


PS: I thought I'd share this excerpt from James Taranto's "Best of the Web Today" column, to further instruct Ms. Ifill:

De-Klein and Fall

We can't swear that anyone has paid attention to Time magazine's Joe Klein since the Clinton years, but we had a laugh at this item of his on the opposition to ObamaCare and other big-government proposals:

My sense of the teabaggers is more complicated: they are primarily
working-class, largely rural and elderly white people. They are freaked by the
economy. They are also freaked by the government spending--TARP, the stimulus
package etc.--that was necessary to avoid a financial collapse. (I'm not sure
Keynes is taught in very many American high schools.) But most of all, they are
freaked by an amorphous feeling that they America they imagined they were living
in--Sarah Palin's fantasy America--is a different place now, changing for the
worse, overrun by furriners of all sorts: Latinos, South Asians, East Asians,
homosexuals...to say nothing of liberated, uppity blacks.

He imagines that critics of President Obama are not only racist but, to use that ugly bit of academic jargon, homophobic--and he makes this assertion in the same breath as he derides them with the antigay slur "teabaggers."

Oh well, Klein is in his seventh decade. Maybe he's just too much of a fuddy-duddy to be up on gay slang.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dem's Fightin' Words: Obama's Fight is Within the Democrat Party

I don't know how long I've been saying this, but it's been a while. Pres. Obama is not really fighting with the GOP over the health care bill, he's fighting with the "Blue Dog" Democrats, and using the GOP as a "straw man." His true problem is that he's energized a whole new bunch of opposition "community organizers," and he doesn't know how to deal with it. He seems passive-agressive, claiming to want to listen to "other ideas," then attacking those with other ideas. This is what political infighting looks like, in the Obama Administration.

If it were just the conservative GOP he was fighting with, there would be no "reaching out." It would be like one big party, as the MSM cheered on, and laughed at the "partisan" opposition, who had no power. If this was is a "mainstream" Democrat bill, most liberal Republicans would support it, as well. The fact that even Sen. Snowe is reserving judgement says volumes.

It looks as if the problem is with the same people who defected from the GOP over the past four years, and their reasons are the same: too much government spending, and intrusion into the "free" economy. These people were fed up with Pres. Bush, for the same reasons they dislike Pres. Obama now. I'm sure the lefties were happy to count the poll numbers as support for their agenda, but it wasn't. It was a "they're all the same" mentality, reasoning that Pres. Obama would have to be fiscally conservative, in the economic circumstances he was elected under.

Well, he has not fulfilled those expectations. In fact, he's multiplied the deficit to the point where blaming it on Bush wears thin. This has caused the rise of the "tea party" movement, which crosses party lines, and definitely includes many formerly left-leaning independents. Candidate Obama sold himself as all things to all people, an alot of them bought it. He is now displeasing his left wing, as well as "swing voters," or independents. He has put conservatives squarely in "the opposition," and tried to dismiss them.

Unfortunately, many Democrats and independents are asking the same questions that the conservatives are, and they want answers before the bill is passed, this time. Every major bill that's been passed under the Obama administration, and some that predate it, has come under criticism for legislators not knowing exactly what was in the bill they voted on, much less the public. Most of the "tea party" people just want a little transparency in their government, and they certainly aren't getting the level of it that Obama promised.

This is a battle royale within the Democratic party, but the party leaders seem to think that they work in a vacuum. While Obama talks to Pelosi and Reid, none of them can tell the American people what will be in this bill. Sen. Max Baucus, Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, says "President Obama and I are on the same page," whatever that means. His constituents won't be satisfied with that, I can assure you.

"Community organizing" is a two-way street. It looks to me as if the shoe is on the other foot, now that we have a truly "liberal" president, and liberals have become "the man" that citizens protest against. As the agenda unfolds, look for Obama's approval to decrease. Pres. Bush poked his base in the eye on several issues, both before and after 9/11. Pres. Obama seems to be doing something similar, but he's not getting credit from the people he's trying to "kiss up" to.

Bush held the independents long enough to get re-elected. Will Obama fare as well? He may have smaller majorities in Congress, after the '10 elections. Bold liberal programs may not be helpful to staying in power, but they're what's on the table. Let's see what happens. How committed is our president to the "left-wing" agenda, and what about the rest of his Democratic Party?

Friday, July 24, 2009

"Racial Profiling" and the President




In 1987, I had recently moved into a run-down apartment building in Freeport, NY. I was starting a new job, which was walking distance from my apt. On my first day of work, I walked home during my lunch hour. On my way back to work, less than half a block from my building, three police cars converged on me. An officer got out of his car, drew his gun, an yelled "freeze!"


Of course, I froze. The other officers came up to me, asked for my ID, and frisked me. Apparently, my building was a known drug spot, and these officers thought I went there to buy drugs. After explaining my situation, and proving that I didn't have any drugs, they let me go. I was rattled, but went back to work for the rest of the day. I mention this now because of the current debate about "racial profiling."


Was I "racially profiled," because I was a White guy walking in a largely minority area? Or was it, as the police said, because I was leaving a "known drug location?" I'll never know, and I don't really care. I'm certain that such "profiling" exists, and indeed it is often justified, when race is one component of a larger profile.


Here are two more recent examples: Twice, police have stopped me while riding my bicycle, for no apparent reason. The first time was in the middle of winter, and I was wearing a ski mask, riding through tony North Woodmere after midnight. I lived in N. Woodmere, and had my ID to prove it. The second time was right here in Lynbrook, on the route I take to work every day. This cop knew me, from my job, and explained that they were looking for "a guy on a bicycle with a backpack," which fit me exactly. As I was getting ready to show him the contents of my backpack, he got a call, saying they had caught the suspect, literally around the corner.


The suspect in the second incident was a dark-skinned Latino, who also was riding a bicycle with a backpack. This is an example of race being one factor in a "profile," and how police use that information. Sometimes profiles are inaccurate, and a good officer knows this. Witnesses get details wrong, and clothing can be changed, or backpacks discarded. Skin color is not so easy to change, or conceal, which means it is will continue to be used when making a description of a suspect, or a "profile" of a potential suspect. Unfortunately, this also means that some will continue to use race as a means to divide us, when it comes to law enforcement.


Police are human. There are good cops, and bad cops. I have no brief for officers that break the law, or actually violate people's civil rights. I find those who falsely accuse police of this behavior just as contemptible. This brings me to mention President Obama, who brought up "racial profiling" in response to a question about Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates' encounter with Sgt. James Crowley, of the Cambridge P.D. While the president didn't directly accuse Sgt. Crowley of it, he strongly implied it. Why even bring it up?


Does the President of the United States want to stoke the flames of racial animus? I don't think so. I think it was more a a "reflex" for him, because this is part of the liberal "profile" in law enforcement situations like this. Liberals' "knee-jerk" reaction to these situations is that somehow the person was "targeted" because of their race. As the facts have come out, it is apparent that was not the case, regarding Sgt. Crowley's actions. The President owes Sgt. Crowley, and the Cambridge P.D. an apology.




Thursday, July 23, 2009

"SELLING A DREAM," or Real Reform?

President Obama did well in his latest national "prime time" press conference, according to Charles Krauthammer. Of course, that opinion was based on a comparison to a "Snake Oil" salesman, so it might not count as praise. I have to admit that, on some level, the president's "pitch" sounded good to me, as well. Then I thought of an old friend, who used the phrase "sellin' you a dream" often, when talking about politics, business, or any similar subject. I think this is a prime example of politicians' "selling a dream."


"97 or 98 percent of people will be covered" is not possible, for many reasons, and the president knows it. For him to say that without challenge, or follow-up shows what a friendly environment he was in. Also, minutes after he singled out a Republican strategist and a Republican Senator for attacking him, he claimed not to be attacking them back, politically. Is this really the "new" politics he championed? And again, not one press person called him on the obvious discrepancy from reality.


More interesting was how he "pitched" it. It sounded so reasonable. He had the answer to everyone's problem with the health-care system, even those who don't don't have a problem with their own health care insurance coverage. Of course, he's "selling a dream" to as many people as he can, to get this new "entitlement" passed into law. Make the taxpayers think it's "revenue neutral," then raise the taxes to pay for the inevitable "crisis." That is the history of "new" government programs.


There is a snag in the plan. Since we have seen several "crisis" bills passed into law recently, starting under the "hated" President Bush, the "crisis/immediate action" mantra is wearing thin. The House leadership had to "twist arms" to get "cap and trade" through, and the Senate left them "high and dry" on it, by not acting on it. The Dems that got hell from their constituents about that don't want to repeat that mistake with health care. I hope all of our representatives have a grasp on the text of whatever they vote on, but I'm doubtful. Few of them know what the bailouts or stimulus packages contained, to this day!


Luckily, there are more people interested in politics than ever, which means more voices being heard. Challenges to a president with the "MSM" on his side are heard by more of the public than ever before, which is a good thing. For the record, I support reform of the health-care system. I just think Pres. Obama is "selling us a dream," which will turn out to be a nightmare, if it follows the pattern of the other monstrosies he got passed. I opposed the bailouts under Bush, and preferred my "stimulus" money in one check, instead of weekly increments in my paycheck. That just showed me how small a tax break it was.


PS: Some real "reform" might be ending employer-paid health insurance. It's a relic from WWII, when government "capped" wages. That's just the "acorn" of a huge tree of bureaucracy that's grown from it, but it's as good a place as any to start. I also wonder what a "federal tax holiday" for six months would do for the private sector economy. Now that's a dream I'd like to sell, if you want radical ideas!




Saturday, July 18, 2009

CAN WE TAKE A PAGE FROM HONDURAS, AND CALL IN THE MILITARY TO THROW OUT THE NYS SENATE, THE GOV, and MAYOR BLOOMIE?

My heart is with the Honduran people, who overwhelmingly know that what happened to Zelaya was the right thing to do. (All of those who are outraged at this "coup," just imagine it was Pres. Bush being taken out of the White House.) I only wish we had some similar mechanism to remove the NYS Senate (I'd throw in the Assembly, as well.) from power. ALL of these clowns should go! The other two branches, as well as the Assembly are against them, yet they insist on creating a real statewide crisis over who will be in power in the Senate. Gov. Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg haven't distinguished themselves, either.


The NYS Senate isn't the only story that reminds me of Honduras. I think Zelaya got the idea from Bloomberg, who rewrote the NYC charter to get a third term; or maybe they both took the idea from the socialist game plan, as did Chavez. Term limits are a good thing, for no other reson than politicians hate them. Bloomy's been able to buy an attempt at a third term, and no-one wants to run against him, much less remove him by force. Still, I can't help but include him as an anti-liberty "authoritarian" political leader.


I think Zelaya's not as rich as Bloomberg, but he's got powerful friends, in the "international community." They're going to put "pressure" on the Honduran polity, and we'll find out how "representative" they are of their population. Meanwhile, NYC and state residents have less "representation" than the people of Honduras. I'm not kidding. Most NYS residents would support the NYS National Guard coming into the Senate and removing all of these clowns who call themselves legislators, or at least the ones under criminal indictment, like Sen. Hiram Monserrate.


Governor Paterson has brought NYS to another level of dysfunction. He came into office on the heels of a governor who used the State Police as his personal "political dirty tricks" squad, and isn't up to the job of "cleaning house." AG Andrew Cuomo is a much-favored challenger in the primary, because he has taken on a small part of the statewide political corruption. If he had any brains, he would've used the State Police to bust all of the corrupt politicians he could. If only. Fortunately, we won't need the State Police to throw Paterson out; he knows where the door is.


Before we judge the actions of the military in Honduras, we need to acknowledge that they were being directed by civillians. What legal authority did the Army obey, and the President disobey? The Supreme Court, and the legislature, as well as the Honduran Constitution. Here in NYS, we need to "blow up the political machines," with the force of our speech. One voice saying these things sounds like nothing. Thousands of voices saying the same thing is a political force.


We can learn something from their experience, my friends! "THROW THE BUMS OUT OF OFFICE, IN NY STATE!" In both parties!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Insh'Allah, Iran Will Be Free: I AM AN IRANIAN!

When I think back to just after 9/11, two images stand out in my memory of world reaction. First, I remember the Palestinian woman giving out candy in celebration of the atrocity. The other image I remember was of the Iranian people holding candlelight vigils in honor of the victims. Neither image was widely publicized in the US media, but I remember the rage, and awe that they inspired in me. I mention them today, as a preface to my analysis/opinion of current Middle Eastern events.


The brutal Iranian Mullahs accuse the US of "intolerable" interference in their election, the day after Pres. Obama said that he didn't want to be accused of interfering. Meanwhile, their Hamas puppets are allied with Al Queda in Palestinian Gaza. (link-Worldfocus.org) Can we all get on the same page, now? I understand the President is trying to "extend an open hand" to the Mullahs, but they have clearly slapped it away. This isn't about international politics; it's about freedom vs. oppression, or more basically, right vs. wrong.


Too many in the free world are afraid to pass such judgements, and therein lies our greatest flaw. It is not "biased" to call the Iranian leadership part of an "Axis of Evil," as Pres. Bush labeled them, if it is the truth. The Khomenist regime has shown itself to be as much to it's own citizens, and they are fighting back, with dignity and passion. The familiar cry "Allahu Akhbar," long associated with terrorist suicide bombers, takes on a new meaning when it is shouted across Iran from rooftops all through the night. God IS great, and there shouldn't be any stigma attached to shouting it out loud.


What's happening in Iran is a revolution, beyond a doubt. It should be embraced by all freedom-loving people in the world, especially those in the greater Middle East, where freedom carries a high price. It has been reported that some of the high-level Mullahs are supporting the protesters, as are as some of the Revolutionary Guard commanders, who are refusing to shoot the non-violent protesters. The government-supported militias have been the main force behind the crackdown, but they are creating more opposition to the Ahmedinejad supporters in the government.


Iran is a complex nation, with a population that is much more politically sophisticated than most Western people realize. Thanks to modern technology, we are getting a glimpse of this. The protesters are from all groups and classes of Iranians, and it's the recognition of this fact that has caused the Grand Ayatollah to order a "partial recount." This is an unprecedented action in a theocracy that calls election results "ordained by God." In this case, it seems more clear every day that the election results were "ordained by men," and the protesters are the ones "ordained by God."


I make no predictions of how this will all turn out, and indeed Henry Kissinger said he thinks Ahmedinejad's forces will triumph, on Greta Van Susteren's show Wed. night. However, John Bolton makes a case that Mousavi has, and would continue to support terrorism abroad and nuclear weapons, were he to assume Iran's presidency. (link-Fox News.com) Both of these men know far more than I do about Iran, so I defer to their judgements on these things. I can only speak my own opinion, and my heart is with those people in the streets, as their hearts were with us after 9/11. As JFK once said about the people of Berlin, I say today "I am an Iranian."

Friday, May 29, 2009

Group Identity Politics: A Shield and a Weapon

The appointment of Judge Sonia Sotomayor is being hailed as a "political masterstroke" by many pundits, but the fact is that the Senate Republicans couldn't block her (technically, they could, today, but the vote is not today), if they wanted to. So what was considered so politically terrific about it? Her "compelling" life story is the conventional narrative. However, that doesn't quite wash, because many Republican Supreme Court appointees have had compelling life stories, but it didn't stop the media and Democrats from critcizing them. White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs gave us an idea of what the real political masterstroke was, when he said this:


"I think it is probably important for anybody involved in this debate to be exceedingly careful with the way in which they've decided to describe different aspects of this impending confirmation." (link)


That's when the latent political strategy behind this appointment became visible. By appointing a Latino woman, her judicial philosophy cannot be challenged, because that philosophy is tied into her "identity" as a member of both of those groups. That is, they will characterize any attack on her judicial philosophy as an attack on her race or gender.


This is another of my problems with liberals...group identity politics. Whether race, gender, or sexual orientation, some "groups" are just "supposed" to be liberal. It's used as both a weapon and a shield, politically. In this case, the Obama administration is using it as both. Since she is a "safe" appointment numerically, why not try to alienate the GOP from women and minorities, while they're at it?


There is much more going on with her appointment, but "identity politics" were blatantly on display.in that White House statement. Was it necessary to play that card? Or are her statements of judicial philosophy just a minor distraction, hyped by right-wing zealots like me? In my zealous opinion, she has made some praiseworthy rulings in her time on the bench, and is qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. However, political ideology has been established as a further criteria by none other than my own Sen. Schumer, back in 2001:


"It's the dirty little secret of judicial nominations," Schumer said. "Ideology plays a big role, but it's below the radar screen. All I want is for us to be upfront about it. This doesn't mean a nominee's views on issues like abortion should be the sole determinant in voting for or against - it shouldn't - but since it's one of the questions we all talk about behind the scenes, we should expose our thinking so everyone sees it. What I want is honesty." (link)


Now, Republicans "oppose her at their peril," (link) Schumer says about Sotomayor, echoing the White House line. Let's be honest. Liberals are trying to use "group identity politics" as a shield against scrutinizing her ideology, and as a weapon against any Republicans who dare to try it. This will be an interesting political confrontation, and it's only just beginning.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Is Speaker Pelosi "Detached" From Reality?

I'm sorry to say it, but there seems to be a problem with the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Speaker Pelosi has a serious credibility problem, which has been exposed by the recent "torture briefing" scandal. Her public appearances have had a bizarre quality to them, as if she were on a bad SNL skit. I'm no psychiatrist, but if she's not conciously lying, she's mentally "detached" from reality. By this, I mean she didn't hear what she didn't want to hear. Lots of people do this, or just "misremember" things.


Perhaps it could be dismissed so easily, if she had not accused the intelligence community briefers of "misleading" her. Now, that will have to be investigated, because lying to Congress is a criminal offense. Her comparison of it to the intelligence on Iraq doesn't hold up, either: a briefing about our actions on captives is much different than one about a potential foe's strength and strategy. She's grasping at straws, and it's getting worse.


The facts of this are going to have to come out, unless the President intervenes for Speaker Pelosi. Will he risk the political capital to do this? I doubt it. The whole "torture prosecution" idea has blown up in the Dem's faces, and now the Speaker is caught in the middle of it. She is now shining "a bad light" on her party, instead of it's intended target, the GOP. I suspect Obama to "stay above" this battle, leaving the Speaker to hang in the wind.


I don't know any of the "crucial" facts yet, so this is my personal perspective, from the facts I do know, and Speaker Pelosi's incredible public performances. If I'm right, the Dem's have two choices: get her out as soon as possible, to save their losses in the 2010 midterm election, or blame her for the inevitable losses they will have, and oust her afterwards. The Dems may retain a majority, but Pelosi's speakership, which started in the last two years of the Bush administration, will be a major drag on their tickets, nationwide.


She's "circling the wagons," right now, but this is not going away any time soon. We will see what she was "briefed" on during the Bush administration, if the Congress investigates them for "torture" memos. A cynical Dem might say "take them both down," but I suspect the party will try to "move on," perhaps without Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Whither Obama's Agenda?

Democrats in Congress refused to fund the President's proposed shutdown of the Guantanamo Bay prison. There is good reason for this: it's a bad idea, with no plan for where to relocate the detainees. Now that the Dems are on track to have a 60-vote majority in the Senate, look for more opposition to other promises that Obama made during the campaign.


I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but politically, it's realistic. Democrats are responsible for the direction our country goes, and will be held accountable, just as the GOP was over six of the last eight years. What Congressman wants to be blamed for bringing terrorists into our country, possibly to be set free on our streets?


Other Obama initiatives are likely to face a similar fate. "Cap and trade" is almost certainly doomed to failure in the Congress, and his health care initiative also faces an uphill battle. These political battles will be waged on the Democrat side of the Congress, with Republicans united in opposition.


It will be interesting to see how these play out, and whether Dems who oppose them will be "demonized" by the media, as the GOP routinely has been, thus far. Newly minted Democrat Sen. Specter has opposed Obama in two votes already, without much media attention. They weren't crucial votes, unlike some of the larger issues looming on the horizon.


Americans are focused on politics more than they have been in a long time, and they are worried. Issues like "cap and trade" relate directly to how much money they spend on their basic energy needs. Health care is something that most people want everyone to have access to, but nobody wants to foot the bill for. The American people are stretched to their limit, and it's doubtful that President Obama's further huge, costly initiatives will find much popular support, even from his own party.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

MEDIA WARS: NEWS CORP. VS. GE & THE NY TIMES

There's an interesting development in the "culture war" that's been raging in the media for the last few decades. It seems as if the liberal side is losing public support faster than ever before. The NY Times is threatening to shut down the Boston Globe, and may bite the dust itself by the end of the year. It's not surprising that they have reached out to a failing cable channeL/website, MSNBC.com, to share their content.


What's happening here is that News Corp is kicking their butts, soundly. The NY Post, a lowly "tabloid" paper, is weathering the winds of cultural (and financial) change much better than the NY Times, and the Fox News channel routinely dominates in the ratings over MSNBC's "prime time" lineup. In fact, Fox's top host, Bill O'Reilly, has been directly taking on the General Electric and NBC leadership.


O'Reilly's latest stunt was to send the intrepid producer Jesse Waters into a GE shareholders' meeting (link), to ask them about bias at MSNBC. Meanwhile, Sen. John Kerry (who served in Vietnam, by the way) is requesting Senate hearings "to address the woes of the nation's print media." (link) The Boston Globe is his hometown paper, after all.


If the NY Times survives, it will have to adapt to the "real" times. "Hiding" news articles for political reasons, as they did with the "tea party" story, doesn't attract new readers. For a paper with declining readership, that should be priority number one. MSNBC seems to be following another tactic, with not much better results.


With Keith Olbermann as their "anti-O'Reilly," they think that there is as large a "radical left wing" crowd as what they perceive as Fox's "radical right wing" viewers, compounding it with the "adorable" Rachel Maddow vs. Sean Hannity. The only problem with this is that while Hannity is a partisan, he was paired with liberal Alan Colmes for more than a decade. O'Reilly is an independent, with traditional conservative values. All he has in common with Olbermann is the tendency to be a pompous blowhard (a trait I share with both of them, to some degree). Fox is watched by people of all political persuasions, because they do strive to be "fair and balanced."


I don't want to see the NY Times, the Boston Globe, or MSNBC go under. I want to see them become better media outlets. My hometown paper is the NY Post, which is full of crappy gossip and "tabloid" stories, but also manages to report, and analyze much of the local, national, and world news accurately. The Times is an old "institution," but so was the Post, once and now again (it was founded by Alexander Hamilton, originally). Perhaps the Times has to go out of business, before it can come back to being a relevant newspaper for us "worldly" NY'ers, who also care about NY..


As for MSNBC, I'd like to renew my offer of services as on-air talent (link). I have a great speaking voice, and would love to work with Rachel Maddow. I could represent the guy who throws stuff at the TV whenever he listens to her, but I'd do it in an entertaining, even classy way. Hey, what've they got to lose?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

OBAMA "OUTSOURCES" CHRYSLER TO ITALY: GOVERNMENT BY "FIAT"

Wasn't this the exact the kind of thing that Obama was railing against in his campaign? Chrysler has a month to complete the sale of their company to Fiat, an Italian car company. I've never been to Italy, but I know something about their cars, and roads, from friends. If President Obama thinks that Chrysler is going to actually sell anything like the cars driven in Europe, he's got another thing comin'. Fiat tried to crack the American market, but they're not "popular" cars here. Branding them "Chrysler" won't change that.


Of course, Fiat may not look to change the models that sell well. Once they take ownership of the company, the government will have somewhat less leverage to pressure them. They will probably end up lobbying to keep the CAFE standards where they are. It's still a free market, and people will determine what sells, not the government. I'm sure the Fiat executives will try to earn a profit on their investment.


On an economic level, this is what must happen, for the company to survive. I can't say if it will work out well or not for the economy, but I find it ironic that Pres. Obama is forcing the sale. He backed Bush's original auto bailout, which turned out to be the wrong move. Now, it's going to take another $6 billion tax dollars to complete the sale. He seems to be facing the reality that he really had no clue why companies and jobs were "going overseas."


There are many problems in our nation, among them the loss of manufacturing jobs to other nations. The fact is that the US is a recipient of thousands of "outsourced" jobs from other countries, many of which are car companies. Fiat's actually "outsourcing," by expanding into the US labor market. I'm sure Italians are saying "we can build Chryslers here!"


I'll admit that I only have 1-1/2 years of experience (more than Obama) at owning a business, and the biggest thing I learned was how not to run a business. While Chrysler will be Fiat's business now, President Obama is now effectively the President of GM, as well. Will his "vision" of the company become "reality," if they don't come up with a plan in 60 days? I hope he has a steeper learning curve than I did. I lost $60,000 owning my nightclub. Owning GM could lose the taxpayers $60 billion, easily. Geithner and the "Auto Brain Trust" better come up with something soon, and sell it to Obama. He's the one who's gonna have to sell it to you and me.


This isn't the biggest thing on his plate, either, which is why I worry about the "big picture." He's got the seemingly incompetent Geithner at Treasury, and Holder as the second coming of Ramsey Clark as AG. Hillary is staking out her policy positions from the State Department, and Sebilius is the newest addition to the list of nominees that can't understand the tax code. These are just a fraction of his challenges.


One can call this "baptism by fire," if you like religious references to our president. What I find interesting is how fast he is to use the power of government radically, and "use the crisis" to advance a bad policy choice. I suppose I feel much as the liberals felt when Bush invaded Iraq, and "restricted civil liberties." While I agreed with those policies, I was disappointed with Bush myself, when he started the "bailout" madness. I was against it then, and still am now.


Government by fiat doesn't work (pun intended). Nixon tried wage and price controls, and it nearly destroyed our economy. This is where President Obama dares to tread, and the result will be the same. Meanwhile, Ford has worked out a way not to take any government money, and stay solvent. While Bush gave the initial bailout to GM, Obama doesn't want it to fail on his watch. Will his "deadline" for GM stand? I have my doubts.


I give the president credit for the deadlines, though the Chrysler-Fiat deal may now be on more favorable terms for Fiat. Then, it may be a good thing, if it saves us from pumping more than another $6 billion tax dollars into a slumping company. GM will be the test of how much this administration wants to control the private sector. Stay tuned, eh?


PS: Read this, from the WSJ OP-ED page! The Obama Autoworks: At GM and Chrysler, politics is now Job One.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

HATE IS WRONG! (WAIT, EVEN AGAINST CONGRESS?)


Charles Grassley suggested that AIG execs commit suicide, and then Rep. Barney Frank wanted to publicize their names and addresses. It's time for a revolution in this nation, and I'm not scared to say it! Hating people isn't the same as opposing their ideas, or philosophy. I posted this radical image to show the base hatred in our politics today. Why did I want to put Barney and Chris' heads on spikes? They're not Osama and Sadam (who they replaced, from my original drawing). I'm mad as hell at these guys, and I have no other way to communicate it.
I wonder if this is what drove the Bush and Clinton-haters, and how common it must be among us to hate this way. Luckily, I'm just examining it, with an eye towards avoiding the "hate" trap. It is almost funny, if it weren't such a serious subject.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Tax Cut That Wasn't

President Obama lied to the American people when he said "95% of working Americans are going to get a tax cut." What he's done is lower the amount that the government witholds from working people's paychecks. In my case, this has resulted in $10.00 more per week in my take-home pay. What he hasn't done is cut the actual tax rate, which means that my "rebate" will be that much less, when I file my 2009 taxes. Now, I should be glad about this, because I always thought that it wasn't fair that I got no interest on the excess taxes that were witheld from my paychecks. However, I got used to getting my little $600.00 check (or direct deposit, for the last few years) every February or March.


While I agree that it's a good idea in principle, it is not, and never will be a tax cut. For the President to call it that is the most insulting type of fabrication. He assumes that by the time people realize that they didn't really get a tax cut next year, they'll have forgotten his promise, or he'll be able to argue that he couldn't do it "because of the crisis I inherited" in the first months of his term. Slimy doesn't begin to describe this tactic, and I've had to struggle to find any reporting on it. The media have focused exclusively on when the president will "end the Bush tax cuts" on the rich.


Let's look at that one, too. "End the tax cuts." The "cuts" are actually the rates that have been in effect for the last several years. With the possible exception of the "death tax," they weren't scheduled to get any lower before expiring in 2010, so why are the Dems and the media calling them "cuts?" Because they are both complicit in this slimy deception, and they think the American public is dumb enough to fall for it.


People are waking up to this BS, however. I've previously written about his "instant" tax-increase on smokers (link), which disproportionately hurts poor and middle class people. Now, he thinks that leaving the Bush tax rates in place qualifies as a "tax cut" for the lower 95% of "working Americans?" Not in the real world, Mr. President. Not in the real world. The media and the Congress may be playing along, but the people are speaking out against this outrage.


The nationwide tax protests haven't gotten much media coverage, either, but don't think that will stop us. While I'm not affiliated in any way officially with them, my heart is at every "Tea Party" protest (link). I know what they stand for, and stand with them. This is a middle class movement, because it's the middle class who are taking the brunt of Obama's actions, so far. Make no mistake: If Obama accomplishes the rest of his "agenda," there won't be a middle class anymore.


His proposed "cap and tax (er, trade)" energy plan will double, or triple electricity costs. He wants to expand health care coverage to "everyone," before fixing the massive waste and corruption in the current health care system. His trade policies are already poised to cost thousands of Americans their jobs, as nations retaliate against his "unilateral" abrogation of treaty obligations. These policies will hurt the middle class, not just the rich. Americans will not stand for it, and some of the politicians in Congress may be starting to get it.


I don't think they can get by with "dog and pony" shows like the AIG hearings for the next year and a half, until the mid-term elections. It's becoming more apparent every day that the questioners are the ones who need to start giving the American people some answers. They can start by admitting that they aren't "cutting" anyone's taxes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Passing Thoughts on AIG Bonuses, Pelosi, and Deregulation

One thing about the AIG bonuses. They're only .01% of the money that AIG got from the government. I would take the feigned outrage about the bonuses in congress more seriously if they all hadn't used a similar excuse to support the "earmarks" in the budget they passed two weeks ago.


Speaker Pelosi was caught on tape calling illegal immigrants "patriotic," and stating that raids to enforce immigration law were "un-American." Maybe she's really the Speaker of the Mexican legislature?


The "deregulation" canard must end. US businesses are heavily regulated, at the federal and state level. Don't believe it? Try starting a business without filing any papers with the government. You can't.

"YOU'RE DOING A HECK OF A JOB, TIMMY!"

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is a shining example of the dirty relationship between the regulators and the regulated. When the president came out and defended him publicly, I heard the bell tolling in the distance. He could be the first Obama appointee to be hypovehiculated (thrown under the bus) after Senate confirmation. As the previous "bailouts" and other deals are examined, it seems that Sec. Geithner was deeply involved, as head of the NY Federal Reserve during the Bush administration.


An excerpt from Newt Gingrich's latest dispatch explains it best: (link)


As Americans' level of outraged has risen, so has the level of finger pointing by Geithner and others for the mess we're in.

But Treasury Secretary Geithner is disingenuous at best and untruthful at worst when he says that he "inherited the worst fiscal situation in American history."

The truth is that Secretary Geithner didn't inherit the policy of throwing billions of taxpayer dollars at failing companies - he helped create it.

Even before he was Treasury Secretary - when he was still head of the New York Federal Reserve - Geithner was so deeply involved in the government's bail out of Bear Stearns, its take over of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and its bailout of AIG that this was the Washington Post's
headline from September 19, 2008:

"
In the Crucible of Crisis, Paulson, Bernanke and Geithner Forge a Committee of Three".

The first meeting of the first bailout - of Bear Stearns - was held in Geithner's office. And the first meeting of what has become a $170 billion bailout of AIG was held - where else? In Geithner's New York Fed office.


Besides being parodied on SNL, he is rapidly becoming an embarassment for the Obama administration. This AIG "bonus" scandal is erupting all around him. He supposedly found out about these bonuses in the last few weeks, but they were disclosed in public filings late last year. Did he, or his staff review all of the public information about the company they were bailing out? Apparently not, if he didn't know about the bonuses until last week.


As for the aforementioned "dirty relationship," read this article from Conde Nast's Portfolio.com, dated June '08. "The Man Who Saved (or Got Suckered by) Wall Street," by Gary Weiss. I won't excerpt it here because of the length, but it shows the incestuous relationship between government and the financial institutions it regulates, specifically involving Mr. Geithner. (link)


When President Bush said "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" after Katrina, he was lambasted by everyone. Has President Obama already put himself in a similar position with Sec. Geithner? Only time will tell, but I'd save any new dollars with his signature on them. They'll be collector's items someday.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

AG: WE'LL ONLY "TORTURE" TROOPS, NOT TERRORISTS

It's official: Attorney General Eric Holder has "ruled out the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique for terrorism suspects yesterday, calling it a form of torture that the Obama administration could never condone," according to this Reuters story in the NY Post (link). He is quoted: "Waterboarding is torture. My Justice Department will not justify it, will not rationalize it and will not condone it."


That sounds fine and upstanding, but why doesn't he take exception to waterboarding being practiced on our own troops, for training purposes? As I watched a Fox News report on this story, they had video of one of their reporters being waterboarded. Why is that not a crime, but waterboarding terrorists is? I get it; "voluntary" submission to "torture" is legal, and doing it to someone against their will is a crime. Still, isn't that "justifying" torture, something the AG said his Justice Department would never do?


There's also a slight "conflict of interest" for AG Holder, according to Gordon Cucullu, writing in the NY Post OP-ED section (link):


Holder's previous job, after all, was as a senior partner with Covington and Burling - a white-shoe DC law firm that devotes considerable pro bono time to defending the Gitmo detainees. The job paid $2 million a year, and he expects to collect a like amount this year as part of his separation package.


As a senior partner, he undoubtedly had significant input on what kind of charity cases his firm picked up. He surely knew that dozens of lawyers from from his firm were among the 500-plus civilian lawyers representing the 244 or so remaining detainees (on top of military-court-appointed defenders).


Even now, his Covington colleagues continue to allege rampant torture at Gitmo. They're fighting hard to have detainees tried through the US court system - essentially given the same rights as US citizens.


Basically, Holder is in a position to help his former employer by declaring waterboarding to be "torture," under official DoJ guidelines. The bigger question is why do we train our troops to endure this, if we really think our enemies will follow our "guidelines" for interrogation? The fact is that our enemies, and many of our allies use worse methods than "waterboarding" in interrogation.


There is no defense of the argument that this will keep our captured troops from being tortured. It won't. Some will argue that "we're better than that," and we are, by outlawing these methods of interrogation on regular POW's. Terrorists are not protected by the Geneva Conventions. If we practice this act on our own people regularly (though voluntarily), why should it be banned for enemies who have no regard for "human rights" at all?


A final thought: Ask the next person who says "America is better than that" to define how, and why. Ask them what it is that makes us superior to our enemies, or whether we are "superior" to any nation at all, whether friend or foe. You may find that people like Eric Holder don't actually believe we are "better" than any other nation, regarding human rights, or by any other measure. Their attempts to "correct" our perceived flaws are little more than posturing for their fellow "social justice" advocates. Will the Obama administration end the "torturing" of our troops, in the name of "social justice?" Somehow, I don't think so.