Archive for July, 2009

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Cartoon: Sotomayor, Judicial Activism

July 29, 2009

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Corruption: Billions To Timulate Criminality

July 28, 2009

Billions To Stimulate Criminality

IBD: 24 July 2009

Corruption: A nonprofit group committing a crime conjures up images of terrorist fundraising. But $8.5 billion in taxpayer money may go to specialists in political terror: the tax-exempt scam artists of Acorn.

Did Democrats come to their present dominance of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington thanks in large part to a “syndicate of tax-exempt organizations” that “has coordinated and implemented a nationwide strategy of tax fraud, racketeering, money-laundering and manipulating the American electorate”?

The reams of evidence provided by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking Republican Darrell Issa of California and his GOP colleagues on the panel strongly suggest so.

… (Acorn) uses “a complex structure designed to conceal illegal activities” — 361 different entities in 120 cities, 43 states and the District of Columbia, amounting to a “shell game” that “diverts taxpayer and tax-exempt monies into partisan political activities.”

The group has over the last 15 years received in excess of $53 million in federal funds. Moreover, as the report warns, “under the Obama administration, Acorn stands to receive a whopping $8.5 billion in available stimulus funds.”

Acorn’s improprieties, of course, are not news. As Issa’s report notes, a third of the 1.3 million voter registration cards the organization solicited and presented in 2008 ended up being null and void; the group has been investigated for voter registration fraud in places such as Connecticut, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio.

A decade ago, an Acorn operative in Arkansas was arrested for falsification of voter registration forms. Soon after that, Philadelphia officials discovered hundreds of Acorn’s falsified registration forms. In 2007, the state of Washington filed felony charges against several Acorn employees and supervisors for submitting more than 1,700 fraudulent voter cards.

Just last fall, federal agents raided Acorn’s Nevada offices and in May of this year Nevada officials charged the organization and its state personnel with voter fraud. That was soon followed by seven Acorn officials in Pittsburgh being charged with voter fraud. Acorn has been accused of presenting at least 2,100 fraudulent registration forms in Lake County, Ind.

Superimposed upon these offenses are the alleged embezzlement practices of Dale Rathke, brother of the organization’s founder, Wade Rathke, who apparently used a financial management company to “loan” himself over $948,600 in Acorn funds.

For eight years after the incident, Acorn kept him in its employ and failed to notify its board of the money grab. Acorn board members Marcel Reid and Karen Inman were actually kicked off for trying to investigate the Dale Rathke cover-up, and for seeking financial transparency within Acorn.

Inman’s response to her removal last fall was to ask: “Why would you want us not to clean up things? Why would you not want to do your own investigation instead of bringing in the sheriff?”

Perhaps because a cleaned-up Acorn would not be able to operate effectively. Even the left-friendly National Public Radio has reported that the organization’s financial sleight of hand “essentially gives them a cloak that prevents people from seeing really how they’re spending money that comes, in some cases, from the taxpayers, in other cases, comes from members of their organization who pay dues.”

Yet this corrupt outfit has actually been signed up as a national partner with the U.S. Census Bureau to help recruit the nearly 1.5 million workers who will count and classify our 306 million population for 2010. It’s like getting a car thief to manage a parking garage.

As the Capital Research Center’s Matthew Vadum has documented, $3 billion from the stimulus package, another billion dollars from HUD, and $4.5 billion in Community Development Block Grants look set to come Acorn’s way for a total of $8.5 billion.

The Issa report further charges Acorn with submitting false filings to the IRS and the Labor Department, and violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and the ERISA law.

Amidst all this apparent illegality, the campaigns of President Obama, disgraced ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, are among the beneficiaries of financial contributions from Acorn and its affiliates.

“These actions are a clear violation of numerous tax and election laws,” the Issa report charges.

Issa called it “outrageous that Acorn will be rewarded for its criminal acts by taxpayer money in the stimulus and is being asked to help with the U.S. census.” He says the organization “cannot and should not be trusted with taxpayer dollars.”

Don’t hold your breath for justice. No doubt Attorney General Eric Holder will soon be too busy hounding former Vice President Dick Cheney — for his forceful effort in waging the global war on terror — to probe the shady outfit that helped elect his boss president.


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Leadership(?): Barack Hussein Obama

July 28, 2009

This Is Post-Racial?

IBD 24 July 2009

Leadership: Barack Obama promised a new “post-racialism.” But when a black pal was arrested by a white policeman for disorderly conduct, the president’s response was pure old race politics. So which is it?

During a press conference otherwise devoted to health care, the president on Wednesday interjected himself into a local police matter when he addressed the arrest of his friend Henry Louis Gates, a Harvard professor who got himself into an altercation with a Cambridge, Mass., cop on July 16.

Seems the cop, Sgt. James Crowley, had the cheek to ask Gates for identification during a routine burglary investigation.

That made the professor so angry that he hurled charges of racism, screamed outrage that Crowley didn’t know who he was, warned the cop not to “mess” with him and then created enough of a public disturbance to get himself arrested. The whole matter proved to be an embarrassment for all, and the city later dropped the charges.

But instead of admitting the most-likely truth — that his friend had made a fool of himself hollering racism over a legitimate police inquiry and let his academic ego get the better of him — Obama moved unexpectedly into the crudities of race-baiting, even after admitting he didn’t have all the facts.

“Now, I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that, but I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.”

This fits nicely with the stereotype perpetuated at places like Harvard — that of white working-class cops going around rousting innocent blacks to preserve a white power structure.

But if that stereotype was ever true, it was before black mayors, black police chiefs, community organizing, sensitivity training and large university endowments for scholars such as Gates.

(It came out Thursday that Crowley himself is a police academy expert on racial profiling, having been handpicked for the job by a former police commissioner who is black and who says he has “nothing but respect for him as a police officer.”)

It was also before the rise of professional race-baiters such as the Rev. Al Sharpton, who use racism allegations to make political hay.

The election of Barack Obama was supposed to get us beyond grievance politics, reparations and all the things that create pointless conflict. Sadly, the president didn’t rise to the task in this case.

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Cartoons: Healthcare

July 28, 2009

CLICK TO VIEW LARGER:

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Health Reform: A Tough Sell Without Magic

July 28, 2009

Health Reform: A Tough Sell Without Magic

By THOMAS SOWELL IBD 24 July 2009

Distracting the audience’s attention is one of the ways magicians pull off some of their tricks. President Obama’s televised news conference on medical care shows that he is something of a magician when it comes to politics.

The big trick for the president is to convince the public he can add tens of millions of people to his government medical insurance plan without raising the costs.

But an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office showed that ObamaCare would in fact raise the costs and increase the deficit by billions of dollars.

With common sense and economic analysis saying Obama cannot expand government medical care without expanding the already runaway federal deficit, it’s quite a trick to get the public to believe otherwise — a big challenge requiring big distractions.

One of those distractions has been to blame current high costs on scapegoats whom the president can rein in. Talking about the high pay of the CEOs of pharmaceutical companies is one of those distractions.

In an industry where developing just one new pharmaceutical drug can cost a billion dollars, what the CEO makes doesn’t matter. The head of a megabillion-dollar pharmaceutical company can be paid a million dollars a year, 20 million dollars or work free of charge; that won’t raise or lower the cost of the medicine you buy by one dollar.

If making the CEO’s pay an issue can distract your attention from the impossible math used by Obama and his supporters, that’s a trick worthy of Houdini.

Insurance companies are another distraction and a scapegoat because they do not insure “pre-existing conditions.” Stop and think about it: If you could wait until you got sick to take out health insurance, why would you buy that insurance while you are well?

You could avoid paying all those premiums and then — after you got sick — take out health insurance and let the premiums paid by other people pay for your medical treatment.

That is not “bringing down the cost of health care.” It is sticking somebody else with paying those costs. So is taxing “the rich.” So is passing on those costs to your children and grandchildren through government deficit spending.

When Obama makes the insurance companies the villains for not insuring pre-existing conditions, that gives him another distraction and enables him to be another escape artist, like Houdini.

What is the point of government-controlled medical care if it is not going to lower costs but just shuffle them around, like a shell game?

The government does not have some magic wand that can “bring down the cost of health care.” It can buy a smaller quantity or lower quality of medical care, as other countries with government-run medical care do.

It can decide not to spend as much money on the elderly as is being spent now. That can save a lot of money — if you think having a parent die earlier is a bargain.

The idea of a “duty to die” has been making some headway in recent years around the fringes of the left. It is perfectly consistent with the fundamental notion of the left, that decisions should be transferred from ordinary citizens to government elites.

Liberals don’t have to advocate it. But once you have bureaucrats empowered to decide what treatments you can get, they may well decide that money spent keeping some 75-year-old grandmother alive for a few more years could be better spent politically by enabling 10 younger people to have acupuncture or visit a shrink.

Even if her children or grandchildren are willing to spend their own money to keep grandma alive, when bureaucrats control the necessary technology or medication they may decide that it’s not for sale.

Those pushing for government-controlled medical care say you can keep your doctor. But bureaucrats in Washington will decide whether what your doctor prescribes will be allowed.

Talking about your doctor is another distraction from the crucial question of who will have the power to decide, which can be the power of life and death.

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Healthcare: Specifics, Please

July 28, 2009

Specifics, Please

IBD: 24 July 2009

Health Care: From the president we now know that cops are stupid, doctors are greedy, Republicans don’t play nice, people are dying and we’re all going broke if we don’t embrace socialized medicine in a week or so.

Everything, in other words, but what Wednesday’s press conference was supposed to be about: the health care reforms the president and his party want voted on by the time Congress breaks for another vacation.

Sure, we heard a lot of wonkish rhetoric — this president seems to think all he has to do is talk, and everyone will bend to his will — but there were few specifics.

And a few specifics would be nice before we place our health care system — 17% of the economy — under government control.

We didn’t even hear the president explain how he could demand immediate action on bills that he himself hasn’t read. (But then, to be fair, the somnambulant journalists in attendance didn’t bother to ask.)

This became obvious Monday, when he was asked about a point we brought up in an editorial last week on whether the House bill in effect outlaws new private individual health care insurance the year it becomes law.

“You know,” Obama told a group of hand-selected, sympathetic bloggers, “I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you are talking about.”

Obama isn’t the only one who isn’t familiar with the “reform” he wants so badly. Tens of millions of other Americans are also trying to make heads or tails out of it — because it’s something that will affect each and every one of them.

Fortunately, some people are sorting through the particulars. For example, the Lewin Group, a consulting firm respected for its nonpartisan analysis of health care issues, put out another report this week that found, among other things, that:

More than 88 million Americans could lose their employer-based health coverage as businesses switch to the new taxpayer-subsidized public option that will compete with private insurers for enrollment. Doesn’t this refute the claim that we can keep our current coverage?

Yearly premiums for Americans with private coverage could rise as much as $460 per person as a result of the cost-shifting that would result from the public option. How does this jibe with the claim that costs will be lower?

Physicians’ net income would fall by 6.3%, or an average of $18,900 per doctor, as a result of lower reimbursements under the public option and higher practice expenses associated with providing services to the newly insured.

If this results in fewer doctors, what does it mean for the promise of better care, especially when 47 million more people are gaining access to the system?

These questions and many others demand answers from the president — in or out of press conferences — as well as Congress before this legislation gets any further. Because all we’re being told now is that if we cede control to Washington, we’ll get better care for more people at lower costs, and these claims just don’t add up.

One, care will be poorer as fewer doctors become overworked by the rush of newly insured patients. Two, more than 103 million Americans, the Lewin Group says, will be herded against their wishes into the government-run public option. Third, costs will keep rising because incentives to self-ration will be further weakened by a system that encourages patients to overuse it.

Until we hear some specifics that refute our reading of the legislation, we remain unconvinced that government-run health care will live up to its promise.

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Auto Industry: Something’s Smelly At GM

July 28, 2009

Something’s Smelly At GM

IBD: 24 July 2009

Bailouts: You’re a once-mighty auto company that’s been bailed out by taxpayers, taken over by government and just posted a 22% sales drop. What’s your next move? Why, unveil a new men’s fragrance, of course!

It got little attention, but GM’s decision to launch its new fragrance line in honor of Cadillac’s 100th anniversary may go down as one of the most absurd moves by a troubled corporation ever. No doubt they kept a team of highly paid MBAs busy for months with the project, while the car end of their business was imploding faster than a black hole.

Is this what we get for our money — the $51 billion we taxpayers have ponied up to bail GM out of its self-inflicted woes?

“Cadillac, the new fragrance for men,” doesn’t seem like much to start the “New” General Motors Corp. on. Likewise, it’s never good to see that, amid all the cutbacks, GM’s lobbying budget remains virtually untouched. We guess the new “Government Motors” needs the political clout.

Disappointing? You bet. The White House created a so-called “Car Czar” to oversee the auto industry. The Big Three, we were told, had been totally irresponsible and needed the government’s help and the taxpayers’ cash.

Well, so far, not so good. Just one month after the government took a 60% stake in GM, it reported its first half sales fell 22%.

Worse, its global market share fell to 12% — down from 12.3% a year ago and 14.1% in 2005. Last year, Toyota took over from GM as the world’s largest automaker, and this year GM will lose its Hummer, Saab, Saturn and Pontiac lines, becoming even smaller.

We didn’t expect an instant turnaround. But then again, we also didn’t expect to find out that men’s cologne would be part of their new product lineup.

And no, we’re not just picking on the auto industry here.

At least one major American automaker seems to be getting its act together. Ford rejected a big government bailout. How’s it doing? It posted a $2.3 billion quarterly profit in the second quarter, confounding analysts and critics alike.

“We strengthened our balance sheet, reduced cash outflows and improved our year-over-year financial results despite sharply-lower industry volumes,” said Ford Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth.

And it’s not as if GM has nothing going for it. Quite the contrary.

For one, GM’s newly reissued Camaro is a big hit.

Orders are literally running faster than production right now, forcing those who want a Camaro right away to pay more than the sticker price to get one.

And sales are booming — overseas. GM recently announced that its sales rose 38% in China in the first half, while setting sales records in seven Latin American countries during the same time. GM in the first half sold almost as many cars in China (814,442) as it did in the U.S. ( 947,518). Its share of Europe’s market is growing.

This underscores why GM should have been allowed to undergo a normal bankruptcy — not the politically rigged one that the government forced down all of our throats.

Today, GM might not exist, it’s true, if forced into a regular bankruptcy court. Its assets would have been sliced and diced to pay off its creditors. But those assets would live on. What automaker wouldn’t want to have the Camaro in its stable right now?

A regular bankruptcy would have given GM bondholders first call on its assets. Instead, they literally had money stolen from them.

More importantly, GM could have dumped its most onerous labor contracts with the United Auto Workers, while focusing on truly profitable cars. As it is, the UAW ended up with a major ownership stake in GM at the expense of its creditors and taxpayers.

GM exited bankruptcy on July 10. Today, what’s left after that politicized union-friendly travesty is two GMs.

One is the sickly domestic GM, which still has enormously costly labor contracts that give it roughly a $2,000 per car disadvantage when competing against the 12 foreign companies that make cars here. This GM can’t make money — especially now that government bureaucrats and union leaders are, in part, calling the shots.

Then there’s the other GM, the viable one. It posted big sales gains in foreign markets in the second half, and is the one part of GM that could not only survive, but thrive.

If GM manages to make it, it won’t be because of the taxpayer bailout. It will be because people elsewhere still want to buy its cars.

We hope GM can survive in the U.S. But we rather doubt it can with a management that thinks that perfume will cover up the stink of political meddling and the lingering bad odor of its ruinous retirement and health care costs.

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The Stoning of Soraya M. Exit Interviews

July 27, 2009

The Stoning of Soraya M. / Exit Interviews / Movie Review

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Global Warming: Ignoring Science

July 27, 2009

Ignoring Science

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY |  27 July 2009

Climate Change: A new scientific paper says that man has had little or nothing to do with global temperature variations. Maybe the only place it’s really getting hotter is in Al Gore’s head.


Read More: Global Warming


Because he must be getting flustered now, what with his efforts to save the benighted world from global warming continually being exposed as a fraud.

The true believers will not be moved by the peer-reviewed findings of Chris de Freitas, John McLean and Bob Carter, scientists at universities in Australia and New Zealand.

Warming advocates have too much invested in perpetuating the myth. (And are probably having too much fun calling those who don’t agree with them “deniers” and likening skeptics to fascists.)

But these scientists have made an important contribution to the debate that Gore says doesn’t exist.

Their research, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, indicates that nature, not man, has been the dominant force in climate change in the late 20th century.

“The surge in global temperatures since 1977 can be attributed to a 1976 climate shift in the Pacific Ocean that made warming El Nino conditions more likely than they were over the previous 30 years and cooling La Nina conditions less likely” says co-author de Freitas.

“We have shown that internal global climate-system variability accounts for at least 80% of the observed global climate variation over the past half-century. It may even be more if the period of influence of major volcanoes can be more clearly identified and the corresponding data excluded from the analysis.”

These findings are largely being ignored by the mainstream media. They simply don’t fit the worn narrative that man is dangerously warming the Earth through his carbon dioxide emissions and a radical alteration of Western lifestyles mandated by government policy is desperately needed.

They will be ignored, as well, by the Democratic machine that is trying to ram an economy-smothering carbon cap-and-trade regime through Congress.

Despite efforts to keep the global warming scare alive, the growing evidence that humans aren’t heating the planet is piercing the public consciousness and alarmists are becoming marginalized.

Sharp Americans are starting to understand H.L. Mencken’s observation that “The urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it.” That pretty much sums up the modern environmentalist movement.

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Cartoon: Obama “Show your I.D.”

July 27, 2009

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Cartoon: Obama’s Redbricked White House

July 23, 2009

Click to view larger:

IBD – 23 July 2009 M.Ramerez

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Cartoon: IRAN

July 22, 2009

Cartoon dated: 10 April 2009 – IBD (M.Ramirez)

Still around for more than 2 more years!

We are waiting for Israel to do our job.

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Hold The Mayo

July 22, 2009

Hold The Mayo

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | 22 July 2009

Reform: The administration has touted the world-class Mayo Clinic as a model for Congress’ health care bills. Just one problem: Mayo itself says what’s on offer will make us all “losers.”


IBD Exclusive Series: Government-Run Healthcare: A Prescription For Failure


It doesn’t say much for a “reform” plan when the example used to promote it explicitly warns against it. But that’s what happened when the Mayo Clinic on Tuesday refuted the Obama administration’s sales pitch for a 1,018-page health care reform bill, promising everyone a Mayo-like program.

The clinic warned the proposed reforms won’t create anything like the low-cost system for which Mayo is envied worldwide.

“The proposed legislation,” Mayo says on its policy blog, “misses the opportunity to help create higher-quality, more affordable health care for patients. In fact, it will do the opposite.

“In general, the proposals under discussion are not patient-focused or results-oriented. Lawmakers have failed to use a fundamental lever — a change in Medicare payment policy — to help drive . . . improvements in American health care.

“Unless legislators create payment systems that pay for good patient results at reasonable costs, the promise of transformation in . . . health care will wither. The real losers will be the citizens of the United States.”

Coming from a legendary, 120-year-old clinic, that’s a damning assessment the president and Congress would do well to heed.

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Shooting Down The F-22 Raptor

July 22, 2009

Shooting Down The Raptor

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | 22 July 2009

Defense Spending: The TARP bailout may hit $24 trillion, but the Senate says the F-22 is too expensive to build and maintain. So why are the Japanese so desperate to buy this “unnecessary” Cold War weapon?


Read More: Military & Defense


By a vote of 58-40, the Senate on Tuesday voted to remove $1.75 billion set aside in a defense bill to build seven more F-22 Raptors, adding to the 187 stealth technology fighters already in the pipeline.

After some hope the production lines would be kept open, the Senate succumbed to arguments by the administration and others that the fighter was too expensive, too hard to maintain and not built for the wars America is fighting these days.

President Obama welcomed the Senate vote, saying he rejected the notion that the country has to “waste billions of taxpayers dollars” on outdated defense projects.

Well, the inspector general in charge of overseeing the Treasury Department’s bank-bailout program now says the massive endeavor could end up costing taxpayers almost $24 trillion in a worst-case scenario. Yet we can’t afford to build just seven more F-22s?

Keeping the F-22 production lines open would be a real stimulus saving real jobs. Lockheed Martin, the main contractor, says 25,000 people are directly employed in building the plane, and another 70,000 have indirect links, particularly in Georgia, Texas and California. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., a supporter of the program, says there are 1,000 suppliers in 44 states. That’s wasteful?

Speaking to the Economic Club of Chicago last Friday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates repeated his assertion that “the F-22 is clearly a capability we do need — a niche, silver-bullet solution for one or two potential scenarios — specifically the defeat of a highly advanced enemy fighter fleet.”

But the “F-22, to be blunt, does not make much sense anyplace else in the spectrum of conflict,” he added.

Air dominance is not a “niche scenario,” and while we’re lucky the Taliban does not have an Air Force, other potential opponents do. It would prove quite useful over the skies of North Korea, if necessary, or in thwarting a Chinese threat in the Taiwan Straits. Gates forgets that it was high-tech “Cold War” weapons such as the stealthy F-111A that shattered Saddam Hussein’s air defenses and infrastructure and controlled the skies during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq.

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael M. Dunn, chief executive of the Air Force Association, notes that in last year’s conflict in Georgia, the Raptor was the only aircraft in our inventory that could have penetrated the defended airspace and had a chance of surviving.

The F-22 Raptor is also perhaps the only plane that could evade the sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system Russia has contracted to sell Iran. Russia’s S-300 system is “one of the most lethal, if not the most lethal, all-altitude area defense” systems, according to the International Strategy and Assessment Service, a Virginia-based think tank.

Gates and the Pentagon prefer the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. But many believe its lesser abilities have been further compromised by making it a one-size-fits-all aircraft for all services in all conflicts.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., in whose state final assembly occurs, says, “The F-35 was designed to operate after F-22s secure the airspace and does not have the inherent altitude and speed advantages to survive every time against peers with counter-electronic measures.”

In an interview with Human Events, Japanese ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki said Tokyo wants F-22s to replace its aging F-4s and F-15s. Japan is facing an increasingly capable and unstable North Korea armed with nuclear weapons and the weapons to carry them. It also confronts a future superpower in China, with which it has territorial disputes.

Japan wants the F-22 to deal with both threats. It will soon have to deal with fifth-generation Chinese fighter aircraft and aircraft carriers to carry them. Japan is wise to prefer the F-22, which can fly 300 to 400 mph faster and two miles higher than the F-35.

We would be too.

F-22 photos:


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Connecting Sotomayor to Flight 800

July 22, 2009

Sotomayor Squashed Journalist’s First Amendment Rights

Jack Cashill – June 18, 2009 – AmericanThinker.com

What no one can question about the investigation into the mysterious July 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 off the coast of Long Island is that the government came down hard on serious journalists, and on no journalist harder than investigative reporter, James Sanders.

A key player in that government machinery was none other than District Court judge, Sonia Sotomayor.

In May 2000, she and two colleagues ruled against James Sanders and his wife, Elizabeth, in a civil suit the pair brought against the government agencies that had pursued and arrested them.

True, Sotomayor acknowledged, the government’s “aggressive investigation commenced immediately following publication of the newspaper article,” and yes the article in question did point to criminal conduct on the part of senior Justice Department and FBI officials.

No matter, ruled the judges, “It does not follow that [the Sanders] were punished because they may have drawn blood.”

From the beginning, the story of TWA Flight 800, the one that James Sanders chronicled, has been a story of humanity betrayed – none more so than the families of the 230 good souls aboard that doomed plane.

Fifty-three of the dead were TWA employees. A TWA trainer, Elizabeth Sanders had worked with many of the attendants on the doomed flight and knew several of the pilots.

Their deaths wounded Elizabeth deeply. In the weeks afterward, she and her TWA colleagues passed numbly from one memorial service to another, their grief matched only by their growing anger at the obvious misdirection of the investigation.

Elizabeth introduced one of those colleagues, 747 pilot and manager Terry Stacey, to her husband, and he would become Sanders’ best source within that investigation.

That introduction would get the sweet, vulnerable Elizabeth arrested and convicted of conspiracy.

The harassment of Sanders can be traced to March 10, 1997, when California’s Riverside Press-Enterprise headlined its front page with an article titled, “New Data Show Missile May Have Nailed TWA 800.”

The story identified James Sanders as an “investigative reporter,” provided information on his previous non-fiction books, and described his inquiry into the Flight 800 investigation over the preceding months.

This story created a significant problem for the Justice Department. The article’s text confirmed that Sanders was on the trail of potential criminal activity by certain investigators.

As those charged with containing the investigation realized, their worst nightmare had come to pass. Forensic evidence had left the hangar.

(Above: James Sanders explains in his own words)

Some unknown person within the investigation had removed a pinch of material from the plane as telling and potentially damaging as Monica’s famed “blue dress.”

That person was Terrel Stacey. He had removed it of his own volition and sent it to Sanders FedEx.

This piece of seat back was laced with the DNA of the crash, a reddish-orange residue trail that streaked across a narrow section of the plane’s interior.

The FBI had lifted samples in early September 1996, then refused to share the test results with Stacey and others working with the NTSB. For the record, those tests today remain classified under the guise of national security.

The Clinton Justice Department began to defame the Sanders the day after the article appeared, March 11, publicly and falsely claiming that the reddish-orange residue was glue.

If the residue were nothing but glue, it is hard to explain why the FBI launched a major investigation that resulted in the arrest of Stacey, James Sanders, and Elizabeth Sanders.

The law in question had been enacted in the 1960s to discourage souvenir hunters from carting away wreckage at a crash scene before authorities arrived.

What Stacey had taken was much more precious, namely information. Had he managed to scrape off the residue, as he tried to do, he could not have been prosecuted under the scavenger law.

In the Sanders’ trial, the jurors were not allowed to know that James was a reporter. For all they knew, he and Elizabeth were rogue junk dealers. Both were convicted.

Sotomayor and colleagues fully ignored the suppression of Sanders’ First Amendment rights in their ruling.

“The government,” they claimed, “was motivated by a legitimate desire to identify and eliminate a patent security breach in the official investigation, rather than by an illegitimate desire to silence an objectionable viewpoint.”

If this were true, it is hard to understand why in1997 the FBI’s New York office Internet site headlined the story of the Sanders’ arrest, “Conspiracy theorist and wife charged with theft of parts from airplane.”

The use of the word “conspiracy theorist” would seem to suggest that the FBI arrested Sanders precisely because he held an “objectionable viewpoint.”

Having ignored the obvious, the judges concluded, “Absent any evidence that the prosecution was brought to punish the defendants or to retaliate against them for exercising their rights, the defendants were not entitled to discovery on the issue of actual vindictiveness.”

As Sanders observes, discovery would have revealed that the FBI and CIA had changed the testimony of key witnesses, fully fabricated some witness statements, altered the debris field, reshaped recovered airplane parts, and concealed or corrupted a wide range of additional salient evidence to fit their cover story.

Sanders, who has lived this case for the last twelve years, does not mince words in describing the Supreme Court nominee: “The evidence clearly established probable cause to believe Sotomayor entered the conspiracy and aided and abetted the conspiracy.”

What gives legs to Sanders’ conspiracy charge is that during that same year Sotomayor ruled against him, she ruled in favor of TWA and Boeing.

Despite her famed Latina compassion, Sotomayor was the sole dissenting vote in denying compensation to the victims’ families.

Sanders is not alone in his belief that TWA and Boeing had been coerced into accepting the government position on the crash in return for the administration’s help in weathering its consequences.

All Sanders asks for now is a little of Sotomayor’s superior justice and Obama’s equally superior transparency.

Jack Cashill

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Emerson on Fox News: How Real is the Threat of Homegrown Terror in the US?

July 21, 2009

by Steven Emerson
Fox News – Red Eye
June 10, 2009

GREG GUTFELD: He knows terror cells like I know cheap hotels. My next guest has been warning us for years that terrorists are being homegrown right here in the United States and now several incidents here at home seem to be proving him correct. I’m pleased to have on the set, Steven Emerson. He is a terrorism analyst and the founder of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, a non-profit research group. Hey Steven, how are you?

STEVEN EMERSON: Good to see you.

GUTFELD: Glad to have you. Now we got a couple of recent incidents, the Bronx terror plot, where they tried to bomb the synagogues and then we had the Arkansas jihadist’s murder. Are these just isolated incidents, because that’s the way it’s being shown in the media, that they are basically rogue weirdos and we have nothing to worry about. Is that fair?

STEVEN EMERSON: No, absolutely not. The fact is there is no conspiracy here but they what they are all tethered to is this cultural jihad that they learn that it’s ok to kill the infidel, Jews, Christians, military targets and they’re all embedded with this ideology. The fact is if you look within the last eight years you will find that the U.S. has stopped 19 major terrorist attacks here in the United States. None of them were connected to each other but like the Fort Dix plot where they plotted on killing 500 US soldiers; these were American Muslims who were living here for the better part of 25 years. They had all of the benefits of living here yet they became radicalized through the internet, through the mosques, through the Islamic organizations that teach them that the United States is the devil incarnate.

GUTFELD: But here’s the thing…this is the weird thing about success. When you bust a plot, it doesn’t happen and the media seems to only take terrorism seriously when it’s successful.

EMERSON: I had a discussion with three FBI agents the other day about what would have happened on September 10th, 2001 if we had arrested 19 guys and charged them with plotting to blow up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; and everyone would have said this is just a crazy conspiratorial allegation by the government and they were entrapped. This is exactly the problem. The media doesn’t take it seriously for two reasons. One, is their sympathy with the radical Muslim ideology; they look at them as victims. Number two, the media is more focused on being adversarial to the government. So the government’s attacks on Muslims is perceived as the real aggression; not the attacks by Muslims against the US government or the US people.

GUTFELD: How good a job does the mainstream media do on reporting this stuff?

EMERSON: On a scale of 1 to 10?

GUTFELD: Yeah.

EMERSON: 1 being the least?

GUTFELD: Yes.

EMERSON: Negative 50.

GUTFELD: Really?

EMERSON: Absolutely.

GUTFELD: That wasn’t part of the rating system, Steven. Had to be between 1 and 10.

EMERSON: It is so appalling and I have to watch it because again I deal with the media.

GUTFELD: Who are the worst? Who are the worst people? Bill Schultz is one of them.

EMERSON: No kidding. New York Times.

HOST: I can’t talk when… Whoa! Cover that! We’ll fix that in edits.

EMERSON: Sorry. The New York Times is appalling. If you listen to the 3 hour block of primetime on MSNBC, all four people that watch them, they don’t have to use waterboarding, all they have to do is make the Islamic terrorist do is listen to Chris Matthews for two hours and they’ll say anything. The fact is the most politically correct, pro radical Islamic commentary and reporting is done by some of the most mainstream media networks and newspapers and unfortunately there is no accountability. Nobody says to them you did it wrong because they’re all busy taking on the US government. They think the US government is more dangerous than radical Islam.

GUTFELD: Yeah, and as long as the US government continues to do its job by keeping you safe, it makes it easier for them to do that because there is nothing they can point to.

EMERSON: They are victims of their own success.

GUTFELD: Yeah. You talk about the violent jihad and the stealth jihad. What’s the stealth jihad? I imagine that’s like the violent one but invisible.

EMERSON: Well, sort of like that because most people focus on terrorism that’s the act of violence where you see the explosion, the planes blowing up, the buildings on fire, people jumping out of buildings; but everything leading up to that, the indoctrination, the prosetylization, the recruitment, the radicalization. That’s all invisible to the naked eye. Much of that is legal and it’s also part of the infiltration of the United States government. The Muslim Brotherhood designed a plan 30 years ago to infiltrate the US government. These are not things that I am making up but were introduced as documents in a trial recently and it shows that the stealth jihad is an effort to suppress your freedom of speech. Why wouldn’t any newspaper reprint the Danish cartoons? Why did Random House not publish the book about the Prophet Mohammad’s wife? Why are writers around the world in fear, living in this country in fear in full 24 hour protection?

GUTFELD: What’s your take on the whole concept on the unclenched fist? I have a theory he’s doing this, the President’s doing this so that later he can say he did it and its part of a journey of coming to a conclusion. That’s what I’m hoping. A conclusion that you’ve already reached; that the unclenched fist doesn’t work, unless it’s at a club with Bill.

EMERSON: I’m not going to disagree with you on this one.

GUTFELD: What about the club part?

EMERSON: Look, he wouldn’t use the term terrorism in his speech. He doesn’t use the words radical Islam at all. When he is asked who the enemy is he says Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is just part of the enemy. The enemy is jihadism. If you can’t name your enemy as radical Islam, you can’t ever expect to defeat it.

GUTFELD: But he did bring up 9/11 which was-I was glad he did that. I wasn’t asking for much but at least he did that.

EMERSON: He brought up 9/11,on the other hand he’s like let’s go forward with the Iranians. Let’s wipe the slate clean with the 240 Marines that they killed in 1983 in the Marine Barracks, or the Colonels that they hung in 1989 in Beirut. Look the bottom line is the aggression that has been committed by the Muslim world against the United States and the West or Jews and Christians has been a hundred times greater than we have committed against them.

GUTFELD: Now you can’t live-you live in an undisclosed address, don’t you? You can’t-

EMERSON: Now I’m going to have to kill you.

GUTFELD: Have people actually tried to assassinate you or have you uncovered?

EMERSON: Listen, anybody who sends me a threat, whether its my staff, my mother, or somebody who hates me and there are a lot of people who do.

HOST: Your mother sends you threats?

EMERSON: She communicates with me. She doesn’t use the internet yet. She breaks the computer. That’s what she’s afraid of doing. I don’t take them seriously but there was a threat that was serious when I was informed about it several years ago and they forced me to leave my existing co-op.

GUTFELD: Really?

EMERSON: I couldn’t even sell it because of the issue of potential someone bombing it.

GUTFELD: I think that was someone who wanted your co-op because I have acted on the same thing. I wanted to move into my building so I just made it a kinda death threat thing and I got the place.

EMERSON: Really?

GUTFELD: Yeah.

EMERSON: You do that in the right market I guess. They did it at the wrong time.

GUTFELD: Steven, thank you so much. Steven Emerson. Check out his website. Its investigativeproject.org. It’s kinda scary interesting stuff. If you have a comment on what you’re seeing, email us. Its redeye@foxnews.com

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Logic Gets Lost Amid Hysteria About ‘Reform’

July 21, 2009

IBD   21 July 09

by Thomas Sowell

Is there a coherent argument for government-controlled medical care or are slogans and hysteria considered sufficient?

We hear endlessly about how many Americans don’t have health insurance. But, if we stop and think — which politicians hope we never do — that raises the question as to why that calls for government-controlled medical care.

A bigger question is whether medical care will be better or worse after the government takes it over. There are many available facts relevant to those crucial questions but remarkably little interest in those facts.

There are facts about the massive government-run medical programs already in existence in the United States — Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ hospitals — as well as government-run medical systems in other countries.

None of the people who are trying to rush government-run medical care through Congress before we have time to think about it are pointing to Medicare, Medicaid or veterans’ hospitals as shining examples of how wonderful we can expect government medical care to be when it becomes “universal.”

As for those uninsured Americans we keep hearing about, there is remarkably little interest in why they don’t have insurance. It cannot be poverty, for the poor can automatically get Medicaid.

In fact, we already know that there are people with substantial incomes who choose to spend those incomes on other things, especially if they are young and in good health. If necessary, they can always go to a hospital emergency room and receive treatment there, whether or not they have insurance.

Here, the advocates of government-run medical care say that we all end up paying, one way or another, for the free medical care that hospitals are forced by law to provide in their emergency rooms.

But unless you think that any situation you don’t like is a reason to give politicians a blank check for “change,” the relevant question becomes whether the alternative is either less expensive or of better quality. Nothing is cheaper just because part of the price is paid in higher taxes.

Such questions seldom get asked, much less answered. We are like someone being rushed by a used car dealer to sign on the dotted line. But getting stuck with a car that is a lemon is nothing compared to signing away your right to decide what medical care you or your loved ones will get in life-and-death situations.

Politicians can throw rhetoric around about “bringing down the cost of health care,” or they can even throw numbers around. But the numbers that politicians are throwing around don’t match the numbers that the Congressional Budget Office finds when it analyzes the hard data.

An old advertising slogan said, “Progress is our most important product.” With politicians, confusion is their most important product. They confuse bringing down the price of medical care with bringing down the cost. And they confuse medical care with health care.

Nothing is easier than for governments to impose price controls. They have been doing this, off and on, for thousands of years — repeatedly resulting in (1) shortages, (2) quality deterioration and (3) black markets. Why would anyone want any of those things when it comes to medical care?

Refusing to pay the costs is not the same as bringing down the cost. That is why price controls create these problems. When developing a new pharmaceutical drug costs roughly a billion dollars, you are either going to pay the billion dollars or cause people to stop spending a billion dollars to develop new drugs.

The confusion of “health care” with medical care is the crucial confusion. Years ago, a study showed that Mormons live a decade longer than other Americans. Are doctors who treat Mormons so much better than the doctors who treat the rest of us? Or do Mormons avoid doing a lot of things that shorten people’s lives?

The point is that health care is largely in your hands. Medical care is in the hands of doctors. Things that depend on what doctors do — cancer survival rates, for example — are already better here than in countries with government-run medical systems. But if political rhetoric prevails, we may yet sell our birthright and not even get the mess of pottage.

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Walkter Cronkite Without Tears

July 21, 2009

In this Aug. 25, 1998, photo, Walter Cronkite is joined by President Bill Clinton, wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea on a sailboat near Edgartown, Mass. Best known as anchorman for the ‘CBS Evening News’ for 19 years, Cronkite died Friday night at 92.

IBD     21 July 09

Journalism: After the eulogies, the fact remains that “the most trusted man in America” betrayed that trust. He helped snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Vietnam and tried hard to do the same in Iraq.

President Obama on Friday praised Walter Cronkite as a journalistic icon, calling the CBS anchor the “voice of certainty in an uncertain world.” More to the point, he was the father of advocacy journalism, the patron saint of media bias. He went from reporting news to recreating it in his own image.

Far from the image of the patriotic war correspondent, Cronkite was a World Federalist who couldn’t wait for what was called “the American Century” to end.

In a profile by Newsday TV writer Verne Gay in the Jan. 21, 1996, issue of Los Angeles Times Magazine, Cronkite spoke of his dream for America. “We may have to find some marvelous middle ground between capitalism and communism,” Gay quotes Cronkite as saying.

Let’s call it socialism, and Cronkite at least lived long enough to see it unfolding before his eyes and ours.

Cronkite said that for the United States “the first priority of the new order must be a revision of the educational system to . . . guarantee that each of our citizens will have equal resources to share in the decisions of the democracy, and a fair share of the economic pie.”

For him, equal opportunity was not enough; equal success must be guaranteed. And he was ahead of his time in suggesting we should spread the wealth around.

In October 1999, Cronkite accepted the Norman Cousins Global Governance Award from the World Federalist Association. In accepting the award, he said “we must strengthen the United Nations as a first step toward a world government” and that “Americans will have to yield up some of our sovereignty.”

Cronkite was also bothered by American wars against oppression and tyranny. The “most trusted man in America” said Vietnam was unwinnable and helped to make it so. Then-President Johnson reportedly told an aide, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”

Except that Cronkite’s analysis was almost pure fiction and dead wrong.

His report after the Tet offensive of 1968 was a total misreading of the situation on the ground, which was that Tet was an American and South Vietnamese victory and a Viet Cong defeat. His report did succeed in fueling the anti-war movement Hanoi counted on for victory.

The Viet Cong didn’t reach a single one of their objectives and lost most of their 45,000 troops in their attacks on 21 South Vietnamese cities. So massive was their defeat that it convinced Hanoi to send North Vietnamese Army regulars south to carry on the fight. But that’s not what Cronkite reported.

What Cronkite never mentioned is that defeat came not on the battlefield but in the halls of Congress, when the “Watergate babies” of 1974 cut off aid to the valiant South Vietnamese who’d been successfully defending their country. The Democrats de-funded that war, and they wanted to defund the latest one too with his blessing.

In 2007, Cronkite said the Iraq War “is being carried out by a stubborn president.” Stubborn like Churchill and Reagan. In an op-ed in the Japan Times, Cronkite said that we “have lost the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, and victory no longer seems to be a remote possibility.”

The reporters and talking heads who revered him and sought to emulate him also manipulated the true facts, focusing on body counts and ignoring the millions of purple fingers, casting their first votes, their hearts and minds clearly with us.

To the Cronkites of the world it will always be 1968, and only global governance can save us from our quagmires. And that’s the way it is . . .

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Czar 54, Who Are You?

July 21, 2009

IBD     21 July 09

Leadership: Our new science czar, John Holdren, once backed compulsory sterilization and forced abortion as part of a government population-control program. The only thing missing was a Soylent Green recipe.

In April, President Obama declared that “the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.” In everything from stem cell research to climate change and energy policy, reason and science would triumph. The problem is that what the Obama administration considers science, as exemplified by the choice of Holdren, is troubling.

In a recently rediscovered 1977 book, “Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment,” co-authored with doomsters Paul and Anne Ehrlich, Holdren, who holds the post of presidential assistant for science technology, revealed his pessimistic and apocalyptic views on all three topics. They are disturbing.

He hates people and views them as the root of all planetary evils. Large families are a target of Holdren and the Ehrlichs, who write that they “contribute to general social deterioration by overproducing children” and “can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility.”

On page 837, Holdren writes “it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society.”

Overproducing children? On the next page, Holdren asserts that “neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution mentions a right to reproduce.” He missed that part about life being an inalienable right.

Existing Constitution? On page 943, Holdren proposes “a comprehensive Planetary Regime (that) could control the development, administration and distribution of all natural resources . . . not only in the atmosphere and the oceans, but in such freshwater bodies as rivers and lakes.” We believe that was tried in Kyoto and will be tried again in Copenhagen.

As for that nasty people problem, Holdren says the “Planetary Regime might be given responsibility for determining the optimum population for the world and for each region and for arbitrating various countries’ shares within their regional limits. . . . The Regime would have some power to enforce the agreed limits.” This is China on steroids.

Among the methods of population control he discusses in the book is “sterilizing women after their second or third child” and “adding a sterilant to drinking water or staple foods.” He cautions that whatever is added must be safe for pets and livestock.

Similar nonsense was express in Paul Ehrlich’s “The Population Bomb” (1968), which warned: “In the 1970s, the world will undergo famine — hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked on now.” He was wrong.

Such nightmare scenarios regarding overpopulation have made the rounds since Thomas Malthus predicted in 1798 that overpopulation would outstrip England’s food supply and the British Empire would literally starve to death.

In 1980, Holdren and the Ehrlichs made a famous wager with economist Julian Simon: They bet $1,000 that five metals — chrome, copper, nickel, tin and tungsten — would be more expensive 10 years later. They were wrong on all five predictions, and had to pay up in 1990.

Holdren also calculated that famines due to climate change could leave a billion people dead by 2020, championed “population control measures,” and believed 280 million Americans would likely be “too many.”

Like Ehrlich, he forgot that with bodies come minds, minds that can innovate, invent and find substitutes for scarce resources and new ways to feed people. Things like fiber optic cables, wireless computers, and bioengineering come to mind. Obesity is a threat, not famine.

This administration, through its policies, programs and personnel choices, is pushing science fiction, not science, and seeking to control and limit people as a plague upon the earth. Science czar John Holdren’s views, which to our knowledge have not been disavowed, paint a bleak future for the human race at the hands of government.

We prefer another piece of advice we were once given — be fruitful and multiply.

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The only greenhouse gas around is Hillary

July 21, 2009

Hillary Shortchanges U.S. On India

IBD     21 July 09

Leadership: Hillary Clinton’s trip to India to push a global warming agenda has proved a waste of time. Not just because India rejected junk science, but because big issues got sidelined. Her agenda is making her insignificant.

The last thing the U.S. should be doing with a prized ally like India is try to force it into the green agenda of the Kyoto and Copenhagen set, as if that were the most important issue for the two states, topping their military and trade interests.

But Secretary of State Clinton made that the centerpiece of her visit to India, almost trying to shame the nation of 1 billion people to agree to slash its greenhouse gases by 50% by 2050 in preparation for a comprehensive treaty in Copenhagen by December.

“Not so long ago, the measure of a nation’s greatness was the size of its military or its economic strength, or its capacity to dominate its friends and adversaries,” Clinton told students at Delhi University. “But in this century — in the interconnected and interdependent world in which we live — greatness can be defined by the power of an example.”

Example? Actually, India will go for the economic and military strength, thank you very much. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much more than lip service on that from Clinton.

And that’s a shame, because India is a nation that has moved away from multilateralism, statism and socialism since 1991 and vowed to do the things that make a nation substantially great instead of sanctimoniously pure. That means a strong defense and open markets. This year it expects to post 6% GDP growth, a miracle in a global economic downturn. Signing on to any green pact will halt that.

But that hasn’t stopped the Obama administration from submerging that unique relationship beneath a multilateral global agenda and a series of other smaller issues — a disservice to us and to India.

India’s alliance is the best thing to happen since the Iraq War. Our huge strategic and trade relationship — we now do some $44 billion in two-way trade — is unlike any other in the world. Forged from a common fight against terrorism and a commitment to growth through trade, it needs to grow on those terms.

But instead of talking about a free-trade treaty, as India has sought, or taking steps to strengthen the U.S.-India military alliance as new challenges from China, Pakistan and emerging non-state actors like Somali pirates appear, Clinton called for a “comprehensive strategic approach,” devoted to education, food security and the climate change agenda.

Not surprisingly, the Indians gave her an earful. “India’s position, let me be clear, is that we are simply not in a position to take legally binding emission targets,” India’s environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, told Clinton. He noted that global warming is unproven science and India didn’t want to give up its economic growth for that.

It also didn’t help that Clinton was cajoling the Indians by using nonsensical arguments put forward by Obama himself during his campaign instead of her own more commonsensical ones.

She insisted that signing on to the green agenda would bring economic growth, something the Obama administration has tried to sell to the U.S. public.

“No one wants to in any way stall or undermine the economic growth that is necessary to lift millions more out of poverty,” Clinton said. “We also believe that there is a way to eradicate poverty and develop sustainability that will lower … the carbon footprint.”

The Washington Post also reported that she toured a squat “green” building, calling it a new Taj Mahal and a “monument to the future,” surely making the Indians realize the real one was better.

Lastly, she made a ridiculous apology: “We acknowledge now with President Obama that we have made mistakes in the United States, and we along with other developed countries have contributed most significantly to the problem that we face with climate change.”

None of these moves lifts America’s stature abroad. The U.S. has less real interest in dreamy global treaties like Copenhagen than it does in strengthening actual bilateral ties like defense and trade.

Is it any wonder that with such a misplaced agenda, Clinton’s influence is said to be shrinking? It’s the agenda that makes it so.

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Cartoon

July 21, 2009

IBD     21 July 09

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Tired Of Losers

July 21, 2009

IBD    21 July 09

War On Terror: Defense Secretary Robert Gates says both our forces and the American people are “tired” of the Afghan war. What they’re really tired of is defeatists put in charge of running wars.

This month saw the death of Robert McNamara, the defense secretary whose contempt for military authority helped lose Vietnam. Over the weekend, Walter Cronkite died, the CBS Evening News star who in early 1968 told viewers we ought “to negotiate” with the Vietnamese communists “not as victors, but as an honorable people who … did the best they could.”

Afghanistan may not be a Vietnam, where the U.S. suffered over 58,000 casualties, but a fighter jet crash on Saturday made July the bloodiest month of the eight-year Afghan war, with 50 service personnel killed.

Secretary Gates’ reaction in an interview with the Los Angeles Times can be viewed in one of two ways. His lament that “the troops are tired; the American people are pretty tired” could be interpreted as brutal realism.

Gates announced a kind of self-imposed timetable in which U.S. forces must substantially improve things over the next year or lose the support of the public. “After the Iraq experience, nobody is prepared to have a long slog where it is not apparent we are making headway,” Gates contended.

Perhaps he wants to avoid “the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington” Cronkite complained of 40 years ago, and “the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds.”

That, however, is not the way our enemies in the global war on terror view Gates’ remarks.

To the jihadists, “a long slog” is exactly what this war is, and to them it began not on Sept. 11, 2001, but 13 centuries ago. Can anyone imagine Osama bin Laden announcing that “al-Qaida members are tired”? Would the Taliban ever express fear of losing the confidence of Afghans? Never. Because they believe they have God on their side; defeat is not an option.

We, on the other hand, don’t seem to be quite sure whether God is on the side of winning a war against people who’d be happy to incinerate a U.S. or European city if they could build a bomb to do it.

In fall 1941, Churchill did not moan about fatigued soldiers or public opinion. “These are not dark days,” he told his nation. “These are great days — the greatest days our country has ever lived.”

If we are to win against the evil that threatens our lives and our freedoms, those are the kind of winning words we have to start hearing from our leaders.

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Strike Now At Mullahs’ Economic Pillars

July 21, 2009

IBD    22 June 09

by Chuck Devore

As we watch the swelling protests in Iran, it’s worth remembering that the aspirations of America are eminently compatible with the aspirations of the average Iranian.

I know a bit about this, as I am privileged to represent one of the largest Iranian-American communities in the country, in Orange County, Calif.

The compatibilities between Iranian hopes and the American dream center on the yearning for individual liberties and the end of clerical autocracy — hopes as compelling to the Iranian democrat today as the Jeffersonian democrat two centuries ago.

The question is whether President Obama will do anything about it.

The basic points of pressure on Iran’s clerical autocrats are simple: the control of petroleum, the need for foreign cash, the reliance upon the instruments of force, and the control of internal communications. All remain the material pillars of the regime.

Its psychological pillars are a bit more complex: Iranian resentment at foreign interference, Shia exceptionalism and a peculiar concept of Islamic juridical rule known as velayat-e faqih.

It is possible for the president to strike at the material pillars of the Iranian theocracy, while sparing the psychological pillars that might turn the mass of Iranians against us.

Though hardly a friendly society by most standards, the few American tourists to visit Iran have generally received a warm welcome. (Indeed, PBS travel-show fixture Rick Steves has been on the lecture circuit about this for a few years now.) The Iranian regime is assuredly America’s long-standing enemy, but the Iranians at large do not harbor a unique hatred for the United States.

What, then, should America do to support Iranians’ hopes for liberty? Any policy response must proceed on twin tracks of empowering the Iranian democracy movement, and striking at the mullahs’ material base.

Empowering the democracy movement in Iran demands sensitivity and creativity on the part of American policymakers. Fortunately, that movement is self-motivated, self-organizing, and technologically savvy — and thus needs no outside assistance in the provision of ideas, energy or enthusiasm.

What it does need are the tools to render itself an effective mass rather than an inchoate mob. Above all, that means channels of communication and intellectual capital.

Enough ink has been spilled on the remarkable role of social media, and especially Twitter, in maintaining momentum for the Iranian protests. Less noticed is the active interest that the State Department has taken in keeping those channels open for the benefit of the protesters.

Earlier this week, State reportedly intervened with Twitter to delay a scheduled service outage till nighttime in Tehran. This is practical and meaningful assistance, and the Obama administration should be doing much more of it.

Striking at the mullahs’ material base is more straightforward. They need legitimacy and foreign trade to sustain an economy that totters along with rising unemployment that approaches 15% — an ominous figure in a country where about 70% of the citizens are under 30.

Iran has the world’s third-largest oil reserves, yet it had to impose fuel rationing on its own citizens in 2007, and its economy is extremely vulnerable to lower oil prices.

It’s no accident that civil unrest in Iran, as in so many countries, erupts when material expectations of a young and comparatively educated citizenry are unmet by a corrupt and inefficient government. Though not a proximate cause, this is surely among the root causes of Iranian discontent now.

With this in mind, crafting a strategy to squeeze the machinery of repression would be an exercise in the sort of multilateral diplomacy in which the Obama administration takes such pride.

Of the major recipients of Iranian oil, the top four are Asian economies and the remainder European nations plus South Africa.

Though it is unrealistic to assume that the United States could persuade all of them to forgo Iranian oil, we don’t have to: Any one of the Asian nations, or a few of the European nations (building upon the European Union’s admirable vigor in condemning repression in Iran), would do tremendous harm to the mullahs’ coffers.

Beyond this, we know from experiences with Zimbabwe and North Korea that targeted sanctions against specific regime figures — for example, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, presently being feted in Russia — are remarkably effective in harming the architects of tyranny while sparing their victims.

So much for what the Obama administration should do. What will it do, and what has it done? Nearly a week into this crisis, the sad answer is: Very little.

Other than the State Department’s reported intervention with Twitter, and a few late and tentative statements from the president himself, America’s moral leadership, in a cause that directly affects us, is remarkably absent.

A president who rose to power on a self-proclaimed wave of hope owes the hopes of an oppressed people more than his silence.

• DeVore is an assemblyman representing California’s 70th district, including Irvine, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. He is also a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

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Public Option To Cut Health Costs Medicare’s Record Says Dream On

July 21, 2009

IBD           22 June 09

by Jeffrey H. Anderson

‘First, the rising cost of health care must be brought down.” That’s what President Obama recently declared when outlining the basic principles of his health care plan.

His supporters have echoed his emphasis. The New York Times writes that, when it comes to health policy, “The president’s main focus is on starting to reduce the soaring cost of health care.”

Speaker Pelosi concurs: Health care reform “is about cost — taking down the cost of health care.”

But can the president’s plan succeed, even on his own terms? If history is any guide, it cannot — and will instead make matters much worse.

The centerpiece of President Obama’s plan is a “public option,” described by Tom Daschle as “a government-run insurance program, modeled after Medicare.” The president asserts that this new Medicare-like program would cut costs.

But there are nearly 40 years of experience to consult, and they offer a resounding rebuttal. Across the years, Medicare’s costs have risen far more than the costs of privately purchased care.

A new study I’ve completed, published by the Pacific Research Institute, takes all health-care spending in the United States and subtracts the costs of the two flagship government-run programs, Medicare and Medicaid. It then takes that remaining spending and compares its cost increases over time with Medicare’s cost increases over time.

The results are clear: Since 1970 — even without the prescription drug benefit — Medicare’s costs have risen 34% more, per patient, than the combined costs of all health care in America apart from Medicare and Medicaid, the vast majority of which is purchased through the private sector.

Since 1970, the per-patient costs of all health care apart from Medicare and Medicaid have risen from $364 to $7,119, while Medicare’s per-patient costs have risen from $368 to $9,634. Medicare’s costs have risen $2,511 more per patient.

These conclusions are true despite very generous treatment of Medicare. My study counts Medicare’s prescription drug expenditures as part of privately purchased care, rather than as part of Medicare. It counts health care purchased privately by Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries (including Medicare copayments and Medigap insurance) among the costs of private care, without counting its recipients among those receiving private care — thereby magnifying private care’s per-person costs. And it doesn’t adjust for cost-shifting from Medicare to private entities.

The New York Times and others have quoted studies claiming that private insurance has failed to contain costs as well as Medicare. Such studies are deeply misleading, for they omit any consideration of out-of-pocket spending, thereby neglecting a major shift in the private health care market.

From 1970 to 2007, out-of-pocket expenditures dropped from 62% of all private health care to just 26%. Correspondingly, insurance expenditures increased from 38% to 74%. These studies make no allowance for that change. That’s a lot like looking at LP or CD sales, ignoring MP3s, and concluding that Americans are no longer as fond of music.

The president himself says that “over the last decade” Americans “have seen their out-of-pocket expenses soar.” But, according to official government figures, per-patient out-of-pocket costs have risen only 35% since 2000, while Medicare’s per-patient costs have risen 59% — again, even without the prescription drug benefit.

Private insurance and private out-of-pocket spending, in tandem, have controlled costs far better than Medicare. However, if Medicare has, in fact, fared comparatively well vs. private insurance — as the supporters of President Obama’s proposals claim — then that means it has fared particularly poorly vs. private out-of-pocket spending, thereby further strengthening the argument that private consumers, paying out-of-pocket, are the best bargain-shoppers and the keenest pursuers of value in health care.

From a policy perspective, this would suggest that the key to lowering costs is to let consumers control more of their own resources — that when they have the freedom and incentive to pursue value, they know how to keep costs down.

The most important comparison, in the context of the current debate over a Medicare-like “public option,” is between government-run health care and privately purchased health care on the whole.

Across nearly four decades, Medicare’s costs have risen more than one-third more, per patient, than the combined costs of all health care nationwide apart from Medicare and Medicaid. This is true even when viewing Medicare’s costs in a charitable light.

President Obama asserts that creating a Medicare-like “public option” is the way to slow the rising costs of health care. Experience shows the opposite, that costs have risen faster under government-run care. As Benjamin Franklin and George Mason argued at the Constitutional Convention, let’s defer to “experience, the best of all tests.”

• Anderson is a senior fellow in health care studies at the Pacific Research Institute and was the senior speechwriter for Secretary Mike Leavitt at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Give The Gov’t A Year To Exit Private Sector

July 21, 2009

IBD 22 June 09

By Sen. John Thune

Last fall’s economic downturn and liquidity crisis were very serious. However, in the course of responding to them, the government abandoned its initial plan of action to purchase toxic assets and instead took to buying ownership stakes in a large number of private companies. 

An attempt to respond to an emergency quickly changed into something unanticipated by most Americans and most members of Congress. When the dust settled, the federal government had become a major investor in more than 500 private American businesses.

I share the concerns of those who are alarmed at the federal government’s increasing role in our economy, both through spending enormous sums of borrowed money and unprecedented intervention into private businesses.

A poll released last week by Rasmussen Reports found that 80% of Americans want the federal government to sell its stakes in auto companies as soon as possible and 71% want the federal government to sell its stakes in banks as soon as possible.

The public opposition to government ownership of private businesses is well-founded.

The whole adventure undercuts the free-market principles that have guided our economy since our nation was founded.

The fundamental assumptions about how a market economy should function are contradicted by insertion of government bureaucrats into business decisions and by a market where government-favored firms compete against nonfavored, privately owned firms. 

A market economy can be compared to a sporting event, where teams play by rules enforced by a neutral referee.

In a market economy, the government serves as the referee, enforcing the laws adopted by Congress or the private contracts freely entered into by private firms.

When the government also becomes a player, it can no longer serve as an impartial referee; the government’s team will be favored. The fundamental dynamics of competition are disrupted.

Today, we are witnessing the behavior of companies for which the president of the United States is serving as a de facto CEO and Congress is serving as a 535-member board of directors. Business decisions are clouded by political calculations.

This arrangement does not inspire confidence. The American people realize that elected officials and government bureaucrats are ill-equipped to run banks, insurance companies and car manufacturers.

Last week I introduced legislation along with a dozen of my colleagues that would scale back the government’s involvement in the private sector.

My bill, the Government Ownership Exit Plan Act, would prohibit the future purchase of new or additional ownership interests in private firms through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Of equal importance, my bill would make the federal government end its ownership of private businesses acquired through TARP by July 1, 2010.

My bill would require the Treasury Department to sell any ownership interest such as warrants or stocks and use any revenue from the sale of those assets to reduce the national debt.

This straightforward legislation would also prohibit the federal government from making or unduly influencing management decisions, including appointing senior executives or board members.

The federal government does not have the knowledge or the resources to continue trying to run successful companies, and the American taxpayers deserve better.

Nobody understands this better than the Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest pro-business advocacy group, which has voiced its support for my new legislation.

To reverse the alarming trend toward government ownership of private business, it’s important to move quickly.

Sadly, the Treasury secretary, who recently testified before the Senate Banking Committee, stated he has no such plan when it comes to divesting the federal government’s ownership stake in private firm. 

If we do not adopt an exit strategy, we risk government ownership becoming a permanent state of affairs. 

Increased government control of private businesses threatens the fair competition and economic freedom that Americans have enjoyed throughout our nation’s history.

A growing number of individuals are rightfully leery of the government’s ability to effectively manage the taxpayer money that has been diverted into private entities, but without congressional action the intervention will continue unchecked.

The Government Ownership Exit Plan Act is an important first step toward restoring the limited role of government in the economy.

In the weeks ahead I will work to see that this matter is considered by the full Senate.

Thune is the junior senator from South Dakota.