Saturday, February 28, 2009

Michigan Tea Party in pictures

Bumped with added info.

Update: Mar 1, 4:59PM
If you linked directly to this post, see the detailed update on attendance here.

Wendy, Melanie and Joan. Thank you for organizing this in 3 days.
It felt wonderful to throw my tea bags in the bucket.


I'd like "less" stimulus, too.


The flag indicates distress, and these kids know why.


Looking East from the Capitol steps at the crowd.
There were quite a few more on both sides.


Some people didn't seem to notice the temperature was 31 degrees
with wind gusting to 20+ mph.


I did, but I dressed for it.


A parting shot.


This was a good day to symbolically throw tea at the government. I hope they listen. If not, the disgust of Americans with their government is going to get huge. I think the best point of the day was that both Democrats and Republicans are responsible for our current economic problems because they have both overspent and overtaxed. Still, what we are seeing from the Obama led Democrats and from Obama's own administration beggars description in terms of waste, pork, earmarks, spending, taxation and stupid economic policies in pursuit of partisan political ends.


Update: 5:59PM via Instapundit
And, via email, some thoughts from human-rights blogger Robert Mayer:
I just want to offer you and the tea party protesters some words of encouragement. As someone who has studied (and blogged) protest as an act of democratic revolution and people power in the post-Soviet area, I know a lot about the dynamics of mass civil society unrest, government transition, etc…

What we are seeing now is truly huge POTENTIAL for massive civil unrest against the American government gone lunatic with spending. Realistically, 400-1000 people at a protest, even at a dozen protests across the country, will do nothing to change the minds of our idiot leaders.

However, it creates the POTENTIAL that each protest could have a million. The Orange Revolution in Ukraine did not start out with two million people camping in tents in downtown Kiev. It started with only a few hundred diehard activists.

Conservatives and libertarians have never had a strong activist base, but this appears to be the time to start. They need to capture today’s momentum and hold bigger and bigger protests every week. Use technology to organize and move and grow the movement. Compared to other countries, the United States is huge. Don’t aim for a massive march on D.C. (at least, until you have a few million going). Focus the protests locally, on state policians and state capitols.

In any case, this is simply an email of encouragement to you guys. You just have to stay determined and keep people focused and believing. You’d be surprised. Within a month you could go from 500 to 50,000.
Well, it’s broken a thousand already, reportedly, and in not much more than a week.


Update: 8:10PM

More coverage:

Lansing Tea Party Sends a Message

Teaparty - Lansing…

HUGE energy at Lansing Tea Party

Tea Party, Lansing Edition

Over 300 at Lansing, MI Tea Party!

Michigan Taxpayers' Tea Party

ABC News3 6 O'Clock News had a short segment that wasn't bad. Nothing posted online yet, but here's where to check.

Added Feb28, 9:40AM
It showed up on YouTube:



Update: 28Feb, 9:22AM

In today's LSJ, this is online
Capitol protest assails Obama, big spending

Dawson Bell • Special to the State Journal • February 28, 2009 • From Lansing State Journal

A spirited crowd of unhappy Michiganders gathered at noon today outside the state Capitol to express their displeasure with President Barack Obama, the stimulus package, federal bailouts and assorted other grievances as part of a national Tea Party Protest.

The Michigan protest, one of about 40 throughout the country today, was sparked by reaction to an outburst last week on CNBC by correspondent Rick Santelli against Obama’s mortgage assistance plan.

But Scott Hagerstrom of Americans for Prosperity, one of the event’s sponsors, said the message is a broader response to what they view as a complete breakdown of fiscal discipline in Washington.

Among the hand-lettered signs on display outside the Capitol were those which read: “Honk If You Want to Pay My Mortgage” and “Free Markets Not Freeloaders.” But the protesters, numbering about 200 to 250 people, also targeted the Federal Reserve and creeping socialism.

Stefanie Huffaker of Lansing said she and her 9-year-old daughter Olivia attended because “I want the president and the Congress to know that they’re spending too much money. We don’t have it. It seems like there’s no end.

“They need to slow down. I’m worried about my kids and my grandkids.”
Dawson Bell is a reporter for the Detroit Free Press.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Book about understanding looters selling well

Sales of “Atlas Shrugged” Soar in the Face of Economic Crisis
Washington, D.C., February 23, 2009--Sales of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” have almost tripled over the first seven weeks of this year compared with sales for the same period in 2008. This continues a strong trend after bookstore sales reached an all-time annual high in 2008 of about 200,000 copies sold.
What I want to know is where's Galt's Gulch?

Seriously, I don't know if I could read it again right now. You recognize too many of the looters she described: And you always regarded them as slightly exaggerated. Unfortunately, she probably understated it.

I will say you should read it if you haven't, and I did suggest it as part of a reading list on November 6. See also this list from November 5.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Maybe i spoke too soon

...about cellulosic ethanol yesterday in my comment on Obama's promise to double the supply of renewable energy. Might have inadvertantly given it more environmental credit than it deserves.

MIT Study Says Cellulosic Ethanol Could Have “Unintended” Environmental Consequences

Of course, I did say the limit-to-growth on biofuel in general was probably based on the waste material that could become feedstock, not how many acres of land could be dedicated to it. We've already seen what happens with corn.

Got yours?

Obama to Seek New Assault Weapons Ban

H/T DS

An update 5:55PM

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder claimed banning "assault weapons" will be a benefit to Mexico in its struggle with drug gangs. A Feb. 20th State Department warning is quoted:
"Some recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have resembled small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades," the warning said. "Large firefights have taken place in many towns and cities across Mexico, but most recently in northern Mexico, including Tijuana, Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez."
As ABC notes, the cartels used automatic weapons and grenades. Automatic weapons are those capable of firing continuously with one press of the trigger. These are machine guns. They have been heavily regulated in the United States since 1934, and it is almost impossible for a citizen to possess a working example. Grenades, similarly, are not allowed for civilian use. Those weapons being used in Mexico are not coming from the United States legally, if at all, because they could not be legally purchased here for over 70 years.

Semi-automatic weapons fire once each time the trigger is pressed and will not fire again until it is released and pressed again. Millions of everyday hunting rifles function exactly this way, but they are not proposed to be banned. Why? Because they don't look like fully-automatic weapons. Holder is essentially claiming that the appearance - the cosmetics - of a weapon are a reason to ban it. Here is the list of cosmetics that the "assault" weapon ban considers important. Any 2 of these features means the weapon is banned:
  • Folding stock
  • Pistol grip
  • Bayonet mount
  • Flash suppressor, or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one
  • Grenade launcher (more precisely, a muzzle device which enables the launching or firing of rifle grenades)
Now, Holder didn't issue that State Dept. warning, but he clearly agrees with it. Still, I don't believe he thinks banning semi-automatic weapons will help the Mexicans. He wants his gun ban to be seen as needed to prevent bloody drug wars south of the border where the gangs have machine guns. Well, the gangs have machine guns, but the "assault" weapon ban has absolutely no connection to that fact. Nor did the original ban have any connection to reducing crime committed with "assault" weapons. A 2004 study funded by the Department of Justice, Titled An Updated Assessment of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Impacts on Gun Markets and Gun Violence, 1994-2003, notes
Should it [the ban] be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement. AWs [assault weapons] were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban.
So, this is not about protecting anyone, Mexican cops or US inner-city drug gangs from guns. It's about weakening the Second Amendment. If you believed Obama when he said he respected that Amendment, you made a mistake.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just Words - again

I did not listen to The Speech last night. I did not read the whole thing. I did search the text for a few phrases and hit upon these examples. Obama's words in italics.

"Not because I believe in bigger government – I don’t."

-National health care, Porkulus, tax increases, gun restrictions, promoting the "Employees Free Choice" Act, toying with the "Fairness" Doctrine, deciding how American cars will be built, preventing drilling for oil within America, classifying CO2 as a pollutant, telling States they can't refuse Porkulus dollars, and talking about mandatory national service. I wonder what Obama thinks Big government is?

"[I]t is no longer an option to drop out"
of school.
-That was an easy fix for Chicago schools. Why did he wait so long?

Obama "[W]on't allow terrorists to plot against us."
-That was even easier than fixing the graduation rates.

“Nobody messes with Joe”

-Except, perhaps, Crazy Joe himself.

“Double the supply of renewable energy”
- In 2006, about 18% of global energy consumption came from renewables. 13% from traditional biomass, such as wood-burning. So 13% of renewable energy is off the table immediately because it produces CO2.

This is also true of biomass sources such as ethanol and biodiesel, neither of which can survive without massive subsidy and tariff protection. Even with such benefits, the ethanol producers are going bankrupt.

It is true that the feedstocks for producing liquid biomass fuels (plant and animal material) are, to one degree or another, carbon sinks and could form part of a cycle where some of the carbon is re-sequestered. Still, all these technologies have energy inputs; many of them use as much or more to produce liquid fuel as the fuel produces when used. With current technology these fuels are only self-sustainable using waste feedstock. The supply of waste feedstock (corn stalks and used cooking oil, for example) probably represent the limit to growth of use for these biofuel. Algae may slightly change this equation.

In any case, even assuming a perfect carbon cycle, there isn't enough biomass.

Hydroelectricity, the next largest renewable source, provided about 3% (15% of global electricity generation), followed by solar hot water/heating, which contributed 1.3%. Modern technologies, such as geothermal energy, wind power, solar power, and ocean energy together provided some 0.8% of final energy consumption. The high tech contribution, then, represents a tiny fraction of the demand. Nearly twice as much hot water and space heating is generated from directly heating water from the sun as is created by geothermal, wind, photo-voltaic and tide energy combined. i believe in passive solar power and designed, and lived in, a house on that basis. Unfortunately, you need large, unobstructed, south facing windows.

After the tiny energy contributions Obama promises to double there remains a large cost differential. We've been working on improving the price/performance of photo-voltaics since 1970 and, under laboratory conditions, have reached approximately 40% efficiency. Making solar-cell grade silicon from sand is a very high energy process. It takes one to two years for a conventional solar cell to generate as much energy as was used to make the silicon it contains. Not break even on cost: Generate as much energy.

The cost of production, installation, distribution and maintenance remains uncompetitive in solar and wind. Surely, solving those problems is worth billions of dollars to industry. With Obama's getting the government further entrenched, NOT solving it any time soon is worth billions.

If we are generous and assume the cost of the 0.8% of energy generated by non-CO2 producing technologies (excluding hydro, which is pretty much tapped out) drops by 50% and that Obama has underreached by 100%, his promise means that the world will get 3.2% of its energy at only double the current price. This is not even enough to handle projected growth in demand. The research must go forward, but doubling the output in a short time is not going to happen without serious waste and "unanticipated" environmental damage. Like 1,500 ton concrete windmill platforms and ethanol production being the largest source of industrial man-made CO2 in Iowa.

The word "nuclear" appears once in the speech, just before the word "proliferation." "Atomic" does not appear.

“Market based cap on carbon based energy”
-All the money which Obama will divert from private use into doubling "renewable" energy is here combined with another economy killer.

Nuclear power is infrastructure, it produces no CO2 and it provides part of a long term answer to energy needs. He didn't mention it.

“...voluntary charity”
-An redundancy to anyone but a statist and a clear indication he does believe in Big government. Where else do you get "involuntary charity," the oxymoron, except from government?

Healthcare costs "cause a bankruptcy filing every 30 seconds"
-Give it a reasonableness check. Bankruptcies from all causes have been under 1 million for years. Hint: There are approximately 31,500,000 seconds in a year.

I'm sure there is more. I'm sick of it. I have to go hear about the $400 million spending bill that got out of the House today with 9,000 earmarks. It was held over from 2008 because the Democrats thought Bush would veto it.

Update: 7:50PM
Worth reading this whole thing:

FACT CHECK: Obama's words on home aid ring hollow


On the energy question (I was using 2006 World figures):
In 2007, the U.S. produced 8.4 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, including hydroelectric dams, solar panels and windmills. Under the status quo, the Energy Department says, it will take more than two decades to boost that figure to 12.5 percent.

If Obama is to achieve his much more ambitious goal, Congress would need to mandate it. That is the thrust of an energy bill that is expected to be introduced in coming weeks.
Interesting Big government angle there, too.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Michigan Tea Party

Grass roots patriots in Michigan will join thousands across the nation in a "NATIONWIDE CHICAGO TEA PARTY" on
Friday, February, 27, 2009
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm at the State Capitol in Lansing.

More here.

If you can't attend get over to Michigan Tea Party and show your support online.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Government schools

Run by government unions.

If you think educating our children is a solemn reponsibility, you are in direct disagreement with the Michigan Education Association. Click over to MEA Exposed in order to hear some truly despicable speeches from Paul Helder, president of the Grand Rapids teachers union, and Earl Graeber, an MEA director working with the Grand Rapids union at the MEA Bargaining, Political Action and PR Conference, earlier this month in Detroit.

Truly, the MEA cares about the children only as bargaining chips.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Every breath you take

Gov wants bars to stay open till 4 a.m.

Well, there's a catch...
The plan involves liquor stores and restaurants selling spirits on Sunday mornings and bar owners buying permits for their establishments to stay open until 4 a.m. The expanded hours for liquor sales would generate an estimated $13.7 million for the state's general fund, the pot over which the governor and lawmakers have spending discretion. Additional revenue would come from the sale of the special permits priced at $1,500 each.
Emphasis mine. Apparently, we are all going to drink more if just given enough time and opportunity. This is not unlike funding children's health care from tobacco taxes. The $14 million tax increase calculation probably doesn't even include the increased fine collection for DUI, and I know I'm going to get up at 7AM on many Sundays just to exercise my freedom to purchase that bottle of Jack Daniel's I didn't realize I'd need for breakfast by 4AM the previous Saturday same day.

Our Governor wants to rescind blue laws in order to increase State revenue. This is how we get more "choice." Put more directly, she's saying, "I will rescind a law preventing grocery store liquor sales on Sunday mornings and we'll let bars stay open 2 more hours. We'll only charge the operators $1,500 annually for our forbearance." The Governor owes thanks to our puritanical forebears for this opportunity. They deserve an apology from her for every explicit and implicit criticism she's uttered.

This idea of charging people to exempt them from 19th Century liquor laws is a principle the Dems can vastly expand. Imagine this LSJ headline:

Cherry: Plans to license fornication on odd numbered days making progress.
Lansing Jan. 25, 2010
Special to the State Journal

Legislators' differences over proposals for flat annual fees vs. per use charges (to be assessed via a toll-free number and/or website at the soon to be created Department of Non-judgmental Public Morals Enforcement and Condom Distribution) are the main remaining stumbling block in passage of the "Odd-Day Pay-to-Play" bill. Progress was made when the Democrats agreed to abandon surcharges based on number of orgasms. Republicans, in turn, gave up their insistence that fines for unauthorized fornication under the age of consent attract doubled fines.

Sliding rates (to be based on mutual degree of satisfaction), an earlier source of much legislative rancor when a dozen votes split along strict gender lines, have been put aside for later consideration when orgasmometer technology has been made sufficiently portable and implantable.
Back to our present reality: Governor Granholm has also been busy usurping legislative power in order to promote her most recent pet environmental boondoggle reduce CO2 emissions. Her recent executive order threatens, for one example, a $2.3 billion private investment in the same state-of-the-art clean coal technology Joe Biden and Barack Obama want to sell to China. Along with the investment go 1,800 local construction jobs. Call them "unsourced."

Governor Quixote currently tilts into windmills, having recently choked on surplus slaked her thirst for ethanol. Windmills on every free square foot of the state are just the thing to employ tens of thousands at subsistence wages, if unsubsidized. We'll also need huge warehouses for the batteries needed to store electricity for times when the wind doesn't blow.

Cox: Granholm went too far with coal plants order
Gov. Jennifer Granholm exceeded her authority by creating new legal requirements for building coal-fired power plants, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said Friday. Granholm's office said Cox had "misread both state and federal law."
...

"Governors can sign bills into law, but they cannot write them," he said in a statement. "That is the Legislature's job."
...

"The governor disagrees with the opinion," Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said. "As a former attorney general, the governor believes (Cox) has misread both state and federal law. The state will be asking for a clarification from the federal Environmental Protection Agency."
Gov. Q is likely to get an opinion supporting her efforts to cripple electricity production and kill private investment: Obama appointee Carol Browner is about to have carbon dioxide declared a pollutant. Hold your breath. Really.

EPA to Issue Carbon Dioxide Rule, Obama Climate Czar Says

Officially recognizing that carbon dioxide is a danger to the public sets would trigger regulation of the greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, refineries, chemical plants, cement firms, vehicles and any other emitting sectors across the economy.
Finally, to bring this all together, don't forget you breathe harder when you are making love. So, in Michigan, federal CO2 taxes will be on top of the taxes from the Odd Numbered Fornication Days Regularization and Prevented Children Health Act of 2010.

Tax credits for trees in your yard will be added to the tax code based on number, age and species of tree divided by the reciprocal of your personal carbon footprint as calculated under the federal Paperwork Reduction, Simplification, Normalization, Streamlining, De-obfuscation and Green Accountancy Relief Act of 2011. A 10% additional deduction will be available for those who really "hug" their trees. Yardless community organizers will be eligible for "virtual tree" credits through AlGore's carbon indulgences agencies and the UN IPCC.

Nationwide Gen-Y Tea Party?

Captain Capitalism on Why Obama is a One Termer.
Like I said before, you can't argue with the ignorant. All you can do is watch them get what they've always wanted and realize just what a hellish nightmare they got themselves into.
They're just realizing the Boomers are not the ones who will pay. RTWT.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mr. Malaise

... goes optimistic.

Now that President Obama is setting new standards for depressing confidence in the economy and priming the inflation pump to a degree unprecedented, Dhimmi Carter goes all positive on us:

”There is no comparison to the Great Depression and where we are now,” he said. “The Great Depression was much more severe. Right now, we have 7 percent unemployment. In the Great Depression, it was four times that. Back then, there was no money.”
...

He also said that economists and government officials have learned the lessons of the Great Depression and are now more able to deal with similar crises.

And he expressed confidence in President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan, but said he expected the economy to get worse before it gets better.
Mr. Malaise is actually more optimistic about the economy than President Obama. It wasn't always so. Carter, 1979:
"We must face the fact that the energy shortage is permanent," he said in one televised address. Then in 1979 Carter disappeared into seclusion at Camp David to reconceptualize his presidency. Meeting with one group of advisors he lamented, "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated. The only trend is downward. But it's impossible to get people to face up to this."
Perhaps Carter can't remember 1979, or maybe he sees his record as most pessimistic President being threatened by a hopeandchange reverse finesse. He could have said last Thursday, "Not only are things not nearly as bad as during the Depression, they don't even approach our woes of 1979 when I called on people to abandon hope. This new guy spreading doom and gloom is a piker. By 1980 I had 7.5% unemployment rate, but I'd also gotten inflation up to 13.5%. Let's see Obama match that." Unfortunately, I think this challenge will not go unanswered.

I don't know which is worse, Obama's one-upping Carter on malaise by running around the country in permanent campaign mode invoking fear and uncertainty, or Carter's assurance that things will get better because of ObamaBucks.

Carter's idea of "[F]ac[ing] up to this," now covers putting people to work hand-feeding $30 million in C-notes to salt marsh harvest mice living in Nancy Pelosi's district. Carter must feel a certain vindication that those ignorant people have to get down on all fours to "face up" to tiny rodents, since when not otherwise engaged in giving group hugs to gangs of weasels like Hamas, Carter has been a leading American expert in sucking up to such jumbo rodents as Yasser Arafat, Hugo Chavez, Bashar Al-Assad, and Kim Jong Il.

Carter has reaffirmed his confidence in government. He's never had any in the American people. Carter's optimism is a worse portent than Obama's fearmongering.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Forecast: Wind and Reign

Two interesting posts at Amy Ridenour's National Center Blog.

Before you read this one, Egg on Faces of Al Gore and Ban Ki-Moon, see if you can think of any reason that there might be a problem with Al Gore and Ban Ki-Moon claiming that, "there are now more jobs in the wind industry than in the entire coal industry." Reasonability check: Last November coal was used to generate 155,000 thousand megawatt-hours, wind produced 1,300 thousand megawatt hours.

Then there a provision in the porkulus bill; Why Did the Obama Administration...

...put a provision in the stimulus bill that creates a board that can stop investigations of alleged wrongdoing within federal agencies?.
I think I can give a partial answer: Burris, Stabenow, Murtha, Daschle, Richardson, Rangle, Dodd and Geithner.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The education monopoly

Ken Shelton, Middle Schools Computer teacher: "...the ultimate goal is to educate the children..."

In contrast to Mr. Shelton, the goal of a teachers union is to perpetuate the teachers union and the political objectives of its leaders, and the goal of the typical school board is to be re-elected. That is, the major players are players of politics. They do not care about winning a game called education. The worst part of this is that these education-indifferent interests are allies in lobbying. The general government is the entity they strive to "educate." This system does not prioritize children's education as even secondary.

The vast majority of those who do consider children to be the point of the whole exercise are neither union activists nor school board members. They are teachers. Not all teachers admire education over self-interested politics, but all the ones who should be paid to teach do.

The unions have devolved into a means of protecting bad teachers and paying them the same salary as great teachers. This is an example of a union secondary objective.

Good teachers are not paid enough. Great teachers are woefully underpaid. They teach anyway, even now. How many more good and great teachers might there be if we were able to value teaching skill, passion for educating children and results? I think at least enough to replace the bad teachers at no net present cost. And it would be far cheaper in the longer term.

Average teachers are probably overpaid, and bad teachers should be served with restraining orders keeping them 1,000 feet from students and any educational dollars.

Does our system allow that to be recognized? No. Here are some teachers speaking about why that is.
.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Jeffersonian Principles


New Hampshire House Concurrent Resolution 6. Read the bill here.

BTW the "Blair Holt" Bill is not folded into the final version of the stimulus bill. The Democrats are not so far gone as to risk that particular form of suicide.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Are you STIMULATED now?!

You must be. That is an order. The stimulus bill is a utopia made real. As the President said today after he flew 2 747s and scores of people to Denver for the signing ceremony of this ultra-urgent bill a scant 4 days after its passage:
"What I am signing is a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments. It is a plan that’s been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending. And it is a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability," President Obama said before signing the bill into law.
The $13 a week tax cuts are well mixed, to the point of invisibility, with investments in community organizing, golf carts, socialized health care, the new Las-Los (Las Vegas to Los Angeles) mag-lev train line and construction projects which must hire union labor (excluding the 84% of the workers). Investments in voting blocks has, indeed, never been higher.

Earmarks are impossible in the bill by definition. It's a blessed cornucopia of tripe, unusual only in it's stupefying magnitude. It is P O R K writ larger than ever in the history of the world. Anyone with the brains of a sponge and the integrity of weasel will acknowledge this, even Chuck Schumer, who bragged about it. The transparency was so great that not a single member in Congress had read it before they passed it. Nor had any member of the public. We'll have to see if the accountability bit rises to those same standards.
CAMILLE PAGLIA BLASTS DEMOCRATS ON THE FAIRNESS DOCTRINE: "They've totally betrayed the soul of the party to even mention this."

I don't know what party Paglia is talking about, but it's not Democrats. As Paladin points out, they've REVEALED the soul of the party.

Via Instapundit

Monday, February 16, 2009

Of children and sheep

This is wonderful set up for the links that follow.

RTWTs.

The Road to Serfdom in cartoons. Irony, thy name is General Motors.

We’re All Fascists Now II: American Tyranny

These extreme cases help us understand Tocqueville’s brilliant warning that equality is not a defense against tyranny, but an open invitation to ambitious and cunning leaders who enlist our support in depriving ourselves of freedom. He summarizes it in two sentences that should be memorized by every American who cherishes freedom:
The…sole condition required in order to succeed in centralizing the supreme power in a democratic community is to love equality, or to get men to believe you love it. Thus the science of despotism, which was once so complex, is simplified, and reduced, as it were, to a single principle.
If you have not read Democracy in America, now would be a good time. Not the abridged version, this one. If you believe the United States needs to reestablish its reputation with the rest of the world, think of this as France reaching out to you from 1830.

H/T Instapundit

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Coming soon to a health care rationing committee near you

'Too Old' for Hip Surgery
President Obama and Congressional Democrats are inching the U.S. toward government-run health insurance. Last week's expansion of Schip -- the State Children's Health Insurance Program -- is a first step. Before proceeding further, here's a suggestion: Look at Canada's experience.
PRUDEN: Prescription for medical malpractice
But the nastiest surprises are not likely to be the failure of the bailout legislation to work, but the way some of it will work only too well. The surprises won't be the Bridges to Nowhere, but the bridges to places no one wants to go.

Nastiest of all will be the health care catastrophe hidden in the thousands of pages of this legislation, the work of Tom Daschle, who was almost secretary of Health and Human Services before he was sent back to K Street to work on his tax returns.

The health rules set out in the bailout legislation will, as the bill boasts, affect "every individual in the United States." There will be no escaping the consequences of turning life-and-death health care decisions over to officious bureaucrats. (Members of Congress will get their usual special privileges.) If you think dealing with insurances companies is as awful as it can get, you'll be surprised.
Read them both in their entirety. Socialized medicine has just taken a big leap in the United States.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thanks Dianne

Predator drones flown from base in Pakistan, U.S. lawmaker says
Sen. Feinstein's surprise disclosure likely to complicate joint campaign against Taliban militants

At a hearing, [Senator Dianne] Feinstein [D, CA] expressed surprise at Pakistani opposition to the ongoing campaign of Predator-launched CIA missile strikes against Al Qaeda targets along Pakistan's northwest border.

"As I understand it, these are flown out of a Pakistani base," she said of the planes.

..."If accurate, what this says is that Pakistani involvement, or at least acquiescence, has been much more extensive than has previously been known," said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University. "It puts the Pakistani government in a far more difficult position [in terms of] its credibility with its own people. Unfortunately it also has the potential to threaten Pakistani-American relations."
Feinstein is the smarter Senator from California.

No Words for You!

On Friday, the Washington Post noted that Senator Judd Gregg had decided not to take the job as Secretary of Commerce after initially indicating he would - 'My Mistake'

The WaPo implies that Mr. Gregg was more than a bit naive if he was surprised by the details of the stimulus package, the reason he gave for bowing out.
There will be plenty of questions about both sides of this collapsed merger. Mr. Obama has been clear on what he wanted in the stimulus package since the November election; nothing there could have come as a surprise to Mr. Gregg. On the other hand, Mr. Gregg's concern about potential changes at the Census Bureau, particularly news that the census director would report to the White House instead of the commerce secretary, are understandable: Either this administration trusts me or it does not, he might fairly have felt.
What?! Obama's been saying since November he wanted to spend hundreds of millions on green golf cart technology, preserving swamp rodents in Nancy Pelosi's district (she's doing that quite well enough on her own, thank you very much), lead-based paint hazard control, leaking underground storage tanks, and billions in funding for ACORN, carbon-capture demonstrations, and socializing health care?

Not. What President Obama had been saying, up until he let Nancy Pelosi roll him write the bill, was that a stimulus should promote job creation and moving the economy in the next two years. This bill does not do that in the vast majority of it's particulars, which we know primarily through rumor and innuendo. There is no plausible urgency for 70 or 80 percent of the spending.

In this regard we should also recall the President's repeated insistence that he would
"... go line by line through every item in the federal budget and eliminate programs that don’t work and make sure that those that do work, work better and cheaper.” This was his constant theme during the presidential debates to cut government.
Since the stimulus bill was passed in the dead of night and no one had read it, much less examined it "line by line," we must suspect that that promise was empty. Just Words.

Despite the fact that the House unanimously, and that's as bipartisan as it gets, voted for a 48 hour cooling off period pause in which they could actually read the bill the Democrat leadership insisted it be voted on immediately. The promise to wait 48 hours was Just Words.

When the Speaker did publish it, she posted most of it in an unsearchable PDF format. The intent was obviously to prevent people from easily finding out what's in it.

Perhaps she is unaware of this guarantee appearing at Change.gov regarding Obama's ethics agenda.
The Obama-Biden Plan

Barack Obama has led efforts to reform government both in the Illinois State Senate and in the United States Senate. He will bring this commitment to making government work for the people, not the special interests, to the White House. Obama will ensure Washington works for the people, not the special interests.

...End the Practice of Writing Legislation Behind Closed Doors: As president, Barack Obama will restore the American people's trust in their government by making government more open and transparent. Obama will work to reform congressional rules to require all legislative sessions, including committee mark-ups and conference committees, to be conducted in public. By making these practices public, the American people will be able to hold their leaders accountable for wasteful spending and lawmakers won't be able to slip favors for lobbyists into bills at the last minute.
On the other hand, Ms Pelosi did think that the words in the bill were important, just that the rest of us aren't important enough to read them.
“With all of this you have to see the language. You said this --- I said that --- I understood it to be this way --- you know, we wanted to see it in writing and when we did that then we were able to go forward."

"Around here language means a lot. Words weigh a ton and one person's understanding of a spoken description might vary from another's. We wanted to see it. And not only just I had to see it, I had to show it to my colleagues and my caucus. We wanted to take all the time that was necessary to make sure it was right."
And this brings us back to the Washington Post. They urge Obama not to stop reaching out to the Republicans. He should not be too disappointed over Senator Gregg's premature evacuation.
Still, the reversal should not discourage Mr. Obama from seeking bipartisan cooperation.
I'm just amazed that even before the stimulus bill the WaPo could maintain the fiction that Obama has been seeking bipartisan cooperation. I wonder what they'll say next. The entire sum of evidence for bipartisan efforts is what Obama has said about it, no actions back it up. Just Words.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Failed Propagandists of the Religion of Peace

Failed feminist, aka NOW, comment MIA.

American Cable TV Muslim Channel Founder Beheads Wife

Bridges TV founder and Chief Executive Muzzammil Hassan founded the TV network in 2004. According to a Reuters story at that time, "his wife came up with the idea in December 2001 while listening to the radio on a road trip.":
"Some derogatory comments were being made about Muslims that offended her," Hassan told Reuters ahead of Tuesday's launch. "She was seven months pregnant, and she thought she didn't want her kids growing up in this environment."
So he founded Bridges TV to combat negative perceptions of Muslims.

But now that he has beheaded his wife, I'm afraid this prominent moderate Muslim will only be feeding those negative perceptions.
Ya think? I'm pretty sure Hassan's children will grow up in a 'different' environment now.

Original story here: Prominent Orchard Park man charged with beheading his wife

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Defending the Census

Governor Richardson wasn't up to it integrity-wise, and now Senator Judd Gregg refuses Commerce. Thank you, Judd. This will make it a little harder for Rahm to abscond with the census. I hope you change your mind about running in 2010.

PS, I don't believe your decision wasn't because of the census. It's collegial, I suppose, to say politicizing the major function of the Commerce Department wasn't the reason, but I suspect otherwise. At the Wall Street Journal, John Fund has some good reading on this issue.

Since none of the extreme partisanship Obama has practiced lately, from letting Nancy Pelosi write the stimulus bill to his "I won" comment has seemed to tarnish his Oneness' bipartisan rep, this will probably be blamed on Republicans and not on Obama's plan to seize a duty Constitutionally assigned to Commerce. So be it. Just because the Chicago Way has come to the Belt Way we do not all have to be dragged into Blago's orbit.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Air Obamica?

Camille Paglia thinks that despite looking weak, unfocused and incoherent on the stimulus bill, President Obama has had a good start. And she says the stimulus screw-ups are caused by his advisers and Democrat allies, in any case. She is not impressed with the "infestation of the new appointments list by Clinton retreads and slippery tax-dodgers," though.

The things Obama did well apparently include not being obviously embarrassed to be with military types (while Bill Clinton was) and refraining from appointing Michelle to reform health care (again in contrast to Clinton).

That this passes the Paglia test as a successful first fortnight for the Obama administration is telling, I think. At least Paglia is not likely dreaming about having sex with the President as are New York Times reporters. We do not know Paglia's attitude toward Michelle, however.

The best bit, though, is this comment about Debbie Stabenow and her philandering husband, former Air America honcho Tom Athans:
One of the nuggets I've gleaned from several radio sources is that Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who has been in the aggressive forefront of the campaign to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, is married to Tom Athans, who works extensively with left-wing radio organizations and was once the executive vice-president of Air America, the liberal radio syndicate that, despite massive publicity from major media, has failed miserably to win a national audience. Stabenow's outrageous conflict of interest has of course been largely ignored by the prestige press, which should have been demanding that she recuse herself from all political involvement with this issue.
What are the chances Stabenow will admit her conflict of interest?

Wall-E(d)

This undercover report, by a Wired reporter, discusses his experience working for Walmart. The story has been noted elsewhere. However, if you have not read it, you should. REALLY, it's educational. Especially if you are one of the union robo-activists trying to destroy it. Think of your children, now that the UAW is dying or at least entering a phase of internecine warfare with the SEIU.

FLY ON THE WAL


Link was broken. Fixed. Sorry.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Big words, big lies

Last night, the President told us there are no earmarks in the stimulus bill. Technically this is true, since an earmark is defined as some spending added to a bill not connected to the original purpose of the bill. In the case of the stimulus bill, however, this means merely that there is no expenditure whatsoever that can't be connected to the bill. So, saying there are no earmarks here is a breathtakingly clever combination of tautology and disingenuity.

"No earmarks," here, is a phrase devoid of content. Obama employed it because it allowed him to imply that there is no pork. Transparency is not, apparently, to be connected with Obama's words.

Further treatment here.

Obama also is aware that the Congressional Budget Office says the recession will end in 2009 without the stimulus and that the stimulus will actually hurt, not help, the economy.

The President is lying in order to foment a crisis under the cover of which Democrat social programs can be implemented without debate.

Further reading:
SPECIAL PREVIEW Stimulus: A History of Folly

Obama and the Economy: When, If Ever, Was He Telling Us the Truth?

Census shenanigans

OK, they are going to move control of the Census into the White House. Effectively, this puts Rahm Emmanuel in charge.

I have one question. What would the reaction have been if Karl Rove had been put in charge of the Census?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Revisionism or ignorance?

Barack Obama noted that the United States has, in the recent past, been remiss in granting:
The same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago - there's no reason why we can't restore that.
-Barack Obama Al Arabiya interview, Jan 27, 2009

It might have been useful for Obama to provide us with an example or two of the partnership he would like to restore. Here are just a few he could not have cited:

The 1979 seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran and holding of American captives until 1981. An event still celebrated in Iran.

The Lebanon hostage crisis spanning the decade from 1982 to 1992.

The 1983 Beirut barracks bombing

The hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in 1985.

The Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 Over Lockerbie in 1988.

The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
In effect, the Justice Department puts the prosecution of individual perpetrators--with all the rights to a fair trial guaranteed by the U.S. judicial system--above America's national security interest in determining who may be behind terrorist attacks.
And here is a late breaking reminder of what happens with terrorists, even when convicted, under normal procedures of the US Justice system. Remember Khalid Duhham al-Jawary? Neither does Obama.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Signs of the long, slow apocalypse

1- Why is the DOJ changing the rules for Federal Firearm Licenses?
...The Department of Justice is amending the regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives ("ATF'') to delegate to the Director of ATF the authority to serve as the deciding official regarding the denial, suspension, or revocation of federal firearms licenses, or the imposition of a civil fine. The Director will have the flexibility to delegate to another ATF official the authority to decide a revocation or denial matter, or may exercise that authority himself. Such flexibility will allow ATF to more efficiently decide denial, suspension, and revocation hearings and also whether to impose a civil fine, because the Director can redelegate to Headquarters officials, field officials, or some combination thereof, authority to take action as the final agency decision maker. This will give the agency the ability to ensure consistency in decision making and to address any case backlogs that may occur.
Emphasis mine. The answer is it will make it easier to handle a flood of FFL revocations: ATF shutting down FFL on increase

2- Why is the White House taking direct control of the census? To make it easier to gerrymander Democrat districts as it's done in Chicago.

3- Why is Fannie Mae to Loosen Rules for Home-Loan Refinancing? Because it worked so well the last time.

4- Why is such a big deal being made over stopping "torture" and "rendition?" Because it was a campaign promise. How is it being done? By redefining words in the style of Bill Clinton. It depends what the meaning of "rendition" is.

5- Why is 84% of the work force being excluded from stimulus spending? Because they don't belong to a union.

6- How much of the "stimulus" bill is merely spending lacking any special urgency? 78% and rising.

7- Why are we doing this when we know FDR's stimulus policies prolonged the Great Depression and that when Japan tried it over and over for 20 years, accumulating debt equal to 180% of their GDP, it FAILED? Because it gets the Democrat social policy enacted without debate.

8- Why are all charges against the guy responsible for bombing a US warshiop being dropped? Because that's the way Obama wants it.

9- Why is Iran demanding an apology for US "crimes" against Iran? Because Obama already apologized twice for US actions. Once, in his inaugural address and again in his first TV interview on Al-Arabiya.

Update: 3:45PM

10- Obama's NSC Will Get New Power. Maybe this is even a good idea, but the howls from the left if the WaPo had written; "increasing its authority to set strategy across a wide spectrum of international and domestic issues" about the Bush administration's NSC, would have been deafening.

11- Why is Obama [putting] brake[s] on Afghan surge? Because it's a campaign promise that had no plan, but unlike "rendition," it's hard to redefine "boots on the ground."

And another possible answer for 2. So he can let ACORN conduct the census.

Update: 4:20PM

I have said I want Obama to fail on the rejection of his statist ideas. Instead, in a fortnight, he may be failing of his own hubris as reinforced by partisan fools like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Victor Davis Hanson points out grave danger, RTWT
...Again, anyone who cares about the U.S., at home and overseas, must be worried, very worried, about the disastrous last two weeks. Even the fawning media — that is responsible in some way for the crisis, given that they chose to be Pravda-like in encouraging the messianic style that got a haughty Obama in his present mess — will soon start bailing in efforts to restore their last fides. If a Dick Morris figure does not come to the rescue soon, Obama’s soaring rhetoric of hope and change will become the stuff of Leno/Letterman and general laughter. Bush was unfairly demonized, but no one abroad thought he was predictably soft and would be so-so about protecting U.S. interests, or that his words and his deeds would be so often in direct antithesis.
And no one thought, even after the Bush Medicaid entitlement, that Bush would bankrupt our great-grandchildren in order to fund, as one example, ACORN.

Update: 7:45 PM

#11 *Now* He's Asking Questions???
Back in the spring and summer of 2007. Barack Obama was all for charging into Afghanistan on a white horse because Iraq was NOT (we repeat, NOT) the central front in the war on terror.

Contrary to the divisive and mean-spirited rhetoric of his know-nothing opponent, Democrats like Mr. Obama were not soft on national security. Au contraire, mes cheres! "They couldn't wait to take the fight to al Qaeda! It was just a question of choosing their battles - fighting smarter, not harder:
"We cannot win a war against the terrorists if we're on the wrong battlefield." Pointing to al Qaeda's resurgence along the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Obama called for troops to be redeployed from Iraq. He promised that when he becomes president, "Nobody will work harder to go after those terrorists who will do the American people harm. But that requires a commander in chief who understands our troops need to be on the right battlefield, not the wrong battlefield."
During the campaign, Obama was full of contradictory rhetoric. The troop Surge, he opined in an entry later purged from his website, was a failed strategy:

...

Of course if you think more troops didn't do a thing to improve the situation in Iraq, what could make more sense than to suggest the same failed strategy in Afghanistan? This is called "thinking outside of the box".

After months of refusing to admit the Surge did make Iraq more secure, what better way to get badly needed troops for your newest "failed strategy" than to do an about face and claim the Surge (which you just spent months claiming had nothing to do with improved security) has paved the way for accelerated troop withdrawals?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Wage controls

The President has decided to limit the salaries of the CEOs whose companies have received bailout money. In principle, I agree that if taxpayers are paying, some oversight is appropriate. I also think it should have been in the bailout rules in the first place. Some banks who were forced to take money they didn't want might have resisted even more strongly.

Moreover, I think this principle requires us to look at the cost to taxpayers (not salaries, but millions in taxpayer funded payments to "production companies") of, for example, employing Bill Moyers (at least $20 million from PBS in his career) and Jim Lehrer (his program refuses to even disclose it's budget). I am sure other examples can be found.

I also wonder how competitively damaging this rule might be. That is, if you've got a real mess on your hands and you want someone to fix it, money may be less an object than if it's smooth sailing. If you consider that companies with lesser problems and no bailout money will be able to offer more attractive salaries to the best talent, it could be the straw that breaks the banks.

Obama Lied !!!

Do I have the number of exclamation points correct? Maybe not; as I reflect on it, they used more than three when heaping scorn upon President Bush for "lying" about WMD.

Whatever one thinks of Bush, there can be no doubt among the sentient and honest that Obama lied this morning. His approximate words were "failure to pass the stimulus package will only make a dire situation worse".

And that my dear reader is a lie. The 'stimulus package' in question is, of course, a mish-mash of pork and wasteful big government. You know it, and Obama knows it. It has been well documented, including by Hershblogger in these pages. But just to repeat a couple of salient facts: At most 5% of it is for needed infrastructue. And only 1/3 or it will be spent in the next 12 months, which makes one wonder too about the sincerity of Obama's urgent plea that Congress must get this on his desk by February 16th.

The president himself admitted yesterday that the package contains a little "waste". Of course none of the people who speak truth to power thought to ask him to identify it, or better yet why he did not demand its removal.

Where is Helen Thomas when we need her?


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Awaiting feminist notice

I'm waiting for a comment from NOW, or any other feminist organization:

Iraqi woman had 80 women raped then recruited as suicide bombers


I don't know whether it's more obscene that a culture insists women feel suicidal guilt because they've been raped, or that a woman would exploit that as part of a conspiracy to commit murder with the men who committed the rapes.

At this writing, the top rants at the NOW site are urging the appointment of Debbie Stabenow as HHS Secretary (it would get her out of Michigan) and complaining that the stimulus bill doesn't do enough for women. Interestingly, the second of the items is titled Out of Touch with Reality.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Early test?
Of what, ethical standards? An F, then.

The International Herald Tribune praises Obama's pragmatism. Obama's promise of ethics reform faces early test
During almost two years on the campaign trail, Barack Obama vowed to slay the demons of Washington, bar lobbyists from his administration and usher in what he would later call in his Inaugural Address a "new era of responsibility." What he did not talk much about were the asterisks.

The exceptions that went unmentioned now include a pair of cabinet nominees who did not pay all of their taxes. Then there is the lobbyist for a military contractor who is now slated to become the No. 2 official in the Pentagon. And there are the others brought into government from the influence industry even if not formally registered as lobbyists.

President Barack Obama said Monday that he was "absolutely" standing behind former Senator Tom Daschle, his nominee for health and human services secretary, and Daschle, who met late in the day with leading senators in an effort to keep his confirmation on track, said he had "no excuse" and wanted to "deeply apologize" for his failure to pay $128,000 in U.S. taxes.

But the episode has already shown how, when faced with the perennial clash between campaign rhetoric and Washington reality, Obama has proved willing to compromise.
Compromise?

If you were optimistic you might say Obama had suffered an unusual failure of his vaunted judgment. Except it's more common every day and the evidence for it is non-existent in the first place. If you were a realist you'd say it's politics as usual. Except you voted for Obama because he said it wouldn't be. If you are an Obot, you will call it pragmatism. Except you have to be starting to suspect it's lack of the very principles you bought into.

Only if you are an idiot do you call it compromise. When someone withdraws his offer of a s**t sandwich because you say you won't eat it, is that a compromise?

Dan Collins has the quote of the day: "I would like personally to thank the demi-God Obama for undertaking the hard task of exposing political corruption in Washington, DC, one nominee at a time."

Ed Morrissey has the lobbyist nominee count at Hot Air.
The list of lobbyists in the Obama administration

Rendition is as rendition does

Still a Flip-Flop: My Fellow Liberals Push Back Against Allegations of Inconsistency Concerning Rendition

Worth a read. DISSENTING JUSTICE is added to the blogroll.

Where the "stimulus" bill will put us all?

It always happens in California first. Victor Davis Hanson:
How does one explain how California is broke, tens of billions of dollars in aggregate debt, despite having among the highest sales and income taxes in the nation?

...So what went wrong, and why are tens of thousands of Californians leaving the state with bachelor degrees and above, while tens of thousands enter without high-school diplomas?

...So now those who want unchecked entitlements, open immigration, restrictions on resource development, unionized work forces and ever expanded government won—and won big. The problem is, again, the evil “they” who were to pay for all this in ever increased income and sales taxes, to take the blame of being racist, or sexist, or homophobic or greedy, are pretty much gone (cf. the last stand of the 1% of the state that pays the majority of state income taxes). There are no more “greedy” left to pay money or emotional penance, and the therapeutic mindset is now screaming to high heaven as it looks for its awful, but missing mean parent to make it all right.
RTWT before you listen to Jennifer Granholm's State of the State speech today, because, as the State Journal tells us; Fed cash reviving options for Granholm:
For six years, Gov. Jennifer Granholm has had to whittle down her wish list for new initiatives as Michigan's economy shrank.

Now the prospect of nearly $3 billion in federal stimulus money for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 has the Democratic governor cautiously looking over her dream list again. While most of her proposals won't rely on the extra money, it will influence what Granholm says Tuesday in her seventh annual State of the State address.

...The GOP leader of the Michigan Senate, Mike Bishop of Rochester, recently sent congressional leaders a letter saying none of the 44 states facing budget shortfalls, including Michigan, "should receive federal taxpayers dollars unless they adjust the spending practices and structural problems that drove them to require such assistance."

He worries that the administration will fill budget gaps with the stimulus money rather than making hard choices about what to cut. That, he says, is a recipe for disaster in two years when the stimulus money runs out. Business groups such as Detroit Renaissance echoed those concerns last week.

...The stimulus package will help the governor continue her efforts to promote more alternative energy jobs in Michigan and to avoid cuts to people receiving unemployment, welfare and state-covered health care. It might not provide money for other projects she proposed last year but has been unable to pay for, such as creating 100 small high schools and significantly expanding early childhood education.

...She'll propose measures to help homeowners avoid foreclosure and give the jobless more time to pay their overdue utility bills. She'll ask for a law banning municipal utilities from shutting off power and natural gas to the disabled and elderly. And she'll have an insurance advocate she appointed last year propose ways to reduce auto insurance rates.
Sounds like Gray Davis to me.

I do wonder why we need any part of $3 billion to have an "insurance advocate propose ways to reduce insurance rates." The insurance industry was already the target of increased taxes under the new Michigan Business Tax, while the auto makers were beneficiaries of reduced taxes. How's that working out?

Monday, February 02, 2009

Give me that old time rendition

Greg Miller in The Baltimore Sun: Rendition might expand in anti-terrorism efforts
The CIA's secret prisons are being closed. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantanamo Bay will eventually go back to being just a naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.

But even while dismantling these discredited [?] programs, President Barack Obama left an equally controversial counterterrorism tool intact.

Under executive orders issued by Obama on Jan. 22, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as "renditions," or the secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the rendition program is poised to play an expanded role because it is the main remaining mechanism - aside from Predator missile strikes - for taking suspected terrorists off the street.

...the Obama administration appears to have decided that the rendition program is one component of the Bush administration's war on terrorism that it cannot afford to discard.

..."Under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place" for renditions, said Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "What I heard loud and clear from the president's order was that they want to design a system that doesn't result in people being sent to foreign dungeons to be tortured, but that designing that system is going to take some time."

..."The reason we did interrogations [ourselves] is because renditions for the most part weren't very productive," said a former senior CIA official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject.

The most valuable intelligence on al-Qaida came from prisoners who were in CIA custody and questioned by agency experts, the official said. Once prisoners were turned over to other countries, such as Egypt or Jordan, the agency had limited ability to influence how much intelligence was shared, how prisoners were treated, and whether they were later released.
The most valuable intelligence came from prisoners in CIA custody? Like those interrogated at Guantánamo? The argument I've heard is that waterboarding wasn't effective because those subjected to it would say anything. Go figure how that changed in favor of interrogation by Egyptians or Afghanis, at least during the time Obama's figuring out how to write the executive order making them use the US Army Field Manual. Maybe they get to use the field manual of their own Armies.

Maybe rendition is considered "good" because it was made policy on Bill Clinton's watch when Leon Panetta was his Chief of Staff. I did understand that Leon would be putting an end to this rendition thing now that he's DCIA, but apparently I was mistaken. Despite my skepticism, maybe he has got some relevant experience after all.

How long will it be, though, before DemocratUnderground, MoveOn and The Daily Kos start calling Obama "ObaMaoHitler?" (For myself, I'd leave the "Hitler" off, but we know these guys really like it because they mistakenly think he was right-wing.)

I say unto them, be calm. It's OK. The "right people" are in charge now. It's a limited, secret plan. Human Rights Watch approves. Nothing will show up on the front page of the New York Times to upset the EU or give away clandestine ops to the enemy. If you want Barack to be successful, you mustn't let this upset you.

Besides, the ACLU says sending the Gitmo prisoners to maximum security prisons on US soil is torture anyway. Compared to how they've been treated at Gitmo, I'd tend to agree.

Without Gitmo, I guess it's either Egyptian dungeons or 72 virgins.

No words

As the time of this post, 2 days after the event, there's nothing at http://www.whitehouse.gov/ about the successful Iraq elections.

No congratulations. Not even acknowledgement.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Just words

Iran says Obama's offer to talk shows US failure
US President Barack Obama's offer to talk to Iran shows that America's policy of "domination" has failed, the government spokesman said on Saturday.

"This request means Western ideology has become passive, that capitalist thought and the system of domination have failed," Gholam Hossein Elham was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency.

"Negotiation is secondary, the main issue is that there is no way but for (the United States) to change," he added.
It turns out words spoken during the primaries offering to talk unconditionally with Iran and words spoken apologizing for America in a recent Al-Arabiya interview have consequences. Who knew words were that important? Well, Obama said he did.

Just Words?


And we heard his words reminding us we "can't expect that every other country's gonna say Okeh" to our energy usage, like keeping the thermostat at 72 "all the time."


Well, I should say not! Just the other day Obama was talking about how wimpy people in DC are because the schools closed due to winter weather. He described a "flinty Chicago toughness" as Just The Thing that Was Needed.

However, the Oval Office is either exempt from impressing foreigners with our energy parsimony or Chicago's flinty toughness can only be expected in people not from Hawaii, or both. White House Unbuttons Formal Dress Code

The capital flew into a bit of a tizzy when, on his first full day in the White House, President Obama was photographed in the Oval Office without his suit jacket. There was, however, a logical explanation: Mr. Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat.

“He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”
Actions. Words. Whatever. Can somebody please lend this man a moth-eaten cardigan and a helping of crow?