Saturday, October 25, 2008

Book Review: "Extreme Measures" by Vince Flynn

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
October 24, 2008

Vince Flynn
Atria Books
Political Thriller
ISBN: 9780743270427

- Read an Excerpt

If I had the mythical wallet of endless wealth, I would buy up a few hundred thousand copies of EXTREME MEASURES, Vince Flynn’s latest Mitch Rapp novel, and start passing them out on street corners. Given that it’s that time again, when the American electorate is about to decide who is going to drive the Lexus for the next four years, one needs to make informed decisions. And if you haven’t considered the issues raised in this book, I would suggest that you really need to take that extra step.

EXTREME MEASURES brings Rapp and his colleague/protégé Mike Nash together for what may well be their ultimate mission. The CIA has detected and captured two terrorist cells; information indicates that yet a third is on a mission that is all but certain to take place in dramatic fashion on U.S. soil. Rapp and Nash are in the midst of a rough but effective interrogation when they are interrupted by agents of their own government --- the government of the country they are sworn to protect --- and, in an almost Orwellian but realistic turn of events, Rapp finds himself subject to arrest for fighting a war in defense of his country.

While focusing on domestic espionage and over-the-shoulder views of terrorist planning, the primary mission of EXTREME MEASURES is to examine the enemy within --- the questionably well-intended members of government who seem to delight in hamstringing military personnel with rules as they fight against an enemy who understands that the main rule of warfare is to win at any cost. While Rapp is brought before the judiciary committee in proceedings that are most generously described as being similar to a kangaroo court, a terrorist cell plots a multifaceted series of events designed to strike at the heart of the government that seems obsessed, against all logic, with protecting their rights while disregarding the health and safety of its own citizens.

As he has before, Flynn demonstrates that he truly understands the psyche of the enemy. To put it in plain terms, these guys are really scary, primarily because they are so realistic. Led by an erratic mastermind whose goal is to become the acknowledged leader of al-Qaeda, the terrorist cell slowly but steadily executes a by-the-numbers plot that will paralyze the country, while Rapp, perhaps the only person who has a prayer of successfully terminating their operation, is short-leashed by a judiciary committee headed by an egocentric chairman in love with the sound of her own voice. As the book races toward a catastrophic, and ironic, conclusion, more than one perfumed prince comes to realize that inaction, as well as action, can result in tragic consequences that reach further than can be anticipated.

Flynn’s latest effort is complete in itself, with a beginning, middle and definite ending. Be forewarned, however: it is only the first half of a story that will not see its climax until 2009. Please don’t vote without reading EXTREME MEASURES.

Click here now to buy this book from

Mark Steyn: Obama nears the "now what?" moment

If elected, he'll likely, as he has done all his life, take the path of least resistance.

Orange County Register
Friday, October 24, 2008

Across the electric wires, the hum is ceaseless: Give it up, loser. Don't go down with the ship when it's swept away by the Obama tsunami. According to newspaper reports, polls show that most people believe newspaper reports claiming that most people believe polls showing that most people have read newspaper reports agreeing that polls show he's going to win.

In the words of Publishers' Clearing House, he may already have won! The battleground states have all turned blue, the reddest of red states are rapidly purpling. Don't you know, little fool? You never can win. Use your mentality, wake up to reality. Why be the last right-wing pundit to sign up with Small-Government Conservatives For The Liberal Supermajority? We still need pages for the coronation, and there's a pair of velvet knickerbockers with your name on it.

Yes, technically, this is still a two-party state, but one of the parties is like Elton John's post-Oscar bash and the other is a church social in Wasilla. As David Sedaris put it in The New Yorker:

"I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. 'Can I interest you in the chicken?' she asks. 'Or would you prefer the platter of s--t with bits of broken glass in it?'

"To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked."

Well, to be honest, I've never much cared for chicken.

McCain vs. Obama is not the choice many of us would have liked in an ideal world. But then it's not an "ideal world," and the belief that it can be made so is one of the things that separates those who think Obama will "heal the planet" and those of us who support McCain faute de mieux. I agree with Thomas Sowell that an Obama-Pelosi supermajority will mark what he calls "a point of no return."

It would not be, as some naysayers scoff, "Jimmy Carter's second term," but something far more transformative. The new president would front the fourth great wave of liberal annexation – the first being FDR's New Deal, the second LBJ's Great Society, and the third the incremental but remorseless cultural advance when Reagan conservatives began winning victories at the ballot box and liberals turned their attention to the other levers of the society, from grade school up. The terrorist educator William Ayers, Obama's patron in Chicago, is an exemplar of that most-recent model: 40 years ago, he was in favor of blowing up public buildings; then he figured out it was easier to get inside and undermine them from within.

All three liberal waves have transformed American expectations of the state. The spirit of the age is: Ask not what your country can do for you, demand it. Why can't the government sort out my health care? Why can't they pick up my mortgage?

In his first inaugural address, Calvin Coolidge said: "I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people." That's true in a more profound sense than he could have foreseen. In Europe, lavish social-democratic government has transformed citizens into eternal wards of the Nanny State: the bureaucracy's assumption of every adult responsibility has severed Continentals from the most basic survival impulse, to the point where unaffordable entitlements on shriveled birth rates have put a question mark over some of the oldest nation states on Earth. A vote for an Obama-Pelosi-Barney Frank-ACORN supermajority is a vote for a Europeanized domestic policy that is, as the eco-types like to say, "unsustainable."

More to the point, the only reason why Belgium has gotten away this long with being Belgium and Sweden Sweden and Germany Germany is because America's America. The soft comfortable cocoon in which Western Europe has dozed this past half-century is girded by cold hard American power. What happens when the last serious Western nation votes for the same soothing beguiling siren song as its enervated allies?

"People of the world," Sen. Obama declared sonorously at his self-worship service in Germany, "look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one."

No, sorry. History proved no such thing. In the Cold War, the world did not stand as one. One half of Europe was a prison, and in the other half far too many people – the Barack Obamas of the day – were happy to go along with that division in perpetuity.

And the wall came down not because "the world stood as one," but because a few courageous people stood against the conventional wisdom of the day. Had Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan been like Helmut Schmidt and Francois Mitterrand and Pierre Trudeau and Jimmy Carter, the Soviet empire (notwithstanding its own incompetence) would have survived, and the wall would still be standing. Sen. Obama's feeble passivity will get you a big round of applause precisely because it's the easy option: Do nothing but hold hands and sing the easy-listening anthems of one-worldism, and the planet will heal.

To govern is to choose. And sometimes the choices are tough ones. When has Barack Obama chosen to take a stand? When he got along to get along with the Chicago machine? When he sat for 20 years in the pews of an ugly neo-segregationist race-baiting grievance-monger? When he voted to deny the surviving "fetuses" of botched abortions medical treatment? When in his short time in national politics he racked up the most liberal – i.e., the most doctrinaire, the most orthodox, the most reflex – voting record in the Senate? Or when, on those many occasions the questions got complex and required a choice, he dodged it and voted merely "present"?

The world rarely stands as one. You can, as Reagan and Thatcher did, stand up. Or, like Obama voting "present," you can stand down.

Nobody denies that, in promoting himself from "community organizer" to the world's president-designate in nothing flat, he has shown an amazing and impressively ruthless single-mindedness. But the path of personal glory has been, in terms of policy and philosophy, the path of least resistance.

Peggy Noonan thinks a President Obama will be like the dog who chases the car and finally catches it: Now what? I think Obama will be content to be King Barack the Benign, Spreader of Wealth and Healer of Planets. His rise is, in many ways, testament to the persistence of the monarchical urge even in a two-century old republic. So the "Now what?" questions will be answered by others, beginning with the liberal supermajority in Congress. And as he has done all his life he will take the path of least resistance. An Obama administration will pitch America toward EU domestic policy and U.N. foreign policy.

Thomas Sowell is right: It would be a "point of no return," the most explicit repudiation of the animating principles of America. For a vigilant republic of limited government and self-reliant citizens, it would be a Declaration of Dependence.

If a majority of Americans want that, we holdouts must respect their choice. But, if you don't want it, vote accordingly.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Boot Murtha—The Change America Deserves!

By Michelle Malkin
October 23, 2008

A real referendum on hope and change is taking place in western Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district. If the change agent in the race were a Democrat and the status quo defender were a Republican, this battle would be all over the nightly news. The challenger would be heralded as a maverick and photographed with halo effect and angel wings. Instead, the national media have ignored him.

The Democratic candidate in this race has devoted his public career to back-scratching, logrolling and self-aggrandizing Beltway politics as usual. The Republican candidate is a fresh-faced newcomer and decorated combat veteran fighting to topple the arrogant old crony.

The Democrat supports the pork-stuffed, debt-exploding government bailout for the banking industry. The Republican opposes it. The Democrat supports a raft of illegal-alien amnesty measures. The Republican opposes them. The Democrat supports race-baiting campaign rhetoric and contemptuous smears against both American troops and gun-owning, Bible-respecting citizens. The Republican opposes those divisive tactics and reckless slander.

The symbol of everything wrong with Washington is 18-term Democratic Rep. John Murtha, king of congressional pork and infamous Abscam sting target who was videotaped entertaining a $50,000 bribe from undercover FBI agents posing as emissaries for Arab sheiks trying to enter our country illegally in the 1980s. Most recently, in June, the Democratic porkmeister was caught intervening on behalf of a law-breaking Pennsylvania company convicted of selling military equipment parts illegally overseas and knowingly violating national security rules.

The champion for hope and change is GOP challenger Bill Russell, a Desert Storm veteran, former Army lieutenant colonel and Army reservist who survived the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

I reported to you in this column on July 23 that Russell is "the man who could topple John Murtha". (His campaign website is Victory seemed like a nearly impossible miracle three months ago. Now, Murtha is on the ropes and finally feeling the heat.

On Thursday, a new poll by Dane and Associates put Russell ahead of Murtha by 48-35. A separate Susquehanna poll released Wednesday put entrenched incumbent Murtha up over Russell by just a little more than 4 percentage points. That's within the poll's 4.9-point margin of error. Murtha's in so much trouble he decided to cut and run from a scheduled debate with Russell last week.

Lesson: Slander has consequences.

Last week, Murtha derided his own constituents as racial bigots. He told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "There's no question that western Pennsylvania is a racist area." It's a sentiment Murtha's man Barack Obama infamously voiced at a San Francisco fundraiser in April, when he said small-town Pennsylvanians were "bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

After initially backing away from his Obama-inspired trashing of Pennsylvania voters, Murtha dug a deeper hole—telling a Pittsburgh television station that "this whole area, years ago, was really redneck."

Bull. As Pennsylvania political analyst Ryan Shafik at the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research points out, rural central and western Pennsylvania voters turned out in droves to support black GOP gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann in 2006. In fact, Shafik reminds Democratic race-baiters, "The areas populated by conservative whites voted for Lynn Swann. It was the areas filled with moderate-to-liberal whites and large black populations that voted overwhelmingly against Lynn Swann." [Rendell's Race Card Trashes Pennsylvanians]

Of course, black Republicans aren't really black in the eyes of the intolerant left—which speaks volumes about the unrepentant prejudices of the race-card players. In the Democratic Party, diversity is and always will be only skin deep.

Thanks to word-of-mouth and grassroots Internet activism, Russell's conservative counterinsurgent campaign has succeeded in keeping pace with Murtha's fundraising. This despite Murtha's massive advantage in PAC donations, national name recognition and incumbency perks.

Russell's surge is all the more extraordinary because he was a write-in candidate on active duty until Aug. 1 of this year and unable to actively campaign while completing his military service. He jumped into the race after hearing Murtha's slanderous 2006 accusations that Marines in Haditha "overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."

As I've noted previously, seven Marines have been cleared or won case dismissals in the Iraq war incident Murtha recklessly adjudicated in the court of public opinion—with willing mainstream accomplices at The New York Times, MSNBC and in the world press swinging their nooses to Murtha's beat.

No wonder the news hounds prefer to keep this race out of the headlines.

Republicans face tough odds across the country. A Russell upset over the nation's dirtiest Democrat promises a silver lining.

Murtha's constituents are ready to throw the bum out. And not a moment too soon.

- Michelle Malkin [email her] is author of Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s review. Click here for Michelle Malkin's website. Michelle Malkin's latest book is Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild.

McCain for President

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
October 24, 2008

WASHINGTON -- Contrarian that I am, I'm voting for John McCain. I'm not talking about bucking the polls or the media consensus that it's over before it's over. I'm talking about bucking the rush of wet-fingered conservatives leaping to Barack Obama before they're left out in the cold without a single state dinner for the next four years.

I stand athwart the rush of conservative ship-jumpers of every stripe -- neo (Ken Adelman), moderate (Colin Powell), genetic/ironic (Christopher Buckley) and socialist/atheist (Christopher Hitchens) -- yelling "Stop!" I shall have no part of this motley crew. I will go down with the McCain ship. I'd rather lose an election than lose my bearings.

First, I'll have no truck with the phony case ginned up to rationalize voting for the most liberal and inexperienced presidential nominee in living memory. The "erratic" temperament issue, for example. As if McCain's risky and unsuccessful but in no way irrational attempt to tactically maneuver his way through the economic tsunami that came crashing down a month ago renders unfit for office a man who demonstrated the most admirable equanimity and courage in the face of unimaginable pressures as a prisoner of war, and who later steadily navigated innumerable challenges and setbacks, not the least of which was the collapse of his campaign just a year ago.

McCain the "erratic" is a cheap Obama talking point. The 40-year record testifies to McCain the stalwart.

Nor will I countenance the "dirty campaign" pretense. The double standard here is stunning. Obama ran a scurrilous Spanish-language ad falsely associating McCain with anti-Hispanic slurs. Another ad falsely claimed McCain supports "cutting Social Security benefits in half." And for months Democrats insisted that McCain sought 100 years of war in Iraq.

McCain's critics are offended that he raised the issue of William Ayers. What's astonishing is that Obama was himself not offended by William Ayers.

Moreover, the most remarkable of all tactical choices of this election season is the attack that never was. Out of extreme (and unnecessary) conscientiousness, McCain refused to raise the legitimate issue of Obama's most egregious association -- with the race-baiting Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Dirty campaigning, indeed.

The case for McCain is straightforward. The financial crisis has made us forget, or just blindly deny, how dangerous the world out there is. We have a generations-long struggle with Islamic jihadism. An apocalyptic soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. A nuclear-armed Pakistan in danger of fragmentation. A rising Russia pushing the limits of revanchism. Plus the sure-to-come Falklands-like surprise popping out of nowhere.

Who do you want answering that phone at 3 a.m.? A man who's been cramming on these issues for the last year, who's never had to make an executive decision affecting so much as a city, let alone the world? A foreign policy novice instinctively inclined to the flabbiest, most vaporous multilateralism (e.g., the Berlin Wall came down because of "a world that stands as one"), and who refers to the most deliberate act of war since Pearl Harbor as "the tragedy of 9/11," a term more appropriate for a bus accident?

Or do you want a man who is the most prepared, most knowledgeable, most serious foreign policy thinker in the United States Senate? A man who not only has the best instincts, but has the honor and the courage to, yes, put country first, as when he carried the lonely fight for the surge that turned Iraq from catastrophic defeat into achievable strategic victory?

There's just no comparison. Obama's own running mate warned this week that Obama's youth and inexperience will invite a crisis -- indeed a crisis "generated" precisely to test him. Can you be serious about national security and vote on Nov. 4 to invite that test?

And how will he pass it? Well, how has he fared on the only two significant foreign policy tests he has faced since he's been in the Senate? The first was the surge. Obama failed spectacularly. He not only opposed it. He tried to denigrate it, stop it and, finally, deny its success.

The second test was Georgia, to which Obama responded instinctively with evenhanded moral equivalence, urging restraint on both sides. McCain did not have to consult his advisers to instantly identify the aggressor.

Today's economic crisis, like every other in our history, will in time pass. But the barbarians will still be at the gates. Whom do you want on the parapet? I'm for the guy who can tell the lion from the lamb.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Eliminating 25 million Americans

By Thomas Lifson
October 23, 2008

That was the plan of the Weather Underground after taking power. The same Weather Underground headed by Barack Obama's friends William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, the people in whose house he launched his political career, and with whom he has worked and spoken on the subject of educational reform.

Confederate Yankee discovered a video clip of testimony given by former Weather Underground member/FBI informant Larry Grathwohl, in which he speaks the following chilling words:

I asked, "well what is going to happen to those people we can't reeducate, that are diehard capitalists?" and the reply was that they'd have to be eliminated.

And when I pursued this further, they estimated they would have to eliminate 25 million people in these reeducation centers.

And when I say "eliminate," I mean "kill."

Twenty-five million people.

I want you to imagine sitting in a room with 25 people, most of which have graduate degrees, from Columbia and other well-known educational centers, and hear them figuring out the logistics for the elimination of 25 million people.

And they were dead serious.

I suppose it is possible that Ayers and Dohrn have changed their political thinking, but they have remained publicly silent, and indeed have indicated no regret at all about their revolutionary past or goals.

I don't believe it is simple paranoia to wonder about handing the presidency to a man who doesn't see anything wrong with working together with these people, and who has already had his campaign attempt to shut down opponents by means legal and otherwise.

Do not expect any reporter with access to Obama to ask him about the relationship with Ayers and Dohrn and their intent to cleanse America of opponents.

Hat tip: Susan L.

Watch the testimony yourself in the video linked to below:

Ayers' Weathermen planned "re-education", genocide

Click on title to play video clip of former Weather Underground member and FBI informant Larry Grathwohl discussing the group's plans for the United States after the Weather Underground assumed control of the country.

Parts of their plan included having countries like the Soviet Union, China and Cuba divide up the US and sending all objectors to re-education camps...


By Ann Coulter
October 22, 2008

The media are acting as if they completely and fully vetted Obama during the Democratic primaries and that's why they are entitled to send teams of researchers into Alaska to analyze Sarah Palin's every expense report.

In fact, the mainstream media did no vetting. They seem to have all agreed, "OK, none of us will get into this business with Jeremiah Wright, 'Tony' Rezko, Saul Alinsky, Bill Ayers and everyone's impression of an angry Michelle Obama on 'The Jerry Springer Show.'"

During one of the Democratic primary debates, Hillary Clinton was hissed for mentioning Syrian national Rezko, and during another, ABC moderator George Stephanopoulos nearly lost his career for asking Obama one question about William Ayers.

In the past week, TV anchors have taken to claiming that Obama "refuted" John McCain's statement that Obama launched his political career at the home of former Weather Underground leader Ayers.

No, Obama "denied" it; he didn't "refute" it. If "denying" something is the same as "refuting" it, then maybe the establishment media can quit harping on Palin's qualifications to be president, since she too "refuted" that by denying it.

Back before the media realized it needed to lie about Obama launching his political career at Ayers' house, the Los Angeles Times provided an eyewitness account from a liberal who attended the event.

"When I first met Barack Obama, he was giving a standard, innocuous little talk in the living room of those two legends-in-their-own-minds, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. They were launching him -- introducing him to the Hyde Park community as the best thing since sliced bread."

The Times has now stripped this item from its Web page, but the great blogger Patterico has preserved it for posterity on his Web page.

Obama's glib remark that "Bill Ayers is a professor of education in Chicago; 40 years ago when I was 8 years old he engaged in despicable acts with a domestic group. I have roundly denounced those attacks" -- doesn't answer anything.

First of all, the fact that Ayers is a professor of education proves only one thing: He is dumber than any person without an education degree.

Ayers is such an imbecile, we ought to be amazed that he's teaching at a university -- even when you consider that it's an ed school -- except all former violent radicals end up teaching. Roughly 80 percent of former Weathermen are full college professors -- 99 percent if you don't include the ones killed in shoot-outs with the police or in prison -- i.e., not yet pardoned by a Democratic president.

Any other profession would have banned a person like Ayers. Universities not only accept former domestic terrorists, but also move them to the front of the line. In addition to Ayers, among those once on the FBI's most-wanted list who ended up in cushy college teaching positions are Bernardine Dohrn (Northwestern University), Mark Rudd (a junior college in New Mexico) and Angela Davis (History of Consciousness Department, University of California at Santa Cruz).

While others were hard at work on Ph.D.s, Susan Rosenberg was conspiring to kill cops and blow up buildings, and was assembling massive caches of explosives. This put her on the fast track for a teaching position at Hamilton College!

Despite having absolutely no qualifications to teach, having earned only a master's degree in "writing" through a correspondence course, Rosenberg was offered a position at Hamilton within a few years of President Clinton pardoning her in 2001, releasing her from a 58-year prison sentence for participating in the murder of cops and possessing more than 700 pounds of explosives.

But Obama thinks it's a selling point to say that Ayers is a college professor.

Hundreds of college professors have signed a letter vouching for Ayers, which would be like Lester Maddox producing a letter from George Wallace assuring us that Maddox is a respected member of the community. No, really, I've got the letter right here!

The media keep citing the fact that the money Obama and Ayers distributed to idiotic left-wing causes came -- as The New York Times put it -- "from Walter H. Annenberg, the billionaire publisher and philanthropist and President Richard M. Nixon's ambassador to the United Kingdom."

Great Republican though he was, Walter Annenberg died in 2002. The money came from the Annenberg Foundation, which, like all foundations, distributes money to projects that its founder would despise. John Kerry ran for president on the late John Heinz's money. That didn't mean Republican Heinz was endorsing Kerry.

As John O'Sullivan says, any foundation that is not explicitly right-wing will become a radical left-wing organization within a few years. It could be the Association of University Women, the American Association of Retired People, the American Rose Growers, the Foundation for the Study of Railroad Engineers or the Choral Society of Newport Beach.

Left-wing radicals swarm to free foundation money, where they can give gigantic grants to one another and they will never have to do a day's work. That's exactly what Obama and Ayers did with Annenberg's money.

None of the Annenberg money went to schoolchildren. It went to Ayers' left-wing crank friends to write moronic papers that we hope no one ever reads.

Instead of teaching students reading and writing, Ayers thinks they should be taught to rebel against America's "imperialist" social structure. In 2006, Ayers was in Venezuela praising communist dictator Hugo Chavez, saying, "We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution."

He has backed a line of schoolbooks such as one titled "Teaching Science for Social Justice."

Forget about Ayers' domestic terrorism when Obama "was 8 years old." Does he agree with Ayers' idiot ideas right now?

Hatin' Palin


She's not the reason Americans can't stand their politicians.

The Wall Street Journal
October 23, 2008

The abuse being heaped on Sarah Palin is such a cheap shot.

The complaint against the Alaska governor, at its most basic, is that she doesn't qualify for admission to the national political fraternity. Boy, that's rich. Behold the shabby frat house that says it's above her pay grade.

Sarah Palin appears with Lorne Michaels on Saturday Night Live (NBC).

Congress has the lowest approval rating ever registered in the history of polling (12%!). She isn't the reason polls are showing people want the entire Congress fired, with many telling pollsters they themselves could do a better job.

Sarah Palin didn't design a system of presidential primaries whose length and cost ensures that only the most obsessional personalities will run the gauntlet, while a long list of effective governors don't run.

These rules have wasted the electorate's time the past three presidential elections, by filling the debates with such zero-support candidates as Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, Al Sharpton, Duncan Hunter, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden (8,000 total votes), Wesley Clark and Alan Keyes.
Daniel Henninger discusses the "cheap shots" taken at Sarah Palin and highlights some problems with the political system. (Oct. 23)

Out of this process has fallen a Democratic nominee who entered the U.S. Senate in 2005 fresh off a stint in the Illinois state legislature, with next to no record of political accomplishment. He may be elected mainly because, in Colin Powell's word, he is thought to be "transformational." One may hope so.

By not bothering to look very deeply at the details beneath either candidate's governing proposals, the media have created a lot of downtime to take free kicks at Gov. Palin. My former colleague, Tunku Varadarajan, has compiled a glossary of Palin invective, and I've added a few: "Republican blow-up doll," "idiot," "Christian Stepford wife," "Jesus freak," "Caribou Barbie," "a dope," "a fatal cancer to the Republican Party," "liar," "a national disgrace" and "her pretense that she is a woman."

If American politics is at low ebb, it is because so many of its observers enjoy working in its fetid backwash.

The primary discomfort with Gov. Palin is the notion that she doesn't have sufficient experience to be president, that Sen. McCain should have picked a Washington hand seasoned in the ways of the world. Such as? Here's an opinion poll question:

If as Joe Biden suggests the U.S. is likely to be tested by a foreign enemy next year, who of the following would you rather have dealing with it in the Oval Office: Nancy (of Damascus) Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Edwards, Joe (the U.S. drove Hezbollah out of Lebanon) Biden, Mike Huckabee, Geraldine Ferraro, Tom DeLay, Jimmy Carter or Sarah Palin?

My pick? Gov. Palin, surely the most grounded, common-sense person on that list of prime-time politicians.

The established political pros let the selection process come to this. Presidential candidates such as John McCain and Barack Obama have become untethered from the discipline of party institutions, largely because the parties have lost coherence. So we get celebrity candidates made famous, fundable and electable by dint of their access to the Beltway media. For voters, this election is a national Hail Mary.

For nearly two years, all the major candidates have rotated through our lives as solitary personalities attended by careerist campaign professionals. Barack, Hillary, Rudy, Mitt, Mike, McCain. When the moment arrived to pick a running mate, input from the parties was minimal. That famous party boss, Caroline Kennedy, advised Barack Obama. They picked a three-decade denizen of the Senate. John McCain's obligation was himself and his endless slog to this big chance.

The quick surge of party-wide excitement and campaign contributions after his selection of Sarah Palin made clear that the McCain candidacy was moribund and headed for a low-turnout debacle. If he had picked any of the plain-vanilla men on his veep short list -- Pawlenty, Sanford, Romney or Lieberman -- they'd have won approval from the media's college of cardinals, and killed his campaign.

The stoning of Sarah Palin has exposed enough cultural fissures in American politics to occupy strategists full-time until 2012. We now see there is a left-to-right elite centered in New York, Washington, Hollywood and Silicon Valley who hand down judgments of the nation's mortals from their perch atop the Bell Curve.

It seems only yesterday that the most critical skill in presidential politics was being able to connect to people in places like Bronko's bar or Saddleback Church. When Gov. Palin showed she excelled at that, the goal posts suddenly moved and the new game was being able to talk the talk in London, Paris, Tehran or Moscow. She looks about a half-step behind Sen. Obama on that learning curve.

Lorne Michaels, the executive producer of "Saturday Night Live," lives on the forward wave of American life. This week he gave his view of Sarah Palin to "I think Palin will continue to be underestimated for a while. I watched the way she connected with people, and she's powerful. Her politics aren't my politics. But you can see that she's a very powerful, very disciplined, incredibly gracious woman. This was her first time out and she's had a huge impact. People connect to her."

Uh-oh. Sounds like the cancer could be in remission.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Today's Tune: Los Bravos - Black is Black

(Click on title to play video)

Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn On the Lights?

By Orson Scott Card
October 5, 2008

First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC

An open letter to the local daily paper -- almost every local daily paper in America:

I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.

This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.

It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.

What is a risky loan? It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.

The goal of this rule change was to help the poor -- which especially would help members of minority groups. But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can't repay? They get into a house, yes, but when they can't make the payments, they lose the house -- along with their credit rating.

They end up worse off than before.

This was completely foreseeable and in fact many people did foresee it. One political party, in Congress and in the executive branch, tried repeatedly to tighten up the rules. The other party blocked every such attempt and tried to loosen them.

Furthermore, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were making political contributions to the very members of Congress who were allowing them to make irresponsible loans. (Though why quasi-federal agencies were allowed to do so baffles me. It's as if the Pentagon were allowed to contribute to the political campaigns of Congressmen who support increasing their budget.)

Isn't there a story here? Doesn't journalism require that you who produce our daily paper tell the truth about who brought us to a position where the only way to keep confidence in our economy was a $700 billion bailout? Aren't you supposed to follow the money and see which politicians were benefitting personally from the deregulation of mortgage lending?

I have no doubt that if these facts had pointed to the Republican Party or to John McCain as the guilty parties, you would be treating it as a vast scandal. "Housing-gate," no doubt. Or "Fannie-gate."

Instead, it was Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, both Democrats, who denied that there were any problems, who refused Bush administration requests to set up a regulatory agency to watch over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and who were still pushing for these agencies to go even further in promoting subprime mortgage loans almost up to the minute they failed.

As Thomas Sowell points out in a essay entitled Do Facts Matter? "Alan Greenspan warned them four years ago. So did the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the President. So did Bush's Secretary of the Treasury."

These are facts. This financial crisis was completely preventable. The party that blocked any attempt to prevent it was ... the Democratic Party. The party that tried to prevent it was ... the Republican Party.

Yet when Nancy Pelosi accused the Bush administration and Republican deregulation of causing the crisis, you in the press did not hold her to account for her lie. Instead, you criticized Republicans who took offense at this lie and refused to vote for the bailout!

What? It's not the liar, but the victims of the lie who are to blame?

Now let's follow the money ... right to the presidential candidate who is the number-two recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae.

And after Freddie Raines, the CEO of Fannie Mae who made $90 million while running it into the ground, was fired for his incompetence, one presidential candidate's campaign actually consulted him for advice on housing.

If that presidential candidate had been John McCain, you would have called it a major scandal and we would be getting stories in your paper every day about how incompetent and corrupt he was.

But instead, that candidate was Barack Obama, and so you have buried this story, and when the McCain campaign dared to call Raines an "adviser" to the Obama campaign -- because that campaign had sought his advice -- you actually let Obama's people get away with accusing McCain of lying, merely because Raines wasn't listed as an official adviser to the Obama campaign.

You would never tolerate such weasely nit-picking from a Republican.

If you who produce our local daily paper actually had any principles, you would be pounding this story, because the prosperity of all Americans was put at risk by the foolish, short-sighted, politically selfish, and possibly corrupt actions of leading Democrats, including Obama.

If you who produce our local daily paper had any personal honor, you would find it unbearable to let the American people believe that somehow Republicans were to blame for this crisis.

There are precedents. Even though President Bush and his administration never said that Iraq sponsored or was linked to 9/11, you could not stand the fact that Americans had that misapprehension -- so you pounded us with the fact that there was no such link. (Along the way, you created the false impression that Bush had lied to them and said that there was a connection.)

If you had any principles, then surely right now, when the American people are set to blame President Bush and John McCain for a crisis they tried to prevent, and are actually shifting to approve of Barack Obama because of a crisis he helped cause, you would be laboring at least as hard to correct that false impression.

Your job, as journalists, is to tell the truth. That's what you claim you do, when you accept people's money to buy or subscribe to your paper.

But right now, you are consenting to or actively promoting a big fat lie -- that the housing crisis should somehow be blamed on Bush, McCain, and the Republicans. You have trained the American people to blame everything bad -- even bad weather -- on Bush, and they are responding as you have taught them to.

If you had any personal honor, each reporter and editor would be insisting on telling the truth -- even if it hurts the election chances of your favorite candidate.

Because that's what honorable people do. Honest people tell the truth even when they don't like the probable consequences. That's what honesty means. That's how trust is earned.

Barack Obama is just another politician, and not a very wise one. He has revealed his ignorance and naivete time after time -- and you have swept it under the rug, treated it as nothing.

Meanwhile, you have participated in the borking of Sarah Palin, reporting savage attacks on her for the pregnancy of her unmarried daughter -- while you ignored the story of John Edwards's own adultery for many months.

So I ask you now: Do you have any standards at all? Do you even know what honesty means?

Is getting people to vote for Barack Obama so important that you will throw away everything that journalism is supposed to stand for?

You might want to remember the way the National Organization of Women threw away their integrity by supporting Bill Clinton despite his well-known pattern of sexual exploitation of powerless women. Who listens to NOW anymore? We know they stand for nothing; they have no principles.

That's where you are right now.

It's not too late. You know that if the situation were reversed, and the truth would damage McCain and help Obama, you would be moving heaven and earth to get the true story out there.

If you want to redeem your honor, you will swallow hard and make a list of all the stories you would print if it were McCain who had been getting money from Fannie Mae, McCain whose campaign had consulted with its discredited former CEO, McCain who had voted against tightening its lending practices.

Then you will print them, even though every one of those true stories will point the finger of blame at the reckless Democratic Party, which put our nation's prosperity at risk so they could feel good about helping the poor, and lay a fair share of the blame at Obama's door.

You will also tell the truth about John McCain: that he tried, as a Senator, to do what it took to prevent this crisis. You will tell the truth about President Bush: that his administration tried more than once to get Congress to regulate lending in a responsible way.

This was a Congress-caused crisis, beginning during the Clinton administration, with Democrats leading the way into the crisis and blocking every effort to get out of it in a timely fashion.

If you at our local daily newspaper continue to let Americans believe --and vote as if -- President Bush and the Republicans caused the crisis, then you are joining in that lie.

If you do not tell the truth about the Democrats -- including Barack Obama -- and do so with the same energy you would use if the miscreants were Republicans -- then you are not journalists by any standard.

You're just the public relations machine of the Democratic Party, and it's time you were all fired and real journalists brought in, so that we can actually have a daily newspaper in our city.

"The Holy Year of St. Paul"

Ad limina Pauli
By Timothy George
Tuesday, October 14, 2008, 9:16 AM

The first-time visitor to Rome is drawn inexorably to St. Peter’s basilica, the most famous church in the world, at the heart of Vatican City. Built above what is believed to be the actual bones of the apostle Peter, this church has been the home of the popes since the Middle Ages. Catholics believe that the pope is the successor of St. Peter and that he has a special Petrine ministry in the Church today.

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

But the church at Rome has a dual apostolic foundation. The apostle Paul also preached in Rome and, like Peter, was put to death at the command of the emperor Nero during his fierce persecution of Roman Christians.

This year marks the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Paul, the most influential Christian in the early Church, apart from Jesus himself. Benedict XVI has called for a twelve-month celebration to honor “The Holy Year of St. Paul.” The Vatican has marked the celebration, which began this past summer on June 28, by issuing a stamp and a new 2-euro coin. A year dedicated to St. Paul is a good occasion for all Christians to ponder the legacy of the person who founded more churches and wrote more biblical books than anyone else.

Peter and Paul did not always see eye to eye on how to carry out their mission, and Peter declared Paul’s letters “hard to understand.” Paul and his ideas have been controversial throughout the history of the Church. Paul’s teaching has stirred many reforms and renewals led by great theologians such as Augustine, Luther, Pascal, Wesley, and Barth; but Paul has also been derided and denounced. Nietzsche called Paul a dysangelist, a preacher of bad news, and this opinion has been echoed by many others. Jesus, some say, preached a simple message of love and brotherhood which was perverted by Paul with his legalism and intellectualism—justification, predestination, and all that.

In fact, the earliest written evidence we have of Jesus comes from Paul. His description of the Last Supper in I Corinthians 11 was written decades before any of the gospels. Paul was writing to communities of faith who already knew about the words and deeds of Jesus through oral traditions. He wrote to teach them the meaning of what they believed. No doubt, Paul would have been surprised to learn that so many of his letters eventually “made the Bible.” He wrote them on the run, so to speak, from prison cells, house churches, and byways of the Roman Empire.

Jerome once said that when he read the letters of the apostle Paul he could hear thunder. Those same rumblings can still be heard today. He could be critical and caustic. “My dear idiots!” he wrote to the Galatians (3:1, Phillips). But there was another side to Paul as well—tender, persuasive, yearning. He writes as a father in God and once compared himself to a mother undergoing the pains of childbirth for the sake of his spiritual progeny.

St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, Rome

Paul can be quoted and misquoted on every hot-button issue faced by the Church today, from gender roles to global warming. The heart of his message was what he called simply “the gospel of God.” He believed that the God of Israel had made known his grace and love for all persons in the life, death, and resurrection of Messiah Jesus. To follow Jesus meant making the love of Christ known in all the world. Paul was the apostle of Christian unity. He never tired of imploring his fellow Christians to “seek the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ,” he urged (Eph. 4:3; Phil. 2:5). That Paul himself did not always live up to this ideal, and that many Christians through the centuries have certainly not done so, is no excuse for our own failures.

On the road to Ostia near the Tiber River stands the basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls. Equally venerable if less ornate that St. Peter’s, this church dates back to the time of Constantine. Inside is a sarcophagus with the tomb of Paul. Since the second century of the common era, Christian pilgrims have gathered here to pray, worship, and reflect on the wisdom in Paul’s writings. They still do. His message of reconciliation, of God’s free grace revealed most fully in the face of Jesus Christ, is still relevant in our fear-haunted, fragile world today.

In the theological study group known as Evangelicals and Catholics Together, we have been led to affirm our unity as brothers and sisters in Christ. We have pondered together the meaning of Paul’s words. Though important theological differences remain, we have learned from Paul that the more we are drawn to Christ, the closer we come to one another. After all, it was Paul who taught us that the three greatest virtues are faith, hope, and love, and that the greatest of these is love.

Timothy George is the founding dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and a member of the editorial board of First Things.

The Increasingly Erratic, Super-Gaffetastic Joe Biden

By Michelle Malkin
October 21, 2008

If the prospect of Joe Biden sitting a heartbeat away from the presidency doesn't give you palpitations, you are not paying attention.

Hysterical Sarah Palin-bashers on the unhinged left and elitist right have dominated campaign press coverage and pop culture. They've ridiculed her family, her appearance and her speech patterns. They've derided her character, her parenting skills, her readiness and her intellect.

Meanwhile, the increasingly erratic, super-gaffetastic Joe Biden gets a pass. What does the guy have to do to earn the relentless scrutiny and merciless mockery he deserves? Answer: wear high heels, shoot caribou and change the "D" next to his name to an "R."

Team Obama is hammering John McCain as "erratic" in the closing days of the election campaign. There are now 615,000 Google hits and counting using the search terms "erratic McCain." Last week, The New York Times devoted an entire article to the Obama-Biden line of attack, titled "In Friendly Region, Biden Cites McCain as Erratic."

Who's erratic? Throughout the primary and general election cycles, Biden has lurched from attacking Obama as not ready for prime time ("The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training."—September 2007) to ready to lead ("Barack Obama is ready. This is his time."—August 2008) and back again.

This week, Biden warned America that an Obama victory would invite a dangerous global showdown between tyrants and the naif Obama. "Mark my words," Biden said Sunday at a Democratic fundraiser. "It will not be six months [after the inauguration] before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy." In a follow-up appearance, he told supporters to brace for the worst and "gird your loins."

Out of Biden's mouth, this is called candor. Out of anyone else's mouth, it would be "fear-mongering," "negative campaigning" and a "distraction."

Tooting his own horn while vandalizing his running mate's, Biden bragged: "I've forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know." Yeah. Colleagues like that guy who had a mere 143 days of Senate experience before launching his presidential bid and choosing you to shore up his meager credibility, Joe.

In fact, Biden has spent the entire campaign questioning his running mate's judgment. Last month, he mused out loud: "Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more than I am to be vice president of the United States of America. … She is easily qualified to be vice president of the United States of America, and quite frankly it might have been a better pick than me." Biden assailed the campaign's position on clean coal, openly criticized the campaign's idiotic ad attacking McCain for not using e-mail and warned the pro-gun control Obama that "if he tries to fool with my Beretta, he's got a problem."

Dan Quayle will have "POTATOE" etched on his gravestone. But how many times have late-night comedians and cable shows replayed the video of senior statesman and six-term Sen. Biden's own spelling mishap last week while attacking McCain's economic plan?

"Look, John's last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the No. 1 job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S."

No, Joe. "D'-O-H" is a three-letter word.

Nightly news shows still haven't tired of replaying Palin's infamous interview with Katie Couric. But how many times have they replayed Biden's botched interview with Couric last month—in which he cluelessly claimed: "When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'"

Er, here's what really happened: Roosevelt wasn't president when the market crashed in 1929. As for appearing on TV, it was still in its infant stages and wasn't available to the general public until at least 10 years later.

During the lone VP debate earlier this month, the increasingly erratic, super-affetastic Biden demonstrated more historical ignorance that Palin would never be allowed to get away with: "Vice President Cheney's been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history," he said. "He has the idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the executive—he works in the executive branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that."

Article 1 of the Constitution defines the role of the legislative branch, not the executive branch. You would think someone who has served 36 years in government—the same someone who is quick to remind others of his high IQ and longtime Senate Judiciary Committee chairmanship—would know better.

Biden's erratic and gaffetastic behavior is the least of America's worries. He's worse than a blunderbuss. He's an incurable narcissist with chronic diarrhea of the mouth. He's a phony and a pretender who fashions himself a foreign policy expert, constitutional scholar and worldly wise man. He's a man who can't control his impulses.

And he could be a heartbeat away.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled Palin-says-"You Betcha" skit.

- Michelle Malkin [email her] is author of Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s review. Click here for Michelle Malkin's website. Michelle Malkin's latest book is Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Today's Tune: Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah

(Click on title to play video)

Government Can't Do It All (Or Even Most of It)

By Cal Thomas
The Sacramento Bee
October 21, 2008

People who put faith in government to solve national or even individual problems are headed for deep disappointment, if it hasn't already arrived. Still, that doesn't stop politicians from attempting to sell political snake oil to the gullible. No one ever lost money betting on the ignorance of the uninformed masses.

What should be required viewing before the election is "John Stossel's Politically Incorrect Guide to Politics," a "20/20" report critical of the U.S. government's ability to get things done ( The report looked at facts, not opinions, or "feelings" concerning government's inability to live up to the high expectations caused by over-promising politicians.

Stossel visited New Orleans to see how government reconstruction is progressing three years after Hurricane Katrina. What he found should not surprise anyone. Huge numbers of houses remain un-repaired thanks to a bureaucracy that could serve as a plot for a horror movie called "Nightmare on Bourbon Street." The forms necessary to apply for permits to conduct any repairs or construct new buildings take 10 minutes to explain. As for the houses themselves, "Of the 314 public projects (New Orleans Mayor Ray) Nagin promoted in his 'One New Orleans' rebuilding campaign announced in January 2006, only six are complete."

Contrast that with what the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity has done: "They built 70 homes quickly," noted Stossel. "Even Nagin admitted they did what government didn't." Private enterprise has succeeded, where government has failed. Actor Brad Pitt ("Brad Pitt has done more for this community than anyone," said Malik Rahim, one of the co-founders of Common Ground Collective, a group formed in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina) and singer Harry Connick Jr. have been at the forefront of efforts to circumvent government stagnation.

Stossel asked the obvious question: If Pitt and Connick can help build dozens of new homes, why does it take government so long to follow through on its plans? Nagin explains he's made it easier for people to rebuild their homes, providing permits online at kiosks throughout the city.
Stossel visited city hall and guess what? Not one of the kiosks worked! Conclusion? Individual Americans do things better, with less bureaucracy and at less cost than the central planning collective known as government.

Another issue was campaign finance reform, which has come back to bite its chief promoter, Sen. John McCain. It is a maze of incomprehensible regulations. Stossel displayed the Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulation book, which contains nearly 500 pages of small print set in double columns. For effect, he taped the pages together and then stretched them out on the Giant's football field. The pages "spanned the whole field and halfway back."

He showed people who ran afoul of the law by placing signs in yards in opposition to an annexation ballot initiative. It's a head-shaker. Another example: Ada Fisher, a retired doctor, ran for Congress in North Carolina with an all-volunteer staff. The FEC imposed a $10,000 fine on her because she somehow violated their rules. She noted that even "reform" laws are designed to help incumbents stay in office. Stossel said the extremely high re-election rate of members of Congress remains the same as it was before "reform," which was promoted as a way to open up the system to more challengers.

Stossel used a visual metaphor to demonstrate why government regulations stifle individual initiative, leading to dysfunction. He visited a skating rink where people managed to go in the same direction and at about the same speed without instructions from anyone. Then he introduces Brian Boitano, a former Olympic skater, who begins telling some skaters they are going too fast and others too slow and shouting other commands. Chaos results. The moral? "Intuition leads us to think that complex problems require centrally planned solutions, but political decision-making is rarely the answer. Life works best when we govern ourselves."

Both John McCain and Barack Obama are asking us to trust them to "fix" what is wrong in Washington. One would make things worse, but neither would have the power to make things much better. That would take cooperation. Politicians promote faith in themselves, though such faith has proven to be misplaced. They want the power. The worst thing the public can do is to give one party unchecked power with no restraints.

If Obama wins and Democrats expand their congressional majorities, especially to a filibuster-proof advantage in the Senate, this will be to our collective detriment.

Importing Poverty

By Robert J. Samuelson
Wednesday, September 5, 2007; A21

The government last week released its annual statistical report on poverty and household income. As usual, we -- meaning the public, the media and politicians -- missed a big part of the story. It is this: The stubborn persistence of poverty, at least as measured by the government, is increasingly a problem associated with immigration. As more poor Hispanics enter the country, poverty goes up. This is not complicated, but it is widely ignored.

The standard story is that poverty is stuck; superficially, the statistics support that. The poverty rate measures the share of Americans below the official poverty line, which in 2006 was $20,614 for a four-person household. Last year, the poverty rate was 12.3 percent, down slightly from 12.6 percent in 2005 but higher than the recent low, 11.3 percent in 2000. It was also higher than the 11.8 percent average for the 1970s. So the conventional wisdom seems amply corroborated.

It isn't. Look again at the numbers. In 2006, there were 36.5 million people in poverty. That's the figure that translates into the 12.3 percent poverty rate. In 1990, the population was smaller, and there were 33.6 million people in poverty, a rate of 13.5 percent. The increase from 1990 to 2006 was 2.9 million people (36.5 million minus 33.6 million). Hispanics accounted for all of the gain.

Consider: From 1990 to 2006, the number of poor Hispanics increased 3.2 million, from 6 million to 9.2 million. Meanwhile, the number of non-Hispanic whites in poverty fell from 16.6 million (poverty rate: 8.8 percent) in 1990 to 16 million (8.2 percent) in 2006. Among blacks, there was a decline from 9.8 million in 1990 (poverty rate: 31.9 percent) to 9 million (24.3 percent) in 2006. White and black poverty has risen somewhat since 2000 but is down over longer periods.

Only an act of willful denial can separate immigration and poverty. The increase among Hispanics must be concentrated among immigrants, legal and illegal, as well as their American-born children. Yet, this story goes largely untold. Government officials didn't say much about immigration when briefing on the poverty and income reports. The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal advocacy group for the poor, both held briefings. Immigration was a common no-show.

Why is it important to get this story straight?

One reason is truthfulness. It's usually held that we've made little, if any, progress against poverty. That's simply untrue. Among non-Hispanic whites, the poverty rate may be approaching some irreducible minimum: people whose personal habits, poor skills, family relations or bad luck condemn them to a marginal existence. Among blacks, the poverty rate remains abysmally high, but it has dropped sharply since the 1980s. Moreover, taking into account federal benefits (food stamps, the earned-income tax credit) that aren't counted as cash income would further reduce reported poverty.

We shouldn't think that our massive efforts to mitigate poverty have had no effect. Immigration hides our grudging progress.

A second reason is that immigration affects government policy. By default, our present policy is to import poor people. This imposes strains on local schools, public services and health care. From 2000 to 2006, 41 percent of the increase in people without health insurance occurred among Hispanics. Paradoxically, many Hispanics are advancing quite rapidly. But assimilation -- which should be our goal -- will be frustrated if we keep adding to the pool of poor. Newcomers will compete with earlier arrivals. In my view, though some economists disagree, competition from low-skilled Hispanics also hurts low-skilled blacks.

We need an immigration policy that makes sense. My oft-stated belief is that legal immigration should favor the high-skilled over the low-skilled. They will assimilate quickest and aid the economy the most. As for present illegal immigrants, we should give most of them legal status, both as a matter of practicality and fairness. Many have been here for years and have American children. At the same time, we should clamp down on new illegal immigration through tougher border controls and employer sanctions.

Whatever one's views, any sensible debate requires accurate information. There's the rub. Among many analysts, journalists and politicians, it's politically or psychologically discomforting to discuss these issues candidly. Robert Greenstein, head of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says his group focuses on short-term trends, where immigration's role isn't so apparent. Conveniently, that avoids antagonizing some of the center's supporters.

Journalists are also leery of making the connection. Fifty-four reporters signed up for the center's briefing last week. With one exception (me), none asked about immigration's effect on poverty or incomes. But the evidence is hiding in plain sight, and the facts won't vanish just because we ignore them.

Powell's Lame Case For Obama

By Rich Lowry
New York Post
October 21, 2008

Colin Powell is to Meet the Press what Alec Baldwin is to Saturday Night Live -- a frequent guest who embodies the very spirit of the show. The former secretary of state epitomizes the Washington establishment. His thinking couldn't be any more crashingly conventional if he convened a committee of the Harvard School of Government, the Council on Foreign Relations and David Broder before making any move.

It should have surprised no one, then, that Powell marked his 30th appearance on Meet the Press with an endorsement of Barack Obama. Powell's other favored means of communication -- confiding in Bob Woodward and leaking anonymously to newspapers -- weren't suited to the task. Only half an hour with a docile Tom Brokaw would do.

Powell's reasons for swinging to Obama were a watery stew of all the regnant clichés about the campaign.

Powell argued that John McCain "was a little unsure as to [how to] deal with the economic problems that we were having," in contrast to Obama's "steadiness" and "intellectual vigor." It's true that McCain flailed around early in the crisis, but he was desperately trying to find something that worked as his poll numbers tanked. If voters had been inclined to mindlessly blame Democrats rather than Republicans for the meltdown, Obama might not have looked so imperturbable.

As for Obama's vigor, perhaps the Illinois senator has regaled Powell with detailed explanations of how the market for commercial paper has been disrupted by the credit crunch and other nuances. In public, he's just been blasting eight years of Bush economic policy and deregulation -- easy, partisan lines. He hasn't yet taken a position on the AIG bailout and avoided any leadership role on the Henry Paulson plan one way or another.

Powell decried McCain's emphasis on Obama's past with former terrorist Bill Ayers as "inappropriate." This is part of the fable that McCain is running the nastiest campaign in recorded history. It depends on ignoring all Obama's attacks.

McCain is borderline senile? McCain and his buddy Rush Limbaugh hate Latinos? McCain is going to raise your taxes? Well, you've got to break some eggs to make hope and change.

Imagine if a Republican presidential candidate had pledged to take public financing, but instead dealt the post-Watergate campaign-financing system a blow from which it will never recover. If he raised $600 million and out-advertised his opponent nationwide by 4-1. This candidate's campaign would be pronounced "an obscene effort to buy the election." Powell, no doubt, would be "troubled." But Barack Obama does it and everyone stands back in admiration.

Regardless, mere campaign tactics should be beneath an eminence such as Powell. On Meet the Press, he regretted that the Republican Party "has moved even further to the right." Even if this is true -- the Bush administration that Powell served piled up massive spending even before semi-nationalizing banks -- it's an odd brief against John McCain.

McCain has never been a conservative crusader, certainly not since his 2000 presidential run. Powell has endorsed two other presidential candidates in his post-military career, Bob Dole and George W. Bush. McCain is certainly less conservative than Bush, and it's a jump ball with Dole.

While Republicans tolerate the non-ideological McCain, Democrats nominated a presidential candidate who catered to the party's base in the primaries and whose election would vastly empower the relentlessly partisan congressional duo of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. The moderate, sensible Powell is willing to take a flier on a unified Democratic government that will represent a drastic leftward lurch.

This is why his purported reasons for endorsing Obama sound more like excuses. Does Powell want to be with the front-runner? Is he hoping to cleanse his reputation after the WMD fiasco? His ultimate motives are known only to him. We must do Powell the courtesy of taking his case at face value and note only how unconvincing it is, if thoroughly conventional. He'll be back on Meet the Press.

Thirty Years of Warmer Temperatures Go Poof

By Lorne Gunter
National Post
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In early September, I began noticing a string of news stories about scientists rejecting the orthodoxy on global warming. Actually, it was more like a string of guest columns and long letters to the editor since it is hard for skeptical scientists to get published in the cabal of climate journals now controlled by the Great Sanhedrin of the environmental movement.

Still, the number of climate change skeptics is growing rapidly. Because a funny thing is happening to global temperatures -- they're going down, not up.

On the same day (Sept. 5) that areas of southern Brazil were recording one of their latest winter snowfalls ever and entering what turned out to be their coldest September in a century, Brazilian meteorologist Eugenio Hackbart explained that extreme cold or snowfall events in his country have always been tied to "a negative PDO" or Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Positive PDOs -- El Ninos -- produce above-average temperatures in South America while negative ones -- La Ninas -- produce below average ones.

Dr. Hackbart also pointed out that periods of solar inactivity known as "solar minimums" magnify cold spells on his continent. So, given that August was the first month since 1913 in which no sunspot activity was recorded -- none -- and during which solar winds were at a 50-year low, he was not surprised that Brazilians were suffering (for them) a brutal cold snap. "This is no coincidence," he said as he scoffed at the notion that manmade carbon emissions had more impact than the sun and oceans on global climate.

Also in September, American Craig Loehle, a scientist who conducts computer modelling on global climate change, confirmed his earlier findings that the so-called Medieval Warm Period (MWP) of about 1,000 years ago did in fact exist and was even warmer than 20th-century temperatures.

Prior to the past decade of climate hysteria and Kyoto hype, the MWP was a given in the scientific community. Several hundred studies of tree rings, lake and ocean floor sediment, ice cores and early written records of weather -- even harvest totals and censuses --confirmed that the period from 800 AD to 1300 AD was unusually warm, particularly in Northern Europe.

But in order to prove the climate scaremongers' claim that 20th-century warming had been dangerous and unprecedented -- a result of human, not natural factors -- the MWP had to be made to disappear. So studies such as Michael Mann's "hockey stick," in which there is no MWP and global temperatures rise gradually until they jump up in the industrial age, have been adopted by the UN as proof that recent climate change necessitates a reordering of human economies and societies.

Dr. Loehle's work helps end this deception.

Don Easterbrook, a geologist at Western Washington University, says, "It's practically a slam dunk that we are in for about 30 years of global cooling," as the sun enters a particularly inactive phase. His examination of warming and cooling trends over the past four centuries shows an "almost exact correlation" between climate fluctuations and solar energy received on Earth, while showing almost "no correlation at all with CO2."

An analytical chemist who works in spectroscopy and atmospheric sensing, Michael J. Myers of Hilton Head, S. C., declared, "Man-made global warming is junk science," explaining that worldwide manmade CO2 emission each year "equals about 0.0168% of the atmosphere's CO2 concentration ... This results in a 0.00064% increase in the absorption of the sun's radiation. This is an insignificantly small number."

Other international scientists have called the manmade warming theory a "hoax," a "fraud" and simply "not credible."

While not stooping to such name-calling, weather-satellite scientists David Douglass of the University of Rochester and John Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville nonetheless dealt the True Believers a devastating blow last month.

For nearly 30 years, Professor Christy has been in charge of NASA's eight weather satellites that take more than 300,000 temperature readings daily around the globe. In a paper co-written with Dr. Douglass, he concludes that while manmade emissions may be having a slight impact, "variations in global temperatures since 1978 ... cannot be attributed to carbon dioxide."

Moreover, while the chart below was not produced by Douglass and Christy, it was produced using their data and it clearly shows that in the past four years -- the period corresponding to reduced solar activity -- all of the rise in global temperatures since 1979 has disappeared.

It may be that more global warming doubters are surfacing because there just isn't any global warming.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"The Third Jihad" Will Make Cultural Islamists Squirm

Obsession DVDs got CAIR hot under the hijab, but this new documentary will get their burqa in a bunch.

October 20, 2008 - by Patrick Poole

A few weeks ago Bridget Johnson reported here at Pajamas Media about the jihad against free speech being waged by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) against the national DVD distribution of copies of the documentary Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, in more than 70 papers. Not only has CAIR filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission against the group sponsoring the campaign, the Clarion Fund, but they have also demanded that the IRS investigate the organization’s tax-exempt status, claiming that the Clarion Fund is a front group for an Israeli organization. The evidence they have provided, however, is little more than the guilt-by-association variety.

I will only pause momentarily to note the outrageous hypocrisy of CAIR calling anyone else a front for foreign organizations, especially after an FBI agent testified two weeks ago in a federal terrorism finance trial in Dallas, identifying CAIR as a front group for the terrorist organization HAMAS and the international Muslim Brotherhood.

But if Obsession gave CAIR heartburn, a new documentary by the same director, The Third Jihad: Radical Islam’s Vision for America, will undoubtedly give them kidney stones.

There are two cardinal reasons why CAIR and other Islamic extremist groups will find The Third Jihad even more deplorable than its predecessor.

The first is that the film directly challenges their claim to speak on behalf of all American Muslims. In fact, the film is narrated by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a devout American-born Muslim physician, a former U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Jasser has been one of the most outspoken American Muslim leaders against the agenda of radical Islam in the U.S. and the organizations that actively work to advance the jihadist cause against our country. And he has done this through numerous television appearances on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and many other outlets, in print through articles and editorials, and speaking regularly on the national lecture circuit.

To have a mainstream Muslim leader — who is unashamedly pro-American and anti-jihadist; who cites his military induction oath to protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, as a personal fundamental commitment; who is not tainted with multiple ties to foreign jihadist groups and Islamic terrorist organizations; whose parents came to the U.S. from Syria fleeing the very oppression and religious extremism that typifies the Muslim world; who rejects the constant grievance-mongering and endless claims of victimization of Islamic extremists; and who is willing to publicly call out groups like CAIR for their extremist agenda to undermine the very liberties that make us Americans — leading this charge might be one of the most serious challenges that these groups have ever faced.

In the person of Zuhdi Jasser, American Muslim families can find a leader that represents their values and concerns, which presumably differ not at all from the concerns of non-Muslim families — children, jobs, making ends meet. No doubt they are eager for representatives of their community who can speak for them without screeching about Zionists, Palestine, the Crusades, Iraq, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and the seemingly endless list of Western iniquities.

In The Third Jihad, Jasser pointedly attacks the central elements to the public narrative advanced by radical Islamic groups — that there is no problem within Islam, that there is no religious element to Islamic terrorism, and that any expressions of fear about the spread of Islamic extremism and terrorism are merely reflections of latent bigotry and Islamophobia of those concerned.

The threat identified by Jasser is the result of two converging trends: first, an inherent militarism within Islam itself, and second, the highly politicized and violent approach to Islam that developed throughout most of the 20th century. The three jihads referred to in the film’s title are the initial wars of Islamic conquest; the Ottoman wars that overtook the Byzantine Empire, capturing Constantinople, and pushed into the heart of Christian Europe during the 15th-17th centuries; and the final phase of jihad that we now find ourselves in, where those embracing the violent and militaristic elements of Islam seek to spread their holy war across the globe with the ultimate goal of establishing a global Islamic state governed by Sharia.

As Jasser observes, the chief obstacle to those advocating this global Islamic state through jihad is America itself.

What they have done to challenge American power is to leverage the wealth obtained through oil imperialism to generously finance Islamic extremism all over the world. Many American Muslim organizations have directly benefited from oil imperialism and ensured that radical Islam has taken root, such that what is being taught in many mosques in the U.S. is diametrically opposed to the fundamental American values of religious disestablishment, equality before the law, and the limits on the exercise of governmental power.

These breeding grounds for political Islam, financed through the riches of oil imperialism, are a direct danger to American security. The film notes that more than three dozen homegrown terrorist attacks targeting Americans have been discovered and disrupted since the 9/11 attacks.
This brings us to the second cardinal reason why CAIR will find The Third Jihad even more deplorable than Obsession: it reveals in stark terms the cultural insurgency that is taking place alongside jihadist terrorism. The film examines how the violent jihad and the cultural jihad are working in tandem to soften up the American culture to prevent any substantive response or defense against radical Islam and terrorism.

But this cultural insurgency is not the product of dark fantasies of notorious Islamophobes or part of the global Zionist conspiracy against Islam. Rather, we know about their plans for waging jihad through culture, politics, education, and law as a result of their own documents.

In the past two years, more material has been made public about the origins of CAIR and its network of allied Islamic organizations than ever before. And these strategic documents calling for a “civilization-jihadist process” dedicated to “a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within” have been recovered through court-approved warrants and made public by federal law enforcement authorities. These documents have been submitted by federal prosecutors and entered into evidence in ongoing terrorism finance trials. (I must recommend the comprehensive intelligence assessment of these documents and their national security implications by my friend and colleague LTC Joseph Myers.)

Thus for CAIR, The Third Jihad poses the gravest of threats — a mainstream Muslim leader possessing unquestioned pro-American sentiments issuing a clarion call about the dangers of radical Islam, who cites their own internal strategic plans exposing their intent to subvert the American system as part of “a grand jihad” in concert with the forces of violent jihad.

The message of The Third Jihad is directed at all Americans, but admittedly most Americans aren’t prepared to listen to, let alone respond to, the stark warning issued by Zuhdi Jasser. The challenge of this film is that we are already in the midst of the third jihad, whether we like it or not. The question it asks of us is the same self-examination expressed by Jasser at the beginning of the movie:

I’ve got a wonderful family that I love and a practice that I’m so proud of, and medicine has been my life. But you know the struggle of the 21st century against radical Islam is about my family; it’s about the country that I love and my ability to practice. If I don’t try to fix this and talk about an Islam that is different than the violence and the radicalism of the Islamists and the jihadists, I will leave nothing for my children and my family in the future. And that’s what I want to leave behind.

His dilemma is our dilemma: what do we want to leave behind for our children and our families in the face of the third jihad — and what are we prepared to do about it?

The Third Jihad is currently playing in limited release in theaters across the U.S. The DVD will ship on October 20 and can be ordered directly on the movie’s website. A trailer and other video clips can be viewed there as well.

- Patrick Poole is a regular contributor to Pajamas Media, and an anti-terrorism consultant to law enforcement and the military.

Obama's Drive for "Equality"

Special Report

Posted by William Tucker on 10.17.08 @ 6:08AM
The American Spectator

Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize this week and that tells you all you have to know about how politicized the award has become. American writers no longer win prizes for literature because they are "no longer mainstream," but Paul Krugman -- well, he hates the Bush Administration! He's one of us.

There's more to Krugman's fame, though, than just pandering to European aristocrats. In one of the shallowest intellectual gambits of recent decades, Krugman has been the point man for the bizarre thesis that America has become the "land of inequality." For the last five years Krugman has used his New York Times column to trumpet the theory that nearly all the wealth creation since the Reagan Era has accrued to approximately 13,000 families at the top while the rest of America wallows in squalor. Here's the way he puts it on his website:

Since the late 1970s the America I knew has unraveled. We're no longer a middle-class society, in which the benefits of economic growth are widely shared: between 1979 and 2005 the real income of the median household rose only 13 percent, but the income of the richest 0.1% of Americans rose 296 percent.… [T]he winners' circle is actually very small. Even households at the 95th percentile… have seen their real income rise less than 1 percent a year since the late 1970s. But the income of the richest 1 percent has roughly doubled, and the income of the top 0.01 percent... has risen by a factor of 5.

Krugman's thesis -- "Income inequality in America is now the greatest since the 1920s" -- has become an article of faith in liberal politics, endlessly reiterated in New York Times editorials and among Democratic politicians. And it has become the main impetus for Barack Obama's "spread the wealth" tax plan that will supposedly lower everyone's taxes except that undeserving top 5 percent, who have been hogging all the wealth since 1980. So let's see where Krugman gets his information and what the effect of Obama's plan is going to be.

Although crusading American economists have been massaging the numbers ever since Bill Clinton left office, the chef d'oeuvre was performed by two Frenchmen, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, in a 2001 paper written for the National Bureau of Economic Research and titled "Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-1998," At the time Piketty had barely visited the United States and Saez had parachuted into Berkeley where he found a warm welcome. Without taking much time to examine American society the pair reached the astounding conclusion that 90 percent of Americans were living on an average income of $25,000 a year -- barely above the poverty line of $20,000 -- while the rest of America's wealth was concentrated at the very top. In other words, conditions were not much different from France at the outbreak of the French Revolution.

NOW LET'S START with a little common sense. Look around you. Does America seem to you like a country where 90 percent of the population is living barely above the poverty line? One out of every twelve Americans annually visits Disney World, making Orlando the nation's 9th busiest airport. With children in tow, the trip easily costs several thousand dollars yet the place is always packed. Eighty percent of American homes now have air conditioning. Almost everyone owns a television set. Seventy-five percent have a cell phone. The poorest in America -- the people in the bottom "quintile" -- live as well as the average American did in 1970. Calorie intake is now perfectly level across all classes in America -- meaning we have reached the millennial dream where everyone has enough to eat.

In fact if the rich suffer at all today it is because what were once considered exclusive luxuries have become accessible to the masses. Nantucket, once a hideaway for the rich, has been invaded by McDonald's. BMW now sells a luxury car for downscale buyers. Americans now employ 9,000 personal chefs, as opposed to only 400 a decade ago. Godiva chocolate, once available only in Neiman Marcus, has now invaded Hallmark Card. The situation got so bad that Godiva finally brought out a special "G" line of handmade chocolates at $100 a pound in order to keep its richest customers happy.

So how did Piketty and Saez get things so wrong? Probably a third grade math teacher could figure it out.

First of all, they measured income by looking at individiual income tax returns. Right away you can see the problem. People working part time file income tax returns. Teenagers with summer jobs file returns. Babies in their crib with college funds file. This wildly distorts the picture. Say you're a married couple making $150,000 a year with three teenagers in the house. All three have summer jobs each making $3,333.33. That makes your household income $160,000. You'll have to file four income tax returns. That makes the average income $40,000 and the median $3.333.33. It's easy to see why personal tax returns do not reflect family or household income.

In fact the average household income has risen from $44,000 in 1980 to $57,000 in 2006, a 30 percent increase. Yet even that doesn't really capture rising affluence. Over the same period the size of the average household has shrunk from 3.2 persons to 2.6. That's because families are smaller, elderly persons live more independently, and children are more likely to move out on their own. Alan Reynolds, who has critiqued the entire Piketty/Saez/Krugman axis in his book Income and Wealth, points out that Krugman and other interpreters continually misrepresent P&S by saying they measured "household" and "family" income rather than individual tax filings. Reynolds probably won't win the Nobel Prize for his effort.

Another amazing distortion is that Piketty and Saez's database does not reflect taxes, Social Security or any other government transfers. The "rising inequality" Democrats have detected over the past eight years doesn't include those government programs designed specifically to redistribute income. When these are included the "Gini coefficient," a mathematical equation that expresses income inequality, falls 25 percent.

Still, the biggest distortion is yet to come. It turns out that the "individual income tax filings" no longer represent only individuals. Half the corporations in America now file "personal" income tax returns under Subchapter S. The big switch came after the 1986 tax reform, which lowered personal rates from 64 to 70 percent down to 28 percent, while corporate rates remained at 30 percent. At the time thousands of doctors, lawyers and farmers were forming C corporations so they could file at the lower corporate rate. All that changed after 1986 and corporations began switching to subchapter S to file personal returns. In 1986 S-corporations with up to 35 stockholders were eligible. This was expanded to 100 stockholders in 1990 and the Small Business Protection Act of 1994 allowed banks to file under subchapter-S. One-quarter of all business profits in the country now file under personal income taxes. These are the figures Piketty, Saez and Krugman are reading when they discover the "super-rich" who have been hogging America's income over the last twenty years.

AND SO WE COME to the crux of why Barack Obama's "share-the-wealth" program will stifle the economy and why John McCain is absolutely right when he says small businesses are the real target. Most of the supposed "growing inequality" in America simply reflects the migration of small businesses into personal income filings. Now Barack Obama is going to try to punish these job-generators by going after them with higher taxes. As everyone now knows after Wednesday's Hofstra debate, the plan was on display this week when Joseph Wurzelbacher, a self-employed Ohio plumber, told Obama, "I work 10 or 12 hours a day to build my business. Don't you believe in the American dream? Why do you want to raise my taxes?" To which Obama responded: "I want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance for success, too. I think when you spread the wealth around it's good for everybody."

Good for everyone, that is, except those who work hard. As Reynolds points out, 80 percent of the high earners in the upper quintile are career couples holding down two full-time jobs. People in the top quintile work the longest hours in the economy while people in the bottom quintile work the least. High-income households now have an average of three people in the work force while those in the bottom quintile have only .5. Of course much of this only means that people in the bottom quintile are retired people living on pensions and Social Security or young people just starting out on their own. Forty-six percent of people living in poverty own their own homes and the poverty rate -- 11 percent -- is now the lowest in history.

So what will be the outcome of this misguided effort to redress a problem that doesn't exist? Small businesses will simply migrate back to C-corporation status, where the tax rate of 35 percent is still the second-highest in the world. Tax revenues will fall. Job creation will decline and more work will be outsourced. Two-career couples will cut back on their grueling workload and start looking for tax shelters instead. Meanwhile, the welfare system will be reinvented as a "refundable tax credit" that is nothing but a government check. People at the bottom will once again find it more rewarding to live on the dole while people like Joseph Wurzelbacher will decide maybe the American Dream isn't worth all that work after all. Poverty rates will increase because, in a strange way, poverty has become more attractive. Stagflation is the probable result. And all because crusading economists decided to play a few new tricks with numbers.

Is there a recall system for Nobel Prizes? Maybe it's time to start considering one.

- William Tucker is most recently the author of the new book Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America's Long Energy Odyssey (Bartleby Press).