Saturday, May 29, 2010

Nothing to see here.

White House Releases Official Memo Clearing White House on Sestak Job Offer

BY John McCormack
12:02 PM, May 28, 2010

And it makes Sestak look like a buffoon.

According to White House counsel Bob Bauer, Sestak was not offered a job as Secretary of the Navy--that job was given to Ray Mabus prior to Clinton's conversation with Sestak--but simply an uncompensated position "on a Presidential or other Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board."

Sestak looks foolish because that's hardly a high-ranking federal job, as Sestak claimed. But it is quite convenient for the White House.

By saying that Sestak was offered an advisory executive branch position, the White House avoids technically running afoul of the provision of the law that specifies that it is illegal to offer a position "provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress" in exchange for "any political activity."

So, if the White House is telling the truth, Sestak wildly exaggerated what was actually offered to him. And if the White House isn't telling the truth, Sestak wouldn't say otherwise, would he?

Update: Sestak's statement toes the White House line:

"Last summer, I received a phone call from President Clinton. During the course of the conversation, he expressed concern over my prospects if I were to enter the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and the value of having me stay in the House of Representatives because of my military background. He said that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had spoken with him about my being on a Presidential Board while remaining in the House of Representatives. I said no. I told President Clinton that my only consideration in getting into the Senate race or not was whether it was the right thing to do for Pennsylvania working families and not any offer. The former President said he knew I'd say that, and the conversation moved on to other subjects."There are many important challenges facing Pennsylvania and the rest of the country. I intend to remain focused on those issues and continue my fight on behalf of working families."

"The messenger is huge," as one Republican tells Byron York of the White House's deployment of Clinton, "and the message is puny."

More Guns Mean Less Crime

by David Alan Coia

In the new edition of More Guns, Less Crime, economist John R. Lott, Jr., easily dispels any lingering doubt that allowing citizens to carry concealed handguns is strongly associated with—if not a direct cause for—lowering the rates of violent crime.

“The hypothesis that more guns connects to less crime has stood up against massive efforts to criticize it,” Lott writes in the book’s third edition, now available from the University of Chicago Press in the United States and on June 14 in the United Kingdom. He backs that statement with cold, hard facts.

The new edition, which includes data and analysis from 39 states and now covers 29 years (1977-2005), will make it much more difficult for Lott’s critics and anti-gun groups to continue their attempts to disarm law-abiding Americans. In fact, Lott frequently turns the tables on his critics by demonstrating how their own data actually support the More Guns, Less Crime thesis.

“There are large drops in overall violent crime, murder, rape, and aggravated assault that begin right after the right-to-carry laws have gone into effect,” Lott writes. “In all those crime categories, the crime rates consistently stay much lower than they were before the law.”

From the time states passed right-to-carry concealed handgun laws, the average murder rate dropped from 6.3 per 100,000 to 5.2 per 100,000 nine-to-ten years later—“about a 1.7% drop in the murder rate per year for ten years.”

Overall violent crime rates similarly dropped from 475 crimes per 100,000 people to a range of 415-440 after the second full year that concealed-carry laws were passed. Rapes dropped from 40.2 per 100,000 people to 35.7 per 100,000 nine to 10 years later (a 12% drop).

“Of all the methods studied so far by economists, the carrying of concealed handguns appears to be the most cost-effective method for reducing crime,” Lott wrote in the second edition of his book.

Based on National Institute of Justice figures, Lott estimates in the new edition that the economic loss resulting from a murder in 2007 dollars at $3.9 million, with the average loss from rape and robbery at $115,260 and $10,758 respectively. “If we use these figures [including the costs of aggravated assault and property crimes], the 29 states that we study save over $30 billion a year, with over half of that coming just from the reduction in murder rates.”

Dozens of academics have published studies that “have either confirmed the beneficial link between gun ownership and crime or at least not found any information that ownership increases crime,” Lott says, adding that “not a single refereed study finds the opposite result.”

Lott demonstrates that not only does the presence of concealed handgun carriers—just more than 2% of American adults—lower rates of violent crime, but where gun bans are imposed, violent crime has consistently risen—in the United States and abroad.

“Great Britain banned handguns in January 1997. But the number of deaths and injuries from gun crime in England and Wales increased an incredible 340% in seven years from 1998 to 2005,” Lott writes, identifying detrimental effects of gun bans in many other countries including India, Jamaica, Germany, Finland, and Greece.

“One big difference between the earlier work on right-to-carry laws and the current discussion on gun bans is that with 39 states passing right-to-carry laws we have had the same experiment over and over again in many different years in many different places,” Lott points out.

Unfortunately, most mainstream media reports do not focus on instances in which armed citizens defend themselves successfully without firing a shot, but instead focus on criminal shootings or shootings in self defense.

A national survey conducted by Lott in 2002 “indicates that about 95% of the time that people use guns defensively, they merely have to brandish a weapon to break off an attack.”

Other survey results “indicate that citizens use guns to stop violent crime about 2.5 million times each year—a large order of magnitude bigger than the reported number of crimes committed with guns.”

However, news organizations typically report the atypical event in which a shooting ends in a fatality, leaving the impression that “some events appear to be much more common than they actually are,” Lott writes.

Gun Control Advocates Lack Credibility

Lott is troubled by the way so many reporters’ uncritically accept opinions of groups that aim to disarm Americans , groups that are dishonest in their presentation of facts.
Lott illustrates how “the Brady Campaign and other gun-control organizations cherry pick a few cases, while omitting important facts, such as whether the permit holder was found to have used justifiable force.”

“Probably most telling,” he writes, “is that the Brady Campaign and the Violence Policy Center keep track of arrests of permit holders, not convictions—ignoring that defensive uses frequently result in arrests simply because a police officer can’t be sure what happened.”

Accurate accounts contradict the points the Brady Campaign attempts to make and show that “concealed handguns, in fact, help to protect people from getting killed when attacked.”

Law-Abiding Citizens

Lott shows that “concealed handgun permit holders are extremely law-abiding.” For example, “Permit holders committed murder at 1/182 of the rate of the general public.” And permit revocation rates are typically well below one-half of one percent, with the revocations almost never relating to the use or misuse of a gun.

A National Association of Chiefs of Police mail survey of 22,200 police chiefs and sheriffs found that 92% believed law-abiding citizens should be able to purchase guns for self defense. Furthermore, “support among the rank-and-file police officers and the general population for the right of individuals to carry guns for self-protection is even higher than it is among police chiefs,” Lott says.

HUMAN EVENTS reported in December that the number of police officer deaths declined with the rise in concealed handgun permits.

Many lawmakers have heard the message. Lott notes the “surprising fact” that many state legislators now have concealed carry permits. “In South Carolina, 20% of the state legislature had permits [to carry concealed handguns] in 2008. In Tennessee, 25% have permits. Exactly a third of the 24 Virginia state legislators from the area around Norfolk, Va., have permits.”

However, Lott points out that reductions in crime rates do not occur evenly in all locations. Clearly other factors exert an influence, such as the extent to which crimes are prosecuted and the liberality of the right-to-carry laws. States that reluctantly allow citizens to carry concealed handguns—requiring high fees, inordinately long training periods or that require frequent renewal of permits—do not experience the same level of crime rate reduction as states that impose fewer restrictions.

Unfortunately, only two states—Alaska and Vermont—impose no restrictions on citizens’ rights to carry concealed handguns.

Lott presents the most thorough and credible analysis of the effects of concealed handguns and crime rates. Any serious discussion by the media, legislative bodies and the courts must include a thorough reading of the 2010 edition of More Guns, Less Crime. The opinion of anyone who has not read the book but who professes an understanding of the effects of concealed handguns on crime rates should not be taken seriously.

Mr. Coia is a freelance journalist based in Arlington, Virginia.

King Canute's lesson for Obama

Syndicated columnist
The Orange County Register
May 28, 2010

One of the chief characteristics of Barack Obama's speechifying is its contempt for words as anything other than props of self-puffery. Consider, for example, his recent remarks to the graduating class of the United States Military Academy:

"America has not succeeded by stepping out of the currents of cooperation – we have succeeded by steering those currents in the direction of liberty and justice."

President Barack Obama tours the beach at Port Fourchon with Parish President Charlotte Randolph, Friday, May 28, in Port Fourchon, Louisiana. The oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon disaster now officially ranks as the worst in U.S. history.
(Getty Images)

"Steering those currents"? How could even a member of the president's insulated, self-regarding speechwriting team be so tin-eared as to write that line? How could the president be so tone-deaf as to deliver it in May 2010? Hey, genius, if you're so damn good at "steering currents," why not try doing it in the Gulf of Mexico?

Like many great "thinkers," for Barack Obama and his coterie words seem to exist mostly in the realm of metaphor rather than as descriptors of actual action actually occurring in anything so humdrum as reality. And so it is that, even as his bungling administration flounders in the turbulent waters of the Gulf, on the speaker's podium the president still confidently sails forth, deftly steering the ship through the narrow ribbon of sludge between the Scylla of sonorous banality and the Charybdis of gaseous uplift.

Two years ago this week, then-Sen. Obama declared that his very nomination as Democratic Party presidential candidate (never mind his election, or inauguration) marked the moment when "our planet began to heal" and "the rise of the oceans began to slow." "Well, when you anoint yourself King Canute," remarked Charles Krauthammer the other day, "you mustn't be surprised when your subjects expect you to command the tides."
Poor old Canute has been traduced by posterity. He was the Viking king of Denmark, England, Norway and bits of Sweden, which, as Joe Biden would say, was a big (expletive) deal back in the 11th century. And, like Good King Barack, he had a court full of oleaginous sycophants who were forever telling him, as Newsweek editor Evan Thomas said of Obama, that he's "sort of God." So one day, weary of being surrounded by Chris Matthews types with the legs a-tingling 24/7, Canute ordered the footmen to take his throne down to the shore and he'd command the incoming waves to stay the hell out. Just like Obama, he would steer the very currents. Next thing you know, Canute's got seaweed in his wingtips and is back at the palace wringing out his Argyll socks. "Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings," he said, "for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws."

In other words, he was teaching his courtiers a lesson in the limits of kingly power. I'm a child of the British Empire and, back in my kindergarten days, almost all the stories we were taught about kings went more or less the same way. Generations of English children learned of Alfred the Great, King of Wessex back in the 9th century. Another A-list big shot: Winston Churchill called him "the greatest Englishman that ever lived." One day, during a tumultuous time in the affairs of his kingdom, he passed a remote cottage and called in on the local peasant woman to rest a while. Unaware of who he was, she went off to milk the cow and told him to mind the cakes she'd left on the hearth. He was a big-picture guy preoccupied with geopolitical macro-trends, and he absentmindedly let the cakes burn. She took him to task ("You're happy to eat the cakes but too lazy to keep an eye on them") but, upon realizing he was the king, begged a thousand pardons. "No, no," he said. "Entirely my fault." And there in the rude hovel he humbly turned the woman's loaves for her.

In the age of kings, we were taught that kings were human, with human failings. Now, in the age of citizen-presidents, we are taught that government has unlimited powers over "heaven, earth and sea." Unlike Canute and Alfred, the vanity of Big Government knows no bounds. Tim Flannery, the Aussie global warm-monger who chaired the Copenhagen climate circus a few months back, announces with a straight face that "we're trying to act as a species to regulate the atmosphere." Never mind anything so footling as the incoming tides, but the very atmosphere! How do you do that? Well, first, take one extremely large check. Next, add several extra zeroes to it. Then, toss it out the window. "He whom heaven, earth and sea obey by eternal laws"? Hah! That's chickenfeed compared to the way things are gonna be once heaven, earth and sea are forced to submit to a transnational microregulatory regime.

Almost every problem we face today arises from the vanity of Big Government. Why has BP got oil wells 5,000 feet underwater in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico? Because government regulated them off-land, off-coast and ever deeper into the briny. True, BP went along. Its initials stand for "British Petroleum." You may not be aware of that if you've seen any of their commercials in recent years: "BP – Beyond Petroleum." They were an oil company ashamed of their product, and advertising only how anxious they were to get with the environmental program. And a fat lot of good that did them. BP, not to mention its customers, would have been better to push back against government policies that drive energy suppliers into ever more unpredictable terrain in order to protect the Alaskan breeding grounds of the world's largest mosquito herd. Instead, we'll do the opposite. There'll be even more government protection of "the environment," and even more government regulation of the oil industry, and BP will be drilling for oil in that Icelandic volcano.

It's the same in Europe . Greece's problem isn't so very difficult to diagnose. Like many Western nations, its government has spent tomorrow today. As in New York and California, public-sector unions have looted the future. This is the entirely foreseeable consequence of government policy.
So what's the solution? The international bailout (including a hefty contribution by U.S. taxpayers) is a massive subsidy to the Greeks to carry on doing all the stuff that's got 'em into their present mess. The European motive for doing this is to "save the Euro" – a currency whose very existence is a monument to the unbounded narcissism of government. The Euro notes are decorated by scenic views of handsome Renaissance, Gothic and classical edifices – just like the White House on U.S. currency. The only difference is that the European buildings do not exist in what we used to call the real world. They're entirely fictional. That's Big Government: Even if you don't build it, they'll still come. If you invent a currency for a united Europe, a united Europe is sure to follow.

The princelings of the new ruling class rarely have to live with the consequences of their narcissism. Nancy Pelosi can monkey with your health care, but hers will still be grand. Greek bureaucrats can regulate your business into the ground, but they'll still have their pensions and benefits. And, when the cakes are burning to a crisp, King Barack the Verbose won't be in the peasant hovel with you but off giving a critically acclaimed speech about how the world works best when we all get an equal slice of the pie.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Obama dodges, but Sestak questions won't go away

By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
The Washington Examiner
May 28, 2010

How interested is Barack Obama in discussing Rep. Joe Sestak's allegation that the White House offered him a big government job if he would not challenge Sen. Arlen Specter, the White House's favored candidate in the Pennsylvania Senate primary?

Well, when the president was asked about it at his news conference Thursday -- the question didn't come up until the very last reporter was called on -- the normally long-winded Obama spoke for a total of 32 seconds.

"I can assure the public that nothing improper took place," Obama said, echoing earlier statements from White House officials who denied any wrongdoing. "There will be an official response shortly." And that was that.

Obama's brief answer brought a smile to Rep. Darrell Issa, who has been pursuing the Sestak issue in his role as ranking Republican on the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform. "That means the answer will be forthcoming after the lights go out for the weekend," Issa said shortly after the news conference. "While the president is away and nobody's available, a statement will come out."


The way Issa sees it, the White House has to thread the needle when it finally responds to Sestak's charges. A retired Navy admiral, Sestak is now the Democratic candidate for Senate from Pennsylvania, and the White House wants all the Democratic senators it can get. So they can't come out and call Sestak a liar or a hack. On the other hand, they can't admit that what Sestak is saying is true, because that would be, in the words of top White House adviser David Axelrod, a "serious breach of the law."

So what can the White House do? "They can say we're sorry, that the job offer was not intended to be a quid pro quo," Issa says. "They can say that we offered a job to a person who was in the process of running for a Senate seat but who we felt he was better suited to be secretary of the Navy, and we never intended for it to be a quid pro quo but rather to fill our Cabinet with good people. That's the only thread-the-needle that I see."

It might thread the needle, but it won't end the questions. Say it turns out, as everyone believes, that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was the official who talked to Sestak, and the job in question was secretary of the Navy. "Everybody is going to ask [Emanuel], Did you talk to the president about this?" Issa says. "What happened when [Sestak] turned you down? Did you believe he would get out of the race for this job? Did you talk to Arlen Specter about this? All those questions are inevitable."

Inevitable that they'll be asked, but not that they'll be answered, or that the answers will satisfy critics. The matter at hand is a conversation that took place between Sestak and the White House. To determine whether any wrongdoing occurred, we have to learn both sides of the conversation. If the White House releases its side of the story, then we'll have to hear from Sestak, who has so far refused to provide any details. Only then can investigators evaluate both versions of events.

Which is why on Wednesday all seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee -- a group that included the moderate Sen. Orrin Hatch -- wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder to ask that a special prosecutor be appointed to look into the Sestak matter. Citing Axelrod's statements, the senators wrote, "We do not believe the Department of Justice can properly defer to White House lawyers to investigate a matter that could involve a 'serious breach of the law.' "

Holder has already rejected a similar request from Issa. And no Democrats in the House or Senate support a Justice Department investigation, nor does the White House. With total one-party control of the government, a formal probe is highly unlikely. But some Democrats do want the issue to be resolved and have urged both sides to get the facts out.

The next move is up to the White House. Nobody expects a holiday-weekend news release to end the matter, but it will be the start of what could be a long process. "Everyone is going to have follow-up questions," says Issa. "And I'm a patient man."

We’re too broke to be this stupid

Beleaguered taxpayers may finally put a stop to the sheer waste of government spending.

by Mark Steyn on Thursday, May 27, 2010 6:58am

Benoit Tessier / REUTERS

Back in 2008, when I was fulminating against multiculturalism on a more or less weekly basis, a reader wrote to advise me to lighten up, on the grounds that “we’re rich enough to afford to be stupid.”

Two years later, we’re a lot less rich. In fact, many Western nations are, in any objective sense, insolvent. Hence last week’s column, on the EU’s decision to toss a trillion dollars into the great sucking maw of Greece’s public-sector kleptocracy. It no longer matters whether you’re intellectually in favour of European-style social democracy: simply as a practical matter, it’s unaffordable.

How did the Western world reach this point? Well, as my correspondent put it, we assumed that we were rich enough that we could afford to be stupid. In any advanced society, there will be a certain number of dysfunctional citizens either unable or unwilling to do what is necessary to support themselves and their dependents. What to do about such people? Ignore the problem? Attempt to fix it? The former nags at the liberal guilt complex, while the latter is way too much like hard work: the modern progressive has no urge to emulate those Victorian social reformers who tramped the streets of English provincial cities looking for fallen women to rescue. All he wants to do is ensure that the fallen women don’t fall anywhere near him.

So the easiest “solution” to the problem is to throw public money at it. You know how it is when you’re at the mall and someone rattles a collection box under your nose and you’re not sure where it’s going but it’s probably for Darfur or Rwanda or Hoogivsastan. Whatever. You’re dropping a buck or two in the tin for the privilege of not having to think about it. For the more ideologically committed, there’s always the awareness-raising rock concert: it’s something to do with Bono and debt forgiveness, whatever that means, but let’s face it, going to the park for eight hours of celebrity caterwauling beats having to wrap your head around Afro-Marxist economics. The modern welfare state operates on the same principle: since the Second World War, the hard-working middle classes have transferred historically unprecedented amounts of money to the unproductive sector in order not to have to think about it. But so what? We were rich enough that we could afford to be stupid.

That works for a while. In the economic expansion of the late 20th century, citizens of Western democracies paid more in taxes but lived better than their parents and grandparents. They weren’t exactly rich, but they got richer. They also got more stupid. When William Beveridge laid out his blueprint for the modern British welfare state in 1942, his goal was the “abolition of want.” Sir William and his colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic succeeded beyond their wildest dreams: to be “poor” in the 21st-century West is not to be hungry and emaciated but to be obese, with your kids suffering from childhood diabetes. When Michelle Obama turned up to serve food at a soup kitchen, its poverty-stricken clientele snapped pictures of her with their cellphones. In one-sixth of British households, not a single family member works. They are not so much without employment as without need of it. At a certain level, your hard-working bourgeois understands that the bulk of his contribution to the treasury is entirely wasted. It’s one of the basic rules of life: if you reward bad behaviour, you get more of it. But, in good and good-ish times, who cares?

By the way, where does the government get the money to fund all these immensely useful programs? According to a Fox News poll earlier this year, 65 per cent of Americans understand that the government gets its money from taxpayers, but 24 per cent think the government has “plenty of its own money without using taxpayer dollars.” You can hardly blame them for getting that impression in an age in which there is almost nothing the state won’t pay for. I confess I warmed to that much-mocked mayor in Doncaster, England, who announced a year or two back that he wanted to stop funding for the Gay Pride parade on the grounds that, if they’re so damn proud of it, why can’t they pay for it? He was actually making a rather profound point, but, as I recall, he was soon forced to back down. In Canada, almost every ethnocultural booster group is on the public teat. Outside Palestine House in Toronto the other week, the young Muslim men were caught on tape making explicitly eliminationist threats about Jews, but c’mon, everything else in Canada is taxpayer-funded, why not genocidal incitement? We’re rich enough that we can afford to be stupid.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

It’s not so much the money as the stupidity, which massively expands under such generous subvention. When it emerged that President Barack Obama had appointed a Communist as his “green jobs czar,” I carelessly assumed it was the usual youthful “idealism”: no doubt Van Jones, the Communist Obama appointee in question, had been a utopian college student caught up in the spirit of ’68 and gone along for the ride. A passing phase. Soon grow out of it. But, in fact, Mr. Jones became a Communist in the mid-nineties, after the fall of the Soviet Union. He embraced Communism after even the commies had given up on it. Like the song says, he was commie after commie had ceased to be cool. On Fox News, Glenn Beck made a fuss about it. But the “mainstream” media thought this was frankly rather boorish, and something only uptight right-wing squares would do. I mean, what’s the big deal? True, everywhere it’s been implemented, Communism causes human misery—not to mention an estimated 150 million deaths. But it doesn’t make you persona non grata in the salons of the West. Quite the opposite. The Washington Post hailed the grizzled folkie Pete Seeger as America’s “best-loved commie”—which, unlike “America’s best-loved Nazi,” is quite a competitive title. Even so, why would you stick a commie in the White House and put him in charge of anything to do with jobs, even “green jobs”?

Well, because “green jobs” is just another of those rich-enough-to-be-stupid scams. The Spanish government pays over $800,000 for every “green job” on a solar-panel assembly line. This money is taken from real workers with real jobs at real businesses whose growth is being squashed to divert funds to endeavours that have no rationale other than their government subsidies—and which would collapse as soon as the subsidies end. Yet Tim Flannery, the Aussie climate-alarmist who chaired the Copenhagen racket, says we need to redouble our efforts. “We’re trying to act as a species,” he says, “to regulate the atmosphere.”

Er, “regulate the atmosphere”? Why not? We’re rich enough to be stupid with the very heavens. In his book The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism (La tyrannie de la pĂ©nitence), the French writer Pascal Bruckner concludes by quoting Louis Bourdaloue, the celebrated Jesuit priest at the court of Louis XIV, who preached on the four kinds of conscience: 1) the good and peaceful; 2) the good and troubled; 3) the bad and troubled; 4) the bad and peaceful. The first is to be found in Heaven, the second in Purgatory, the third in Hell, and the fourth—the bad but peaceful conscience—sounds awfully like the prevailing condition of the West at twilight. We are remorseful to a fault—indeed, to others’ faults.

It’s not just long-ago sins like imperialism and colonialism and Eurocentric white male patriarchy and other fancies barely within living memory. Our very lifestyle demands penitence: Americans have easily accessible oil reserves, but it would be wrong to touch them, so poor old BP have to do the “environmentally responsible” thing and be out in the middle of the Gulf a mile underwater. If you’re rich enough to be that stupid, what won’t you subsidize? The top al-Qaeda recruiter in Britain, Abu Qatada, had 150,000 pounds in his bank account courtesy of the taxpayer before the comically misnamed Department for Work and Pensions decided to cut back his benefits.

The green jobs, the gay parades, the jihadist welfare queens, the Greek public sector unions, all have to be paid for by a shrinking base of contributing workers whose children and grandchildren will lead poorer and meaner lives because of the fecklessness of government. The social compact of the postwar era cannot hold. Across the developed world, a beleaguered middle class is beginning to understand that it’s no longer that rich. At some point, it will look at the sheer waste of government spending, the other shoe will drop, and it will decide that it no longer wishes to be that stupid.

Whose Blowout Is It, Anyway?

When you anoint yourself King Canute, you mustn’t be surprised when your subjects expect you to command the tides.

By Charles Krauthammer
May 28, 2010 12:00 A.M.

Here’s my question: Why are we drilling in 5,000 feet of water in the first place?

Many reasons, but this one goes unmentioned: Environmental chic has driven us out there. As production from the shallower Gulf of Mexico wells declines, we go deep (1,000 feet and more) and ultra deep (5,000 feet and more), in part because environmentalists have succeeded in rendering the Pacific and nearly all the Atlantic coast off-limits to oil production. (President Obama’s tentative, selective opening of some Atlantic and offshore Alaska sites is now dead.) And of course, in the safest of all places, on land, we’ve had a 30-year ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

So we go deep, ultra deep — to such a technological frontier that no precedent exists for the April 20 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

There will always be catastrophic oil spills. You make them as rare as humanly possible, but where would you rather have one: in the Gulf of Mexico, upon which thousands depend for their livelihood, or in the Arctic, where there are practically no people? All spills seriously damage wildlife. That’s a given. But why have we pushed the drilling from barren areas to populated ones, from the remote wilderness to a center of fishing, shipping, tourism, and recreation?

Not that the environmentalists are the only ones to blame. Not by far. But it is odd that they’ve escaped any mention at all.

The other culprits are pretty obvious. It starts with BP, which seems not only to have had an amazing string of perfect-storm engineering lapses but no contingencies to deal with a catastrophic system failure.

However, the railing against BP for its performance since the accident is harder to understand. I attribute no virtue to BP, just self-interest. What possible interest can it have to do anything but cap the well as quickly as possible? Every day that oil is spilled means millions more in losses, cleanup, and restitution.

Federal officials who rage against BP would like to deflect attention from their own role in this disaster. Interior secretary Ken Salazar, whose department’s laxity in environmental permitting and safety oversight renders it among the many bearing responsibility, expresses outrage at BP’s inability to stop the leak, and even threatens to “push them out of the way.”
“To replace them with what?” asked the estimable, admirably candid Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander. No one has the assets and expertise of BP. The federal government can fight wars, conduct a census, and hand out billions in earmarks, but it has not a clue how to cap a one-mile-deep out-of-control oil well.

Obama didn’t help much with his finger-pointing Rose Garden speech, in which he denounced finger-pointing and then proceeded to blame everyone but himself. Even the grace note of admitting some federal responsibility turned sour when he reflexively added that these problems have been going on “for a decade or more” — translation: Bush did it — while, in contrast, his own interior secretary had worked diligently to solve the problem “from the day he took office.”

Really? Why hadn’t we heard a thing about this? What about the September 2009 letter from Obama’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration accusing Interior’s Minerals Management Service of understating the “risk and impacts” of a major oil spill? When you get a blowout 15 months into your administration, and your own Interior Department had given BP a “categorical” environmental exemption in April 2009, the buck stops.

In the end, speeches will make no difference. If BP can cap the well in time to prevent an absolute calamity in the Gulf, the president will escape politically. If it doesn’t — if the gusher isn’t stopped before the relief wells are completed in August — it will become Obama’s Katrina.

That will be unfair, because Obama is no more responsible for the damage caused by this than Bush was for the damage caused by Katrina. But that’s the nature of American politics and its presidential cult of personality: We expect our presidents to play Superman. Helplessness, however undeniable, is no defense.

Moreover, Obama has never been overly modest about his own powers. Two years ago next week, he declared that history will mark his ascent to the presidency as the moment when “our planet began to heal” and “the rise of the oceans began to slow.”

Well, when you anoint yourself King Canute, you mustn’t be surprised when your subjects expect you to command the tides.

— Charles Krauthammer is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2010, The Washington Post Writers Group.

He Was Supposed to Be Competent

The spill is a disaster for the president and his political philosophy.

By Peggy Noonan
The Wall Street Journal
May 28, 2010

I don't see how the president's position and popularity can survive the oil spill. This is his third political disaster in his first 18 months in office. And they were all, as they say, unforced errors, meaning they were shaped by the president's political judgment and instincts.

There was the tearing and unnecessary war over his health-care proposal and its cost. There was his day-to-day indifference to the views and hopes of the majority of voters regarding illegal immigration. And now the past almost 40 days of dodging and dithering in the face of an environmental calamity. I don't see how you politically survive this.

The president, in my view, continues to govern in a way that suggests he is chronically detached from the central and immediate concerns of his countrymen. This is a terrible thing to see in a political figure, and a startling thing in one who won so handily and shrewdly in 2008. But he has not, almost from the day he was inaugurated, been in sync with the center. The heart of the country is thinking each day about A, B and C, and he is thinking about X, Y and Z. They're in one reality, he's in another.


President Obama promised on Thursday to hold BP accountable in the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill and said his administration would do everything necessary to protect and restore the coast.

The American people have spent at least two years worrying that high government spending would, in the end, undo the republic. They saw the dollars gushing night and day, and worried that while everything looked the same on the surface, our position was eroding. They have worried about a border that is in some places functionally and of course illegally open, that it too is gushing night and day with problems that states, cities and towns there cannot solve.

And now we have a videotape metaphor for all the public's fears: that clip we see every day, on every news show, of the well gushing black oil into the Gulf of Mexico and toward our shore. You actually don't get deadlier as a metaphor for the moment than that, the monster that lives deep beneath the sea.

In his news conference Thursday, President Obama made his position no better. He attempted to act out passionate engagement through the use of heightened language—"catastrophe," etc.—but repeatedly took refuge in factual minutiae. His staff probably thought this demonstrated his command of even the most obscure facts. Instead it made him seem like someone who won't see the big picture. The unspoken mantra in his head must have been, "I will not be defensive, I will not give them a resentful soundbite." But his strategic problem was that he'd already lost the battle. If the well was plugged tomorrow, the damage will already have been done.

The original sin in my view is that as soon as the oil rig accident happened the president tried to maintain distance between the gusher and his presidency. He wanted people to associate the disaster with BP and not him. When your most creative thoughts in the middle of a disaster revolve around protecting your position, you are summoning trouble. When you try to dodge ownership of a problem, when you try to hide from responsibility, life will give you ownership and responsibility the hard way. In any case, the strategy was always a little mad. Americans would never think an international petroleum company based in London would worry as much about American shores and wildlife as, say, Americans would. They were never going to blame only BP, or trust it.

I wonder if the president knows what a disaster this is not only for him but for his political assumptions. His philosophy is that it is appropriate for the federal government to occupy a more burly, significant and powerful place in America—confronting its problems of need, injustice, inequality. But in a way, and inevitably, this is always boiled down to a promise: "Trust us here in Washington, we will prove worthy of your trust." Then the oil spill came and government could not do the job, could not meet need, in fact seemed faraway and incapable: "We pay so much for the government and it can't cap an undersea oil well!"

This is what happened with Katrina, and Katrina did at least two big things politically. The first was draw together everything people didn't like about the Bush administration, everything it didn't like about two wars and high spending and illegal immigration, and brought those strands into a heavy knot that just sat there, soggily, and came to symbolize Bushism. The second was illustrate that even though the federal government in our time has continually taken on new missions and responsibilities, the more it took on, the less it seemed capable of performing even its most essential jobs. Conservatives got this point—they know it without being told—but liberals and progressives did not. They thought Katrina was the result only of George W. Bush's incompetence and conservatives' failure to "believe in government." But Mr. Obama was supposed to be competent.

Remarkable too is the way both BP and the government, 40 days in, continue to act shocked, shocked that an accident like this could have happened. If you're drilling for oil in the deep sea, of course something terrible can happen, so you have a plan on what to do when it does.

How could there not have been a plan? How could it all be so ad hoc, so inadequate, so embarrassing? We're plugging it now with tires, mud and golf balls?

What continues to fascinate me is Mr. Obama's standing with Democrats. They don't love him. Half the party voted for Hillary Clinton, and her people have never fully reconciled themselves to him. But he is what they have. They are invested in him. In time—after the 2010 elections go badly—they are going to start to peel off. The political operative James Carville, the most vocal and influential of the president's Gulf critics, signaled to Democrats this week that they can start to peel off. He did it through the passion of his denunciations.

The disaster in the Gulf may well spell the political end of the president and his administration, and that is no cause for joy. It's not good to have a president in this position—weakened, polarizing and lacking broad public support—less than halfway through his term. That it is his fault is no comfort. It is not good for the stability of the world, or its safety, that the leader of "the indispensble nation" be so weakened. I never until the past 10 years understood the almost moral imperative that an American president maintain a high standing in the eyes of his countrymen.

Mr. Obama himself, when running for president, made much of Bush administration distraction and detachment during Katrina. Now the Republican Party will, understandably, go to town on Mr. Obama's having gone only once to the gulf, and the fund-raiser in San Francisco that seemed to take precedence, and the EPA chief who went to a New York fund-raiser in the middle of the disaster.

But Republicans should beware, and even mute their mischief. We're in the middle of an actual disaster. When they win back the presidency, they'll probably get the big California earthquake. And they'll probably blow it. Because, ironically enough, of a hard core of truth within their own philosophy: when you ask a government far away in Washington to handle everything, it will handle nothing well.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ground Zero Imam: ‘I Don’t Believe in Religious Dialogue’

Exclusive new translations from Arabic websites reveal Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf seriously misleads New Yorkers about his intention to infiltrate Sharia law through his Ground Zero mosque.

by Walid Shoebat
May 27, 2010

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf — founder of the hugely controversial Ground Zero mosque — lying to the American public and his fellow New Yorkers?

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (center) poses in a photo with attendees at a 2006 Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. On the far left is Sultan Muhammad, communications coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago. (photo: CAIR Chicago)

We have uncovered extraordinary contradictions between what he says in English and what he says in Arabic that raise serious questions about his true intentions in the construction of the mosque.

On May 25, 2010, Abdul Rauf wrote an article for the New York Daily News insisting:

My colleagues and I are the anti-terrorists. We are the people who want to embolden the vast majority of Muslims who hate terrorism to stand up to the radical rhetoric. Our purpose is to interweave America’s Muslim population into the mainstream society. [emphasis added]

Oh, really?

Only two months before, on March 24, 2010, Abdul Rauf is quoted in an article in Arabic for the website Rights4All entitled “The Most Prominent Imam in New York: ‘I Do Not Believe in Religious Dialogue.’”

Yes, you read that correctly and, yes, that is an accurate translation of Abdul Rauf. And Right4All is not an obscure blog, but the website of the media department of Cairo University, the leading educational institution of the Arabic-speaking world.

In the article, the imam said the following of the “religious dialogue” and “interweaving into the mainstream society” that he so solemnly seems to advocate in the Daily News and elsewhere:

This phrase is inaccurate. Religious dialogue as customarily understood is a set of events with discussions in large hotels that result in nothing.
Religions do not dialogue and dialogue is not present in the attitudes of the followers, regardless of being Muslim or Christian. The image of Muslims in the West is complex which needs to be remedied.

But that was two months ago. More recently — in fact on May 26, one day after his Daily News column – Abdul Rauf appeared on the popular Islamic website Hadiyul-Islam with even more disturbing opinions. That’s the same website where, ironically enough, a fatwa was simultaneously being issued forbidding a Muslim to sell land to a Christian, because the Christian wanted to build a church on it.

In his interview on Hadiyul-Islam by Sa’da Abdul Maksoud, Abdul Rauf was asked his views on Sharia (Islamic religious law) and the Islamic state. He responded:

Throughout my discussions with contemporary Muslim theologians, it is clear an Islamic state can be established in more then just a single form or mold. It can be established through a kingdom or a democracy. The important issue is to establish the general fundamentals of Sharia that are required to govern. It is known that there are sets of standards that are accepted by [Muslim] scholars to organize the relationships between government and the governed. [emphasis added]

When questioned about this, Abdul Rauf continued: “Current governments are unjust and do not follow Islamic laws.” He added:

New laws were permitted after the death of Muhammad, so long of course that these laws do not contradict the Quran or the Deeds of Muhammad … so they create institutions that assure no conflicts with Sharia. [emphasis in translation]

In yet plainer English, forget the separation of church and state. Abdul Rauf’s goal is the imposition of Shariah law — in every country, even democratic ones like the U.S.

But these attitudes are nothing new for the (alas, few) people who have been paying attention. Way back on September 30, 2001, Feisal Abdul Rauf was interviewed on 60 Minutes by host Ed Bradley. Their verbatim dialogue from this CBS News transcript concluded:

BRADLEY: Are- – are — are you in any way suggesting that we in the United States deserved what happened?

Imam ABDUL RAUF: I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.

BRADLEY: OK. You say that we’re an accessory?



Imam ABDUL RAUF: Because we have been an accessory to a lot of — of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, it — in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.

This is the “anti-terrorist” of the Daily News article?

The Feisal Abdul Rauf who spoke to 60 Minutes in 2001 is the same Abdul Rauf who, in the last couple of months, espoused the spread of Sharia law on Arabic websites and said the opposite in the pages of the Daily News.
He is the man New York City authorities are about to allow to build a mosque on Ground Zero.

Caveat emptor. Meanwhile, perhaps some enterprising reporter should ask Abdul Rauf his opinion of that fatwa forbidding Muslims from selling land to Christians who intend to build a church on it.

- Walid Shoebat is the author of God's War on Terror: Islam, Prophecy and the Bible.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

De Pasquale’s Dozen: Ann Coulter

by Lisa De Pasquale

This story is first in a series from Lisa De Pasquale. Check back for her story every Wednesday!

Have you ever wondered what movie line Ann Coulter recites in the bathroom mirror? What pop culture souvenir Marco Rubio cherishes? How about the first rock concert Mitt Romney ever attended?

Each week I’ll present 12 questions to a conservative leader. During such an incredibly important political year, some may wonder “Why these questions?” Simply put, anything that reveals a sense of humor, self-reflection, quirkiness or savage wit will make political and cultural warriors more appealing—and thus more persuasive—to the masses.

Of course, the inaugural interview must be with HUMAN EVENTS legal affairs correspondent and most popular columnist, Ann Coulter. She is the author of seven New York Times bestsellers. She frequently speaks on college campuses and at Tea Parties across the nation and writes a weekly column often cited by Sarah Palin and other leaders.

I first met Ann Coulter at CPAC 2000. We had exchanged a few emails, but finally we had the chance to meet among thousands of other conservatives. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to call Ann a friend and mentor. I’m continuously amazed by her mental quickness and loyalty. She’s continuously amazed at the great handbags I manage to find at Target.

Over the past ten years, Ann has sold millions of books and appeared on nearly every cable and network news program. She has managed to tick off liberals (in person) in at least two countries while maintaining a powerfully sharp wit. Read on…

1. If there were a television channel that only showed one movie over and over, what movie should it be?

COULTER: You mean like the Sundance Channel does with An Inconvenient Truth?

2. What’s one of your favorite movie quotes?

COULTER: It's this incredibly sexy monologue by a handsome leading man whose name I can't remember. I don’t remember the whole speech, but the last few words of the line are, "Well, do ya, punk?"

3. In A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell is strapped in with his eyes propped open and forced to watch images until he was "cured." If you could give President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the "Clockwork Orange treatment," what movie would you make them watch?

COULTER: The Passion of the Christ.

4. What pop culture souvenir do you own that people would be surprised to learn that you cherish?

COULTER: Believe it or not, Hitler's staff car. Out in my garage right now. It was surprisingly affordable.

5. What's your current “guilty pleasure” non-news television show?

COULTER: My favorite non-news television show is "The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric." It is absolutely hilarious. They have this chirpy, left-wing ninny who pretends she's a real journalist, and...well, you just have to see it—it’s a regular laugh riot every night.

6. Which movie, television or rock star would cause you to lose your ability to speak if you ever met?

COULTER: Bono, because he would never let me get a word in edgewise.

7. What was the first rock concert you ever attended and where did you sit and who went with you?

COULTER: It was a Grateful Dead concert. You don't sit at Grateful Dead concerts and I can't remember who went with me, but at some point he or she began to resemble the love child of Jack Nicholson and Parliament Funkadelic front man George Clinton. Just kidding, I never did drugs—I don't even trust herbal tea. Among my first concerts was seeing The Ramones at the Palladium in NYC. Everyone in the audience was wearing black leather, torn clothes and safety pins, but I was a 15-year old kid from Connecticut, so I was attired in wide wale, lime-green corduroy pants. (and I knew all the words!) The late, great Johnny Ramone, incidentally, was a right-winger.

8. Tell me about a public or private moment when you thought to yourself, "This is what Elvis felt like every day.”

COULTER: That would probably have been during my "free speech tour" of Canada, when I almost got sent to prison for giving a speech. Every time I turned on the TV in Canada it was either a hockey game or me.

9. What are you two favorite non-news websites?

COULTER: The New York Times and the New York Times Online.

10. What’s the coolest thing you’ve been able to do because of your role in the political arena?

COULTER: I got an amazing offer to help a wealthy Nigerian prince once.

11. What question do you wish reporters would ask you? What’s your answer to that question?

COULTER: "What do you think of Keith Olberman?" and "I think he's a girl."

12. Tell me about the moment you decided to enter the political arena.

COULTER: It was a Thursday, I believe, in April. I had just gotten home from kindergarten and I realized that my teacher was just completely wrong on the causes and objectives of the Vietnam War.

Miss De Pasquale is CPAC director at the American Conservative Union. The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is the nation�s largest annual gathering of conservatives.

Just another act of deadly treason

By Ralph Peters
New York Post
May 26, 2010

Yesterday, The New York Times published another front-page article based on a leaked classified document. This time, it was an order signed by Gen. David Petraeus authorizing black operations against adversaries and such dubious friends as Iran, Syria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Gee, thanks. We really needed to know that. The world's a better place now.
Yet the Times' sin was the lesser one. The paper has long since given up any pretense of patriotism. (Ugh! Yuck!) Its editors are just publishing and perishing as citizens of the world.

It's whoever leaked the document that bears the burn-in-hell blame.

Petraeus: People will die thanks to the leak of his classified order. (AP)

We must be able to keep secrets in wartime. But we can't. Because domestic political agendas trump national security in every administration nowadays.

Exposing that seven-page classified document warned our enemies (and pseudo friends) that we've expanded our efforts to uncover terror networks and potential targets. This not only increases the virulent paranoia in the region's police states, but poses a mortal danger to agents, special operators and the innocent.

Our bravest men and women will face heightened risks and difficulties in executing their missions -- and businessmen, tourists and (did the Times think this through?) journalists will also come under greater suspicion. Innocent people and regime opponents will be executed as spies. And does anyone think that publicizing this program will help those three hikers held for a year in Iran?

In fact, there's a far greater risk of harm to blundering bystanders than to skilled operatives. The Tehran regime, especially, will use the revelation of this document as an excuse to imprison more democracy advocates -- or kill them.

Think the jerk who leaked this order considered any of these consequences? What was the benefit in handing these classified papers to a journalist? It won't help fight terror, save lives or end a war.

The document was handed over in a cynical attempt to score political points. There's no other plausible explanation. Some party hack with a security clearance believed this order would show that the Obama administration's doing something about Iran.

The only question is whether this betrayal was the act of an individual, or if it was orchestrated.

I'd hang the leaker by the neck, then cut down the body and give it a fair trial. But nobody's going to be punished. High-ranking officials can get away with manslaughter, if not murder. An Army captain would go to prison. A political appointee can expect a promotion.

This disgraceful culture of leaks isn't just a problem with Obama's disciples, of course. The previous administration frequently leaked classified material for political gain. Leaking of classified information has become just one more tool of national politics. Neither party cares a damn about protecting our secrets -- unless it can score against the other team.

As far as the actual Petraeus order goes, it's just the sort of bureaucratic document required by our system to authorize commonsense activities against our enemies. I would've been shocked had the order denied permission to collect intelligence on our enemies and conduct lethal operations on hostile ground. This is what serious security establishments do. We should have done more of it earlier.

The problem with the security breach is that it alerts our enemies. The best black operations employ diversions to draw the enemy's attention to another sphere. You want him looking east, when you're working the west. Publicizing this document shines a spotlight on our efforts.

Even the sloppiness of the reporting is offensive. The Times' reporter uses the adjectives "covert" and "clandestine" interchangeably. Yet they have profoundly different meanings.

A covert operation must be kept secret until the mission is accomplished. A clandestine program is meant to remain secret until doomsday (usually to protect sources and methods).

But accuracy doesn't matter any more than does our national security. A journalist got a front-page byline. A political hack believes that he or she made President Obama look manlier in dealing with Iran. So what if our agents and special operators were betrayed?

People will die or be jailed and tortured because of this leak. And nobody on this end will be punished. Because nobody in Washington gives a damn.

Ralph Peters' latest book is "Endless War."

Obama Omerta

Rep. Joe Sestak’s silence for President Obama is his newest specter.

By Robert Costa
May 26, 2010

Character won him the nomination. Now a lack of it has him in hot water.

Rep. Joe Sestak, a retired three-star admiral and former Clinton White House aide, earned the Senate nod from Pennsylvania Democrats last week by playing up his integrity. He reckoned that if voters saw him as an independent, Kennedy-quoting “vision guy,” as their upright neighbor, then he’d be able to defeat Sen. Arlen Specter, the 80-year-old incumbent. The strategy worked: Sestak won 54 percent of the vote.

Sestak’s star has faded quickly. Following a couple of days of post-election glow, the Philadelphia-area congressman has become mired in a scandal. Sestak continues to be tight-lipped about what exactly the White House whispered last summer, when, according to him, a senior Obama aide dangled a top administrative post — some Chicago-style bait — in exchange for dropping his challenge to Specter. Though Sestak didn’t bite, the episode continues to haunt him.

Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Sestak clammed up when pressed for details. “It’s interesting,” he said, dodging David Gregory’s questions. “I was offered a job . . . anything that goes beyond that is for others to talk about . . . anybody else has to decide for themselves what to say upon their role, and that’s their responsibility.” But the White House has strangely gone silent, and beyond nervous confirmations of his previous statements, Sestak has, too.

Obama’s usually talkative, spinning West Wing crowd is doing its best to make this disappear. No Tweets. No in-house video. No Brian/Katie/Diane sit-downs. Just quiet. As Arthur Schlesinger might say, the presidency has gotten positively imperial. “Nothing inappropriate happened,” says White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. “I’m not going to get further into what the conversations were.” Obama consigliere David Axelrod promises that “it has been looked into.” Sestak’s spokesman tells us that “he has nothing more to add on this issue.”

While such stonewalling is common in Washington, if a United States attorney gets curious, Sestak and the White House could find themselves facing questions from a grand jury. “If someone in the White House asked Sestak to end his campaign in order to get him appointed to a federal office, then they were asking Sestak to commit a crime,” says Victoria Toensing, a former deputy assistant attorney general, criminal division, in the Reagan administration. “Politically, Sestak’s behavior is bizarre, because you either accuse someone or you don’t. You don’t just show a little ankle.”

Toensing points to U.S. Code title 18, sections 210 and 211, as areas of concern. “Section 210 states that whoever ‘offers or promises’ any ‘thing of value to any person’ — his Senate bid — ‘to procure any appointive office’ . . . ‘shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both,’” she says. “If the White House put Sestak in a position to effectively offer his campaign’s end for a post, then they were treading in complicated waters.” At least two other sections of the same title, 595 and 600, are also potential problems.Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) calls the situation an “assault on our democracy” and “downright criminal.” He is asking the Justice Department to investigate. Some Democrats are also raising eyebrows. “I think what the White House should do is, to some degree, say, ‘Here are the facts,’” said Rep. Anthony Weiner (D., N.Y.) to MSNBC.

The Obama White House and Justice Department, however, are doing anything but. Justice has laughed off Issa’s request for a special prosecutor. “We assure you that the Department of Justice takes very seriously allegations of criminal conduct by public officials. All such matters are reviewed carefully by career prosecutors and law enforcement agents, and appropriate action, if warranted, is taken,” said assistant attorney general Ronald Weich, in a letter to Issa obtained by Politico. “The Department of Justice, however, has a long history of handling investigations of high-level officials professionally and independently, without the need to appoint a special counsel.” For his part, Sestak has promised to “absolutely” comply with any federal probe.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s hypocrisy in their non-response to tough questions from reporters — saying they hold themselves to a high ethical standard while ignoring repeated queries about ethics — “cuts against the Obama brand,” says Doug Sosnik, formerly President Clinton’s political director, to the New York Times. “The public tolerance for these deals is less than in the past.”

Regardless, Sestak, while probably in the clear legally, is hardly an innocent political lamb. Remember, when he was running against Specter, a party switcher, Sestak made the primary all about character. In his first television ad, a 60-second biographical spot, he highlighted his Navy career and values. Sestak’s ad man, Neil Oxman, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that it was that specific commercial that sealed the deal, by showing he was a “real” guy. “You rarely see that much movement from a positive spot,” he exulted.

Americans deserve to be told what Sestak knows. The line between transactional, horse-trading politics and abuse of power is very fine, and best evaluated by someone other than Axelrod and Gibbs. Besides, this Sestak flare-up is far from the first instance of unseemly deal-making under Obama’s watch. Last year, for example, the Denver Post reported that deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina offered Andrew Romanoff, a Colorado Democrat, a job at USAID if he’d end his primary challenge to Sen. Michael Bennet. Like Sestak, he refused.

Why is Sestak afraid to say more? Three months ago he told The Ed Show on MSNBC that “to go further” than he has in explaining what happened “serves no purpose, because that’s about politics.” No, it’s about the law. Sestak should talk.

— Robert Costa is the William F. Buckley Jr. Fellow at the National Review Institute.

Look Who’s Behind the White House/Sestak Stonewall

Strings have been pulled by a powerful Democratic insider named Bob Bauer.

By Michelle Malkin
May 26, 2010

After three months of zipped lips and feigned ignorance, the Obama White House is finally taking real heat over Pennsylvania Democratic congressman Joe Sestak’s consistent claims that the administration offered him a job to drop his Senate bid. Now it’s time to redirect the spotlight where it belongs: on the top counsel behind the Washington stonewall, Bob “The Silencer” Bauer.

On Sunday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs glibly asserted that “lawyers in the White House and others have looked into conversations that were had with Congressman Sestak. And nothing inappropriate happened.” With whom were these conversations had? Gibbs won’t say. Neither will Attorney General Eric Holder, who dismissed “hypotheticals” when questioned about Sestak’s allegations last week on Capitol Hill by GOP congressman Darrell Issa of California. Holder is simply taking his cue from the commander-in-chief’s personal lawyer and the Democratic party’s legal boss.

You see, on March 10, Issa also sent a letter to Bauer, the White House counsel to the president, requesting specifics: Did White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel contact Sestak? Did White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina (whom another Democrat, Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff, has accused of offering him a cabinet position in exchange for his withdrawal from the primary)? How about the White House Office of Political Affairs? Any other individuals? What position(s) was/were offered in exchange for Sestak’s withdrawal? And what, if any, steps did Bauer take to investigate possible criminal activity?

Bauer’s answers? Zip. Nada. Zilch. While the veteran attorney ducked under a table with the president, Gibbs stalled publicly as long as he could — deferring inquiries about the allegations one week by claiming he had been “on the road” and had “not had a chance to delve into this,” and then admitting the next week that he had “not made any progress on that,” refusing the week after that to deny or admit the scheme, and then urging reporters to drop it because “whatever happened is in the past.”

But the laws governing such public corruption are still on the books. And unlike Gibbs, the U.S. code governing bribery, graft and conflicts of interest is rather straightforward: “Whoever solicits or receives . . . any . . . thing of value, in consideration of the promise of support or use of influence in obtaining for any person any appointive office or place under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”

Bauer is intimately familiar with electoral law, Barack Obama, ethics violations, and government job-trading allegations. And he’s an old hand at keeping critics and inquisitors at bay.

A partner at the prestigious law firm Perkins Coie, Bauer served as counsel to the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Obama for America. He also served as legal counsel to the George Soros–funded 527 organization America Coming Together during the 2004 campaign. That get-out-the-vote outfit, helmed by Patrick Gaspard (the former Service Employees International Union heavy turned Obama domestic-policy chief), employed convicted felons as canvassers and committed campaign-finance violations that led to a $775,000 fine by the Federal Election Commission under Bauer’s watch.

As I’ve reported previously, it was Bauer who lobbied the Justice Department unsuccessfully in 2008 to pursue a criminal probe of American Issues Project (AIP), an independent group that sought to run an ad spotlighting Obama’s ties to Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers. It was Bauer who attempted to sic the Justice Department on AIP funder Harold Simmons, and who sought his prosecution for funding the ad. And it was Bauer who tried to bully television stations across the country to compel them to pull the spot. All on Obama’s behalf.

More significantly, Bauer has served as Obama’s personal attorney, navigating the corrupted waters of former Democratic governor Rod Blagojevich’s pay-for-play scandals in Illinois. Bauer accompanied Obama to an interview with federal investigators in Chicago. And he’s got his hands full fighting Blago’s motion to subpoena Obama in the Senate-seat-for-sale trial — a subpoena that included references to a secret phone call between Obama and Blagojevich; an allegation that Emanuel floated his own suggested replacement for Obama’s seat; an allegation that Obama told a “certain labor union official” that he would support (now–White House senior adviser) Valerie Jarrett to fill his old seat; and a bombshell allegation that Obama might have lied about conversations with convicted briber and fraudster Tony Rezko.

With not one, not two, but three Democrats (Sestak, Romanoff, and Blagojevich) all implicating the agent of Hope and Change in dirty backroom schemes, “Trust Us” ain’t gonna cut it. Neither will “Shut Up and Go Away.” What did Bob “The Silencer” Bauer know, when did he know it, and how long does the Most Transparent Administration Ever plan to play dodgeball with the public?

Michelle Malkin is the author of Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies. © 2010 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Rand Paul’s Civil Rights Act Comments Revisited

During the Bush years, liberals sanctified Barry Goldwater, elevating libertarianism as the “good” right-wing ideology. What happened?

By Jonah Goldberg
May 26, 2010 12:00 A.M.

It has already become a clichĂ© on the right to tut-tut at U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul’s “rookie” mistake of trying to conduct a “libertarian seminar” during the campaign.

I’m not so sure. For starters, if you’re not invested in Paul’s political career, why not seize this rare opportunity for one of those eternally sought but never achieved “national conversations” on race?

Besides, Paul’s not going to lose because of his reservations about some aspects of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He’s from Kentucky, a very red state. And contrary to what you might suspect from reading the national media, not only has he not made repealing the law the centerpiece of his campaign, he has no desire to do so if elected.

Indeed, it’s worth noting that the only people who are really jazzed to reopen the argument about the Civil Rights Act are liberals.

And they have good reason: They won that argument, politically and morally. This is a fact liberals never stop reminding us, and themselves, about. Like a paunchy middle-aged man who scored the winning touchdown in the high-school championship, nostalgic liberals don’t need an excuse to bring up their glory days (which were not the Democratic party’s glory days, by the way). Give them a living, breathing politician who suggests, no matter how imprecisely or grudgingly, that the Civil Rights Act wasn’t perfect, and they’ll talk your ear off like a drunk uncle at a wedding.

How many activist groups insist that their plight is sublimely analogous to the civil-rights struggle? How many times did the Democrats try to make health-care reform a continuation of civil rights? “When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone regardless of the color of their skin,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) intoned as he tried to ram health-care reform through, “some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today.”

What really makes this debate remarkable is that someone has volunteered to be the straw man liberals are always creating.

It’s also proof that conservatives just can’t win. During the Bush years, liberals elevated libertarianism as the “good” right-wing ideology, sanctifying Barry Goldwater as the betrayed founding father of a more noble anti-statist tradition than the one presided over by the crazed apostate George W. Bush (whose racial views happened to be more benign than Goldwater’s).

For instance, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote an afterword to Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative lionizing the late Arizona senator as the sort of honorable conservative all liberals respect. Goldwater’s granddaughter produced a documentary in which Hillary Rodham Clinton, James Carville, and other liberals sang AuH2O’s praises.

And yet, when a very clearly nonracist libertarian politician merely raises the possibility — with admirable honesty and sincerity — that Goldwater might have been a teensy-weensy bit right to vote against the 1964 bill (Goldwater had voted consistently for civil-rights laws before then), it’s an outrage.

For the record, Paul and Goldwater were both wrong. The libertarian position is not to defend Jim Crow but to condemn it, and not just because of its unjust bigotry but because of its economic folly, which served to entrench that bigotry.

Paul weeps for the lost right of white businessmen to refuse black customers (even though he rejects the practice himself). But he fails to appreciate the perverse irony that one of Jim Crow’s greatest evils was its intrusion on the property rights of whites. Jim Crow wasn’t merely some “Southern tradition” undone by heroic good government. Jim Crow laws were imposed by government. And they banned white businessmen from serving blacks (Plessy v. Ferguson, which enshrined “separate but equal” in the Constitution for another six decades, was largely about how blacks could be treated on railroads).

Liberals often deride the libertarian notion that the free market could have solved segregation. I think libertarians have a pretty good argument in theory, but the simple truth is we’ll never know, because the market wasn’t free under Jim Crow. Nonetheless, it’s certainly repugnant and bizarre for libertarians like Paul to lament the lost rights of bigots rather than to rejoice at the restored rights of integrationists.

— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. © 2010 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Genocide Girl’s Chutzpah

Posted by Robert Spencer on May 26th, 2010

Questioned by David Horowitz, Jumanah Albahri, a Muslim student (and Muslim Student Association member) at the University of California at San Diego, recently endorsed a new genocide of Jews – thereby giving voice to the real agenda behind the land-for-peace rhetoric that Palestinian spokesmen generally retail in America. Aware of the enormity of what she had admitted, Albahri tried to quell the controversy by issuing a statement full of evasions, half-truths, and claims that she was the true victim. Now she has compounded that with a letter to the UCSD student newspaper, the Guardian, complaining about biased press coverage!

Whatever else you can say about Jumanah Albahri, you’ve got to admit she’s got chutzpah.

The new letter is a tour de force of self-righteous victimhood, demonstrating that Albahri has been a dutiful and attentive student of her Islamic supremacist and Leftist mentors, since both camps make such liberal use of this tactic. She begins with a double ad hominem, as the girl who endorsed genocide of the Jews complained that the Guardian’s “abysmal coverage of Justice in Palestine Week and the Horowitz fiasco reeks of Hearstian and Horowitzian journalism.”

Hearstian, i.e., yellow journalism a la William Randolph Hearst. Horowitzian, as in David Horowitz, the man who exposed her as a proponent of organized mass murder. Jumanah would have us believe that the real villain is Horowitz, whom we are to see as an irresponsible yellow journalist, not the girl who endorsed genocide. For Jumanah herself is a poor victim of biased reporting: she complains that the Guardian didn’t quote her statement that purports to clarify her pro-genocide remarks: “My opinion of Hamas is not as simple as condemn or condone, for it or against it. I firmly believe that the killing of civilians, even as collateral damage regardless of creed, politics, sexuality, nationality or ethnicity is one of the highest crimes in the eyes of God and is morally reprehensible and abhorrent.”

High-sounding words, but empty ones without an explicit avowal that Jumanah Albahri includes Israeli civilians in her definition of civilian. For many jihadists have declared that there are no civilians in Israel, and that consequently every Israeli citizen was a military target. Jumanah Albahri is probably aware of this, since it is not a fringe view among supporters of the Palestinian cause, and so she could have done her own cause a favor by spelling this out – unless, of course, she preferred to leave it ambiguous.

Albahri then goes on to make a claim about Hamas that is flatly false: “Hamas,” she says, “(regardless of its designation as a terrorist organization by Israel and the U.S.) is neither genocidal nor Holocaust-denying.” Yet Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV in 2008 featured a Muslim cleric, Sa‘d Abu Jleidan, saying that the jihad against the Jews would continue “until their annihilation.” She claims that Hamas “calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state where people of all religions can coexist in peace” – yet the Hamas Charter contains an epigraph from the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hasan al-Banna: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” Albahri doesn’t mention that the Jews that would remain in the Palestinian state that Hamas envisions would not be equal citizens, but subjugated dhimmis, in accord with classic strictures of Islamic law that Hamas spokesmen have spoken about wanting to revive.

The Jumanah turns on David Horowitz with more empty ad hominens, claiming that he was “not invited to present any argument or engage in constructive dialogue — rather, he was brought because of his reputation for racism and hatemongering against Arabs and Muslims.” And the primary victim of this racism and hatemongering? Why, Jumanah Imad Albahri herself, of course: “If anyone can claim alienation or marginalization, it’s me. For the university to allow him to set foot on my campus using my student fees is a slap in my face and a slap in the face of all other non-Jewish minorities on this campus. Need more proof? Google this article: ‘Guns Don’t Kill Black People, Other Blacks Do.’ Tell me: Who needs to apologize now?”

Uh, that would still be the girl who endorsed genocide, Jumanah.

But no, for her it is all the fault of the Jewish-controlled media, that ever-present invention of Nazi and Palestinian paranoia: “The voices of the Palestinian people have been silenced by the mainstream media for too long,” Jumanah asserts, “and I refuse to silence my own voice to appease the twisted politics of the pro-Israel communities on and off campus.”

Clearly Jumanah Albahri’s voice is not silenced. The more she talks, however, the more her allies and supporters may wish it were.

Film Review: 'Solomon Kane' - Classic Pulp!

REVIEW: ‘Solomon Kane’ – Classic Pulp!
by James Hudnall

When I heard they were making a film of Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane, I wasn’t sure I’d be happy about it. Howard was the creator of Conan the Barbarian; he is one of the handful of writers like JRR Tolkien and Edgar Rice Burroughs who helped make fantasy fiction popular and defined it for generations. As a teenager, Howard was one of my favorite writers. His stories had a dark, powerful energy that’s largely unmatched. Solomon Kane was my favorite of his characters, a puritan avenger in early America fighting all kinds of supernatural monsters and demons with a vengeance. He’s a very original character and a serious bad ass. Howard’s heroes are hardcore, macho to the Nth degree. They are the alpha male incarnate. No one has handled Robert E Howard well, in my opinion. Most comics failed to do him justice (except maybe some artists). I hated the Conan and Red Sonia movies. So I was wary of any new film effort.

But then I saw the trailer and my mood changed. (See the trailor at the official movie link below).

This is not the lame rip off that Van Helsing was, this is a faithful adaption of Howard with no tongue-in-cheek, campy scenes. Here’s a hero who’s fighting evil in the name of God, something you don’t see much anymore. And he’s not afraid of taking on whatever comes his way, no matter how terrifying it may be. He’s fierce and unwavering and even demons from hell better think twice about pissing him off. My kind of character.

I saw the film and I can tell you that it’s way better than you’d expect. Excellent music, effects, acting. A top notch supporting cast which includes Max Von Sydow and Pete Postlethwaite, but even better, a great leading man in the title role, James Purefoy. Purefoy rocked Rome as Marc Antony and is perfect here. Purefoy does Howard’s character right.

Yes, it’s got demons, witches, and warlocks in it. It’s full on, unapologetic pulp fantasy and it’s definitely on point. Most fantasy films fail to pull it off because they don’t understand the rules. They either let some actors chew scenery or they throw in attempts at humor that undermine the suspense of disbelief needed to keep you with the story. Writer/director Michael J. Bassett knows how to do fantasy. The film is solidly entertaining from start to finish.

In what the creators hope to be part one of a trilogy, this film tells Kane’s origin. He starts off as a ferocious mercenary, leading his men to storm a castle in the middle east. Inside the castle hell seems to have been unleashed on those within. Kane’s men die one by one and when he meets the demonic creature at its summit, it tells him the devil owns his soul, that he is damned. Kane escapes, haunted by the experience and goes to live in a monastery. He renounces all violence and vows to devote himself to prayer. But the head monk makes Solomon leave, telling him that God spoke to him in a dream and said Solomon has more important tasks out there in the world.

On the way across England, in the dead of winter, he comes upon a family of pilgrims who take him in. They’re heading for the coast where they plan to catch a ship for America. He joins them for a time, but they don’t make it too far. Evil crosses their path and Kane is forced to break his vows. Like the man says: “If I kill you, I am bound for hell. It is a price I will gladly pay.”

And then he starts dealing out the pain in a way that would make Robert E. Howard proud.

Solomon Kane will be released by Rogue Pictures later this year.


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