Saturday, December 29, 2012

Semper Fi, Unless It's Not Convenient

By Bill O'Reilly
December 29, 2012

Jon Hammar saw combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, but his most brutal foreign experience was in Mexico. Last August, the 27-year-old former Marine corporal was incarcerated by Mexican authorities in Matamoros for trying to register an antique shotgun with customs agents. Foolishly, Cpl. Hammar followed instructions given to him by U.S. Border Patrol agents in Brownsville, Texas. He registered the gun with them and brought the paperwork to the Mexicans to get their stamp of approval in order to carry the gun through the country. Hammar and a friend were driving a Winnebago, hoping to have a nice surfing vacation with some hunting on the side.

Even though the Mexican authorities clearly saw that Hammar was trying to follow the rules, they seized the Winnebago and locked the corporal up in the notoriously corrupt CEDES prison anyway. There he was threatened by other inmates and told by guards that he could buy his way out of the hellhole by paying money to the "right people."

Hammar's parents, who live in South Florida, immediately contacted the State Department and were told to be patient. And so they were. Three months later, Hammar was still incarcerated and had not even seen a judge, and things were becoming increasingly desperate.

That's when his parents gave up on the State Department and contacted the media.

When the story crossed my desk, I found it hard to believe. Cpl. Hammar had served his country honorably, returned to the USA with post-traumatic stress disorder, been treated for nine months in California and simply wanted a vacation after his ordeal. It was obvious that he was being held on bogus charges, and the State Department seemed impotent. When we asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a comment, she refused to say anything about the case. A few of her deputies visited Hammar in prison, but the official line was that State could do nothing more.

Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen raised some hell about the situation, but things continued to deteriorate. Mexican authorities actually chained Hammar to his bed. Another inmate sent a picture of that out to the press.

In mid-December, the Fox News White House correspondent asked press secretary Jay Carney about the case. President Barack Obama's spokesman looked perplexed and said he did not know anything about it. As unbelievable as that sounds, I believe that Carney was telling the truth. And by telling one truth, Carney indicated another truth: Neither Obama nor Secretary of State Clinton had come to the aid of an American combat veteran who was being abused by Mexican authorities.

Disgusted by our apathetic government, I took the case directly to the government of Mexico. On national television, I bluntly told the new Mexican presidente, Enrique Pena Nieto, that if he did not release Hammar by Christmas, I would lead a boycott of Mexican tourism and products. The next day, Hammar was released after a Mexican judge ruled there had been no intent to commit a crime.

The ordeal cost the Hammar family tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and untold emotional damage. Thankfully, the corporal did arrive home to South Florida in time to have a nice Christmas with his family. But this story is a cautionary tale for any American traveling outside the USA. If you get into trouble, you will be essentially on your own, even if you are a combat veteran. Our leaders in Washington are basically bureaucrats with short attention spans. If they couldn't work up the energy to help Jon Hammar, they are not going to help you.

True leadership means helping those who are powerless and sincerely need help. That takes time and energy. President Abraham Lincoln set aside one day a week to answer calls for help from the folks. The current administration would not answer a desperate call for months.

As for Mexico, it remains a corrupt country hostile to the rule of law. Let the buyer beware.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Not the absurdity he thought he was exposing

The Orange County Register
2012-12-28 12:32:48
A week ago on NBC's "Meet The Press," David Gregory brandished on screen a high-capacity magazine. To most media experts, a "high-capacity magazine" means an ad-stuffed double-issue of Vanity Fair with the triple-page perfume-scented pullouts. But apparently in America's gun-nut gun culture of gun-crazed gun kooks, it's something else entirely, and it was this latter kind that Mr. Gregory produced in order to taunt Wayne LaPierre of the NRA. As the poster child for America's gun-crazed gun-kook gun culture, Mr. LaPierre would probably have been more scared by the host waving around a headily perfumed Vanity Fair. But that was merely NBC's first miscalculation. It seems a high-capacity magazine is illegal in the District of Columbia, and the flagrant breach of D.C. gun laws is now under investigation by the police.
This is, declared NYU professor Jay Rosen, "the dumbest media story of 2012." Why? Because, as CNN's Howard Kurtz breezily put it, everybody knows David Gregory wasn't "planning to commit any crimes."
So what? Neither are the overwhelming majority of his fellow high-capacity-magazine-owning Americans. Yet they're expected to know, as they drive around visiting friends and family over Christmas, the various and contradictory gun laws in different jurisdictions. "Ignorantia juris non excusat" is one of the oldest concepts in civilized society: ignorance of the law is no excuse. Back when there was a modest and proportionate number of laws, that was just about do-able. But in today's America there are laws against everything, and any one of us at any time is unknowingly in breach of dozens of them. And, in this case, NBC was informed by the D.C. police that it would be illegal to show the thing on TV, and they went ahead and did it, anyway: You'll never take me alive, copper! You'll have to pry my high-capacity magazine from my cold dead fingers! When the D.C. SWAT team, the FBI and the ATF take out NBC News, and the whole building goes up in one almighty fireball, David Gregory will be the crazed loon up on the roof like Jimmy Cagney in "White Heat": "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" At last, some actual must-see TV on that lousy network.


But, even if we're denied that pleasure, the "dumbest media story of 2012" is actually rather instructive. David Gregory intended to demonstrate what he regards as the absurdity of America's lax gun laws. Instead, he's demonstrating the ever-greater absurdity of America's non-lax laws. His investigation, prosecution, and a sentence of 20-to-30 years with eligibility for parole after 10 (assuming Mothers Against High-Capacity Magazines don't object) would teach a far more useful lesson than whatever he thought he was doing by waving that clip under LaPierre's nose.
To Howard Kurtz & Co, it's "obvious" that Gregory didn't intend to commit a crime. But, in a land choked with laws, "obviousness" is one of the first casualties – and "obviously" innocent citizens have their "obviously" well-intentioned actions criminalized every minute of the day. Not far away from David Gregory, across the Virginia border, 11-year-old Schylar Capo made the mistake of rescuing a woodpecker from the jaws of a cat and nursing him back to health for a couple of days. For her pains, a federal Fish & Wildlife gauleiter accompanied by state troopers descended on her house, charged her with illegal transportation of a protected species, issued her a $535 fine, and made her cry. Why is it so "obvious" that David Gregory deserves to be treated more leniently than a sixth-grader? Because he's got a TV show, and she hasn't?
Anything involving guns is even less amenable to "obviousness." A few years ago, Daniel Brown was detained at LAX while connecting to a Minneapolis flight because traces of gunpowder were found on his footwear. His footwear was combat boots. As the name suggests, the combat boots were returning from combat – eight months of it, in Iraq's bloody and violent al-Anbar province. Above the boots he was wearing the uniform of a staff sergeant in the USMC Reserve Military Police and was accompanied by all 26 members of his unit, also in uniform. Staff Sgt. Brown doesn't sound like an "obvious" terrorist. But the TSA put him on the no-fly list, anyway. If it's not "obvious" to the government that a serving member of the military has any legitimate reason for being around ammunition, why should it be "obvious" that a TV host has?
Three days after scofflaw Gregory committed his crime, a bail hearing was held in Massachusetts for Andrew Despres, 20, who's charged with trespassing and possession of ammunition without a firearms license. Mr. Despres was recently expelled from Fitchburg State University and was returning to campus to pick up his stuff. Hence the trespassing charge. At the time of his arrest, he was wearing a "military-style ammunition belt." Hence, the firearms charge.
His mom told WBZ that her son purchased the belt for $20 from a punk website and had worn it to class every day for two years as a "fashion statement." He had no gun with which to fire the bullets. Nevertheless, Fitchburg Police proudly displayed the $20 punk-website ammo belt as if they'd just raided the Fitchburg mafia's armory, and an obliging judge ordered Mr. Despres held on $50,000 bail. Why should there be one law for "Meet The Press" and another for "Meet Andrew Despres"? Because David Gregory throws better cocktail parties?
The argument for letting him walk rests on his membership of a protected class – the media. Notwithstanding that (per Gallup) 54 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the NRA while only 40 percent have any trust in the media, the latter regard themselves as part of the ruling class. Which makes the rest of you the ruled. Laws are for the little people – and little people need lots of little laws, ensnaring them at every turn.
This is all modern life is. Ernest Hemingway had a six-toed cat. The cat begat. (Eat your heart out, Doctor Seuss.) So descendants of his six-toed cat still live at the Hemingway home in Key West. Tourists visit the property. Thus, the Department of Agriculture is insisting that the six-toed cats are an "animal exhibit" like the tigers at the zoo, and therefore come under federal regulation requiring each to be housed in an individual compound with "elevated resting surfaces," "electric wire," and a night watchman. Should David Gregory be treated more leniently than a domestic cat just because when Obama tickles his tummy he licks the president's hand and purrs contentedly?
There are two possible resolutions: Gregory can call in a favor from some Obama consigliere who'll lean on the cops to disappear the whole thing. If he does that, he'll be contributing to the remorseless assault on a bedrock principle of free societies – equality before the law. Laws either apply to all of us or none of us. If they apply only to some, they're not laws but caprices – and all tyranny is capricious.
Or he can embrace the role in which fate has cast him. Sometimes a society becomes too stupid to survive. Eleven-year-old girls fined for rescuing woodpeckers, serving Marines put on the no-fly list, and fifth-generation family cats being ordered into separate compounds with "electric wire" fencing can all testify to how near that point America is. But nothing "raises awareness" like a celebrity spokesman. Step forward, David Gregory! Dare the prosecutor to go for the death penalty – and let's make your ammo the non-shot heard round the world!

'Three in the Head'

By William L. Gensert
December 28, 2012

I carried a gun in New York City for more than a decade -- back when there were thousands of murders a year and the Bronx led the nation in killings. On at least four occasions, that gun saved my life, and in a couple of instances, the lives of people who were with me at the time.
For 13 years I had a New York City full carry permit.
For a number of years I concealed and carried a gun in my son's grammar school as well.
I don't think the world would be a better place without me, and it is indisputable that my Beretta 92FC is responsible for my presence today.
The FC model is the compact version of the full size 92, which takes a 15 round magazine and has a 5" barrel. The FC has a shorter grip, accommodating a 13 round magazine, and a shorter barrel at 4 ½".
My regular means of carry was usually a horizontal shoulder holster. This type of holster provides the easiest access in time of need, because the gun rests parallel to the ground and when drawn, comes out in one motion, level and in theory, already on target.
Later on, I also used a fanny pack with a tear-away Velcro compartment. The gun rests next to your body, with a normal fanny pack as a disguise in front. Pull back the front of the pack to draw the weapon, also held parallel to the ground in its compartment, and you were again on target.
The pistol, even though it was a compact, weighed 4½ pounds, which was difficult to carry for a slim boy from the Bronx. On TV there is always a hero or a bad guy running after someone while carrying a weapon -- forget about it. There is nothing more painful than running full speed with a 5 pound weight banging against your chest, sticking into your back or bouncing relentlessly against your genitalia.
Besides, you don't run with a gun. If you are lucky enough to control a life-and-death situation without having to kill anyone, you don't pursue. You drop to your knees and thank God you are not dead and didn't have to kill anyone to stay that way. You let them go -- I know I did.
I never shot or killed anyone, and except for the tens of thousands of rounds I put through my gun practicing, I never had to fire my weapon either, despite the fact -- as I mentioned -- it saved my life on several occasions.
I won't tell you where I went for target practice, even though the store has long since closed, because I bent the rules considerably during my weekly shooting sprees. For years, I went every Tuesday and put anywhere from 100 to 300 rounds through my gun.

It was all about combat shooting for me. I would hit the range early, around 8 AM, before the range officer started, when I was assured to be the only shooter. I always set up several targets, all within 10'-20' in 3 or more stalls. I would load the gun with one in the chamber and have a spare magazine, sometimes 2, held in the holster (gun under left arm, mags under right). I would set the targets, usually depictions of criminals holding hostages, at different distances, changing the distances with each iteration.
With one spare magazine, I had 27 rounds, 13 in each magazine and one in the chamber. With 2 spare magazines, I had 40 rounds, 13 in each magazine, and one in the chamber.
I set up, my back to the targets, drew my weapon, turned and started firing, rapid fire, changing targets and booths as I did. 27 rounds would take less than 10 seconds -- 40 rounds would take perhaps 5 seconds longer.
Although I could barely hit a target at 50 feet, I was really efficient at less than 20 feet. I was extremely skilled for the type of situations I was anticipating and practicing for.

It was New York City, in the 1980s, the murder capital of the nation.
At the time, almost no private citizens had guns; it was almost exclusively NYPD who used my range. This scared me to death. There were bullet holes everywhere, the ceiling, the walls, the door to the bathroom, even the toilet had bullet holes in it -- you would think that going to the bathroom would be the one time when you would put your gun down, hands being otherwise occupied, but I guess not.
The Bronx in the 1980s was like Beirut -- a dated reference, I know, but I am of a certain age. Thousands of murders a year, and the NYPD, the finest police force in the world, had been relegated by political considerations to being outgunned and undermanned. The only time you saw them was when they were either issuing you a ticket or drawing a chalk outline around your body.
Michael Bloomberg longs for those days.
I was careful, obsessively so -- I would hit the Citibank on Morris Park Avenue on Monday morning with tens of thousands of dollars in a paper bag. I would use a #1 bag, the one you see drunkards on the street corner drinking pints of beer using as cover. It is the smallest bag and it was easy to stuff one or more down my pants with my shirt pulled over. I would use a #10 bag as a decoy, filling it as if it had money in it and carrying it in my left hand, out in front of my body. Deception is a frightened man's tactical ally.
Pulling up to the bank, I would stop a short distance away, with clear sight lines to my destination and scope out everything and everyone, making sure I missed nothing -- especially the reactions of those who noticed me watching. I would then pull away and drive around the block, still watching as I drove.
Once having gone around the block, I would stop the car in front of an available parking spot -- never, however, directly in front. Getting out of the car, I always did a 360 degree turn to see what was there and what had changed since my first pass. All things being safe, I would park and then do another 360 degree turn when exiting the vehicle, looking at everything, labeling all I saw, threats, mushrooms (see Pac-Man) or morons.
Once I ascertained there was no setup, I would take the straightest line to the bank, right hand on my gun in its holster, finger on the trigger. In my left hand, I held my decoy bag. If anyone got in my way I stared them down until they moved.
It was terrifying -- and I did it every day for years.
Yet... I managed to not kill anyone in the process.
I will relate only one tale of the gun.
I was working 7 days a week, a minimum of 12 to 14 hours each day, running my small empire of two grocery stores. I would start early, before 7 AM and work until 2 AM in the morning. During the day, I would go home for an hour or two to sleep, since I didn't sleep at night, choosing that time for the nonstop party. I became used to going home between 10 PM and Midnight, coming back to close the one store at 1 AM and the other at 2 AM.
Somewhere in the process of my predictability, two men started coming into my main store. They were easily identifiable, one big guy, 6' 7" at least, with a smaller accomplice. They came in every Wednesday night for 3 weeks in a row. They would stay perhaps 15 minutes in the back of the store, watching everything, and then leave without buying anything. My man at the counter said he thought the big guy had a gun in his belt, but he wasn't sure.
Coming in on the same day every week and at the same time, told me they were casing the place. The fact that they lingered, told me they were checking to see, not only how much money was coming in, but whether or not any police stopped in on a regular basis. The fact that they didn't buy anything said they weren't worried about any opposition and didn't care if anyone knew their plan. After all, at the time, only the police and the criminals had guns.
On the third Wednesday, I rushed to the store, but missed them. On the fourth Wednesday, I was waiting for them.
I knew it was them the second they walked through the door. You can't miss a giant. I stepped up, and noticing me, the big guy went for his gun, which was tucked into the waistband of his pants. I was already drawing mine.
I grabbed the smaller man by the collar and put my Beretta to his head as the big man ran down the aisle, his gun drawn. I yelled for the customer who stood frozen at the counter to leave, and I told my two workers to get down.

Using the one robber -- remarkably docile with a gun to his head -- as a shield, I tried to see where the big guy went. He was at the end of the aisle, hiding behind the rack.
I was terrified.
I knew I needed to be aggressive or this would end badly -- it was already going badly.
"If you come out with anything but you d$@k in your hands and your buddy is the first to get it."
The man I held started to sob. I shook him so he would stand still.
"Then I'm going to kill you and send what's left of you to your mother in a paper bag."
The sobbing grew louder as I pressed the muzzle of the gun harder into the back of the man's head.
"And then, I promise you, I will find everything you love and I will kill it. I will hunt them down and I will kill them. Do you hear me?"
I could hear the big guy in the back starting to cry.
I don't remember what he said, but the next few minutes were taken up by him begging.
I told him to put his gun down and come up front, which he did. I tried to hold the two of them while waiting for the police, while the big guy begged to be let go.
Eventually -- it seemed like an eternity, but was probable only minutes -- I started to lose confidence in my ability to control the situation. I had the one assailant in hand, with a gun to his head, but the other was just standing there pleading to be let go. Since he was no longer armed, and I was no longer in mortal peril, if they chose to jump me, they actually had the advantage. I was not going to shoot. You are only allowed to use deadly force when you fear for your life, and I no longer feared for my life.
I finally told the big guy to go, which sobbing like a baby, he did. I held the other one for the police.
The "paper bag" threat was paraphrasing Ed Asner in an episode of Police Story from the 1970s. The "I will find everything you love and kill it" was paraphrasing Dennis Farina in an episode of Crime Story from the 1980s. "Your buddy is the first to get it" was all me. I practiced for these things, and not only was ready with the weapon, but the rhetoric as well.
When my son was born and his mother wanted to leave, I sold a controlling interest in my stores and let her go, while keeping him. I concentrated on being a father. I grew up without one and was determined that my son would not be burdened so.
When he went to school, I went to school with him -- in fact, becoming what was known as the "class father." I spent some part of every day in school with him and I went on every school trip. There were plenty of single parents, but I was the only single father with a child. For some of the children, I was the only man they ever saw. I was pleased to serve that purpose and those in power at the school let me.
On school trips, I was security and play -- women just don't roughhouse the way men do. The teachers were perfectly happy to let me step between the children and anyone who got too close, and I was grateful for the opportunity to be the man who had been missing from my childhood -- not only for my son, but for any of the other children.
The thing is that during that entire period from kindergarten through the 4th grade I carried my gun. I was a true 'concealed carry' man. No one knew, I didn't tell anyone. I was not the kind of person who wanted everyone to know he was armed. There are girls I dated who didn't know I carried a gun.
...And, don't get me wrong. I am not a brave man. Fear is healthy; it's always the best swimmers who drown. I am, and have always been, a coward, but in life you do what you have to do.
If I had been at Sandy Hook and armed, as I had been in my son's school so many times, I would have done what Morgan Freeman advised in Nurse Betty, and put "three in the head," because then "you know [he's] dead."

Regulating the Militia

By Kevin D. Williamson
December 28, 2012

My friend Brett Joshpe has published an uncharacteristically soft-headed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle arguing that in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook, conservatives and Republicans should support what he calls “sensible” gun-control laws. It begins with a subtext of self-congratulation (“As a conservative and a Republican, I can no longer remain silent . . . Some will consider it heresy,” etc.), casts aspersions of intellectual dishonesty (arguments for preserving our traditional rights are “disingenuous”), advances into ex homine (noting he has family in Sandy Hook, as though that confers special status on his preferences), fundamentally misunderstands the argument for the right to keep and bear arms, deputizes the electorate, and cites the presence of teddy bears as evidence for his case.
Brett, like practically every other person seeking to diminish our constitutional rights, either does not understand the purpose of the Second Amendment or refuses to address it, writing, “Gun advocates will be hard-pressed to explain why the average American citizen needs an assault weapon with a high-capacity magazine other than for recreational purposes.” The answer to this question is straightforward: The purpose of having citizens armed with paramilitary weapons is to allow them to engage in paramilitary actions. The Second Amendment is not about Bambi and burglars — whatever a well-regulated militia is, it is not a hunting party or a sport-clays club. It is remarkable to me that any educated person — let alone a Harvard Law graduate — believes that the second item on the Bill of Rights is a constitutional guarantee of enjoying a recreational activity.
There is no legitimate exception to the Second Amendment for military-style weapons, because military-style weapons are precisely what the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure our ability to oppose enemies foreign and domestic, a guarantee against disorder and tyranny. Consider the words of Supreme Court justice Joseph Story — who was, it bears noting, appointed to the Court by the guy who wrote the Constitution:
The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.
“Usurpation and arbitrary power of the rulers” — not Bambi, not burglars. While your granddad’s .30-06 is a good deal more powerful than the .223 rifles that give blue-state types the howling fantods, that is not what we have a constitutional provision to protect. Liberals are forever asking: “Why would anybody need a gun like that?” And the answer is: because we are not serfs. We are a free people living under a republic of our own construction. We may consent to be governed, but we will not be ruled.
The right to keep and bear arms is a civil right. If you doubt that, consider the history of arms control in England, where members of the Catholic minority (and non-Protestants generally) were prohibited from bearing arms as part of the campaign of general political oppression against them. The Act of Disenfranchisement was still in effect when our Constitution was being written, a fact that surely was on the mind of such Founding Fathers as Daniel Carroll, to say nothing of his brother, Archbishop John Carroll.
The Second Amendment speaks to the nature of the relationship between citizen and state. Brett may think that such a notion is an antiquated relic of the 18th century, but then he should be arguing for wholesale repeal of the Second Amendment rather than presenting — what’s the word? — disingenuous arguments about what it means and the purpose behind it.
If we want to reduce the level of criminal violence in our society, we should start by demanding that the police and criminal-justice bureaucracies do their job. Massacres such as Sandy Hook catch our attention because they are so unusual. But a great deal of the commonplace violence in our society is preventable. Brett here might look to his hometown: There were 1,662 murders in New York City from 2003 to 2005, and a New York Times analysis of the data found that in 90 percent of the cases, the killer had a prior criminal record. (About half the victims did, too.) Events such as Sandy Hook may come out of nowhere, but the great majority of murders do not. The police function in essence as a janitorial service, cleaning up the mess created in part by our dysfunctional criminal-justice system.
We probably would get more out of our criminal-justice system if it were not so heavily populated by criminals. As I note in my upcoming book, The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome, it can be hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys:
For more than twenty years, NYPD detectives worked as enforcers and assassins for the Gambino crime family; in 2006 two detectives were convicted not only of murder and conspiracy to commit murder but also on charges related to such traditional mob activity as labor racketeering, running illegal gambling rings, extortion, narcotics trafficking, obstruction of justice, and the like. This was hardly an isolated incident; only a few years prior to the NYPD convictions more than 70 LAPD officers associated with the city’s anti-gang unit were found to have been deeply involved in gang-affiliated criminal enterprises connected to the Bloods street gang. Their crimes ranged from the familiar police transgressions of falsifying evidence, obstructing justice, and selling drugs seized in arrests to such traditional outlaw fare as bank robbery — they were cops and robbers. More than 100 criminal convictions were overturned because of evidence planted or falsified by officers of the LAPD. One scholarly account of the scandal concluded that such activity is not atypical but rather systemic — and largely immune to attempts at reform: “The current institution of law enforcement in America does appear to reproduce itself according [to] counter-legal norms . . . attempts to counteract this reproduction via the training one receives in police academies, the imposition of citizen review boards, departments of Internal Affairs, etc. do not appear to mitigate against this structural continuity between law enforcement and crime.”
The Department of Homeland Security has existed for only a few years but it already has been partly transformed into an organized-crime syndicate. According to a federal report, in 2011 alone more than 300 DHS employees and contractors were charged with crimes ranging from smuggling drugs and child pornography to selling sensitive intelligence to drug cartels. That’s not a few bad apples — that’s an arrest every weekday and many weekends. Given the usual low ratio of arrests to crimes committed, it is probable that DHS employees are responsible for not hundreds but thousands of crimes. And these are not minor infractions: Agents in the department’s immigration division were caught selling forged immigrant documents, and DHS vehicles have been used to transport hundreds (and possibly thousands) of pounds of illegal drugs. A “standover” crew — that is, a criminal enterprise that specializes in robbing other criminals — was found being run by a DHS agent in Arizona, who was apprehended while hijacking a truckload of cocaine.

Feinstein Assault Weapons Ban Covers Rifles, Pistols and Shotguns

By Katie Pavlich


The New Year is just around the corner and although the Senate still hasn't made a fiscal cliff deal, Senator Diane Feinstein already has parts of new gun control legislation ready to go. Two Sunday's ago on NBC's Meet the Press, Feinstein talked about giving President Obama a bill he can "lead on" and used the term assault weapon loosely.

Feinstein has posted a summary of what the legislation will cover, which inculdes a ban on semi-automatic handguns and shotguns in addition to rifles. The legislation also requires registration of previously purchased guns. If passed, ATF would be in charge of enforcement which should be a huge concern to gun owners.
Bans the sale, transfer, importation, or manufacturing of:       
120 specifically-named firearms;       
-Certain other semiautomatic rifles, handguns, shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine and have one or     more military characteristics; and       
-Semiautomatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds.
-Strengthens the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and various state bans by:
-Moving from a 2-characteristic test to a 1-characteristic test;
-Eliminating the easy-to-remove bayonet mounts and flash suppressors from the characteristics test; and
-Banning firearms with “thumbhole stocks” and “bullet buttons” to address attempts to “work around” prior bans.
-Bans large-capacity ammunition feeding devices capable of accepting more than 10 rounds.   

Protects legitimate hunters and the rights of existing gun owners by:
-Grandfathering weapons legally possessed on the date of enactment;
-Exempting over 900 specifically-named weapons used for hunting or sporting purposes; and
-Exempting antique, manually-operated, and permanently disabled weapons

Requires that grandfathered weapons be registered under the National Firearms Act, to include:
-Background check of owner and any transferee;
-Type and serial number of the firearm;
-Positive identification, including photograph and fingerprint;
-Certification from local law enforcement of identity and that possession would not violate State or local law; and
-Dedicated funding for ATF to implement registration.
The key here is that Feinstein made sure to throw a clause in about "protecting legitimate hunters and the rights of existing gun owners," yet wants them treated as if they are guilty by requiring massive gun registration and fingerprinting for firearms that have been lawfully purchased. The legislation covers a ton of ground. Nearly every semi-automatic handgun in the United States has a detachable magazine. It is important to keep in mind the term "assault weapon" is a made up political term that doesn't belong to any specific weapon. The term is typically used in reference to semi-automatic rifles however, any weapon can be used to assault someone, which is why Feinstein has been able to throw handguns and shotguns into her new assault weapons ban.
On another note, who decides what a "legitimate hunter" is? This could become a dangerous gray area considering many people do not hunt every year but only on occasion. What will the qualifications be in order to be considered a legitimate hunter? The hunting argument is often used by pro-gun control advocates as their way of "coming to the middle" on the issue, but in reality the Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting.
Feinstein's legislation will be introduced in January at the beginning of the New Congress. The wolves are at the door.

Be Gone With the Wind

By John Fund
December 28, 2012

President Obama likes to talk about making sure “the biggest corporations pay their fair share.” Treasury secretary Tim Geithner calls for tax reform to close loopholes and subsidies. Budget hawks say federal spending must be curbed. Congress and federal environmental regulators claim they are doing everything they can to save endangered species. By doing nothing and waiting for December 31 to pass, all of those folks could strike a blow in support of each of these policies. All they have to do is let the federal production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy expire on schedule this coming Monday.
Begun 20 years ago to spur the construction of wind-energy facilities that could compete with conventional fossil-fuel power plants, the tax credit gives wind an advantage over all other energy producers. But it has mostly benefited conventional nuclear and fossil-fuel-fired electricity producers. The biggest user of the tax credit is Florida-based NextEra Energy, the nation’s eighth-largest power producer. Through skillful manipulation of the credits, NextEra from 2005 to 2009 “paid just $88 million in taxes on earnings of nearly $7 billion,” Businessweekreports. That’s a tax rate of just 1.25 percent over that period, when the statutory rate is 35 percent.
Wind power has had two decades to prove itself with federal subsidies. Last year, wind power represented a third of all new electric-generating capacity, because taxpayers foot the bill for more than half of wind power’s cost. In addition, lobbyists for wind power have convinced 30 states to set mandates  requiring that a certain percentage of electricity come from renewable sources — which guarantees the wind industry a market.
The subsidies directed toward wind dwarf the subsidies of other energy sectors. Robert Bryce, energy analyst for the Manhattan Institute and an NRO contributor, reports that subsidies to wind are “at least twelve times greater than those provided to the oil and gas sector and 6.5 times greater than those provided to the nuclear industry,” on a per-unit-of-energy-produced basis.
But no matter how much money is blown its way, wind power — for simple scientific reasons — can’t graduate to the kind of large-scale, reliable energy production that its backers tout. Physicist and environmentalist John Droz Jr. notes: “There is no real environmental benefit to wind, because a) it’s an unpredictable commodity, b) output from any group of wind projects can and will go to zero on many occasions, and c) energy generated from industrial wind power cannot be economically stored.” Germany, which has gone stark raving mad in building wind turbines, has proven just how unreliable it is. On one day this February, wind power delivered a third of Germany’s electricity needs, but four days later, on a still day, it contributed precisely zero.
Then there is the carnage inflicted on Mother Nature. Paul Driessen reported in the Washington Times that “the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that wind turbines kill 440,000 bald and golden eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, cranes, egrets, geese, and other birds every year in the U.S., along with countless insect-eating bats.” The actual numbers are probably far higher. The turbine blades of the nation’s 39,000 windmills move at 100 to 200 miles per hour and can mow down anything that gets in their path.
Over the past 25 years, an estimated 2,300 golden eagles have been killed by turbines at Altamont Pass, Calif., alone, leading to an 80 percent drop in the golden-eagle population of southern California.
Sadly, many Republicans have climbed on board the carnival train for wind fans. Karl Rove continued the former Bush administration’s defense of the federal wind tax credit at this year’s American Wind Energy Association convention. He was joined on stage by former Obama White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. Three leading Senate Republicans — Charles Grassley of Iowa, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Pat Roberts of Kansas — were furious last August after Mitt Romney came out in favor of ending federal largesse for wind energy. All three senators oppose even the most modest of cuts in the PTC.
Supporters of wind may get their way in any last-minute budget deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” when a bipartisan group in Congress might huddle with the Obama administration and insist that an extension of the PTC be included before it expires on December 31 or immediately afterward.
The same moans and predictions of doom made the rounds last year when the corn-ethanol industry tried to save its federal subsidy, despite evidence it was ripping off taxpayers and causing environmental damage. In the end, the subsidy ended and none of the dire consequences predicted by its demise have occurred.
It’s time we cut the financial umbilical cord that connects taxpayers to wind turbines. If wind can’t compete with other forms of energy after 20 years of dependency, it should be forced, like a young adult that doesn’t want to leave home, to strike out on its own.
— John Fund is national-affairs columnist forNRO.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Kwanzaa: Fake Holiday Created by a Felon

By Paul Mulshine
The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)
December 26, 2012

A Kwanzaa sign sits alongside a nativity display on Woodbridge town grounds.

(Brian Amaral/

It's that time of year again. You know what time I mean - the time when the media promote that fake holiday created by a crazed california felon who wanted to create racial discord.

That's right - Kwanzaa.

Do a news search and you'll find hundreds of articles about wonderful Kwanzaa celebrations held all over America. Good luck finding a single one that mentions the sorry fact that the holiday's creator was imprisoned for torturing a couple of African-American women.

You'll have to go here to my original article on Kwanzaa to find that. The article originally ran in FrontPage Magazine back in 1998. It's easily found on the Internet by any journalist willing to do the tiniest bit of research into Kwanzaa. I like to run it this time every year as a corrective to all of the dreadful journalism that occurs in every report of Kwanzaa.

If the media told the truth about Kwanzaa in these articles, then every right-thinking American would realize it's a fraud. Instead we get the same silly endorsement of this "African" feast that has nothing to do with Africa and everything to do with California in the 1960s.

If you don't have the time to read that long expose then you can read the column I wrote on the subject back in 1998. Here it is in full:

One of my alert readers called me the other day to inform me that the public schools in New Jersey aren't allowed to celebrate Christmas but are celebrating Kwanzaa.

This is intriguing. Christmas celebrates the legacy of Christ who, by all accounts, was a nonviolent man who believed that people of all types could learn to live in peace. Kwanzaa celebrates the legacy of an extremely violent man from California who has dedicated his life to spreading dissension among the races.

More on that later. First let's deal with the question of why schools can propagate a belief in Kwanzaa but not Christmas or Chanukah. For an answer, I called Ed Martone of the American Civil Liberties Union.

''Kwanzaa isn't a religious holiday," said Martone. "It's a cultural holiday. It doesn't have the same restrictions as Chanukah or Christmas."

I'll grant that there is a certain logic to the view. After all, once the government gets involved in religion, the potential conflicts among Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and atheists are so complex that perhaps we are better off avoiding them altogether.

But by that same logic, the public schools should not be pushing certain cultural practices. And the schools especially shouldn't be endorsing cultural practices created by a character with the beliefs and the background of Ron Karenga.

It is not easy to get a hold of the facts about the background of the creator of Kwanzaa. In fact, it is nearly impossible. The history of the founder of Kwanzaa has disappeared into an Orwellian time warp. If you look up the name "Ron Karenga" on any of the many newspaper data bases that are available these days, you will read a glowing account of a deep-thinking philosopher who comes across as a sort of jolly Father Christmas for African-Americans.

You won't find any reference to murder or torture. Yet murder was a specialty of US, the paramilitary organization that Karenga ran in Los Angeles in the late 1960s.

As for torture, Karenga took that more personally. The accounts of his personal role in a particularly sadistic episode of brutality have been largely lost to history. The episode seems to exist only on a few microfilmed pages of the Los Angeles Times. It took two days of research and phone calls to track them down. Here is an excerpt from an article headlined "Woman describes two days of torture" on the May 1971 trial of Karenga for torturing two dissident members of his group:

''Deborah Jones, who once was given the Swahili title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis' mouth and placed against Miss Davis' face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vise. Karenga, head of US, also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said."

Karenga was convicted and served more than three years in a state prison.

This was not an isolated incident. In 1967, Karenga was accused of having his thugs beat up a student who asked him an impertinent question at a college forum. In 1969, US got involved in a struggle with the Black Panthers for control of the black studies program at UCLA. All involved carried guns on campus. The US guys were quicker on the draw; they killed two Panthers in a shootout at the student center.

It would be nice to say that after Karenga got out of jail in 1975 he repented, saw the error of his ways and invented Kwanzaa as a means of atoning for his past. Nice, but untrue. Karenga has never atoned for his thuggery, probably because no one ever asked him to. And his sole concession to repentance was his 1975 conversion to Marxism. For him, this was considered to be a sign that he had moderated his views.

Karenga invented Kwanzaa at the height of his gang days, in 1966. And he made it up not to bring peace among the races but to divide them. That's why he placed this alleged "harvest festival" in competition with Christmas, which he derided because of its ties to the hated capitalist system.

It may be true that Kwanzaa has evolved into a ceremony that has importance to a great number of well-intentioned people, people who have no knowledge of its creator's questionable history. But Karenga himself continues to champion the holiday as an example of what he terms "cultural nationalism." This is the view that black people are a separate "nation" within a hostile country. During a visit to Newark in 1987, Karenga defined America as "an insane, socially decaying society." "We need a value system and a support system . . . because the world is organized against your Africanism," he told Newark residents.

Karenga remains a leading spokesman for the multicultural movement, a movement based on the idea that Americans should emphasize their differences rather than their similarities. The idea of Kwanzaa fits firmly within multiculturalism. And however you feel about multiculturalism, you must admit that it is a political movement and therefore one that should not be supported with tax dollars.

As for Karenga himself, he should be given all the respect due a convicted torturer. Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but I believe that once a man inserts a hot soldering iron into a woman's mouth, he should be excluded from public discourse for eternity. I may be wrong, however. Certainly, the people in California don't seem to share this view. Karenga is now a professor at California State University in Long Beach.

That's California for you. By that standard, there's a university presidency waiting somewhere for Charles Manson when he finally gets out.

Well-Born' Students Have Armed Protection in Elite Schools

By M. Catherine Evans
December 27, 2012

While elitist gun control zealots send their children to expensive private academies with armed guards and the latest state of the art security systems, regular public school students must rely on brave, unarmed teachers throwing themselves in front of deranged killers as their first line of defense.

Using the wealth and status of parents to determine which students have the right to be protected should have every liberal do-gooder screaming for equal treatment. Instead, we have progressives like Chris Christie, Mayor Bloomberg and reporter David Gregory accusing the NRA's Wayne LaPierre of wanting to turn public schools into "armed camps" while they send their own kids to high-priced armed camps. Huh?

What about equality and fairness for all when it comes to guarding the nation's children?

Malia and Sasha Obama not only benefit from around the clock Secret Service protection, the elite school they attend, Sidwell Friends, employsspecial police officers  trained in the appropriate use of deadly force. Are their lives and those of other millionaire children worth more than non-elites?

It's the same story with Meet the Press host David Gregory whose kids attend Sidwell.  And how about Michael Bloomberg? His daughters went to the exclusive, well secured all-girls Spence School in New York's Upper East Side.  Rahm Emanuel, Bill Ayers, Arne Duncan, the Obamas, Valerie Jarrett and a host of Chicago insiders have sent their little heirs to the exclusive University of Chicago Lab Schools which routinely hires armed police officers as part of its security plan.

Ivy League bound youngsters in private schools across the nation are the beneficiaries of top notch security systems which almost always include armed personnel. Yet ruling class pols like Obama and Bloomberg want to deny regular folks the same security their children enjoy. Obama, with his four-year "under the radar" push against our Second Amendment rights, has no problem suggesting the underclasses put their kids in harm's way.

Why? Shouldn't a classroom with vulnerable, defenseless children be the last place liberals would try and get away with their usual double standard? Or are progressives so bent on taking away the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens they would risk sounding and acting like their eugenicist predecessors? The ones who devised one set of rules for the better stock and another for their inferiors? 

The specter of a eugenics minded ruling class is haunting the current armed guards-in-schools debate. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries wealthy philanthropists like Harriman, Carnegie and Rockefeller financially supported the movement to improve the human race. The rich used their money to fund scientists whose research would eventually lead to federal sterilization and abortion laws aimed squarely at the lower classes.

For over 100 years this toxic elitism has poisoned the liberal mindset to the point where we now have millionaire politicians and journalists hardly batting an eyelash at their own conscience-less calls for public school kids to be sitting ducks for madmen while paying tens of thousands to protect their offspring in educational fortresses. 

Read more M. Catharine Evans at Potter Williams Report

Two Cautionary Tales of Gun Control

By Joyce Lee Malcolm
The Wall Street Journal
December 26, 2012

Americans are determined that massacres such as happened in Newtown, Conn., never happen again. But how? Many advocate more effective treatment of mentally-ill people or armed protection in so-called gun-free zones. Many others demand stricter control of firearms.
We aren't alone in facing this problem. Great Britain and Australia, for example, suffered mass shootings in the 1980s and 1990s. Both countries had very stringent gun laws when they occurred. Nevertheless, both decided that even stricter control of guns was the answer. Their experiences can be instructive.
In 1987, Michael Ryan went on a shooting spree in his small town of Hungerford, England, killing 16 people (including his mother) and wounding another 14 before shooting himself. Since the public was unarmed—as were the police—Ryan wandered the streets for eight hours with two semiautomatic rifles and a handgun before anyone with a firearm was able to come to the rescue.
Nine years later, in March 1996, Thomas Hamilton, a man known to be mentally unstable, walked into a primary school in the Scottish town of Dunblane and shot 16 young children and their teacher. He wounded 10 other children and three other teachers before taking his own life.

David Klein

Since 1920, anyone in Britain wanting a handgun had to obtain a certificate from his local police stating he was fit to own a weapon and had good reason to have one. Over the years, the definition of "good reason" gradually narrowed. By 1969, self-defense was never a good reason for a permit.
After Hungerford, the British government banned semiautomatic rifles and brought shotguns—the last type of firearm that could be purchased with a simple show of fitness—under controls similar to those in place for pistols and rifles. Magazines were limited to two shells with a third in the chamber.
Dunblane had a more dramatic impact. Hamilton had a firearm certificate, although according to the rules he should not have been granted one. A media frenzy coupled with an emotional campaign by parents of Dunblane resulted in the Firearms Act of 1998, which instituted a nearly complete ban on handguns. Owners of pistols were required to turn them in. The penalty for illegal possession of a pistol is up to 10 years in prison.
The results have not been what proponents of the act wanted. Within a decade of the handgun ban and the confiscation of handguns from registered owners, crime with handguns had doubled according to British government crime reports. Gun crime, not a serious problem in the past, now is. Armed street gangs have some British police carrying guns for the first time. Moreover, another massacre occurred in June 2010. Derrick Bird, a taxi driver in Cumbria, shot his brother and a colleague then drove off through rural villages killing 12 people and injuring 11 more before killing himself.

Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens who have come into the possession of a firearm, even accidentally, have been harshly treated. In 2009 a former soldier, Paul Clarke, found a bag in his garden containing a shotgun. He brought it to the police station and was immediately handcuffed and charged with possession of the gun. At his trial the judge noted: "In law there is no dispute that Mr. Clarke has no defence to this charge. The intention of anybody possessing a firearm is irrelevant." Mr. Clarke was sentenced to five years in prison. A public outcry eventually won his release.
In November of this year, Danny Nightingale, member of a British special forces unit in Iraq and Afghanistan, was sentenced to 18 months in military prison for possession of a pistol and ammunition. Sgt. Nightingale was given the Glock pistol as a gift by Iraqi forces he had been training. It was packed up with his possessions and returned to him by colleagues in Iraq after he left the country to organize a funeral for two close friends killed in action. Mr. Nightingale pleaded guilty to avoid a five-year sentence and was in prison until an appeal and public outcry freed him on Nov. 29.
Six weeks after the Dunblane massacre in 1996, Martin Bryant, an Australian with a lifelong history of violence, attacked tourists at a Port Arthur prison site in Tasmania with two semiautomatic rifles. He killed 35 people and wounded 21 others.
At the time, Australia's guns laws were stricter than the United Kingdom's. In lieu of the requirement in Britain that an applicant for permission to purchase a gun have a "good reason," Australia required a "genuine reason." Hunting and protecting crops from feral animals were genuine reasons—personal protection wasn't.
With new Prime Minister John Howard in the lead, Australia passed the National Firearms Agreement, banning all semiautomatic rifles and semiautomatic and pump-action shotguns and imposing a more restrictive licensing system on other firearms. The government also launched a forced buyback scheme to remove thousands of firearms from private hands. Between Oct. 1, 1996, and Sept. 30, 1997, the government purchased and destroyed more than 631,000 of the banned guns at a cost of $500 million.
To what end? While there has been much controversy over the result of the law and buyback, Peter Reuter and Jenny Mouzos, in a 2003 study published by the Brookings Institution, found homicides "continued a modest decline" since 1997. They concluded that the impact of the National Firearms Agreement was "relatively small," with the daily rate of firearms homicides declining 3.2%.
According to their study, the use of handguns rather than long guns (rifles and shotguns) went up sharply, but only one out of 117 gun homicides in the two years following the 1996 National Firearms Agreement used a registered gun. Suicides with firearms went down but suicides by other means went up. They reported "a modest reduction in the severity" of massacres (four or more indiscriminate homicides) in the five years since the government weapons buyback. These involved knives, gas and arson rather than firearms.
In 2008, the Australian Institute of Criminology reported a decrease of 9% in homicides and a one-third decrease in armed robbery since the 1990s, but an increase of over 40% in assaults and 20% in sexual assaults.
What to conclude? Strict gun laws in Great Britain and Australia haven't made their people noticeably safer, nor have they prevented massacres. The two major countries held up as models for the U.S. don't provide much evidence that strict gun laws will solve our problems.
Ms. Malcolm, a professor of law at George Mason University Law School, is the author of several books including "Guns and Violence: The English Experience," (Harvard, 2002).

The Obama Green Energy Scam You May Have Missed

By Donald Lambro
December 27, 2012

WASHINGTON - Have you seen the latest development in President Obama's waste-ridden, clean energy program that's now under federal investigation at the U.S. Treasury Department?
Three of the country's biggest residential solar panel installers -- SolarCity, SunRun and Sungevity -- have been subpoenaed by Treasury's Office of Inspector General for their financial records to determine if they had inflated the market value of their costs when they applied for federal reimbursement.
The firms have reportedly received more than $500 million in federal grants and tax credits. Officials in two of them, Solar-City and SunRun, have been among some of Obama's most generous campaign donors.
The money these companies tapped into flowed from a $13 billion investment fund in Treasury that came from the president's economic stimulus program which has poured huge sums of money into clean energy programs across the country.
Obama has sunk billions of tax dollars into a scandal-ridden swamp of other energy deals that were crafted and promoted by administration business cronies who also were among his biggest fundraisers.
After an exhaustive analysis of thousands of memos, company records and internal e-mails about Obama's green-technology spending program, the Washington Post concluded that it was "infused with politics" at every level of the decision-making process. Political considerations dominated the White House's deal-making and all too often overruled warnings that billions of tax dollars would be lost on shaky energy projects that should never have been approved.
Take, for example, Sanjay Wagle, a venture capitalist and one of Obama's fundraisers in 2008. He left his firm in California to work in Obama's Energy Department on a $40 billion spending program to stimulate the economy by investing in clean technology companies.
It's questionable just how much "stimulus" much of this money provided to the economy when unemployment is still close to 8 percent, and a number of these firms went bankrupt and eventually laid off thousands of workers.
Nevertheless, over the next three years the Energy Department officials Wagle was advising plowed $2.4 billion into clean energy corporations that Wagle's former company, Vantage Point Venture Partners, had invested in.
"Overall, the Post found that $3.9 billion in federal grants and financing flowed to 21 companies backed by firms with connections to five Obama administration staffers and advisers," the newspaper reported at the time.
Those insider connections helped grease the wheels for dubious clean energy investments that went belly up, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill on loans guaranteed by the government.
One of them was a $535 million loan to the now-bankrupt solar panel firm Solyndra that Obama promoted against the better judgement of top budget and contract officials who warned the White House against the deal.
What has come to light so far as part of a congressional investigation is the administration's willful order to approve a bad loan, despite dire warnings from a number of federal officials that the California-based Solyndra was in deep financial trouble.
A steady stream of government e-mails released by a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee tell a sordid tale of a company Obama turned into an energy showcase for his $40 billion loan program -- until Solyndra declared bankruptcy in August, putting 1,100 employes out of work.
One of the people promoting Solyndra's $535 million million loan, which will be paid off by federal taxpayers, was Steven J. Spinner, a senior Energy Department adviser, an Obama campaign fundraiser, and a Silicon Valley investor given the job of guiding the administration's clean technology investments.
He was not only one of Solyndra's insider defenders, his wife worked for the California law firm that represented the solar panel company and helped it file for the federal government loan her husband was promoting, according to the Post investigation.
While growing internal concerns were being raised about Solyndra's shaky finances as early as the summer of 2009, Spinner e-mailed a top aide to then-Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that Solyndra was a financially solvent company that fully deserved the administration's support. "I haven't heard anything negative on my side," he assured Emanuel's aide in an e-mail about the warnings.
As the loan deal stalled over internal criticism of the firm's looming insolvency, Spinner grew more impatient. "How [expletive] hard is this?' he wrote to a career Energy staffer on Aug. 28, 2009 about its delayed clearance by an Office of Management and Budget official. "What is he waiting for?"
But complaints from Office of Management and Budget and Treasury officials about Solyndra's finances, as well as its favorable loan terms, still persisted.
"In an administration that said it would curtail lobbyists' influence, the documents show ardent lobbying by political appointees inside the agencies and significant White House access given to venture capitalists with a major stake in the $40 billion stimulus investment program for clean energy," the Post reported.
The demise of Solyndra and the loss of 1100 jobs was one of the administration's many investment failures.
Others have included Ener 1 that was awarded a $118 million "stimulus" deal from Obama, only to go bankrupt on Jan. 26, 2011; the North Las Vegas-based solar power firm Amonix that laid off 700 workers and shut down in May after receiving $6 million in federal tax credits and a $15.6 million federal grant; and Abound Solar that reaped a $400 million federal loan guarantee to build photovoltaic panel factories before halting production and laying off 180 employes in February and has since declared bankruptcy.
Although Obama declared that the energy grants and loans were all "based solely on their merits," Hoover Institution scholar Peter Schweizer reported in his book, "Throw Them All Out," that 71 percent went to "individuals who were [fundraising] bundlers, members of Obama's National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Left Bullies the NRA

By Ben Shapiro
December 26, 2012

On Christmas Eve, seven people were shot in the city of Chicago. The media made little mention of the shootings, since they're now routine in Chicago -- the city has seen some 500 shootings in 2012 alone. The vast majority of the shooters are black, and the vast majority of the victims are black. Many of the victims are under the age of 18: Anton Sanders, 15, shot on Jan. 20; Deshun Winfert, 15, shot on Feb. 5; Damion Rolle, 14, shot on Feb. 21; George Howard and Albert Guyton, both 15, shot on Feb. 27 and Feb. 28; the list goes on. A few are under age 10. You've never heard of any of them.

But when an evil white person with a history of mental instability shoots up a school, killing 20 children, most of whom were white, the media is suddenly concerned with gun control.
Perhaps that's because the media is racist. Or perhaps it's something else. If the media pays attention to the shootings in Chicago, it will have to talk about the fact that Chicago is heavily gun controlled. It will have to discuss the fact that guns are illegally flowing into areas of heavy gun violence. And it will have to talk about the impact of social ills like single motherhood, gang recruitment and poor public education.
Instead, the media focuses on Sandy Hook, Aurora and Columbine. Focusing on such statistically aberrant scenarios rather than the more widespread gun violence that plagues our cities allows the media to target one of its most hated groups: the National Rifle Association.
This is what the left does: they pick a target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. They use individual cases as a baton to wield against groups they hate. The Trayvon Martin case was used as a club against the American Legislative Exchange Council for their support of "Stand Your Ground" laws -- even though George Zimmerman never claimed "Stand Your Ground." The war on women was used as a club against Komen for the Cure -- even though Komen cares for more women than Planned Parenthood ever will. The left uses specific cases to destroy important institutions. It makes their future battles far easier.
That's what they've done here. The left's attack on the NRA is ludicrous. Neither the Sandy Hook massacre perpetrator, Adam Lanza, nor his mother, Nancy Lanza, was a member. The state of Connecticut has long rejected the NRA's legislative influence. The NRA takes zero -- zero -- tax dollars. Yet somehow, the NRA has been targeted as the root of all evil.
Why? Because the NRA represents the strongest single proponent of gun rights in America. And if the left can use Sandy Hook to bash the NRA, to make it unpalatable to the American public, they will. That's why the execrable Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC spouted that the NRA had "blood on its hands" despite any evidence to support that proposition. That's why Piers Morgan of CNN labeled NRA head Wayne LaPierre "dim-witted" and "dangerous" for suggesting that schools ought to have armed police, but said nothing when Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said the same thing. David Gregory of NBC was only too happy to bash LaPierre over that proposed policy, but send his kids to a school with 11 armed security guards.
So what does that have to do with Chicago versus Sandy Hook? The media knows that in all shooting scenarios, the conversation quickly polarizes into two positions: ban guns or discuss other myriad social and legal issues that lead to shootings. In communities plagued by high levels of social ills like Chicago, the second position is the more obvious one. In cases of placid communities getting shot up by a nutcase, the left can talk gun bans more easily.
And they can label the NRA the culprit more easily, too. When gang members shoot each other in Chicago, it's obvious to everyone that there are no NRA members involved. When people in Connecticut own guns, the media has made the case that they must be NRA members, even if they aren't. And so the NRA, with no relation to Sandy Hook, becomes the problem.
It's far harder to stop Sandy Hook than it is to stop violence in Chicago. But the left doesn't like the possible solutions in Chicago. They prefer to destroy their competition. So the shootings in Chicago will continue. So, in all likelihood, will incidents like Sandy Hook, thanks in large part to the left's focus on destroying its enemies rather than preventing acts of evil.

"Childish Fantasy": Gun Control and the Victim

By Jack Dunphy
PJ Media
December 26, 2012

On the evening of December 14, when the horror of Sandy Hook Elementary School was quite rightly the only subject on everyone’s minds and lips, I was in my car listening to talk radio. I tuned to one station and then another before choosing Dennis Miller’s program. I was eager to hear Mr. Miller’s take on the day’s sorrows, but I was astonished to hear him and his guest (I’ve forgotten who) discussing … the fiscal cliff. How could this be? It was as if the massacre hadn’t happened.
It took me a few seconds, but then I remembered that Mr. Miller broadcasts live from Santa Barbara, CA, in the morning, but here in Los Angeles his show airs on tape delay in the evening. And so for those fleeting moments I was taken back, in a way, to the time before I or Dennis Miller or his guest or anyone else outside of Newtown, CT, had heard of Sandy Hook Elementary School. How pleasant it all seemed that morning, how trivial were my own worries, and how horribly, horribly different the day would turn out to be.
That fiscal cliff seems not to be such a big deal after all, does it? And now we have all but abandoned talk of fiscal cliffs and begun our “conversation on guns.” Or have we?
Based on what we’ve heard so far, this “conversation” amounts to little more than an attempt by one side to shame the other into silence and acquiescence. If you refuse to admit that you, the gun owner, are part of the problem; if you dare to suggest that the public at large would not be less safe but safer if more law-abiding citizens were allowed to carry concealed handguns; if you refuse to acknowledge what is so patently obvious to your enlightened betters living in colonies along both coasts — which is that firearms are inherently evil and have no place in a civilized society — then you are an abettor in the slaughter of children and deserving of public scorn if not imprisonment and even death.
Indeed, this “conversation” has been marked by ignorance and emotionalism on the part of those who would see Americans surrender their guns in advancement of the utopia envisioned in such places as the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Manifesting this ignorance and emotionalism for all to see was CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, who, while engaging in what was purported to be a “conversation on guns” with economist John Lott, seemed gobsmacked when Mr. Lott presented an argument in favor of fewer restrictions on citizens carrying concealed weapons — an argument based on his own extensive research. “I have to say,” stammered Ms. O’Brien, “your position, your position completely boggles me, honestly. I just do not understand it.”
That she did not understand Mr. Lott’s position was obvious, as she was so completely boggled that she failed to address even a single one of the points he made, instead veering off on tangents that did little more than reveal her own lack of knowledge on the subject at hand.
But Ms. O’Brien was the very picture of professionalism when compared to her CNN colleague Piers Morgan, who embarrassed himself and his network while in his characteristic high dudgeon during a “conversation” with Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America. Like John Lott, Mr. Pratt is well versed in the research involving gun crime in America, and he attempted to present this information to someone he must have assumed would be willing to hear it. Mr. Morgan was deaf to it all, resorting to language that revealed him to be not only supercilious but boorish as well. “You’re an unbelievably stupid man, aren’t you?” he asked Mr. Pratt. Some who view the exchange might come to a different opinion as to which of the men is stupid.
All the heated rhetoric that has followed the horrors of Sandy Hook obscures the legitimate questions we so yearn to have answered: could the gunman have been stopped, and can future madmen be prevented from carrying out similar crimes? Is there a law that might have been passed, are there steps that might have been taken, could anything have been done to protect those precious children and those who cared for them?
I suspect that those who seek a legislative solution to crimes such as this one are on a fool’s errand. It would be difficult to tabulate the number of laws the gunman broke in the course of his murderous spree that morning; to think the enactment of one or a dozen more would deter such a man is to engage in childish fantasy. And talk of banning “assault weapons” is equally naive, not least for the fact that the very term has no real definition other than to describe rifles that some people find scary-looking.
I am neither a member of the National Rifle Association nor an avid shooter. But I have carried a gun as a tool of my trade for more than 30 years, and have come to appreciate the advantages of being armed in those moments when a deadly threat presents itself. That said, I am not among those who would place a weapon in the hand of every teacher. For one thing, not every teacher is qualified to handle one. There is no shame in this. Using a firearm for self-defense requires a certain mindset and level of proficiency that few teachers — indeed few people in most professions — possess. (Though I suspect the number of teachers hoping to achieve that mindset and level of proficiency has just increased.)
But the mere possibility that one or two staff members at a school might be armed may offer just enough deterrence to inspire second thoughts in any but the most determined assailants. And if such a determined assailant proceeds with an attack, is it beyond the pale to hope for intervention by an armed teacher? Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) appeared on Fox News Sunday on December 16, and he was widely derided (here, for example) for expressing the wish that the principal at Sandy Hook, who died in the attack, had “an M-4 [rifle] locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.”
For those who find that absurd, a question: is that scenario not preferable to what actually occurred?
There are limits on what the law and government agencies can do to protect the public. Though I’ve been a cop for 30 years, nearly every day of which has been spent on the streets of Los Angeles, I can recall only a handful of times when I was able to interrupt a violent crime in progress, either by responding quickly to a radio call or by coming across it randomly while on patrol. You’ve heard the expression: when seconds count, the police are minutes away. It’s trite but no less true.
But there are some things the government can do, and it’s all the more unfortunate when laws already on the books are ignored to result in tragedy. Such was the case in Los Angeles recently, when a failure in the criminal justice system had fatal consequences. On December 2, four people were shot to death in Northridge, in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. A suspect was identified and arrested, and detectives learned that by all rights he should have been in jail at the time of the killings.
The suspect, Ka Pasasouk, had been arrested for possession of methamphetamine, a felony in California, and an officer for the L.A. County Probation Department wrote a report outlining why Pasasouk was ineligible for probation or a drug diversion program: he had an extensive criminal record, including an arrest and conviction for robbery. Given these facts, Pasasouk should have been prosecuted for the drug charge and sent to prison. Instead, a deputy district attorney offered a plea bargain that put Pasasouk back out on the street. Two months later, the D.A.’s office now alleges, he shot and killed four people.
Even when the criminal justice system is functioning optimally (but does it ever?) these lapses can occur. We in the trade have a name for people who rely on the police and the justice system to keep them safe: we call them victims.
It may sound uncivilized, but so be it. When the Bad Guy shows up with a gun, there are just two questions to be asked: where is the nearest Good Guy with a gun, and how long will it take him (or her, as the case may be) to arrive, get a sight picture, and if necessary squeeze the trigger? Everything else is wishful thinking.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Our Great Christmas Classic

By Rich Lowry
December 25, 2012

America’s classic Christmas song was written by a Jewish immigrant.

Born in Russia with the name Israel Baline, he was the genius songwriter we know as Irving Berlin. He wrote “White Christmas” for the 1942 Hollywood musicalHoliday Inn, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. On set, the movie’s hit number was presumed to be another Berlin composition, the Valentine’s Day song “Be Careful, It’s My Heart.” At first, it was. Then “White Christmas” captured the public’s imagination, and it hasn’t quite loosed its grip since.

As my colleague Mark Steyn puts it in a winsome podcast interview with Berlin’s daughter Mary Ellin Barrett, “Berlin loved America and he sang its seasons”: Easter (“Easter Parade”), July 4th (“God Bless America”), and, of course, Christmas.

Some estimates point to sales of all versions of “White Christmas” topping 100 million. According to Albert and Shirley Menendez in their book on American Christmas songs, it made the charts for two decades straight, and as late as 1969 was the No. 1 Christmas song in the country. You are sure to hear it multiple times any Christmas season, on the radio, on TV, or at the mall.

It is a song built on yearning. In lines at the beginning of the original version that aren’t usually performed, Berlin writes of being out in sunny California during the holiday: “There’s never been such a day / in Beverly Hills, L.A. / But it’s December the 24th / And I’m longing to be up North.”

Steyn thinks that if America had entered World War II a few years earlier, the song might never have taken off. But 1942 was the year that American men were first shipped overseas, and it was released into a wave of homesickness. Mary Ellin Barrett says it first caught on with GIs in Great Britain. During the course of the war, it became the most requested song on Armed Forces Radio.

The irony of the son of a cantor writing the characteristic American Christmas song is obvious. Yet Berlin’s daughter says “he believed in the great American Christmas.” As a child on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, he loved to look at the little Christmas tree of his Catholic neighbors. He and his Christian wife Ellin (theirs was a scandalous mixed marriage) put on elaborate, joyous Christmases for their three daughters. Not until later would they reveal that the day was a painful one for them because they had lost an infant son on Christmas.

Berlin knew he had something special with “White Christmas” as soon as he wrote it. He supposedly enthused to his secretary, “I just wrote the best song I’ve ever written — heck, I just wrote the best song that anybody’s ever written!” The song evokes the warmth of the hearth and the comforts of our Christmas traditions in a way that hasn’t stopped pulling at heartstrings yet.

Whereas Berlin’s composition has proved its enduring appeal across more than half a century, Justin Bieber’s or Cee Lo Green’s latest holiday numbers probably won’t. In an essay in The New Republic, Jonathan Fischer asks what has become of the golden age of pop Christmas songs between the 1930s and 1950s that gave us not only “White Christmas,” but also “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” and such lesser standards as “Silver Bells,” “Santa Baby,” and “Frosty the Snowman.”

Well, the writing was better, the standards higher, the culture more charming and less abased. But Fischer notes something else — Christmas meant more. “As the religious purpose of Christmas has gotten increasingly remote,” he writes, “pop songwriters seem to have less to say about it,” and “a traditional and sentimental version of Christmas . . . doesn’t appeal to the wider, more fractured popular culture the way it once did.”

Maybe we can’t make great Christmas songs anymore, but we can still listen to them, and that will have to be consolation enough. May your days be merry and bright.

— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via e-mail: © 2012 King Features Syndicate