Saturday, April 30, 2011

Late Saturday Rule 5

The lovely lady pictured via Theo Spark:

And let's go straight to the link-around.

Robert Stacy McCain makes the case for the Kate Middleton "upskirt" Google bomb: "Ye Merry Olde Upskirt Traffic":

People may ask why I, as a conservative, should occasionally stoop to such cheap tricks. As I long ago explained, that kind of Google-search traffic is going to go somewhere, and I see no reason why the nihilistic commercial celebrity sites should monopolize the benefit of such prurience.
The folks at POH Diaries argue that upskirt Google bombing is a conservative virtue: "Re: Ye Merry Olde Upskirt Traffic or The Depravity of Human Nature and the Ability to Capitalize On It."

Political news is available at Instapundit, The Lonely Conservative, and So It Goes in Shreveport.

Drop me a comment if you have the time.

MSNBC's Ed Schultz Goes Off on Deranged Rant Attacking Donald Trump as 'a 12-Year-Old That Just Learned How to Masturbate'

At Weasel Zippers:
The ├╝ber-classiness never ends.
Listen.

Schultz slurs Trump as a "dirtbag" and a "scumbag." Takes one to know one, I guess:

Birthers, Truthers, and Racers

Via The Blog Prof:

And referenced at the clip, Richard Fernandez, at Pajamas Media, "The Birth Certificate."

Missile Strike Kills Gaddafi's Son and Three Grandchildren: NATO Rejects Libya's Call for Cease Fire

Robert Stacy McCain's got some coverage, "BREAKING: Libya Spokesman Says NATO Strike Killed 3 of Qaddafi’s Grandsons UPDATE: Attack Also Reportedly Kills Qaddafi’s Youngest Son, Saif al-Arab, 29."

And at Wall Street Journal, "Gadhafi Survives NATO Missile Strike That Killed Son":

TRIPOLI, Libya – A missile fired by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization struck a house where Col. Moammar Gadhafi was staying Saturday, missing the Libyan leader but killing his youngest son and three young grandchildren, a government spokesman said.

Col. Gadhafi and his wife were in the home of their 29-year-old son, Saif al-Arab Gadhafi, when the missile crashed through the one-story house in a Tripoli residential neighborhood, according to the spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim.

The young Mr. Gadhafi was the seventh son of the Libyan leader.

"The leader himself is in good health; he wasn't harmed," Mr. Ibrahim told a news conference early Sunday. "His wife is also in good health; she wasn't harmed, [but] other people were injured."

"This was a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country," the spokesman added. "It seems intelligence was leaked. They knew about him being there, or they expected him. But the target was very clear."

Seif al-Arab "was playing and talking with his father and mother and his nieces and nephews and other visitors when he was attacked for no crimes committed," Mr. Ibrahim said.

Three loud explosions had been heard in Tripoli on Saturday evening as jets flew overhead. Volleys of anti-aircraft fire rang out after the first two strikes.

Later, journalists who were taken to the home, inside a walled compound in the city's Gharour neighborhood, found its main one-story structure destroyed and two other buildings heavily damaged. The blast had torn down the main building and left a huge pile of rubble and twisted metal on the ground.

It was unclear how anyone inside could have survived.
More at the link above, and at both New York Times and Los Angeles Times. (Via Memeorandum.)

America's enemies at Firedoglake are not pleased.

Do American Students Study Too Hard?

My students don't. I wish I could get them to study more, a lot more, and to study better and more effectively. But after 11 years I've unfortunately become a bit less optimistic that I can motivate all of my students to outstanding academic achievement. The measurement of success for a great many of my students --- if not the majority --- is simply course completion. What the movie "Race to Nowhere" is looking at, in part, is the culture of achievement among middle class families with college expectations. There are two worlds out there when it comes to "making it" in America through higher education today. But it's completely politically incorrect to discuss, much less address, the debilitating disadvantages that are holding back large numbers of students, especially those from minority and poor backgrounds. Keep all this in mind while reading James Freeman's essay on the this, at Wall Street Journal:

Bergen County, N.J.

Young moviegoers have driven "Rio" to the top of the box office, but the film generating buzz among New Jersey parents is "Race to Nowhere." It's a response of sorts to last year's buzzed-about documentary "Waiting for 'Superman,'" which argued that ineffective schools and intransigent teachers unions are what's wrong with American education.

The new film may have arrived just in time for the New Jersey Education Association, the giant state teachers union locked in a continuing battle with Gov. Chris Christie over the cost of teachers' benefit plans. Directed by parent and first-time filmmaker Vicki Abeles, "Race to Nowhere" is marketed through a kind of partnership with local schools. The film suggests that if there are problems in American education, they are largely due to standardized tests, overambitious parents, insufficient funding, and George W. Bush. It also offers possible solutions, which include abandoning testing and grading and giving teachers more autonomy.

Ms. Abeles reports that she has been screening the film nationwide and even in numerous foreign countries. But few places have embraced it as enthusiastically as the Garden State. While in many states there are no showings currently scheduled, according to the film's website, New Jersey has 13 in the next month ...

The movie's recurring theme is that American kids are under intense pressure to succeed, forced to complete up to six hours of homework each night and therefore increasingly driven to mental illness. The movie is promoted with the tagline, "The Dark Side of America's Achievement Culture."

The dark side is illuminated with powerful anecdotes—we learn of one young California girl who, we are told, committed suicide after a disappointing grade in math. But the achievement is tougher to spot. The film reports that as hard as kids compete to win acceptance to name-brand colleges, they come out of high school without knowing much. The University of California at Berkeley, we are told, has to provide remedial education for close to half of incoming freshmen before they can handle a college course load. The film notes that American kids score poorly in international tests. If they work so hard, how do they learn so little?
More at the link.

Teachers love to bash the Bush administration's education agenda, and while conservatives despised the expansion of federal power in education, I've always supported more attention to standards. The problem is tying teacher and school accountability to student performance, because teachers will ultimately get blamed for things over which they have little control --- especially the culture and degree of educational attainment at the family, household level. It's generally not as high among lower income communities and minority households (lots of books on this, discussed here previously), and thus we can see why addressing the cultural roots of academic failure is pure taboo in progressive education circles.

By the way, the movies to watch are "Waiting for Superman" and "The Providence Effect." Folks know what needs to happen. And we know that disadvantaged communities can excel. It makes you think sometimes: What is it exactly that's holding folks back? Maybe it's progressive education shibboleths and the destructive power of teachers unions. Er, well, better not talk about that. I've got to work with these people ...

UPDATE: And the timing couldn't have been better. At Boston Globe, "Discord in Harvard’s education school: Protesters want more focus on social issues."

Glenn Reynolds summarizes:
Protesters demand more emphasis on community organizing and “social justice,” less on practical training. I guess the higher education bubble news hasn’t gotten there yet ...

America Needs Israel Now More Than Ever

From Ambassador Michael Oren, at Foreign Policy, "The Ultimate Ally":
Rather than viewing Israel as a vital American asset, an increasingly vocal group of foreign-policy analysts insists that support for the Jewish state, including more than $3 billion in annual military aid, is a liability. Advocates of this "realist" school claim that the United States derives little strategic benefit from its association with Israel. The alliance, they assert, arises mainly from lobbyists who place Israel's interests before America's, rather than from a clearheaded assessment of national needs. Realists regard the relationship one-dimensionally -- America gives Israel aid and arms -- and view it as the primary source of Muslim anger at the United States. American and Israeli policies toward the peace process, the realists say, are irreconcilable and incompatible with relations between true allies.

By definition, realists seek a foreign policy immune to public sentiment and special interest groups. In this rarefied view, the preferences of the majority of the American people are immaterial or, worse, self-defeating. This would certainly be the case with the U.S.-Israel alliance, which remains outstandingly popular among Americans. Indeed, a Gallup survey this February showed that two out of three Americans sympathize with Israel. Overall, since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and in spite of Israel's responses to the second intifada and rocket attacks from Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008 -- support for Israel in the United States has risen, not declined ...

*****

Israel not only enhances America's defenses -- it also saves American lives. A kibbutz-based company in the Galilee has provided armor for more than 20,000 U.S. military vehicles. "Two days ago, my patrol was ambushed by insurgents using 7.62mm PKM Machineguns," David C. Cox, a platoon sergeant in Iraq, wrote the manufacturers. "None of the rounds penetrated the armor of the vehicle, including one that would have impacted with my head." Marine gunner Joshua Smith, whose Israeli-armored vehicle tripped an IED near Marja, Afghanistan, described how his unit "walked away smiling, laughing, and lived to fight another day." Military medical experts from both countries also meet annually to discuss advances in combat care. One such breakthrough was a coagulating bandage, the brainchild of a Jerusalem start-up company, a million of which have been supplied to U.S. forces (and even applied by a Tucson SWAT team medic to stanch the life-threatening head wound of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords) ...

*****

WHO ARE AMERICA'S ALLIES in the world today? Which countries are both capable and willing to advance American interests? A truly realist assessment would strive to answer these questions and fairly weigh Israel's worth.

In the Middle East, every Arab or non-Arab Muslim country has at times vacillated in its support of the United States or adopted anti-American positions. Some regimes have also placed oil embargoes on Americans and bankrolled their enemies. Although democratic governments may yet emerge in some Middle Eastern states, autocracy, monarchy, and dictatorship remain the region's norm. And even elected representatives can be profoundly hostile to the United States, as in Iran, Lebanon, and Gaza ...

Israel is the only Middle Eastern state never to oppose America on major international issues. Its fundamental interests, like its values, are America's. For the price of annual military aid equaling roughly half the cost of one Zumwalt-class destroyer, the United States helps maintain the military might of one of the few nations actively contributing to America's defense. It reinforces the only country capable of deterring Hamas and Hezbollah and impeding the spread of Iranian hegemony. According to published sources, the Israel Defense Forces is larger than the French and British armies combined. The IDF is superbly trained and, when summoned, capable of mobilizing within hours.
RTWT at the link.

And you will find there a set of responses, especially that of Professor Stephen Walt, "Whiff of Desperation." Walt attacks Israel as a "colonial" power. And as usual, he prefaces his comments with the obligatory "All of the realists I know support Israel's existence ..." It's telling that one has to declare a commitment to Israel's survival before launching into yet another screed attacking Israel's actions and the U.S.-Israeli special relationship. And as I've said many times, I once admired Stephen Walt. But I awoke from professional slumber when he turned academic realism into a veiled ideological program for the destruction of Israel. The most hard-line Jew-bashing organizations and terror-enabling activists have sworn fidelity to the Walt-Mearsheimer agenda. It's pretty telling that a Harvard political scientist has become world renowned not for obscure journal articles in the field, but for an ideological polemic with a radical agenda. More on this later ...

BONUS: In addition to essays from Aluf Benn, Jeffrey Goldberg, Robert Satloff, be sure to read the comments at Ambassador Oren's essay. There's an animalistic hatred there that's specially reserved for Israel and the Jews. Chilling.

Angie Harmon!

Took the boys to meet my wife for lunch today, and the pizza parlor had a big screen. Angie's Harmon's "got milk" commercial came on and that reminded me that I'm slacking on my Angie Harmon blogging:

Angie Harmon

She's the best. Follow Angie on Twitter.

("The View" segment c/o The Other McCain).

Glenn Reynolds: 'There Are Literally Millions of People Out There Who Have a Lot of Talent'

An interview with Bill Whittle (via Theo Spark):

And for more, visit Instapundit!

U.S. Acts More Cautiously on Syria Violence Than on Libya

You don't say?

At New York Times, "U.S. Announces Sanctions Against Top Syrian Officials":

WASHINGTON — A brutal Arab dictator with a long history of enmity toward the United States turns tanks and troops against his own people, killing hundreds of protesters. His country threatens to split along sectarian lines, with the violence potentially spilling over to its neighbors, some of whom are close allies of Washington.

Libya? Yes, but also Syria.

And yet, with the Syrian government’s bloody crackdown intensifying on Friday, President Obama has not demanded that President Bashar al-Assad resign, and he has not considered military action. Instead, on Friday, the White House took a step that most experts agree will have a modest impact: announcing focused sanctions against three senior officials, including a brother and a cousin of Mr. Assad.

The divergent American responses illustrate the starkly different calculations the United States faces in these countries. For all the parallels to Libya, Mr. Assad is much less isolated internationally than the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. He commands a more capable army, which experts say is unlikely to turn on him, as the military in Egypt did on President Hosni Mubarak. And the ripple effects of Mr. Assad’s ouster would be both wider and more unpredictable than in the case of Colonel Qaddafi.

“Syria is important in a way that Libya is not,” said Steven A. Cook, senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “There is no central U.S. interest engaged in Libya. But a greatly destabilized Syria has implications for Iraq, it has implications for Lebanon, it has implications for Israel.”

These complexities have made Syria a less clear-cut case, even for those who have called for more robust American action against Libya. Senator John McCain, along with Senators Lindsey Graham and Joseph I. Lieberman, urged Mr. Obama earlier this week to demand Mr. Assad’s resignation. But Mr. McCain, an early advocate of a no-fly zone over Libya, said he opposed military action in Syria.
Basically, easy pickings in Libya, with limited liability if things go wrong, and little collateral damage to Israel. Meanwhile, protesters in the streets of Syria can't call on the U.S. for assistance. Who knows, maybe an even more brutal regime could come to power in Damascus --- a stretch, I know, but it's an excuse for dawdling. Either way, continued instability across the region makes the White House look like a grade-school club in confusion. Iran, Egypt, Libya, and Syria? Hmm. Four regimes. Four democratization movements. And this administration's done jack to improve our strategic position in any of these, much less that of Israel's.

Egypt to Normalize Relations with Iran and Hamas

The story's at New York Times, "In Shift, Egypt Warms to Iran and Hamas, Israel’s Foes."

The headline alone was ominous, and reading the piece gives you the chills. Egypt's looking for "flexibility" they say. But the goals of Egyptian foreign policy look to put a vice grip on Israel.

And check Barry Rubin, who warned about this very thing from the get go, "U.S. Government, Media Completely Wrong on Egypt, Now Advise on Peace Process."

Friday, April 29, 2011

Steven Tyler on Cover of People Magazine: 'I'm Lucky to Be Alive'

A change of pace around here, at People, "Steven Tyler: Sober and Grateful":
Steven Tyler doesn't need drugs to get high these days. All he needs is to go to work at American Idol.

"If you think going out in front of high-def cameras and millions of people I'm not high on adrenaline, you're crazy," the rocker-turned-judge tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story.

"I'm stoned when that curtain drops," adds Tyler, 63. "I just don't snort the curtain dropping. I don't snort J. Lo either, though I do breathe her in."

Tyler's nutty, what-will-he-say-next personality has not only catapulted Idol back to must-watch status, it's also turned him into one of this year's most lovable stars.
Spoken like a rock star.

More at the link, and some music for Friday night, he's back:

Donald Trump Says We'll Tax Chinese 'Motherf***kers' at 25 Percent!

Well, now we know he's not conservative!

Progressives have found their motherf***ing guy!

The main story's at KTNV-13 Las Vegas, "Donald Trump delivers several F-bombs during his speech in Las Vegas." Robert Stacy McCain's got the raw viddy, "Obligatory Video: Donald F–ing Trump" (via Memeorandum). And Fox News has a bit below, bleeped out:

Can't be that big a deal. Dictionary.com's got an entry for "motherfucker." So yeah, I can dig it. Now I'm just waiting for dolt-douchebag Thers to get on the motherf***ing Donald Trump bandwagon!

University of Missouri Fires Communist Labor Studies Professor Don Giljum: Democrat-Media-Complex Decries 'Shirley Sherroding' of Radical Academics

At CBS St. Louis, "Union Official, College Lecturer Don Giljum Resigns After AFL-CIO Pressure, UM-KC Won’t Rehire Next Semester." And Big Government, "Labor Notes: Union Official, College Lecturer Don Giljum Resigns After AFL-CIO Pressure, UM-KC Won’t Rehire Next Semester."
The university's obviously embarrassed. The dude was fired for teaching violence in the classroom, for making statements personally advocating violence against capitalists:
I can’t really honestly say that I’ve never wished, or have never been in a position where I haven’t wished real harm on somebody, or inflicted any pain and suffering on some people that, you know, didn’t ask for it,” Giljum said, “It certainly has it’s place.
And now this is all over the news.

Right on cue, the progressive-left's meme is the "Shirly Sherroding" of radical academics. The claims are that the videos were selectively edited and that students' privacy rights were violated. See USA Today, "Career-ending videos of professors are unfairly edited, university officials say"; Chronicle of Higher Education, "Videos 'Ripped' From Online-Course Footage Bring Threats to Instructors"; and especially, Inside Higher Ed, "The Shirley Sherrods of Academe?"
So far co-instructor Judy Ancel, the Director of the Institute for Labor Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has not been relieved. And she's making aggressive attempts to refute the video evidence. From the Inside Higher Ed piece:
Ancel, the other instructor, said in an interview that she works on annual contracts and that the university has not taken any action against her. She also released a statement in which she explained the context behind some of the quotes shown in the video.

For example, she noted that one of her quotes in the Breitbart video is: "violence is a tactic and it's to be used when it's the appropriate tactic." Here is what she said really happened: "After students had watched a film on the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers' strike and the assassination of Martin Luther King, they were discussing nonviolence. I said, 'One guy in the film ... said 'violence is a tactic, and it’s to be used when it’s the appropriate tactic.' " In this instance, she said, "Breitbart’s editing has literally put words in my mouth that were not mine, and they never were mine."

Both Ancel and Giljum said that a course about the history of the labor movement would of necessity discuss violence. Ancel said in her statement: "Any examination of labor’s past would be incomplete without discussion of violence (which for the most part was directed at workers), and analysis of its roots. At no time did my co-instructor, Don Giljum, nor I advocate violence."
Insurgent Visuals, the media production team that produced the clips from Ancel and Giljum's classes, rejects allegations of selective editing, and specifically rebuts Ancel's denials:
Ancel cannot deny that she and Giljum were discussing violent tactics–and, in Giljum’s case, recalling his personal experience in using fear and intimidation.

So she, and the university, have resorted to a red herring–the false claim that students’ “right to privacy” was violated.

None of the individual students in any of the videos was identified. Furthermore, Ancel herself encouraged students to share the course materials widely, saying in one lecture:
all labor education materials are uncopyrighted, and to be shared. We do not believe, for the most part, in intellectual property rights. That’s one of the principles of labor education. We share.
This is not an “attack on the rights of working people and on anything that is public,” as Ancel wants Missouri taxpayers to believe. This is about the promotion of violence as a political tactic in labor disputes in a public university classroom.

The fundamental context–which Ancel distorts–is that she and Giljum discussed violence–and militancy, and intimidation, and law-breaking–in the course of teaching impressionable students how to get results through union organizing.

If, at times, they stated that “the tactics have changed,” at other times they seemed to condone those tactics–with Ancel, for example, stating that “there are some people whose definition of terrorism is just an army without a defense budget.”

At one point, Ancel stated: “the struggle for public employee unionism cost lives”–real lives, because people “had to fight for it.”

No doubt she partially meant the lives of those who suffered to win labor rights in America, a large number. But let there be no doubt that labor violence cost lives among those who resisted, for whatever reason–those innocents who were the casualties in the battles she supported.
More on this later.

Andrew Breitbart will be on Bill Maher's tonight: "HBO 'Real Time' Maher hosts Breitbart, Waters, Patrick Friday night, expect fireworks."

Representative Allen West's Rising Star

At New York Times, "Conservative Congressman’s Star Power Extends Beyond Florida District":

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Often, the most interesting thing about a person is the characteristic that lies beneath, that hidden thing that bobs up along the waves of time.

But the most compelling part of Representative Allen B. West of Florida is his own biography, there for all to see: an African-American Tea Party activist Republican congressman and ally of hard-right Israelis who, after his beloved career in the Army ended under a cloud, defeated the sitting Democrat in a largely white, politically polarized district here and quickly became one of the right’s most visible spokesmen.

Mr. West’s fans in his district, which stretches over two counties along the east coast of Florida, are both numerous and loud; hundreds fill his town hall-style meetings, many of them favoring T-shirts bearing his image. At a recent Tea Party rally in Washington, supporters flocked to him like sea gulls to a crust of baguette. Among the 87 House Republican freshmen, he ranks third in the latest fund-raising period for his re-election campaign; his $433,551 haul came largely through individual donations.

Mr. West’s popularity among conservatives goes far beyond South Florida. He was chosen to give the keynote speech in February at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and is frequently featured on the Fox News Channel and in other conservative settings where he enjoys explaining, reiterating or unleashing any number of incendiary remarks concerning what he often calls “the other side.”

There was his recent observation that liberal women “have been neutering American men,” and that the president of the United States is a “low-level socialist agitator.”

Mr. West scoffs at the notion that he has become a sensation. “I don’t drink my own tub water or read my own press,” he said in a brief interview before a town hall-style meeting here this week. “I tell the truth and I stand on convictions and you know what you’re getting.”

While Mr. West’s decision to cast himself as an iconoclast has made him a conservative star, it is unclear how well it will serve him as he seeks re-election next year in this swing district, where far more voters are likely to come out for a presidential election than in the midterm cycle.
More at that link above.

West won election by a tight margin last year, with 50.9 percent of the vote. But incumbents have the advantage, and his fundraising is impressive. But Democrats have West in the crosshairs, so his seat will be one to watch going into 2012.

West's campaign homepage is here. Make a contribution and help defend freedom.

Oil Companies Raking In Profits With Reduced Refinery Production and Increased Exports Amid Rising Domestic Demand

It's hard to defend big oil if they adopt market positions that appear completely against consumer interests. There's an economic logic to trends, even economic necessity. Yet the bummer is that massive oil company profits feed the progressive left's demands for higher corporate taxes, and hence demands for ever larger spending initiatives. See Los Angeles Times, "Oil companies are making more money and less fuel":
Gasoline prices are skyrocketing — and so are oil company profits.

Exxon Mobil Corp. earned nearly $11 billion in the first three months of the year, a rollicking 69% increase over its performance for the same period last year. That's on sales of $114 billion.

It's the same story for the other big oil companies. Royal Dutch Shell turned a profit of $6.3 billion in the first quarter, and BP — despite lingering costs from the Gulf Coast oil spill — made $7.1 billion.

What they aren't making is fuel, at least not in normal quantities. And that's a key factor in their reinvigorated financial performance.

Despite increasing demand, refiners are producing less gasoline and diesel in the U.S. than usual for this time of year. They're also exporting more to foreign countries.

Add rising oil prices, and you get the kind of sticker shock at the gas pump that some analysts say could challenge 2008's all-time highs — with regular gas already averaging about $3.88 a gallon in the U.S. and $4.22 in California, more than a month before the summer driving season kicks in.

Motorists and consumer advocates are outraged at high pump prices and say refineries need to increase gasoline supplies to reduce fuel costs.

"This is a page torn right out of the handbook of gouge-onomics," said Charles Langley, senior gasoline analyst at the Utility Consumers' Action Network in San Diego. "We call it the law of supply and demand: They supply less product and demand more money for it."
RTWT.

Companies are playing close to the margin of production versus demand, as they don't want to flood markets after recently recovering from a business trough. But those exports on the side are simply efforts to maximize profits, and while perhaps justifiable internally, consumers won't be pleased and we'll have all kinds of jawboning from politicians. Again, until the demand flattens out a bit after the peak summer travel season, it's going to be easy pickings for the communist left's attacks on big oil.

RELATED: At ExxonMobile's blog, "Gas prices and industry earnings: A few things to think about the next time you fill up," and "ExxonMobil’s earnings: The real story you won’t hear in Washington."

Space Shuttle Endeavour Launch Today

Check in over at AubreyJ's for updates and a live feed of today's launch, "Update on Upcoming Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-134 Mission."

And at Wall Street Journal, "Blastoff Obscures NASA's Troubles":
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Space shuttle Endeavour's scheduled launch Friday recalls sunny spectacles that marked NASA's former glory. But the sense of excitement surrounding the event masks the uncertain future of America's manned exploration program.

The launch is expected to be witnessed by a huge crowd, including President Barack Obama and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman wounded in an assassination attempt whose husband, Mark Kelly, commands Endeavour.

Lawmakers, contractors and leaders of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration continue to squabble over how to divvy up shrinking space budgets. And with the final shuttle countdown expected this summer, no consensus has emerged on how to meet the administration's goals of exploring an asteroid around 2025, and eventually sending astronauts to Mars.

"NASA's fundamental problem is a lack of clear-cut direction and goals," said Scott Pace, a former senior NASA official who now teaches at George Washington University. "The current path is a very risky one, and time is quickly running out to correct course."

Almost two years have passed since Mr. Obama roiled Congress and the aerospace industry by seeking to privatize many of NASA's core functions. Both critics and supporters of the agency worry it's embroiled in nagging political battles and increasingly seems out of touch with the deficit-conscious mindset of voters.
Keep reading at the link above. It turns out that Rep. Giffords chaired the House subcommittee overseeing NASA and she opposed the adminstration's space commercialization efforts. Plus, "Some officials now hope the personal drama surrounding Rep. Giffords and Mr. Kelly will rekindle public ardor for the agency's mission."

We'll see.

RELATED: "First Pictures of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Since Shooting, Walking on Her Own."

San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marinucci Removed as Press Pool Reporter by Obama Administration's Super Tech-Savvy Transparency Team

There's video at the link, from Pundit Press, "Video - Obama Administration Bans Reporter for Using Camera to Record Anti-Obama Protesters."

And the full, unbelievable totally unsurprising report at SF Gate, "Obama Administration punishes reporter for using multimedia."

These people suck. Presidential progressives who're totally un-progressive, i.e., regressive.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rush Limbaugh: Obama 'Doubles Down on His Failures'

Great discussion, via Ann Althouse.

Ann focuses on the critical legal studies bit, but I like this part, highlighted:

Here's the thing. If Obama is so smart, isn't two and a half years enough time to figure out it isn't working? That is if his intentions are honorable, if he really wants a growing economy, if he really wants new jobs, isn't two and a half years of this ridiculousness enough to show that it's not the right way to do it? Isn't two and a half years enough time to realize that you're on the wrong path? Hint: This is why some of us believe all this is on purpose. There's no indication of smartness in anything he tries to do. He doubles down on his failures. Now, speaking of Obama's academic record, he attended Harvard Law School at the height of something that it was promoting, education technique or a theory. It was called critical legal studies. Critical legal studies was in its ascendancy at Harvard Law when Obama was there. You can look it up. Just Google critical legal studies. It is out and out Marxism.
Ann's got the link to the transcript.

And Rush seems a bit late on this. I wrote on Obama's critical legal framework during campaign 2008, when his University of Chicago law seminar syllabi were released, "Professor Obama's Radical Syllabus":
By training and profession, he's a social deconstructionist comfortably embedded in the lifestyle of oppositional legal and political culture. He has carefully navigated the waters of legal academe and municipal machine politics to carve out an outwardly non-confrontational demeanor, while on the inside he's informed by post-material, postmodern activist priorities, and his possible accession to the presidency would bring to power an occupant in the Oval Office dramatically unlike any of those who have come before.

Michelle Malkin Slams Donald Trump as 'Big Government Fraudster'

It's one hella interview.

I noted this morning, in response to Tavis Smiley's race-baiting, Donald Trump's got "few ties to the tea party." Michelle goes way further, indicating that he's "built his entire empire in defiance of core Tea Party principles."

Birther-Mania!

Wow!

Maybe Obama should have stayed away from the issue after all. For a while I thought it was a clever move, cutting-Trump-off-at-the-pass kinda thing. But rather than letting go, folks are doubling down with a vengeance. Here's Pamela letting loose on Eric Bolling's yesterday:

Meanwhile, Soros-funded Media Matters is freaking out, "Right-Wing Media Hype Conspiracies About Obama's Long-Form Birth Certificate." Okay, but if you're gonna slam the right wing at least get some World Net Daily in there? Those dudes are in total overdrive, for example, Bob Unruh, "Obama document still doesn't answer all questions," and Jerome Corsi, "What is it about twin girls born day after Obama?" And come to find out Corsi's got a new book coming out, Where's the Birth Certificate?: The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President.

And stranger still is that for all of Media Matters' huffing and puffing about the "evil" right wing noise machine, it's progressives who've been even more obsessed with birtherism. See NewsBusters, "Study: MSNBC and CNN Covered 'Birther' Issue Far More Than Fox News" (via Instapundit). And don't even get me going about Salon! That Justin Elliott's really got his hands full now, LOL!!

Ha! You ain't seen nothin' yet!

Yo, Tavis Smiley! What you got, brotha?!!

California Teachers Association to Reimburse Transportation and Housing for Hundreds of Volunteers for 'Week of Emergency' Protests in Sacramento

Figures.

This is where union dues are going, for a Madison-style occupation of the California State Capitol from May 9 through May 13. And that's gotta be pushing costs into the $100s of thousands. Three hundred "volunteer" occupiers will be funded each day (at least), for a week's worth of activities. See my earlier report on the background: "California Teachers Union Plans 'State of Emergency Week'."

And the CTA page is here. There's a sign-up box with an e-mail form as well.

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These CTA thugs are closely aligned with the National Education Association, which is noted there as well at the screencap. See also Michelle's entry, "Another thug union puts self-preservation over children."

Change! Economic Growth Slows as More Than Half of Americans Say U.S. in Recession or Depression

The U.S. economy slowed to a rate of 1.8 percent growth for the first quarter, as reported at the New York Times (and Memeorandum).

Meanwhile, 55 percent of Americans believe the country's in a recession or depresssion, according to Gallup:

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More than half of Americans (55%) describe the U.S. economy as being in a recession or depression, even as the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) reports that "the economic recovery is proceeding at a moderate pace." Another 16% of Americans say the economy is "slowing down," and 27% believe it is growing ...

Although economists announced that the recession ended in mid-2009, more than half of Americans still don't agree. These ratings are consistent with Gallup's mid-April findings that 47% of Americans rate the economy "poor" and 19.2% report being underemployed.

It also seems likely that most Americans would not agree with the FOMC's assessment of the current economic recovery. Nor does it seem likely that -- given surging gas and food prices -- most would agree with the Committee that "longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable and measures of underlying inflation are subdued."
Also at Gallup: 67 percent think the economy is getting worse.

Change we can believe in!

Added: More economic news at Instapundit, "RIGHT TRACK OR WRONG TRACK: 21% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction, A New Low." (And plus some at that link.)

Obama Won't Release College Transcripts

Lynn Sweet has the report, "Valerie Jarrett shutting down Trump: No college transcript release" (via Memeorandum and Weasel Zippers).

And at Sweetness & Light, from 2008, "Where Are Your Transcripts, Mr. Obama?" (quoting Ross Goldberg at the New York Sun):
Senator Obama’s life story, from his humble roots, to his rise to Harvard Law School, to his passion as a community organizer in Chicago, has been at the center of his presidential campaign. But one chapter of the tale remains a blank — his education at Columbia College, a place he rarely speaks about and where few people seem to remember him.

Contributing to the mystery is the fact that nobody knows just how well Mr. Obama, unlike Senator McCain and most other major candidates for the past two elections, performed as a student.

The Obama campaign has refused to release his college transcript, despite an academic career that led him to Harvard Law School and, later, to a lecturing position at the University of Chicago. The shroud surrounding his experience at Columbia contrasts with that of other major party nominees since 2000, all whom have eventually released information about their college performance or seen it leaked to the public.

For better or worse, voters have taken an interest in candidates’ grades since 1999, when the New Yorker published President Bush’s transcript at Yale and disclosed that he was a C student. Mr. Bush had never portrayed himself as a brain, but many were surprised to learn the next year that his opponent, Vice President Gore, did not do much better at Harvard despite his intellectual image. When Senator Kerry’s transcript surfaced, reporters found that he actually had a slightly lower average at Yale than Mr. Bush did…

The Obama campaign declined to comment for this article and did not offer an explanation for why his transcript has not been released
.
Hmm ...

Maybe Obama's community organizing with communists while at Columbia is cited as college service on his transcripts. That on top of mediocre grades would really puncture the facade of supreme intelligence, moderation and pragmatism. More on Obama's mediocrity from Allen Caruba, "The Smartest Man in the Room?":
At the time of the nation’s birth, America was blessed with some of the finest minds available for the task. They included, in addition to Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Hamilton, and a certifiable genius, Benjamin Franklin. When the original Articles of Confederation didn’t work, they and others got together in Philadelphia, shut the doors, and hammered out the Constitution.

When one looks at the array of men and women in high public office today, it is hard not to conclude that most are imbeciles.

The mere thought that the nation’s security has been entrusted to Janet Napolitano or its health to Kathleen Sebelius is enough to keep one up at night, but what is most obvious is that Barack Obama is just not smart. Not street smart. Not academically smart. Not people smart. But smart enough to have gotten elected, the politician’s idea of smart.

We are left to hope the nation can survive him long enough to repair the damage he will leave in his wake
.
Ouch.

New Era in American Politics?

Because the president is black, the media and left-wing commentators have gone out of their way to argue how unprecedented is the current politics of the birth certificate. Tavis Smiley, appearing on socialist Lawrence O'Donnell's show, argues that Trump's the biggest racist in the tea party? Say what? Do these people have a clue? Trump's a businessman and a political opportunist with few ties to the tea party, but facts don't matter. So get ready: The allegations of racism will be raining down more viciously in this election cycle. No matter that the worst racism in 2008 was on the Democratic side (Bill Clinton called Obama the "Jesse Jackson" candidate in the race, etc.). Nope, simple opposition to big government and rank incompetence is racist. It's pretty lame:

Meanwhile, Politico attempts to make the case that current political battles are unprecedented, "A New Era of Accusation and Innuendo" (via Memeorandum):
President Barack Obama’s appearance Wednesday in the White House briefing room to present a documented rebuttal of suspicions that he was not really born on U.S. soil was more than just a surprise. It was a decisive new turn in the centuries-long American history of political accusation and innuendo.

By directly and coolly engaging a debate with his most fevered critics, Obama offered the most unmistakable validation yet to the idea that we are living in an era of public life with no referee — and no common understandings between fair and unfair, between relevant and trivial, or even between fact and fantasy.

Lurid conspiracy theories have followed presidents for as long as the office has existed. But even Obama’s most recent predecessors benefited from a widespread consensus that some types of personal allegations had no place in public debate unless or until they received some imprimatur of legitimacy—from an official investigation, for instance, or from a detailed report by a major news organization.

“There are no more arbiters of truth,” said former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. “So whatever you can prove factually, somebody else can find something else and point to it with enough ferocity to get people to believe it. We’ve crossed some Rubicon into the unknown.”

It’s hard to imagine Bill Clinton coming out to the White House briefing room to present evidence that people who thought he helped plot the murder of aide Vincent Foster — never mind official rulings of suicide — were wrong. George W. Bush, likewise, was never tempted to take to the Rose Garden to deny allegations from voices on the liberal fringe who believed that he knew about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks ahead of time and chose to let them happen.
More at the link, but it's a preposterous theory. The administration of President George W. Bush deflected the most wild conspiracies against the administration for years, claims that "Bush lied" about weapons of mass destruction to get the United States into a war of imperial conquest in Iraq. The press has a short memory and a new spin. The methods are old (see, for example, Benjamin Ginsburg and Martin Shefter, Politics by Other Means: Politicians, Prosecutors, and the Press from Watergate to Whitewater).

Irina Shayk Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2011

Blogging's spotty.

I've got a lot going on. I visited the David Horowitz Freedom Center early yesterday, and my youngest son had a talent show with his after-school program early last night. And I'm also finishing up some grading in time for the return of classes next week. And on top of that I'm trying to get some reading done. So, high-powered posting will be lacking a bit. I'll get a couple of things up later this morning and I'll see how time permits for the rest of the day. Meanwhile, enjoy Irina Shayk, who is featured on the cover of this year's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition:

And for the roundup, start it off with with American Perspective and Maggie's Notebook.

Political news is available at Instapundit and The Other McCain.

Drop me a comment if you have the time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kung Fu Fighting Composer Rejects Allegations of RAAAAACISM!!

You can't make this stuff up!

Blazing Cat Fur has the background, and at London's Daily Mail, "Racist? My song's just a blend of East and West, says Kung Fu Fighting composer":

Yesterday the song’s writer and original performer Carl Douglas described the decision to arrest Mr Ledger as ‘political correctness gone mad’ because the song was not racist.

‘The arrest is a little unbelievable because there’s no racism in the song,’ Douglas, who is now 68, said. ‘It’s very strange indeed. ‘I’m very proud of the song. Everyone told me that a fusion of the west and east couldn’t work and I said “no, it can”. I have cousins that are Chinese in Jamaica, so I knew it could work.’

He said he has met thousands of Chinese fans of the hit and had even been asked to perform it at the Olympics in Beijing.

Donald Trump: 'Now We Can Move On to Other Issues' — Like Obama's Occidental Transcripts!

I guess you had to've been there. The top clip features an ecstatic Donald Trump saying how "honored" he was to force the release of President Obama's birth certificate. The segment closes with "now we can move on to other issues," but apparently the press had more questions on what Hussein's hiding, so at bottom Trump says, well, now the president can release the transcripts. You gotta admit he's working it. A little inconsistent, but Trump's working it:

In any case, Glenn Reynolds has the roundup, "TRUMP 1, OBAMA 0" (via Memeorandum).

And it's still early and I'm not up to speed on all the reactions, so more on this later. Meanwhile, Joan Walsh is a pretty good proxy for progressive opinion, and she's not pleased, "When Bullies Win":

Donald Trump is basically birther Orly Taitz with better hair. Or do I have that backwards? The idea that this "carnival barker," in President Obama's words, got the White House to bow to filthy birther rumors about his ineligibility to be president, and belatedly produce his long-form birth certificate, makes me deeply sad.

But was it the right thing to do politically? We can't know that yet. Certainly I was encouraged by seeing an indignant Obama take the podium, note he was getting attention he likely wouldn't get for a foreign policy announcement, and tear into the media for letting Trump's birther sideshow drown out all other news.

"Normally, I wouldn't comment on something like this … I've got other things to do," Obama told reporters, but watching Birtherism drown out the budget debate, he lamented that "the dominant news story wasn't about these huge monumental choices we were going to make as a nation, it was about my birth certificate. I just want to make a larger point here. We've got some enormous …We're not going to be able to [solve these problems] if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts; if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers."

Will the media, and the majority of likely Republican primary voters who say Obama wasn't born here, get the message? My fear is that they won't. Trump the Carny beat the president to the media, taking credit for the release of the birth certificate, but moving on to demand that Obama now show Americans the grades that got him into Columbia and Harvard. "I've heard he was a terrible student at Occidental," Trump blathered. "I don't know why he doesn't just release his records." The cretins at World Net Daily told Justin Elliott that Obama's still lying.
It goes on like that for a while.

The cretins?

Oh gosh, life is just so unfair.

More later ...

Donald Trump Claims Credit for Release of President Obama's Long Form Birth Certificate

Well, I ran this earlier, but it's more relevant than I expected. Trump's now claiming credit for the release of Obama's long form birth document.

Now perhaps Obama will release his academic transcripts. Seriously. I hope folks start hammering on that. I say B+ average: "Barack Obama's Transcripts."

This is going to be a long day. I'm going to read around and follow the reactions. Some new conspiracies are bound to pop up.

ADDED: William Jacobson's thinking along the same lines:

The story is not over, I'm sure, but this will help Obama, since the document was issued just days after his birth.

The ease with which the White House obtained the documents demonstrates the rank idiocy of the mainstream media, which has been feeding us a steady stream of excuses as to why Obama could not obtain the document.

Banning Trolls

James B. Webb is a lot of fun to have around. The amusement factor is seriously unmatched, which is why as obnoxious as he is, I've never banned him. These are good lulz. Some time back I gave JBW a hard time about his radical atheistic progressivism: "James Webb, Atheist Hypocrite, Loves teh Gays." Come to find out then that the dude's seriously homophobic. Anyway, he was trolling away in the comments all day yesterday. It's not high-brow illumination, but what can you do? JBW's never made a principled empirical argument that he could back up, so WTF?

And speaking of trolls, the proprietor of Common Sense Political Thought's got a problem, so check the discussion that's broken out: "Open Letter to Dana Pico." Some folks are having a hard time with the free speech argument, but it's simple: Ban the pricks. It's like Amy Alkon said of the Sadly No! progressives: They're a bunch of "sick fuck adult losers." Yeah, but unlike RacistRepsac3, some are good for a few laughs, like the atheist hypocrite homophobe JBW.

Barack Obama's Transcripts

I think I mentioned this some time back, after attending the David Horowitz West Coast Retreat. One of the very best talks was by Victor Davis Hanson. He said he didn't really care so much about the birther controversy, but the lack of information on President Obama's academic record should be a big deal. And VDH recycles the theme in a discussion of Obama's fiscal policy postmodernism:
The president is cynical and says whatever he wishes without worry of consequences, because based on the past abyss between laurels and achievement (Harvard Law Review, offer of Chicago Law School tenure, record in the Senate, Nobel Prize, etc.), he feels exempt from scrutiny and audit. Indeed, he expects that he can always “hope and change” or “millions of green jobs” his way out of any rare, nit-picking journalistic follow-up. (A journalist will always declare him a “god” even if speech A nullifies speech B a day later).
Now here's Ace of Spades reporting on Obama's pick as editor of Harvard Law Review:
Obama may have had outstanding grades and may have earned every inch of the Law Review and magna honors. But the fact that his grades are kept as state secrets, while only the honors themselves are mentioned, makes me think we're looking at C+/B- situation here.
And Donald Trump's on the case:

Rep. Allen West Won't Be Intimidated

Progressives just aren't too bright of late. At some point, even the Democrat-Media-Complex reports this stuff, and it's getting pretty bad.

Javier Manjarres has the report, at The Shark Tank, "Allen West- “You’re Not Going to Intimidate Me”, Heckler Arrested at Townhall":

RELATED: At The Other McCain, "Former Air America Host Arrested After Heckling Rep. Allen West at Town Hall." (Via Memeorandum.)

'Dear Ayub, FYI — Most Terrorists Are Muslims. Bite Me'

More excellent stuff from the inimitable Blazing Cat Fur: "Intelligent Muslim: Only Support Dhimmi Candidates Who Agree To Make It "A Hate Crime to Associate Islam to Terrorism."

"Ayub" is Ayub Hamid of the Canadian Islamic Congress, who writes at the website's political magazine:
We should support only those non-Muslim candidates who are willing to present and support a Private Members’ Bill making it a hate-crime to publicly associate Islam to terrorism, whether in written, spoken, printed, broadcast or electronic media. At the same time, we must take a balanced approach instead of being carried away by a single issue. The following are examples of other important issues against which we should evaluate all candidates ...
Hey, killer platform. That oughta win a lot of progressive support!

But no matter, this Ayub guy's not too bright. Be sure to check out the rest of the post at the link. BCF hammers this freak terror-enabling airhead. Reminds me of RacistRepsac3 denying honor killings. These people are monumentally stupid --- evil even.

Rabbits at Long Beach City College

My college was in the news, on Easter:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Donald Trump Political Contributions Favor Democrats

I like him, but I can't see how this is going to help.

At WaPo, "Trump’s donation history shows Democratic favoritism":

Billionaire Donald J. Trump, an early presidential favorite among tea party activists, has a highly unusual history of political contributions for a prospective Republican candidate: He has given most of his money to the other side.

The real estate mogul and “Celebrity Apprentice” host has made more than $1.3 million in donations over the years to candidates nationwide, with 54 percent of the money going to Democrats, according to a Washington Post analysis of state and federal disclosure records.

Recipients include Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), former Pennsylvania governor Edward G. Rendell, and Rahm Emanuel, a former aide to President Obama who received $50,000 from Trump during his recent run to become Chicago’s mayor, records show. Many of the contributions have been concentrated in New York, Florida and other states where Trump has substantial real estate and casino interests.

The donations provide another view into the odd political spectacle surrounding Trump, who may be the most unlikely of possible GOP presidential hopefuls in an already eclectic field. Although candidates such as Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty have spent years carefully crafting and plotting a White House run, the tycoon and fixture of the New York tabloids has leapt onto the scene with loud proclamations and surprisingly strong poll numbers among likely Republican voters.

The iconoclastic developer and television personality is attempting to appeal to social conservatives, even with a record of failed marriages and earlier statements in favor of abortion rights. His attacks on Obama have focused on conspiracy theories about the president’s birth in Hawaii that make many Republican leaders nervous. And Trump is considering a run for the nomination in an increasingly conservative Republican Party, despite years of donations to prominent Democrats.

None of which has stopped him from forging ahead with a potential candidacy, including a scheduled trip on Wednesday to the early primary state of New Hampshire.
Well, despite Frank Luntz comments at the video, Trump's starting to look pretty serious about all of this. That earlier support for abortion rights is also gonna hurt, but this pre-primary season's been quirky, so let's see how it things play out.

Poly Styrene, X-Ray Spex Singer, Dead at 53

One of the first British punk bands I listened to back in the day. Poly Styrene, RIP.

At New York Times, "Poly Styrene, Punk Singer of X-Ray Spex, Is Dead at 53":

Marianne Elliot-Said, who as Poly Styrene, the pioneering, braces-wearing frontwoman of the 1970s British band X-Ray Spex, made a place for feminine brashness in punk, died on Monday in East Sussex, England. She was 53.

Her death was reported on her Web site, and confirmed by her manager. She had been treated for cancer at a hospice in East Sussex, near her home in St. Leonards-on-Sea, in the south of England.

Ms. Said (pronounced sah-EED), the daughter of a Somali father and a British mother, who raised her alone, began performing as a free-spirited teenager, leaving home at 15 and ending up in London, where she studied to be an opera singer, said her manager, Shirin Koohyar. In 1976 she released a pop-reggae single under the name Mari Elliot on the GTO label.

But after stumbling upon an early performance by the Sex Pistols, she was inspired to place an ad in a British music magazine, searching for “young punx who want to stick it together.”

After a handful of rehearsals, the X-Ray Spex — whose early lineup included Jak Airport, Paul Dean, Rudi Thomson, BP Hurding and Lora Logic — quickly became fixtures on the 1977 London music scene. They performed in Chelsea and at the Roxy, the Covent Garden club that served as a punk incubator, adding a new instrument, the saxophone, to the chopping guitars and brazen lyrics of the genre.
More at the link above.

WikiLeaks: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Says He Beheaded Daniel Pearl Against Warnings

A nice background report on the WikiLeaks Guantanamo files, at Los Angeles Times:

The documents are part of thousands of pages of Pentagon dossiers that describe how the detainees were captured, the nature of their alleged crimes and what they had told interrogators — often under duress — in interviews between 2002 and 2008. In all, there are 779 total documents that are in the process of being released. The files are officially titled Detainee Assessment Briefs.

In the Daniel Pearl slaying, according to the newly released material, Sayf al-Adl, a former top Al Qaeda military commander, was outspoken in cautioning Mohammed against killing the reporter. But Mohammed turned for guidance to another Al Qaeda leader, identified as Sharif al-Masri, the group's chief financial officer, and the two of them "disagreed with Adl on this point." Next, "Pearl was taken to the house of Al Qaeda's finance chief in Pakistan, Saud Memon, and murdered" there.

Mohammed boasted in the documents that the "planes operation" of Sept. 11 was his "dream and life's work." A Pakistani raised in Kuwait, he was captured in March 2003, totally disheveled but wearing a ring and a Casio wristwatch, and later was forced to undergo 183 separate water-boarding treatments to get him to talk.

He described a plan to build remote-controlled firing devices disguised as Sega video game cartridges. He began preparations for bombing "the tallest building in California" — presumably the Library Tower (now the U.S. Bank tower) in Los Angeles, "using at least two separate shoe bombs to gain access to the cockpit."

He wanted to hit CIA and FBI headquarters and nuclear power plants, hack into U.S. bank computers and hijack U.S. cargo planes. He discussed a series of natural gas explosions he wanted to perpetrate in Chicago and researched "the feasibility of an operation to set fire to a hotel or gas station" there.
More at the link above.

RELATED: At Telegraph UK, "WikiLeaks: Guantánamo Bay terrorists radicalised in London to attack Western target," and "WikiLeaks: leaked files accuse BBC of being part of a 'possible propaganda media network." No surprise there. Next we'll see files showing NYT as part of a propaganda media network, etc.

Change! More Americans Dependent on Federal Welfare Payments Than Ever Before

Federal social welfare benefits now make up a record share of the nation's personal income. At USA Today, "Americans depend more on federal aid than ever":

Social Security

Americans depended more on government assistance in 2010 than at any other time in the nation's history, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds. The trend shows few signs of easing, even though the economic recovery is nearly 2 years old.

A record 18.3% of the nation's total personal income was a payment from the government for Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment benefits and other programs in 2010. Wages accounted for the lowest share of income — 51.0% — since the government began keeping track in 1929.

The income data show how fragile and government-dependent the recovery is after a recession that officially ended in June 2009.

The wage decline has continued this year. Wages slipped to another historic low of 50.5% of personal income in February. Another government effort — the Social Security payroll tax cut — has lifted income in 2011. The temporary tax cut puts more money in workers' pockets and counts as an income boost, even when wages stay the same.
More at the link.

Earned income is still 51 percent of total income, so the progressives haven't won the battle over personal industry quite yet.

Syria Crackdown

The Wall Street Journal reports, "Gunfire, Arrests as Syria Continues Crackdown":

Gunfire reverberated Tuesday in the southern Syrian city of Daraa where the dead still lay unclaimed in the streets a day after a brutal government crackdown on the popular revolt against President Bashar Assad, residents said.

Meanwhile, diplomats scrambled to find a way to stop the violence, appealing to Mr. Assad to withdraw his forces and seeking a special session of the United Nations's top human-rights body to condemn the bloody crackdown on protesters.

A Syrian human-rights group said authorities detained dozens across the country, mainly in several Damascus suburbs and in the northern coastal city of Jableh.

The Syrian army, backed by tanks and snipers, launched a deadly raid before dawn Monday on Daraa, where the uprising in Syria started more than a month ago. At least 11 people were killed in the southern city.

A relentless crackdown since mid-March has killed more than 400 people across Syria, with 120 dead over the weekend, rights groups said. That has only emboldened protesters who started their revolt—inspired by uprisings in the Arab world—with calls for modest reforms but are now increasingly demanding Mr. Assad's downfall.
See also earlier graphic video, at Pajamas Media, here and here (content warning). And at check The Lede for updated coverage, here and here.

Further, there's analysis at Frontpage Magazine, "The Bloody Streets of Syria." And especially, Fouad Ajami, "The Freedom Movement Comes to Syria":
Terrorism has always been part of the Assad regime's arsenal. It killed and conquered its way into Lebanon over three decades starting in the late 1970s. It fought and bloodied American purposes in Iraq by facilitating the entry of jihadists who came to war against the Americans and the Shiites. And in the standoff between the Persian theocracy and its rivals in the region, the Syrians had long cast their fate with the Iranians.

Under Bashar, the Syrians slipped into a relationship of some subservience to the Iranians—yet other nations were always sure that Syria could be "peeled off" from Iran, that a bargain with Damascus was always a day, or a diplomatic mission, away. It had worked this way for Assad senior, as American statesmen including Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were confident that they could bring that man, at once an arsonist and a fireman in his region, into the fold.

The son learned the father's tricks. There is a litter of promises, predictions by outsiders that Bashar Assad is, at heart, a reformer. In 2000, our emissary to his father's funeral and to his own inauguration, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, praised him in such terms. He was part of the Internet generation, she said.

But Bashar is both this system's jailer and its captive. The years he spent in London, the polish of his foreign education, are on the margin of things. He and the clans—and the intelligence warlords and business/extortion syndicates around him—know no other system, no other way.

"We need our second independence in Syria," an astute dissident, Radwan Ziadeh, recently observed. "The first was the freedom from the French and the second will be from the Assad dynasty." Would that the second push for freedom be as easy and bloodless as the first.

Because Communists on Campus Are Figments of the Imagination

I'm not exactly sure if it's denial, or simply defining communism down. Probably a bit of both, but it could also be actual ignorance. At communist Henry Farrell's Crooked Timber, for example:
There’s a few Marxists left in academia (like me, although being in math what parent would notice or care…?) but in all honesty the idea that someone’s kids could be indoctrinated into communism is sadly even" more absurd now than it was then. Anyway I’d guess that in 1951 there were even fewer communists on campus than today – the Legion didn’t need actual examples to create the spectre of the (Jewish, as has been mentioned) communist undermining the moral and character of American youth.
Folks should check the whole post for the context.

And then check the videos at Big Journalism, "Taking Bets On Whether the Media Will Cover Marxist Union Instruction," and Robert Stacy McCain, "Why Aren’t You Homeschooling Yet?"

Lots of communists on my campus, which I've documented many times, and will continue to do so.

RELATED: An event announcement from UCLA, "Intellectual Terrorism: The Left's War on Free Speech":
Bruin Republicans present...
Intellectual Terrorism: The Left's War on Free Speech
with David Horowitz
Featuring invited guest: Academy Award Winner, Jon Voight
Wednesday, May 11 · 7:30pm - 9:00pm

Voters Support Benefit Rollback for Public Workers in California

Jammie had yesterday's headline of the day, "Shock Poll: Extremist Teabagger Californians Want Givebacks From Public Employees."

See Los Angeles Times, "California voters want public employees to help ease state's financial troubles":
California voters want government employees to give up some retirement benefits to help ease the state's financial problems, favoring a cap on pensions and a later age for collecting them, according to a new poll.

Voter support for rolling back benefits available to few outside the public sector comes as Gov. Jerry Brown and Republicans in the Legislature haggle over changes to the pension system as part of state budget negotiations. Such benefits have been a flashpoint of national debate this year, and the poll shows that Californians are among those who perceive public retirement plans to be too costly.

Voters appear ready to embrace changes not just for future hires but also for current employees who have been promised the benefits under contract.

Seventy percent of respondents said they supported a cap on pensions for current and future public employees. Nearly as many, 68%, approved of raising the amount of money government workers should be required to contribute to their retirement. Increasing the age at which government employees may collect pensions was favored by 52%.

Although pension costs today account for just a fraction of the state budget, they are putting local governments under considerable financial strain, and analysts say effects on the state may not be far off.

"It's pretty clear that there's broad support for making changes in the area of pensions," said Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, who co-directed the bipartisan poll for The Times and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
RTWT at the link above.

I've been making this argument at my college, especially during last year's negotiations over contract renewal. And earlier today I e-mailed this story to the college community, and one of my colleagues wrote back, saying: "I don't think the union leadership reads the newspapers."

Ouch.