Monday, April 30, 2012

Progressives Are the New Reactionaries

An awesome essay, from Victor Davis Hanson, "The New Reactionaries" (via Instapundit):
Barack Obama is trying to turn back the way of politics to the era of the pre-reform Chicago machine. He was the first presidential candidate to renounce campaign-financing funds since the law was enacted. He opposes any effort to clamp down on voting fraud. Even his compliant media worries that the president’s current jetting from one campaign stop to another in the key swing states is a poorly disguised way to politick on the federal government’s dime. Bundlers are, as was the ancient custom, given plum honorific posts abroad. Obama has held twice as many fundraisers as the much reviled George Bush had at a similar point in his administration. Obama supporters now target large Romney givers and post their names with negative bios on websites, as if we are back to Nixon’s enemies of the people.

Workers at Non-UAW Plants Paid the Price in Obama/Big Labor Engineered U.S. Auto Industry Recovery

Michelle reported previously on the Obama-orchestrated attacks on non-union auto workers: "The Autoworkers Obama Left Behind."

And now here's this, at the Wall Street Journal, "UAW Freezes Rival Out of Rebound" (via Google):
MORAINE, Ohio—So robust is the recovery in the U.S. auto industry that virtually all the union workers who were laid off by Detroit auto makers during the crisis years can have their jobs back, if they want them.

Even General Motors Co.'s Lordstown, Ohio, complex, long known for its money-losing small cars and its bad labor climate, is running 24 hours a day, with more than 4,000 workers churning out hot-selling Chevy Cruze compacts.

But here in Moraine, the GM assembly plant closed for good. Despite being one of GM's most productive and cooperative factories, Moraine was closed following the company's 2007 labor pact with the United Auto Workers union. Under a deal struck by the UAW during GM's bankruptcy two years later, Moraine's 2,500 laid-off workers were barred from transferring to other plants, locking them out of the industry's rebound.

The trouble with Moraine: Its workers weren't in the UAW.

"We did everything we could to keep that plant open and keep our jobs," said Mitchell Wood, a 44-year-old father of two who used to attach tailgates onto sport-utility vehicles at Moraine. "But in the end, we didn't have a chance, not being in the UAW."

The plight of Moraine workers highlights the extraordinary role played by the UAW during the near-collapses and bankruptcy reorganizations of GM and Chrysler Group LLC. That role remains a political flash point today. Democrats have cast President Barack Obama and the UAW as saviors of America's auto industry. Republicans call the help a taxpayer-funded giveaway to the president's union allies.

What is clear is that the United Auto Workers—though weakened by decades of attrition and the rise of a nonunion auto workforce—was still powerful enough to play a big role in picking winners and losers and in shaping the industry that emerged from that critical period.

That is true for the thousands of UAW members who have been able to return to work at auto factories, from Lordstown to San Antonio, since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy. And it is true for people like Mr. Wood and his non-UAW co-workers at Moraine, who had little voice in the reorganization and no hope of recovering their old jobs.

Moraine workers could apply for a job at another GM plant, but would be treated as new hires, receiving half the wages of their old jobs and getting at the end of the line behind applications recommended by the UAW.

In the end, "we had to take care of our own members," says Cal Rapson, the former UAW vice president leading negotiations with GM. "It was unfortunate what happened to the others. But there wasn't enough to go around."
Continue reading.

Damned mofo union thugs.

Stand your ground conservatives. This is classic left-wing thug politics. Get in on the right side of the progressive power structure or you're screwed. Then the left blames the right as "anti-worker."

Screw 'em.

In the Mail: The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas

I started reading it last night, as did Glenn Reynolds, who links to John Nolte's review, at Big Government, "With 'Tyranny of Clichés,' Jonah Goldberg Delivers a Second Triumph."

Buy the book at Amazon.

It's good.

'That's Why God Made The Radio'

Via Darleen at Protein Wisdom:

Environmental Indoctrination

Via Pirate's Cove, "Brainwashed Kid Thinks It’d Be Better Off If Humans Were All Dead."

1 World Trade Center Will Soon Overtake Empire State Building as New York City's Tallest Building.

Well, this story's close to my heart.

At New York Times, "With a Steel Column, a Tower Will Reclaim the Manhattan Sky."

And check the photo of the skyline.

FLASHBACK: "Faith, Freedom, and Memory: Report From Ground Zero, September 11, 2010."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

California Lottery Edits 'Luck Has a New Look' Ad After Radical Feminist Groups Complain Against 'Glamorizing Violence'

I've been meaning to post on this for a couple of weeks. I was getting a kick out of the Lottery's "Luck Has a New Look" campaign, but then all of a sudden "Lady Luck" stopped slapping the dude at the bowling alley --- she blows him a kiss in the revised ad, which totally destroys the kinda film noir styling of the original clip.

I just saw the lame "blowing a kiss" version again and decided to check around, so here's this at the Los Angeles Times, "New lottery ad glamorizes violence, California legislators complain":

The leaders of the California Legislative Women's Caucus called for removal of a state lottery television ad that shows a woman slapping a man across the face, saying it sanctions violence.

"It is inappropriate for any entity, especially a state-funded Commission, to promote its products through the use of violence," state Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), the caucus chairwoman, and Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), the caucus co-chair, wrote to the head of the Lottery Commission.

The California Lottery's "Luck has a new look" ad shows a mysterious woman in black -- Lady Luck -- who walks up to a man playing a new scratcher lottery card in a bowling alley and then slaps him in the face, after which the guy yells "I won." Lady Luck walks away smiling.

The lawmakers note that the Legislature has taken a position against violence against women, but that they believe violence by women against men is also a serious problem.

"This commercial glamorizes violence under the auspice of "lady luck" and we find it offensive and counterproductive to society at large," they wrote, asking the lottery to better scrutinize the content of future adds to prevent "harmful messages that are paid for with public dollars."

But typical from the utterly neutered world of political correctness, brought to you by the Democrat Party --- the party of nanny statism and abject hostility to independent thought and speech.

Drop the I-Word Campaign

Sometimes you have to shake your head at the left's complete and utter moral and intellectual bankruptcy. Here's the description of this campaign:
Drop the I-Word is a public education campaign powered by immigrants and diverse communities across the country that value human dignity and are working to eradicate the dehumanizing slur "illegals" from everyday use and public discourse. The i-word opens the door to racial profiling and violence and prevents truthful, respectful debate on immigration. No human being is "illegal."
But see Daley Gator for the smack down, "Oh, so it is the I-word now?":
Apparently the Left has decided, for all of us, since they are so, you know, intellectual, that the word illegal is now forbidden. I would have said illegal, but that would be, say it with me, RAAAAACIST! As I wrote last night, the Left wants to control the dialogue. And, in order to do that, they want to eliminate debate, and eliminating certain words, like illegal, makes it easier for them to obfuscate. When Liberals cannot argue, they try to intimidate, or censor, or change the conversation, this campaign against the I-word is all about that.

Also at Theo's, "Video - An activist on Bill O'Reilly tries to defend the Left's "Drop the I-Word" campaign where I = illegal!"

VIDEO: Rick Santorum Aborts Presidential Campaign

See Robert Stacy McCain, "Ashley Judd Makes Cruel and Tasteless Jokes About Abortion in Political Video."

And see Jill Stanek, "Stanek weekend question: Which pro-choice stars do you boycott, if any?"

Wisconsin Vote Is First Shot in Wider Union War

Yeah, a war on decency, a war on taxpayers, a war on women, a war on ...

Well, you get the picture.

At the New York Times, "Recall Election Tests Strategies for November":

AFLCIO Screw You
The combination of the squeeze on state budgets, high rates of unemployment and the conservative movement’s revived energy provided an opening for Republican efforts, often business-backed, to promote tough-on-labor legislation in key states. Those efforts have succeeded in rolling back gains made by unions over decades, prompting vows from labor to fight back with newly engaged members shaken from self-described complacency.

“The steelworkers will be working harder this year than in 2008, because we can see what can happen,” Michael Bolton, the director of the United Steelworkers unit representing 48,000 workers in Wisconsin and Michigan — including many hundreds in Koch facilities — said in an interview last week at his office in Menasha, Wis.

The steelworkers will be part of a broader effort that national union strategists say will fill the streets in battleground states with hundreds of thousands of their members, who will go door to door telling union colleagues — and, for the first time, nonunion households — why they should vote for Mr. Obama. The A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s political director, Mike Podhorzer, said his organization, which reached 25 million voters in 2008, would easily exceed that this year.

Officials for the steelworkers say it has been awkward at times to wage partisan battles against the family that owns the factories that employ them.

The union’s leaders recently agreed on a contract with Georgia Pacific that they considered fair. When liberal groups called for a boycott of Koch products late last year, a Steelworkers vice president, Jon Geenen, said it would harm “the wrong people,” writing of a “dilemma and a paradox,” namely, “While the Koch brothers are credited with advocating an agenda and groups that are clearly hostile to labor and labor’s agenda, the brothers’ company in practice and in general has positive and productive collective bargaining relationships with its unions.”

But, Mr. Bolton said, that has not stopped the union from telling workers at those companies what it believes to be the goal of the Kochs and their allies. “They want ineffective, weak unions,” he said, adding, “A lot of these bills didn’t directly affect our private sector members, but we realize that we would be the next.”

In an interview, Mr. Walker called that a “bogus argument,” saying he has no plans to pursue right-to-work legislation, as private sector unions have feared. Such legislation lets employees at unionized workplaces opt out of paying union fees.

“Private sector unions are my partners,” he said. Mr. Walker said that in restricting collective bargaining rights for government workers, save those in public safety, he was confronting a reality facing virtually all state governments with aging, unionized work forces: “We can’t sustain our budgets unless we make some reasonable changes.”

Mr. Walker said charges that he is doing the bidding of wealthy supporters like the Kochs are “the biggest joke out there.”
IMAGE CREDIT: Grandpa John's.

UPDATE: Walter Russell Mead has more: "Walker Gains in Wisconsin: NYT Shields Readers From Distressing News."

Apple's Tax Strategy Aims at Low-Tax States and Nations, Avoids Billions in Taxes Annually

Two things of note: (1) It's completely rational for Apple to establish accounting units outside of California, despite having its main headquarters in the state; and (2) there's a supreme irony in how the most hip of progressive companies operates no differently (if not more rationally) than the most "evil" of the Wall Street leverage kings or the hated Koch-style conservative business concerns.

Taxes destroy businesses and prosperity and if firms want to survive they have to do what it takes to avoid them. You'd think governments would understand this. But progressives just keep killing the geese that lay the eggs.

At the New York Times, "How Apple Sidesteps Billions in Taxes" (via Memeorandum):
RENO, Nev. — Apple, the world’s most profitable technology company, doesn’t design iPhones here. It doesn’t run AppleCare customer service from this city. And it doesn’t manufacture MacBooks or iPads anywhere nearby.

Yet, with a handful of employees in a small office here in Reno, Apple has done something central to its corporate strategy: it has avoided millions of dollars in taxes in California and 20 other states.

Apple’s headquarters are in Cupertino, Calif. By putting an office in Reno, just 200 miles away, to collect and invest the company’s profits, Apple sidesteps state income taxes on some of those gains.

California’s corporate tax rate is 8.84 percent. Nevada’s? Zero.

Setting up an office in Reno is just one of many legal methods Apple uses to reduce its worldwide tax bill by billions of dollars each year. As it has in Nevada, Apple has created subsidiaries in low-tax places like Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands — some little more than a letterbox or an anonymous office — that help cut the taxes it pays around the world.

Almost every major corporation tries to minimize its taxes, of course. For Apple, the savings are especially alluring because the company’s profits are so high. Wall Street analysts predict Apple could earn up to $45.6 billion in its current fiscal year — which would be a record for any American business.

Apple serves as a window on how technology giants have taken advantage of tax codes written for an industrial age and ill suited to today’s digital economy. Some profits at companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft derive not from physical goods but from royalties on intellectual property, like the patents on software that makes devices work. Other times, the products themselves are digital, like downloaded songs. It is much easier for businesses with royalties and digital products to move profits to low-tax countries than it is, say, for grocery stores or automakers. A downloaded application, unlike a car, can be sold from anywhere.

The growing digital economy presents a conundrum for lawmakers overseeing corporate taxation: although technology is now one of the nation’s largest and most valued industries, many tech companies are among the least taxed, according to government and corporate data. Over the last two years, the 71 technology companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index — including Apple, Google, Yahoo and Dell — reported paying worldwide cash taxes at a rate that, on average, was a third less than other S.& P. companies’. (Cash taxes may include payments for multiple years.)

Even among tech companies, Apple’s rates are low. And while the company has remade industries, ignited economic growth and delighted customers, it has also devised corporate strategies that take advantage of gaps in the tax code, according to former executives who helped create those strategies.

Apple, for instance, was among the first tech companies to designate overseas salespeople in high-tax countries in a manner that allowed them to sell on behalf of low-tax subsidiaries on other continents, sidestepping income taxes, according to former executives. Apple was a pioneer of an accounting technique known as the “Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich,” which reduces taxes by routing profits through Irish subsidiaries and the Netherlands and then to the Caribbean. Today, that tactic is used by hundreds of other corporations — some of which directly imitated Apple’s methods, say accountants at those companies.

Without such tactics, Apple’s federal tax bill in the United States most likely would have been $2.4 billion higher last year, according to a recent study by a former Treasury Department economist, Martin A. Sullivan. As it stands, the company paid cash taxes of $3.3 billion around the world on its reported profits of $34.2 billion last year, a tax rate of 9.8 percent. (Apple does not disclose what portion of those payments was in the United States, or what portion is assigned to previous or future years.)

By comparison, Wal-Mart last year paid worldwide cash taxes of $5.9 billion on its booked profits of $24.4 billion, a tax rate of 24 percent, which is about average for non-tech companies.
And which company is more reviled on the progressive left, Apple or Walmart? Amazing how things turn out for radical left-wing ideology sometimes. Everything's upside down with progressives. Frankly, I'm surprised this is even being reported by the New York Times. It goes against the paper's statist agenda.

White House Correspondents Dinner

Well, so much for the "correspondents." It's mostly celebrities.

See London's Daily Mail, "The night LiLo and Kim met Barack and Michelle: Wise-cracking President hosts star-studded White House Correspondents' Dinner."

And see the New York Times, "Much Fodder for Obama at White House Journalists’ Event." (Class-warfare hypocrites.)

Plus, at Twitchy, "Groan: When Meggie met Fluke-y." God, I'd take Sandra Fluke over that whale of Meghan McCain. Gross.

BONUS: Thank goodness for the lovely Erin Andrews, who tweeted from the event.

UPDATE: More from London's Daily Mail, some surprisingly good pictures of Lindsay Lohan, "What a difference a day makes! Lindsay Lohan makes up for missed flight and airport tumble as she glams up for White House bash in striking black gown," Plus, "Covered up for the president: Kim Kardashian plays it demure in high-necked green gown for star-studded White House Correspondents' Dinner."

Fighter Pilot

Via Maggie's Farm:

Also at Theo's: "Grab a beer, turn down the lights, turn off your cell phone, shut the door and watch full screen & High Definition and sound!"

Black Bear Tranquilized at University of Colorado Returned to the Wild

At USA Today, "Tree-falling bear has been returned to the wild."

And see Telegraph UK, "Black bear falls from tree after being sedated."

Employment Picture in South Los Angeles Worse Now Than During the 1992 Riots

So, I guess we're just waiting for the spark to set off the powder keg, or something.

At the Los Angeles Times, "Blacks in South L.A. have a bleaker jobs picture than in 1992":
Two decades after the L.A. riots brought pledges of help to rebuild South Los Angeles, the area is worse off in many ways than it was in 1992.

Median income, when adjusted for inflation, is lower. Many middle-class blacks have fled in search of safer neighborhoods and better schools.

And the unemployment rate, which was bad at the time of the riots, has reached even more dire levels. In two areas of South Los Angeles — Florence Graham and Westmont — unemployment is almost 24%. Back in 1992, it was 21% in Florence Graham and 17% in Westmont.

Last summer, thousands of South Los Angeles residents showed up to a job fair that brought out almost 200 employers at Crenshaw Christian Center on Vermont Avenue. The event, organized by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), was seen by some as grandstanding.

"People were really skeptical," said Kokayi Kwa Jitahidi, a community organizer with the nonprofit Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. "People thought, 'Another job fair?'"

There have been training and other job programs — both privately and government-funded — in the roughly 51-square-mile area in the last two decades. A post-riots report said the area needed an investment of about $6 billion and the creation of 75,000 to 94,000 jobs.

The federal and state governments spent as much as $768 million, according to a 1994 estimate, but the main aim of Rebuild L.A. — the group leading the revitalization effort — was to steer the private sector to create jobs in the area.

Toyota, Pioneer Electronics and IBM were among the corporations that held seminars and classes.

The training center started by Toyota, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Urban League, was one of the few that succeeded in the decade after the riots. It's now closed, but it produced about 1,000 graduates trained in entry-level automotive skills.

Most of the private-sector programs, however, had little effect.

"There are many things the private sector does well, but investment in depressed areas is not often one of them," said Chris Tilly, director of the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. "The nature of private-sector investors is to look where the payoff is. If you've got large swaths of the city where there are bad schools, poor people and crime, that's not where private investment will go."
The funny thing is, just the other day the New York Times was touting how the changed demographics of South Los Angeles signaled a rising level of prosperity for the area's blacks, who moved out to the suburbs to buy homes and so forth. The Los Angeles Times piece, on the other hand, makes this out to be a bad thing. Not enough black consumers for black-owned businesses, or something. Or blacks are "stigmatized" for living in the area. That's just horrible. Sheesh. I guess the authors want the federal government to kick in more money for "community development," "urban renewal," or whatever folks call these tax-funded programs nowadays, programs that have failed over and over to lift the nation's poor. Indeed, one of the scholars interviewed at the report says what's needed is a "muscular public investment" in education. That's either pure stupidity or a bald-faced lie. We spend more money today on public education than we did in the 1960s, when educational outcomes were much better.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Al Armendariz, EPA Official, Apologizes for Call to 'Crucify' Oil Companies

The Daily Caller has the video, which was pulled, naturally: "YouTube pulls Armendariz ‘crucify them’ video."

And Ed Morrissey has the apology, at Hot Air, "EPA: Hey, sorry about that whole “crucify” thing, we’re all about being ethical."

Al Armendariz Crucify

BONUS: From Dan Collins, at Protein Wisdom, "EPA’s Crucifixion Maven Has Already Given It a Try."

IMAGE CREDIT: The People's Cube, "If Only the Romans Had the EPA to Crucify the Dissenters."

UPDATE: I forgot about Michelle's column from yesterday, "“Crucify them:” It’s the Obama Way."

Kelly Brook Tumblr Rule 5

It's all Craig Ramsay's fault.

He tweeted me Kelly Brook's Tumblr page, and of course I can't resist posting some Rule 5.

She's lovely. Lots more pics on Tumblr.

And here's an encore from Maggie's Notebook: "Rule 5 Saturday Night: Kelly Brook."


I'll hold off on another big Rule 5 roundup for now. Here's last week's: "Big Old Saturday Rule 5."

Plus, Bob Belvedere has more: "Rule 5 News: 27 April 2012 A.D."

And since I've unforgivably neglected him, don't miss Dana Pico, "Rule 5 Blogging: This One’s for Mom," and "Rule 5 Blogging: This One’s for Hoagie Edition."

BONUS: At Pirate's Cove, "If all You See…is a dog which requires huge amounts of Gaia’s resources, you might just be a Warmist."

Dan Savage, Gay Rights Extremist, Calls Bible 'Bullsh*t' During 'Anti-Bullying' Speech

When I first saw the headlines it never occurred to me that this guy was the gay freak Dan Savage, but it was a pure "Aha!" when I saw it was him.

What a freakin' douchebag.

Robert Stacy McCain reports, "Students Walk Out After Anti-Bullying Speaker Dan Savage Calls Bible ‘Bulls–t’."

Plus, see Darleen at Protein Wisdom, "Irony Alert: Gay activist Dan Savage gives anti-bullying speech – bullies Christians and calls objecting students “pansies”."

And previously on Dan Savage, "Gay Sexual Abandon and the Perverse Inversion of Values by Same-Sex Extremists."

The New Politics of Hostage Taking? Actually, Republicans Are Not the Problem

Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein have a new book due out next Tuesday, It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism.

The title of this post is taken from their first chapter, "The New Politics of Hostage Taking." I'm not sure if I'm all that interested in reading the book. Sure, Mann and Ornstein are highly respected political scientists, and they're not especially prone to partisan hackery (or they haven't been previously), but when your main thesis is that the Republicans are the problem --- that Republicans are extremist --- then, well, I doubt you can claim scholarly objectivity. And frankly, the authors confess as much in their commentary at the Washington Post, "Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem." An excerpt:
We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.

Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?

Also, stop lending legitimacy to Senate filibusters by treating a 60-vote hurdle as routine. The framers certainly didn’t intend it to be. Report individual senators’ abusive use of holds and identify every time the minority party uses a filibuster to kill a bill or nomination with majority support.

Look ahead to the likely consequences of voters’ choices in the November elections. How would the candidates govern? What could they accomplish? What differences can people expect from a unified Republican or Democratic government, or one divided between the parties?

In the end, while the press can make certain political choices understandable, it is up to voters to decide. If they can punish ideological extremism at the polls and look skeptically upon candidates who profess to reject all dialogue and bargaining with opponents, then an insurgent outlier party will have some impetus to return to the center. Otherwise, our politics will get worse before it gets better.
Oh brother.

Talk about giving up any pretense of fairness or analytical detachment. Mann and Ornstein want the GOP to fail. They've got a book coming out demonizing the party as a gang of hostage takers and they've put out the directive to the press to get with the program. Never mind the fact that other political science research puts current trends in political gridlock into longer-term context, for example, Alan Abramowitz's, The Polarized Public. The authors have their meme and they're sticking with it --- or else!

And hey, don't miss Victor Davis Hanson, "Obama shouldn’t preach about civility":
President Obama has repeatedly derided the sort of Republican partisanship that led the current minority party in the Senate to filibuster some of his appointments – most prominently his nomination of Goodwin Liu to the federal bench. But Sen. Obama not long ago strongly advocated such partisan obstructionism when, out of power, he praised the filibuster as much as he now deplores it while in power.

Indeed, he joined a filibuster to deny votes on the nominations of both Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court and John Bolton to the U.N. ambassadorship....

We are now engaged in a continuing debate about debt, taxes and spending. Both sides have vastly different ideas about how to solve our financial problems, and they will continue to embrace tough talk to win over public opinion to their respective sides. We hope for the best argumentation but expect the worst – democratic politics being what it is. And President Obama, the past master of bare-fisted partisan invective, knows that better than anyone.

So spare us any more of the bottled piety, Mr. President. Instead, just make the argument to the public that borrowing $4 billion a day is still necessary and sustainable – and explain how it came to be that this post-recession recovery on your watch is the weakest since World War II.
Well now, I think that's just a tad bit closer to the truth.

Lack of Civility at Long Beach City College

Actually, it's the LBCC Board of Trustees that lacks civility, according to Michael Smith of Long Beach, in a letter at the Los Angeles Daily News, "Trustees Lack Civility":
Never have I been so ashamed of elected officials as when I attended the Long Beach City College Board of Trustees meeting on April 24.

Issues being discussed were the mass layoffs of necessary and important classified staff and how it would affect students' classes and the community. So many eloquent people spoke clearly and directly on the issues and presented their cases to the elected Board of Trustees, from international students, to ESL students, from faculty to classified staff. But time after time Board President Doug Otto rudely interrupted them and told them their stories weren't relevant. He scolded them to wrap it up, even though they were under the five minutes allowed. Then he told the community they were being rude and they couldn't continue. Shame on the trustees. Our community elected them, and now they are stifling free speech and telling a concerned community their stories don't matter.

-- Michael Smith, Long Beach
Video of the meeting is here.

I mentioned the tension on campus previously: "LBCC Announces 55 Layoffs — Tensions High as Faculty Union Prepares Jobs Actions and Protests."

Suicide Bomber Hits Syrian Capital of Damascus

At Telegraph UK, "Syria: suicide bomber hits Damascus mosque."

And also at the New York Times, "Suicide Attack Kills 9 Near Damascus as Cease-Fire Erodes."

RELATED: "U.N. Observers Prove Little Deterrent to Syrian Attacks."

House Speaker John Boehner Slams Obama for 'Fake Fight' Over Student Loans and Women's Health

You gotta love Speaker Boehner.

At Newsmax, "Boehner: Obama Creating ‘Fake Fight’ Over Student Loan Rates." And from Yahoo, "Boehner Asks Angrily, 'Do We Have to Fight About Everything?'"

And progressive hack Joan Walsh takes umbrage: "John Boehner’s Blues."

Friday, April 27, 2012

Dennis Prager, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph

Prager discusses his new book on Fox & Friends:

And you can pick up a copy at Amazon: Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph.

I'm reading it now and can't recommend it enough. The book probably has the best discussion of leftist ideology in print. A fantastic read.

More on this later...

What 'Gutsy Call'? Obama Didn't Make 'Operational Decision' to Kill Osama bin Laden

The Obama campaign is out with this new ad below attacking Mitt Romney, claiming that the presumptive GOP nominee wouldn't have been "gutsy" enough to make the call on killing bin Laden.

But perhaps Obama's "decision" to get bin Laden wasn't so "gutsy" after all.

See Ben Shapiro, at Big Peace, "What 'Gutsy Call'?: CIA Memo Reveals Admiral Controlled bin Laden Mission" (via Memeorandum). Read it all at the link. In question is the language of the CIA memo obtained by Time Magazine. See, "The Last Days of Osama bin Laden":

MEMO FOR THE RECORD Apr. 29, 2011, 10:35 a.m.

Received phone call from Tom Donilon who stated that the President made a decision with regard to AC1 [Abbottabad Compound 1]. The decision is to proceed with the assault. The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven’s hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out. Those instructions were conveyed to Admiral McRaven at approximately 10:45 am.
Here's Shapiro's take:
...the memo doesn’t show a gutsy call. It doesn’t show a president willing to take the blame for a mission gone wrong. It shows a CYA maneuver by the White House.

The memo puts all control in the hands of Admiral McRaven – the “timing, operational decision making and control” are all up to McRaven. So the notion that Obama and his team were walking through every stage of the operation is incorrect. The hero here was McRaven, not Obama. And had the mission gone wrong, McRaven surely would have been thrown under the bus.

The memo is crystal clear on that point. It says that the decision has been made based solely on the “risk profile presented to the President.” If any other risks – no matter how minute – arose, they were “to be brought back to the President for his consideration.” This is ludicrous. It is wiggle room. It was Obama’s way of carving out space for himself in case the mission went bad. If it did, he’d say that there were additional risks of which he hadn’t been informed; he’d been kept in the dark by his military leaders.

Finally, the memo is unclear on just what the mission is. Was it to capture Bin Laden or to kill him? The White House itself was unable to decide what the mission was in the hours after the Bin Laden kill, and actually switched its language. The memo shows why: McRaven was instructed to “get” Bin Laden, whatever that meant.

President Obama made the right call to give the green light to the mission. But he did it in a way that he could shift the blame if things went wrong. Typical Obama. And typical of him to claim full credit for it, when he didn’t do anything but give a vague nod, while putting his top military officials at risk of taking the hit in case of a bad turn.
And note something else here: Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post is apparently a grade school friend of Admiral McRaven, and she basically made the same argument last year shortly after the Abottabad raid: "Adm. William McRaven: The terrorist hunter on whose shoulders Osama bin Laden raid rested:"
As leader of the military’s highly secretive Joint Special Operations Command, McRaven has overseen a rapid escalation of manhunts for Taliban leaders in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda figures around the world. Although he’s a three-star admiral, the muscular 55-year-old still sometimes accompanies his teams on snatch-and-grab missions.

On Friday, McRaven received the green light from Panetta to launch the raid at the earliest opportunity. Later that day, he met with a six-member congressional delegation that was coincidentally visiting Afghanistan. He gave the lawmakers a tour of the Bagram operations center that — unbeknownst to them — was gearing up for the critical mission.

Little did we know he had already given the order to take out Osama bin Laden,” said Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), who led the delegation.
So, indeed it was Admiral McRaven who ultimately made the "gutsy call" to kill bin Laden ---  and if anything went wrong it would have been McRaven's head on a block, not the un-gutsy members of this epic clusterf-k Democrat administration.

Is Barack Obama Cool?

John Hawkins has commentary on the new ad out from American Crossroads, at Right Wing News: "American Crossroads Gives Obama Way Too Much Credit. He’s Actually Not Cool."

First Quarter GDP Growth Slows to 2.2 Percent, Dampening Democrat Reelection Prospects

It's downbeat economic news today.

The government's report is here: "National Income and Product Accounts Gross Domestic Product, 1st quarter 2012 (advance estimate)" (via Memeorandum).

And see the New York Times, "U.S. Economic Growth Slows to 2.2% Rate, Report Says," and MarketWatch, "Mediocre GDP report even worse in the details: Commentary: Final sales up less than 2% for 4th quarter in last 5":
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — It should not be a surprise to anyone that the U.S. economy continues to struggle. The evidence is all around us, but the hawks on the Federal Reserve are clinging to false hopes.

The economy grew at a 2.2% annual rate in the first quarter of the year, down from a 3% growth rate in the last three months of 2011, the government estimated Friday. Read our full news coverage of the slowdown in U.S. growth.

Growth of 2.2% is mediocre, but it’s worse than that once you peel away a few layers — about a fourth of the growth in gross domestic product was accounted for by a buildup in inventories, and half of it came from the building and selling of motor vehicles.

Strip away the inventory growth, and final sales in the economy increased 1.6%, the fourth quarter in the past five that was below 2%. Although all the headlines report on the GDP numbers, the number to watch is final sales, because that gauges demand for our products, not merely how much we made.

Consumers continue to outperform. Consumer spending rose at a 2.9% annual pace, the best in more than a year. Yet disposable incomes increased just 0.4%, the seventh quarter in a row in which spending growth outpaced income growth.

You don’t need a Ph.D. from MIT — as Fed Chair Ben Bernanke in fact possesses — to know that’s not sustainable.
Plus, from James Pethokoukis, "Weak GDP report clouds Obama’s reelection chances":
With six months to go until Election Day, time just ran out for Team Obama to run any sort of plausible “Morning in America” reelection campaign. And it’s not just that the U.S. economy grew at a subpar 2.2% annual rate in the first quarter, according to the Commerce Department.

It’s that this may be about as good as it gets for the economy this year. Most analysts have been looking for the second quarter to be no better—if not worse—than the first. So we could end up having a first half of the election year with GDP growth near 2% or below. As Citigroup puts it: “… 1Q GDP data should limit remaining optimism that U.S. economic growth will accelerate significantly this year.” And IHS Global Insight says it’s “looking for second-quarter growth to be similar to the first—around 2%”....

Even if growth perks up a bit from here, it seems unlikely that it will be enough to dent the unemployment rate or boost incomes.

President Obama could still win, of course. But given the current economic trajectory, he will be defying historical precedent if he does.

Obama can only win by changing the subject and demonizing the opposition. That's all he's got, and the progressive thugs will be protesting all year against "economic inequality" and the "corporate rich." And of course the professional left will continue to blame Republicans for the economic disaster, like far-left dullard Steve Benen at Maddow's blog, "More underwhelming economic growth" (via Memeorandum).

RELATED: At IBD, "Hiring Pace Halved: Just 120,000 Jobs Added In March."

PREVIOUSLY: "The Obama Campaign's Reelection Death Rattle."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Romney Opportunity

At the Wall Street Journal, "Running on biography and the economy won't be enough":

With Newt Gingrich finally leaving the GOP Presidential race, Mitt Romney is now closer to realizing the ambition he has so long pursued: He has an even-money chance to become America's 45th President. He's more likely to fulfill that ambition if he overcomes his cautious nature and runs a campaign that is equal to America's current political moment.

This will not be the instinct of Mr. Romney or his close-knit group of advisers. Looking at the polls, they see a nearly even race, with President Obama below 50% despite the beating Mr. Romney took in the primaries.

The temptation will be to assume the public has decided to fire the incumbent and so run a campaign to become the safe alternative. Take no policy risk, stress Mr. Romney's biography, his attractive family and the seven habits of highly effective businessmen, and then hammer away on the economy.

It's possible, if job creation sputters again or Europe goes into bond-market arrest, that this kind of campaign will be enough to win. It's also possible—more likely in our view—that this will play into Mr. Obama's strengths of personal likability and Oval Office experience, especially if the economy keeps chugging on its current slow-growth path. Mr. Romney will have to make a case not merely against Mr. Obama's failings but also for why he has the better plan to restore prosperity.

On the economy in particular, such a larger argument would fit the country's current mood. The public's anxiety isn't merely about the failures of the last three years, as important as it is for Mr. Romney to score this Administration for its failed stimulus, crony capitalism, hyperregulation, soaring debt and ObamaCare.

Americans are more deeply worried than at any time since the 1970s about their country's long-term prospects. Why aren't middle-class incomes rising? Why are nonmilitary public institutions failing—from K-12 education to entitlements?

Mr. Obama understands these anxieties, even if he has no new answer for them. So his diversionary re-election strategy will be a combination of class warfare, more government subsidies (free student loans!), and personal attacks on Mr. Romney for being wealthy. Mr. Romney will need allies who can rebut these attacks.

But he'll find it easier to defeat Mr. Obama's argument—even to transcend it—if he offers his own economic narrative that reaches back to the mistakes of the Bush Administration to explain how we got here and how he can get us out. Politically, this will help shield Mr. Romney from Mr. Obama's inevitable attempt to link the Republican to the Bush era. Such a critique also has the advantage of being true.
Continue reading.

Romney's got to hammer away on the Obama debt explosion, for one thing. Dennis Prager was making a similar argument on Hannity's, which I posted previously: "Mitt Romney Sweeps 5 Northeast States, Effectively Clinching GOP Nomination."

Stand Your Ground Conservatives!

Just read Michelle's report: "Conservative consumers: Stand your ground."

She writes: "Silence is complicity. Speak now or surrender your ground."

Michael Yon Slams ''Drunken Monkeys', 'Milkooks', and More

This one is like, "Whoa man, WTF!"

See Michael Yon's post, "Drunken Monkeys, Milkooks, Military, and the Media" (via Glenn Reynolds).

Grab a cup of coffee.

Woman Fired After Donating Kidney to Her Boss

My wife mentioned this story to me the other day and then I saw this clip on CNN.

Truly unbelievable.

See the New Jersey Star-Ledger, "Risky business? Woman alleges she was fired after donating kidney to boss."

And I didn't know you can take back an organ donation, but here's this, at London's Daily Mail, "Give it back! Mom 'who was fired after donating kidney to ailing boss' now demands the organ is returned."

It's an awful story, but Debbie Stevens, the organ donor, screwed up if you ask me. Giving your kidney to save your boss is a conflict of interest --- and in this case the conflict was that Stevens was in an inferior power position. She was vulnerable. Her altruism overtook her rationality. I doubt she would ever be so generous with a life-saving organ again, if she even had another to give --- or at least, never in a situation in which the recipient had that much power to really harm her life chances.

Supreme Court May Uphold Arizona's SB 1070

Actually, the Court may be willing to uphold a part of the law.

William Jacobson reports: "Oral argument reports: Supreme Court appears poised to uphold key part of Arizona Immigration Law (SB 1070)."

And see CSM, "Arizona immigration law: Another setback for Obama at Supreme Court?"

Walter Williams: The Power of Profit

Walter Williams at Prager University, via Small Dead Animals:

And buy Dennis Prager's new book: Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph.

Relatives of Ousted Chinese Leader Bo Xilai Ensnared in Scandal

I haven't been following this one as much as I'd like, but things are getting even more interesting than usual.

At the Wall Street Journal, "Scandal Ensnares Relatives of Fallen Chinese Leader":
The scandal surrounding fallen Chinese leader Bo Xilai spread to his wider family as his elder brother resigned as a deputy chairman of a Hong Kong-listed company, shortly after Mr. Bo's son issued a statement to counter allegations he lived an extravagant lifestyle.

The moves represented the first public acknowledgments of the crisis by members of the elite Bo family. Mr. Bo's father, Bo Yibo, was one of the revered "Eight Immortals," leaders who helped build prosperity for China after the political upheavals that followed the Communist revolution in 1949. The Bo scandal has highlighted the business interests and lavish lifestyles of offspring of such party aristocracy, often called "princelings."

Bo Xilai was suspended from the powerful Politburo this month and placed under investigation for "serious discipline violations." His wife, Gu Kailai, is a murder suspect in the death of British businessman Neil Heywood.

Their son, Bo Guagua, a postgraduate student at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, has been implicated loosely in the scandal through a government statement that said he and his mother had been close to Mr. Heywood, but that the relationship had soured over a business dispute.

Bo Xilai's elder brother, Bo Xiyong, resigned on Wednesday as deputy chairman at China Everbright International Ltd., a state-controlled energy and environmental company, "for the best interest of the company and its shareholders," according to a company statement. It added that Bo Xiyong had no disagreement with the board.

Bo Xiyong had been on the board since 2003. He is also a deputy general manager with its state-owned parent, China Everbright Group, which he joined in 1998. It wasn't immediately clear whether he also stepped down from that position. Since joining the board, Bo Xiyong has been paid cash compensation some years as high as $346,000, a total over his tenure of $1.8 million. In 2010 and 2011, Bo Xiyong exercised stock options worth $5.2 million, according to data service S&P Capital IQ. He continues to hold options worth $3.2 million.
Continue reading.

And see The Other McCain, "International Intrigue Surrounds Harvard University Graduate Student Bo Guagua."

Why America is Coming Apart Along Class Lines

From (via Theo Spark):

And buy Murray's book: Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.

Revisiting the L.A. Riots

The Los Angeles Times has been running some articles on the 20th anniversary of the riots, but I've not posted any of them so far, since the paper's lionizing Rodney King, who deserves none of that, in my opinion. Neon Tommy has some related coverage, "L.A. Riots: Rodney King Reflects On 20th Anniversary." And check the photos at the Times, "Photo sliders: Revisiting flashpoints from L.A. riots, 1992 and 2012."

And see the New York Times, "In Years Since the Riots, a Changed Complexion in South Central":

LOS ANGELES — When racially charged riots blazed here two decades ago, South Central became a national symbol of rage in a poor black neighborhood.

But the population of the area has changed significantly in the time since the acquittal of white police officers in the Rodney King beating inflamed racial tensions across this city.

Today, immigrants from Mexico and Central America live on blocks that generations ago were the only places African-Americans could live. In the former center of black culture in Los Angeles, Spanish is often the only language heard on the streets.

Now, signs for “You buy, we fry” fish markets catering to Southern palates have been replaced by Mexican mariscos and Salvadoran pupuserias. In the historic jazz corridor, where music legends once stayed when they were barred from wealthy white neighborhoods in the city, botanicas sell folk and herbal remedies from Latin America.

In the 1990s, black residents made up roughly half the population in South Central. Today, Latinos account for about two-thirds of the residents in what is now called South Los Angeles — “Central” was officially scrubbed from the neighborhood’s name by the City Council in 2003. In the 20-some square miles that make up the area, stretching southwest of downtown from the Santa Monica Freeway to the Century Freeway and as far west as Inglewood, there are 80,000 fewer blacks than there were in 1990.

“This is a huge, pivotal shift, as important as any other population change or migration we’ve had in the city,” said Raphael J. Sonenshein, the executive director at the Pat Brown Institute at California State University, Los Angeles, who has studied racial politics in Los Angeles for decades. “It affects the African-American community’s sense of self as it sees a geographic core that really matters to people erode. It changes the whole sense of the neighborhood.”
Continue reading.

'Steynamite' Reactions

At Blazing Cat Fur, "An evening of jovial bigotry...much of it actionable under both provincial and federal law."
We had a wonderful time at Steynamite. Steyn, Coren, Krista Erickson & Jonathan Kay all shone brightly. Several jurisdictions worth of human rights code lay in tatters by evening's end, and we loved it.

Passenger Jets Fight to Land in Wind-Whipped Bilbao, Spain

This is pretty amazing.

A couple of those planes slam down pretty hard too. It'd be interesting to hear the reports from passengers.

Smokin' Katherine Jenkins on #DWTS

I haven't been watching Dancing With the Stars this season, but my wife has.

I sat down and watched on Monday night and was blown away by Katherine Jenkins, who was dancing up a storm and looking like a million bucks while at it.

No surprise then she's featured at London's Daily Mail, "Golden girl! Katherine Jenkins sports a beehive and tiny metallic dress as her sexy samba tops the DWTS leaderboard."

Wow, what a number!

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Blames GOP for Blocking President Obama's Budget

At Washington Free Beacon, "DEBBIE DOES DISTORTION."

Pamela Geller Speaks Despite Fascist Attempt to Silence 'Islamic Apartheid'

At Atlas Shrugs, "VIDEO: Pamela Geller Speaks at 'Islamic Apartheid' Conference at Temple University, Shoutdown."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mitt Romney Sweeps 5 Northeast States, Effectively Clinching GOP Nomination

The Los Angeles Times reports, "Mitt Romney claims GOP presidential nomination by sweeping 5 Northeast states":

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Sweeping five contests in Northeastern primary states, Mitt Romney claimed the mantle of Republican presidential nominee — though he has not officially clinched the race — and turned his focus to a general election showdown with President Obama.

Romney easily notched wins Tuesday night in Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and New York — contests whose outcomes seemed all but assured once his chief rival, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, suspended his campaign two weeks ago.

In remarks in New Hampshire, where his campaign began almost a year ago, Romney thanked his supporters for "a great honor and solemn responsibility."

In an echo of Ronald Reagan's question during his 1980 presidential campaign — "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" — Romney asked Americans to consider Obama's "sweeping promises of hope and change."

"After the celebration and parades, what do we have to show for three and a half years of President Obama? .... We have seen hopes and dreams diminished by false promises and weak leadership," Romney said at his election-night party in downtown Manchester. "To all of the thousands of good and decent Americans I've met who want nothing more than a better chance, a fighting chance … hold on a little longer. A better America begins tonight."

The president's campaign immediately sought to tie Romney to what it called the "failed" policies of former President George W. Bush and to paint him as a far-right conservative who is out of step with much of the country.
More at the link.

And at the video, Hannity's All-American Panel evaluates Romney's victory speech last night.

More later...

Lakers' Metta World Peace Suspended 7 Games for Elbow to Oklahoma City's James Harden

At the Los Angeles Times, "Verdict on Lakers' Metta World Peace is in: Seven-game suspension."

That sounds about right to me. Some were saying he'd be out the season.

More from Bill Plaschke, "Lakers lucky Metta World Peace's penalty isn't longer."

Plus some commentary from Piers Morgan:

LBCC Announces 55 Layoffs — Tensions High as Faculty Union Prepares Jobs Actions and Protests

There's considerable turmoil on campus.

The faculty union is also in the middle of acrimonious contract negotiations --- and job actions, including picketing, are being planned.

More on that later. Meanwhile, at the Long Beach Press Telegram, "Long Beach City College board votes to lay off 55":
LONG BEACH — In one of the largest reductions in Long Beach City College's recent history, its board on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan to lay off 55 employees and reduce contracts for 96 positions for a savings of $5.1 million.

More than 200 students, faculty and staff attended the Board of Trustees meeting to protest the college's latest plan for budget cuts.

Holding signs that read "stop the war on education," students voiced their concerns about staff layoffs, tuition hikes and reductions to summer courses.

"These faculty and staff have been critical in helping students achieve," said student Patrick Harper. "We don't want to see any more layoffs. It's hard enough to get classes."

The latest layoffs will largely affect the college's classified staff.

Classified staff are employees who aren't required to hold teaching credentials, such as secretaries, custodians, maintenance workers and instructional aids.

The cuts include eliminating 43 classified positions and reducing an additional 96 positions from 12-month contracts to 11- or 10-month contracts. Many of the 96 positions include instructional aides, whose contracts will be scaled back due to cuts in the number of courses offered in the summer and winter sessions.

Management will lose 12 positions.
More later...

'Now That's Justice for Trayvon' — White Man Beaten By Mob in Critical Condition, No Arrests, Tensions High

The story's at Jammie Wearing Fool, "White Man Beaten by Mob in Critical Condition: “Now that’s justice for Trayvon”."

And the update from WKRG News, "No Arrests In Matthew Owens Beating, Tensions High."

And the commentary:

* Jim Treacher, "And now it's time to play: How Deep Did They Bury the Lede?" (via Memeorandum):
Well done, Spike Lee. Nice job, NBC. Keep up the good work, ABC. And to everyone else who’s been using a shooting in Florida to foment hate and divide people by the color of their skin, kudos. Don’t let this attack, and similar attacks across America, bother you. If you had a conscience, we never would’ve heard of you in the first place.
* AoSHQ, "20 Blacks Beat White Interloper With Makeshift Bludgeons; Victim In Critical Condition; One Attacker Said, 'Now That's Justice For Trayvon'."

* Power Line, "If You Don't Look Like Obama's Son, No One Cares."

* Dan Collins at Protein Wisdom, "Raw Story: A Profile in Leftist Media Mattering D-Baggery."

And the progressives at Memeorandum are dissing the reaction on the right. Check No More Mr. Nice Blog, for example, "SO DOES THIS MEAN THE RIGHT PLANS TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR TIM McVEIGH?"

You can't make that sh*t up.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, and The Decline of Racism and Violence in America

Here's Kennedy from, via Instapundit:

Number of Mexican Illegals Living in U.S. Has Dropped Significantly For First Time in Decades

Well, the wonders of what a bit of border enforcement will do.


At London's Daily Mail, "Strong border controls and a lack of jobs prompt mass emigration of illegal Mexicans from the U.S.":

The number of Mexican immigrants living illegally in the U.S. has dropped significantly for the first time in decades, showing a dramatic shift as many illegal workers are moving back to Mexico from the U.S. because there are so few job opportunities.

The new analysis comes amid renewed debate over U.S. immigration policy as the Supreme Court hears arguments this week on Arizona's tough immigration law.

Mexican immigrants make account for nearly 60 per cent of the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. and last year there were 6.1million in America. That number was down from its peak in 2007 when there were 7million confirmed in the U.S.

That drop was the biggest one in modern history, with the Pew Hispanic Center noting it was believed to only be surpassed in scale by losses in the Mexican-born U.S. population during the Great Depression.

Much of the drop in illegal immigrants is due to the persistently weak U.S. economy, which has shrunk construction and service-sector jobs attractive to Mexican workers following the housing bust.

In addition, increased deportations, heightened U.S. patrols and violence along the border also have played a role, as well as demographic changes, such as Mexico's declining birth rate.

In all, the Mexican-born population in the U.S. last year - legal and illegal - fell to 12million, marking an end to an immigration boom dating back to the 1970s. The 2007 peak was 12.6million.

Christian Ballesteros has been at a shelter for immigrants in Matamoros, Mexico, across the border from Brownsville, Texas.

He pointed to stiffer U.S. penalties for repeat immigrant offenders as well as brutal criminal groups that control the Mexican side of the border as reasons for the immigration decline.
See also the Los Angeles Times, "Report finds Mexican immigration to U.S. is at a standstill."

RELATED: At CSM, "Arizona immigration law: Mexico gets involved in US Supreme Court case."

French Far Right Challenges Both Europe and Sarkozy

At the New York Times, "French Far Right a Challenge for Europe and Sarkozy":

PARIS — To win re-election in the runoff on May 6 against the Socialist François Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy will need the support of right-wing voters who have turned their backs on him, disappointed with his presidency.

But there are serious questions as to whether he can win them over, and even if he does, a strong shift to the right would make his European partners uneasy. The next two weeks of the campaign are likely to put a united Europe even more in the cross hairs, with Mr. Sarkozy calling for more protectionism and Mr. Hollande for more growth and easier money, challenging the German calls for austerity.

Already on Monday, major European leaders from Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, to Sweden’s foreign minister, Carl Bildt, said they were disturbed by the level of support for the far right in France, and the markets are worried that the elections may disrupt efforts to solve the region’s debt and banking crisis.

Mr. Sarkozy won the presidency five years ago by attracting many supporters of the far-right National Front, but in Sunday’s first round, they deserted him, voting instead for the party’s own candidate, Marine Le Pen, who won about 18 percent of the ballots cast, a record for her party. Mr. Sarkozy won 1.6 million votes fewer than he did in the first round of 2007, when he got about 31 percent of the vote, compared with about 27 percent on Sunday.

Ms. Le Pen got twice as many votes as her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, did in 2007. She called it a fundamental change in French politics. “We have exploded the monopoly of the two parties,” she said. “Whatever might happen in the 15 days to come, the battle for France is only beginning. Nothing will ever be the same again.”

Still, France will have to choose between “the two parties” — Mr. Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement and Mr. Hollande’s Socialists — and which way the angry voters of France turn, from both the far left and far right, will decide the election. There are more right-leaning voters than left-leaning voters in France, but polls show that there is a significant group of right-wing voters who have apparently had enough of Mr. Sarkozy, even if the alternative is Mr. Hollande.

Ms. Le Pen and her officials called on her supporters to abstain on May 6 and instead concentrate on the legislative elections in June, and Ms. Le Pen’s father, the party’s founder, said bluntly that Mr. Sarkozy had lost.

Opinion polls are notoriously inaccurate when it comes to the National Front, since its supporters sometimes lie to pollsters about their intentions. But numerous Le Pen supporters share their leaders’ distaste for Mr. Sarkozy and the establishment of whatever stripe, and some youthful supporters of the National Front, jobless and angry about the European Union and globalization, are likely to find the social policies of Mr. Hollande more attractive than a continued dose of austerity. Despite her stands against immigration and radical Islam, Ms. Le Pen’s economic positions — including more state spending on jobs and benefits — were to the left.

Sylvain Crépon, a sociologist of extremist political movements at the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, said that Ms. Le Pen had skillfully democratized xenophobia by “tying it in republicanism,” the values of secular France. That is a Sarkozy theme as well, as he has railed against unlabeled halal meat and full-face veils. Just last week, Mr. Sarkozy joined with Berlin in calling formally for a radical restructuring of the Schengen agreement that provides for visa-free travel in Europe and proposing that governments be allowed to re-establish national borders temporarily in the face of poorly controlled immigration on Europe’s borders.
And see Der Spiegel, "Le Pen's Result 'Is a Blemish on French Democracy'."

John Edwards, Former Democrat Presidential Candidate, Goes on Trial for Accepting Illegal Campaign Contributions to Cover Up Extramarital Affair

Here's the latest report, at the Los Angeles Times, "'Sins but no crimes,' John Edwards' defense says."

But see also the earlier coverage, "John Edwards' trial set to begin on campaign finance charges":

GREENSBORO, N.C. — In a federal criminal case that has the markings of sex, money, betrayal and a handsome politician’s fall from grace, former presidential candidate John Edwards’ trial for alleged campaign finance violations opens Monday in Greensboro, N.C.

Edwards is accused of accepting more than $900,000 in illegal contributions during his 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination to pay the expenses of his mistress and hide the extramarital affair that, if revealed to voters, almost certainly would have derailed his campaign and shattered his public image as a devoted family man.

The former senator from North Carolina has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts related to campaign finance violations. If convicted of all charges, Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines. Opening arguments are scheduled to begin Monday morning and the much-anticipated trial is expected to last at least six weeks.

Prosecutors contend that bills paid by two Edwards benefactors, Rachel “Bunny’’ Mellon, a banking heiress from Virginia, and the late Fred Baron, a Texas lawyer, actually were unreported campaign contributions designed to cover up his affair with Rielle Hunter, a campaign videographer who gave birth to his daughter.

“The charges against John Edwards in this case flow from his knowing and willful violation of the federal campaign finance laws during his campaign for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president,’’ prosecutors said in court filings.

Justice Department prosecutors contend this is a straightforward case of broken campaign finance laws:

“A federal candidate may only accept and receive a limited amount of money from any one individual during an election cycle, and he must truthfully report the money he accepts and receives,’’ the department said a trial brief.

Edwards’ defense team contends that the payments were not political donations, but gifts from wealthy friends to help address a personal issue unrelated to the campaign. His lawyers suggest that Edwards did not know about the money from Mellon and Baron.

“The government assumes that Mr. Edwards knew about the monies; the evidence will prove otherwise,’’ his attorneys said in a court filing.

Edwards’ lawyers contend that the government's case requires the jury to accept a novel interpretation of a campaign finance law that “has never been the basis of criminal or even civil liability in the statute's history.’’
Guilty or not on the campaign finance charges, no doubt John Edwards is one of the left's biggest douchebags of recent years --- and it's a deep bench, so that's saying a lot.

Democrats Still in Denial on Entitlements Doom

Actually, I think both parties are in denial, with the exception of some free-market folks like Republican Paul Ryan.

But Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi resides truly in another world.

See the San Francisco Chronicle, "Social Security Trust Fund to Run Out Earlier Than Projected":

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said "despite the repeated efforts of Republicans to privatize Social Security and end the Medicare guarantee, these vital initiatives remain strong" and "Democrats will always ensure they are strengthened, never weakened."


See Jonathan Tobin for more on that, at Commentary:
The annual reports of the trustees of these two federal programs were released this afternoon, and the verdict is just a bit darker than last year’s report. According to the figures, the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2033, three full years earlier than last year’s estimate. The news about Medicare was no worse than 12 months ago but was already bad enough. It will collapse in 2024.

These alarming pieces of news ought to be greeted with dismay and resolve to deal with the entitlements problem that is leading the country to insolvency. But one end of the political spectrum believes things are just fine:
Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, said that “Despite the repeated efforts of Republicans to privatize Social Security and end the Medicare guarantee, these vital initiatives remain strong.” She argued that the trustees’ report “demonstrates that health care reform has strengthened Medicare by extending its solvency.”
This complacence would be shocking if it were not rooted in a basic tenet of liberal ideology. Despite the nonsense she uttered about the strength of the programs, Pelosi and other liberals understand that no government program no matter how financially ruinous will ever truly run out of money so long as the government retains the power to confiscate as much of the income of the public as the federal leviathan needs. The essential difference between the parties about how to deal with this problem is not so much about the existence of the problem but whether the solution should be found in the pockets of the taxpayers.
She's a genuine socialist monstrosity.

More at the link.

BONUS: At Weasel Zippers, "Pelosi: “I Wish People Would Earn More So They Can Pay More” In Taxes…"

PREVIOUSLY: "Social Security and Medicare Sliding Closer to Insolvency."

IMAGE CREDIT: The People's Cube, "Celebrate Socialism Success Story with Nancy Pelosi."

Claire Squires's Death at London Marathon

This is sad.

At Telegraph UK, "London Marathon 2012: thousands donated to charity after Claire Squires's death."

And from London's Daily Mail, "Marathon death girl was running in memory of her brother: Charity donations rocket past £200,000 for Samaritans."

She was only 30 years old. The cause of death is unknown but it's possible she had an undiagnosed heart condition.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Social Security and Medicare Sliding Closer to Insolvency

We're in the very best of hands.

No problem here, none at all.

At the Los Angeles Times, "Trustees warn of looming insolvency for Social Security, Medicare":
WASHINGTON - The nation's Social Security and Medicare programs are sliding closer to insolvency, the federal government warned Monday in a new report underscoring the fiscal challenges facing the two mammoth retirement programs as baby boomers begin to retire.

Medicare, which is expected to provide health insurance to more than 50 million elderly and disabled Americans this year, is expected to start operating in the red in its largest fund in 2024, according to the annual assessment by the trustees charged with overseeing the programs.

And the Social Security trust fund, which will provide assistance to more than 45 million people in 2012, will be unable to fulfill its obligations in 2033, three years earlier than projected last year.

“We must take steps to keep these programs whole for the future,” Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, the senior trustee, told reporters Monday.

When the Social Security and Medicare funds are exhausted, they will still be able to pay benefits because they will continue to collect tax revenue. But the deficits would probably force major cuts.

The dismal outlook was fueled in part by the sluggish economy, which has slowed growth in payroll taxes that sustain the trust funds, according to trustees, who include Cabinet secretaries and two public representatives.
More at the link.

Meanwhile, absolutely nothing will be done on entitlement reform, especially with Democrats in power. We might possibly see movement toward reform with a Romney administration and unified GOP control of Congress. And even that's longer odds than the slots at Vegas.

Obama Asserts Unitary Executive Power After Campaigning Against George W. Bush as Unconstitutional Warmonger and Torturer

Following up on Obama's political thuggery and fake "Mr. Nice Guy" image, here's this at the New York Times, "Shift on Executive Power Lets Obama Bypass Rivals" (via Memeorandum):
WASHINGTON — One Saturday last fall, President Obama interrupted a White House strategy meeting to raise an issue not on the agenda. He declared, aides recalled, that the administration needed to more aggressively use executive power to govern in the face of Congressional obstructionism.

“We had been attempting to highlight the inability of Congress to do anything,” recalled William M. Daley, who was the White House chief of staff at the time. “The president expressed frustration, saying we have got to scour everything and push the envelope in finding things we can do on our own.”

For Mr. Obama, that meeting was a turning point. As a senator and presidential candidate, he had criticized George W. Bush for flouting the role of Congress. And during his first two years in the White House, when Democrats controlled Congress, Mr. Obama largely worked through the legislative process to achieve his domestic policy goals.

But increasingly in recent months, the administration has been seeking ways to act without Congress. Branding its unilateral efforts “We Can’t Wait,” a slogan that aides said Mr. Obama coined at that strategy meeting, the White House has rolled out dozens of new policies — on creating jobs for veterans, preventing drug shortages, raising fuel economy standards, curbing domestic violence and more.

Each time, Mr. Obama has emphasized the fact that he is bypassing lawmakers. When he announced a cut in refinancing fees for federally insured mortgages last month, for example, he said: “If Congress refuses to act, I’ve said that I’ll continue to do everything in my power to act without them.”

Aides say many more such moves are coming. Not just a short-term shift in governing style and a re-election strategy, Mr. Obama’s increasingly assertive use of executive action could foreshadow pitched battles over the separation of powers in his second term, should he win and Republicans consolidate their power in Congress.

Many conservatives have denounced Mr. Obama’s new approach. But William G. Howell, a University of Chicago political science professor and author of “Power Without Persuasion: The Politics of Direct Presidential Action,” said Mr. Obama’s use of executive power to advance domestic policies that could not pass Congress was not new historically. Still, he said, because of Mr. Obama’s past as a critic of executive unilateralism, his transformation is remarkable.
More at the link.

Personally, I have no problems with the the model of strong executive power (unitary executive theory). What I'm no fan of is hypocrisy, which this president has in spades. See previously, at the Wall Street Journal, "Obama Shifts View of Executive Power" (via Google):
When he ran for president, Barack Obama promised to roll back President George W. Bush's use of executive power, a defining point of the Bush presidency. The pledge was part of a broader pitch about Mr. Obama's governing style, which he said would focus on solving problems in a pragmatic, cooperative way.

The allure of executive power, it turns out, is hard to resist. Most every chief executive has found ways to escape the shackles of the legislature and expand the power of the presidency. Three years into his first term, Mr. Obama has developed his own expansive view of going it alone, asserting new executive powers and challenging members of Congress in both parties.
F-king power-hungry hypocritical presidential thug. What a loser.

Rick Moran has more, at American Thinker, "New York Times Legitimizes Obama Power Grabs."