Monday, December 31, 2012

Senate Vote Approves Fiscal Deal, Raises Taxes on Wealthiest Americans

I'm following on Twitter:

There's nothing like it for up-to-the-minute news and opinion:

And here's this just now at CNN, "Obama insisted on sequester buy down":
Washington (CNN) - Fiscal cliff negotiations between the White House and Congressional leaders involved late-night discussions in the Oval Office and an ultimate hardline from President Barack Obama, according to a source familiar with the process.

The source said it was the president who insisted the final deal include a pay down on the sequester and a tax increase that hit at least inviduals making $400,000 a year and $450,000 for households. That’s where the deal ended up.

On Monday, Republicans agreed to a plan that raises $620 billion in revenue over 10 years and makes a $24 billion down payment on deficit reduction through a combination of revenue and spending cuts – also a priority for the president. Those spending cuts have been pre-determined and will be evenly divided between defense and non-defense areas.

A source familiar with the discussions and revealing a slant on negotiations argued these deal points represented significant concessions from the GOP. This person insisted that because Republicans backed off their pledge to oppose tax rate increases for the wealthiest Americans and said this deal represents one of the most significant policy victories of the last two decades.

Not everyone has the same view. The progressive group criticized the White House for moving off Obama’s pledge to raise taxes for households earning $250,000 and more and took issue with the short-term nature of the sequester delay.

“At the end of the day, poor and middle class families deserve a better deal than more tax cuts for the rich and the potential for another hostage situation in two months,” the organization said in a statement.
Damned commies.

More at the link.

And at the New York Times, "Grand Deals Give Way to Legislative Quick Fixes."

Like I said earlier, this has been the strangest New Year's Eve.

Added: From the New York Post, "Senate approves fiscal cliff legislation hours after midnight; House yet to vote."

Obama and GOP Seal Budget Deal

Well, I'd say "our long national nightmare is over," except it's not. These idiots just kicked the can down the road. At the Wall Street Journal, "U.S. Budget Compromise Is Reached":

Fiscal Cliff
President Barack Obama and Senate leaders reached a New Year's Eve budget agreement that would boost income-tax rates rise for the first time in nearly 20 years, maintain unemployment benefits for millions of people and blunt the impact of spending cuts that were looming as part of the fiscal cliff.

The long-sought compromise—which would raise taxes on joint filer's incomes above $450,000 and delay for two months part of the $110 billion in spending cuts that otherwise would have taken place in early January—was expected to be approved by the Senate in the early morning hours of Tuesday. The House was expected to consider it later in the day.

The delay in approval meant that the U.S. technically went over the fiscal cliff at midnight. But with U.S. markets closed Tuesday, the impact of missing the deadline could be minimal. What damage the wrangling has caused—to the 2013 tax-filing season and consumer confidence—is already assured.
Passage isn't a sure thing in the House, where conservative Republicans are dismayed that the compromise raises taxes and doesn't include more cuts in federal spending. Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) said the House could amend it and send it back to the Senate, but supporters of the compromise hope that a big bipartisan vote of approval in the Senate would help in propel it through the House and onto Mr. Obama's desk for his signature by Thursday.

The compromise was prepared for the Senate floor after Vice President Joe Biden, who brokered the deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) traveled to the Capitol for a late-night meeting with Senate Democrats, including many who harbored reservations about the deal.

Major elements of the compromise would...
Read the details at the link (via Memeorandum).

And at CNN, "Latest updates: Final fiscal cliff scramble." And CNN's Lisa Desjardins is live-tweeting.

It's 10:30pm on the West Coast, so I'll be up for awhile, ringing in this weird New Year.


Des Moines Register Columnist Wants Mitch McConnell and John Boehner Lynched

I clearly remember, back in the late-1990s, how the murder-by-dragging (lynching) death of James Byrd, in Beaumont, Texas, became a left-wing rallying cry against the purported "Jim Crow" racism the so-called "radical right." So I'll be waiting with bated breath for the progressive fever swamps to rise up in outrage at gun control extremist Donald Kaul's exhortaton that the Republican House Speaker and Senate Minority Leader to be dragged to their deaths. See, "Nation needs a new agenda on guns." After a long rant in which he confesses his "anger" at the Newtown massacre, here's Kaul's conclusion (via Memeorandum):

James Byrd
Then I would tie Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, our esteemed Republican leaders, to the back of a Chevy pickup truck and drag them around a parking lot until they saw the light on gun control.

And if that didn’t work, I’d adopt radical measures. None of that is going to happen, of course. But I’ll bet gun sales will rise.
Interesting how Kaul calls for truly "radical" measures after that, which no doubt would be to simply kill all Republicans, kind of like how the Nazis tried to exterminate the Jews in the 1930's and 1940's.

Nice Deb's not kidding when she warns that fascism's coming to America.

It turns out as well that we've got Georgetown University Law Professor Louis Michael Seidman announcing that we should simply ignore the Constitution. It's just getting in the way of the left's totalitarian agenda, "Let's Give Up on the Constitution." Really. William Jacobson responds, "Extra-constitutional power is what they’ve always wanted":
I find myself agreeing more frequently than ever before with Glenn Greenwald, at least on the issue of the willingness and desire of “progressives” to go where even the demonized George W. Bush was not willing to go, and the willingness with which the progressive intelligentsia embraces such ideas in the service of Obama. Or maybe he’s agreeing with me.
Well, yeah. I've been finding myself agreeing with Greenwald too, since he's about the only one on the left who's willing to apply the Constitution to the current regime in power.

Remember my post from this morning, "Keep Fighting in 2013"? Well, folks need to keep fighting not only to preserve their liberty, but the lives. And I write this in all seriousness. We're getting multiple doses of the left's eliminationist rhetoric on a daily basis nowadays. Seriously. It's time to stand a post.

PHOTO CREDIT: "Jasper County Assistant District Attorney Pat Hardy displays the chain allegedly used to drag James Byrd Jr. to his death during a break in the trial of Lawrence Russell Brewer Thursday, Sept. 16, 1999, at the Brazos County Courthouse in Bryan, Texas," via the Beaumont Enterprise.

NFL Playoff Picture

At the NFL homepage, "NFL Playoff Picture for 2012 Season."

And from Sam Farmer, at the Los Angeles Times, "By and bye, Adrian Peterson, others in NFL come tantalizingly close":

Two thousand steps forward.

Two big steps back.

On a Sunday when Minnesota's Adrian Peterson became the seventh NFL player to run for 2,000 yards — coming within nine of breaking Eric Dickerson's season rushing record — two teams backpedaled in a big way.

The Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers lost on the road, both blowing opportunities for first-round playoff byes.

Indianapolis beat Houston, 28-16, and the Vikings edged the Packers, 37-34, to earn the final playoff spot in the NFC.

Swooping in to secure those No. 2 seedings — which come with a week off — were San Francisco in the NFC and New England in the AFC.

The top seedings are Atlanta in the NFC and Denver in the AFC.

The Vikings' victory secured a first-round rematch Saturday night with Green Bay, this time at Lambeau Field.

The playoffs open Saturday with Cincinnati at Houston. On Sunday, Indianapolis plays at Baltimore, followed by Seattle at Washington.

The Redskins clinched the NFC East on Sunday night with a 28-18 victory over Dallas in a winner-take-all game. The Redskins won the division title for the first time since 1999, and are the first team since the 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars to make the playoffs after losing six of its first nine games.

That means the first round will feature a record three rookie quarterbacks: the Colts' Andrew Luck, and — in the same game — the Redskins' Robert Griffin III and the Seahawks' Russell Wilson.
Also, "Philadelphia Eagles fire Coach Andy Reid after 14 seasons." And, "Chicago Bears fire Coach Lovie Smith; Buffalo fires Chan Gailey."

Hobby Lobby Fights the ObamaCare Birth Control Mandate

At the Oklahoman, "Hobby Lobby standing on principle in vow to continue its fight against mandate."

RELATED: At NewsBusters, "No, AP and Politico, It Isn't About 'What Hobby Lobby Says'; It's About What Is Actually True."

VIDEO CREDIT: Via Nice Deb, "Yes, Fascism Has Come to America."

Keep Fighting in 2013

I feel like throwing my hands up when I reflect on comments like Rabbi Pruzansky's, but then again, I imagine myself a dissident protecting the flame of liberty from the harsh gusts of leftist repression. I take a deep breath and say: "My country needs me." Perhaps that's too self-important? Okay. But then again, I keep reading folks who counsel against despair, like Claudia Rosett, "Girding for 2013":
Perhaps the most important bottom line in girding for 2013 is, if you care about capitalism and freedom, about a strong America and a safer, freer world, do not give up. There is a struggle of ideas going on here; and even when much seems lost — spun off the road, over the cliff — plenty may yet depend on even a few who keep the faith, and at the right moment, are ready with a plan.
Keep the faith. Keep fighting in 2013.

Tribune Company Emerges From Bankruptcy

As much as we bitch and moan about left-wing media bias, we still need quality newspapers out there doing essential journalism. We need quality news-gathering, and the newspapers have been the main source throughout American history. I'll be the first to praise the mainstream outlets when they offer solid reporting, and I still subscribe to the Los Angeles Times, a Tribune entity, so I guess I'm still a sucker for progressive punishment.

In any case, at the Times, "Tribune Co. set to exit bankruptcy protection":
Tribune Co. is expected to emerge from bankruptcy protection Monday with a new board of directors composed largely of entertainment-industry veterans.

Exiting bankruptcy would mark a milestone for Tribune, the parent of the Los Angeles Times and other newspaper and television properties.

Tribune sought Bankruptcy Court protection in December 2008 after a leveraged buyout by real estate magnate Sam Zell saddled the company with $12.9 billion in debt just as advertising revenue was collapsing. It is one of the longest bankruptcy cases in U.S. corporate history.

Tribune will emerge as a slimmed-down entity with a more stable financial base. But the media conglomerate will still be buffeted by the larger forces pounding the newspaper industry, specifically uncertainty over whether papers can generate sufficient revenue from digital operations.

"Tribune is far stronger than it was when we began the Chapter 11 process four years ago and, given the budget planning we've done, the company is well-positioned for success in 2013," Eddy Hartenstein, Tribune's chief executive, wrote in a note to employees Sunday night.

Tribune's new board of directors is expected to be made up of a who's who of Hollywood players. Most have no hands-on experience running newspapers and television stations, which are Tribune's biggest assets.
More at that top link.

Best Sports Photos of 2012

At the Wall Street Journal, "Capturing the Year in Sports: How Some of 2012's Most Iconic Images Were Snapped."

The photo of the Pacquiao-Marquez fight, by Al Bello of Getty Images, is especially good.

Gérard Depardieu Stirs Belgian Border Town

I love this, at the New York Times, "Coming Soon to Belgian Village, a French Film Idol Fleeing Taxes":
NÉCHIN, Belgium — The last time a big star lit up this sleepy village of potato fields and rain-drenched pastures was in 1667, when the Sun King, Louis XIV of France, stopped by for the day. But even he may not have created quite the commotion caused by Gérard Depardieu, the celebrated actor, turbulent bon vivant and, since a visit to the mayor’s office here on Dec. 7 to register as a resident, France’s most reviled tax exile.

“I thought it was a joke,” said the mayor, Daniel Senesael, recalling his disbelief when he was first told that Mr. Depardieu intended to leave his mansion in Paris and move to Néchin, a rural settlement in Belgium with just 2,200 people, two cafes, a fast-food fry shop, a ruined chateau and no cinema.

“Let’s be honest, this is not Las Vegas,” Mr. Senesael said. “There are no lights and no discos. I get flooded with complaints when anyone suggests opening even a wind farm.”

Michel Sardou, a veteran French singer who has joined a frenzy of criticism directed at Mr. Depardieu in France, mocked the actor’s flight to Néchin, predicting that he would be “as bored as a rat” here. “So, there is some divine justice after all,” the singer joked on French television.

For Mr. Depardieu, and scores of wealthy French citizens who already live here, however, Néchin does have one seductive asset: it is beyond the reach of the French tax authorities but so close to France that an unmarked border running through the village puts the gardens of some properties in France and adjoining houses in Belgium.

“Our geographic situation makes us very attractive,” said Mr. Senesael, noting that Néchin is an easy place to get into and out of, with a nearby airport, a major highway and a railway station just a few miles away in the French city of Lille with regular high-speed trains to Paris, Brussels and London.

“Nobody should be astonished that big fortunes have found a certain fiscal advantage” in moving to this side of the border, said the mayor, whose domain covers Néchin and a cluster of other hamlets that form what is known as the Entity of Estaimpuis. Mr. Depardieu’s critics, he said, should direct their ire not at the actor but at the failure of European governments to harmonize tax rates across the 27 nations of the European Union.
More at that top link.  (And that should be "the failure of Europe to establish a uniform 75 percent tax rate on incomes over €1 million euros...")

Also, "France's 75 Percent Tax Rate Struck Down on Constitutional Grounds."

For now. Depardieu's smart to skedaddle out of there.

BONUS: From the editors at the Wall Street Journal, "Le Tax Fairness."

New York Times Editors Call for Carbon Taxes, and Then Some

I noted previously regarding Ireland's new carbon tax regime, "folks in Washington (the progressive political class) have been talking about all kinds of alternative taxes systems, such as value added systems." Well, it's not just Washington, but also yesterday at the editorial suite at the New York Times, "Why the Economy Needs Tax Reform":
The main problem is that the current tax code is incapable of raising the revenue needed to pay for the goods and services of government....

A logical way to help raise the additional needed revenue would be to tax capital gains at the same rates as ordinary income. Capital gains on assets held for more than a year before selling are taxed at about the lowest rate in the code, currently 15 percent and expected to rise to 20 percent in 2013. That is an indefensible giveaway to the richest Americans. Research shows that the tax breaks do not add to economic growth but do contribute to inequality. Currently, the top 1 percent of taxpayers receive more than 70 percent of all capital gains, while the bottom 80 percent receive only 6 percent.

Another sensible approach is to cap deductions at 28 percent, or to convert deductions, which disproportionately benefit high-bracket taxpayers, to tax credits, which would provide the same benefit to all taxpayers, regardless of tax bracket. President Obama must also pursue other revenue raisers, including a restoration of the estate tax, higher tax rates or surcharges on multimillion-dollar incomes, and higher corporate taxes, including an end to the deferral of tax for American companies that stash their earnings abroad....

With that in mind, Mr. Obama would be wise to instruct the Treasury Department to start work on tax reform now, exploring carbon taxes, both to raise revenue and to protect the environment; a value-added tax, coupled with provisions to protect lower-income taxpayers from higher prices, to tax consumption and encourage saving; and a financial transactions tax, to ensure that the financial sector, whose profits have substantially outpaced those of nonfinancial corporations, pay a fair share.
"Pay a fair share." Hmm, where have I heard that before?

The left's solution is always more government, which requires ever increasing demands for revenue. It's never about how we can reform systems to look forward, tapping the vitality of the individual and the dynamism of markets.

And check this great Fox News segment from over the weekend, "Lawmakers Pushing a Mileage Tax For Drivers In 2013."

Mandatory Spending Cuts (Could) Kick In Wednesday

At the Wall Street Journal, "Unthinkable Cuts Almost a Reality":
Mandatory federal spending cuts designed to be prohibitively drastic will become a reality on Wednesday if negotiators remain unable to reach an agreement to avert the reductions.

The cuts would hit a broad array of departments and programs, from the military's purchase of mine-resistant vehicles to government food inspections. They would slash funding for Secret Service details and cut rental housing subsidies in rural areas.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta delivers a speech at the National Press Club in Washington on Dec. 18.

Illustrating the gravity of the cuts, the Pentagon plans to notify 800,000 civilian employees that they could be forced to take several weeks of unpaid leave in 2013 if a deal isn't struck, and other agencies are likely to follow suit.

The cuts, which members of both parties have referred to as a "meat ax," are the product of a hastily designed 2011 law that required $110 billion in annual spending reductions over nine years to reduce the deficit. Their severity, representing close to 10% of annually appropriated spending, was intended to force Democrats and Republicans to come together on a broader package of deficit-reduction measures, which would replace the cuts. That effort failed, raising the prospect of the cuts' taking place.
That sounds stupid, especially so since Washington rarely ever cuts spending.

But continue reading.

Also, "Congress Meets Cliff's Edge: Senate Budget Talks Bear Little Fruit; McConnell and Biden Carry On Discussion."

Demand Gun-Grab Movie Celebrities to STFU

A video to crystallize all the celebrity gun control hypocrisy, at Blazing Cat Fur, "Demand a Plan - Demand Celebrities Go F&ck Themselves."

The Tea Party's Bad Year?

No surprise here, from Chris Cillizza, at the Washington Post: "The worst year in Washington: The tea party."

I debunked this nascent "the tea party is dead" meme here: "A Weaker Tea Party?"

And Michelle Fields offers a related rebuttal, and she nails it:

The tea party's going to be very busy in 2013. Reports of the movement's demise are predictably --- and stupidly --- premature.

Kate Upton: American Power's Woman of the Year for 2012

For sheer volume, I've probably posted more coverage of Kelly Brook, but as measured by the wider "It Girl" social trends, no doubt Kate Upton deserves the first annual American Power babe-blogging award for 2012.

Here's an amazingly good sample "Kate Upton See-Through Outtakes from GQ."

Simple, Free Image and File Hosting at MediaFire

And a flashback from last month, "Gratuitous Kate Upton Rule 5 Video."

Here's to another year of blogging. I think babe blogging helps prevent blog burnout, so screw the freak progressive PC lawfare/harassment freaks. You know who you are, assholes.

And hats off to The Other McCain for keeping the flame alive amid all the progressive prudery: "Rule 5 Sunday: Come Dancing."

Stay tuned for 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky: Why Romney Lost

This is amazing, at Atlas Shrugs, "THE END":
Op-Ed: Why Romney Didn't Get Enough Votes to Win
Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, Israel National News, November 13, 2012


It is a different world, and a different America. Obama is part of that different America, knows it, and knows how to tap into it. That is why he won.
The most charitable way of explaining the election results of 2012 is that Americans voted for the status quo – for the incumbent President and for a divided Congress. They must enjoy gridlock, partisanship, incompetence, economic stagnation and avoidance of responsibility. And fewer people voted.

But as we awake from the nightmare, it is important to eschew the facile explanations for the Romney defeat that will prevail among the chattering classes. Romney did not lose because of the effects of Hurricane Sandy that devastated this area, nor did he lose because he ran a poor campaign, nor did he lose because the Republicans could have chosen better candidates, nor did he lose because Obama benefited from a slight uptick in the economy due to the business cycle.

Romney lost because he didn’t get enough votes to win.

That might seem obvious, but not for the obvious reasons. Romney lost because the conservative virtues – the traditional American virtues – of liberty, hard work, free enterprise, private initiative and aspirations to moral greatness – no longer inspire or animate a majority of the electorate. The notion of the “Reagan Democrat” is one cliché that should be permanently retired.

Ronald Reagan himself could not win an election in today’s America.

The simplest reason why Romney lost was because it is impossible to compete against free stuff. Every businessman knows this; that is why the “loss leader” or the giveaway is such a powerful marketing tool. Obama’s America is one in which free stuff is given away: the adults among the 47,000,000 on food stamps clearly recognized for whom they should vote, and so they did, by the tens of millions; those who – courtesy of Obama – receive two full years of unemployment benefits (which, of course, both disincentivizes looking for work and also motivates people to work off the books while collecting their windfall) surely know for whom to vote; so too those who anticipate “free” health care, who expect the government to pay their mortgages, who look for the government to give them jobs. The lure of free stuff is irresistible.

Imagine two restaurants side by side. One sells its customers fine cuisine at a reasonable price, and the other offers a free buffet, all-you-can-eat as long as supplies last. Few – including me – could resist the attraction of the free food. Now imagine that the second restaurant stays in business because the first restaurant is forced to provide it with the food for the free buffet, and we have the current economy, until, at least, the first restaurant decides to go out of business. (Then, the government takes over the provision of free food to its patrons.)

The defining moment of the whole campaign was the revelation (by the amoral Obama team) of the secretly-recorded video in which Romney acknowledged the difficulty of winning an election in which “47% of the people” start off against him because they pay no taxes and just receive money – “free stuff” – from the government. Almost half of the population has no skin in the game – they don’t care about high taxes, promoting business, or creating jobs, nor do they care that the money for their free stuff is being borrowed from their children and from the Chinese. They just want the free stuff that comes their way at someone else’s expense. In the end, that 47% leaves very little margin for error for any Republican, and does not bode well for the future.

It is impossible to imagine a conservative candidate winning against such overwhelming odds. People do vote their pocketbooks. In essence, the people vote for a Congress who will not raise their taxes, and for a President who will give them free stuff, never mind who has to pay for it.

That engenders the second reason why Romney lost: the inescapable conclusion that the electorate is dumb – ignorant, and uninformed. Indeed, it does not pay to be an informed voter, because most other voters – the clear majority – are unintelligent and easily swayed by emotion and raw populism. That is the indelicate way of saying that too many people vote with their hearts and not their heads. That is why Obama did not have to produce a second term agenda, or even defend his first-term record. He needed only to portray Mitt Romney as a rapacious capitalist who throws elderly women over a cliff, when he is not just snatching away their cancer medication, while starving the poor and cutting taxes for the rich.

Obama could get away with saying that “Romney wants the rich to play by a different set of rules” – without ever defining what those different rules were; with saying that the “rich should pay their fair share” – without ever defining what a “fair share” is; with saying that Romney wants the poor, elderly and sick to “fend for themselves” – without even acknowledging that all these government programs are going bankrupt, their current insolvency only papered over by deficit spending. Obama could get away with it because he knew he was talking to dunces waving signs and squealing at any sight of him.

During his 1956 presidential campaign, a woman called out to Adlai Stevenson: “Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!” Stevenson called back: “That’s not enough, madam, we need a majority!” Truer words were never spoken...
Still more at the link.

British Schoolboy Finds WWII Bomb With Metal Detector He Got for Christmas

The boy's mom was impressed: "We are dumbfounded that he discovered this on his first go."

See, "Schoolboy finds WWII bomb on first trip out with metal detector Christmas present."

New York Journal News Employees' Personal Information Published Online

William Jacobson reports, "If the names and addresses of gun permit holders are fair game, what about this?":
When journalists start a privacy war, where does it end?
Journal News
Personally, I don't think it will end, because nothing is out of bounds for the progressive left these days. Nothing will stop them in their nihilistic program of destruction, nothing, that is, but their own mutual destruction. Here's this outstanding comment at the post, from Subotai Bahadur":
An amazing burst of comments. Nerves have been touched.

Professor, we are literally in the end stage of pretending that politics as normal mean something. The Constitutional order has been de facto overturned, while retaining the external trappings of the old order. The government is at open war on the Bill of Rights. Congress has lost the power of the purse and no longer represents anything but their own vested interests. The rule of law is gone. Who you are and who you are connected to decides if you will be prosecuted for any crime. No connections = no mercy and frequently no due process. If connected to the regime, you are immune. Our courts have withdrawn from the fray or have been subverted. In any major issue, it seems that the courts rule that there is no one who has standing to oppose the will of the State; so the State wins. And if a matter does get before the courts, the courts rule based on politics, not law. The Supreme Court is no longer a barrier defending the Constitutions. When Chief Justice Roberts suddenly reversed his entire life’s work to rule that the Federal government could violate the Constitution so long as it did it in the guise of a tax; it was obvious that he has been gotten to and is now merely a tool of the regime.

Moderating our conduct while the country is still on this side of violence will not prevent things going from bad to worse. Things are going to get worse even if we become martyred saints. Our restraint in the face of ongoing attacks merely removes restraints on the conduct of those who seek the destruction of our country and Constitution. If their escalations are only met with feeble responses on our part, they are encouraged to push the envelope until they reach the point of violence.

So long as no law is broken [after all, that is the standard of combat that they have set; akin to say the real rules on the use of poison gas in warfare] then hit back twice as hard. Make them deal with their families and their neighbors being angry at them. And publicly out the nature of their bias’ in every thing they publish. Keep in mind that just recently the State got the power to wiretap, investigate, and arrest people without warrant of probably cause. Do you think that they are going to limit what they dig up in the name of “decency”? Look at their record.

Every employee of the paper should have a full background check, as deep as can be done within the bounds of the law. If a prospective employer can find it, then it should be legal. And publishable. Criminal records, court judgments, membership in various organizations, political contributions, public statements. If the investigation leads to family members, so be it. Reveal it all.

Publish the ownership/management details of all the companies who advertised in the editions where the permit holders are/were mapped who continue to advertise with them. There will be the implication that they could receive the same detailed attention as the employees. And if Gannett does not rein in the Journal News; move up the corporate food chain.

Given the nature of the Journo-List 2.0 media; it would be wise for all of their major personalities to be subject to the same investigation as the Journal-News’ staff just to have in reserve for when they next outrageously lie. And every personality in the current administration. There is a lot of work to do.

Oh, and one more little cross check on the Journal-News’ map. Do not take it on faith that their map was complete. Follow up on it and make sure that they did not “accidentally” forget to publish the names of various politically or otherwise connected individuals that they did not want to offend. If there are political or other celebrities who are calling for the abolition of the 2nd Amendment while themselves being armed; that needs to be Alinsky-ed out.

If we are to have a hope of stopping the enemies of our country before they physically attack us, we have to make them pay a price and show that they will be opposed if they cross that line. Yielding to them does not accomplish that end.

I am reminded of a quote by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his GULAG Archipelago that seems on point. It was about the greatest regret of those in the slave labor camps:
What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? Part I The Prison Industry, Ch. 1 “Arrest” (p13, The Gulag Archipelago, Collins 1974)
The forces of the Left right now know that they attack us short of violence in perfect safety. We cannot let them think that that safety will be there when they inevitably turn to violence. Thus, we must strike back overwhelmingly before that line is crossed.

Subotai Bahadur
Lots more comments at that thread.

PREVIOUSLY: "The Leftist Scum Betraying Our Country."

'Something Fundamental in America Has to Change...'

Why now?

Well, Obama would have never pushed for such a radical gun-grabbing program before the election. It's literally depraved. He's depraved.

See Twitchy, "Obama vows to go after gun rights, admits he wants ‘fundamental change’ to America."

I slept in and missed the full interview, but Althouse caught it, although I'm surprised at her response, considering O's statements on gun control: "On 'Meet the Press' today, Obama mostly came across as the moderate, pragmatic politician I like." (Via Memeorandum.)

Smokin' Paraguayan Model Claudia Galanti --- Just Wow!

Give it up for London's Daily Mail and this unbelievably hot piece featuring the Paraguayan hottie.

See: "Put it away, mum! Paraguayan model Claudia Galanti clutches onto baby Tal while wearing revealing, see-through vest."

The Leftist Scum Betraying Our Country

It's still a great country. California is nearing lost-cause status, but nationally the political order remains vital in many respects. But as I've been saying, conservatives and patriots must keep pressing on toward reform. It's not just about better policies or higher standards of living. It's about the very survival of America as the beacon of freedom in the world. I've learned a lot from reading my good friend Stogie's blog Saberpoint, and I'm glad he's not beating around the bush regarding the nature of the enemy. See, "Communist Revolution: I Never Thought It Would Come to This":

Simple, Free Image and File Hosting at MediaFire
The long march through the institutions was completed some time ago, and both academia and media have a near monopoly on the transmission of biased news, cultural demolition and the ability to affect public attitudes. The "closing of the American mind" is just about complete. Moonbattery blog has an article today called "Brainwashing Works." The author, Dave Blount, points to a sign in NYC's Penn Station where a graffiti artist has penned "Kill All Republicans!" This sentiment is not an isolated occurrence. reports daily the most vile bile from the left, the unhinged hatred, the desire for violence against Republicans and conservatives. The Democrat Media Complex has created a vast swath of human botnets, which can be set off in mass to launch denial-of-liberty attacks on any and all who oppose the New Progressive Order. Like computer botnets, the human variety is programmed and programmable and act in concert, unhindered by scruples or actual thought.

Lately swarms of human maggots on Twitter have tweeted their joy at the death of General Norman Schwarzkopf yesterday, expressing hope that he died painfully and is now burning in Hell. They have said similar things about former President George H.W. Bush, who is in the hospital with a serious illness, hoping that he dies "in agony." I do not recognize this leftist human scum as fellow citizens, but as traitors, agents of hostile foreign powers and ideologies. With the election of one of their own to the presidency, they are now emboldened to finish off the Republic, and as Blount notes at Moonbattery, are now in a rush to disarm us.
Read the whole thing at the link.

It's not the death wish agitation that's evidence for the left's treason, but if that kind of pure hatred --- the overwhelming desire of progressives to literally kill their political enemies --- is a needed prompt for identifying the enemy for what it is, all the better. For me, I started blogging because I'd learned that the values that I'd once identified with as "liberal" and "progressive" were in fact the very opposite. At that time, in 2006, little did I know just how depraved was the radical left. But once you start to expose these douchebags you're placed in the cross-hairs yourself. There are no misunderstandings by that time. You know intimately that progressives will stop at nothing to destroy barriers to the ideological agenda. This next year will be a time of reorganizing and redoubling efforts among the forces of decency and traditionalism. But conservatives need to abandon the nice-guy mentality that makes them suckers over and over again for the machinations of the left. Don't be fooled by progressives who attempt to befriend you with idle chit-chat. They'll sell you out in the name of the totalitarian agenda faster than you can say Lev Trotsky. And be ready to fight fire with fire. See Nice Deb for more on that, and be sure to check the links: "Hoisting Them on their Own Petards."

PHOTO CREDIT: Moonbattery.

Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves on Tablet Computers

Completely illiterate Ethiopian children.

See Der Spiegel, "The Miracle of Wenchi: Ethiopian Kids Using Tablets to Teach Themselves":
The path to Wenchi leads along the rim of an extinct volcano. It winds through banana plantations and brier patches, with wild marjoram growing rampant along the edge. There is a crater lake below, and beyond it lies the Great Rift Valley, also known as the cradle of humanity.

The ancestors of Homo sapiens lived in the valley a million years ago. Gazing across the plateau, with its green, gently rolling hills, it looks as if everything is as it has always been, before the modern age came to the village.

It takes an hour to hike to the village of Wenchi on Wenchi Lake, 3,400 meters (11,152 feet) above sea level. Eight families live there in mud huts with steeply pitched roofs covered with straw. Wenchi looks a little like the Smurfs Village. There is no electricity and no running water, the next well is an hour away and it's 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) to the nearest school.

The first time American Matt Keller stood on the crater rim, between the lake and the valley, looking down at Wenchi, he could hardly believe his eyes. He was searching for a place that was sufficiently far away from the rest of the world. He was already on the verge of turning around, because he didn't think anyone still lived here.

But Keller has felt a little closer to the people of Wenchi since the end of October, when floodwaters inundated Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he lives. Hurricane Sandy was raging, his house was underwater, and nothing worked anymore. There was no heat, no hot water and no electricity. Keller spent two days in his car, charging his mobile phone with the cigarette lighter and answering calls from around the world. Scientists, journalists and sponsors wanted to know about his computer project, and about the children from Wenchi and their prospects for the future.

It's a December morning, and Keller is making his way down to the village for his fifth visit to Wenchi. He wants to know how much progress the children have made since the last time he was there. A few girls and boys run out to greet him, reach for his hand and lead them to a new hut with solar panels on the roof.

The children are barefoot. Eight-year-old Kelbessa, with his tousled hair and dreamy eyes, is wearing a men's jacket covered with dirt and carrying a brown leather case under his arm that looks like a briefcase. Abebech is 10 and is wearing matchsticks as jewelry in her pierced earlobes. She is carrying her youngest brother in a piece of material slung over her back.

Abebech is holding the same brown leather case in her hand, containing a portable tablet PC with a touchscreen, which local residents refer to as a Computera. When Abebech switches it on, three letters appear on the screen: the letter A is wearing a baseball cap, B is warbling into a microphone and C is rapping. The letters sing the ABC song with high-pitched digital voices. They sound like Teletubbies. It isn't a sound that adults can stand listening to for long.

But with Abebech it's a different story. She loves the song and can sing along for hours. Using her fingers, she paints the letters onto the screen, concentrating on the task at hand. She wipes the snot from her nose with the back of her hand, and then she wipes her finger across the screen, quickly opening applications, typing and writing ecstatically.

After a few minutes Kelbessa, the boy, shows Keller his latest work. He has circumvented the security system that's intended to prevent children from accessing photo and video programs, because they eat up too much electricity and space on the memory cards. Kelbessa has shot a two-minute video. It shows his grandfather with the cattle, a shaky image of the hut and his sisters. Kelbessa is beaming.

Keller squats in the dust next to the children, watching quietly, thinking to himself that he is witnessing a miracle, the miracle of Wenchi. He is the first person from the Western world to come to Wenchi to explore this miracle.

Keller, 48, is a thoughtful American in safari pants. The villagers refer to him as the "ferenji," or white man. Everything has changed in Wenchi since he began making his occasional visits to the village.
An amazing story.

Continue reading.

'Ways to Be Wicked'

Here's Maria McKee and Lone Justice, live during their heyday in the mid-1980s:

Honey tell me why you smile
When you see me hurt so bad
Tell me what I did to you babe
That would make you act like that
Yes I've been your fool before babe
And I probably will again
You aint afraid to let me have it
You aint afraid to stick it in

You know so many
Ways to be wicked
But you don't know one little thing
About love

Yeah I can take a little pain
Yeah I can hold it pretty well
I can watch your little eyes light up
While you're walking me through hell
Yes I've been your fool before babe
And I probably will again
You aint afraid to let me have it
You aint afraid to stick it in

You know so many
Ways to be wicked
But you don't know one little thing
About love

Those cobra eyes
Lie with a smile
Honey you take pride
In the devil down deep inside

Well I can take a little pain
Yeah I can hold it pretty well
I can watch you little eyes light up
While you're walking me through hell
Yeah I've been your fool before babe
And I probably will again
You aint afriad to let me have it
You aint afraid to sitck it in

You know so many
Ways to be wicked
But you don't know one little thing
About love

You know so many
Ways to be wicked
But you don't know one little thing
About love
Looks like the band made an MTV-style video with the studio version of the song, seen here, although I don't remember it. I saw the band in February 1986 at the Hollywood Palace. Unforgettable.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Finding the Words to Say Goodbye (or Not)

I spent time with my dad when he was in a hospice in 2004, and he died there on December 20th of that year. We never had a final "goodbye" conversion. I knew he was near the end, although I thought I'd have a chance to go visit him again. But I got the call from the social worker saying he'd passed. Weird, that. It wasn't my sister who called me. It was his social worker.

Anyway, my advice is not to wait too long to say goodbyes if you think things are coming to the end for a loved one. But some people don't even tell their friends and family that they're dying.

See this piece at the New York Times, "Exit Lines."

Woman Charged With Hate-Crime in Queens Subway-Push Murder

She hadn't been charged at the time of my earlier report, "Thirty-One Year Old Homeless Woman in Custody in Queens Subway-Push Death."

But now the New York Times reports, "Woman Accused of Hate-Crime Murder in Subway Push."

Robert Stacy McCain relates this story to the left's depraved gun control exploitation, "New York City Needs Subway Control."

And the sickening ghouls of the radical left fever swamps bubbled up to blame Pamela Geller for the murder, "WOMAN CHARGED WITH MURDER IN NY SUBWAY SHOVE DEATH, CLAIMS 9/11/01 WAS HER MOTIVE." (Via Memeorandum.)

It never ends with these scumbags.

Piers Morgan Threatens to Self-Deport

My dad always had guns in the house, most memorably a WWII-era M1 carbine, with a small-capacity clip kept in his top dresser drawer in the master bedroom. And he was a die-hard Cold War Democrat. He's gone now, but I doubt he'd be pleased with the left's ignominious child-death exploitation and its depraved push for extreme gun control measures. In his last few years, when he was in his 80's and 90's, my dad kept a small handgun on the pillow next to him while he slept. He had it just sitting right there. He felt safer with it.

Anyway, I'm just thinking about this while reading Piers Morgan's commentary at London's Daily Mail, "Deport me? If America won't change its crazy gun laws... I may deport myself says Piers Morgan" (at Memeorandum):
I have fired guns only once in my life, on a stag party to the Czech capital Prague a few years ago when part of the itinerary included a trip to an indoor shooting range. For three hours, our group were let loose on everything from Magnum 45 handguns and Glock pistols, to high-powered ‘sniper’ rifles and pump-action shotguns.

It was controlled, legal, safe and undeniably exciting. But it also showed me, quite demonstrably, that guns are killing machines.

Rarely has the hideous effect of a gun been more acutely laid bare than at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, two weeks ago – when a deranged young man called Adam Lanza murdered 20 schoolchildren aged six and seven, as well as six adults, in a sickening rampage.
He gets all whiney and admits that losing his cool with gun rights advocate Larry Pratt triggered the massive public relations campaign against him. Boo hoo. What a freakin' baby. A baby who wants to confiscate guns:
President Obama seems to agree it’s time for action. After four years of doing precisely nothing about gun control in America, he finally snapped after Sandy Hook and said he’s keen to pursue a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And he wants a closure of the absurd loopholes that mean 40 per cent of all gun sales in America currently have no background checks whatsoever – meaning any crackpot or criminal can get their hands on whatever they want.

These measures, which will be resisted every step of the way, won’t stop all gun crime. Nor all mass shootings. There are too many guns out there, and too many criminals and mentally deranged people keen to use them. But the measures will at least make a start. And they will signal an intent to tackle this deadly scourge on American life.

Obama should follow up by launching a Government buy-back for all existing assault weapons in circulation (as worked successfully in Los Angeles last week). I would go further, confiscating the rest and enforcing tough prison sentences on those who still insist on keeping one.

Either you ban these assault weapons completely, and really mean it, or you don’t.
It won't be just "assault" weapons, but progressives won't tell you that.

Continue reading.

At the essay's last line Morgan declares that he'd consider deporting himself if the laws don't change to reflect his decidedly un-American outlook.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out, brother.

BONUS: A must-see entry at This Ain't Hell, "OK, CNN, you’re disqualified from the gun discussion."

UPDATE: EBL links, "Remember Piers Morgan is laughing all the way to the bank by making money off the blood of children." Thanks!

Laws Are for Little People

From Mark Steyn, at National Review (at Memeorandum):
A week ago on NBC’s Meet the Press, David Gregory brandished on screen a high-capacity magazine. To most media experts, a “high-capacity magazine” means an ad-stuffed double issue of Vanity Fair with the triple-page perfume-scented pullouts. But apparently in America’s gun-nut gun culture of gun-crazed gun kooks, it’s something else entirely, and it was this latter kind that Mr. Gregory produced in order to taunt Wayne LaPierre of the NRA. As the poster child for America’s gun-crazed gun-kook gun culture, Mr. LaPierre would probably have been more scared by the host waving around a headily perfumed Vanity Fair. But that was merely NBC’s first miscalculation. It seems a high-capacity magazine is illegal in the District of Columbia, and the flagrant breach of D.C. gun laws is now under investigation by the police.
It's classic Steyn. More at the link.

And commenting is AoSHQ:
Does Howard Kurtz embrace that understanding of gun laws? Does Glenn Thrush? Do the various other know-nothings in the media -- who know both nothing about law and nothing about guns, but opine with great force and velocity on gun laws -- embrace this conception of gun laws, that gun laws should never target simple possession but only possession during the commission of a crime or possession with intent to commit a crime?

If not -- if they are less the right-wing gun nut than Ted Nugent (and even the Nuge might find this position too "extremist" for his taste -- then they are duty-bound to demand David Gregory's prosecution, as they would demand that any other Citizen Not On Television would be prosecuted.

They are endeavoring to explicitly create a High Caste with greater privileges than the lower castes, and immunities to the laws the lower castes suffer under, and that is a blood anathema to any real American -- and will be treated as such.
Also at Althouse, Ed Driscoll, Jawa Report, and Twitchy.

The Fiscal Cliff and Congressional Dysfunction

From David Boaz, at Cato:
Annual federal spending rose by a trillion dollars when Republicans controlled the government from 2001 to 2007. It has risen another trillion during the Bush-Obama response to the financial crisis. So spending every year is now twice what it was when Bill Clinton left office, and the national debt is three times as high. Republicans and Democrats alike should be able to find wasteful, extravagant, and unnecessary programs to cut back or eliminate. And yet many voters, especially Tea Partiers, know that both parties have been responsible. Most Republicans, including today’s House leaders, voted for the No Child Left Behind Act, the Iraq war, the prescription drug entitlement, and the TARP bailout during the Bush years. That’s why fiscal conservatives should look very skeptically at the “fiscal cliff” and “grand bargain” proposals, most of which promise to cut spending some day—not this year, not next year, but swear to God some time in the next 10 years. As the White Queen said to Alice, ”Jam to-morrow and jam yesterday—but never jam to-day.” Cuts tomorrow and cuts in the out-years—but never cuts today.

If the “dysfunctional” fight that has sent us to the edge of the fiscal cliff finally results in some constraint on out-of-control spending, then it will have been well worth all the hand-wringing headlines. But that doesn’t seem likely. The problem is not a temporary mess on Capitol Hill and not a mythical default; it’s spending, deficits, and debt.
The entire political class is the problem, but again, the first order of business is getting the Democrats out of power.

The Los Feliz Eatery

A restaurant feature, at the Los Angeles Times, "Counter Intelligence: Storefront Deli in Los Feliz":
Have you ever had the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich at the new Storefront Deli in Los Feliz? Because that sandwich, less made from scratch than reverse-engineered from a meat lover's fondest late-summer daydreams, is at the heart of one of the strongest culinary movements in the country at the moment: the radical reinvention of everyday dishes by deconstructing them and rebuilding them to the tiniest detail.
Stop. My mouth is watering already. Sheesh.

I could go for a corned beef on rye right now, come to think of it. Yum!

'If you are not illiterate, you can use civilization, monarchy, dominance, correspond, emphasize, opposition, chlorine, commotion, medicinal, irresponsible, and succession in one sentence...'

Via Mellow Jihadi:


Too Much Wishful Thinking on Middle-Class Tax Rates

From Greg Mankiw, at the New York Times, "Wishful Thinking and Middle-Class Taxes":
IN the continuing fiscal negotiations between President Obama and House Republicans, both sides have, from the very beginning, agreed on one point: Taxes on the middle class must not rise. But maybe it’s time to reconsider this premise. An unwavering commitment to keep middle-class taxes low could be one reason the political process has become so deeply dysfunctional.

Let’s start with the problem: the budget deficit. Under current policy, the federal government is spending vastly more than it is collecting in tax revenue. And that will be true for the next several decades, thanks largely to the growth in entitlement spending that will occur automatically as the population ages and health care costs increase. As a result, the ratio of government debt to the nation’s gross domestic product is projected to rise, substantially and without an end in sight.

That can happen for a while, or even a long while, but not forever. At some point, investors at home and abroad will start questioning our ability to service our debts without creating steep inflation. It’s hard to say precisely when this shift in investor sentiment will occur, and even whether it will strike in this president’s term or the next, but when it does, it won’t be pretty. The United States will find itself at the brink of an unprecedented financial crisis.

Republicans and Democrats agree on the nature of the problem, but they embrace very different solutions. My fear is that both sides are engaged in an excess of wishful thinking, with a dash of mendacity.

If Republicans had their way, they would focus the entire solution on the spending side. They say that reform of the entitlement programs can reduce their cost. The so-called premium-support plan for Medicare, from Paul D. Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice-presidential candidate, would let older Americans use their health care dollars to buy insurance from competing private plans. (Interestingly, it’s similar to the system envisioned for the nonelderly by President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.) The hope is that competition and choice would keep health care costs down without sacrificing quality.

The premium-support model may well be better than the current Medicare system, but its supporters oversell what it would be likely to accomplish. The primary driver of increasing health care costs over time is new technology, which extends and improves the quality of life, but often at high cost. Unless the pace or nature of medical innovation changes, this trend is likely to continue, regardless of structural reforms we enact for Medicare.

Democrats, meanwhile, want to preserve the social safety net pretty much as is. They balk at any attempt to reduce this spending, including even modest changes like altering the price index used to calculate Social Security benefits. They focus their attention on raising taxes on the most financially successful Americans, contending that the rich are not paying their “fair share.”

Fairness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Unfortunately, people’s judgment is often based on anecdotes that distort rather than illuminate. The story of the undertaxed Warren Buffett and his overtaxed secretary looms larger in the public’s mind than it should.

Here are some facts, so you can judge for yourself....

Even if President Obama wins all the tax increases on the rich that he is asking for, the long-term fiscal picture will still look grim. Perhaps we can stabilize the situation for a few years just by taxing the rich, but as greater numbers of baby boomers retire and start collecting Social Security and Medicare, more will need to be done.
Continue reading (via Memeorandum).

RELATED: I'm for shrinking government, so this is the bottom line for me, at The Lonely Conservative, "People Should Pay For the Government They Voted For." Raise taxes. Go over the cliff.  I guarantee you that Obama won't get off cost-free. The real cost of the election will start biting people in the ass.

Thirty-One Year Old Homeless Woman in Custody in Queens Subway-Push Death

At the New York Post, "Cops nab suspect in Queens subway-push death":

A suspect in the subway-pushing death of a Queens immigrant is in custody, police said.

Cops picked up a 31-year-old homeless woman in Brooklyn early this morning after spotting her wearing the same jacket seen in surveillance video the night that Sunando Sen, 46, was fatally shoved into the path of the 7 train at the elevated 40th Street-Lowery stop in Sunnyside, law-enforcement sources said.

The woman, who has not been charged yet, was grabbed around 5 a.m. on the corner of Empire Boulevard and Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights, the sources said.
The incoherent suspect was mumbling as cops questioned her, and at one point asked where the R train was, the sources added.

Her relatives called cops last night after seeing her on the news, law-enforcement sources said.

More at that top link.

'I think the idea is to enjoy life to its fullest...'

Johnny Rotten on death and mourning.

RELATED: "John Lydon Says 'Sons of Norway' Film Quashes Idea that 'Punk Is All Negative'."

Honda Z

This old Honda's been at the dealership in Huntington Beach for awhile now, so I finally took some pictures when I went back in this week to get a new battery for the Odyssey.

Called a "Z 600" commonly, it's technically an AZ 600, probably a 1972 (check Wikipedia for the background). This one had up-to-date vehicle registration until 2010:

Honda AZ 600

Honda AZ 600

Honda AZ 600

Honda AZ 600

MORE: "1972 Honda AZ 600 coupe" and "Honda 600 Source."

Consitutional Checks on Mob Rule

I was re-reading Federalist No. 10 and No. 51 the other day.

I think it was this post at Maggie's Farm that got me going, "Crawled out of a snowbank":
American exceptionalism contains the notion that government is a necessary evil, requiring containment and strict limitations by a virtuous people and a muscular Constitution to handcuff the state. The state is the enemy of individual freedom. GW: "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
RTWT at the link.

Fiscal Cliff: $536 Billion Tax Hikes Over the Edge; Recession Risk

At IBD, "Fiscal Cliff: $536 Billion In Tax Hikes Over the Edge":
Even for those who aren't afraid of heights, peering over the fiscal cliff may be dizzying. The plunge in after-tax income that would occur in a worst-case scenario likely would put the economy back in a deep recession.

Yet a peek over the edge now seems unavoidable, at least according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

"It looks like that's where we're headed," Reid said in a Senate floor speech on Thursday.

So here's what the view looks like. The fiscal cliff is composed of $536 billion in 2013 tax hikes, the Tax Policy Center says.

The biggest tax hikes would be an end to President Bush's 2001 and 2003 income and investment tax cuts and President Obama's 2 percentage point payroll tax cut.

But that's just the beginning. Nearly 90% of households would face an average tax increase close to $3,500.

The fiscal cliff also would trigger roughly $115 billion in automatic spending cuts.
More at the link.

And at Instapundit, "COMMENT OF THE DAY":
“For ten years we have been told that the Bush tax cuts applied mostly to the rich. Now it is imperative that we extend them further or the middle class is going to take a big hit.”
Progressives suck.

Germans Say Afghan Forces Unready for West's Withdrawal

At Der Spiegel, "Ineffective and Unsustainable: Failure Threatens Afghan Police Training Mission":
German officials have been training police in Afghanistan for a decade, but a visit to their training center in Mazar-e-Sharif creates major doubts about the effectiveness of the mission. Afghan police remain poorly prepared to tackle the mighty challenges they will face as Western forces withdraw.

The Afghan national sport is called buzkashi. It's a game in which horsemen battle over a goat carcass. There are no established teams.

During a match, the competitors forge brief, continuously shifting alliances. They only work together until they have gained a short-term advantage. The game can last for hours, even days. The winner is the rider who manages to carry the carcass to the goal. Buzkashi is a mirror of Afghan society.
By contrast, the German police officers who train local recruits in Afghanistan have brought soccer balls and nets to their base in Mazar-e-Sharif. Football is all about teamwork and team spirit. The goal is to form a team and achieve an objective together.

In a corner of the training center, on a patch of parched earth, there is now a soccer field where the next generation of Afghan police officers is learning the game.

"What we want to achieve with the recruits is a change in mentality," says a German instructor. More team spirit, a better sense of community, more loyalty. More soccer, less buzkashi.

Over the past 10 years, Germany has instructed some 56,000 Afghan police officers at four training centers in the region. The training is part of Germany's responsibility as a member of NATO, and so far the project has cost some €380 million ($503 million). As many as 200 German police officers are regularly stationed in Afghanistan, most of them in Mazar-e-Sharif.

But anyone who accompanies the German security aid workers for a few days is bound to doubt the mission's effectiveness after observing the mood among the officers and reading between the lines of official statements. Even now, when Western security forces have entered their 11th year of training, the police in Afghanistan don't stand for public order and security -- but rather for helplessness, arbitrariness and corruption.
Oh boy.

This won't be good, as I reported on Thursday: "An Uneasy Separation in Afghanistan."

In any case, an interesting role the Germans have played as part of the NATO contingent. Continue reading at the link.

Senate Leaders to Work on Agreement

At LAT, "Obama 'modestly optimistic' that 'fiscal cliff' can be avoided":

WASHINGTON – President Obama said he was “modestly optimistic” that Senate leaders could reach an agreement to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, but he said that if the effort fails, he’ll demand a vote on his basic proposal to protect middle-class taxpayers from seeing their taxes rise.

Speaking to reporters in the White House on Friday evening, a stern Obama tried to ramp up the pressure on lawmakers as they cobble together a deal before a potentially growth-crippling combination of tax increases and spending cuts take effect in the new year.

“The hour for immediate action is here. It is now,” Obama said.

Obama spoke shortly after meeting with top congressional leaders at the White House, during which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed try to come up with a proposal before the Dec. 31 deadline.

The president called the meeting “good and constructive” and suggested there was still time to reach a compromise. But if lawmakers failed to find common ground, Obama said, he has asked Reid to bring up a vote on a scaled-back version of his original proposal.

“If members of House or the Senate want to vote no, they can,” Obama said. “But we should let everybody vote. That’s the way this is supposed to work.”
Lots more at Memeorandum.

Obama's Zero-Sum Universe

From P.J. O'Rourke, at the Wall Street Journal, "Dear Mr. President, Zero-Sum Doesn't Add Up":
Given that hypocrisy is an important part of diplomacy, and diplomacy is necessary to foreign policy, allow me to congratulate you on winning a second term.

I wish I could also congratulate you on your conduct of international affairs. I do thank you for killing Osama bin Laden. It was a creditable action for which you deserve some of the credit you've been given. Of course the intelligence was gathered, and the mission was undertaken, by men and women who, although they answer to your command, answer to duty first. And it is difficult to imagine any president of the United States who, under the circumstances, wouldn't have ordered the strike against bin Laden. Although there is Jimmy Carter. Thank you for not being Jimmy Carter.

But even though it violates the insincere amity that creates a period of calm following national elections, no thank you for the following, and it is only a partial list...
Continue reading.

Friday, December 28, 2012

In Ireland, Carbon Taxes Demonstrate Global Left's Radical Environmentalism in Action

This is a mind-boggling story, particularly since it's like a Twilight Zone preview of our Dystopian future, at the New York Times, "Carbon Taxes Make Ireland Even Greener":
DUBLIN — Over the last three years, with its economy in tatters, Ireland embraced a novel strategy to help reduce its staggering deficit: charging households and businesses for the environmental damage they cause.

The government imposed taxes on most of the fossil fuels used by homes, offices, vehicles and farms, based on each fuel’s carbon dioxide emissions, a move that immediately drove up prices for oil, natural gas and kerosene. Household trash is weighed at the curb, and residents are billed for anything that is not being recycled.

The Irish now pay purchase taxes on new cars and yearly registration fees that rise steeply in proportion to the vehicle’s emissions.

Environmentally and economically, the new taxes have delivered results. Long one of Europe’s highest per-capita producers of greenhouse gases, with levels nearing those of the United States, Ireland has seen its emissions drop more than 15 percent since 2008.

Although much of that decline can be attributed to a recession, changes in behavior also played a major role, experts say, noting that the country’s emissions dropped 6.7 percent in 2011 even as the economy grew slightly.

“We are not saints like those Scandinavians — we were lapping up fossil fuels, buying bigger cars and homes, very American,” said Eamon Ryan, who was Ireland’s energy minister from 2007 to 2011. “We just set up a price signal that raised significant revenue and changed behavior. Now, we’re smashing through the environmental targets we set for ourselves.”

By contrast, carbon taxes are viewed as politically toxic in the United States. Republican leaders in Congress have pledged to block any proposal for such a tax, and President Obama has not advocated one, although the idea has drawn support from economists of varying ideologies.
Of course they're politically toxic. Can political elites be more stupid?

It turns out that all is not well in Ireland:
Not everyone is happy. The prices of basic commodities like gasoline and heating oil have risen 5 to 10 percent. This is particularly hard on the poor, although the government has provided subsidies for low-income families to better insulate homes, for example. And industries complain that the higher prices have made it harder for them to compete outside Ireland.

“Prices just keep going up, and a lot of people think it’s a scam,” said Imelda Lyons, 45, as she filled her car at a gas station here. “You call it a carbon tax, but what good is being done with it to help the environment?”

The coalition government that enacted the taxes was voted out of office last year. “Just imagine President Obama saying in the debate, ‘I’ve got this great idea, but it’s going to increase your gasoline price,’ ” said Mr. Ryan, who lost his seat in the last election and now leads the Green Party. “People didn’t exactly cheer us on.”
Keep reading.

Taxes are added by as much as 36 percent of a car's market price at the point of sale, factored into the sticker price. And additional taxes are billed directly to drivers, often adding thousands of dollars to annual vehicle operating costs. And because people at lower incomes are less able to afford newer cars with all the latest "green" technologies, the tax system is heavily regressive. But read the whole thing. You can bet Ireland's experience will be touted as a model for radical environmentalists here at home, and folks in Washington (the progressive political class) have been talking about all kinds of alternative taxes systems, such as value added systems. Unless Americans start turning back toward freedom and free markets, such schemes will be increasingly a part of our lives as well, with the least well-off bearing the brunt of the impoverishment and with our overall standard of living imperiled.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio Deploying 'Armed Posse' to Schools

At Fox News, "Arizona Sheriff Arpaio: Armed Volunteer Posse Should Guard Schools."

Video Credit: Nice Deb, "Sheriff Arpaio to Deploy Armed Posse to Guard Phoenix Schools (Video)."

Fiscal Cliff Reveals Long-Term Partisan Divide

Following up on my report yesterday, "America's Crisis of Big Government Cronyism and Corruption."

Here's Ronald Brownstein, at National Journal, "The Fiscal Cliff's Greatest Threat Is to American Unity":

Obama Boehner
The real issue in the frantic final flailing over the fiscal cliff isn’t whether Washington can balance its books. It’s whether blue America and red America are capable of, or even interested in, mediating their differences. The evidence is growing more discouraging.

Across almost every front, the process of pulling apart that has reshaped the political landscape over the past generation appears to be accelerating.

At the national level, President Obama and Mitt Romney mobilized almost mirror-image coalitions. Over 40 percent of Obama’s votes came from minorities; nearly 90 percent of Romney’s votes came from whites. Obama won three-fifths of voters under 30; Romney won more than three-fifths of white seniors.

Compared with Democrats, Republicans since the 1980s have been a more ideologically homogenous party that is more resistant to compromise—as last week’s rejection of House Speaker John Boehner’s fiscal “Plan B” demonstrated. (Electoral incentives help explain that imbalance: Because self-identified conservatives outnumber liberals among voters, Democrats in most places need to carry more moderates to win than Republicans do, and that creates greater pressure on Democrats to compromise.) But after an election in which Obama won despite historic deficits among the blue-collar and older whites that once anchored the conservative end of his party’s coalition, ideological cohesion is rising among Democrats too.

Consider the profile of Obama and Romney voters that Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz traces in an upcoming paper. In the Election Day exit poll, three-fourths of Obama voters said that government should be doing more to solve problems, while over four-fifths of Romney voters said that it is already doing too much. More than four-fifths of Obama voters wanted to maintain or expand his health care law, while nearly nine-in-10 Romney voters backed its repeal. Three times as many Obama voters as Romney voters supported legalizing gay marriage.

This same pulling apart is evident in the states. Eighteen states—what I’ve called the “blue wall”—have voted Democratic in at least the past six presidential elections. After November’s ballot victories in Maine, Maryland, and Washington, seven of them have now authorized gay marriage and six others have approved civil unions or broad domestic partnership rights for same-sex couples. Depending on how legislative or court fights unfold, it’s conceivable that California and New Jersey, two blue-wall states, could approve same-sex-marriage ballot initiatives by 2016. Meanwhile, virtually every Republican-leaning state has barred gay marriage.

Similarly, 14 governors have agreed to join the expansion of Medicaid that represents one pillar of the Obama plan to cover the uninsured; Nevada’s Brian Sandoval is the only Republican among them. Almost all Republican governors also let the deadline pass earlier this month without establishing the online exchanges that comprise the other big coverage expansion. Even after Obama’s victory eliminated the possibility that his health reform bill would be repealed, Republican governors are continuing what amounts to a sit-down strike against it.

This centrifugal tendency is now embedded in Congress’s DNA. As split-ticket voting has declined, fewer legislators in each party are elected, in effect, behind enemy lines (by voters who usually prefer the other party for the White House).

Michael Franc, vice president for government studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation, correctly observes that because of that dynamic, during a confrontation like the fiscal cliff, most legislators are more likely to face demands to stand firm than complaints about inflexibility. “When everybody goes back home, I don’t think they are feeling the heat from their constituents” for failing to reach agreement, Franc says. “If anything, they are hearing the opposite. So ... there’s no rational political incentive to back down.”
There's more at that top link. Brownstein concludes by lamenting the nation's "fraying sense of common purpose." Actually, that's not what the data are telling us. All those constituents back home in the red districts don't want America moving further into the socialist orbit, becoming a Sweden, or worse, a Cuba. The Democrats cling to power with a coalition of dependents. The Democrats welcome all manner of hard-line socialists and collectivists into their midst. And the president himself leads the morally bankrupt intransigence in government. It's all about punishing the successful demographics in the name of fairness. Screw these people. Republicans need to stay strong against the onslaught.

PHOTO: The White House Flickr page.

Homeless Woman Set on fire at Van Nuys Bus Stop

She's in critical condition.

At the Los Angeles Times, "Police identify suspect in attack on homeless woman in Van Nuys," and "Suspect in homeless woman's burning is mentally ill, police say."

The mental illness thing's a ruse. This is an unspeakable crime. When chased by witnesses the suspect pulled a knife.

Deportee Returns to the United States After More Than Year in Mexico

I have nothing to add on this one. The Times just makes heroic the illegals flooding over our borders.

See, "A risky return to the U.S.":
Luis Luna returned to his hometown of South Gate in May. His arms and legs were scraped raw from cactus needles and his eyes kept blinking, still starved of moisture from his eight-day journey through the Arizona desert the week before.

His friend, Julio Cortez, said it was hard to believe that this gaunt young man with patches of missing hair was the same person he knew at Southeast Middle School.

"I was in shock to see him back and see all he had gone through," Cortez said. "It made me sad and angry."

Cortez, a 22-year-old Cal State Long Beach student, took Luis to buy some clothes. Another former classmate gave Luis a cellphone. Luis slept on couches and in spare bedrooms and spent his days passing out resumes filled with the jobs of his teen years: flipping burgers, waiting tables at I-Hop. He fudged the dates to account for the 15 months he spent in Mexico after he was deported for being in the country illegally.

Luis had been pulled over three years ago for a broken headlight in Pasco, Wash., where he and his mother lived. He was cited for driving without a license, jailed and ordered out of the country in February 2011.

He had a wife back in Washington, but she had left him, in part because of the long separation. Luis decided to build a new life in Southern California, where he had grown up and where he still had friends

Weeks after arriving, he was still jobless and borrowing money to eat when he decided his future might lie in his past. He started retracing the route he took as a boy selling chocolates at warehouses and factories. The assembly line workers, truck drivers and managers knew him as Anthony, the name his mother told him to use to hide his identity.

They could vouch for his strong work ethic — that he'd been working for a living since he was 5 years old.

He eventually found the barrilero job, and a place to live. A swap meet vendor who picked through the bins of cast-offs looking for vintage garments told Luis he had extra space at his house.

Luis goes home to a converted two-car garage with no address in a middle-class neighborhood with trim lawns and streets lined with late-model cars. Much of his clothing is stuffed in a battered dark green suitcase that sits at the foot of his bed. The only other furniture is a mini refrigerator and two lawn chairs.

In some ways, he's a typical youngster with edgy tastes. He has a sleeve tattoo, wears skinny jeans and earrings, and is part of a deejay crew that plays at house parties. He cheers his beloved Los Angeles Lakers and hangs out in hookah bars, and is constantly texting flirty messages.

But his future is dimmer than most. Many of his friends are planning for life after college. Some are applying for work permits and temporary reprieves from deportation, taking advantage of an Obama administration program, announced in June, to help young people who were brought into the country as children.
Continue reading.

The Obama administration's "program."

Yeah, illegal immigrant voter registration program. Again, another massive fraud on our supposed system of rule of law. The Democrats certainly don't care.

That's all.