Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Blessing 

"The great majority of people will go on observing forms that cannot be explained; they will keep Christmas Day with Christmas gifts and Christmas benedictions; they will continue to do it; and some day suddenly wake up and discover why."--G.K. Chesterton, "On Christmas," Generally Speaking

Joseph Bottum, "And Heaven and Nature Sing":

Children know this, learning the season by learning the words: Bethlehem and sleigh bells, chestnuts and elves, wise men and candy canes. G.K. Chesterton once complained about Scrooge and Bob Cratchit and Jacob Marley and all the rest, insisting that Dickens proved with A Christmas Carol his very English separation from the deep wellsprings of European culture--for, said Chesterton, never was there an event that had inspired more mythology in Western Civilization, and still Dickens had to invent his own Christmas myth.

But Chesterton got it wrong. Christmas wants to grow richer. Christmas wants to be as extravagant as that impossible turkey Bob Cratchit receives from Scrooge on Christmas morning. Ornaments and tinsel, snowflakes and crèches, shepherds and magi. Christmas would gobble up the whole language, if it could, and Charles Dickens--the great intuitive writer of the age--knew it.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, and especially to our far-flung sentries!

UPDATE: Why not? More "Christmas", All Things Considered (1908):

There is no more dangerous or disgusting habit than that of celebrating Christmas before it comes, as I am doing in this article. It is the very essence of a festival that it breaks upon one brilliantly and abruptly, that at one moment the great day is not and the next moment the great day is. ...

Of course, all this secrecy about Christmas is merely sentimental and ceremonial; if you do not like what is sentimental and ceremonial, do not celebrate Christmas at all. You will not be punished if you don't; also, since we are no longer ruled by those sturdy Puritans who won for us civil and religious liberty, you will not even be punished if you do. But I cannot understand why any one should bother about a ceremonial except ceremonially. If a thing only exists in order to be graceful, do it gracefully or do not do it. If a thing only exists as something professing to be solemn, do it solemnly or do not do it. There is no sense in doing it slouchingly; nor is there even any liberty. ...

Let us be consistent, therefore, about Christmas, and either keep customs or not keep them. If you do not like sentiment and symbolism, you do not like Christmas; go away and celebrate something else; I should suggest the birthday of Mr. M'Cabe. No doubt you could have a sort of scientific Christmas with a hygienic pudding and highly instructive presents stuffed into a Jaeger stocking; go and have it then. If you like those things, doubtless you are a good sort of fellow, and your intentions are excellent. I have no doubt that you are really interested in humanity; but I cannot think that humanity will ever be much interested in you. Humanity is unhygienic from its very nature and beginning. It is so much an exception in Nature that the laws of Nature really mean nothing to it. Now Christmas is attacked also on the humanitarian ground. Ouida called it a feast of slaughter and gluttony. Mr. Shaw suggested that it was invented by poulterers. That should be considered before it becomes more considerable. ["If a man called Christmas Day a mere hypocritical excuse for drunkeness and gluttony, that would be false, but it would have a fact hidden in it somewhere. But when Bernard Shaw says that Christmas Day is only a conspiracy kept up by Poulterers and wine merchants from strictly business motives, then he says something which is not so much false as startling and arrestingly foolish. He might as well say that the two sexes were invented by jewellers who wanted to sell wedding rings." - 'George Bernard Shaw', Ch. 6] ...

I do not know whether an animal killed at Christmas has had a better or a worse time than it would have had if there had been no Christmas or no Christmas dinners. But I do know that the fighting and suffering brotherhood to which I belong and owe everything, Mankind, would have a much worse time if there were no such thing as Christmas or Christmas dinners. Whether the turkey which Scrooge gave to Bob Cratchit had experienced a lovelier or more melancholy career than that of less attractive turkeys is a subject upon which I cannot even conjecture. But that Scrooge was better for giving the turkey and Cratchit happier for getting it I know as two facts, as I know that I have two feet. What life and death may be to a turkey is not my business; but the soul of Scrooge and the body of Cratchit are my business. Nothing shall induce me to darken human homes, to destroy human festivities, to insult human gifts and human benefactions for the sake of some hypothetical knowledge which Nature curtained from our eyes. We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty. If we catch sharks for food, let them be killed most mercifully; let any one who likes love the sharks, and pet the sharks, and tie ribbons round their necks and give them sugar and teach them to dance. But if once a man suggests that a shark is to be valued against a sailor, or that the poor shark might be permitted to bite off a nigger's leg occasionally; then I would court-martial the man--he is a traitor to the ship.

And while I take this view of humanitarianism of the anti-Christmas kind, it is cogent to say that I am a strong anti-vivisectionist. That is, if there is any vivisection, I am against it. I am against the cutting-up of conscious dogs for the same reason that I am in favour of the eating of dead turkeys. The connection may not be obvious; but that is because of the strangely unhealthy condition of modern thought. I am against cruel vivisection as I am against a cruel anti-Christmas asceticism, because they both involve the upsetting of existing fellowships and the shocking of normal good feelings for the sake of something that is intellectual, fanciful, and remote. It is not a human thing, it is not a humane thing, when you see a poor woman staring hungrily at a [turkey], to think, not of the obvious feelings of the woman, but of the unimaginable feelings of the deceased bloater. Similarly, it is not human, it is not humane, when you look at a dog to think about what theoretic discoveries you might possibly make if you were allowed to bore a hole in his head. Both the humanitarians' fancy about the feelings concealed inside the bloater, and the vivisectionists' fancy about the knowledge concealed inside the dog, are unhealthy fancies, because they upset a human sanity that is certain for the sake of something that is of necessity uncertain. The vivisectionist, for the sake of doing something that may or may not be useful, does something that certainly is horrible. The anti-Christmas humanitarian, in seeking to have a sympathy with a turkey which no man can have with a turkey, loses the sympathy he has already with the happiness of millions of the poor. ...

Meanwhile, it remains true that I shall eat a great deal of turkey this Christmas; and it is not in the least true (as the vegetarians say) that I shall do it because I do not realise what I am doing, or because I do what I know is wrong, or that I do it with shame or doubt or a fundamental unrest of conscience. In one sense I know quite well what I am doing; in another sense I know quite well that I know not what I do. Scrooge and the Cratchits and I are, as I have said, all in one boat; the turkey and I are, to say the most of it, ships that pass in the night, and greet each other in passing. I wish him well; but it is really practically impossible to discover whether I treat him well. I can avoid, and I do avoid with horror, all special and artificial tormenting of him, sticking pins in him for fun or sticking knives in him for scientific investigation. But whether by feeding him slowly and killing him quickly for the needs of my brethren, I have improved in his own solemn eyes his own strange and separate destiny, whether I have made him in the sight of God a slave or a martyr, or one whom the gods love and who die young--that is far more removed from my possibilities of knowledge than the most abstruse intricacies of mysticism or theology. A turkey is more occult and awful than all the angels and archangels In so far as God has partly revealed to us an angelic world, he has partly told us what an angel means. But God has never told us what a turkey means. And if you go and stare at a live turkey for an hour or two, you will find by the end of it that the enigma has rather increased than diminished.

Luke 1 


"...God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said.""

Police Navidad: Santa Hussein Claus at the North INTERPOL 


if I voted for Gov. Palin, I'd get a Police State administration with an Above-the-Law attitude...and they were right!

Andy McCarthy:

By executive order 12425, issued in 1983, President Reagan recognized Interpol as an international organization and gave it some of the privileges and immunities customarily extended to foreign diplomats. Interpol, however, is also an active law-enforcement agency, so critical privileges and immunities (set forth in Section 2(c) of the International Organizations Immunities Act) were withheld. Specifically, Interpol's property and assets remained subject to search and seizure, and its archived records remained subject to public scrutiny under provisions like the Freedom of Information Act. Being constrained by the Fourth Amendment, FOIA, and other limitations of the Constitution and federal law that protect the liberty and privacy of Americans is what prevents law-enforcement and its controlling government authority from becoming tyrannical.

On Wednesday, however, for no apparent reason, President Obama issued an executive order removing the Reagan limitations.
Get your grubby Communist paws off Ronald Reagan's legacy. You are so unfit to toy with it.

That is, Interpol's property and assets are no longer subject to search and confiscation, and its archives are now considered inviolable. This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.

Interpol works closely with international tribunals (such as the International Criminal Court — which the United States has refused to join because of its sovereignty surrendering provisions, though top Obama officials want us in it). It also works closely with foreign courts and law-enforcement authorities (such as those in Europe that are investigating former Bush administration officials for purported war crimes — i.e., for actions taken in America's defense).

Why would we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies? Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files which, therefore, will be beyond the ability of Congress, American law-enforcement, the media, and the American people to scrutinize?

Steve Schippert:

President George W. Bush rejected subjecting the United States to the jurisdiction of the ICC and removed the United States as a signatory. President Bill Clinton had previously signed the Rome Statute during his presidency. Two critical matters are at play. One is an overall matter of sovereignty and the concept of the primacy of American law above those of the rest of the world. But more recently a more over-riding concern principally has been the potential - if not likely - specter of subjecting our Armed Forces to a hostile international body seeking war crimes prosecutions during the execution of an unpopular war.

President Bush in fact went so far as to gain agreement from nations that they would expressly not detain or hand over to the ICC members of the United States armed forces. The fear of a symbolic ICC circus trial as a form of international political protest to American military actions in Iraq and elsewhere was real and palpable.

President Obama's words have been carefully chosen when directly regarding the ICC. While President Bush outright rejected subjugating American armed forces to any international court as a matter of policy, President Obama said in his 2008 presidential campaign that it is merely "premature to commit" to signing America on.

However, in a Foreign Policy in Focus round-table in 2008, the host group cited his former foreign policy advisor, Samantha Power. She essentially laid down what can be viewed as now-President Obama's roadmap to America rejoining the ICC. His principal objections are not explained as those of sovereignty, but rather of image and perception.

Obama's former foreign policy advisor, Samantha Power, said in an early March (2008) interview with The Irish Times that many things need to happen before Obama could think about signing the Rome Treaty.

"Until we've closed Guantánamo, gotten out of Iraq responsibly, renounced torture and rendition, shown a different face for America, American membership of the ICC is going to make countries around the world think the ICC is a tool of American hegemony.
Did you get that?

Real American presidents rejected ICC membership because it didn't live up American standards for the Consent of the Governed. But Obama has until now rejected our membership in the Court because... we don't live up to their standards!

America is not good enough to join Obama's Euro-Pal Club!

Until now, that is:

The detention center at Guantánamo Bay is nearing its closure and an alternate continental American site for terrorist detention has been selected in Illinois. The time line for Iraq withdrawal has been set. And President Obama has given an abundance of international speeches intended to "show a different face for America." He has in fact been roundly criticized domestically for the routinely apologetic and critical nature of these speeches.

This is another part of the plan to drag us into a World Government and bind us down, because we are The Rogue Nation in the eyes of these radicals.

It also smells of a way to help foreign entities to prosecute Bush officials. Obama may regret that some day, finding himself on that list he meant for others.

"Sí, Sí Hacemos!" 


George Will, that is.

The weather in Will's column is frightful--but the fire is so delightful:

It would have been unprecedented had the president not described the outcome of the Copenhagen climate change summit as "unprecedented," that being the most overworked word in his hardworking vocabulary of self-celebration. Actually, the mountain beneath the summit -- a mountain of manufactured hysteria, predictable cupidity, antic demagoguery and dubious science -- labored mightily and gave birth to a mouselet, a 12-paragraph document committing the signatories to . . . make a list.

A list of the goals they have no serious intention of trying to meet. The document even dropped the words "as soon as possible" from its call for a binding agreement on emissions.

On A-Thousand-Points-of-Government Health Care:

Reid was buying the votes of senators whose understanding of the duties of representation does not rise above looting the nation for local benefits. And Reid had two advantages -- the spending, taxing and borrowing powers of the federal leviathan, and an almost gorgeous absence of scruples or principles. Principles are general rules, such as: Nebraska should not be exempt from burdens imposed on the other 49 states.

Principles have not, however, been entirely absent: Nebraska's Republican governor, Dave Heineman, and Republican senator, Mike Johanns, have honorably denounced Nebraska's exemption from expanded Medicaid costs. The exemption was one payment for Nelson's vote to impose the legislation on Nebraskans, 67 percent of whom oppose it.
Imposing a One-Size-Fits-All "solution" while doling out Special Favors, Local Payoffs and Corrupt Exemptions is the worst of two worlds. And enacting it on a strict party-line vote in the teeth of vast public opposition makes three.



The Times, via Wesley J. Smith:

"The Ronald Reagan U.C.L.A. Medical Center, one of the nation’s most highly regarded academic hospitals, has earned a reputation as a place where doctors will go to virtually any length and expense to try to save a patient’s life. “If you come into this hospital, we’re not going to let you die,” said Dr. David T. Feinberg, the hospital system’s chief executive. Yet that ethos has made the medical center a prime target for critics in the Obama administration..."
I'm sure it has.

Merry Christmas to all the fine people at the Ronald Reagan U.C.L.A. Medical Center.

Harry Reid: "PayolaCare belongs to the Ages now--Worship me, mortals!" 


The Weekly Standard:

Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) pointed out some rather astounding language in the Senate health care bill during floor remarks tonight. First, he noted that there are a number of changes to Senate rules in the bill--and it's supposed to take a 2/3 vote to change the rules. And then he pointed out that the Reid bill declares on page 1020 that the Independent Medicare Advisory Board cannot be repealed by future Congresses:

“It shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection.”

This is not legislation. It’s not law. This is a rule change. It’s a pretty big deal. We will be passing a new law and at the same time creating a Senate rule that makes it out of order to amend or even repeal the law.

I’m not even sure that it’s constitutional, but if it is, it most certainly is a Senate rule. I don’t see why the majority party wouldn’t put this in every bill. If you like your law, you most certainly would want it to have force for future Senates.

I mean, we want to bind future Congresses. This goes to the fundamental purpose of Senate rules: to prevent a tyrannical majority from trampling the rights of the minority or of future Congresses.

Paging Sarah Palin: the death panel is unkillable.

Even our Founders put an amendment provision in the Constitution so it could be changed. But Harry is smarter than all those guys.

Harry Reid's PayolaCare bill is so good, wise and perfect, it is changeless, Carved in Stone For the Ages, lo, even unto Eternity.

At bare minimum, it seems like passing a supermajority rule should require you to pass it by that supermajority, no? But outlawing any changes... 4Ever? That's arrogance above and beyond.

Rich Lowry has Five Reasons It Might Not Pass. Here's another; now that we've established the Federal Minimum Bribe is $300 million, why would any lawmaker sell his vote for less? If you thought the ransom payments this week were corrupt, wait 'til next week, now that Harry Reid has told all lawmakers they are fools if they don't get their cut.

QUESTION: We know that the new taxes would start immediately while the benefits would take years and years to kick in. This was done simply to game the 10-year CBO scoring, so the price tag could stay allegedly under a $Trillion. Politicians simply didn't want to say the word "TRILLION".

We also know that CBO was forced to use fraudulent fantasy assumptions, the equivalent of saying the government is planning to win the Powerball lottery every week for the next century.

So why would a Congress take that pr beating for several years? Or would they wait a few months until the heat was off and then move the date of benefits up? What's one more fraud in a Field of Frauds: "If you bribe it, they will come."

Speaking of, you will be pleased to know that Roland Burris got ACORNCare into the bill.

The provision he cites, found on pages 240 through 248 of the manager's amendment, requires that six different agencies each establish an “Office of Minority Health.”... According to a Senate legislative aide, the scandal-plagued Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now could qualify for grants under this provision. ACORN would also qualify for funding on page 150 of the underlying Reid bill, which says that "community and consumer-focused nonprofit groups" may receive grants to "conduct public education activities to raise awareness of the availability of qualified health plans."

Maybe the “Office of Minority Health” could explain to us why the Tanning Bed Tax isn't a tax on white people. Very white people.

People like Founding Father Harry Reid.

(Via Hot Air)

The Paranoid Style in the US Senate 


Robert Stacy McCain has foreclosed on Sheldon's Whitehouse, with video here.


"Far from appealing to the better angels of our nature, too many colleagues are embarked on a desperate no-holds-barred mission of propaganda, obstruction and fear. History cautions us of the excesses to which these malignant, vindictive passions can ultimately lead. Tumbrils have rolled through taunting crowds, broken glass has sparkled in darkened streets. Strange fruit has hung from Southern trees. Even this great institution of government that we share has cowered before a tail-gunner waving secret lists..."

Translation: "Tumbrels" were the carts used by French revolutionaries to haul victims to the guillotines. "broken glass" means Hitler's "Kristollnacht" terrorism, and "strange fruit" means Klansmen lynching blacks. And they all teamed up with Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, 56% of the American people, Glenn Beck and the insurance companies to stop Hope and Change.

Whitehouse obviously doesn't know his French tumbrel from his Scotch tumbler.

The Jacobins were the original Leftists, the Hitlerites were National Socialists and the Klansmen were all Democrats. Leftists, Socialists and Democrats. Sheldon has a much better claim to all of them than do American conservatives.

American Spectator:

If you oppose this bill, you're a dangerous nut.

Such was the essence of Sunday's floor speech in which the junior senator from Rhode Island quoted at length from Richard Hofstadter's 1965 classic, The Paranoid Style in American Politics and offered it as a diagnosis of the health bill's opponents. ...

Certainly this should sound familiar to conservatives, as Hofstadter's psycho-political theory -- derived from the work of Theodor Adorno -- was analyzed and dismissed by William F. Buckley Jr. a half-century ago. ...

To denounce fearmongering while simultaneously likening one's opponents to the murderous rabble of 1938 Germany is a neat trick, as was Senator Whitehouse's effort to blame Senate Republicans for having "ruined" Christmas by delaying passage of the health-care bill. Of course, it is Democrats who have pushed the bill toward a projected Christmas Eve roll-call vote in order to give President Obama a major legislative accomplishment to tout in his State of the Union Address next month. ...

Such is the state of affairs as we approach the first Christmas of the Hope and Change presidency. Democrats rush toward a vote on major legislation -- more than 2,000 pages [now pushing 3,000-ed.], its cost to taxpayers estimated at more than $2 trillion -- before its contents can be read or analyzed, even while insisting that it is not they, but their opponents, who are in the grip of madness.

Hofstadter's "The Paranoid Style" has kept Liberals from processing two facts: a Commie killed JFK and the Venona Files largely vindicated "Tail-Gunner" Joe McCarthy.

For example, here's 'The Obama Haters--We still don't understand how fringe conservatism went mainstream.' By David Greenberg:

Over the next decade [after leaving the Communist Party--ed.], Hofstadter retained his interest in ultraconservatism. As the fury of McCarthyism gave way to the more quotidian conformity of the Ike Age (and the popular rejection of the cerebral Adlai Stevenson), Hofstadter trained his focus on the historical sources of America's long-standing hostility toward the life of the mind, producing perhaps his most brilliant work, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963). Just at that moment, however, right-wing extremism came roaring back. In 1964, the far right won the Republican presidential nomination for its own standard-bearer, Barry Goldwater. And the assassination of President Kennedy on a trip to seething, ultraconservative Dallas—where mobs had just verbally and physically harassed Stevenson and where a John Birch Society newspaper ad on Nov. 22 menacingly charged the president with communistic sympathies—made the extremists appear newly dangerous.

Hofstadter hints at the influence of the assassination on his thinking in "The Paranoid Style." He recounts a congressional hearing, following Kennedy's murder, on a gun-control measure that so exercised three Arizona men that they "drove 2,500 miles to Washington from Bagdad, Arizona, to testify against it … with what might be considered representative paranoid arguments, insisting that it was an 'attempt by a subversive power to make us part of one world socialistic government. ' " If nothing else, the assassination crystallized the worries about a resurgent right that led historians in the 1960s to look again at conspiracy-mindedness.

Did you see that? Lots of dark words around conservatives--but it was a Commie who pulled the trigger! Not that you would ever know it from that account.

Ed Driscoll:

"So how do you get, really, from this place in 1963, where Kennedy is shot by a communist, to '68 where communists like Castro are heroes to the left?" Piereson believes this could have only happened due to the cultural disorientation caused by the airbrushing of Kennedy's assassination and the attempt to "view it as a civil rights event, instead of a Cold War event." ..."The anti-Americanism and the conspiracy theorizing and the rough political language characterized by the left now enters into liberalism," Piereson says.

As for "a tail-gunner waving secret lists", he was right about this much:

Soviet espionage in America, Haynes said, is one area where many historians have been especially biased; in fact, the bulk of In Denial deals with this "lying about spying." Haynes himself has found (in Soviet telegraphs decrypted as part of the Venona Project) overwhelming evidence that hundreds of influential Americans-including high-ranking government officials Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White-served as spies for the USSR.

Faced with such revelations, revisionists have gone from denying Soviet espionage to rationalizing or redefining it, Haynes reported. These American Communists were not spies, some of them insist, they were just internationally minded "progressives" who "exchanged information" with their friends from Russia. Some revisionists go so far as to claim that by helping to break the atomic monopoly and restrain American "aggression," Soviet spies contributed to world peace and even helped the U.S. (If that was the case, Haynes quipped, maybe America should have joined the Soviets in awarding the spies medals.)

And then have a drink everytime a liberal cites Hofstadter.

It is the now one of the oldest, lamest tricks in the liberal playbook; conservatives are fascists, conservatives are stupid, conservatives are kooks. It's the Soviet psychiatry weapon: "My opponents are mentally ill!"

Sheldon Whitehouse is so liberal, he once dated Miranda Warning. She had to get a restraining order.

But given that Democrats keep offering up such loosely-wrapped politicians as the Gothic Clintons, the Apocalypse Gore, Dennis Kucinich from Alpha Remulak-12, Joe Biden from whatever Welsh mining town Lord Kinnock grew up in, Escapee Grayson and B. Boyish Man, maybe ol' Shel should take on conservative arguments based on the merits, instead of psychoanalyzing us.

Crazy, huh?

Harry Reid: 'All 100 Senators Were Paid Off--No Big Deal!' 



“There are 100 senators here and I don’t know that there’s a senator that doesn’t have something in this bill that isn’t important to them,” Reid said. “If they don’t have something in it important to them then it doesn’t speak well of them.”

This is Reid's pathetic attempt to justify bribing Nelson and others by conflating regular legislative process with this outrageous payola, and to spread the blame around to every single senator, even those who have refused to participate in the looting spree.

“It’s the art of compromise. In this great country of ours, Nevada has many different problems than does New Hampshire. Michigan has many different problems than does Georgia.”
And all of us share Nevada's problem; Majority Misleader Harry Reid.

Via Slublog.

Hillary Warned Us... 

that Barack Obama would get the 3 a.m. phone call about hostile extremists trying to seize power. She was right.

But it was just Harry Reid calling to report the Senate vote tally.

America's Not "Ungovernable"... 


William Voegeli:

When Rudy Giuliani became mayor of "ungovernable" New York City in 1994, he demonstrated that a successful commitment to limited but effective government is far more resonant than affirming that unlimited and ineffective government invariably fails. Some people once hoped Arnold Schwarzenegger would become California's Giuliani. ...

If California is to have a more conservative future, it's going to result from patient, painstaking attention to political and policy details, not from finally discovering the dramatic transformation that catalyzes a blue state into a red one. Conservatives have gotten most of the mileage they ever will out of efforts to translate Californians' anger into a polling place backlash against the permanent government. For conservatism to revive its fortunes, and California's, far-sighted resolve will have to do the work that populist outrage cannot. Two connections must be forged for that project to succeed. First, the state's Republican Party will have to break free from the gravitational pull of the Progressive legacy to establish itself as the vital political intermediary between the public's desire for fair and frugal public services, and a newly chastened government that delivers them conscientiously. The historical record clearly establishes that direct legislation and galvanizing leaders are not adequate to this task, and independent administrative experts can be trusted only to sabotage it.

Second, the institutional capacity of the Republican Party will be inadequate to its mission unless it persuades Californians that they have an urgent, abiding, and legitimate interest in reclaiming their government from the public employee unions who have asserted squatters' rights over it. ...

A telling, because surprising, place to begin that argument is by contending that the permanent government has disqualified itself from superintending California's welfare state, ostensibly its reason for existence. When parents can't enroll their children in healthcare programs online because it is more important to protect clerical jobs, the humane purposes of the welfare state are mocked. When teachers unions proudly commend themselves for making it effectively impossible for schools to discipline or fire faculty members who are burnouts and creeps, the endless, cynical talk about putting children first becomes an indictment. If the rhetoric determined the reality of the welfare state, the needs of its clients would always take precedence over the demands of its personnel. It is a scandal that the politicians who ought to be most deeply concerned about using California's tax dollars as efficiently as possible to assist the state's neediest residents are, instead, complacent and often insistent about diverting billions of those dollars to the government workforce. The misgovernment of California has such deep, tangled roots that the anger this scandal engenders will not suffice to rectify it. If that anger is wedded to a determined commitment to reclaim California's government for its people, that mission may yet succeed.

Galileo, Newton, Kepler, Curie, Edison, Baghdad Bob... 


Lawrence Solomon:

One person in the nine-member Realclimate.org team — U.K. scientist and Green Party activist William Connolley — would take on particularly crucial duties.

Connolley took control of all things climate in the most used information source the world has ever known – Wikipedia. Starting in February 2003, just when opposition to the claims of the band members were beginning to gel, Connolley set to work on the Wikipedia site. He rewrote Wikipedia’s articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling. On Feb. 14, he began to erase the Little Ice Age; on Aug.11, the Medieval Warm Period. In October, he turned his attention to the hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the band. Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer, two of the world’s most distinguished climate scientists, were among his early targets, followed by others that the band especially hated, such as Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, authorities on the Medieval Warm Period.

All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn’t like the subject of a certain article, he removed it — more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred — over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. Acolytes whose writing conformed to Connolley’s global warming views, in contrast, were rewarded with Wikipedia’s blessings. In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement.
That's some good, old-fashioned science there!

It only seems like propaganda and censorship...

Did I Say "Like A Drunken Sailor"? 


I meant "Like a drunken Shanghaied sailor."

Shanghai Daily:
Zhu Min, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China: "The United States cannot force foreign governments to increase their holdings of Treasuries. Double the holdings? It is definitely impossible."

"The world does not have so much money to buy more US Treasuries."
The American Dollar: Backed by the Full Faith and Credit of the Chinese Government!

The Crooked-Nebraska Act 


in 1854, it led to a Civil War. But I'm sure it will work out fine this time.

If, in exchange for his vote, an Evee-ill Corporation "donated" millions to a state fund to help a senator win re-election, that would be bribery, wouldn't it?

But at least the corporation would be spending its own money, not taxpayer dollars like Harry Reid. Doc Zero:

The bill is not being examined with transparency and careful deliberation by representatives who behave as humble servants of the people and their Constitution. Instead, it’s being hastily rammed through in the dead of night, over the objection of powerful majorities of the American people, with desperate last-minute deals cut to acquire the necessary votes, financed by vast sums of taxpayer money. The primary consideration is not crafting the most sophisticated and intelligent health care reform… it’s getting a bill pushed through before angry voters have a chance to blast the Democrats out of Congress. ...

The merciless and tyrannical enforcement techniques required to ensure hundreds of millions of people comply with health care reform are utterly indefensible in the service of a monstrosity stitched together from back-room deals and nine-figure bribes.

The Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Constitution, Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1:

"The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States."
If the privileged citizens of Nebraska alone are immune from Medicaid taxation forever, how does that not violate this "Comity Clause"?

Once again, the Framers knew what they were doing. And once again, we disregard them at our peril.

UPDATE: Steyn:

You can't even dignify this squalid racket as bribery: If I try to buy a cop, I have to use my own money. But, when Harry Reid buys a senator, he uses my money, too.

Get the Air Out of Air 


and other environmental mysteries explained, by Steven F. Hayward:

The Bush EPA took the position that it did not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gases, and would decline to regulate them even if it did have the legal authority. Once the Supreme Court ruled, however, the slippery slope logic of environmental law took over, making it inevitable that the EPA would eventually move to regulate greenhouse gases. In a nutshell, environmental statutes and case law have evolved so as to make federal judges into the sock puppets of environmentalists, and greens have become highly skilled in bringing lawsuits to compel federal agencies to do their bidding. (This explains, for example, the Bush administration's decision to list the polar bear as an endangered species.) ...

In fact, on the surface the Clean Air Act appears to be the largest public policy success story of the last generation: The dramatic reduction in air pollution is greater in magnitude than the reduction in the crime rate in the 1990s or the fall in welfare rolls since welfare reform. You'd never know this from the media or the greens, who hate good environmental news as much as vampires hate garlic. ...

It is important to understand why the Clean Air Act worked on conventional air pollution so as to appreciate why it is an inappropriate policy tool for greenhouse gases--akin to wearing thick mittens to peel an onion. Greenhouse gases are not comparable to traditional forms of air pollution such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, and ozone. ...

Emissions trading (cap and trade) has been one of the tools used to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions efficiently, but it is simpleminded in the extreme to suppose that just because sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide both end in "dioxide," cap and trade will work exactly the same way for CO2.

Carbon dioxide emissions are an energy use problem pure and simple, and not a byproduct problem like other forms of air pollution. As Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, dissidents in the environmental movement, have written: "Global warming is as different from smog in Los Angeles as nuclear war is from gang violence."
In other words, CO2 is not a pollutant in the air--it is air.

Designating carbon dioxide as a Clean Air Act "pollutant" involves a finding that CO2 is a hazard to human health. Common sense suggests this is a stretch. Unlike ozone, which burns lung tissue and harms plant growth, or airborne lead, which harms brain development in children, human beings exhale carbon dioxide--800 pounds per person per year according to the EPA--and CO2 is the primary nutrient for plant life on earth. Since the EPA can't make the case that CO2 is toxic like other air pollution, it based its endangerment finding entirely on indirect or secondary effects, specifically the possibility of more deaths from heat waves, higher ozone levels (ozone tends to rise with temperature), more insect-borne diseases and allergies, and higher vulnerability to extreme weather events such as hurricanes and tornadoes. Each of these claims rests on dubious or contested scientific findings.
Poverty, not non-polluting "pollution", Kills. And this policy creates poverty.

"Please do not have any direct communication with anyone outside NCEE on endangerment. There should be no meetings, emails, written statements, phone calls, etc." A few days later McGartland told Carlin that he would not submit Carlin's analysis to the EPA public comment process: "The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round. The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision..."

Read it all.

Harry Reid and King Herod Agree: "Kill the babies by Christmas Eve!" 

"...to...secure the Blessings of Liberty to...our Posterity"--Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America


of Death.

Rushing through a bill to kill babies on Christmas Eve is a perfect metaphor for this National Disgrace Congress and its Pro-Death president. After all, this president voted four times to sweep up premature infants off the floor at Christ Hospital and throw them out with the trash.

Chuck Norris correctly calls it "HerodCare".

Three decades ago, Americans decided they did not want to be in the abortion business. Whatever their position on the issue, most Americans don't want to fund abortions with tax dollars. This bill sweeps away all that.

Whatever fraudulent and tissue-thin protections that remain would easily be thrown aside later. Even if your state did somehow manage to navigate the judicial minefield and opt out, as a federal taxpayer you would still be funding abortions in other states.

This bill kills our freedom, our finances and our very future; our children.

Repeal the Dirty Deal.

UPDATE: Instapunk:

This is not the time to crow, or gloat, or wink, or pat each other on the back over Dem dissension and stupidity. It's time to redouble our efforts to DEFEAT THIS TYRANNICAL TAKEOVER OF THE MOST PERSONAL PART OF OUR INDIVIDUAL LIVES.

Screw the 2010 elections. Defeat this bill.

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 11 > § 201 

§ 201. Bribery of public officials

(a) For the purpose of this section—
(1) the term “public official” means Member of Congress...

(b) Whoever—
(1) directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any public official... with intent—
(A) to influence any official act...

shall be fined under this title or not more than three times the monetary equivalent of the thing of value, whichever is greater, or imprisoned for not more than fifteen years, or both, and may be disqualified from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

(c) Whoever—
(B) being a public official...directly or indirectly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value...because of any official act performed...

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than two years, or both.

Just sayin'.

When I Was a Kid(tm)... 


not to discuss politics and religion in mixed company, but to stick to the weather. Now, the weather is politics and religion.

Noted Meaty Urologist Mark Steyn explains the Decline:

The famous hockey stick graph created by Dr. Michael Mann played a critical role in persuading millions of people we’re all gonna fry. In the National Post of April 2, 2001, after the UN had adopted this graph as the official proof of global warming, I pointed out that the first nine centuries of the millennium were measured by using tree-ring cycles, and the modern era was represented by temperatures [i.e.; thermometer].

Now I’m not a climatologist. I’m not even a railroad engineer [like Dr. Pachauri]. But, if you show me a graph that looks like a long bungalow with the Empire State Building tacked on the end, I’ll go, “Whoa! That looks pretty serious. We better head for the hills.” If it then emerges in the fine print that the bungalow was created with one unit of measurement and the skyscraper another, I’ll postpone my departure and go, “Er, hang on, what’s the deal with that? If we’ve got tree rings for the first nine centuries, why can’t we stick with the tree rings through the 20th?”

Answer: because after 1960 the tree rings show no express elevator up the thermometer, but in fact a decline. That’s the “decline” that Dr. Phil Jones, in his leaked email, is trying to “hide.” Because, if you don’t hide it, a basic truth emerges—that the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than today, and the planet managed to survive and indeed prosper during it. It took two dogged Canadians, Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, to demolish the hockey-stick fraud, and the enraged priests of the Settled Science cult have spent the years since 2006 trying to stick it back together. Dr. Keith Briffa had a crack in 2007 for the IPCC report. As usual, the CRU refused, in defiance of basic scientific etiquette, to reveal its raw data, but eventually the Royal Society ordered them to. And, when they did, it emerged that Dr. Briffa had cherry-picked a few trees from the Yamal peninsula in Siberia to obtain the desired result.

Question: can you measure any tree-ring cycles for the last millennium and get a genuine hockey stick?

Answer: yes. Tree Number YAD061. That’s it. One tree. The temperature records show no warming in Siberia over the last half-century. But you can’t see the forest for the tree, singular. Mr. McIntyre calls it “the most influential tree in the world,” which hardly does justice to what’s being contemplated in its name. YAD061 is the Tree of Life, at least in the sense that millions of lives across the world will, in its name, be transformed by ever greater taxation and regulation. And, as Dr. Pachauri rebukes us, YAD061 can never be questioned because it’s peer-reviewed. Every December the CRU Tabernacle Choir should place (non-incandescent) lights on its snow-laden boughs and sing:

“O-Sixty-One! O-Sixty-One!
How lovely are thy cycles!
O-Sixty-One! O-Sixty-One!
At last, a match for Michael’s!”

Barack Obama, Agent of C.H.A.O.S. 


of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" is not leadership.

The UN invited 20 thousand people to an event designed to hold only a few hundred, and then ordered Danish police to get rid of them by cracking heads, including the heads of riff-raff like Viscount Monckton. But not before giving Hugo Chavez and Robert Mugabe standing ovations.

We simply must let these people run the world.

The conference itself has descended into chaos as small nations demand payoffs from emerging nations like China and India, with all pitted against the US and Europe. China and India have now walked out.

Meanwhile, Obama has Descended upon the talks to talk the talkers into not talking:

"This is not fiction, this is science. There is no time to waste, we should act, not talk. And that is why I have come here today."
He has promised to borrow $33 Billion from the Chinese to pay off the Little Brown People if they will only sign up for World Government.

Back in Washington, the HealthControl Debacle has descended into such low farce that to call it a Klown-Kar Circus would be a slur on Emmett Kelly.

This is all a result of Obama's Anti-Leadership.

Forget the policies for a moment--even the process betrays the chaos that is at the heart of Leftism.

By contrast, at this point in his presidency, Ronald Reagan had already passed (in August) a sweeping program of tax reform that set America up for years and years of massive job growth. And did it on a bi-partisan basis.

On the international front, he had secured the release of our hostages on his first day, fired the striking air-traffic controllers, thus convincing the Soviets he wouldn't be rolled, and by Christmas, he was standing up to Soviet bullies, working with the Pope to free Poland. After taking a bullet. Dude.

We need real leadership more than ever, so we'd better remember what it looks like.

Al Greenleaf Wordsworth Whittier Tennyson Silverstein Gore 


Al Gore has written some poetry. And it's pretty good--except for the endings. Let me show you what I mean:

One thin September soon
a floating continent disappears
In midnight sun
That's a little too artsy, Al. Here, let me help:

One thin September soon
a floating continent disappears
In midnight sun
If you're going to leave the lights on all night
you'll have to buy some carbon credits
Of course, you'll have to buy Al's carbon credits even if you turn the lights off. That's the beauty of carbon credits. And of poetry about carbon credits.

I fixed the rest of these, too:

Vapors rise as
Fever settles on an acid sea
Neptune's bones dissolve
just like the other bones
in Tipper's crawl space

Snow glides from the mountain
Ice fathers floods for a season
A hard rain comes quickly
Man, that Bill Ayers
sure can write

Then dirt is parched
Kindling is placed in the forest
For the lightning's celebration
Did I mention
I invented lightning?

Unknown creatures
Take their leave, unmourned
Horsemen ready their stirrups
Too bad we banned horses:
non-native species

Passion seeks heroes and friends
The bell of the city
On the hill is rung
But no one could hear
a bell made from hemp

The shepherd cries
The hour of choosing has arrived
Here are your tools
That will be
$1.1 Trillion


And still the snowflakes fell
just as predicted
it must be "science"

The Great Communicator vs. the Grating Commune-Dwellers 


Frankly, it's depressing. And Barack Obama is the Great Depressor.

Keeping track of the daily assaults on our freedom by Barack the Hood and his Gang of High-Functioning Henchmen is anything but merry, even if it is necessary. It's sorta' like the cop who spends his days rubbing elbows with criminals and low-lifes; he's got to make sure it doesn't rub off on him.

I always recommend a dose of Reagan. Just spending a little time with this great man's thoughts clears away the cobwebs. Even when he's just cataloging the misfeasance of government, you can sense the patriotism, the optimism and the clarity of purpose there. Unlike this current crowd, who talk about "Hope" and "Change" when all they really mean is more and more government, Reagan put his hope in God and had faith in his fellow Americans.

From his November 13, 1979 speech announcing his quest for the Republican nomination:

To me our country is a living, breathing presence, unimpressed by what others say is impossible, proud of its own success, generous -- yes and naïve -- sometimes wrong, never mean and always impatient to provide a better life for its people in a framework of a basic fairness and freedom.

There are those in our land today, however, who would have us believe that the United States, like other great civilizations of the past, has reached the zenith of its power; that we are weak and fearful, reduced to bickering with each other and no longer possessed of the will to cope with our problems.

Much of this talk has come from leaders who claim that our problems are too difficult to handle. We are supposed to meekly accept their failures as the most which humanly can be done. They tell us we must learn to live with less, and teach our children that their lives will be less full and prosperous than ours have been; that the America of the coming years will be a place where -- because of our past excesses -- it will be impossible to dream and make those dreams come true.

I don't believe that. And I don't believe you do either. That is why I am seeking the presidency. I cannot and will not stand by and see this great country destroy itself. Our leaders attempt to blame their failures on circumstances beyond their control, on false estimates by unknown, unidentifiable experts who rewrite modern history in an attempt to convince us our high standard of living, the result of thrift and hard work, is somehow selfish extravagance which we must renounce as we join in sharing scarcity. I don't agree that our nation must resign itself to inevitable decline, yielding its proud position to other hands. I am totally unwilling to see this country fail in its obligation to itself and to the other free peoples of the world.

No problem that we face today can compare with the need to restore the health of the American economy and the strength of the American dollar. Double-digit inflation has robbed you and your family of the ability to plan. It has destroyed the confidence to buy and it threatens the very structure of family life itself as more and more wives are forced to work in order to help meet the ever-increasing cost of living. At the same time, the lack of real growth in the economy has introduced the justifiable fear in the minds of working men and women who are already overextended that soon there will be fewer jobs and no money to pay for even the necessities of life. And tragically, as the cost of living keeps going up, the standard of living which has been our great pride keeps going down.

The people have not created this disaster in our economy; the federal government has. It has overspent, overestimated, and over-regulated. It has failed to deliver services within the revenues it should be allowed to raise from taxes. In the 34 years since the end of World War II, it has spent $448 billion more than it has collected in taxes -- $448 billion of printing-press money, which has made every dollar you earn worth less and less. At the same time, the federal government has cynically told us that high taxes on business will in some way "solve" the problem and allow the average taxpayer to pay less. Well, business is not a taxpayer; it is a tax collector. Business has to pass its tax burden on to the customer as part of the cost of doing business. You and I pay taxes imposed on business every time we go to the store. Only people pay taxes, and it is political demagoguery or economic illiteracy to try and tell us otherwise.

The key to restoring the health of the economy lies in cutting taxes. At the same time, we need to get the waste out of federal spending. This does not mean sacrificing essential services, nor do we need to destroy the system of benefits which flow to the poor, elderly, the sick and the handicapped. But the federal government has proven to be the costliest and most inefficient provider of such help we could possibly have.

We must put an end to the arrogance of a federal establishment which accepts no blame for our condition, cannot be relied upon to give us a fair estimate of our situation and utterly refuses to live within its means.

The 10th article of the Bill of Rights is explicit in pointing out that the federal government should do only those things specifically called for in the Constitution. All others shall remain with the states or the people. We haven't been observing that 10th article of late. The federal government has taken on functions it was never intended to perform and which it does not perform well. There should be a planned, orderly transfer of such functions to states and communities and a transfer with them of the sources of taxation to pay for them.

I cannot and will not stand by while inflation and joblessness destroy the dignity of our people.

Our country was built on cheap energy. Today, energy is not cheap and we face the prospect that some forms of energy may soon not be available at all.

Not one straight answer nor any realistic hope of relief has come from the present administration in almost three years of federal treatment of the problem. As gas lines grew, the administration again panicked and now has proposed to put the country on a wartime footing; but for this "war" there is no victory in sight. And, as always, when the federal bureaucracy fails, all it can suggest is more of the same. This time it's another bureau to untangle the mess by the ones we already have.

First we must decide that "less" is not enough. Next, we must remove government obstacles to energy production. And we must make use of those technological advantages we still possess.

The answer, obvious to anyone except those in the administration it seems, is more domestic production of oil and gas. In years to come solar energy may provide much of the answer but for the next two or three decades we must do such things as master the chemistry of coal. Putting the market system to work for these objectives is an essential first step for their achievement. Additional multi-billion-dollar federal bureaus and programs are not the answer.

We can expect to be tested in ways calculated to try our patience, to confound our resolve and to erode our belief in ourselves. Though we should leave no initiative untried in our pursuit of peace, we must be clear voiced in our resolve to resist any unpeaceful act wherever it may occur. Negotiation with the Soviet Union must never become appeasement.

But too often in recent times we have just drifted along with events, responding as if we thought of ourselves as a nation in decline. To our allies we seem to appear to be a nation unable to make decisions in its own interests, let alone in the common interest. Since the Second World War we have spent large amounts of money and much of our time protecting and defending freedom all over the world. We must continue this, for if we do not accept the responsibilities of leadership, who will? And if no one will, how will we survive?

The 1970s have taught us the foolhardiness of not having a long-range diplomatic strategy of our own. The world has become a place where, in order to survive, our country needs more than just allies -- it needs real friends. Yet, in recent times we often seem not to have recognized who our friends are. This must change. It is now time to take stock of our own house and to re-supply its strength.

In recent months leaders in our government have told us that, we, the people, have lost confidence in ourselves; that we must regain our spirit and our will to achieve our national goals. Well, it is true there is a lack of confidence, an unease with things the way they are. But the confidence we have lost is confidence in our government's policies. Our unease can almost be called bewilderment at how our defense strength has deteriorated. The great productivity of our industry is now surpassed by virtually all the major nations who compete with us for world markets. And, our currency is no longer the stable measure of value it once was.

But there remains the greatness of our people, our capacity for dreaming up fantastic deeds and bringing them off to the surprise of an unbelieving world. When Washington's men were freezing at Valley Forge, Tom Paine told his fellow Americans: "We have it in our power to begin the world over again." We still have that power.

We -- today's living Americans -- have in our lifetime fought harder, paid a higher price for freedom and done more to advance the dignity of man than any people who have ever lived on this Earth. The citizens of this great nation want leadership, yes, but not a "man on a white horse" demanding obedience to his commands. They want someone who believes they can "begin the world over again." A leader who will unleash their great strength and remove the roadblocks government has put in their way. I want to do that more than anything I've ever wanted. And it's something that I believe with God's help I can do.

I believe this nation hungers for a spiritual revival; hungers to once again see honor placed above political expediency; to see government once again the protector of our liberties, not the distributor of gifts and privilege. Government should uphold and not undermine those institutions which are custodians of the very values upon which civilization is founded -- religion, education and, above all, family. Government cannot be clergyman, teacher and patriot. It is our servant, beholden to us.

I believe that you and I together can keep this rendezvous with destiny.

Thank you and good night.

What They Want For Your Town 

An excerpt from SF Weekly's "The Worst-Run Big City in the U.S.":

The then-president of the Board of Supervisors had proposed sweeping Muni reforms to get the transit system running on time and on budget. National transit experts said Peskin's proposal was solid; it was later approved by the voters in 2007 as Proposition A. Since then, Muni has slashed services and raised fares, and is facing a bigger budget crisis. That shouldn't have been a surprise — Muni reform started unraveling on that June day, when dozens of transit union workers "testified" in front of the Rules Committee.

Job protection for even the most obviously unfit Muni workers is among the strongest in the city. Peskin had proposed increasing the percentage of employees who could be fired for incompetence from 1.5 to 10 percent [shouldn't it be 100%?-ed.]. But if that provision were included in the measure, union reps said, they would flood the "No on A" campaign with money and volunteers. "This is a union town," one transit worker warned. "And we expect it to stay that way."

Peskin caved. He had to. This is a union town. You can't reform the city charter without winning an election; winning an election requires union support; and unions — almost by definition — don't want major reform. It would be a paradox — but that would contravene a number of union bylaws.

You can't get San Francisco running efficiently, because that would require large numbers of unionized city workers to willingly admit their redundancy and wastefulness. Inefficiency pays their salaries. "It's been going on for decades," Peskin says.

This problem comes up almost every time the city negotiates labor contracts, which is part of the reason San Francisco is constantly on the brink of fiscal ruin. Politically powerful unions — the progressives are beholden to the service unions; moderates cater to police, firefighters, and building trades; and Republicans ... what's a Republican? — negotiate contracts the city knows it can't afford. Politicians approve them, despite needing to balance the budget every year, because the budget impact of proposed contracts is examined by the Board of Supervisors only for the following year, no matter how long contracts run. According to former city controller Ed Harrington, it has become common practice not to schedule any raises for the first year of a contract, but to provide extensive raises in later years.

The result is a contract that looks affordable one year out, then blows up in the city's face. City employees receive up to 90 percent of their already generous salaries in pensions and many also receive lifetime health care — meaning that as they retire, labor costs soar.

The unions worked their magic on Peskin's Muni reform, gutting the ability of management to fire workers and getting a higher base salary out of the deal. But they did keep their word, and helped the revised Prop. A win at the ballot box. Some good should have come out of that. But it hasn't. That's because unions were only part of the toxic combination that rendered Muni reform impossible, no matter what the voters said.

Prop. A gave Muni tens of millions of dollars in parking meter money that had previously been spread around the city. But even though voters decided that money should go to Muni, city departments found novel ways to keep it for themselves — and then some. Denied funds by Prop. A after 2007, departments began charging Muni for "services" they were legally required to provide anyway. Police charged Muni whenever they went onto transit vehicles; ambulances charged Muni for picking up people off the buses. Newsom, meanwhile, paid his green advisers' hefty salaries from Muni's coffers. By 2009, this was costing Muni about $63 million — more than double what the agency was making in new revenue from Prop. A. Muni is the city's slush fund — even though that money was supposed to go to help your commute. You voted for it.

This is why it's so hard to "reform" anything in San Francisco: Pass a bill giving Muni a dedicated revenue stream, and you end up eviscerating its finances; try to hold Muni workers more accountable for their jobs, and you end up giving them a raise. Muni isn't getting fixed anytime soon, because these are the fixes.

The worst-run big city in the worst-run big state in what is becoming one of the worst-run big nations in the world--thank goodness for Russia!

The Examiner:

Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 8-2 to stop reporting juvenile illegal aliens arrested in the city, to federal authorities for deportation.
Even though they're under court order because of this:

In San Francisco, on June 22, 2008, three members of the Bologna family were gunned down by Salvadoran national and gang member Edwin Ramos. Tony Bologna, 48, and his sons Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16 were shot to death by Ramos as they sat in their car on a crowded street, in the city´s Excelsior District.

Ramos who is a member of the notoriously violent drug gang known as MS-13, shot the Bologna family to death because Tony Bologna had temporarily blocked the the path of the car in which Ramos was traveling, as the two cars made their way through an intersection. The Bologna men were returning home from a family barbecue.

As a juvenile, Ramos had committed felony attempted robbery and assault [and was not reported].

Shortly after the shooting, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, Juvenile Probation Department officials, did not report Ramos to federal immigration authorities for possible deportation because of San Francisco´s stated sanctuary policy.

They'll pass resolutions against the War in Iraq, but won't lift a finger in the War on San Franciscans--except to help the killers.

And this is the kind of government Obama wants for you.

Do NOT Put Pink Flamingos on Your Lawn! 


Have you heard the one about the Supreme Court and vast new powers for the EPA?

No; not the stupid Socialized Breathing CO2 verdict.

I mean the Rapanos ruling, where the Court correctly threw out with the bathwater the EPA's claim that a farmer's cornfield constitutes a "navigable waterway".

To most people, "navigable" means you could put a canoe in it and travel. The word appears over 80 times in the original law.

But the EPA claimed mud-puddles and fog banks are "navigable waterways". They lost that case, but Democrats have come back to amend the law properly--but only because they weren't allowed to cheat.

Investigative reporter Richard Moore (who is a property rights advocate, yet relentlessly fair when reporting):

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) has introduced and is promoting a Clean Water Restoration Act, legislation he says will re-establish federal protections for wetlands that were undermined by recent Supreme Court decisions, but his critics say the proposal represents an unprecedented expansion of federal regulatory power.

To Feingold, the bill would restore the intent of the 1972 Clean Water Act, which gave the federal government jurisdiction to regulate and protect the navigable waters of the United States, including connected water bodies and adjacent wetlands.

Two Supreme Court decisions narrowed the scope of what water bodies could be regulated under the Act, however. Feingold proposes fixing that by removing the word 'navigable' from the Clean Water Act, thereby giving the federal government jurisdiction over all waters of the United States.
Unfortunately, we're probably past the point of arguing that Congress has no right to regulate here, but at least the Court said a cornfield is not a river.

Trying to temper critics, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee adopted, on a 12-7 vote, a compromise version of Feingold's bill in June, which the senator endorsed.

The compromise both removed and added language specifying that the intent of the legislation was to return to the pre-Supreme Court rulings' scope of jurisdiction, but that did not mollify critics, who pointed out the language still gives the federal government jurisdiction over all the waters of the United States, regardless of the stated intent.

"The superficial changes made to this bill don't change its underlying intention and ultimate effect: to radically expand federal power over farms, ranches, and private property," said Sen. James Inhofe, the ranking Republican member on the committee. "We heard plenty of talk about a grand compromise to address concerns from rural America. Yet in the end, the revised bill, which passed on a party-line vote, still lacks support from a large swath of rural stakeholders. ...The Democrats are moving a bill that amounts to the biggest bureaucratic power grab in a generation - and it's directed right at America's heartland."
Actually, it's the biggest bureaucratic power grab in about a week, but this is indeed the next battle; yet another gargantuan, job-killing federal power grab headed our way.

They seem to want our very bloodstreams declared "federal waterways". If they get their way, we're going to need boat registrations and maritime pilot's licenses to operate our lawnmowers in the morning dew.

You may think it's your property, but it would really belong to the feddle gimment; you'd just pay the taxes on it.

"Now it doesn't require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism upon a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property?"--Ronald Reagan, 1964

As a young man, Ronnie was a lifeguard who saved many people from drowning in the local river.

But he never once pulled someone out of a cornfield.

Got Wet Yet?

Of Founding Fathers...and Weak Sisters 


A good one from Rich Lowry:

This isn’t the behavior of a self-confident majority secure in the knowledge that history is on its side. In fact, it’s panicked, weasely, and willfully careless. The historian Richard Hofstadter wrote of the “paranoid style” in American politics. Obama Democrats have perfected the “impatient style.” Reid’s latest exertions fit the pattern of a headlong rush to a slapdash social democracy, justified by whatever arguments happen to be at hand and effected by whatever means necessary.

Reid acts like a hunted man for good reason. The RealClearPolitics average has 53.5 percent opposed to the Democrats’ health-care plan and 37.7 favoring it. A CNN poll last week found the public against it by a nearly 2–1 margin. The numbers have gotten worse as the Senate has debated the measure in all its varied splendor — the tax hikes, the Medicare cuts, the abortion funding. Reid is like the tormented narrator of Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum.” With every tick of the clock, a gigantic blade promising doom swings nearer.

It’s astonishing that with 60 votes in the Senate and an 81-vote majority in the House, Democrats have still managed to push the health bill to the point of failure. When significant headwinds developed in August, the prudent play was obvious — scale the bill back, pick off a few Republicans, and settle for three-fourths or less of a loaf. They couldn’t bring themselves to do it, preferring to work with duct tape and bailing wire to try to hold together an unwieldy bill that isn’t paid for and doesn’t reduce costs as advertised.

Reid’s struggle getting to 60 makes some liberals fear for their country. They lament that America has become “ungovernable.” In other words, it isn’t putty in their grasping little hands. Unfortunately for them, the founders created a balky system resistant to precipitate change. It is designed to frustrate ideologically drunken (and perhaps temporary) majorities insistent on passing sweeping, unpopular legislation. Reid’s difficulty is exactly the way James Madison would have wanted it.

Democrats: "Hey; let's send Castro a welfare check!" 


In an earlier post, "The Spy Who Saved or Created Me", I "joked":

I don’t know why Cuba is even spying here anyway. This president has made it abundantly clear that he means absolutely no harm to Communist police states.

They’re probably just hanging around out of concern, to make sure we get CubaCare right.

Now I know why. They're hanging around Congress and the White House for the same reason as everyone else; Democrats have to pay people to hang out with them. Castro is trying to stick his snout into the taxpayer's trough just like any other Democrat interest group.

It's a trade; we get CubaCare and Castro gets Aid to Families with Dependent Dictators.

Not even Democrat Bob Menendez can take the stench:

I rise to speak about the Omnibus bill before the Senate and specifically about provisions on Cuba that have not passed the Senate and have not been subjected to debate by this body. These provisions would undo current law, where the Castro regime would have to pay in advance of shipment for goods being sold to them – despite their terrible credit history.

Yes, Cuba's credit history is horrible. The Paris Club of creditor nations recently announced that Cuba has failed to pay almost $30 billion in debt (not related to official development assistance). Among poor nations, that's the worst credit record in the world. So I ask: if the Cuban government has put off paying those who it already owes $30 billion, why does anyone think it would meet new financial obligations to American farmers?

Considering the serious economic crisis we're facing right now, we need to focus on solutions for hard-working Americans, not subsidies for a brutal dictatorship. We should evaluate how to encourage the regime to allow a legitimate opening – not in terms of cell phones and hotel rooms that Cubans can't afford, but in terms of the right to organize, the right to think and speak what they believe.

However, what we are doing with this Omnibus bill, M. President, is far from evaluation, and the process by which these changes have been forced upon this body is so deeply offensive to me, and so deeply undemocratic, that I have no intention – no intention - of continuing to vote for omnibus appropriations bills if they are going to jam foreign policy changes down throats of members, in what some consider "must pass" bills.

I am putting my colleagues on notice, if you do that – that's fine – but don't expect me to cast critical votes to pass your bill.

An example of the danger of what we are doing by changing the definition of "cash in advance" is exhibited by a Europapress report:

"During a trade fair this month in Havana, Germany's Ambassador to Cuba, Claude Robert Ellner, told German businessmen that Cuba's debt to the German government had been forgiven, in the hopes that Cuba will meet its debt obligations to them."

In other words, German taxpayers will now be responsible for bailing out its private sector and, by implication, the Castro regime.

Thanks to the U.S. policy of requiring the Castro regime to pay "cash in advance" for its purchases of agricultural products, U.S. taxpayers can rest assured the same will not happen to them.

The Castro regime has mastered the art of making some European governments acquiesce to its every whim, even if it means a free-pass for its daunting repression.

So what's the secret?

It's simple.

They give European countries a choice: Either do as we say or we will freeze your nationals' bank accounts and default on any debts.

This practice is also known as blackmail.

Let's take Spain, for example.

Recently, European news services reported that Spain has begun a diplomatic offensive to convince the Castro regime to unblock nearly 266 million euros ($400 million U.S. Dollars) in funds that have been frozen from over 300 Spanish companies in Cuba.

Not coincidentally, the Spanish government announced that upon assuming the presidency of the European Union in 2010, it would enter into a new bilateral agreement with the Castro regime that would replace current EU policy, which contains diplomatic sanctions for human rights violations.

The Castro regime had made it clear to Spain that the current European Union policy was an "insurmountable obstacle" to normal relations and, I might add, for Spanish nationals and companies to get their money back.

Therefore, the Spanish government immediately jumped.

And on a recent visit to Cuba, Spain's Foreign Minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos met for three hours with Raul Castro - and didn't get one single concession on human rights – but did get $300 million that Cuba owed to Spanish companies that do business in Cuba.

Is that what we intend to do?

So, the lesson for dictators is that frozen bank accounts and debt can buy you a free-pass for repression.
Any dime we lend Castro is not a business loan; it is welfare because it will never be repaid.

And worse, it will be used to underwrite the slavery of the Cuban people.

The very Democrats who howled and howled about Bush's supposed Cuban gulag now want to underwrite Castro's.

When Americans are seeing the worst economic slump of recent times, Democrats have chosen to to respond by...propping up a dictator with taxpayer gifts? It's beyond arrogant, past clueless and into the realm of evil.

No "joke".

(Via Babalu)

The Spy Who Saved or Created Me 


This lady must have mad diplomatic skilz, because three different presidents have sought her services; President Clinton, President Obama...and "President" Castro.

(Very!) Big Government:

Today, the Obama White House announced the nomination of Mari Del Carmen Aponte as U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador. It is not Ms. Aponte’s first brush with an ambassadorship. In 1998, President Clinton nominated her to be Ambassador to the Dominican Republic. She was forced to withdraw her name from consideration over allegations of ties to the Cuban spy agency.


Aponte allegedly cohabited with an agent of the Cuban intelligence service, known as DGI. The man, who was not named in the memo, later was identified in followup press reports as Roberto Tamayo.

In October, eight months after Insight's exclusive story concerning White House security lapses and Aponte's relationship with the suspected spy (see "Do You Want to Know a Secret?" March 23, 1998) the former member of Clinton's transition team quietly stepped aside. It was only earlier this month that news emerged about her withdrawal.

The memo -- written by an intelligence expert working overseas -- questioned the lack of a thorough security check into Aponte's background. The memo also alleged that Aponte was recruited as a "DGI asset." According to the memo, "When the FBI eventually questioned her about her involvement with Cuban intelligence, she reportedly refused to cooperate, saying that since she was not seeking a permanent White House position she was not subject to a background check."

Nonetheless, Aponte subsequently was provided a top-secret clearance at the State Department despite serious objections from career officials. Prominent in the minority legal community, Aponte has been a contributor to various Democratic Party campaign$...

This is troubling. What kind of message are we sending to our kids when we just shack-up with our communists spies, but we don't marry them?

Besides, Washington would shut down if we fired every Democrat who had ever slept with a communist. Think of all the special elections we'd have to hold--it's just impractical.

This comrade has a good Five-Year Plan:

Don't you see the administration's genius? Isn't it useful to have someone with close ties to the DGI working with a government that will also be run by the DGI? It's almost like cutting out the middle man.

Call me loco, Ivan, but I think Americans should send an ambassador of our own to represent us to the foreign, often hostile communist government.

in Washington.

UPDATE: I'm not familiar with her claim of a Part-Time Employee Espionage Exemption...but for someone who says she's not a permanent government employee, she sure seems like a, well, permanent government employee.

I don't know why Cuba is even spying here anyway. This president has made it abundantly clear that he means absolutely no harm to Communist police states.

They're probably just hanging around out of concern, to make sure we get CubaCare right.

ACORN Brags: "Congress Ain't Broke; It's FIXED!" 


After the ACORN prostitution scandal broke this summer, Congress voted overwhelmingly to defund them. (This was the story that the Make-a-Wish Media wanted to make go away so badly, that they refused to report it even after both houses of Congress had voted on it!)

But the fix was already in, as Mike noted here.

The Justice Dept. ruled for Obama's former employer, saying that we must keep paying them on all current contracts. When Republicans acted to close the "loophole", Democrats voted against it. In other words, they weren't really against funding ACORN, they just wanted to look like it.

Which is Democrat policy for, well, just about everything.

And now they've found a judge to help them continue the fix:

Judge Nina Gershon concluded that the ban amounted to a "bill of attainder" that unfairly singled out ACORN.

"[The plaintiffs] have been singled out by Congress for punishment that directly and immediately affects their ability to continue to obtain federal funding, in the absence of any judicial, or even administrative, process of adjudicating guilt," Gershon wrote in her decision.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee:

"This left-wing activist Judge is setting a dangerous precedent that left-wing political organizations plagued by criminal accusations have a constitutional entitlement to taxpayer dollars," Issa said.
Judge Gershon is "The Elephant Lady"--the judge who ruled that Mayor Guiliani had to continue funding the Brooklyn Museum's Elephant Dung Virgin Mary-masterpiece.

So she's worked in this medium before.

The real crime in Washington, the old saying goes, is what's legal, not illegal.

ACORN should not be getting federal funds in the first place simply because it's a de facto arm of the Democrat Party. It would be like Republicans funding Evangelical Pro-Lifers for Oil Drilling, Gun Ownership, Free Enterprise, Integrity in Government and a Strong Military.

In other words, Sarah Palin.

But once you get past that minor detail, Ace gets us to the heart of the judge's "ruling":

It cannot be stressed enough that these funds are entirely discretionary, entirely by whim of Congress. This is not a case of someone who qualifies for some federal cash according to the letter of the law spelling out the entitlement being wrongly denied the money -- in that case, the person can point to the law and say "According to that law, I qualify; give me that money."

In that sort of case, there exists -- if only arguably -- a right of the person to claim the money and thus a right to challenge the government's refusal to pay it.

In this case, ACORN has the same right to millions of dollars from the government that I do: Namely, none whatsoever. And yet Congress' finding that it may exercise its discretion and end funding of ACORN is treated as if, well, not within its discretion at all.

If the government cannot deny millions to ACORN, then it cannot also simply deny the money to me, and I too would like to enjoin the government from its continuing refusal to pay me money.
That is exactly right. Not only is the Elephant Judge saying that no organization can ever be weaned from the Public Teat, as bad as that is. But by the logic of her ruling, every organization on the face of the earth is entitled to federal funds, including mine: Bloggers For Truth, Justice and, oh, About $178k Untaxable American, Annually.

I think we can all agree that the Founding Fathers would be rolling over in their graves if they only knew how Congress was neglecting their Constitutional Duty to fund BFTJA$178kUAA.

She says federal funds are property, not of the government, or the Congress, or the taxpayers or even of China; they are the property of organizations that want them. A Bill of Attainder seizes your property; ergo, if they can't be stopped, those federal funds are ACORN's property, not Congress'.

I can't imagine this standing on appeal. Even Democrats desperate to fund ACORN want to preserve Congress' Payola Powers.

This scandal has everything people hate about Washington D.C.: special interest greed, rigged elections, RICO representation, union thuggery, media arrogance, runaway courts and bad acronyms.

A.way ACORN's
L.ies and

The Unforgivably Ungoverned 


Glen Reynolds nails it:

CAN I CALL ‘EM, OR WHAT? Back in September, noting a continuing pattern of White House incompetence, I predicted: “Expect this to play out in thumbsucker columns on whether America is ‘ungovernable.’”

And, right on cue, here’s Matthew Yglesias: “The smarter elements in Washington DC are starting to pick up on the fact that it’s not tactical errors on the part of the president that make it hard to get things done, it’s the fact that the country has become ungovernable.”

Funny, that dumb cowboy Bush seemed to get a lot done with fewer votes in Congress... [...]

UPDATE: Moe Lane says Matt and I are both right. “The country is indeed ungovernable. …By Democrats.”

They've got half the Courts, 3/5ths of the Senate, 4/7ths of the House, 7/8ths of the Bureaucracy, 9/10ths of the Media and 100% of the White House.

And they still can't govern?

No wonder they're mad at Fox for escaping the Network Media Plantation: they need every last one to even have a shot.

Of Me I Sing 


to myself. And to my brilliant insights. As I have consistently said.

The Nobel Warrior, Mark Steyn:

The usual trick is to position their man as the uniquely insightful leader, pitching his tent between two extremes no sane person has ever believed:

"There are those who say there is no evil in the world. There are others who argue that pink fluffy bunnies are the spawn of Satan and conspiring to overthrow civilization. Let me be clear: I believe people of goodwill on all sides can find common ground between the absurdly implausible caricatures I attribute to them on a daily basis. We must begin by finding the courage to acknowledge the hard truth that I am living testimony to the power of nuance to triumph over hard truth and come to the end of the sentence on a note of sonorous, polysyllabic if somewhat hollow uplift. Pause for applause."

It didn't come but once at Oslo last week, where Obama got bad press for blowing off the King of Norway's luncheon. In Obama's honor. Can you believe this line made it into the speech?

"I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war."

Well, there's a surprise. When you consider all the White House eyeballs that approve a presidential speech, it's truly remarkable that there's no one to scribble on the first draft: "Scrub this, Fred. It makes POTUS sound like a self-aggrandizing buffoon." It's not even merely the content, but the stylistic tics: "I do not bring with me" – as if I, God of Evan Thomas' Newsweek, am briefly descending to this obscure Scandinavian backwater bearing wisdom from beyond the stars.

The president's staff were also proud of themselves for how they faced the Burning Controversy of Our Day head on; as the Times pompously put it:

War a contradiction to President Obama peace prize

When President Obama travels to Norway to accept his Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday at Oslo City Hall, he faces a challenge far different from those who have gone before him: He is a wartime leader accepting a medal that is a commendation to peace only nine days after announcing he would escalate the war by sending 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

"There is one very pregnant question," said David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Obama. "How do you reconcile your role as a commander in chief with your aspirations to promote a more peaceful world at a time of war? That's a question that he's going to explore in some detail."

But to me, the "controversy" was that there was a controversy at all.

In the circles that Axelrod and New York Times reporters run in, maybe it was controversial. But out here in America, we've somehow reconciled ourselves to the "apparent" conflict between wartime and peacetime leaders since, oh, about the time General Washington became President Washington.

For instance, Ike led the largest invasion of Europe in history--and we still bask in the glow of the peace he created. He made a Big Peace by making Big War. And despite the cartoonish slurs of the left, those leaders who lived through that war were not blind warmongers. Indeed, they could sound almost pacifistic at times; Ike, MacArthur, JFK, even the anti-nuclear activist Ronald Reagan. They didn't see a contradiction or controversy.

Only this new kid on the block, who seems to think he invented kids and blocks.

Steyn continues:
At his jobs summit, Obama seemed, rhetorically, to show some understanding of this. But that's where his speechifying has outlived its welcome. When it's tough and realistic (we need to be fiscally responsible; there are times when you have to go to war in your national interest; etc), it bears no relation to any of the legislation. And, when it's vapid and utopian, it looks absurd next to Harry Reid, Barney Frank & Co's sleazy opportunism.

Peggs Noonan says 'If he's going to bow to something, it might as well be reality.'

I dunno.

I don't think it's a big deal when presidents say nice things about America or finally learn to put their hand over their heart during the pledge. That seems like a bare minimum to me, a given, not a reason to pat Junior on the head. He's Growing Up in Public. We're educating him on what Americans expect from a grown-up president.

Let's face it; most of his teachers have been communists and socialists. He's been poorly educated all his life. And now its up to us to break down the "false consciousness" of his Marxist Mis-education. Except we're busy trying to educate our own children--and Obama's not helping out there, either.

George W. Bush would mangle the language from time to time, but Obama makes us wince because his thoughts are "perfectly clear". His english is fine. It's his ideas that are mangled.

As Steyn noted, even when Obama says something halfway reasonable, it's not followed up by any legislation. I'll believe it when I see him saying and doing things to upset Castro and Ahmadinejad, not Limbaugh and Palin.

So I'm not going to jump up and down every time he discovers that business causes jobs, not government. Or that we have to fight to be free. American presidents should not expect Self-Esteem Awards for conquering the obvious.

"It's not necessarily an award he would have given himself," Axelrod said.
Oh, I wouldn't be so sure about that, David.

UPDATE: See? The Purp:

Obama: I'm so awesome, I'll just grade myself. Hey look, I got a B+

"President Barack Obama, in an interview that aired Sunday, gave himself "a good solid B-plus" grade for his first year in office."

To get an "A-plus", he would have needed to get unemployment up to 25 or 30%, so it's good to see he didn't go in for the cheap, feel-good grade inflation.

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