A married couple has been arrested for allegedly binding a man and woman with duct tape and holding them hostage after an attempt to discuss an apparent affair got out of hand, police said Wednesday.Christina Ha, 46, and her husband Steve Ha, 45, of Northridge were arrested Tuesday on charges of false imprisonment, said Officer Karen Rayner, Los Angeles Police Department.
The couple was released from jail within hours of the arrest after posting bail of $100,000 each.
Authorities learned of the alleged imprisonment when one of the bound victims managed to call 911 around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday from the Ha’s Northridge home in the 17200 block of Chase Street.
Rayner said officials heard yelling in the background of the 911 call.
The man and woman, who police said were boyfriend and girlfriend, arrived at the Ha’s home to confront them about Steve Ha’s relationship with the woman, which had apparently ended. Things got out of control and the Ha’s wound up binding the couple and holding them against their will, police said.
Michael Medved writes about the new accounting of Iraq war dead:
…while the Associated Press deserves credit for its honest and responsible work, their account of the new totals still failed to place the figures in any meaningful perspective. For instance, the analysis failed to note that the overwhelming majority of the 110,600 dead met their demise at the hands of terrorist violence or sectarian strife; only a tiny minority (perhaps 10% or less) of all casualties occurred at the hands of the Americans or other coalition forces.
The AP account does take note of the fact that the Health Ministry figures show that 59,957 of their reported 87,215 deaths (or more than two thirds) occurred in 2006 and 2007 “when sectarian attacks soared and death squads roamed the streets. The period was marked by catastrophic bombings and execution style killings.” The story might have added that the Americans perpetrated none of these mass killings, and instead fought heroically to bring them to an end.
The Left would argue that without US intervention, none of the deaths would have occurred. True enough. but this ignores the 400,000 Iraqis Saddam murdered and buried in shallow graves.
In another area, the description of the new calculations lacked an essential element of context, never noting that other recent conflicts in the region produced far more horrendous death tolls. In the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88, for instance, more than 200,000 Iraqis died – a much higher percentage of a significantly smaller overall population. That conflict also claimed the lives of at least 1,000,000 Iranians.
Meanwhile, the little noted Algerian Civil War (in which Islamist extremists have challenged the government since 1991) has claimed at least 150,000 deaths, and probably more than 200,000—nearly all of them civilians butchered in the same random, brutal and often suicidal attacks responsible for most of the bloodshed in Iraq. With the Algerian and Iraqi populations essentially the same, the rate of death in this grisly but seldom-reported conflict has been even more horrendous than the blood-letting in Iraq.
Of course the Lebanese Civil War of 1975-1990 produced the most devastating results of any struggle in recent Middle Eastern history – with an estimated 250,000 dead, and at least 500,000 more suffering permanent disabilities. In a nation of less than 5,000,000, this loss of life exceeds the Iraqi casualty rate by more than twelve to one.
The relevance of these other conflicts ought to be obvious – since they all reflect (as does the Iraq War) the singularly brutal, blood-thirsty nature of local conflicts involving Arab-against-Arab, and Muslim-against-Muslim. In each of these wars, the most significant American role (which is very much the case in Iraq) involved efforts to stop or to minimize the bloodshed.
The new figures on Iraqi casualties, when placed in the proper context of who did most of the killing, and with reminders of even bloodier struggles of the recent past, show the hollowness and falsehood of hysterical denunciations of the US effort to bring down Saddam Hussein and establish a functioning democracy in the heart of the turbulent Middle East.
Two possibilities: 1) Obama knows he’s lying and is being cynical or 2) Obama doesn’t know he’s lying and is being naive. Pick your poison.
“That wasn’t me,” President Barack Obama said on his 100th day in office, disclaiming responsibility for the huge budget deficit waiting for him on Day One.
It actually was partly him – and the other Democrats controlling Congress the previous two years – who shaped the latest in a string of precipitously out-of-balance budgets.
And as a presidential candidate and president-elect, he backed the twilight Bush-era stimulus plan that made the deficit deeper, all before he took over and promoted spending plans that have made it much deeper still.
Obama met citizens at an Arnold, Mo., high school Wednesday in advance of his prime-time news conference. Both forums were a platform to review his progress at the 100-day mark and look ahead.
At various times, he brought an air of certainty to ambitions that are far from cast in stone.
His assertion that his proposed budget “will cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term” is an eyeball-roller among many economists, given the uncharted terrain of trillion-dollar deficits and economic calamity that the government is negotiating.
He promised vast savings from increased spending on preventive health care in the face of doubts that such an effort, however laudable it might be for public welfare, can pay for itself, let alone yield huge savings.
A look at some of his claims Wednesday:
OBAMA: “We began by passing a Recovery Act that has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs.” – from news conference.
THE FACTS: This assertion is flawed on several levels. For starters, the U.S. has lost more than 1.2 million jobs since Obama took office, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even if Obama’s stimulus bill saved or created as many jobs as he says, that number is dwarfed by the number of recent job losses.
But Obama’s number is murky, at best. The White House has not yet announced how it intends to count jobs created by the stimulus bill. Obama’s number is based on a job-counting formula that his economists have developed but have not made public. Until that formula is announced – probably in the coming week or so – there’s no way to assess its accuracy.
Whatever the formula, economists who study job creation say it will require some creative math. That’s because Obama has lumped “jobs saved” in with “jobs created.” Even economists for organizations that stand to benefit from the stimulus concede it probably is impossible to estimate saved jobs because that would require calculating a hypothetical: how many people would have lost their jobs without the stimulus.
OBAMA: “We must lay a new foundation for growth, a foundation that will strengthen our economy and help us compete in the 21st century. And that’s exactly what this budget begins to do. It contains new investments in education that will equip our workers with the right skills and training; new investments in renewable energy that will create millions of jobs and new industries; new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses; and new savings that will bring down our deficit.” – news conference.
THE FACTS: While the budget does set a roadmap for achieving the president’s goals, it says nothing about how to pay for his health plan, expected to cost more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years. And while the deficit, under the plan, would drop to $523 billion in 2014, it achieves it with unrealistic assumptions, such as projections that spending in Iraq and Afghanistan will amount to only $50 billion a year.
OBAMA: “Number one, we inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit. … That wasn’t me. Number two, there is almost uniform consensus among economists that in the middle of the biggest crisis, financial crisis, since the Great Depression, we had to take extraordinary steps. So you’ve got a lot of Republican economists who agree that we had to do a stimulus package and we had to do something about the banks. Those are one-time charges, and they’re big, and they’ll make our deficits go up over the next two years.” – in Missouri.
Congress, under Democratic control in 2007 and 2008, controlled the purse strings that led to the deficit Obama inherited. A Republican president, George W. Bush, had a role, too: He signed the legislation.
Obama supported the emergency bailout package in Bush’s final months – a package Democratic leaders wanted to make bigger.
To be sure, Obama opposed the Iraq war, a drain on federal coffers for six years before he became president. But with one major exception, he voted in support of Iraq war spending.
The economy has worsened under Obama, though from forces surely in play before he became president, and he can credibly claim to have inherited a grim situation.
Still, his response to the crisis goes well beyond “one-time charges.”
He’s persuaded Congress to expand children’s health insurance, education spending, health information technology and more. He’s moving ahead on a variety of big-ticket items on health care, the environment, energy and transportation that, if achieved, will be more enduring than bank bailouts and aid for homeowners.
The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated his policy proposals would add a net $428 billion to the deficit over four years, even accounting for his spending reduction goals. Now, the deficit is nearly quadrupling to $1.75 trillion.
OBAMA: “I think one basic principle that we know is that the more we do on the (disease) prevention side, the more we can obtain serious savings down the road. … If we’re making those investments, we will save huge amounts of money in the long term.” – in Missouri.
THE FACTS: It sounds believable that preventing illness should be cheaper than treating it, and indeed that’s the case with steps like preventing smoking and improving diets and exercise. But during the 2008 campaign, when Obama and other presidential candidates were touting a focus on preventive care, the New England Journal of Medicine cautioned that “sweeping statements about the cost-saving potential of prevention, however, are overreaching.” It said that “although some preventive measures do save money, the vast majority reviewed in the health economics literature do not.”
And a study released in December by the Congressional Budget Office found that increasing preventive care “could improve people’s health but would probably generate either modest reductions in the overall costs of health care or increases in such spending within a 10-year budgetary time frame.”
OBAMA: “You could cut (Social Security) benefits. You could raise the tax on everybody so everybody’s payroll tax goes up a little bit. Or you can do what I think is probably the best solution, which is you can raise the cap on the payroll tax.” – in Missouri.
THE FACTS: Obama’s proposal would reduce the Social Security trust fund’s deficit by less than half, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
That means he would still have to cut benefits, raise the payroll tax rate, raise the retirement age or some combination to deal with the program’s long-term imbalance.
Workers currently pay 6.2 percent and their employers pay an equal rate – for a total of 12.4 percent – on annual wages of up to $106,800, after which no more payroll tax is collected.
Obama wants workers making more than $250,000 to pay payroll tax on their income over that amount. That would still protect workers making under $250,000 from an additional burden. But it would raise much less money than removing the cap completely.
OBAMA: “My hope is that working in a bipartisan fashion we are going to be able to get a health care reform bill on my desk before the end of the year that we’ll start seeing in the kinds of investments that will make everybody healthier.”
THE FACTS: Obama has indeed expressed hope for a health care plan that has support from Democrats and Republicans. But his Democratic allies in Congress have just made that harder. The budget plan written by the Democrats gives them the option of denying Republicans the normal right to block health care with a Senate filibuster. The filibuster tactic requires 60 votes to overcome, making it the GOP’s main weapon to ensure a bipartisan outcome. The rules set by the budget mean that majority Democrats could potentially pass health care legislation without any Republican votes, sacrificing bipartisanship to achieve their goals.
…such people hold positions of authority.
Today’s “Ask Amy” advice column featured a letter from a couple disturbed that their best friends did not recycle and (horrors!) served them water in single-serve plastic bottles. The writer wanted to know how to deal with this. No doubt, the writer would laugh at the Church Lady for her small mindedness.
Yes! Into the ground! Betsy Newmark
Well, we’re going to soon find out with the plans put forward for GM and Chrysler.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) would own 39% of GM. The federal government would own 50%. The creditors will be shafted with just 10%. (In the Chrysler plan being discussed, labor would own 55%, making it effectively a subsidiary of the UAW.)
Since everyone recognizes the role that the unions have played in the decline of the two companies, how are they going to improve and come out of this debacle as stronger, more profitable companies? What is going to happen when it comes time for the UAW to negotiate their next labor contract with a company that they own 39%? Do you think that an Obama-run administration would stand up to their demands? As Holman Jenkins points out, it has been the combination of government and union action in the past thirty years that has led these companies to the situation that they’re now in.
Chrysler was bailed out directly with government loan guarantees; the Big Three all benefited from Reagan era “voluntary” quotas on Japanese imports to prop up domestic car prices. But these were temporary fixes. For more than 40 years, a 25% tariff has kept out foreign-built pickup trucks even as a studied loophole was created in fuel-economy regulations to let the Big Three develop a lucrative, protected niche in the “passenger truck” business.
This became the long-running unwritten deal. This was Washington’s real auto policy.
For three decades, the Big Three were able to survive precisely because they skimped on quality and features in the money-losing sedans they were required under Congress’s fuel economy rules to build in high-cost UAW factories. In return, Washington compensated them with the hothouse, politically protected opportunity to profit from pickups and SUVs.
Doesn’t sound much like what you hear incessantly from your Congressman, about how Detroit’s problems are all due to management “incompetence” in deciding to build “gas guzzling” SUVs, does it?
But then uncertain at this point is whether any legislator (other than John Dingell) remembers or grasps anymore Congress’s own role. Yet the muddled, covert bailout continues: Washington’s latest fuel-economy rules actually reward manufacturers for increasing the size and weight of some vehicles. The truck tariff remains in place. The fuel-mileage rules continue to protect the UAW monopoly by discouraging the Big Three from shipping small-car production offshore.
Lately some have doted, with wonderment and admiration, on the Obama administration’s apparent willingness to drive a hard bargain with the UAW as it tries to impose a stage-managed replica of bankruptcy on GM and Chrysler. Please.
In a real bankruptcy, which is the natural fate of companies unable to meet their obligations, Chrysler and GM would be run (or liquidated) for the benefit of their creditors, not their workers. But, here, “pattern bargaining” will remain the law of the Detroit jungle. The UAW will continue to use its unnaturally augmented clout to extract uncompetitive pay and benefits (it can do no other given its internal incentives). As it has for 40 years, Washington will pitch in with one improvisation after another, disguised as energy policy, trade policy, health-care policy or environmental policy, to stop the rivets from popping off. Politics, especially Democratic electoral politics, will play a more dominant role than ever.
Look closely and the hidden subsidies to keep the dismal beast alive have already started flowing — tax credits for UAW retirees to make up for reduced health-care benefits, loans to help Detroit “invest in green cars.” And plenty more will be needed to sustain Obama Motors on life support, at least through the 2012 election.
Why would anyone invest money in these companies today? The ordinary bondholders are getting the shaft. As Larry Kudlow pointed out Monday,
The government is about to take over GM in a plan that completely screws private bondholders and favors the unions. Get this: The GM bondholders own $27 billion and they’re getting 10 percent of the common stock in an expected exchange. And the UAW owns $10 billion of the bonds and they’re getting 40 percent of the stock. Huh? Did I miss something here? And Uncle Sam will have a controlling share of the stock with something close to 50 percent ownership. And no bankruptcy judge. So this is a political restructuring run by the White House, not a rule-of-law bankruptcy-court reorganization.
Yes, up is down and down is up. But it’s been that way for a long time in Detroit. Don’t expect anything to change.
The most remarkable, or certainly the least remarked on, aspect of Barack Obama’s first 100 days has been the infectious arrogance of his presidency.
There’s no denying that this is liberalism’s greatest opportunity for wish fulfillment since at least 1964. But to listen to Democrats, the only check on their ambition is the limits of their imaginations.
“The world has changed,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York proclaimed on MSNBC. “The old Reagan philosophy that served them well politically from 1980 to about 2004 and 2006 is over. But the hard right, which still believes … [in] traditional values kind of arguments and strong foreign policy, all that is over.”
Right. “Family values” and a “strong foreign policy” belong next to the “free silver” movement in the lexicon of dead political causes.
No doubt Schumer was employing the kind of simplified shorthand one uses when everyone in the room already agrees with you. He can be forgiven for mistaking an MSNBC studio for such a milieu, but it seemed not to dawn on him that anybody watching might see it differently.
When George W. Bush was in office, we heard constantly about the poisonous nature of American polarization. For example, Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg came out with a book arguing that “our nation’s political landscape is now divided more deeply and more evenly than perhaps ever before.” One can charitably say this was abject nonsense. Evenly divided? Maybe. But more deeply? Feh.
During the Civil War, the political landscape was so deeply divided that 600,000 Americans died. During the 1930s, labor strife and revolutionary ardor threatened the stability of the republic. In the 1960s, political assassinations, riots and bombings punctuated our political discourse.
It says something about the relationship of liberals to political power that they can overlook domestic dissent when they’re at the wheel. When the GOP is in office, America is seen as hopelessly divided because dissent is the highest form of patriotism. When Democrats are in charge, the Frank Riches suddenly declare the culture war over and dismiss dissent as the scary work of the sort of cranks Obama’s Department of Homeland Security needs to monitor.
If liberals thought so fondly of social peace and consensus, they would look more favorably on the 1920s and 1950s. Instead, their political idylls are the tumultuous ’30s and ’60s, when liberalism, if not necessarily liberals, rode high in the saddle.
Sure, America was divided under Bush. And it’s still divided under Obama (just look at the recent Minnesota Senate race and the New York congressional special election). According to the polls, America is a bit less divided under Obama than it was at the end of Bush’s 100 days. But not as much less as you would expect, given Obama’s victory margin and the rally-around-the-president effect of the financial crisis (not to mention the disarray of the GOP).
Meanwhile, circulation for the conservative National Review (where I work) is soaring. More people watch Fox News (where I am a contributor) in prime time than watch CNN and MSNBC combined. The “tea parties” may not have been as big as your typical union-organized “spontaneous” demonstration, but they were far more significant than any protests this early in Bush’s tenure.
President Bush authorized data mining of telephone conversations coming from outside the US to prevent terror attacks. For this he was accused of wiretapping and running a police state.
Now some ranking Democrats want to track your comings and goings to tax you.
…public acceptance, not technology, is the main obstacle to a mileage-based tax.
Pilot programs “would be able to increase public awareness and comfort and it would hasten the day we could make the transition,” Blumenauer said.
Oberstar shrugged off that concern.
“I’m at a point of impatience with more studies,” Oberstar said. He suggested that Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the highways and transit subcommittee, set up a meeting of transportation experts and members of Congress to figure out how it could be done.
The tax would entail equipping vehicles with GPS technology to determine how many miles a car has been driven and whether on interstate highways or secondary roads. The devices would also calculate the amount of tax owed.
“At this point there are a lot of things that are under consideration and there is also a strong need to find revenue,” Oberstar spokesman Jim Berard said. “A vehicle miles-traveled tax is a logical complement, and perhaps a future replacement, for fuel taxes.”
For those who believe insufficient regulation is the problem, read how Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke exacerbated the meltdown with their heavy-handed meddling. WSJ:
The cavalier use of brute government force has become routine, but the emerging story of how Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke forced CEO Ken Lewis to blow up Bank of America is still shocking. It’s a case study in the ways that panicky regulators have so often botched the bailout and made the financial crisis worse.
In the name of containing “systemic risk,” our regulators spread it. In order to keep Mr. Lewis quiet, they all but ordered him to deceive his own shareholders. And in the name of restoring financial confidence, they have so mistreated Bank of America that bank executives everywhere have concluded that neither Treasury nor the Federal Reserve can be trusted.
Mr. Lewis has told investigators for New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo that in December Mr. Paulson threatened him not to cancel a deal to buy Merrill Lynch. BofA had discovered billions of dollars in undisclosed Merrill losses, and Mr. Lewis was considering invoking his rights under a material adverse condition clause to kill the merger. But Washington decided that America’s financial system couldn’t withstand a Merrill failure, and that BofA had to risk its own solvency to save it. So then-Treasury Secretary Paulson, who says he was acting at the direction of Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, told Mr. Lewis that the feds would fire him and his board if they didn’t complete the deal.
Mr. Paulson told Mr. Lewis that the government would provide cash from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to help BofA swallow Merrill. But since the government didn’t want to reveal this new federal investment until after the merger closed, Messrs. Paulson and Bernanke rejected Mr. Lewis’s request to get their commitment in writing.
“We do not want a disclosable event,” Mr. Lewis says Mr. Paulson told him. “We do not want a public disclosure.” Imagine what would happen to a CEO who said that.
Gosh, is there anything President Obama can’t do? Yesterday, he claimed that the United States had “fallen behind other countries in science” and it was time to catch up.
“I am here today to set this goal: we will devote more than 3 percent of our gross domestic product to research and development,” Obama told the National Academy of Sciences.
Obama set forth a wish list including solar cells as cheap as paint; green buildings that produce all the energy they consume; learning software as effective as a personal tutor; and prosthetics so advanced that someone could play the piano again.
That 3 percent – which would amount to about $420 billion – would exceed the level of spending during the height of the space race, he said.
So, who is “we”? Private or public sector? What do you think?
Obama would have private funds taxed into public hands in Washington, where teams of government experts will decide how to invest them.
Taxpayers wealthy enough to cough up that much money already invest in science and technology. Except they do it through a vast network of venture capitalists, investment bankers etc. whose business is to calculate risk, understand markets and evaluate talent. They all have skin in the game, unlike bureaucrats.
They already are looking for solar technologies, great software and so on. All without the interference of Obama and his smarty pants team.
Funds Obama would tax from private hands would shift economic decision making from the broad, “Wisdom of Crowds” marketplace to central planners. Hope! Change!
Bill Clinton had similar aspirations when first in office. He and Al Gore planned to assemble some of the smartest minds in America in order to build the “information superhighway.” But then the marketplace jumped ‘em and built the modern Internet. It was chaotic and wasteful (the tech bubble) but it created an amazing resource in virtually no time.
Just imagine if Bill and Al had gotten their way. Suppose they’d sucked up enough taxes to starve the market of investment dollars and the Internet was a government-run project? Can you imagine the Google guys pitching their idea to the InternetCrats? They’d tell em to get lost because we already have Alta Vista, Yahoo, Lycos and Excite.
Would we have eBay? Amazon? Wikipedia? Social networking? Youtube?
No. If the government had built the Internet, it would resemble something like AOL circa 1996. It would be a boring curiosity. And we’d never know what we were missing.
That’s the tragedy of Obama’s arrogance: he think he’s smarter than the crowd.
The Clinton Justice Department spent millions trying to break up Microsoft because they thought Gates, et al, controlled too much of the marketplace. But it was the marketplace that humbled Microsoft, not the government.
How ironic it is that many tech people fawn over Obama when Obama’s policies essentially make the government into Microsoft for everything. Meanwhile, conservatives and libertarians promote an open-source model of the economy.
In its report to Congress last year, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission called Chinese cyber-espionage a major threat to U.S. technology. “China is aggressively pursuing cyber warfare capabilities that may provide it with an asymmetric advantage against the United States,” the commission warned.
As everything from health-care services to credit-card records to classified military information moves into a networked age, the risk that our digital systems could be crippled by outside attackers — or worse, pillaged for sensitive information — is very real. The commission report cited vulnerable American targets such as the electric grid and the municipal-waste, air-traffic-control, banking and Social Security systems. Before leaving office in January, President Bush authorized the creation of a National Cyber Security Center under the Department of Homeland Security, and in February, President Obama’s budget proposal called for giving the department $355 million to secure private- and public-sector cyber-infrastructure.
But there’s reason to believe that a damaging attack won’t originate in some dedicated Chinese government bureau. In previous testimony before the commission, James C. Mulvenon, director of the defense think tank the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis, said he was more immediately concerned with independent, civilian-led “patriotic hacking.”
James Andrew Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which helped develop cybersecurity policy recommendations for the Obama administration, shares that concern. “The U.S. government had a number of serious computer incidents in 2007, most of which were attributed to China,” he says. “The focus in Washington is on what appear to be state-sponsored activities. That, of course, is only a part of what’s going on in China.”
From China, where I’ve lived for four years, this assessment looks spot-on. Hackers are pervasive, their imprint inescapable. There are hacker magazines, hacker clubs and hacker online serials. A 2005 Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences survey equates hackers and rock stars, with nearly 43 percent of elementary-school students saying they “adore” China’s hackers. One third say they want to be one. This culture thrives on a viral, Internet-driven nationalism. The post-Tiananmen generation has known little hardship, so rather than pushing for democracy, many young people define themselves in opposition to the West. China’s Internet patriots, who call themselves “red hackers,” may not be acting on direct behalf of their government, but the effect is much the same.
I usually avoid politics, but since we now seem to have an administration that’s open to suggestions, I’m going to risk making one. The single biggest thing the government could do to increase the number of startups in this country is a policy that would cost nothing: establish a new class of visa for startup founders.
The biggest constraint on the number of new startups that get created in the U.S. is not tax policy or employment law or even Sarbanes-Oxley. It’s that we won’t let the people who want to start them into the country.
Letting just 10,000 startup founders into the country each year could have a visible effect on the economy. If we assume 4 people per startup, which is probably an overestimate, that’s 2500 new companies. Each year. They wouldn’t all grow as big as Google, but out of 2500 some would come close.
By definition these 10,000 founders wouldn’t be taking jobs from Americans: it could be part of the terms of the visa that they couldn’t work for existing companies, only new ones they’d founded. In fact they’d cause there to be more jobs for Americans, because the companies they started would hire more employees as they grew.
The tricky part might seem to be how one defined a startup. But that could be solved quite easily: let the market decide. Startup investors work hard to find the best startups. The government could not do better than to piggyback on their expertise, and use investment by recognized startup investors as the test of whether a company was a real startup.
How would the government decide who’s a startup investor? The same way they decide what counts as a university for student visas. We’ll establish our own accreditation procedure. We know who one another are.
10,000 people is a drop in the bucket by immigration standards, but would represent a huge increase in the pool of startup founders. I think this would have such a visible effect on the economy that it would make the legislator who introduced the bill famous. The only way to know for sure would be to try it, and that would cost practically nothing.
According to an Earth Day survey, one third of schoolchildren between the ages of six and eleven think the earth will have been destroyed by the time they grow up. That’s great news, isn’t it? Not for the earth, I mean, but for “environmental awareness.” Congratulations to Al Gore, the Sierra Club, and the eco-propagandists of the public-education system in doing such a terrific job of traumatizing America’s moppets. Traditionally, most of the folks you see wandering the streets proclaiming the end of the world is nigh tend to be getting up there in years. It’s quite something to have persuaded millions of first-graders that their best days are behind them.
Call me crazy, but I’ll bet that in 15-20 years the planet will still be here along with most of the “environment” — your flora and fauna, your polar bears and three-toed tree sloths and whatnot. But geopolitically we’re in for a hell of a ride, and the world we end up with is unlikely to be as congenial as most Americans have gotten used to.
For example, Hillary Clinton said the other day that Pakistan posed a “mortal threat” to . . . Afghanistan? India? No, to the entire world! To listen to her, you’d think Pakistan was as scary as l’il Jimmy in the second grade’s mom’s SUV. She has a point: Asif Ali Zardari, the guy who’s nominally running the country, isn’t running anything. He’s ceding more and more turf to the local branch office of the Taliban. When the topic turns up in the news, we usually get vague references to the pro-Osama crowd controlling much of the “northwest,” which makes it sound as if these guys are the wilds of rural Idaho to Zardari’s Beltway. In fact, they’re now within some 60 miles of the capital, Islamabad — or, in American terms, a couple of I-95 exits north of Baltimore: In other words, they’re within striking distance of the administrative center of a nation of over 165 million people — and its nuclear weapons. That’s the “mortal threat.”
What’s going to stop them? Well, not Zardari. Nor his “summit” in Washington with President Obama and Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan. The creation of Pakistan was the worst mistake of post-war British imperial policy, and all that’s happened in the six decades since is that its pathologies have burst free of its borders and gone regional, global, and soon perhaps nuclear. Does the Obama administration have even a limited contingency plan for the nukes if — when — the Pakistani state collapses?
It would be reassuring to think so. But I wonder.
What’s the greater likelihood? That, in ten years’ time, things in Pakistan will be better? Or much worse? That nuclearization by basket-case dictatorships from Pyongyang to Tehran will have advanced, or been contained? That the bleak demographic arithmetic at the heart of Europe and Japan’s economic woes will have accelerated, or been reversed? That a resurgent Islam’s assaults on free speech and other rights (symbolized by the recent U.N. support for a global Islamic blasphemy law) will have taken hold in the western world, or been forced to retreat?
A betting man would check the “worse” box. Because resisting the present careless drift would require global leadership. And 100 days into a new presidency, Barack Obama is giving strong signals to the world that we have entered what Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post calls “the post-American era.” At the time of Gordon Brown’s visit to Washington, London took umbrage at an Obama official’s off-the-record sneer to a Fleet Street reporter that “there’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.” Andy McCarthy of National Review made the sharp observation that, never mind the British, this was how the administration felt about their own country, too: America is just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. In Europe, the president was asked if he believed in “American exceptionalism,” and replied: “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”
“We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history,” President Obama said when he ordered the release of the Justice Department interrogation memos. Actually, no. Not at all. We were attacked on 9/11. We responded to that attack with remarkable restraint in the use of force, respect for civil liberties, and even solicitude for those who might inadvertently be offended, let alone harmed, by our policies. We’ve fought a war on jihadist terror in a civilized, even legalized, way. Those who have been on the front and rear lines of that war–in the military and the intelligence agencies, at the Justice Department and, yes, in the White House–have much to be proud of. The rest of us, who’ve been asked to do little, should be grateful.
The dark and painful chapter we have to fear is rather the one President Obama may be ushering in. This would be a chapter in which politicians preen moralistically as they throw patriotic officials, who helped keep this country safe, to the wolves, and in which national leaders posture politically while endangering the nation’s security.
The preening is ridiculous, even by the standards of contemporary American politics and American liberalism. Obama fatuously asserts there are no real choices in the real world, just “false choices” that he can magically resolve. He foolishly suggests that even in war we would never have to do anything disagreeable for the sake of our security. He talks baby talk to intelligence officers: “Don’t be discouraged that we have to acknowledge potentially we’ve made some mistakes. That’s how we learn.”
At the same time, Obama throws the door open to years of lawsuits and investigations that will do injustice to those who’ve served the country and will demoralize those still seeking to do so. As the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, no defender of the Bush administration, put it, “Obama seems to think he can have it both ways–authorizing an unprecedented disclosure of CIA operational methods and at the same time galvanizing a clandestine service whose best days, he told them Monday, are ‘yet to come.’ Life doesn’t work that way–even for charismatic politicians. Disclosure of the torture memos may have been necessary, as part of an overdue campaign to change America’s image in the world. But nobody should pretend that the disclosures weren’t costly to CIA morale and effectiveness.”
Meanwhile, Obama’s director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, acknowledges to his colleagues in the intelligence community that the coercive interrogation methods outlawed by his boss did, in fact, produce “high value information” and “provided a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.” But, as part of the attempted infantilization of our public discourse, the DNI’s conclusions about the results of coercive interrogations–in effect, that they worked–are removed from the public version of his statement.
Hat tip to Susan Gertson;
“A democracy as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security and our ideals,” President Obama said on April 16, “and that is why these methods of interrogation are already a thing of the past.”
For a man who was willing to abandon Iraq to near-certain genocide (pre-surge), why should scaring the mastermind of 9/11 into thinking he’s drowning in order to save American lives be so troubling?
Obama has demonstrated a willingness to give the likes of Syria’s Assad the benefit of the doubt in the name of mature diplomacy. Assad’s goons, of course, car-bombed multiple Lebanese leaders who dared speak up against the tyrant.
For decades, US practiced “realpolitik” which meant taking the side of tyrants if said tyrants were friendly to us. President George W. Bush, a president of change, said this:
And in the last 60 years, many in the West have added to this distrust by excusing tyranny in the region, hoping to purchase stability at the price of liberty. But it did not serve the people of the Middle East to betray their hope of freedom. And it has not made Western nations more secure to ignore the cycle of dictatorship and extremism. Instead we have seen the malice grow deeper, and the violence spread, until both have appeared on the streets of our own cities. Some types of hatred will never be appeased; they must be opposed and discredited and defeated by a hopeful alternative – and that alternative is freedom.
Alas, Obama appears to a realpoliticker, not the idealist he purports to be.
Now consider our European allies, who Obama felt deserved an apology for Bush’s presidency. What moral compass guides, say, Germany?
In 2001, Bush declared North Korea an evil regime. This raised eyebrows among the chattering elites, why how intemperate!
But consider the testimony of a Norbert Vollertsen, German doctor doing aid work there.
I was a doctor with a German medical group, “Cap Anamur,” and entered North Korea in July 1999. I remained until my expulsion on Dec. 30, 2000, after I denounced the regime for its abuse of human rights, and its failure to distribute food aid to the people who needed it most. North Korea’s starvation is not the result of natural disasters. The calamity is man-made. Only the regime’s overthrow will end it.
Human rights are nonexistent. Peasants, slaves to the regime, lead lives of utter destitution. It is as if a basic right to exist–to be–is denied. Ordinary people starve and die. They are detained at the caprice of the regime. Forced labor is the basic way in which “order” is maintained.
Vollertsen returned to Germany and tried to get the German media to report his story of cruelty and evil in North Korea. But Vollertsen was accused of being a “war monger” and largely ignored. Only the US media gave the story its due.
Even South Korea, which you’d expect to be receptive, mistreated him, fearing that he’d upset delicate negotiations with the North. That was seven years ago. All negotiations with North Korea have gone nowhere because you cannot negotiate with evil.
Raffaghello et al. hit on a different solution that not only could be highly effective, but also has the delightful benefit of paying out not one dime to the pharmaceutical industry – which, come to think of it, may be why the research received little publicity. The authors decided to approach the problem from the opposite direction: instead of trying to target chemotherapy so it only affects cancer cells, what if we find a way to protect normal cells from the drugs?
Some of the authors are gerontologists who study the relation between aging and metabolism, and they paired their knowledge of normal cell regulation to that of oncologists who understand cancer cell regulation. For decades, it has been known that “calorie restriction” (fasting) in many species extends lifespan; starvation induces stress resistance in normal cells. Other studies have suggested that calorie restriction can protect against cancer. The authors hypothesized that while normal cells respond to calorie restriction by entering a stress-resistance mode, cancer cells do not, because it has also been known for years that cancer cells are regulated more by oncogenes – genes activated in cancer cells – than by external factors, such as available nutrition.
The research was conducted both in isolated cells and in mice, and in both cases there were dramatic differences in the reaction to chemotherapy drugs between starved animals/cells and not: at high doses of the drugs, far more individuals survived when they had been starved before treatment. It appears then that their hypothesis was correct – short-term starvation causes normal cells, but not cancer cells, to become stress resistant. A probable mechanism of the stress resistance is that starving cells stop dividing, in order to save energy; because most chemotherapy drugs act on dividing cells, dormant cells are protected.
The beauty of this technique is that most people on chemotherapy receive drugs in 2-3 week cycles. The drugs are generally filtered out of the body within a few days. So theoretically, one need fast for only a few days before the treatment to receive the benefit.
Anyone who believed European anti-Americanism was the result of Bush or Iraq, should note how gleefully the German media exaggerate any problems we might have. To wit, Der Spiegel describes a contemporary America of bread lines and soup kitchens.
As is typical for such articles, it begins with an anecdote meant to summarize. It’s quite a doozy.
Business is poor in the New York banking district around Wall Street these days, even for drug dealers. In the good old days, they used to supply America’s moneyed elite with cocaine and crack. But now, with the good times gone, they spend their days in the Bowery Mission, a homeless shelter with a dining hall and a chapel.
Alvin, 47, is one of them. His customers are gone, as is the money he earned during better times. And when another dealer higher up the food chain decided he was entitled to a bigger cut of the profits, things became too dicey for Alvin. “I’m afraid,” he says.
Alvin, who is originally from Louisiana, cleared out his apartment and moved into the oldest homeless shelter in New York City. In the drug business, a dealer who doesn’t pay his bills stands to get the maximum penalty: death. But Alvin feels safe in the Bowery Mission, even though the demand for beds is so high. “Last night I slept on the floor in front of the pulpit,” he says.
Pardon me while I dab away the tears. Later on there’s this:
Poverty as a mass phenomenon is back. About 50 million Americans have no health insurance, and more people are added to their ranks every day. More than 32 million people receive food stamps, and 13 million are unemployed. The homeless population is growing in tandem with a rapid rise in the rate of foreclosures, which were 45 percent higher in March 2009 than they were in the same month of the previous year.
Yes, times are tight. But 50 million people do not lack healthcare, just insurance. As we’ve noted many times, 35 million are young people who could afford it but choose not to.
The food stamps should gladden German hearts — they love welfare — so what’s the beef?
As for unemployment, Germany in the boom year of 2000 was 9.5%.
Now, check out the US unemployment rates here. It’s instructive: only during the Jimmy Carter hangover years of the early ’80s did we ever reach such heights.
High unemployment rates in France and Germany are typical.
A disturbing epidemic of amnesia seems to be plaguing my former colleagues on Capitol Hill. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, members of the committees charged with overseeing our nation’s intelligence services had no higher priority than stopping al-Qaeda. In the fall of 2002, while I was chairman of the House intelligence committee, senior members of Congress were briefed on the CIA’s “High Value Terrorist Program,” including the development of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and what those techniques were. This was not a one-time briefing but an ongoing subject with lots of back and forth between those members and the briefers.
Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as “waterboarding” were never mentioned. It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience.
Let me be clear. It is my recollection that:
– The chairs and the ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, known as the Gang of Four, were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists.
– We understood what the CIA was doing.
– We gave the CIA our bipartisan support.
– We gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities.
– On a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more support from Congress to carry out its mission against al-Qaeda.
I do not recall a single objection from my colleagues. They did not vote to stop authorizing CIA funding. And for those who now reveal filed “memorandums for the record” suggesting concern, real concern should have been expressed immediately — to the committee chairs, the briefers, the House speaker or minority leader, the CIA director or the president’s national security adviser — and not quietly filed away in case the day came when the political winds shifted. And shifted they have.
Circuses are not new in Washington, and I can see preparations being made for tents from the Capitol straight down Pennsylvania Avenue. The CIA has been pulled into the center ring before. The result this time will be the same: a hollowed-out service of diminished capabilities. After Sept. 11, the general outcry was, “Why don’t we have better overseas capabilities?” I fear that in the years to come this refrain will be heard again: once a threat — or God forbid, another successful attack — captures our attention and sends the pendulum swinging back. There is only one person who can shut down this dangerous show: President Obama.
Unfortunately, much of the damage to our capabilities has already been done. It is certainly not trust that is fostered when intelligence officers are told one day “I have your back” only to learn a day later that a knife is being held to it. After the events of this week, morale at the CIA has been shaken to its foundation.
Democrats whine about being called unpatriotic, even no one has said such. I’d say anyone weasel who’d weaken the intelligence services of our nation for selfish political advantage is no patriot.
The Sun is the dimmest it has been for nearly a century.
There are no sunspots, very few solar flares – and our nearest star is the quietest it has been for a very long time.
The observations are baffling astronomers, who are due to study new pictures of the Sun, taken from space, at the UK National Astronomy Meeting.
The Sun normally undergoes an 11-year cycle of activity. At its peak, it has a tumultuous boiling atmosphere that spits out flares and planet-sized chunks of super-hot gas. This is followed by a calmer period.
Last year, it was expected that it would have been hotting up after a quiet spell. But instead it hit a 50-year low in solar wind pressure, a 55-year low in radio emissions, and a 100-year low in sunspot activity.
So, what, is the science settled? Oops.
“There’s no sign of us coming out of it yet,” she told BBC News.
“At the moment, there are scientific papers coming out suggesting that we’ll be going into a normal period of activity soon.
“Others are suggesting we’ll be going into another minimum period – this is a big scientific debate at the moment.”
No papers, nothing to guide our lawmakers?
In the mid-17th Century, a quiet spell – known as the Maunder Minimum – lasted 70 years, and led to a “mini ice age”.
This has resulted in some people suggesting that a similar cooling might offset the impact of climate change.
Consider that sentence carefully.
Solar activity inextricably affects our climate, and in fact, global temps have not increased since 1998, contrary to the global warming predictions. Thus GW has been renamed “climate change” an idiotic term on its face.
According to Prof Mike Lockwood of Southampton University, this view is too simplistic.
“I wish the Sun was coming to our aid but, unfortunately, the data shows that is not the case,” he said.
Grammar police here: subjunctive voice requires it be “..Sun were coming…”
Prof Lockwood was one of the first researchers to show that the Sun’s activity has been gradually decreasing since 1985, yet overall global temperatures have continued to rise.
No, they have not.
It can be done. NeoNeocon has the details.
A new strain of never-before-seen influenza that has surfaced in Mexico and in parts of the U.S. has international health authorities on guard and sparked fears of a worldwide flu pandemic.
Health officials yesterday confirmed the severe respiratory illness that has killed more than 60 people in Mexico appears, in some cases, to be genetically similar to the eight cases of swine flu reported in parts of Texas and Southern California.
The new strain of swine influenza is likely already in Ontario, said Dr. Michael Gardam, one of Ontario’s top infectious disease specialists, because about 60,000 people return to the province from Mexico every month.
By what route? Hmm. We should not assume it is circulating in the lower 48?
“We have to assume that it is circulating in Ontario,” he said. “You just have to look at air travel patterns to realize that what goes on in Mexico has to come to Canada.”
It’s nice that ABC notices, but what political party does John Murtha belong to? Huh? Wha?
Here’s Murtha in a more overt criminal phase.
TUNBRIDGE WELLS, England — On a quaint lane called Camden Street, the sidewalk easel stands out for its apocalyptic tone: “100-WATT BULBS IN STOCK. (FOR HOW LONG WE DO NOT KNOW)”
“Let some government official come in and tell me I can’t sell these,” Jonathan Wright, who has owned Classic Lighting for 40 years, said defiantly as he surveyed his warren of upscale light fixtures and shelves filled with neatly stacked bulbs. “I’ll find them wherever I can get them and sell them for whatever they cost. People are buying in bulk because they want them.”
Mr. Wright says that in the last two months he has sold 3,000 of the 100-watt bulbs — the traditional mainstay of British light fixtures — more than 30 times the usual. People are buying 10 at a time, the limit per customer, even though their price is nearly 50 percent higher than it was a year ago.
Mr. Wright’s store is on the front lines of resistance to controversial global efforts to end the era of energy-gobbling incandescent light bulbs by phasing out their sale to encourage (or in Mr. Wright’s view, force) people to turn to more efficient compact fluorescents.
In Tunbridge Wells, the phase-out has brought howls of protest from people not normally prone to rebellion. This is, after all, the quintessential well-heeled English middle-class city — a place where Marks and Spencer is the epicenter of a high street dotted with bookstores and cafes, where people still wear Wellington boots and Conservatives win nearly every election.
Jenny Gale, 60, who said she had tried compact fluorescents while living in India, dislikes the new bulbs. “You can still find the old ones in stores that have some left, and for after that I’ll be stockpiling,” she said. “I’m not going to buy the new ones; I refuse. I hate the light.”
Countries like Australia, Canada, the United States and the European Union nations have drafted varying plans to ban or restrict the sale of incandescent bulbs in the next few years. In the United States, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. effectively bans the sale of almost all incandescent bulbs by 2014, although last year Representative Michele Bachman, a Minnesota Republican, introduced the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, a bill that would overturn it.
Sales of the bulbs will be banned in the European Union as of 2012, but Britain has moved especially swiftly: the government asked retailers to stop selling 75- and 100-watt bulbs as of Jan. 1. Most complied, including large chain stores, transforming the humble light bulb into a precious commodity.
The U.S. is obligated by a United Nations convention to prosecute Bush administration lawyers who allegedly drafted policies that approved the use of harsh interrogation tactics against terrorism suspects, the U.N.’s top anti-torture envoy said Friday.
Earlier this week, President Barack Obama left the door open to prosecuting Bush administration officials who devised the legal authority for gruesome terror-suspect interrogations. He had previously absolved CIA officers from prosecution.
Manfred Nowak, who serves as a U.N. special rapporteur in Geneva, said Washington is obligated under the U.N. Convention against Torture to prosecute U.S. Justice Department officials who wrote memos that defined torture in the narrowest way in order to justify and legitimize it, and who assured CIA officials that their use of questionable tactics was legal.
This is the same UN that coutenanced the genocide of 800,000 Rwandans in 1994.
That enabled Saddam Hussein through the corrupt Oil for Food program and then whitewashed.
That deploys aid workers to Africa that rape young girls while on duty.
How partisan is the Obama administration? Ryan Mauro:
Every once in a while something happens so shocking, so inconceivable, that it threatens to remove the last bastions of confidence I have in the federal government. The appointment of Rosa Brooks, the radical left-wing Los Angeles Times columnist, as an advisor to Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michelle Fluornoy is one of those moments. And by advisor, I don’t mean someone who talks on an informal basis — I mean a full-time advisor so committed to helping formulate policy that she had to leave her position as a fire-breathing partisan columnist.
It’s frighteningly unclear what caused Brooks to receive the appointment. She’s the author of a book about civil liberties during wartime, is a law professor, and is the director of Georgetown University Law Center’s Human Rights Institute. But why was Brooks, out of the thousands of legal experts in the country, chosen to become a high-level advisor? What made her so attractive? It can’t be her admittedly impressive resume, as there surely are other equally prestigious advisors available in this country of 300 million people.
Brooks could only have been chosen for the opinions she’s voiced, so it’s fair to ask what positions she has that made her catch the eye of Fluornoy and whoever else recommended her.
Was it her attitude towards the previous administration, which she described as “local authoritarians”? On more than one occasion, she’s questioned the sanity of President Bush, hardly the tone of respect President Obama sought to bring to today’s “broken politics.” In her piece titled “Straightjacket Bush,” Brooks says that the president and vice president should “be treated like psychotics who need treatment.”
Even more alarming are her stances on important national security issues. She opposed the surge, which she says “someday the history books will have harsh words” for. She also charges the Bush administration with exaggerating the threat from al-Qaeda. “At the time, most experts say, this description of al-Qaeda simply wasn’t true. It was little more than an obscure group of extremist thugs, well financed and intermittently lethal but relatively limited in their global and regional political pull. On 9/11, they got lucky,” she writes.
The way that liberal politicians and Hollywood celebrities carry on over the plight of poor people, you might easily get the idea that they actually know some. They don’t. Why would they when they only hang around with each other?
Those two groups are made up entirely of narcissists. Who else would want or need to exist entirely in the spotlight? They’re like moths. The irony is that, physically, the two groups couldn’t be more different and, yet, on a per capita basis, they probably spend the same amount on Botox, collagen and plastic surgery. When it comes to nips, tucks and hair transplants, alone, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden, have spent enough money to keep several poor families in vittles for years to come.
Speaking of appearances, I can see the attraction of politics. In no other field, except perhaps for rock and roll, are so many homely people described as highly photogenic sex symbols. I first became aware of this phenomenon when John Kennedy, a man who in his early 40s already had an impressive set of jowls, was sold to us as a combination of Tyrone Power and Cary Grant. Then along came Bill Clinton, a pudgy fellow with a big red nose and little piggy eyes, and yet even he apparently made liberal women swoon. Now we have Barack Obama, a man boasting ears that would put Dumbo to shame, a man who looks like he could leave Air Force One in the hangar and just let a strong breeze carry him wherever he has to go.
It’s not just the politicians, but also their mates, so long as they’re Democrats, who get the star treatment. Take Michelle Obama…if you would be so kind. Every time I turn around, there she is on a magazine cover. Now, normally, like the Mafia, I lay off the spouses, but inasmuch as this particular spouse attended the same racist church as her hubby for 20 years, I’ll make an exception in her case. After all, in spite of the fact that affirmative action got her an Ivy League degree and a $7,000-a-week salary and, moreover, has sent billions of dollars for no particularly good reason to Africa, she insists this is a mean country.
Naturally, the left-wing media is now trying to convince us that this James Brown-look-alike has all the allure, glamour and fashion sense of Jackie Kennedy. I have even heard her upper arms described in the sort of language Wordsworth devoted to flowers in the morning dew and that Keats lavished on nightingales. Frankly, if I were Mrs. Obama and the geeks started rhapsodizing about my triceps, I might consider wearing sleeves.
But there’s no getting around the fact that Barack is the bigger menace. His latest money-burning crusade is universal health care. It was bad enough when the Clintons pushed for it 15 years ago. It hasn’t improved with age.
If it were up to me, basic health insurance would only cover catastrophic injuries and diseases. If hypochondriacs feel they have to see a doctor every time they sneeze, that kind of coverage can be handled the same way as car, life and fire insurance. People could write a check and pay for it themselves. As P.J. O’Rourke observed: “If you think health care is expensive now, just wait until it’s free.”
A friend of mine thinks that one way to lower the price of medical care is through tort reform. He thinks that so long as lawyers can put physicians through the meat grinder, doctors will be forced to keep raising their fees in order to cover their insurance bills. It was my friend’s suggestion that if somebody sues a doctor for malpractice and loses the case, he should be liable for all the court costs. I pointed out that no poor person, no matter how badly maimed, could then afford to sue and run the risk of losing, and that no lawyer could afford to take the case on a contingency basis.
My solution was that no lawyer would be allowed to sue a doctor if he had sued a medical practitioner, say, twice before and lost. That would at least prevent the worst sort of shyster from making a career out of chasing ambulances.
One of the things that concerns me about Obama’s presidency is that every time he opens his yap, he sounds so darn naive. Not too long ago, he spoke about reaching out to moderates in the ranks of the Taliban. A moderate in that society is a cretin who wants to murder Christians, Jews and any woman who refuses to wrap herself in a bed sheet before leaving the house, but who draws the line at beheading his victims for Al-Jazeera’s TV cameras.
I find it hard to believe that the majority of saps who voted for Obama last November would do it all over again even though he has been spending money in a way that would give drunken sailors a bad name, while Wall Street and Main Street both begin to resemble Tobacco Road. It seems that when people described Obama as charismatic, they didn’t mean he was particularly bright, only that he was able to convince a lot of dummies that liver-and-onion flavored ice cream tastes better than chocolate or vanilla.
The way things are headed, it seems that Khrushchev almost got it right. The Soviet Union didn’t bury us, as he predicted, we simply dug our own grave. We went Socialist without a bomb being dropped or a shot being fired. The coup took place in election booths all over America, and anyone who doesn’t regard it as a tragic event didn’t deserve to be born here.
Recently, the following message has been all over the Internet: It’s a Recession when your neighbor loses his job. It’s a Depression when you lose your job. It’s a Recovery when Obama loses his job.
…An old friend e-mailed me this week about how to characterize Obama’s economic interventions into the banking and auto sectors (with health care next on the list). He says it’s not really socialism. Nor is it fascism. He suggests its state capitalism. But I think of it more as corporate capitalism. Or even crony capitalism, as Cato’s Dan Mitchell puts it.
It’s not socialism because the government won’t actually own the means of production. It’s not fascism because America is a democracy, not a dictatorship, and Obama’s program doesn’t reach way down through all the sectors, but merely seeks to control certain troubled areas. And in the Obama model, it would appear there’s virtually no room for business failure. So the state props up distressed segments of the economy in some sort of 21st-century copy-cat version of Western Europe’s old social-market economy.
So call it corporate capitalism or state capitalism or government-directed capitalism. But it still represents a huge change from the American economic tradition. It’s a far cry from the free-market principles that governed the three-decade-long Reagan expansion, which now seems in jeopardy. And with cap-and-trade looming, this corporate capitalism will only grow more intense.
This is all very disturbing. For three decades supply-siders like me and my dear friend Jack Kemp talked about democratic capitalism. This refers to the small business that grows into the large one. It means necessary after-tax incentives are being provided to reward Schumpeterian entrepreneurship, innovation, and risk-taking.
At the center of this model is the much-vaunted entrepreneur who must be supported by a thriving investor class that will provide the necessary capital to finance the new economy. But also necessary for the Schumpeterian model is a healthy banking and financial system that will provide the necessary lending credit to finance new ideas.
Do we truly believe that raising tax rates on investors and moving to some sort of government-controlled banking system will sufficiently fund the entrepreneur and sustain democratic capitalism? Do we really believe that a federal-government-directed economic system will generate a sufficient supply of capital and credit to produce a strong economy?
I doubt it.
Look what our post-partisan pres has done now: WSJ:
Mark down the date. Tuesday, April 21, 2009, is the moment that any chance of a new era of bipartisan respect in Washington ended. By inviting the prosecution of Bush officials for their antiterror legal advice, President Obama has injected a poison into our politics that he and the country will live to regret.
Policy disputes, often bitter, are the stuff of democratic politics. Elections settle those battles, at least for a time, and Mr. Obama’s victory in November has given him the right to change policies on interrogations, Guantanamo, or anything on which he can muster enough support. But at least until now, the U.S. political system has avoided the spectacle of a new Administration prosecuting its predecessor for policy disagreements. This is what happens in Argentina, Malaysia or Peru, countries where the law is treated merely as an extension of political power.
If this analogy seems excessive, consider how Mr. Obama has framed the issue. He has absolved CIA operatives of any legal jeopardy, no doubt because his intelligence advisers told him how damaging that would be to CIA morale when Mr. Obama needs the agency to protect the country. But he has pointedly invited investigations against Republican legal advisers who offered their best advice at the request of CIA officials.
“Your intelligence indicates that there is currently a level of ‘chatter’ equal to that which preceded the September 11 attacks,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, in his August 1, 2002 memo. “In light of the information you believe [detainee Abu] Zubaydah has and the high level of threat you believe now exists, you wish to move the interrogations into what you have described as an ‘increased pressure phase.’”
So the CIA requests a legal review at a moment of heightened danger, the Justice Department obliges with an exceedingly detailed analysis of the law and interrogation practices — and, seven years later, Mr. Obama says only the legal advisers who are no longer in government should be investigated. The political convenience of this distinction for Mr. Obama betrays its basic injustice. And by the way, everyone agrees that senior officials, including President Bush, approved these interrogations. Is this President going to put his predecessor in the dock too?
Mr. Obama seemed to understand the peril of such an exercise when he said, before his inauguration, that he wanted to “look forward” and beyond the antiterror debates of the Bush years. As recently as Sunday, Rahm Emanuel said no prosecutions were contemplated and now is not a time for “anger and retribution.” Two days later the President disavowed his own chief of staff. Yet nothing had changed except that Mr. Obama’s decision last week to release the interrogation memos unleashed a revenge lust on the political left that he refuses to resist.
Just as with the AIG bonuses, he is trying to co-opt his left-wing base by playing to it — only to encourage it more. Within hours of Mr. Obama’s Tuesday comments, Senator Carl Levin piled on with his own accusatory Intelligence Committee report. The demands for a “special counsel” at Justice and a Congressional show trial are louder than ever, and both Europe’s left and the U.N. are signaling their desire to file their own charges against former U.S. officials.
Those officials won’t be the only ones who suffer if all of this goes forward. Congress will face questions about what the Members knew and when, especially Nancy Pelosi when she was on the House Intelligence Committee in 2002. The Speaker now says she remembers hearing about waterboarding, though not that it would actually be used. Does anyone believe that? Porter Goss, her GOP counterpart at the time, says he knew exactly what he was hearing and that, if anything, Ms. Pelosi worried the CIA wasn’t doing enough to stop another attack. By all means, put her under oath.
Mr. Obama may think he can soar above all of this, but he’ll soon learn otherwise. The Beltway’s political energy will focus more on the spectacle of revenge, and less on his agenda. The CIA will have its reputation smeared, and its agents second-guessing themselves. And if there is another terror attack against Americans, Mr. Obama will have set himself up for the argument that his campaign against the Bush policies is partly to blame.
Above all, the exercise will only embitter Republicans, including the moderates and national-security hawks Mr. Obama may need in the next four years. As patriotic officials who acted in good faith are indicted, smeared, impeached from judgeships or stripped of their academic tenure, the partisan anger and backlash will grow. And speaking of which, when will the GOP Members of Congress begin to denounce this partisan scapegoating? Senior Republicans like Mitch McConnell, Richard Lugar, John McCain, Orrin Hatch, Pat Roberts and Arlen Specter have hardly been profiles in courage.
Mr. Obama is more popular than his policies, due in part to his personal charm and his seeming goodwill. By indulging his party’s desire to criminalize policy advice, he has unleashed furies that will haunt his Presidency.