Tuesday, February 26, 2013



Mayor Michael Bloomberg

FEBRUARY 26, 2013

The Gotham nanny who jerks sodas


These are frantic days for the man the Manhattan tabloids call the Soda Jerk. Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, is reviewing his troops, readying the SWAT teams for his campaign to beat back the crime wave sweeping over Gotham.

The mayor begins enforcement of his new rules about how much soda is good for a New Yorker on March 12, vowing to take neither prisoner nor excuse. Hizzoner wants to be remembered as the mayor who stopped the gulping, slurping and burping that threatened to make Gotham unfit for human habitation. Gotham was in fact unfit for habitation not so long ago. Then Rudy Guiliani cleaned up the city, chased the crooks and thugs to wherever they went, probably New Jersey, wiped away most of the graffiti and washed the dirt off the face of the city that never sleeps. 

Mike Bloomberg wants to be remembered as the mayor who swiped Mary Poppins’ bloomers and became nanny to the world. The soda smackdown follows earlier campaigns against sins of the palate – New Yorkers were eating too much sugar, salt, fats, cigarettes. Even babies were guilty. The New York Post surveyed the battlefield of today and reports that Hizzoner is after a lot more than an 18-ounce container of Coke, Pepsi and other drinks Hizzoner deems too sweet.

“If you order a pizza,” the Post reports, “you cannot get a large bottle of soda delivered with it. Already, Domino’s locations across the city are doing away with 1- and 2-liter bottles of soda . . . they’ll sell smaller bottles instead, costing you more money and increasing plastic waste.”

Pizza restaurants typically charge $3 for a 2-liter bottle of Coke or Pepsi, the Post says, and after March 12 a customer would have to buy six 12-ounce cans for $7.50. This will put a crimp in a lot of family occasions, but that’s a sacrifice the mayor, a billionaire, is willing to take.

An anonymous blogger has put together a comparison of what life in America was like before the mayor and his ilk came to make things tedious and tiresome for the rest of us. You don’t have to be a geezer to appreciate the simpler life in the days before the nannies arrived. These scenaries of past and present illustrate.

Only yesterday, Jack pulls into the parking lot at Happy Valley High, in from an early-morning quail hunt, and his shotgun is proudly displayed in the gun rack in the rear window. The vice principal walks over to admire the gun (much as Joe Biden might have done), and goes to his car to get his own shotgun out of the trunk. He and Jack compare guns, talk of bird hunts, and put them away when the bell rings.

Fast forward to Not-so-Happy Valley High, circa 2013. Jack’s grandson pulls into the parking lot with his shotgun showing in the gun rack. Lockdown! Someone calls the cops. The FBI arrives to arrest Jack. He spends two days in jail and never sees his truck or gun again.

Scenario Two: Fred wakes up with a headache, takes a small bottle of aspirin from the medicine chest and when he arrives at school his pal Jerry has a headache, too. Fred gives him two aspirin and within an hour they’re both OK.

Fast forward again: Fred’s grandson, also named Fred, is not so lucky. He has a headache, too, and takes a bottle of aspirin to school, circa 2013, and when his friend Glenn complains of pain in his knee he gives him an aspirin. The teacher sees it, calls the principal, who calls the cops. Fred is thrown out of school, charged with dealing drugs.

Or consider what happened to Francisco when he flunked English on the eve of graduation day at Venice High in the long ago. Having recently arrived from Mexico, he was allowed to graduate on his promise to make it up in summer school. He went on to college and became an astronaut .

His nephew Pedro, newly arrived from Quintana Roo in 2013, flunks English, too. He sues the teacher, the principal and the school, arguing that requiring a knowledge of English to graduate is racist. The ACLU joins the suit; Pedro wins. He gets his diploma by court order and English is taken out of the core curriculum. Pedro mows lawns for a living because he cannot speak English and cannot get a job.

Nothing like this can happen, of course. Not in New York, anyway. The Soda Jerk will guarantee it.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

Friday, February 22, 2013




FEBRUARY 22, 2013

Beware of good ol’ Joe and his guns


Joe Biden, a gun nut. Who knew?

The veep never fails to entertain, even when he’s trying not to, and this time his boss is probably not amused. Joe famously pushed President Obama to endorse same-sex marriage by sniffing the orange blossoms first, but if his advice for Americans to buy a shotgun to protect the homeplace was an attempt to convert the president to a Second Amendment aficionado, he’ll no doubt fail.
Joe’s endorsement of domestic mayhem in the cause of survival predictably infuriated those who are so terrified of guns that on certain playgrounds even little boys who make an imaginary gun with tiny thumb and forefinger risk having their hands seized, or at least a sentence to a trip to the principal’s office, followed by suspension.
Firing from the hip is always dangerous. When someone named “Kate” asked the veep, on a Facebook forum sponsored by Parents magazine, whether the president’s attempt to disarm America would make “law-abiding citizens become more of a target to criminals,” good old Joe’s working-class instincts from his origins overcame diplomacy, tact and discretion.
“Is this Parents magazine?” he asked in disbelief. “I have Parents magazine in my home, I’ve never heard anybody in Parents magazine ask these kinds of questions, but I’m delighted to answer them. Kate, if you want to protect yourself, get a double-barreled shotgun.
“I promise you: Whoever’s coming in is not going to [make it]. You don’t need an AR-15 [assault rifle], it’s harder to aim, it’s harder to use, and in fact you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun. Buy a shotgun.”
Unlike some politicians faking an appreciation of guns and the Second Amendment, good old Joe makes a persuasive case that in his heart he’s a good ol’ boy. He owns two shotguns and a handgun, a Beretta.
The advice he gave to “Kate” and to his wife, Jill, about when and how to use a shotgun, was actually not so good. If Mrs. Biden hears a bad guy in the woods outside their home, he told her, “fire two blasts outside the house.” Firing inside the house is not a good idea unless you mean really serious business.
The veep and his missus aren’t likely to hear anything suspicious in the back yard, either at the official residence on Massachusetts Avenue or at their own house in Delaware. The Secret Service patrols around the properties are ample and adequate. The peril in firing a Beretta off the porch in Washington is that she might hit a passing car, bicyclist or even the pope’s ambassador at the Vatican embassy across the street.  [The official residence of the Vice-President is across the street on Massachusetts Avenue from the Vatican Nunciature.]
However, the veep’s instructions about how to use a shotgun, to “fire two blasts outside the house,” go athwart common gun sense. Shotguns are not ideal for firing warning shots because once both barrels are fired there’s nothing left for a second round short of fumbling for two more shells. A shotgun is meant to kill, and one advantage of the weapon is that it isn’t necessary to take careful aim.
If the veep really wants his wife to use a shotgun to protect herself he should give her a sawed-off shotgun. They’re illegal in the District of Columbia, and indeed in most jurisdictions, just because they’re so lethal. (If a television host waving an illegal ammunition clip on camera can get a pass from the District cops, surely a vice president can, too.) The shortened barrel reduces the gun’s range, but scatters the shot in a wide arc. The blasts from a sawed-off model can usually dispense with an entire roomful of bad guys.
Though forbidden to civilians, sawed-off shotguns are often used by the mob (particularly movie mobsters), police swat teams and the military. Sawed-off shotguns were a weapon of choice for Confederate cavalrymen in the Civil War, prized supplements to saber and carbine in close combat. Sicilian farmers used them for varmint hunting in the Nineteenth Century, and when their progeny came to America, they brought sawed-off shotguns with them. Hell’s Kitchen and the streets of Chicago soon echoed with deadly noise.
Bonnie and Clyde loved their shotguns. Clyde shortened the barrel of his Browning A-5 by 6 inches to make it easy to conceal and get to – he called the gun his “Whippit” because he could easily “whip it out” – and the sight of Clyde whipping it out terrified hundreds of bank customers in the ‘30’s.

Clyde and his shotgun wouldn’t have frightened good ol’ Joe. The veep would have cracked a gaffe and Clyde would have fallen down laughing until the sheriff arrived.
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

Thursday, February 21, 2013




Morning Jolt – February 21, 2013
By Jim Geraghty

President Obama on Tuesday painted a dire picture of federal government operations across the United States should automatic budget cuts hit on March 1: F.B.I. agents furloughed, criminals released, flights delayed, teachers and police officers laid off and parents frantic to find a place for children locked out of day care centers.
"Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go," Mr. Obama said, flanked by law enforcement officers at the White House. "Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find child care for their kids."
While the effects may ultimately be significant, many are unlikely to be felt immediately, officials said Tuesday after the president's remarks. Rather, they will ripple gradually across the federal government as agencies come to grips in the months ahead with across-the-board cuts to all their programs. . . .
But officials conceded that day care centers are almost certainly not going to be padlocked on March 1. Border patrols will be staffed throughout that day and the days to come. Federal agents will continue to conduct investigations, and criminals will not immediately be "let go," as Mr. Obama suggested.
Named after a tactic used by the National Park Service to threaten closure of the popular Washington Monument when lawmakers proposed serious cuts in spending on parks.
Roll Call calls it "an old legislative ploy where an agency threatens to close popular services first."
The strategy is used at all levels of government in an attempt to get the public to rally around government services they take pride in or find useful. Closing libraries on certain days of the week or reducing days of trash pick up appears to have the same effect.
The GOP message is, and should continue to be, "Hate these cuts? Then let's take on the biggest issue, entitlement spending."
As Yuval Levin recently spotlighted, one tweak to the cost-of-living adjustment to Social Security effectively saves that program for the foreseeable future:
We might pay wealthier individuals with higher Social Security benefits lower annual cost-of-living adjustments than those receiving lower benefits. A progressive COLA could reduce high-end benefits by reasonable amounts in the near term while generating incentives — not disincentives — to work or save. A policy in which the highest third of beneficiaries received no COLA, the lowest third received a full COLA, and the middle third received half the current COLA would reduce Social Security outlays by around 12 percent over the first ten years. In fact, the savings from this measure alone would be enough to balance the program's finances over the long term.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013




Schumer’s Dishonest Hagel Sob Story

Following the latest string of revelations about Chuck Hagel’s defamatory comments about Israel and its supporters, a lot of attention has been focused on whether New York Senator Chuck Schumer would change his position on President Obama’s nominee to be secretary of defense. But any hopes that Schumer would prioritize the principles that he has always claimed he was elected to the Senate to defend over political expediency have now been dashed. At a New York City event this morning reported by Politico’s Maggie Haberman, Schumer doubled down on his support for Hagel claiming the former senator cried when discussing his slurs about the “Jewish lobby.”
 The account of Schumer’s fateful meeting with the nominee was fascinating but more important than that was his decision to repeat the claim that “not a major Jewish organization” was against Hagel and to assert that the issue driving opposition to him was anger about his opposition to the war in Iraq. Both claims are not only false but are a transparent attempt to deflect attention from the real issue in the debate over Hagel: the president’s choice of an incompetent nominee who is also a well known antagonist of Israel with a record of opposition to getting tough on Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.
Schumer’s discussion of Hagel’s tears when he explained to him that his crack about the “Jewish lobby” was rooted in prejudice may be a truthful but the idea, as the New Yorker put it, that “I’m sure you didn’t mean it” is patently disingenuous.

When Hagel used that term in 2006  (at his confirmation hearing he said it was the only time he said it “on the record”) or made other disturbing comments about the Israeli Foreign Ministry controlling the U.S. State Department or that Israel was on its way to being an “apartheid state,” he knew exactly what he was saying. Far from a misunderstanding, there is a clear pattern in Hagel’s record and it speaks to his contempt for the U.S.-Israel alliance and its supporters. Indeed, the context of the “Jewish lobby” remark showed that he considered it a point of honor to stand up to Israel’s supporters.

The notion that Hagel’s contrite interview with Schumer or any of his other fumbling attempts to walk back a long record of antagonism should outweigh a record replete with votes and statements demonstrating his desire to stand apart from the bipartisan pro-Israel consensus is absurd.

Just as dishonest though is Schumer’s claim that “no major Jewish organization” opposes Hagel. Just this past weekend, the American Jewish Committee — a large liberal-leaning group that more or less defines the term — demanded that the Senate not vote before it further reviewed Hagel’s record in the wake of recent revelations of more prejudicial statements by the nominee.

In the weeks prior to Hagel’s disastrous confirmation hearing, Schumer had attempted to use the strategic silence of many Jewish groups on Hagel as cover for his own decision to go along with the president on the nomination. But after the AJC statement and Anti-Defamation League leader Abe Foxman’s questions about Hagel’s statements, that line of defense no longer works. For Schumer to go on pretending that Jewish groups are neutral about Hagel can only be characterized as blatantly dishonest.

But it is not any more dishonest than Schumer’s attempt to claim that the motive behind the opposition to Hagel is “neocon” anger about his critique of the war in Iraq. Senator John McCain may still hold a grudge about Hagel’s foolish opposition to the Iraq surge (and contrary to Schumer’s comments, Hagel — who voted in favor of the war — was wrong about the surge) but that is not an issue that interests anyone else who cares about this awful nomination.

Neoconservatives may have disagreed with Hagel about Iraq but if that were the only issue about his candidacy he would already be sitting in his office in the Pentagon. It is, as Schumer well knows, Hagel’s terrible record on Israel, Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah that has scared many Americans about his fitness for office. Even more think his performance at his confirmation hearing when he was unable to demonstrate a grasp of the issues before the nation or defend his positions shows he’s just not up to the job.

When faced with a choice between doing the right thing about Hagel and demonstrating loyalty to President Obama, Schumer had done the latter. That is bad enough and a terrible commentary about the willingness of pro-Israel Democrats to put their party’s interests above principle. But for him to back up this decision with lies and distortions speaks volumes about his own character.

Topics: , ,



Morning Jolt – February 20, 2013
By Jim Geraghty
Here's your Wednesday Morning Jolt.

National Review Online

The Sequester Pester

It's kind of fascinating to see President Obama pursue a strategy of rallying the public in opposition to the sequester, because I think most observers would agree that the American people have a severe case of Washington Crisis Fatigue.

The president's rallying cry is, "Rise up and call Congress to stop this!" And the American people look at what seems like a rerun of previous spending fights, shrug, and say, "meh."
I'll turn to an unexpected source, Megan Carpentier of Raw Story, to set the stage of our national exhaustion and cynicism:

The latest fight -- over what is termed "sequester" inside the Beltway and which politicos and reporters alike have repeated ad infinitum without much explanation to their constituents and readers -- is in fact just another continuation of the ongoing budget fights over which Republicans and Democrats have threatened government shutdowns for more than two years.
Eighteen months ago, after months of threats and posturing, President Obama suggested and Congressional Republicans and Democrats agreed to create a magical deadline to get their [stuff] together or else be forced to explain a rash of immediate spending cuts to the American people. Both sides agreed to the deal, figuring that the other would face a humiliating defeat in the 2012 elections; instead, the elections insured a continuation of the dysfunctional status quo and the continued unwillingness of anyone to behave like a political leader rather than a political brawler.
And yet, somehow, very few people outside the echo chamber can be forced to care. Why? Because we've all seen this little one-act play out before, enough times that it's hard to take it seriously. There's no dramatic filibuster where a Senator stands for hours reading from a cookbook or The Federalist Papers, no video footage of GSA workers being locked out of their offices or postal sorting machines sitting idle, no actual effect on anyone's day-to-day life, the political rhetoric on the Hill or the situation of the federal budget. We all assume that they'll sit around pointing fingers and calling one another names like a bunch of school kids until the very last minute, when they'll hammer out another reasonably foolish compromise that keeps the government open for another six months without solving the fundamental dispute, pat themselves on the back and go back to naming post offices and arguing about gun control and trying to land tortured one-liners on the Sunday talk shows until they're forced to repeat the posturing all over again.
It's tiresome, it's foolish, it's (deliberately, one starts to assume) difficult for most Americans to follow, let alone care about, and it does nothing to solve any of the varying problems identified as such for either side. And the more they do it, they more they'll earn the disapproval and disrespect of Americans on all sides of the political spectrum.

One wonders if we'll get another Chris Christie tirade in the coming days, when you see the fact that Sandy relief funding may be cut as a result of this:

In a statement, Rep. Michael Grimm said, "President Obama has no one to blame but himself for the consequences of sequestration. He proposed it and he insisted on it. As a result, we are faced with reckless, across-the-board cuts that will hurt important local programs, cost us jobs and decrease the amount of Sandy relief funding we fought hard to move through Congress."
"Shifting the blame to Congress is a shameless political tactic," added Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn). "The House has twice passed legislation to replace the president's job-killing sequester with targeted, common-sense cuts. I voted for both proposals; however, the Senate refused to act on them. If the president is serious about finding a solution, he will reach out to Congress to identify responsible ways to cut $85 billion, something the House has already done. . . . No one should be talking about another round of tax hikes, when sequestration can be easily avoided through responsible cuts."

By the way, one reason nobody believes the "CRISIS!" rhetoric can be found in the sentence that immediately follows Grimm's remarks: "Obama's remarks came a day after he returned to Washington from a three-day golfing weekend in Florida."

The sequester must be stopped . . . but only after 18 holes with Tiger!

Charlie Spiering reminds us that back in November 2011, Obama was pledging, "I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off ramps on this one."

Here's a projection of the economic fallout of the sequester: GDP growth in 2013 shrinking from 2.6 percent to 2 percent, costing roughly 700,000 jobs (including reductions in armed forces), pushing the civilian unemployment rate up one quarter of one percentage point, to 7.4 percent. The MacroAdvisers urge, "By far the preferable policy is a credible long-term plan to shrink the deficit more slowly through some combination of revenue increases within broad tax reform, more carefully considered cuts in discretionary spending, and fundamental reform of entitlement programs."

Simpson and Bowles Present, ‘A Good Day to Cut Hard'

Simpson-Bowles held a reunion tour Tuesday.

Derek Thompson of The Atlantic hurls the Scarlet "R" at the pair, declaring that their revised plan looks . . . Republican! (Doesn't he mean it looks more fiscally conservative? As we all know, "Republican" is not a synonym for "person who cuts spending.") Thompson writes:

Whereas the first plan was a roughly even mix of higher taxes and lower spending, the new plan calls for 44 percent* less revenue. When you count the interest payments saved by running smaller deficits, both plans would cut around $4 trillion within a decade.
(Hey, didn't we just enact a whole bunch of income tax hikes on January 1?)
The swing toward spending cuts is pretty shocking to me, and I have emailed some budget analysts to make sure I'm fairly comparing the plans.
Why might Bowles and Simpson have proposed such a radically different mix of new taxes and spending cuts? Two reasons.
First, there aren't enough people in Washington who want to raise taxes on anybody making less than $250,000 to make the original $2.6 billion figure work. Second, Congress has demonstrated a fairly strong appetite for scheduling budget cuts. This plan -- which builds on the spending cuts under the Budget Control Act and the new higher tax rates on income over $450,000 -- shifts the weight of deficit reduction toward spending cuts.

Despite the scarlet "R" over at The Atlantic, the Heritage Foundation is offering an unimpressed face worthy of McKayla Maroney:

Doubling down on tax increases. The outline disguises a tax increase in the language of tax reform. Like a wolf in sheep's clothing, the proposal to eliminate or reduce many unidentified tax expenditures would consume an additional $600 billion of taxpayer's money -- on top of the $618 billion already enacted in the fiscal cliff deal. Simpson and Bowles suggest lowering marginal tax rates slightly as well, but only to call this a bipartisan proposal in name. The substance amounts to another massive tax hike on investors and small businesses that would drag down growth.
No structural entitlement reforms. On Medicare, the outline calls for some of the very same price-fixing policies that we know don't work. There is some common ground on increasing Medicare premiums for higher earners, reforming cost sharing, and adjusting benefits to account for population aging -- if that means increasing the age of eligibility. On Social Security, adopting the chained consumer price index (CPI) as a more accurate inflation measure would help program finances. But much more needs to be done.

Heritage's Romina Boccia concludes, "Simpson and Bowles have reappeared on the scene most likely only to see their proposal ignored once again." Yeah, but this is the deficit-reduction version of the latest Die Hard movie: tired stars from past decades doing their old schtick again, hoping new audiences will find it exciting and fresh.

An Actual New Joe Biden Quote: ‘Buy a Shotgun. Buy a Shotgun.'
And now, part of our continuing series, Joe Biden's Tips for Home Defense, and/or Spree Shooters.
In our last episode . . .

"A shotgun would keep you a lot safer -- a double barrel shotgun -- than the assault weapon in somebody's hand who doesn't know how to use it, even one who does know how to use it.
You know. *Points to the camera*
It's harder to use an assault weapon to hit something than it is a shotgun. So, if you want to keep people away in an earthquake, buy some shotgun shells."

And now, today's exciting installment:

Vice President Joe Biden said people don't need high-capacity weapons to protect themselves and that the Obama administration's efforts to reduce gun violence amount to gun safety, not gun control.
"If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barrel shotgun," Mr. Biden said Tuesday in an interview with Parents Magazine. The White House has proposed banning certain high-capacity weapons and Mr. Biden, who says he has two shotguns, said most military-style weapons aren't good for home defense.
"You don't need an AR-15," Mr. Biden said, referring to an assault-style rifle. "It's harder to aim, it's harder to use, and in fact, you don't need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun. Buy a shotgun."

Nathan Wurtzel asks, "Now what if three people break into your house?"

ADDENDA: Lachlan Markay: "NOT THE ONION: Hamid Karzai and Bob Menendez meet to discuss the scourge of public corruption."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013



Sen. John McCain (Photo by Frank Plitt)

FEBRUARY 19, 2013

A march up the hill and down again


Nobody does tough-talking better than a Republican senator. It’s not easy talking tough, and the follow-through can be even harder.

Last week John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina roasted and toasted Chuck Hagel, as if the republic would be in deadly peril if he were confirmed as secretary of defense. This week they’re assuring the White House that, well, they were just kidding. (“Can’t you guys take a joke?”)

Mr. McCain, a key Republican wise man on defense issues, insists he still thinks Mr. Hagel is not qualified to be the main man of the U.S. military, “but I don’t believe that we should hold up his nomination any further, because I think [we’ve had] a reasonable amount of time to have questions answered.”

Right on cue, Mr. Graham, who describes Mr. Hagel as not only “unqualified” but “radical,” said he had at last received a letter from Mr. Hagel in response to the questions he asked during the confirmation hearings, and he’ll take Mr. Hagel’s word that he didn’t mean all that nice stuff he said about Iran and the nasty stuff he said about the war in Iraq, the Jews and Israel.

Senators are tigers about process, less concerned about content. Standing tall when all about him, fairies and elves are losing their heads, makes a senator’s chin whiskers ache and his teeth itch. The Constitution assigns to the Senate the unique duty to “advise and consent,” but it’s a lot easier in Gasbag City to “advise and submit.” The idea behind “advise and consent” was that sometimes a president’s nominee would be so dreadful that consent must be withheld to nudge a president to reconsider his sin and repent with another nominee.

To listen to the Republicans at the Hagel hearing, you would think that both John McCain and Lindsey Graham were sure this was one of those occasions – and that the reasons were so important and so obvious that every weapon at hand, including the filibuster, must be employed to keep “one of the most unqualified, radical choices for secretary of defense in a long time” as far from the Pentagon as possible.

Maybe these worthies were just blowing smoke at the president and his choice. Maybe it was partisan scorn at a rogue and turncoat. Maybe they just didn’t like the cut of his jib. But if they really, really think Mr. Hagel is not qualified to serve, then withholding consent, even if the withholding requires parliamentary tricks and schemes, is a bounden duty.

Just why the president wants the rambling, bumbling, stumbling Chuck Hagel as his secretary of defense is a puzzle. He already has Joe Biden for comic relief. Unless it’s true, as many in Washington believe it is, that the president is determined to substitute squish for strength and Mr. Hagel shares his dream of dismantling the nation’s defenses and trusting the nation’s defense to international organizations like the United Nations. Who needs the Army, the Navy and the Marines when U.N. peacekeepers from both Upper and Lower Slobbovia could be called in to man the ramparts?

The military chiefs are doing their part, sounding the usual threats to close the orphanage and throw the kids into the cold, rainy streets unless they get the money they want. There’s enough unsequestered money for the Navy to pay a $2 billion bonus to run its ships on biofuels, instead of conventional fuel, and for the Army to continue funding a $28 billion “battlefield intelligence processor,” but not enough to send the new carrier Harry S. Truman to sea. The president thinks decisions like these will be right up Chuck Hagel’s street.

The Republican senators who sounded so fit to fight only a week ago may think they’re standing on principle and process now, but to the rest of us it looks like the same old Washington game of endless palaver and expensive pretense. Why did these guys make such a big deal of something they knew they wouldn't get genuinely excited about in the end?

Messrs McCain and Graham should now lead a chorus of that old English folk song about the Duke of York, who sounds a lot like a Republican senator: “Oh, the grand old Duke of York, he had ten thousand men; He marched them up to the top of the hill, and he marched them down again.”

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

Monday, February 18, 2013



Happy Warrior   •
February 25, 2013, Issue

Ghost Cities

By Mark Steyn


In a dispute between Hamas and Fatah, it’s tempting to take the old Kissinger line re the Iran–Iraq War: It’s a shame they can’t both lose. But, in fact, only one side wins: In Gaza, al-Aqsa University has just announced that female students will be required to attend in proper Muslim garb from head to toe — i.e., the full body bag. At present, some still wear headscarf, trousers, and a long coat, but that’s too revealing for the new Gaza, so time to get fitted for your burka, niqab, or abaya. Al-Aqsa University is funded by the Palestinian Authority — i.e., Yasser Arafat’s old Fatah — but it’s controlled by Hamas. The higher-education minister, Ali Jarbawi, fumed impotently from Ramallah that the new dress code is illegal and must not be implemented, but the hard men on the ground in the Gaza Strip regard him as just another irrelevant member of a shriveling personality cult for a dead kleptocrat with a taste for Aryan rent boys.

And so it goes across the region: Regimes that represented nothing but their Swiss bank accounts have fallen, and in their stead arises the only alternative — an Islam purified by decades in opposition to the secularists and distilled to a scorching 175o proof. What else is left?

Some years ago, for a telly documentary, the BBC sent the novelist Lawrence Durrell back to Alexandria, the setting of his eponymous Alexandria Quartet, his “prose poem to one of the great capitals of the heart.” Durrell had lived in Egypt during the war years, and did not enjoy his return. “The city seemed to him listless and spiritless, its harbor a mere cemetery, its famous cafés no longer twinkling with music and lights,” wrote Michael Haag in Alexandria, City of Memory. “His favourite bookshop, Cité du Livre on the rue Fuad, had gone, and in others he found a lamentable stock.”

Only on the Western fringe of the Ummah, in a few Moroccan redoubts, can you still discern the flickers of the way it was. Otherwise, to anyone who knew the “Muslim world” of the mid–20th century, today’s Maghreb and Levant are dull places, drained of everything but Islam. And Durrell was returning in 1977: Another third of a century on, and Alexandria’s stock is even more lamentable. Indeed, his cast of characters would be entirely bewildering to contemporary Alexandrians: an English writer (of course), a Greek good-time girl, a homosexual Jew, a wealthy Copt. In the old days, Alexandria bustled with Britons, Italians, and lots and lots of Greeks. All gone. So are the Jews, homo- and hetero-, from a community 50,000 strong down to some four dozen greybeards keeping their heads down. I got an e-mail a year or so back from the great-grandson of Joseph Cattaui, a Jew and Egypt’s finance minister back in the Twenties: These days, the family lives in France — because it’s not just that in Egypt a Jew can no longer be finance minister, but that in Egypt a Jew can no longer be. Now, in the absence of any other demographic groups to cleanse, it’s the Copts’ turn to head for the exits — as in Tripoli and Benghazi it’s the blacks’. In the once-cosmopolitan cities of the Arab world, the minority communities are confined to the old graveyards, like the rubbish-strewn Jewish cemetery of broken headstones, squawking chickens, and hanging laundry I wandered through in Tangiers a while back. Islam is king on a field of corpses.

Nowadays, for the cosmopolitan café society Durrell enjoyed, you have to go to the cities of multicultural Europe, where “diversity” is not a quirk of fate but the cardinal virtue. At Westminster, the House of Commons has just voted in favor of same-sex marriage. Almost simultaneously, a group calling itself the Muslim London Patrol posted a YouTube video of its members abusing a young man for “walking in a Muslim area dressed like a fag.” Another Londoner is made to empty his beer can: “No drink in this area.” An insufficiently covered woman is warned, “This is not so Great Britain. This is a Muslim area.”

The “moderate Muslim” Maajid Nawaz writes in the New York Times that his youthful European-born coreligionists, back from Islamic adventuring during the Arab Spring, are anxious to apply the lessons learned abroad. The Danish group Kaldet til Islam (Call to Islam) has introduced “Sharia-controlled zones” in which “morality patrols” of young bearded men crack down on underdressed and bibulous blondes. In the Balearic Islands, Muslims took against the local meter maids, and forced the government to withdraw them. In Dagenham, 20-year-old Naomi Oni, a black Londoner, suffered horrific burns after a woman in a niqab hurled acid in her face. She was returning home from her job at Victoria’s Secret. Not secret enough.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that February 1 was the first World Hijab Day, in which non-Muslim women from 50 countries took a stand against “Islamophobia” and covered themselves to show how much they objected to society’s prejudice against veiled women. From Gaza to Alexandria to Copenhagen to London, I don’t think we’ll have to worry about that. As Balthazar, Durrell’s homosexual Jew, muses, “Narouz once said to me that he loved the desert because there ‘the wind blew out one’s footsteps like candle-flames.’ So it seems to me does reality” — for the footsteps of Copts in Egypt, meter maids in Majorca, and Victoria’s Secret clerks on the streets of the East End.

– Mr. Steyn blogs at SteynOnline (www.steynonline.com).



Mother American and Uncle Sam

Term limits.


Why doesn't the entire government have term limits. The president does, thank goodness. Every sector of the government including the judiciary should have an expiration date.

The majority of our problems are with multiple bodies of the government staying in power way too long. The whole idea of being a life long politician doesn't make sense for a republic like ours. The only systems you see these life time appointments are in totalitarian states and monarchy's. What does a man know about his constituents if he spends the majority of his time in the capitol, or in Senator Menendez case Santo Domingo. This entrenchment leads to stagnation then to corruption.

Our citizens should be the makers of our rules and regulations, not a politician. Politics should not even be a profession, it should be a hobby or temporary duty like jury duty. You're called, you serve, your out.

 If you have been under a rock for the past forty years, you may have not noticed how the federal government is slowly centralizing it power. The states are losing their independence and autonomy by being blackmailed by federal funding. The federal government gives itself more and more of the power that our founding fathers believed were the states.

The nanny state has been in place for about thirty years, we are now coming into the era of "Mother America". This is a dysfunctional and codependent relationship that is evolving since the arrival of his majesty BHO. "Mother America" will do everything for you. Feed you, clothed you, medicate you and bury you if needed. Your new mother will watch you from the sky, over your computer, and will take you weapons so you can't hurt yourself. Your mother will never let you grow up and take a risk by fending for yourself. I suspect that like a mother of old "Russia", our new American mother will tell you where and when to work.

See what we need is our good old Uncle Sam back. We all had that uncle. The uncle that would hear your mom tell you something, then he'd tell you about real life and the real world. The uncle who'd teach you how to ride a bike without training wheels because you'd learn faster if you knew you where going to fall. Years later you had scars on your knees that were like war medals and you were proud you succeeded. Uncle Sam would let you work along side of him, but you'd better work hard and earn your keep. The harder you worked the more you made. As you got older he'd rarely interfere, but if you came to him in a pinch, he would straighten you out then send you back out on your own. Uncle Sam we need you more than ever.






December 29, 2012 marked the 122nd Anniversary of the murder of 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota . These 297 people, in their winter camp, were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection”. 

The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms. The Calvary began shooting, and managed to wipe out the entire camp. 200 of the 297 victims were women and children. About 40 members of the 7th Cavalry were killed, but over half of them were victims of fratricide from the Hotchkiss guns of their overzealous comrades-in-arms. Twenty members of the 7th Cavalry's death squad, were deemed “National Heroes” and were awarded the Medal of Honor for their acts of [cowardice] heroism.

We hear very little of Wounded Knee today. It is usually not mentioned in our history classes or books. What little that does exist about Wounded Knee is normally a sanitized “Official Government Explanation”. And there are several historically inaccurate depictions of the events leading up to the massacre which appear in movie scripts and are not the least bit representative of the actual events that took place that day.


Wounded Knee was among the first federally backed gun confiscation attempts in United States history. It ended in the senseless murder of 297 people.


Before you jump on the emotionally charged bandwagon for gun-control, take a moment to reflect on the real purpose of the Second Amendment, the right of the people to take up arms in defense of themselves, their families, and property in the face of invading armies or an oppressive government. 

The argument that the Second Amendment only applies to hunting and target shooting is asinine. When the United States Constitution was drafted, “hunting” was an everyday chore carried out by men and women to put meat on the table each night, and “target shooting” was an unheard of concept. Musket balls were a precious commodity and were certainly not wasted on “target shooting”. 

The Second Amendment was written by people who had fled oppressive and tyrannical regimes in Europe, and it refers to the right of American citizens to be armed for defensive purposes, should such tyranny arise in the United States

As time goes forward, the average citizen in the United States continually loses little chunks of personal freedom or “liberty”. Far too many times, unjust gun control bills were passed and signed into law under the guise of “for your safety” or “for protection”. The Patriot Act signed into law by G.W. Bush, was expanded and continues under Barack Obama. It is just one of many examples of American citizens being stripped of their rights and privacy for “safety”. Now, the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is on the table and will most likely be attacked to facilitate the path for the removal of our firearms, all in the name of “our safety”.


Before any American citizen blindly accepts whatever new firearms legislation that is about to be doled out, they should stop and think about something for just one minute-
Evil does exist in our world. It always has and always will. Throughout history, evil people have committed evil acts. In the Bible, one of the first stories is that of Cain killing Abel. We cannot legislate “evil” into extinction. Good people will abide by the law, and the criminal element will always find a way around it.


Evil exists all around us, but looking back at the historical record of the past 200 years, across the globe, where is “evil” and “malevolence” most often found? In the hands of those with the power, the governments. The greatest human tragedies on record and the largest loss of innocent human life can be attributed to governments. Who do the governments always target? “Scapegoats” and “enemies” within their own borders…but only after they have been disarmed to the point where they are no longer a threat. Ask any Native American, and they will tell you it was inferior technology and lack of arms that contributed to their demise. Ask any Armenian why it was so easy for the Turks to exterminate millions of them, and they will answer “We were disarmed before it happened”. Ask any Jew what Hitler’s first step prior to the mass murders of the Holocaust was - confiscation of firearms from the people.


Wounded Knee is the prime example of why the Second Amendment exists, and why we should vehemently resist any attempts to infringe on our Rights to Bear Arms. Without the Second Amendment, we will be totally stripped of any ability to defend ourselves and our families

 General George Armstrong Custer
Commander of the Seventh Calvary

Saturday, February 16, 2013



The Republican establishment in Washington has turned against U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).

In a string of stories published this week by the Washington Post, POLITICO, and the New York Times, Republican senators joined liberal Democrats in openly criticizing the Texan.

One Republican -- who lacked the courage to identify himself -- said Cruz should keep quiet and "get to know the Senate." He said Cruz's outspoken approach "takes away from his ability to be an influential legislator."

Another Republican lectured that if Cruz wants to be respected by the Senate, he needs to prove that he can "do a deal" -- as if cutting deals that compromise his principles is respectable.

These senators want Ted Cruz to keep quiet and play the Washington game. They think he'll back down if they publicly smear him.

We predicted this would happen last week when stories began to emerge about Cruz's willingness to stand strong. We knew his colleagues in the clubby Senate would be threatened.

This isn't the first time the establishment has launched an effort to smear a conservative. They also did it to Jim DeMint (R-SC), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ron Johnson (R-WI).

During the 2012 campaign, Ted Cruz said, "The reason I’m running is not merely to vote right. What we have a desperate need for is real leadership to stand up and defend free-market principles. And if I am not helping lead the fight, standing there with arrows in my torso, I will not be doing my job.

Ted Cruz is now taking arrows from the Washington Post, POLITICO, the New York Times, and many of his own Republican colleagues.

Ted Cruz is keeping his word.

We want you to know about these attacks because many of you supported his campaign. If you want to thank Senator Cruz for standing strong, you can write to him by clicking here.

Thank you for helping us change the Senate.

Best regards,

Matt Hoskins
Executive Director
Senate Conservatives Fund



by Michael Cook | Feb 16, 2013 |


tags: NHS, Stafford Hospital, UK

Doctors, nurses, politicians, bureaucrats, patients and the public, in short, everyone in the UK, have been stunned by the results of two inquiries into dreadful conditions at a hospital in the Midlands.

A report in 2010 into Stafford Hospital found that hundreds of patients had died unnecessarily and that conditions were sometimes unspeakably bad. Some patients were left in excrement-soaked sheets and some had to drink from dirty flower vases because nurses failed to bring them water.

A second report by a leading barrister, Robert Francis, into the causes of this disaster makes depressing reading. He found that there had been a total collapse of the system at the Mid Staffordshire NHS [National Health Service] Foundation Trust, which is responsible for running the hospital. In the report, which was released earlier this month, Mr Francis writes:

"This is a story of appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people. They were failed by a system which ignored the warning signs and put corporate self-interest and cost control ahead of patients and their safety. Patients were let down by the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. There was a lack of care, compassion, humanity and leadership. The most basic standards of care were not observed, and fundamental rights to dignity were not respected."

Mr Francis's brief was to identity the reasons for the breakdown in care. He made 290 recommendations to change the toxic culture at the hospital and to make sure that patient care comes first, ahead of financial targets.

Some of the more important recommendations are that failure to comply with standards should be a criminal offence if death or serious injury results; misleading patients, the public or regulators should be a criminal offence; nursing staff should be trained to give compassionate care; and a NHS leadership college should be established to ensure high standards.

The reaction of the UK government was entirely predictable. Prime Minister David Cameron denounced the enormity of the failure, apologised to patients and their families and promised root and branch reform. However, the scepticism of Mr Francis about whether this will actually happen is frightening.

"The experience of many previous inquiries is that, following the initial courtesy of a welcome and an indication that its recommendations will be accepted or viewed favourably, progress in implementation becomes slow or non-existent...
"Stafford was not an event of such rarity or improbability that it would be safe to assume that it has not been and will not be repeated or that the risk of a recurrence was so low that major preventative measures would be disproportionate. The consequences for patients are such that it would be quite wrong to use a belief that it was unique or very rare to justify inaction."

The reports can be downloaded at the Inquiry's website.

Friday, February 15, 2013




Jewish Groups Must End Silence on Hagel

To the shock of many Democrats who just days ago thought Chuck Hagel’s confirmation was a cinch, the effort to force a cloture vote on his nomination failed this afternoon in the Senate. That puts the Hagel nomination on ice for at least another 10 days until after the President’s Day Congressional recess.

Had the White House been forthcoming with more information about the president’s actions during the terror attack in Benghazi, this might have been avoided. Several Republicans said the delay of the vote on Hagel would be lifted as soon as the administration relented on that point but it refused to do so and Majority Leader Harry Reid forced a vote that he knew he would lose.

It is possible that during the intervening week, the president will surrender the data that the Republicans want and that the vote on Hagel will take place later this month and, following the party line vote in the committee, he will be confirmed. But the delay will also allow senators more time to ruminate on the nominee’s hapless performance at his confirmation hearing as well as to digest other information that is coming out about even more disturbing comments that Hagel has made about Israel. As I wrote earlier today, our former colleague Alana Goodman’s reporting at the Washington Free Beacon uncovered an account of a 2007 speech given by Hagel at Rutgers University during which he claimed the U.S. State Department was being run by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

This hateful statement is actually worse than Hagel’s infamous complaint about the “Jewish lobby” intimidating Congress. It is not only absurd since the State Department has always been a stronghold of Arabists but a rehash of the old anti-Semitic myths about foreign Jews manipulating American policy. The only question now is whether the same Jewish groups that have been conspicuous by their silence about Hagel’s nomination will find their voices and help kill this unfortunate nomination once and for all.

As I noted earlier this month, the reluctance of most major Jewish organizations, including the influential Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and AIPAC to take a stand on Hagel was rooted in their unwillingness to step into what had become a partisan fight. Though all had misgivings about the elevation of a man who had been an open antagonist of the pro-Israel community, opposing him meant picking a fight with the administration and the groups were not happy about risking their access to the White House on behalf of a fight that few thought Hagel would lose.

But with this latest proof of Hagel’s hateful mindset about Israel and the fact that the nomination no longer seems quite so inevitable ought to cause the organized Jewish world to reassess their silence. This is especially true since some pro-Israel Democrats have used this failure of the Jewish groups to speak out as cover for their own decision to go along with the president’s poor choice.

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that had a Republican president nominated a man to lead the Pentagon who had been quoted saying the things that Hagel has said and who had such a poor record on Israel and Iran, the Democratic donors to major Jewish groups would be screaming for the organizations to pull out the stops to prevent that person from taking office. But Hagel’s crack about the Israeli foreign ministry should convince even the most partisan liberal Democrats that they can’t give their party a pass on this issue.

If Jewish groups speak out now in the aftermath of the cloture vote the Hagel nomination will collapse.  The president may not like it but the longer this goes on the less defensible his choice for the Pentagon has proved to be. The time is now for Jewish Democrats to end this farce and send Hagel back into retirement where he can say as many hateful things about Jews and Israel either on or off the record as he likes.

Topics: ,




My friends, there is hope. Law enforcement officers at the local level are making their stand and they want you to be a part of that. While I’ve written on various sheriffs that have made their own stance to protect their citizens from anyone attempting to confiscate guns, I recently ran across Police Chief Mark Kessler of the Gilberton Borough Police Department in Pennsylvania. He wants citizens to join with his police department in building a “reserve force” that will aid his police force should the need arise to resist Federal authorities when it comes to the Second Amendment.

I spoke with Chief Kessler and he is most definitely a patriot and a Constitutionalist. The police force is quite small in his town and, much like my own town, criminal activity is not rampant.

The reserve force will be made up of volunteers, they can be past or current police officers with act 120 training, along with non law enforcement personnel interested in joining the reserve force. All non law enforcement personnel won’t have any powers to arrest, but will be required to go through a background check, supply their own duty gear, uniform (military BDU, etc), weapons, ammunition.

Everyone will be required to attend a firearms certification course to qualify with both long gun and hand gun at a rate set by the firearm instructor. There will also be hand to hand combat training, knife fighting training, urban combat training, sniper courses, search and rescue etc. The reserve force would only be called upon in the event of a Federal invasion or foreign invasion of the jurisdiction. They would not be called on in ordinary police work nor would they have arrest powers. This reserve force would be distinct from militia, according to Kessler.

From his website:
ALERT! Anyone interested in joining a reserve force with the Gilberton Borough Police Department ,contact Chief Kessler immediately for details! Due to our Country’s current situation I’m compelled to form an auxiliary force, DHS ( Department of Home Land Security ) is stock piling ammunition , Stock Piling Machine guns at a alarming rate! I believe we have no choice for what MAY OR MAY NOT happen shortly!, Ask yourself this one question, can you walk into any sporting good store and purchase 22LR, 9mm, 45ACP , 40 caliber,, 5.56/223 , 7.62×51 or 308 ammunition in quantity’s more then a box or two ? (OR ANY AT ALL) if you answer No, ask yourself why ???? I’ll tell you why because the GOVERNMENT is STOCKPILING BILLIONS of rounds of ammunition! (for what ????) even the police can’t get ammo ! DHS has enough weapons and ammo to wage a 30 year GROUND war, ( BUT ON WHO and WHY ) what is wrong with this picture???, Maybe the tyrants want to take as much ammo off the civilian market AS POSSIBLE! either way it’s very disturbing!

Chief Kessler doesn’t make a lot of money and informed me that even ammunition and weapons he obtains are purchased by him. While the budget of the police force there is enough to provide them a salary, Kessler funnels some of his own money back into the force.
 Kessler is a law enforcement officer who is looking to honor his father who honorably served during the Vietnam war. “If not for him, I would not be the man I am today,” he said. He’s also an Oath Keeper.

The Chief is active in his community, apart from being a Police Chief. On January 3, 2013 he drafted a piece of legislation called The 2nd Amendment Preservation Resolution so he could introduce it to local elected officials in Gilberton Borough, Pennsylvania for consideration. The legislation was to reaffirm the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution which reads:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
Along with the Pennsylvania Constitution, which states:
The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves or that of a free state shall not be questioned.

Gilberton Borough Police Chief Mark Kessler
“I wanted to draw my line in the sand,” Kessler writes. “I wanted to ask my elected officials to stand with freedom, stand with the oath they took to defend freedom, to stand with so many great Americans that shed their blood or gave the ultimate sacrifice defending.”

His resolution was adopted on January 24, 2013 by the Gilberton Borough Council.
Chief Kessler said, “For those of you who think no one has a right to keep and bear arms I suggest you buy a one-way ticket to the nearest dictatorship country! Cuba is close, the weather is beautiful all year round!”

He rightly identifies the Founders intentions concerning the Second Amendment. “First,” he begins, “our founding fathers learned from their experiences! Coming from a tyrannical dictatorship country that looked down on the people as peasants, often killing thousands, taking property, raping wives/daughters and much more.”

“Our founding fathers came to America to start a new life free from tyranny, oppression and dictatorship, to live free and express freedom without reprisals from Dictators,” he continues. “They drafted the constitution specifically adding the 2nd Amendment to protect themselves from the government, period! The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting or sporting purposes whatsoever.”

Kessler also has a message for the “bleeding heart liberals.”
“If by some chance you didn’t buy your tickets to Cuba, let me state ‘I will never disarm. I will never give up my high capacity magazines, firearm accessories or ammunition. I will never give up my freedoms. I will never retreat. I’m proud to be an American. I’m proud to serve my country. I’m proud of our military personnel that sides with freedom!’ Just because a mentally ill person commits a horrific crime does not mean I lose my rights.”

 Chief Kessler says that he will stand on the side of freedom, rather than siding with “tyrannical thugs.”

He also has a word for those “law enforcement personnel standing on ‘Bozo’s’ stage, who are condemning firearm owners: “You disgust me.”

Chief Kessler also has several videos of his on his site.

If you wish to be a part of his “reserve force,” or if you are not in the area and wish to donate to the Gilberton Borough Police Department, you can contact Chief Kessler via snail mail, email or phone.

Attn: Chief Of Police
Gilberton Borough Police Department
2710 Main street
Mahanoy Plane, Pa 17949

UPDATE: Kessler will be interviewed on Arising Republic Radio on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 9pm EST. Calls will be taken.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013



Minimum Expectations






There is something sadly ironic about watching the nation's first black president call for an increase in the federal minimum wage during his State of the Union address Tuesday.

Minimum-wage laws date to the 1930s, and supporters in Congress at the time were explicit about using them to stop blacks from displacing whites in the labor force by working for less money. Milton Friedman regarded the minimum wage as "one of the most, if not the most, anti-black laws on the statute books."

When you artificially increase the cost of labor, you wind up with surplus labor, which takes the form of unemployment. Younger and less-experienced workers—a disproportionate number of whom are black—are more likely to be priced out of the labor force when the cost of hiring someone goes up. Prior to the passage of minimum-wage laws—and in an era of open and rampant racial discrimination in the U.S.—the unemployment rate for black men was much lower than it is now and similar to that of whites in the same age group.

Today, unemployment stands at 7.9% overall but is 13.8% among blacks (versus 7% among whites), 14.5% among black men (versus 7.2% among white men) and 37.8% among black teens (versus 20.8% among white teens). Yet Mr. Obama has proposed increasing the minimum wage by 24% to $9 an hour to placate his union supporters who want less competition for their members. A higher minimum wage might lift earnings for existing workers—provided they keep their jobs—but it also reduces job opportunities for millions of people out of work.

Out of political expediency, Mr. Obama is putting the interests of Big Labor ahead of the urban poor. He's hardly the first politician to do so, and the reality is that Republican and Democratic presidents alike have raised the minimum wage. It's also true that Mr. Obama is president of the entire country, not just its black inhabitants. But is it too much to ask that he not support policies, however well-intentioned by current advocates, that were anti-black in origin and have a long history of depressing black employment?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013



 President Obama and John Brennan


by Wes Pruden

Barack Obama says he’s not a Muslim, but a Christian. That’s his business, between the president and God.

The president clearly has a soft spot in his heart for Islam. He once described the call to evening prayer, which he first heard as a child in a Muslim school in Indonesia, as “one of the prettiest of sounds on Earth at the sunset.”

He’s entitled to a soft spot in his heart for whatever and whomever he pleases, and it’s none of anybody’s else’s business. But a soft spot in his head, that’s another matter. No president is entitled to a soft spot in his head (even though there are precedents).

Nevertheless, Mr. Obama’s appointments to the two highest national-defense positions, Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense and John Brennan to be the director of the CIA, raise questions about the location of this soft spot. Only a pathologist could say for sure.

The kindest description of the appointments is that Mr. Obama, his heart forever seeking hope and change, can’t resist indulging incompetence and corruption of conscience. The realistic explanation is that the president defers to the soft spot in his head.

Chuck Hagel shares the president’s weakness for the music of Islam, and John Brennan is willing to say he does if that is the price of getting a job.

Mr. Hagel, who redefines the Washington definition of bumbler and stumbler, seemed to have been awakened from a deep sleep just before his confirmation hearing began and never quite remembered what he had been saying about the world and America’s place in it. Like the president himself in the first of the three presidential debates, Mr. Hagel appeared to be suffering an Ambien hangover.

Mr. Brennan, on the other hand, was lively and wide awake, the better to maneuver the U-turns through his conscience, renouncing many of the things he had been so confidently saying about the threats to the West from the perversions of Islam. It was if he had waterboarded his conscience.
Mr. Brennan once energetically defended the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that extracted crucial information from evil-doers, information that prevented further harm to Americans. “There [has] been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has in fact used agains the real hard-core terrorists,” he told CBS News in 2007. “It has saved lives. And let’s not forget, these are hardened terrorists who had been responsible for 9/11, who have shown no remorse at all for the deaths of 3,000 innocents.”

This so infuriated Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee that they commissioned a partisan “study,” no Republicans allowed, not to determine whether the enhanced interrogation techniques actually worked, but to conclude that they didn’t. (Alice ran across this kind of “study” from the queen in Wonderland: “Sentence first, verdict afterwards.”) The “study” concluded, 350 pages of argle-bargle later, that the EITs did not work.

Mr. Brennan was thoroughly housebroken when the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence asked him just the other day what he thought about all that now. “I must tell you,” he said, contrition puddling around his ankles, “that reading this report from the committee raises serious questions about the information that I was given at the time and the impression I had at that time. Now I have to determine what, based on that information as well as what the CIA says, what the truth is.” Rarely has anyone so clearly expressed the Washington code, that conviction and conscience are important, subject only to the prevailing wind.

Mr. Brennan is eager to embrace the company line, tough on al Qaeda during the Bush years, soft on al Qaeda now that he serves a president with a soft spot in his head. It’s not that the president and his men want to go easy on terrorists – his drones have killed terrorists, even when accompanied by women and children, by the dozens. He just can’t call terrorists for who they are. The terrorist who tried to blow up an airliner over Detroit was “an isolated extremist.” When a terrorist tried to blow up Times Square, his homeland security secretary called it a “one-off.” Those evil-doers, in their telling of it, had nothing to do with radical Islam. The White House still hasn’t got its stories straight on what happened at Benghazi.

When the president hears “the sweetest music this side of heaven” (apologies to Guy Lombardo), his heart goes all googly at the sight of the crescent moon. He wants acolytes who can share the googly.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.