No man is above the law, including presidents. The enthusiasm for this precept among presidents can be gauged by the reaction by Chavez, Castro, Ortega, and Obama to the removal of Honduran would-be usurper Mel Zelaya. Mary Anastasia O'Grady's piece in the Wall Street Journal is must-reading on this front. Zelaya, apparently hoping to become a minor-league Chavez (himself a minor-league Castro), disregarded the nation's constitution in an effort to extend the duration of his reign. "While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president," O'Grady writes. "A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress. But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela." Shortly thereafter, the Honduran Supreme Court, aided by the military, decided Venezuela might be a better stomping grounds for the strongman Zelaya.
Don't turn on that switch. The lightbulb police maybe watching. "The first step we're taking sets new efficiency standards on fluorescent and incandescent lighting," President Obama announced yesterday at the White House. "Now I know light bulbs may not seem sexy, but this simple action holds enormous promise because 7 percent of all the energy consumed in America is used to light our homes and our businesses." It is getting dark.
"Oh God," Jacqueline Kennedy said after learning the identity of her husband's murderer. "Some silly little Communist. He didn't even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights." That reality became so difficult for tens of millions of people to swallow that they bought into tales of the CIA, the mafia, or some other shady power assassinating John F. Kennedy. Ordinary people won't allow extraordinary lives to suffer ordinary deaths. Elvis Presley didn't die on the toilet; he's in aisle six at WalMart. The British Royal Family, not a car crash, killed Princess Diana. The Kennedys, rather than the drugs, offed Marilyn Monroe. It's less than a week since Michael Jackson's death. We don't know exactly how he died. When we do know, count on people telling us that we really don't know how he died. They do. Many can't accept that larger than life figures are mere mortals when it comes to death.
Mixed martial artist Lee Murray's most famous fight took place outside of the octogon when he floored former UFC light-heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz with a series of punches on a London street. More significantly, this prize fighter seized his greatest prize outside of a cage when he masterminded the theft of $92 million from an English cash warehouse in 2006. Watch ESPN's two-part piece on Lightning Lee Murray, an amazing thug whose evasion of British justice in a Moroccan jail continues to frustrate British law enforcement.
You're realizing your age today if you grew up in the 1970s or '80s. Farrah Fawcett, whose iconic image was as ubiquitous on the bedroom walls of American teenage boys as Kim Il Sung's was in the homes of North Koreans, died of cancer at 62 yesterday. Age is the cruel fate of all sex symbols. In Fawcett's case, she not only contended with Father Time but with the public's changing tastes that dated what once symbolized sex. Demographics, and Sir-Mix-a-Lot, killed the bleach-blond anorexic's pin-up girl monopoly. But even twenty years after her heyday, '70s postergirl Fawcett so symbolized sex that her 1995 appearance in Playboy became the bestselling issue of the 1990s. To put this in perspective, an over-the-hill Farrah Fawcett beat Pamela Anderson, Jenny McCarthy, and Denise Richards in their primes. Six years after Farah Fawcett appeared on the bestselling poster of all time, Michael Jackson released the bestselling album in history. Thriller was so big that, not only did it inspire fashion and dancefloor trends, it outsold numbers two and three on the all-time list combined. Jackson, who before our eyes morphed from cuddly, precocious singing/dancing machine to the world's biggest pop star to Howard Hughes, died yesterday too. For Jackson, life's victory lap--that even an overweight and jumpsuited Elvis enjoyed--eluded him. The last image embedded in the public's mind is that of Michael Jackson in a courtroom rather than on a stage. A court of law acquitted him of sexually abusing a minor. The court of public opinion convicted him of being strange. Seeing Farrah Fawcett in her red bathing suit, or Michael Jackson moonwalking, brings us back to a time when we were young. News of their deaths reminds us that we're old.
Thirty years ago, Western intellectuals, inebriated by the anti-Americanism of the revolutionaries, looked upon the Iranian Revolution and saw themselves. When something quite different from responsive democracy, oil socialism, and commitment to peace materialized in Iran, the cognoscenti emerged with egg on their faces. Read my article @ City Journal to understand why those aghast at the anti-Americanism of the Persian theocracy risk making the same mistake by projecting their values upon today's revolutionaries rebelling against the Iranian old guard.
Cigars are about the only "luxury" items in which I indulge. I define luxury to mean unnecessary, overpriced, and pleasurable--so CDs, books, and beer (at least the kind of beer I buy) don't count. A month or so back, I noticed that the Near Eastern people who sell cigars to me had raised their prices for the third time in about a year. I made a point of politely telling them that the low-end high-end cigars--cheap ones found in humidors rather than behind 7-11 counters--they specialize in now were affixed with high-end prices outside of my affordability neighborhood. With the two other in-town tobacconists already out of price range, I reverted to the quick-smoking, often crumbly low-end brands that one finds in gas stations and convenience stores. Alas, they too had inflated in price. For instance, Swisher Sweets, which I used to purchase for $2 per five pack less than a decade ago, have more than tripled in price since. Garcia Vega Game cigars, which are quite good, go for nearly $7 per four pack.
It didn't dawn on me until reading this article that Uncle Sam, rather than Uncle Ibraheem, was responsible for the price hike (I served penance by purchasing three cigars yesterday from Uncle Ibraheem.). The federal cigar tax that I discussed months back passed, albeit in a more tempered form, and went into effect on April 1. Rather than the proposed $10 tax on individual cigars, the federal take is 40 cents. It's not as bad as it was in some cigar-hating crank congressman's imagination; it's not as good as it was before April Fool's Day.
If the tax increase kept me from low-end high-end cigars for several months, and led me to consciously partake in several cigar sobriety days each week, could it not have had a similar effect upon millions of other Americans? The closing of Tampa's Hav-a-Tampa cigar factory suggests an affirmative answer to that question.
"We can't afford to make these cigars in the U.S. anymore," Hav-a-Tampa's Denise Harrison told the Tampa Tribune. Well, not exactly, at least if you consider Puerto Rico--where Hav-a-Tampa will relocate--part of the United States. Like the beer that made Milwaukee famous shifting operations to Chicago, there is something seriously wrong with "Hav-a-Tampa, Made in Puerto Rico." About 500 Floridians, including one man who has worked at Hav-a-Tampa for fifty years, will lose jobs. Aside from the human costs, there are aesthetic costs to stripping a city known for cigars of its cigar industry. "We're the last of the Mohicans," Bobby Newman of J.C. Newman Cigar Company, Tampa's sole remaining cigar outfit, told the St. Petersburg Times. The Tampa Tribune piece notes employees pinning the blame on a number of factors, including bans on indoor cigar smoking and the recession. Special emphasis, however, is placed upon the tax hike from five to forty cents upon cigars that went into effect almost three months ago.
For people constantly talking about how interdependent the world is, politicians seem recklessly oblivious to the effects of their taxing and spending upon the economy. When the government bailed out Chrysler, Bear Stearns, and AIG, the water bilged over the side of those sinking ships sunk other less politically-connected companies. Tax funds used to bail out huge corporations came from taxes levied upon other corporations. One of those smaller companies drowning in excess taxation and regulation is Hav-a-Tampa. They are drowning in part because cigar smokers like me can less afford their product. To make matters so much worse, the government increases the price of cigars just when the size of our wallets decreases. Taxes effect my behavior, and my behavior contributes to the loss of jobs in Tampa. It isn't that hard to understand.
To make new revenue schemes politically palatable, elected officals rhetorically tethered the new taxes to spending programs packaged to maximize empathy. In the case of the cigar tax, the program nominally attached to it is the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides health care to low-income children, hence, the ubiquitous cry, "It's for the children." But what about the children of 500 Hav-a-Tampa employees? Sure, they can now apply for S-CHIP benefits. But their parents don't have jobs to put roofs over their heads or food in the bellies. Don't worry, there are government programs for all that too.
Mark Rudd led the 1968 takeover of Columbia University, rioted at 1969's Days of Rage in Chicago, participated in a bombing campaign that took the life of his best friend in 1970, and spent the better part of the '70s evading the FBI. Then he grew up. Read my review @ First Principles of Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen, which details Mark Rudd's 1960s and the hangover that followed.
I have a Twitter account that I never signed up for, and a number of Twitter followers who have never received a tweet. Every day, I add new followers who won't receive my non-existent tweets. Curious about the unfamiliar names alerting me of their receptivity to my tweets, or twittles, or whatever they're called, I clicked on one of the names of my followers. It turns out she wasn't interested in me for my tweets but for my cash. The oldest profession always uses the newest technology.
I don't understand Twitter. Is a mirror too low-tech to satisfy the narcissistic impulse that drives one to announce the mundane occurances of everyday life? Among the tweets my thorough five-minute investigation came across: "And it's Friday night," "Shower and then off to NU," and "My hair is untame-able today." Yawn. Twitter is for people who are too ugly for reality television. Not every exhibitionist rates a voyeur.
Twitter is email for people with A.D.D. However much I wish some people spoke in 140 characters or less, it's difficult to convey anything too meaningful within those limitations, which moves me to grant a pardon to the guy who wrote "The S is for 'sleepy.' Goodnight, Twitterverse," but not to those who believe that Twitter is the future of journalism. Twitter is to the Internet what soundbytes are to television and haiku is to poetry. With a scientific study, and common sense, indicating that Internet users scan more than read, Twitter meshes well with the zeitgeist. It is technology's latest enlistee in its ongoing war against literacy.
What's the point of Twitter when there's gmail and text messaging? This is not a rhetorical question. If Twitter really offers something original, and not just a repackaging of existing technology, I'd like to participate. My clock didn't stop in 1995. I have a blog, after all.
But Twitter? FaceBook? iPhone? Kindle? You're losing me people. Save me from atavistic irrelevance. That guy who still uses a typewriter, calls you on a rotary phone, plays the hits on his Victriola, needs a converter box to watch Barney Miller on his black and white TV set--am I becoming that guy? Or, alternatively, am I becoming another guy? You know, the guy who never said "Ten-four, good buddy" on his CB radio, never sold his eight-tracks at his yard sale, never watched Jaws on his Betamax, and never rode his Segway to the grocery store because he never fell for every hyped-up fad that came and went.
Ashton Kutcher goes on Larry King to tell the world he loves Twitter. UFC announcers broadcast that Dana White would be tweeting the results of the untelevised preliminary cage fights on Saturday night. News reports tout Twitter's role in the uprising in Iran. How much is Mr. Twitter paying these people? The revolution will not be televised. It will be tweeted, and even if it's not, the Twittericans will say that it is.
"States Turning to Last Resorts in Budget Crisis" reads the New York Times headline. But the reality, at least here in Massachusetts, is that the first resort of the state and localities is to cut what most people would consider the last resort. "Whenever a town wants to scare the voters into increasing their own property taxes, they begin to cut services, in the order in which taxpayers care: fire, police, high school football, garbage, libraries," Howie Carr writes in the Boston Herald. "Now it's the state's turn to play Chicken Little. They're going to close a dozen Registry of Motor Vehicles branches--places everyone has to visit at least occasionally. That'll teach a good lesson to those taxpaying bastards who actually have to work for a living!" In other words, strategic cuts in services perversely become propaganda for tax increases.
More Americans disapprove of Barack Obama's job performance than approve according to a new Rasmussen poll. This is the first time the president's negatives have outweighed his positives. Part of the decline is probably the inevitable result of Obama fatigue. The media has been forcefeeding this guy down our throats for more than a year. Saturation Obama was bound to work against itself eventually. Part of the approval slide is probably due to policy. After irresponsibly spending money the government doesn't have, Obama and the Democratic Congress now want to spend even more money the government doesn't have on an expensive health-insurance entitlement. Like Obama fatigue, in which Obama has been an ironic victim of his own boosters, ObamaCare may become a casualty of Obama's policies. After spending trillions on stimulus, bailouts, wars, and other big-ticket items, Obama wants trillions more for the biggest-ticket item on the menu, national health insurance. Even Democrats question whether we have the money to pay for it. The American people told Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and Bill Clinton "no." Barack Obama's declining poll numbers suggests they are telling him the same thing.
Why are small budget cuts always deemed "deep" budget cuts? "Budget Calls for Tax Hikes, Deep Cuts," reads the Boston Globe headline. The Associated Press similarly contends that the Massachusetts budget makes "steep government service cuts." FY10's budget? $27.4 billion. Last year's budget? $28.1 billion. By way of comparison, the tax increases, which weren't prefaced by "steep" or any such scare words, are nearly twice the size of the cuts.
If there's one thing I hate, it's rumble strips. No, no, what I really hate more than anything else is speed bumps. Correction, I completely despise speed humps. I grew to hate these obstacles living in Washington, DC, where they are a civic menace rivaling the likes of 14th Street hookers and ubiquitous street vendors hawking "FBI" hats. "From 2001 to 2005, the District's Department of Transportation installed approximately 50 speed bumps," WTOP reports. "Since 2007, DDOT has installed 534 of the traffic calming devices. There are no plans to slow down the process." Streets are means of transportation, not the private parking lots of wealthy homeowners.
Barbara Boxer represents 38,000,000 people. Wrap your brain around that, particularly the word "represents." In the military, you're trained to say "yes, sir"/"no, sir" and "yes, ma'am"/"no, ma'am." It would be disrespectful, for instance, to say "yes, general," and in fact, I witnessed a young lance corporal get written up for saying, "yes, captain." So it is with complete ingnorance of military culture, and complete contempt for the military itself, that Senator Barbara Boxer scolded Brigadier General Michael Walsh for showing her respect by calling her ma'am and not any of a half dozen more fitting designations.
"I know it's going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we're in," President George W. Bush explained to an Erie, Pennsylvania business group. "You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money." It would have been nice had he heeded his own advice as president. Bush, not Obama, first pushed through the budget-busting bailouts of banks, auto manufacturers, Iraq, and pill-popping seniors. More galling than those words coming out of that man's mouth were the words of the reporter covering the speech, who wrote: "Mr. Bush was optimistic, pressing, as he did as president, free trade, open markets and the free enterprise system."
One of the perils of one-party government is unchecked corruption. On September 18, the fed chairman and treasury secretary lectured Senator Dick Durbin on how troubled the financial sector truly was. On September 19, he dumped more than $40,000 in mutual-fund shares. Insider trading? It smells fishy, but we don't know and we won't know because it won't be investigated properly. The Obama administration, reportedly by Michelle Obama's insistence, fired an inspector general charged with looking into AmeriCorps and other boondoggles. They claimed he was "confused" and "disoriented." Perhaps Gerald Walpin was "confused" when he thought he could keep his job after he uncovered Obama supporter Kevin Johnson's use of AmeriCorps funds to pay campaign activists, get his car washed, and run his personal errands. He's certainly "disoriented" if he believes Congress will thoroughly investigate the shenanigans that led to his purge. Who's going to investigate the second-ranking Senate Democrat? The Obama Justice Department? Who's going to investigate the president's shady firing of an inspector general inspecting too much? The Democratic Congress?
Like all politicians, Barack Obama's actions rather than words define him. Perhaps that's idealism talking, as perceptions are shaped more by rhetoric than reality. But perception isn't reality, even if a catchphrase reminds us that it is. The president told Reuters that skyrocketing deficit spending "keeps me awake at night." Later that day, the Associated Press reported that the president has decided to award benefits to the partners of homosexual federal employees and that estimates of the costs of the president's health-care initiative top $1.5 trillion over ten years. Also on the same day President Obama spoke of losing sleep over federal deficits and debt, The Los Angeles Times reported that the administration will propose vast new powers for the executive branch to assume the operations of various companies should their failures be deemed a threat to the economy. Maybe it's not the deficits but the dishonesty that keeps the president awake at night.
"My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government." That's what President Obama says. What he does is a different matter. President Obama has refused requests from news and activist organizations that he hand over the lists of visitors to the White House. Obama's pledge of transparent government appears rather, well, transparent. What candidate Obama railed against President Obama embraces.
The same media organization that hired President Clinton's political hatchet man to "moderate" its Sunday public affairs program has decided to run a two-hour program promoting President Obama's state-run health-care plan called "Prescription for America" from the White House. Republican opponents of the plan, who rightly call the prime-time stunt a "glorified infomercial, have been thus far excluded from the June 24 broadcast.
Health care costs are out of control. Let's spend more money on health care to rein in the costs. Put your brain in a blender and President Obama's argument for greater state intrusion into health care to bring down the costs of state intrusion into health care might make sense. Even liberals sympathetic to the idea of universal coverage balk at the president's reasoning. Robert Samuelson thinks Obama's so-called reform "naive," "hypocritical" and "dishonest." The Washington Post scribe explains, "what's being promoted as health care 'reform' almost certainly won't suppress spending and, quite probably, will do the opposite." The American Medical Association opposes the president's health-care plan. MSNBC.com questions Obama's fuzzy math insisting efficiency savings of $100 billion to help fund the gargantuan government program. Democrats in Congress openly concede that the votes just aren't there for ObamaCare. Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu opposes publically financing a national health-insurance plan. North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad has offered a "co-op" compromise between Obama's public plan and the employer-based health insurance that is currently the norm. Democratic Senators Max Baucus and Ben Nelson also oppose Obama's government-funded health insurance proposal. Even with Democratic majorities there are limits to what Democratic presidents can do. If President Obama doubts this, he need only consult his secretary of state's husband, who knows something about socialized medicine dividing Democrats and dragging down a president's popularity.
Seventeen performers in the adult-film industry have tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS. The Los Angeles Times piece points out that San Fernando Valley pornographers employ about 1,200 performers. Unsurprisingly, the industry regulars regularly come down with venereal diseases. The Times reports, "Since 2004, 2,378 people who identified themselves as adult film industry performers have tested positive for chlamydia in Los Angeles County. An additional 1,357 tested positive for gonorrhea and 15 for syphilis, according to data released Thursday by the county's health department." One actress, diagnosed with HIV on June 5, was back to work the following day. I don't think her boss would have been displeased had she called in sick.
Paul Beston counts his complete ignorance of Jon and Kate as one of his "great achievements." Indeed, it is. I am proud that I have never watched their reality television show and had no idea of their identities until their names and faces splashed across every periodical in the supermarket checkout line. But my avoidance of Jon and Kate is a pedestrian accomplishment next to Mr. Beston's. I know all about the pair now. He remarkably remains in blissful ignorance. Beston writes, "The Jon and Kate story interests me only in how it illustrates the conscious effort one has to take to avoid absorbing, even unconsciously, whatever pablum the ubiquitous media machinery chooses to shovel out." The Pixelated Technicolor Zombie wants your mind. Paul Beston isn't going down without a fight.
Chastity Bono's spokesman says this his client is changing her gender. Sonny and Cher's daughter "is proud of his decision and grateful for the support and respect that has already been shown by his loved ones. It is Chaz's hope that his choice to transition will open the hearts and minds of the public regarding this issue, just as his 'coming out' did nearly 20 years ago," the publicity man explained. "Chaz, after many years of consideration, has made the courageous decision to honor his true identity." Her true identity, apparently, is that of someone who is rubber-room crazy. When one announces that he or she (heshe?) has decided to become a member of the opposite sex, one really announces one's mental illness. Society displays its collective illness by going along. One can be tolerant of others without partaking in the collective lie, as CNN and other news outlets have done, that Ms. Bono's declaration that she is a man makes her a man. Dr. Frankenstein surgery, and chemical injections, no more makes Chastity Bono a man than wearing a diaper would make her an infant.
Rosanne Barr believes fellow leftists are "on the Kool Aid" regarding Barack Obama. The shrill-spoken sitcom star shocked liberal radio talker Stephanie Miller by expressing her disappointment that 44 isn't much different from 43. Perhaps Ms. Barr is a FlynnFiles reader. "Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss" has been a continuing theme of my writings and broadcasts since Obama took the oath of office. For better and worse, Obama's policies on terrorism and economics owe much to the George W. Bush administration. Still in Iraq? Check. Still submitting record-breaking deficits? Check. Still spending like Floyd Mayweather at a Vegas strip club? Check. Military tribunals? Proposing an expensive new health-care entitlement? Warrantless wiretaps? A plan for illegal-alien amnesty? Suspending habeas corpus for terrorists? Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.
If you have led an abject 88 years, killing someone is a surefire way to put an exclamation point on your life. A white racist yesterday murdered a black security guard at the museum to memorialize the Jewish Holocaust. Chris Matthews responded, "Is there something really bad happening out there on the far right?" I don't follow the logic. I do follow the political strategy. Perhaps if conservative broadcasters could get away with it, they would tar the Left with, say, the murder of Army private William Long. After all, anti-war leftists publically hoisted hateful banners proclaiming "We Support the Troops When They Shoot Their Officers." But broadcasters barely got the word out about Long's murder, so the idea of some theoretical conservative broadcaster linking the Long murder to the hateful rhetoric directed toward the American military by elements on the Left seems far-fetched--and not just because it is far-fetched. Anti-war doesn't equal the drive-by at the Army recruiting center and right-wing doesn't equal racist murder at the Holocaust Museum. The media understand the former. Why can't the get the latter right?
America has lost 1.6 million jobs since Barack Obama took the oath of office. Yet, the president insisted earlier this week that he has "saved or created" 150,000 jobs and plans to "save or create" 600,000 more jobs by the end of the summer. Leaving aside the arrogance that compels all administrations to assume omnipotence and take credit for jobs created on their watch, there is a hubris unique to the Obama administration that touts an unverifiable (non) statistic--jobs "saved"--that no think tank, government agency, or economist has ever, or could ever, devise. "If the 'saved or created' formula looks brilliant, it's only because Mr. Obama and his team are not being called on their claims," William McGurn writes in the Wall Street Journal. "And don't expect much to change. So long as the news continues to repeat the administration's line that the stimulus has already 'saved or created' 150,000 jobs over a time period when the U.S. economy suffered an overall job loss 10 times that number, the White House would be insane to give up a formula that allows them to spin job losses into jobs saved." This is bookeeping of the type Mr. Obama's predecessor famously called "fuzzy math."
Five months into the Obama administration, the economy has gotten worse, not better. As I predicted in February, the misnamed $787 billion stimulus package would depress the economy rather than jumpstart it. Not only has the "stimulus" bill proved a sedative on jobs--more than 1.5 million have been lost since Obama took office--but it has exploded the deficit as well, which suggests a future of higher inflation. Yet, Obama boasts, "Now we're in a position to really accelerate." If only he didn't confuse the break for the gas pedal.
I spent a vacation weekend at the beach. The sun was on vacation for most of the weekend, too. According to one expert meteorologist, 2009 may be the "year without a summer"--at least if you live in the northeast or northern plains.
It took forty years for the Democrats to win back control of the New York senate. It took New York Democrats less than six months to lose control. A tax increase, which infamously resulted in billionaire Tom Golisano's Empire State exodus, seems to have some role in the exodus in votes from the Democratic majority. Gay marriage, which the former leadership pushed after promising not to in order to win votes, may be a potential casualty of the change in control. Democrat diehards, don't fret: the defeated Senate majority leader plans to sue. "The Senate Democrats are still in the majority; Senator Malcolm Smith is still the majority leader," Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith explained. Does that guy remind you of Doug Neidermeyer insisting that he is in control when all hell breaks loose during the parade at the end of Animal House?
The feds indicted the Speaker of Massachusetts's not-so Great and General Court earlier this week on corruption charges. Following Speaker Felony Tax Evasion and Speaker Obstruction of Justice, Speaker Kickbacks is the third speaker in a row of Massachusetts's house of representatives indicted by the feds. Read my article @ the American Spectator demonstrating that Massachusetts's corruption problem has much to do with Massachusetts's competitive elections problem.
Harvard University, founded 373 years ago by Puritan zealots, endowed a chair in lesbian, gay, and transgender studies yesterday. A group of homosexual alumni, faculty, students, and administrators raised $1.5 million to establish the F.O. Matthiessen Visiting Professorship of Gender and Sexuality. (I wonder what Harvard would do if veterans raised $1.5 million to bring back ROTC.) Tom Parry, a former president of the group that raised the dough, told the Boston Globe, "What more is there to advocate for? Harvard embraces the gay community completely."
USA Today reports that one out of every six dollars in personal income derives from the federal government. This includes welfare checks, unemployment insurance, social security, and other programs. The startling figure is the highest percentage of income derived from government since the feds began tracking this phenomenon in 1929, which is another way of saying it's the highest in American history. Dennis Cauchon, the same USA Today reporter who unveiled this depressing news, revealed last month that the for the first time in history the federal government, not income, sales, or property taxes, is the largest source of income for the states. Dependants are easy to control, I guess.
Mother Jones, of all places, has an article deriding the writing ability of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and praising the prose of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In addition to quoting from some particularly painful opinions, the article cites a Wall Street Journal report that Sotomayor nearly flunked out of Princeton her freshman year because of her trouble putting it down on paper. This doesn't exactly disqualify her from the Supreme Court, but it does make her boring--at least in my book. Mother Jones jokes that reading Sotomayor's Riverkeeper opinion, ironically overturned by Antonin Scalia, "might be good punishment for law students who show up late for class." The article notes that Scalia's opinions are cited in Constitutional law casebooks more than any other justice. He is probably the most widely cited jurist at FlynnFiles too, as just this past Monday his biting dissent in Stenberg v. Carhart was quoted from here: "I am optimistic enough to believe that, one day, Stenberg v. Carhart will be assigned its rightful place in the history of this Court's jurisprudence beside Korematsu and Dred Scott." Somebody taught the man not to bury the lede.
"On the question of whether or not Iraq was involved in 9/11, there was never any evidence to prove that," Dick Cheney conceded during a Fox News interview earlier this week. The Czech intelligence chatter suggesting a possible meeting between Muhammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence that Cheney had relied upon during several Meet the Press appearances to advance a 9/11-Iraq connection, the former vice president admits, "was never borne out." The claim seemed preposterous back when Cheney touted it on the ancient Sunday morning news program. I took a lot of flak from fellow conservatives for doubting it in my book Intellectual Morons and also on this blog. Like virtually everything else about the Iraq war, I was right and they were wrong. For the sake of American credibility, and at the expense of my own, I wish it had been the other way around.
"I am personally opposed to killing abortionists. However, inasmuch as my personal opposition to this practice is rooted in a sectarian (Catholic) religious belief in the sanctity of human life, I am unwilling to impose it on others who may, as a matter of conscience, take a different view. Of course, I am entirely in favor of policies aimed at removing the root causes of violence against abortionists. Indeed, I would go so far as to support mandatory one-week waiting periods, and even nonjudgmental counseling, for people who are contemplating the choice of killing an abortionist. I believe in policies that reduce the urgent need some people feel to kill abortionists while, at the same time, respecting the rights of conscience of my fellow citizens who believe that the killing of abortionists is sometimes a tragic necessity--not a good, but a lesser evil. In short, I am moderately pro-choice."
--Robert George, First Things, 1994
If you want to get a glimpse inside the convoluted innerworkings of the mind of Leftist Americanus, read Michael Moore's postmortem on General Motors. One gets the idea that Moore imagined General Motors as a massive jobs program, never understanding that for the company to keep his Davison, Michigan neighbors employed GM had to sell cars--mechanical contraptions that Moore calls "weapons of mass destruction" and likens to Nazi Germany as a threat to civilization. Moore obtusely, but logically from his illogical premises, reasons that GM's demise fills him with "joy."
Moore bizarrely announces, GM is the "corporation that ruined my hometown and brought misery, divorce, alcoholism, homelessness, physical and mental debilitation, and drug addiction to the people I grew up with." Couldn't a case be more easily made that Moore's adopted hometown of Flint would never have existed had it not been for GM? After all, that GM doesn't exist anymore--and neither does that Flint, Michigan. What's good for America may not be what's good for GM, but only a world-class America-hater would exalt in the company's demise.
Luddite Moore has declared war on cars. Like all warmongers, he declares that his target attacked him first. "We are now in a different kind of war--a war that we have conducted against the ecosystem and has been conducted by our very own corporate leaders," the ballcapped attackumentarian writes. "This current war has two fronts. One is headquartered in Detroit. The products built in the factories of GM, Ford and Chrysler are some of the greatest weapons of mass destruction responsible for global warming and the melting of our polar icecaps. The things we call 'cars' may have been fun to drive, but they are like a million daggers into the heart of Mother Nature. To continue to build them would only lead to the ruin of our species and much of the planet." What about planes, particularly his publisher's private plane that taxied Moore around on his book tour for Dude, Where's My Country?
Michael Moore has a plan: "Transform some of the empty GM factories to facilities that build windmills, solar panels and other means of alternate forms of energy. We need tens of millions of solar panels right now." We do? "Impose a two-dollar tax on every gallon of gasoline." "Initiate a program to put light rail mass transit lines in all our large and medium-sized cities. Build those trains in the GM factories." And what about those rubes who live out in the sticks? "For people in rural areas not served by the train lines, have the GM plants produce energy efficient clean buses."
All along, Roger and Me's gullible audience thought Moore lamented the closings of Michigan auto plants. The truth is worse than his fiercest critics ever imagined.
Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad never got the memo that Islam is the religion of peace. Yesterday morning, the Muslim convert allegedly shot up an Army recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas. One soldier, William Long, who scored recruiting duty straight out of basic training, was killed not in Iraq or Afghanistan but in the place (home) where he probably felt safest. Should the former Carlos Bledsoe be convicted of the murder, he will likely be surrounded in prison by other congregants of the religion of peace, who can surely educate him on his misunderstanding of Islam as a faith that embraces violence.
"There was a time between Nov. 4 and mid-February when I was the only full-time member of the auto task force," Brian Deese, a 31-year-old Obama aide, told the New York Times. "It was a little scary." No, it is a lot scary. Meet Brian Deese, "a not-quite graduate of Yale Law School who had never set foot in an automotive assembly plant until he took on his nearly unseen role in remaking the American automotive industry." Don't fret. General Motors may have declared bankruptcy today, but a Yale Law School dropout with experience neither in government nor the automotive industry is in the driver's seat. He may have done the CliffsNotes study of car making, but the New York Times assures us he "speed-walks" between meetings.
Philippe Padieu, a 53-year-old karate instructor, has been sentenced in Texas to 45 years in prison for infecting six women with the virus that causes AIDS. The prosecution said he knowingly infected the women; the defense labelled him a "modern-day Cassanova"; the judge called him guilty. A 29-year-old Tennessean has fathered 21 children by 11 different women. Even with half of his wages garnished, he can afford child support of a couple dollars every week for each of his brood. Even if his boast of knowing all his children's names and birthdays were true, how would this father know his own children let alone father them? The scandal-sheet news demonstrates that the "consenting adults" argument--however theoretically (and hormonally) tempting--is often an oversimplification when it comes to sex. The 21 children, and however many aborted siblings, didn't consent to an absentee father; the six HIV-infected women consented to sex, not a disease that will kill them.
Murdering another human being is a peculiar way of converting the masses to the pro-life position. It is because pro-life is right that the murder of George Tiller, the Witchita late-term abortionist gunned down yesterday, is wrong. That mainstream pro-life groups get this is heartening.
They are appropriately mourning, rather than ghoulishly celebrating, the death of a notorious practitioner of late-term abortions. Even Randall Terry, posterchild for anti-abortion extremism, seems to get it. "We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God," Terry announced (Or was that just an esoteric way of saying Tiller's in a hot place?). "The pro-life movement works to protect the right to life and increase respect for human life," explained National Right to Life's David O'Steen. "The unlawful use of violence is directly contrary to that goal." "We are saddened to learn of the killing of George Tiller this morning," Anne Fox, president of the Massachusetts Citizens for Life, commented. "We are pro-life. Our mission is to protect all human life. We are also pro-rule-of-law. We expect to have things resolved legally."
The inability to "have things resolved legally" is one of the reasons why fights over abortion often end up outside of the political playing field. The abortion laws of all fifty states weren't approved by the voters. They were imposed by the Supreme Court. Even when legislatures condemn as grisly a practice as partial birth abortion, judges respond that abortion is sacrosanct, immune from the political process that applies to all other inherently political questions.
George Tiller knew this better than most. In 1993, a pro-life fanatic shot Tiller in both arms and eight years prior to that another zealot bombed his abortuary. But just as Tiller's detractors attempted to stop him by operating outside of the political lines, Tiller and his proponents ironically fought to keep abortion apart from the political process. His abortuary was the subject of Carhart v. Stenberg, 2000's partial-birth abortion case before the Supreme Court that prompted Antonin Scalia to famously begin his dissent, "I am optimistic enough to believe that, one day, Stenberg v. Carhart will be assigned its rightful place in the history of this Court's jurisprudence beside Korematsu and Dred Scott." The Nebraska state legislature, and the U.S. Congress, passed bills banning the gruesome procedure. But Tiller and other abortionists viewed theirs as an untouchable profession, not subject to legislation.
Pro-choice partisans believe that the political process shouldn't apply to abortion. Should it then surprise that certain of the adversaries of the pro-choice position also operate outside the democratic process? Lawlessness begets lawlessness.
Abortion, given that it involves the killing of an unborn child, and given that millions of American women are emotionally tied to the experience of terminating their pregnancies, will always be the subject of an overheated debate. One way to bring the thermostat closer to room temperature would be to return the question to where it had always been--before legislators--prior to 1973.
Stanislav Mishin's critique of "America, Version 2009" rings depressingly true. In the upside-down world twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Americans have been reduced to reading the truth in Pravda. Perhaps we are just too close to see the picture from the dots.
How did the decline happen?
"First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture, rather then the classics," Mishin writes. "Americans know more about their favorite TV dramas then the drama in DC that directly affects their lives. They care more for their 'right' to choke down a McDonalds burger or a Burger King burger than for their constitutional rights. Then they turn around and lecture us about our rights and about our 'democracy.' Pride blind the foolish."
Second, Americans' "faith in God was destroyed." Sunday services became "Sunday circuses." "When explained that they would be on the 'winning' side," the Russian nationalist explains, American "flocks were ever so quick to reject Christ in hopes for earthly power."
Third, the federal government usurped the function of businesses, intervening in the private economy to such an extent as to dictate hirings, firings, mergers, bankruptcies, acquisitions, and overall strategy for companies like GM, Chrysler, AIG, and Bear Stearns. "In the land of 'pure' free markets, the American president now has the power, the self given power, to fire CEOs and we can assume other employees of private companies, at will. Come hither, go dither, the centurion commands his minions."
The barrage's coup de grace displays great insight into the disconnect between the land-of-the-free rhetoric with Bailout USA reality. "The proud American will go down into his slavery with out a fight, beating his chest and proclaiming to the world, how free he really is," Mishin concludes. "The world will only snicker."