We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

Friday, May 26, 2006

ACLU Hypocrisy

The ACLU is the enemy of the people of the United States, simply look at their litigation activities and you see non-stop attempts to tear apart the fabric that has made this country great.

From IBD:
Posted 5/25/2006

Free Speech: The American Civil Liberties Union fancies itself guardian of the First Amendment and crusader for open government. Yet it may soon impose a gag order on its own board members.

ACLU lawyers spend much of their time standing before judges, advocating dissent and diversity in American society. But it turns out that behind the closed doors of the ACLU's offices, free speech isn't encouraged — and before long it may be prohibited.

"Conformity" isn't supposed to be in the ACLU's lexicon, but "new standards" of behavior now being considered would make ACLU board members "conform to the board's shared understanding of the responsibilities of its members," The New York Times reports. ACLU leaders dictate that "a director may publicly disagree with an ACLU policy position, but may not criticize the ACLU board or staff." The explanation? Money. Disagreement may "affect the ACLU adversely in terms of public support and fundraising."

Intimidation tactics have already been employed by ACLU executive director Anthony Romero against the organization's board members. Last month, board member Wendy Kaminer told The New York Sun that she considered the ACLU's endorsement of legislation to regulate advertising by pro-life crisis pregnancy centers "appalling." Board member John Brittain agreed it threatened free speech.

Romero blew up at Kaminer at the ACLU's April board meeting and is apparently trying to get her ousted. Board member David Kennison wrote in an e-mail that Romero claimed to have a "thick file on her," referring to Kaminer. According to Kennison, Romero made it clear he had a file on him too. Romero told the Times he said that only because Kennison provoked him. Romero also denied keeping a file on Kaminer.

Attendees of the April meeting of the ACLU board say Romero demanded that board member Alison Steiner leave the room with him. When they were alone, he reportedly dressed her down "for the look on her face" during Romero's public temper tantrum against Kaminer — so apparently even facial expressions constitute banned forms of speech within the corridors of the ACLU.

When it comes to others, this dangerous cabal of radical lawyers considers speech to include even child pornography. In its 1982 Ferber decision, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld a New York state law prohibiting the distribution of child pornography. But that ruling was overturned by the New York Court of Appeals, which was convinced by the ACLU the previous year to rescind the law under the rationale that kiddie porn was entitled to First Amendment protections.

As Catholic League President William Donohue describes it in the book "Twilight of Liberty: The Legacy of the ACLU":

"The ACLU's position is this: criminalize the production but legalize the sale and distribution of child pornography. This is the kind of lawyerly distinction that no one on the Supreme Court found convincing."

This is an organization that in the age of terrorism considers metal detectors in airports an invasion of privacy. The ACLU now objects to the low-radiation "backscatter" devices airports are beginning to use. They can detect any metal or plastic object beneath clothing that terrorists could use as a weapon. According to Barry Steinhardt, head of the ACLU's technology program, "This leads directly to a surveillance society."

This latest ACLU hypocrisy proves once again that its lofty rhetoric masks its true agenda to undermine America's security and culture.

As Roger Baldwin, founder of the ACLU and its executive director until 1950, said:
"I seek social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied class, and sole control by those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal."

China's Growing Challenge To U.S.

Should we be diversifying our manufacturing operations to Latin American democracies that are fighting to stay independent from the onslaught of Hugo Chavez and his communization attempts instead of funding a known communist regime's goal of world domination? Does China really think that the Islamic Fascists pose no threat to their people, or does the ruling party simply not care about the masses?

From IBD:
Posted 5/25/2006

Defense: The Pentagon's annual report on Chinese military power reveals that Beijing will soon be as much of a threat to America's security as it is to Taiwan's. We may soon have more to worry about than cheap imports.

China's threat to Taiwan has been long-standing, growing and pretty much common knowledge, but the 2006 edition of the Pentagon's annual report to Congress, "Military Power of the People's Republic of China," makes it clear that China's ambitions and abilities go far beyond recovering what it considers its lost province.

The 58-page assessment notes that while China's current abilities are limited, the country has been on a technology buying and development binge, giving its armed forces the potential to compete with the U.S. by fielding "disruptive military technologies that could over time offset traditional U.S. military advantages."

China does not plan to match us tank for tank or microchip for microchip, but to deny us full use of our capabilities.

For example, for the first time the Pentagon report provides details on Beijing's active anti-satellite program.
The report notes, "At least one of the satellite attack systems appears to be a ground-based laser designed to damage or blind imaging satellites."

China also has plans to deal with America's aircraft carrier groups. The Chinese navy has deployed Sovremenny-class, guided-missile destroyers purchased from our "friends," the Russians.

The ships are equipped with SSN-22 Sunburns, supersonic cruise missiles that were designed by Soviet weapon makers for one purpose — to destroy U.S. aircraft carriers.

China has deployed a road-mobile, solid-propellant, intercontinental-range strategic missile, the DF-31, and is expected to field next year the extended range DF-31A, which can target most of the world, including the continental U.S.

China recently tested its JL-2, a submarine-launched version of the DF-31. It will be deployed aboard China's newest ballistic missile submarine, known as the Type 094. The JL-2 is equipped with multiple warheads and penetration aids that could reach the U.S. mainland from Chinese coastal waters.

China has taken exception to the Pentagon report, saying its moves are purely defensive. But at least some recent data would seem to belie that claim. In March, China's parliament approved a 14.7% increase in its official budget.

That's a lot for a country threatened by no one.

What the Chinese actually spend on their military, however, is shrouded in secrecy. They put the figure at a meager $27 billion.

The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) notes that China's purchases of Russian military hardware alone nearly exceed that amount. The IISS says China's defense budget is roughly $62.5 billion.

That money pays for the world's largest standing army and for the growing arsenal of sophisticated military equipment China hopes will turn it into an Asian superpower.

"China . . . is improving its ability to project power and developing advanced systems of military technology," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's said to an Asian security conference in Singapore last June.

"Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder: Why this growing investment? Why these continuing large and expanding arms purchases? Why these continuing robust deployments?"

The question, of course, was rhetorical. China in fact is preparing to challenge our supremacy in the Western Pacific militarily while keeping us busy on the world stage, building alliances with the world's thugs and dictators, and locking up energy resources, guaranteeing a steady supply for its rapidly growing military-industrial complex.

There will probably be no major overt moves before the 2008 Olympic Games. That will give China time to continue its military buildup.

But the time may be actually coming when, as a Chinese general once threatened, we will be forced to decide whether we are really willing to trade Los Angeles for Taipei.

Dirty SOX

Any time the lawyers posing as congressional representatives make a move to "reform" the way we live and do business, they make the cure much more painful than the illness. Every time they act in knee-jerk style, it is the multitudes of innocent who are punished for the crimes of the very few.

From IBD:
Posted 5/25/2006

Scandal: The Enron saga has ended, as expected, with the convictions of both founder Ken Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling for conspiracy and wire fraud. But America will live with this mess for a long time.

Of course there's the immediate impact of Enron itself. Once one of the nation's most powerful companies, the energy giant collapsed virtually overnight after its top executives were charged with a series of financial crimes.

In direct, immediate costs, Enron's 2001 demise destroyed some $60 billion in stock market value and 5,600 high-paying jobs — not to mention billions in 401(k) pension savings by its workers.

But Enron was really only the last in a long line of 1990s corporate scandals that included WorldCom Inc., Adelphia Communications and Martha Stewart, among others. Along with the convictions of top executives, the scandals kicked off a new era of stringent corporate regulation, most prominently the Sarbanes-Oxley act.

But sadly, while Lay, Skilling and others who committed crimes will go away, the impact of Congress and Sarbanes-Oxley will be with us for decades to come.

As it often does, Congress overreacted to perceived rampant criminality. The result was Sarbanes-Oxley, a law that, at best, is bad, and at worst, a disaster.

SOX, as some call it, was rushed through Congress. Today, it's the law of the land — and companies large and small pay for its flaws.

And when we say "pay," we mean "pay." The costs — in added corporate reporting and monitoring, in requiring hundreds of executives to focus exclusively on complying with the complex new law, in lost opportunities, in new accounting rules — are immense.

The most wide-ranging and thorough study, by economist Ivy Zhang, estimated that American shareholders took $1.4 trillion in market losses due to Sarbanes-Oxley. That massive loss doesn't show up in companies' income statements and no one in Congress today talks about it — but it's real nonetheless.

Direct costs are somewhat less, but at least you can actually see those: About $6 billion a year, according to a study by American Enterprise Institute economists Henry Butler and Larry Ribstein.

Companies, especially small ones, feel the pain most. A study by CFO Magazine estimated businesses with as few as 250 people could be hammered with $500,000 a year in added costs — a huge hit for small firms that may help explain why job creation in 2002 and 2003, Sarbanes-Oxley's first years, was so slow.

This is the law of unintended consequences, writ large. Congress created tough new rules in response to scandals. But in attempting to undo the damage of the misdeeds, it created far more damage.

Sarbanes-Oxley is, in large part, a big reason why the stock market has underperformed in recent years, despite big gains in corporate profits. It might have had some good parts, but today, most companies think it's a disaster. Scrap it and start over.

Behind The Curve

As I have stated before, the Social Security system as it is structured is a Ponzi scheme. If I were to "sell" such an investment product, I would be charged with a crime by the same government that refuses to acknowledge that the system is obsolete, broken and soon to become a budget crisis that can only lead to pain for those who need it most.

From IBD:
Posted 5/25/2006

Social Security: In an attempt to shore up its endangered pension system, the government is proposing to raise the retirement age and change how benefits are calculated. It's a worthy effort.

Oh, by the way. That government is located in London, not Washington. While Great Britain and other industrialized nations are dealing with the problems of their pension systems, the U.S. clings to its crumbling socialist-style system.

Here are the facts (that apparently have to be repeated ad nauseam, since a timid Congress refuses to address the issue and opponents of change continue to make silly arguments against it):

In 2017, the Social Security system will begin to run a deficit as benefits will exceed revenues from payroll taxes. For those not paying attention, that's a mere 11 years — less than the time it takes a child to go through school.

By 2040, after dealing with more than two decades of deficits, the system will be completely broke. It will have exhausted its trust fund, that warm, imaginary place where Congress allegedly stores the surplus revenues the system has been collecting — and spending — for decades. Yet Social Security will have to keep paying benefits.

In 1950, 16 workers paid into the system for every retiree who received benefits. By 2025, the ratio will have collapsed to less than 2-to-1. Under those conditions, how high will payroll taxes have to climb to fund scheduled benefits? At least 50% higher than the current 12.4% rate, say the Social Security trustees.

Every two-year election cycle that goes without Social Security being reformed costs Americans $320 billion — the amount of our current budget deficit.

As the U.S. dithers, Chileans are enjoying the advantages of a privatized pension system. Over the first 22 years of that program, the annual rate of return beat inflation by 10%. The U.S. system, by comparison, will provide less than a 2% rate of return for a medium income worker who was born after 1965.

The British and the Australians also have provided private options. Even Latin American governments in Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Uruguay and El Salvador are letting their people choose to move into private accounts. Tens of millions of people have made the move.

Once-socialist European nations such as Hungary, Sweden, Poland and Kazakhstan have also adopted some privatization.

Some might take the changes in Britain as a sign that workers' private accounts have failed. That's not the case. The public and private parts of the British system are intertwined, and unsound decisions made in one hurt the other. Today, Britain's government is simplifying its pension system after learning from some of its mistakes.

Washington's biggest mistake in dealing with Social Security has been inactivity over the last decade. We'd like to think policymakers would learn from that before it's too late.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

FBI Doing Its Job

Are you as sick and tired with the modern day crop of congressional representatives? These people have completely forgotten the reason they have been elected. If serving in office is viewed as a sure path to vast personal wealth, then our country is doomed to be run by self-serving carpetbaggers who will throw anyone under the bus to stay in power and preserve the gravy train.

With all the screams about the NSA programs and lack of court-issued supoenas, what are they complaining about? Everything was executed in accordance to their standards.

From IBD:
Posted 5/24/2006

Government: When FBI agents raided Rep. William Jefferson's office over the weekend, congressional leaders cried foul. But the only thing foul in all this is the stink of corruption rising from Capitol Hill.

House Republican leaders immediately jumped to defend Jefferson, a Democrat, saying the raid by federal agents overstepped the bounds of what's permissible under the Constitution's separation of powers clause.

"My opinion is that they took the wrong path," said Speaker Dennis Hastert after meeting with President Bush on the matter. "They need to back up, and we need to go from there."

Majority Leader John Boehner called it an "invasion of the legislative branch," and predicted it would ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.

"I am sure there will be a lot more said about this," he said.

On that point we agree. But the "lot more said" might not be favorable to Boehner's party or the institution of Congress.

Since at least the 1970s, Congress has issued thousands of subpoenas to the executive branch — so many that Cabinet members have complained they have no time to do their jobs because they're too busy answering congressional subpoenas. We've heard nary a peep from them about this "intrusion" on the executive.

Jefferson, who represents New Orleans, allegedly was caught on tape taking a bribe of $100,000. A search of his home found $90,000 in questionable cash stored in, of all places, a freezer. Nine months ago — nine months! — the FBI requested from a judge a subpoena for evidence of bribe-taking in Jefferson's office. The judge granted it; Jefferson and Congress ignored it.

We can't say for sure if Jefferson is guilty. But with all of Congress' corruption cases — including those involving West Virginia Democrat Allan Mollohan, under investigation for bribery, and California Republican Duke Cunningham, doing time for the same — where does Congress get off acting as if its prerogatives are being stepped on by an FBI looking for evidence?

The FBI in the Jefferson case bent over backward to avoid all appearances of impropriety. It had a subpoena from a judge. It made sure the agents who conducted the raid weren't involved in the investigation. There was no fishing expedition here or harassment.

We agree there are legitimate concerns about the separation of powers, so vital to the working of our democracy. The Constitution recognizes this by making members of Congress immune from arrest while traveling to or from Congress. And, under the Constitution's Speech or Debate Clause, members have some immunity from prosecution for crimes resulting from official duties.

But the protections extend only so far.

In two key decisions — the United States v. Brewster, and Gravel v. United States — the Supreme Court narrowed Congress' privilege from outside legal prosecution. Most specifically, in Gravel, the court ruled that the Speech or Debate Clause "does not privilege either senator or aide to violate an otherwise valid criminal law in preparing for or implementing legislative acts."

Jefferson's doesn't sound like a winning case to us.

Does separation of powers mean that Congress can ignore a subpoena, even when it's been vetted and approved by the judicial branch? Is Congress a law unto itself?

The answers, we think, are no. And we'll bet that average Americans, who hold Congress in lower regard than Bush or the high court, will agree.

Gory Movie

Junk Science - the use of manipulated or filtered data to promote one's own point of view. Nobody who believes in Man-made global warming can convincingly explain why the earths temperatures have fluxuated to warm and cold extremes long before the industrial age or the existence of mankind. Could it be that the sun doesn't radiate at the same steady state as a ceramic heater?

They also "conveniantly" ignore the fact the Mount St. Helen spewed more CO2 into the atmosphere during it's last eruption than all of the cars that ever existed and that water vapor is the most prevalent "green house gas" by a huge percentage.

This is not about protecting the environment, this is about destroying our capitalist economy and replacing it with a tightly controlled state-owned economy where everyone works for the government and everyone in the ruling class, like Gore, are part of the wealthy elite.

From IBD:
Posted 5/24/2006

Propaganda: Al Gore's new movie isn't just a slick-yet-tedious sermon on global warming. It might also be the longest — and most unintentionally funny — campaign commercial in history.

Would you pay to sit in a classroom and watch an audio-visual presentation hosted by the former vice president? For many, the question would be how much they have to pay to find the emergency exit.

In the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," which opened at limited venues Wednesday, Gore is in his element as he talks down to the American public. Surrounded by an audience nodding in awe at him, Gore never once has to huff impatiently, as he famously did over and over while debating George W. Bush in 2000.

On NBC's "Today" show this week, Gore refused to say "never" to seeking office again, and this movie looks like a vehicle for another presidential run. It shows snippets from the 2000 election, as if keeping Gore out of the White House was a catastrophe for our electoral system.

Gore also pulls out all the emotional stops in this global warming movie. He recounts his son's auto accident, his sister's death from lung cancer and his family's hand-wringing over its tobacco farm.

If this really is the launch of a new Gore candidacy, Republicans will have lots of raw material for attack TV ads. In a scene over which it's impossible to keep a straight face, Gore inhales and exhales next to a visual of the earth breathing in and out. In another, he hops onto a hydraulic lift and boosts himself up to where a giant graph shows projections of CO2 emissions rising off the scale.

And Gore thinks the American people are so dumb they need to see a "Simpsons"-style cartoon character of a little girl asking, "How do we get wid of the gweenhouse gasses?"

Gore's whispery voice-over narrates as we're told that global warming could deprive 40% of the world's population of water, that it's responsible for West Nile Virus, avian flu and 30 new diseases, and that we'll someday have to relocate 100 million refugees.

There's also plenty of sneering at "the so-called skeptics."

Gore can sneer all he wants, but there is disagreement among scientists. The journal Science last year reported that the vast East Antarctic ice sheet is getting thicker, not thinner.

As the film ends to the screeching of Melissa Etheridge, the screen flashes suggestions for what each of us can do "to reach zero carbon emissions": buy different light bulbs, install a new thermostat, ride a bike to work and plant lots of trees — as if those drops in the bucket can avert apocalypse.

In reality, global warming alarmists want America to disassemble its industrial economy. Gore's glossy piece of propaganda doesn't find it convenient to mention that truth.

Reform, Saudi-Style

Thanks to our "elected officials" we have become more dependent on foreign sources of energy over the past thirty years. Not only does that mean maintaining a relationship with purveyors of religious hatred, but OUR MONEY is being used to fund their ambitions.

From IBD:
Posted 5/24/2006

Islamofascism: After 15 Saudis attacked the U.S. on 9-11, the Saudi government promised to clean up textbooks that teach students to hate non-Muslims. Saudi officials recently declared the reforms complete.

They lied.

A comprehensive review by the nonprofit Freedom House found that Saudi texts for Islamic studies used in this school year still encourage violence and hatred toward "infidels."

Indoctrination begins as early as first grade and expands each year, culminating in a 12th-grade text teaching teens that their religious duty includes waging "jihad" against the infidel to "spread the faith." Here are some of the passages shaping the next generation of Saudis and Muslim worldwide:

First grade: "Every religion other than Islam is false."

Fourth grade: "True belief means . . . that you hate the polytheists and infidels but do not treat them unjustly."

Fifth grade: "It is forbidden for a Muslim to be a loyal friend to someone who does not believe in God and His Prophet."

Sixth grade: "Just as Muslims were successful in the past when they came together in a sincere endeavor to evict the Christian crusaders from Palestine, so will the Arabs and Muslims emerge victorious, God willing, against the Jews and their allies if they stand together and fight a true jihad for God, for this is within God's power."

Eighth grade: "The apes are the Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus."

Ninth grade: "The clash between this (Muslim) community and the Jews and Christians has endured, and it will continue as long as God wills."

Does this kind of hateful religious indoctrination translate into violence? You bet it does. It's no coincidence that three-quarters of the hijackers were Saudi. Or that the No. 1 nationality represented at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is Saudi. Or that most of the foreign jihadists attacking American troops in Iraq are Saudi.

It's also no surprise that the al-Qaida operative recently convicted of trying to assassinate President Bush graduated from a Saudi academy in the Washington, D.C., suburbs that uses the same texts.

Two years ago, King Abdullah promised to reform extremist Saudi curriculum and remove violent references to Jews and Christians from schoolbooks. At the time, he appointed Abdullah al-Obeid as education minister to lead the sanitization effort.

This was the first clue that Riyadh was not serious about reforming its education system. Al-Obeid headed the terror-tied Muslim World League, which once functioned as a charitable front for al-Qaida.

Abdullah, who recently replaced his late brother on the throne, was heralded as a moderate who would quietly reform the kingdom's religious police state. In fact, he is a pro-Hamas Muslim fundamentalist who is far more devout than the late King Fahd.

Earlier this month, for example, he shocked Western supporters by ordering Saudi newspapers to stop publishing pictures of women (as they could make young men go astray) and to censor stories that reflect badly on the kingdom.

Yet as a reward for his alleged help in the war on terror, Abdullah has requested and received from the White House entry into the WTO, along with an expansion in the number of visas issued to Saudis to attend American colleges — an application process that was curbed after 9-11, for good reason.

As part of the ill-advised immigration deal, Saudi Arabia over the next four years will send 21,000 students to the country they've grown up hating. If just 1% of the new crop of Saudi students are radical, that's 210 new potential terrorists inside our borders.

That the Saudi education reformation has proved a fraud is just the latest example of Saudi duplicity. The Saudis are masters of the head fake. They signal one thing and do another.

Children Of The Corn

The most ridiculous issue in the whole energy argument is that the US has vast reserves of oil and even more natural gas which, by the way, can be used for diesel fuel which can run in vehicles that are currently available. By doing nothing about influence-peddling in Washington, we subject ourselves to bad decisions driven by power hungry politicians versus decision made in the best interest of this country by public servants.

From IBD:
Posted 5/24/2006

Energy: Sen. Hillary Clinton supports the use of ethanol to help fuel our cars, but she is silent on the issue of eliminating tariffs on the imported variety. Does this have anything to do with the Iowa caucuses?

Ending the current tariffs on imported ethanol would not only help reduce dependence on foreign oil, as Clinton wants. It would also strike a blow against corporate welfare, expand free trade, reward needed friends versus hostile states and cut fuel prices at the pump. And if ethanol has both economic and environmental benefits, shouldn't we be trying to get as much of it as possible at the best price?

We can understand opposition to imported ethanol from, say, Charles Grassley, the senator from corn-rich Iowa. But why is the junior senator from New York dragging her feet on the issue?

New York's senior senator, Chuck Schumer, with whom we rarely agree, reckons that lifting the tariff could cut pump prices 8 cents a gallon, since federal law requires 10% of gasoline be made of ethanol, which is made more cheaply in a country like Brazil.

"America is getting clobbered at the pump, and ethanol is the icing on the cake," Schumer has said. But when Hillary was asked earlier this month if she supported lifting the tariff, her Clintonian response was, "I'm looking at that."

The difference is that Schumer isn't running for president, and, unlike Iowa, Brazil doesn't have any electoral votes.

According to the Congressional Research Service, Brazilian production costs are 40 to 50 cents lower than in the U.S. If we are serious about increasing use of ethanol and lowering gas prices, the tariff makes no sense.

Would we rather import ethanol from Brazil or oil from Hugo Chavez's Venezuela?

Currently, the U.S. provides the domestic ethanol industry with a 51-cent tax credit per gallon produced. At the same time, it slaps imported ethanol with a 54-cent-a-gallon tariff. This prevents refineries from buying it wherever it's cheapest on the global market.

Between 1995 and 2004, U.S. taxpayers paid $41.9 billion to U.S. agribusiness, including politically active corporate giants such as Archer Daniels Midland. ADM got $4.5 billion in 2004 alone, according to the farm-subsidy database of the Environmental Working Group. Price-gouging and profiteering, anyone?

Questions about ethanol remain. Tad Patzek, a University of California, Berkeley, engineering professor, published a paper last year saying it takes six units of energy in farming, distillation and transportation to yield one unit of energy produced by ethanol in a car.

Ethanol can't be transported by pipeline, but must be carried from distillation plants via truck and railroad, which creates additional energy costs. Ethanol produces only two-thirds the mileage of a gallon of gasoline.
Yet lawmakers are pushing for even more subsidies to sell E85, a mixture of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline.

The Detroit News recently published a cost-benefit analysis of E85 used by Michigan consumers. It found, among other things, that 1.4 gallons of E85 are needed to drive a car the same distance that one gallon of gasoline will take it.

Ethanol should be allowed to compete as a fuel source on its own merits, without mandates, subsidies and tariffs. If its benefits are as outstanding as advertised, and if there truly is a demand for it, the ethanol industry will flourish.

Meantime, in the absence of free markets and free trade, and as we fuel our cars, the tariff on imported ethanol remains a huge crimp in the hose. Hillary could lead the charge against it, but will she?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Capitol Hill Corruption...

Mark Twain once remarked: "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress." And if current corruption on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, can be measured in dollars, the Republicans are ahead of the Democrats by two to one.

Ex-U.S. Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-CA) is now in jail for taking over a million in bribes from defense industry contractors. But the FBI says they secretly filmed New Orleans Democrat, Rep. William Jefferson, accepting a cash bribe of $US 100,000 - most of which was later found in his kitchen freezer, part of $400,000 in alleged bribes. The Louisiana Democrat has been caught in a 14-month FBI sting operation. The accusations against him appeared in an FBI affidavit made public after 15 agents raided his Capitol Hill office last weekend, the first time such an indignity had been inflicted on a sitting congressman.

It was the 19th century British statesman, Lord Acton, who gave a pithy, predictive summary of what's going on in Washington: "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." His Lordship observed correctly that too often a person's sense of morality lessens as his or her power increases. Indeed the powerful in government often come to think of themselves as immune from the rules that are meant to bind all of us.

But pause to consider that if over the years the federal government had not acquired the power to control almost every aspect of our lives, then what theologians call the chances for "an occasion of sin" in Washington would be far less. When there are 535 legislators in Congress with the individual power to "earmark" billions in government grants to their favorite buddies, special interests who finance their campaigns, and even hidden deals in which they profit -- well, individual temptation yields to massive corruption.

Prior to Woodrow Wilson and his federalist ambitions, these antics would have been virtually impossible since every three years our Senators would have to answer to their States own government to stay in "power".

But the 17th amendment changed the rules by establishing that US Senators would be chosen by popular vote instead of being chosen from each states own Senate. Thus ended the system of checks and balances and ushered in the culture of big money, influence peddling and of course, corruption.

Left Speechless

I have long railed against McCain-Feingold. At it's best, it makes George Soro's the most influential man in US elections through the use of the 527' loophole creating political juggernauts like Moveon.org, funded by a few billionares hell bent on putting their favorites in office. At it's worst, it makes it impossible for the average citizen to afford to run for office. Unless you are among the millionare elite, you cannot fund a campaign against an incumbant because of the money-flow restrictions deliberately put in place by these power-hungry maniacs.

From IBD:
Posted 5/23/2006

First Amendment: How ironic that Sen. John McCain was heckled during a recent commencement speech. He has worked so hard to suppress others' right to protest and have their voices heard.

McCain was booed and heckled as he delivered a commencement speech at The New School in New York last Friday. The main gripe seemed to be the senator's support for the war in Iraq, which has given the people of Iraq the right to protest and speak freely.

As this was going on, a federal court was telling the Christian Civic League in Maine it can't run a radio ad next month when the Senate is set to take up the Marriage Protection Amendment. Reason: The ad tangentially criticizes Sen. Olympia Snowe, who faces a primary June 13.

The McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which was supposed to end the alleged corrupting influence of money in politics, makes it a criminal act for any ad to even mention a politician 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election.

The Maine ad that tries to corrupt the political process mentions that Snowe, a co-author of McCain-Feingold, "unfortunately . . . voted against the Marriage Protection Amendment two years ago." The "big money" behind it amounts to $3,992, provided by an anonymous donor who agreed to cover the radio buy.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the ad "might have the effect of encouraging a new candidate to oppose Sen. Snowe, reducing the number of votes cast for her in the primary, weakening her support in the general election, or otherwise undermining her efforts to gather support, including by raising funds for her re-election."

Well, duh. Meanwhile, Maine newspapers, radio and TV stations, are free to influence the election, spending their corporate dollars on editorials or news coverage that is often slanted one way or the other. But a group of private citizens banding together in common cause cannot, for they'd be committing the crime of attempting to participate in the political process.

As we promote democracy in the Middle East we suppress it here at home. And while some oppose tinkering with the Constitution with amendments defining marriage or banning the burning of the American flag, they stand silently by as it's amended by stealth, as with McCain-Feingold.

Late last month, McCain responded to the issue of whether the legislation that bears his name abridged our freedom of speech by saying, in essence, that he didn't mind if it did. McCain said he'd "rather have a clean government than one where, quote, First Amendment rights are being respected that has become corrupt."

Imagine that: putting quotation marks around "First Amendment rights." That First Amendment is such a nuisance. Exactly which part of "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging freedom of speech" does the senator not understand?

To silence political opposition is not reform; it is incumbent protection. In any other context, it would be called censorship. In any other country, it would be called repression.

We support John McCain's right to be heard. We also support the right of groups like the Christian Civic League of Maine to be heard as well. We are Investor's Business Daily, and we approve this message.

Market Got It Right

There's nothing much to add to this. For 30 years, the left has made us totally dependent on foreign sources of energy by barring any new drilling and exploration in this country in the name of "environmental protection". Then, even though they've achieved what they set out to do, create barriers to wealth because of high energy prices, they need to create the straw man to demonize because the very people that naively put them in power are pissed off. Will American voters ever wake up to what's going on, or do we continue to give the fox the keys to the hen house?

From IBD:
Posted 5/23/2006

Energy: Washington has just finished another probe of gasoline price-gouging and found — surprise! — no evidence of wrongdoing. But the blamemongers aren't satisfied. They never are. They never will be.

As it turns out, the Federal Trade Commission found no industry manipulation of gas prices following Hurricane Katrina.

The agency did note 15 examples of "price-gouging" after Katrina by seven refiners, two wholesalers and six retailers. But the price spiked in 14 of those 15 instances due to reasons other than trying to take advantage of consumers.

That left a single case where a local retailer — not a company — was, according to the FTC, trying to use the situation for gain. But one can make a sober argument that even in that one instance the post-disaster market was working.

The FTC was first directed by an energy law passed last August — before Katrina — to investigate whether oil companies manipulated the price of gasoline in any way, including whether they intentionally held back refining capacity or inventories to keep supplies artificially tight. This part of the agency's probe, which analyzed market trends dating back to the early 1990s, found "no instances of illegal market manipulation."

After Katrina, Congress demanded a separate investigation into the industry's pricing activities — as well as its enormous profits.

The FTC probe brings to nearly 30 the number of times over the last three decades that state and federal authorities have looked into alleged price-gouging — which cannot possibly be objectively defined — in energy markets. And once more, the old bugaboo of oil company collusion has been put back in the box.

The results always disappoint those who desperately want investigators to find a problem for which they can fix blame (political opponents and the energy industry make the fattest targets) and offer their own "solution."

Rather than finally admitting that prices are set by markets, not by greedy executives behind locked doors in smoky rooms, those who want to do their own manipulating of energy prices shamelessly try to keep this nonissue alive — as if enough public money has not already been wasted on probes.

"If (the) FTC report proves anything, it's that federal investigators don't have the tools they need to protect the American people from gas price-gouging," Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Monday in a statement following release of the FTC's findings.

Reid is representative of elected officials who screech about gasoline prices but refuse to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or increased development of the oil and gas reserves of America's outer continental shelf. This group was on vivid display Tuesday as the Senate held a food-fight of a hearing to determine how the FTC probes reports of price gasoline gouging.

Reid is, of course, free to draw his own conclusion — though he should not be free to impose his solutions on a private market. But the only honest lesson that can be taken from the FTC probe is that the market works.

Say No To Neutrality

Note, once again, who is behind the drive to restrict our freedoms and censor free speech. The left is hell bent on totalitarianism and want to control the flow of information at every turn. This is how Castro was able to convince the Cuban people that those who escaped to the US were put into slave labor camps. Once the government starts manipulating the net, they won't stop, this is merely the first salvo. First they kill competition, then they control the monopoly they create.

From IBD:
Posted 5/23/2006

Regulation: It's clear that one of the most liberating developments of recent history has been the Internet. But those who would obstruct Web freedom are on the move.

Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey seldom has used the language in such an exquisitely Orwellian fashion since he tried to thwart the Reagan administration's space-based defense project by comparing it to "Star Wars."

This time, he's joined by far left groups such as Moveon.org in demanding new regulations to ensure "nondiscriminatory" content.

These political activists are teaming with Web giants Google, Yahoo and Microsoft who want new rules to protect their established dominance. Doing them all a huge favor, Markey has introduced a bill to guarantee what proponents call "net neutrality."

Markey and his legionnaires aren't too worried. Armed with Internet-gathered petitions, they expect the House Judiciary Committee to take up "net neutrality" in coming days.

As you might expect, their objective cannot be realized without introducing seriously anti-competitive, indeed anti-capitalistic, enforcement measures.

The bill targets Internet service providers, who must find ways to pay for making content accessible to the seemingly limitless world of online users.

That could mean charging content providers — like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft — extra for faster service and other fees. So Markey would put the government behind the big content providers, sparing them any inconvenient expenses through "neutrality."

Never mind the phone and cable guys, who're fast realizing that somebody has to pay for the Internet. Indeed, for further Internet improvements, a lot more capital will be needed. What's true of lunches is true of those Web sites you're surfing. They're not free.

As even our poorest citizens get wired, and cities across the land race to create free wireless zones, the notion of entitlement embeds itself in the popular mind. Markey and Moveon.org lost no time in exploiting the populist sentiment.

The irony: They've aligned themselves with the biggest beneficiaries of the cyber revolution. Frankly, it ill-becomes Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to parade their commitment to "neutrality" as the government blocks capital formation by Internet Service Providers.

We've no special brief for local telephone and cable companies, who too often enjoy semi-monopolistic status. But if Markey's idea becomes law, they'd be denied the ability to spread their costs fairly.

Which means everyday surfers would lose a rich variety of content — inevitably the result of regulators' efforts to "balance" it — and be charged more for it.

Illegal Security

As if our un-constitutional, social programs aren't in trouble enough already. Now those idiots in the Senate want to expand it to the illegal's. Who do you think will pay for this?

From IBD:
Posted 5/23/2006

Entitlements: The Senate immigration reform bill gives illegal workers a right to Social Security benefits. But why should they have rights American citizens don't?

Most Americans mistakenly think they're entitled to their Social Security benefits, a misunderstanding the government perpetuates by calling Social Security and Medicare "entitlements." But they are nothing of the sort.

As we've noted time and again, no matter how much money you pay into these programs, you are "entitled" to nothing at all. This is a matter of legal fact, settled in 1960 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Nestor v. Flemming.

Yet, last week the Senate defeated by a 50-49 vote the so-called Ensign amendment to the immigration reform bill. It would have prohibited those who come here illegally and work with forged or phony papers from receiving Social Security benefits.

In effect, the Senate's action makes illegal immigrants a privileged class under law. And down the road, that largesse will prove costly.

Their advocates note how illegals now pay $7 billion more a year into Social Security than they receive — in effect, a subsidy. This is true. But it's also true that they are here illegally, and that Social Security was never meant for noncitizens.

And once the current wave of some 12 million illegals begins to age — a recent report claims 10% of Mexico's population is now in the U.S., with millions more on the way — the subsidy tide will turn, creating huge new costs.

As the Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector recently estimated, the welfare cost of illegals could total as much as $50 billion a year.

None of this, of course, would matter if Congress would just create private accounts for Social Security. The immigrant issue, more than any, shows why they are such a great idea. They'd belong to worker contributing. So an illegal who accumulated money in that account would keep it, since he owns it. Problem solved.

Instead, current legal workers in the U.S., who already get a rotten deal from Social Security, will be asked to foot the bill for millions of retiring illegals. It's bad enough that today's workers pay punitively high taxes to foot the bill for the long-living, early-retiring baby-boomers. But illegals too?

All this should have young workers up in arms. The average 25-year-old entering the work force today already will see a negative average annual return of -0.82% from Social Security, thanks to the higher taxes needed to support retiring boomers.

Now, it will only get worse. As it stands, Congress' immigration "reform" will lure millions of new illegals. And who can blame them, especially if they're granted amnesty and all the benefits they can apply for once they're here?

Closed Country

Every day, those people who want to protect the borders language and culture of this country are lambasted by those who wish to destroy it. Yet, even with the protectionist sentiment, we still have some of the most liberal immigration laws in the world. Don't believe me? Try reading a playboy in Saudi Arabia or owning a bible for that matter. Regarding the current flux of people from Mexico, look at their policies.

From IBD:
Posted 5/23/2006

Immigration: "Do as we say, not as we do," could be Mexico's motto for treatment of the foreign-born. It's the last nation that should be lecturing the U.S.

Vicente Fox declared this week that the reform of American immigration law would be an "act of justice" toward Mexicans now working here illegally.

What the Mexican president did not say is that the laws of his own nation could stand some reform as well.
It's no stretch to say that Mexico's current treatment of immigrants, legal as well as illegal, makes the much-maligned House bill look downright liberal.

Mexican law treats illegal entry as a crime punishable by up to two years in prison. It calls for a prison term of up to five years for someone who marries a foreigner solely to help that person live in the country.

Under the Mexican constitution, even legal immigrants are barred from expressing political opinions in public. Property rights of foreigners are sharply restricted.

The native-born get priority over foreigners in public-sector jobs. Even naturalized citizens are barred from the Mexican congress, state legislatures, governorships, the Supreme Court, the peacetime military and the merchant marine.

Up until 1999, the presidency was limited not only to the native-born but to those with native-born parents. The law was changed so that candidates with one foreign-born parent — like Fox, whose mother is from Spain — could run for the office.

Terms like "xenophobic" and "anti-immigrant" get thrown around too loosely these days.

But they do seem to fit Mexico, where a fear of foreigners (other than tourists) and of foreign influence is deeply embedded in the nation's law and political culture. Even the use of naturalized citizens on the national soccer team is controversial.

Not surprisingly, Mexico has very few nonnatives. Just half a percent of the Mexican population is foreign-born, according to the Associated Press, compared to about 13% in the U.S.

Laws and attitudes aren't the only factors at work here.

Mexico is also short on economic opportunities, either for its own citizens or foreigners. But xenophobia and stagnation could well be related. By stacking the deck in favor of the native-born, Mexico turns away immigrants with the skills, energy and fresh ideas needed for a world-class economy.

So Mexico, rather than lecturing us, could stand to learn from us. U.S. immigration policies need order and rationality right now, but that doesn't detract from this nation's remarkable long-term success at attracting productive people and turning them into Americans.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Lawyers on Trial

Want to know why there has never been serious action on tort reform? Follow the money. From Chuck "the ambulance chaser" Schumer to Hillary Clinton to John Edwards, the Federal government is made up of lawyers who became millionares engaging in the business of frivolous lawsuits. Edwards, who reported a net worth of around $60 million during the 2004 campaign actually used to "channel" dead children to help him convince juries to award obscene amounts of money.

Now this, from IBD:
Posted 5/19/2006

Litigation: America's most feared class-action law firm is charged with paying millions in kickbacks to sign on people as plaintiffs. Just why do "victims" have to be paid to sue the companies that supposedly hurt them?
With more than 120 attorneys and offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Florida, Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman calls itself "the most respected and effective plaintiff law firm in the United States." It's pulled in more than $45 billion in recoveries since its founding in 1965, going after everyone from Michael Milken to the tobacco industry.

In 2005 alone, the firm sued at least 75 companies for securities fraud, including General Motors. Milberg Weiss brags it has "set benchmarks in terms of case theories, organization, discovery, trial results, methods of settlement, and amounts recovered and distributed to clients and class members."

In other words, they built the model for modern class-action strategy. What Babe Ruth was to the home run, Milberg Weiss is to shaking down businesses.

For this giant among trial lawyer institutions to be slapped by a federal grand jury with 20 counts of criminality, including bribery, fraud, perjury, racketeering, filing false tax returns and obstructing justice — offenses that carry prison terms in some cases of up to 20 years — has implications for all who use litigation to harass business.

Kickbacks were involved in more than 150 of the firm's class-action and shareholder derivative-action lawsuits, according to the indictment, for which Milberg Weiss was paid "well over $200 million in attorneys' fees" over 20 years.

So this behavior seems integral to the firm's success. Kickbacks can persuade a lead plaintiff to settle, which can be against the interests of the other plaintiffs — but the lawyers still make out handsomely.

The larger scandal here is clear, and it goes right to the heart of the purported noble purpose these legal sharks claim as their motivation. With obese people suing fast-food restaurants for damages, there's no sign of frivolous lawsuits ebbing.

Just how many other trial lawyers have to engage in secret criminal activity to make this kind of scam work? And how many hundreds of thousands of jobs are lost in America when firms have to pay billions after losing or settling lawsuits with no merit?

It's interesting to see that Milberg Weiss contributed more than $80,000 to the 2006 gubernatorial campaign of New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, money that Spitzer is now tripping over himself to return, as reported by the New York Sun. Spitzer has been suing brokerages, investment banks, insurance firms and mutual fund companies — in other words, he's the public-sector version of Milberg Weiss.

Trial lawyers such as those at Milberg Weiss, of course, give many millions to the liberal Democrats who then pass laws making it easy to sue companies and who appoint judges that use the courts to redistribute income.

Putting Milberg Weiss's lawyers on the stand will help expose this whole racket. It may also lead to the kind of tort reform in Congress that will end this longtime abuse.

A New Hope Vs. Iran

From IBD:
Posted 5/22/2006

Military Strategy: Like the Reagan approach to detente with the Soviet Union, President Bush is thinking outside the box regarding Iran. He's applying the Reagan idea that helped win the Cold War: missile defense.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told CNN on Sunday that Iran is only months away from the ability to build a nuclear bomb. Since Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel's destruction, Olmert's remarks might be a signal that Israel is considering launching a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities soon.

As Iran presses ahead on its nuclear program and prepares to force its Jewish and Christian citizens to wear Nazi-esque garments that identify them by religion and ethnicity, the U.S. is not sitting by.

The Bush administration is seeking to provide sophisticated anti-missile technology to other Persian Gulf states and establish a missile defense base in Eastern Europe to defend against possible Iranian attacks using nonconventional weapons carried by advanced ballistic missiles.

Recall that in April Iran claimed that it had tested a medium-range multiwarhead missile that can evade radar, and its Shahab-3 rocket can reach Israel and Turkey.

Robert Joseph, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, last month proposed the idea during visits to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Iran has a history of trying to destabilize its neighbors, and Joseph told The Los Angeles Times that the countries "as a whole are very receptive to the message."

A team of State Department officials returned to the Persian Gulf last week to follow up. The plan is being used as part of the diplomatic effort to pressure Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program.

In the former Soviet bloc, the White House wants to deploy 10 anti-missile interceptors, which would be an unprecedented increase in U.S. influence there. The New York Times reports that a specific recommendation will be made this summer to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, but sites under consideration include the Czech Republic and Poland.

The plan would be to set up something nearly identical to the anti-missile facility at Fort Greely, Alaska, which boasts of being "the first line in America's missile defense" and where a half-dozen missiles can intercept long-range attacks from North Korea. The total cost is estimated at $1.6 billion.

Initial costs would be a mere $56 million to begin engineering work, but the proposal faces opposition in the Republican-controlled House Armed Services Committee because of the technical challenges.

We can't for the life of us (if you'll excuse the expression) understand why: As defense projects go, the bang for the buck here in terms of defending innocent lives looks too good to pass up.

Russia's military chief Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky groused about Poland hosting a missile defense base, remarking that "countries that are part of such a shield increase their risk." That's highly reminiscent of the counter-intuitive logic missile shield opponents have always used.

And Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman described the European anti-missile base as "not a proposal designed to counter Russia's offensive missiles," since the small number of interceptors would not be effective against Russia's level of weaponry.

During his presidency, Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative was ridiculed as a dangerous provocation that would never achieve its intent and that was mockingly called "Star Wars." But Reagan described it differently when he unveiled the idea on March 23, 1983: "I've reached a decision which offers a new hope for our children in the 21st century," he said.

New hope indeed. Now that we're in the 21st century, we know that Reagan's SDI was a deathblow that sent Soviet communism to the ash heap of history. President Bush today has made a similar decision to take concrete steps that will protect the free world against the possibility of Iran — or some other future menace — being armed with the deadliest weapons ever devised.

We call that leadership.

Iraq's New Gov't: Zarqawi Loses Again

From IBD:
Posted 5/22/2006

War On Terror: The successful formation of a unity government in Iraq provoked a big "yes, but" in the mainstream media, but it is terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's worst nightmare.

The classic "yes, but" story appeared above the fold in Monday's Los Angeles Times, which seldom has an encouraging word about our effort to take the fight in the war on terrorism to the terrorists or to transform a region that's known only tyranny and oppression by introducing freedom and democracy.

"Iraqis Lack Faith in Leaders" was the Times' main headline, with the deck: "Weary from years of war and uncertainty, they see little hope government will ease nation's woes."

That said it all, at least as far as the Times was concerned. We'd put it a little differently. In fact, what we witnessed in Iraq was quite remarkable:

Just three years after the toppling of mass murderer and brutal dictator Saddam Hussein, here were Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds — some dressed in business suits, some in traditional Arab robes, but all members of an Iraqi parliament elected on Dec. 15 — filing into the parliament chamber to approve a permanent democratic government of a free Iraq.

As Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and others in the 40-member Cabinet took the oath of office, after being confirmed one by one, it was a reminder that if anyone needs an exit strategy, it is Zarqawi and his terrorist supporters.

Indeed, as we have noted, documents captured by U.S. forces in an April 16 raid in the Yusufiyah area 12 miles south of Baghdad, show that al-Qaida in Iraq knows what the Washington press corps and the Democratic leadership do not: The insurgents are losing.

The documents authored by an al-Qaida operative are a vindication of the Bush administration's war policy and an indictment of those who have called for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation for allegedly mismanaging the war.

The operative wrote:
"The Americans and the (Iraqi) government were able to absorb our painful blows, sustain them, compensate their losses with new replacements and follow strategic plans which allowed them in the past few years to take control of Baghdad as well as other areas one after another."

Zarqawi, like North Vietnamese Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, eagerly watches the attacks on Bush and his policies. He knows he can't win on the ground. But he also knows, as in Vietnam, he might win in the American media and the Democratic caucus.

The jihadist goal is clear — to create as much bloodshed and violence as possible to repeat the Vietnam experience, to prove to the Islamic world that America doesn't have the stomach for this war and will cut and run. The terrorists hope to accomplish this goal by using graphic footage of their desperate barbarism to turn the U.S. media and the American people against the war by creating the false impression we are losing.

In an interview on Fox News' "O'Reilly Factor" last week, Rumsfeld was asked how he would answer those who watch the car bombs and the sectarian violence and say the war is unwinnable.

Rumsfeld said he understood "how some people could feel that way, given what they hear on television and what they see in the press." But, he added, "if you put yourself in the position of Zarqawi and the terrorists and the insurgents, they tried to stop the election last year in January, and they failed. They tried to stop the election Dec. 15 and they failed."

He also noted that Zarqawi and the insurgents were trying to stop the formation of a new government and would fail again. Well, they did fail, again, as the new permanent government in Iraq — the government that resulted from December's elections in which 12 million Iraqis participated — was sworn in.

There's much for the new government to do. Iraq's new prime minister pledged on Sunday to use "maximum force" if necessary to end the brutal insurgent and sectarian violence wracking the country from those fearing democracy and those trying to settle old scores.

Still, as Rumsfeld stressed, "It's always good to put yourself in the other fella's position. They know they can't win that war over there. The only place they can win it is in Washington, D.C."

Yearning To Breathe

From IBD:
Posted 5/22/2006

Foreign Affairs: In the immigration debate, we hear of the world's downtrodden and oppressed arriving here in search of opportunity and freedom. Seldom has that been truer than in the troubling case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

President Bush is especially fond of making that argument, which gives him the high ground. But even he probably didn't anticipate the drama of Hirsi Ali's flight, first, from Somalia to the Netherlands and, now, possibly, to America.

Her ordeal has everything to do with the will of Western civilization to survive. Intriguingly, it takes a native of the Islamic world to remind us of what we take for granted.

Hirsi Ali, a native of Somalia, in 1992 escaped Islamofascism and sought an untroubled life in Holland, renowned for its tolerance. As sometimes happens in the history of displaced people, she tweaked her real name to establish her legality.

A Muslim woman, she decided to draw attention to the oppressed plight of women living among practitioners of fundamentalist Islam who, though increasingly populating the Netherlands, hadn't assimilated into European culture. She gave speeches, wrote books and teamed with filmmaker Theo van Gogh to produce "Submission," which showed graphically the more disturbing treatment of Muslim women. Van Gogh was stabbed to death in broad daylight by a fanatical Muslim, who knifed a note to his victim's chest threatening other offenders of the faith, including Hirsi Ali.

Along the way, she won a seat in the Dutch parliament. As a lawmaker, Hirsi Ali warned that her adopted country's excessive commitment to multiculturalism threatened not only Dutch identity but the values that made Holland an attractively tolerant refuge.

Accordingly, she lost the ability to conduct her life normally in a civil society. Her daily existence was besieged by death threats, forcing her to move about incognito. Even with stepped-up protection, she could not get sufficient personal security.

Last week, Hirsi Ali announced she would leave and take up a new life in America, where her message might be received more courteously. Why? Dutch immigration functionaries, usually among the world's most welcoming, ruled that Hirsi Ali's name switch — from Ayaan Hirsi Magan, done to escape a family-arranged marriage — invalidated her citizenship and elected status.

A reversal by the Dutch immigration minister could dissuade Hirsi Ali from abandoning the Netherlands. Whatever happens, we'd be glad to have her. No citizen of a free society should have to go through such uncertainty and ominous imminent violence.

Memo to Congress: As you complete an immigration bill, debating this amendment or killing that poison pill, make sure you leave the door open for seekers of political asylum.

Who's Corrupt?

In my opinion, they all are. The US government has been taken over by the "party of government" it doesn't matter if they're marxist-Democrats or "moderate"-Republicans, these people believe that the Federal government is the end-all, be-all and that State's rights is an obsolete concept. Constitutional-Conservatives from both parties must decide whether to vote out the RINO's or seek out a 3rd party.

From IBD:
Posted 5/22/2006

Politics: Haven't heard much lately about Democrats' plans to make an issue of the GOP's "culture of corruption" in the 2006 elections. Could it be they just don't want to call attention to their own scandals?

Just three weeks ago Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean inveighed on national TV against the Republicans' "culture of corruption." His remarks were echoed by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. The Democratic National Committee has gone so far as to post "The Corruption Files" on its Web site, detailing purported GOP malfeasance.

The strategy isn't looking so hot now that the FBI videotaped Democratic Rep. William Jefferson taking $100,000 from an FBI informant. The FBI later found $90,000 of the cash in Jefferson's freezer. Apparently, Jefferson planned to use the money to bribe a high-ranking Nigerian government official to win business for a U.S. company that, in turn, was bribing Jefferson.

Jefferson, however, is just the latest member of his party to face questions about corrupt or unethical behavior, all but shredding the Dems' "culture of corruption" case against the GOP. Other cases include:
Democrat Rep. Alan B. Mollohan of West Virginia, who is being investigated by the FBI for getting millions of dollars in pork barrel spending for his state, and profiting from it. Mollohan's personal wealth has reportedly grown from $565,000 to $6.3 million in just four years.

Former Sen. Robert Torricelli of New Jersey, who is being investigated by the Senate for meeting with Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Hizar Hamdoun, in the late 1990s and seeking oil-for-food contracts for a Torricelli campaign donor, businessman David Chang.

A handful of Democrats who've been ensnared in the Jack Abramoff scandal, though you likely didn't read about it. They include Michigan Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Just weeks ago, the media were full of stories about how this scandal would sink the GOP. Now, Democrats and their media friends have grown strangely quiet.

An aide to New York Sen. Chuck Schumer at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who pleaded guilty to fraud after stealing personal data on Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a Republican, including his credit report. Schumer heads the DSCC, which helps Democrats run against Republicans nationwide.

Sadly, there's more — including Rep. Cynthia McKinney's outrageous assault on a Capitol Hill security officer and Patrick Kennedy's inebriated car crash.

If the Democrats are counting on corruption to keep their current lead in the polls for this year's midterm elections, they may be in for a very nasty surprise.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The UN Fails Again

by Thomas P. Kilgannon

Eleanor Roosevelt's dream of a global institution that values personal dignity and individual freedom suffered another setback at the United Nations this week as UN delegates continued their time-honored tradition of rewarding dictators with prized seats on the organization's human rights body.

Apologists for the UN's new Human Rights Council pointed to Iran's failure to gain membership as evidence that the new council is a much improved body, but they glossed over the election of repressive regimes like Communist China, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Algeria, Cameroon and Azerbaijan, to name a few.

Secretary General Kofi Annan predicted the Council's members will "show the depth of their commitment to promote human rights at home and abroad," despite the election of 22 countries that are considered "not free" or only "partly free" by Freedom House. General Assembly President Jan Eliasson called the vote a "truly historic occasion."

China, one of those nations that will cast judgment on the liberties of individuals around the world, is led by Hu Jintao, who is ranked number six on Parade magazine's 2006 list of "The World's 10 Worst Dictators." The editors at Parade write that in China, "between 250,000 and 300,000 political dissidents are held in 'reeducation-through-labor' camps without trial." Privacy is a little understood concept in China as communications such as phone calls, e-mail, and Internet are routinely monitored by government agents.

An organization known as Human Rights in China said in the last 17 years it "has documented continued and increasing detentions, arrests and other forms of persecutions." Appearing at number seven on Parade's list of dictators is King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, whose nation was also rewarded with a seat on the Human Rights Council. The House of Saud, where women are treated like third-class citizens, received more votes in the General Assembly for a Council seat than did Switzerland.

Among the other stalwarts of tolerance that were elected to the Human Rights Council are Bangladesh, whose rights record is listed by the State Department as "poor" and which restricts religious freedom and freedom of the press; Cameroon, where activists are, according to Amnesty International, "routinely harassed, detained and assaulted"; and Cuba, whose totalitarian regime imprisons political opponents and suppresses political, religious and economic freedoms.

This is the new and "improved" United Nations Human Rights Council – and Kofi Annan can keep it. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton was right to withhold American prestige from the reconstituted rights regime, because it was flawed from the beginning.

The United Nations ensured that rights abusers would make it onto the Council when it guaranteed 13 seats each to the African and Asian regions – where democracy and government accountability is in short supply. But the Western European region, where stability and respect for individual freedom is the norm, was only given seven seats on the Council.

John Bolton should be applauded for ensuring that the United States no longer has to swallow its pride and sidle up next to brutal dictators while discussing human rights. But the United States can and should do more. The Bush administration should withhold funding for the Human Rights Council.

When and if the Council proves itself responsible, the United States can consider funding a worthwhile institution. But in the interim, American tax dollars should not be given to countries like Cuba and China to give themselves a political makeover and kick the United States in the teeth.

Tax Cuts Have Paid Their Own Way

From IBD:
Posted 5/18/2006

Fiscal Policy: Critics of tax cuts argue that lower rates lead to "losses" of revenue. That's true if nothing happens after taxes are cut. Which, of course, isn't the case.

The latest volleys in this fight came this week, as President Bush signed into law legislation extending lower rates on capital gains and dividend incomes through 2010.

The president's move has been all but written off by many — especially in the media — as a sop to rich supporters who will benefit disproportionately from the tax cuts. They argue the cuts will "cost" the federal government more than they bring in, and make the deficits worse. They also contend that "tax cuts for the rich" today will have to be paid off by working Americans and their children and grandchildren tomorrow.

Sadly, this is what passes for economic argument these days — cheap, ad hominem attacks on the rich, with little scrutiny of both the current reality and history.

Let's start with the deficit.

Believe it or not, it is shrinking. And fast. This has nothing whatever to do with spending restraint. From 2001 to 2006, overall spending is expected to soar 42%, to nearly $2.7 trillion. Yet, despite that whopping gain, the deficit is getting smaller.

Last year, it was $318 billion, or 2.6% of GDP — after the Office of Management and Budget predicted early in the year that it would reach $423 billion, or 3.6% of GDP. The lower figure was derided at the time as a fluke, a cheap political stunt by Bush's budget magicians.

Well, this year the deficit is falling again — below $300 billion, recent estimates show. For the record, that will be less than 2.5% of GDP — which is below the 25-year average of 2.7%.

How could this be? In a word: growth. The economy took off after the 2003 tax cuts, creating more revenues than even the spendthrifts in Congress imagined.

Take just one example: capital gains tax cuts, one of the favorite targets of those who want to soak the rich.

According to Congressional Budget Office data, the reduction in the cap-gains rate to 15% was expected to cost the federal government some $27 billion in revenues. But it didn't happen that way.

In fact, as Macrolytics' Donald Luskin recently pointed out, the tax cuts ended up bringing in $26 billion in added revenues — exactly the opposite of what was predicted.

This has happened everywhere in the economy. Revenues from cap gains, corporate and income taxes are up sharply, pouring into government coffers across the board.

Fact is, tax cuts do "pay for themselves" — by creating strong new incentives to work, produce and invest that make the economy larger and stronger. Data show this conclusively.

In the 11 quarters following the tax cuts, total real GDP grew $1.15 trillion, or more than 11%. In the 11 quarters before that — a period that included a record drop in stock prices and a series of economy-killing interest-rate hikes by the Federal Reserve — GDP expanded just 7.7%, or $728 billion. Tax cuts did the job, very decisively.

Following the tax cuts, revenues soared nearly 21% from 2003 to 2005. In the three years before that they declined 12%.

After the May 2003 tax cuts, rates eased for most Americans. Yet revenues rose, along with the economy. This always happens after major tax cuts. It did during the Reagan era. It did during the Kennedy boom. It did during the Roaring '20s. And it did after President Bush gave relief to all Americans who paid taxes.

Add a modicum of federal spending restraint, plus a little entitlement reform, and the budget could easily be put back into surplus within a few years. All it would take is some discipline — and a lot less fear-mongering and distortion by the media.

The Dems' Dark Side

From IBD:
Posted 5/18/2006

Politics: Among the truly astonishing aspects of the Democrats' foreign policy is how much of it comes out of the Vietnam playbook. It's a dark vision, one that anticipates defeat in Iraq.

This vision clouds their effort to cobble together their own version of the Republicans' creative "Contract with America," which led to the GOP storming Capitol Hill in 1994. That famous victory ended four decades of legislative domination by the Democrats.

Just maybe, Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi figure, this time their party needed only 12 years to retake the fortress. The Senate and House minority leaders propose a "contract" with voters — college and health care for everyone, a climate-controlled world, deficit reduction, and so on — that, while glib, conceals motives far less honorable.

The war on terrorists, if not exactly taking a back seat, seems not to be quite the priority the Bush administration has made it. Sure, party talkers will show up on cable to emphasize their superior handling of terrorism. After all, didn't they force the massively bureaucratic Department of Homeland Security on us?

When they're not demagoguing some innocuous feature of the war such as the Dubai ports deal, many Democrats actually rub their hands at the prospect of impeaching President Bush. Something about the way the commander in chief conducts this war — far more respectful of civil liberties than Franklin Roosevelt's mobilization against Germany and Japan — offends these Democrats deeply. Hothouse hearings, anyone?

Rep. John Conyers, who stands to take over the House Judiciary Committee, offers assurances he's in no rush to impeach the president, though almost certainly he'll find it difficult to resist party activists motivated by that prospect. These activists imagine they're about to net the second Richard Nixon.

With polls showing dissatisfaction with the U.S. effort in Iraq, more Democrats now think they've been granted permission to call for a staged withdrawal. As she grilled Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Wednesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein advocated exactly such a dangerous strategy — a position generally reserved for Sen. John Kerry, who has his own Vietnam angst to nurse.

On the same day — just as Iraqis were successfully forming a civilian cabinet — Rep. John Murtha claimed U.S. troops in November had massacred Iraqi women and children "in cold blood." Such an incident had been reported in March by Time magazine, and it is under investigation, but Murtha could cite no sources other than "commanders" with whom he'd talked.

Murtha, clearly hoping he'd found another My Lai massacre, blamed "pressure" for the alleged incident. That way he could hold Rumsfeld accountable for authorizing insufficient troop levels, thereby politicizing the Iraq war. The antics of the Pennsylvania congressman, who is endlessly depicted by the mainstream media as an erstwhile hawk, were irresponsible in the extreme.

Pelosi doesn't think so. On Thursday the minority leader charged the Pentagon with covering up the incident. Such an incendiary comment suggests that she, too, thinks she's found another My Lai with which to turn public opinion against the war.

To underscore the Democrats' inability to break out of Vietnam, there emerges Tom Hayden — who privately negotiated with Hanoi three and a half decades ago to strengthen America's antiwar movement — exhorting Democrats to embrace a withdrawal.

"The peace movement," writes Hayden in The Nation, "should also be planning now to make it virtually impossible for presidential candidates to campaign successfully in 2008 without committing to a speedy withdrawal from Iraq."

Hayden cynically calls on the Left to unite behind a withdrawal plan devised by some conservative critics of the war. Wherever he finds allies, he would signal America's enemies to wait out the withdrawal, just as he signaled North Vietnam in his heyday.

The totality of the Democrats' response to terrorism since 2001 leads to such dark conclusions. The party's behavior in matters of grave importance to national security comes across, frankly, as unserious or worse. Getting Osama bin Laden, as they promise, would make us all happy. It would not by itself win the war on terrorists.

When the party's 2000 frontrunner, Al Gore, says bluntly that global warming threatens Americans more than any jihadist with a suitcase nuke, you do wonder about his party's sense of proportion. When the Democratic leadership ignores every stride toward a workable constitution in Iraq, indeed trumpets every setback, you have to ask:

Do they want defeat?

Politics, Then Security

From IBD:
Posted 5/18/2006

Leadership: Offering more proof that Democrats can't be trusted in the war on terror, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wants to replace a moderate with a leftist as top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

The bipartisan 9-11 commission was harshly critical of frequent turnover on Congress' intelligence panels. "Few members of Congress have the broad knowledge of intelligence activities or the know-how about the technologies employed," it complained in its lengthy report.

So it called for "allowing a relatively small group of members of Congress, given time and reason to master the subject and the agencies, to conduct oversight of the intelligence establishment and be clearly accountable for their work."

It also urged that "members (of Congress) should serve indefinitely on the intelligence committees, without set terms, thereby letting them accumulate expertise."

But appeasing the Congressional Black Caucus is apparently more important to the House of Representatives' top Democrat than the commission's recommendations to protect America from terrorism.

Pelosi has made it known she wants Jane Harman forced off the intelligence committee under the guise of term limits. Harman, who represents Los Angeles' liberal West Side, is no reincarnation of that famous Democratic hawk, the late Sen. Scoop Jackson. But she is one of the more responsible Democrats in Congress.

She supported the Iraq invasion, for instance, and three months ago on NBC's "Meet the Press" she said: "All of us want the president to have the tools (to fight terrorism). I just voted again for the Patriot Act. I believe we need modern tools." She also noted that "everyone agreed there was WMD in Iraq" under Saddam Hussein.

Her replacement, if Pelosi gets her way, would be Alcee Hastings, the most liberal member of the Florida delegation. His priorities as the No. 2 Democrat on the intelligence panel have focused on finding "a definitive answer to their growing concerns about the what led to the current war in Iraq." And he boasts that "I have led the fight to increase diversity in the U.S. intelligence apparatus."

Hastings is a former federal judge who was impeached and removed from the bench by Congress in 1989 for conspiracy. Time Magazine's Joe Klein this week called the Harman-Hastings switch "a devastating negative (Republican) ad waiting to happen: 'Why do the Democrats want to put an impeached judge in charge of your national security?' "

But Pelosi has her own skin to think of, and giving Hastings such a plum spot could lock up support of the Black Caucus to elect Pelosi as speaker in the event the Democrats win the House this year — and perhaps allow her to survive as minority leader if they lose.

That's how it goes in a party that gives patronage and politics priority over the safety of the American people.

First Things First

From IBD:
Posted 5/18/2006

Immigration: Any reform bill that comes out of Congress must above all be credible. That means even a "comprehensive" plan has to start with enforcement.

That's not just our view, but that of President Bush as well. Or so it seems from his latest actions. Despite the disgruntled talk from many in his own party, his Monday speech promoting the "rational middle ground" on immigration law was not a capitulation to the open-borders lobby.

After all, he is deploying the National Guard to beef up patrols on the U.S.-Mexico border. He has followed up by asking for $1.9 billion from Congress to fund the first 1,000 of 6,000 new Border Patrol agents he wants to add in the next two years.

We know, of course, that a large part of the Republican Party dismisses these moves as mere political ploys to win passage of a guest-worker program and a legalization plan that may or may not be "amnesty," depending on one's choice of dictionary.

But even if they're right, and the president is beefing up the border mainly because it's the politically smart thing to do, that just means he is, well, smart. It also means he understands the public's fundamental concern for order and security.

In fact, we would go further and suggest that the president's "middle ground" solution actually requires tough enforcement provisions up front. "Comprehensive" does not mean "all at once."

As a purely practical matter, some aspects of immigration reform are bound to take longer than others.

Setting up a foolproof ID system for immigrants and requiring employers to use it will probably take several years. It also won't be short work to set up a fraud-resistant system for sorting out illegal immigrants to see who is eligible for a legal status.

On the other hand, crews could start building new fences along the border soon after Congress allocates the funds. The National Guard deployment can be carried out in a matter of weeks, though hiring and training new Border Patrol officers will take longer.

And even if everything could be done at once, certain things must come first if the law is to command respect. This lesson should have been learned from the 1986 immigration reform, which offered amnesty without first setting up a workable system for preventing and penalizing the hiring of illegals.

On paper it was reasonable, even restrictive. In practice, its ban on hiring of illegals was a dead letter and its border enforcement was perennially underfunded. Immigrants figured out that they were home free once they got past an overwhelmed Border Patrol.

Congress has not yet dealt adequately with this question of putting first things first. The Senate took it up earlier this week and shied away, voting 55-40 against a proposal to delay the legalization and guest-worker provisions of the immigration bill until the border is secured. But the issue is crucial to any reform plan, and it's not going away.

All the arguments over amnesty, guest-worker quotas, ID cards, the length of border fences and other details are meaningless if they lead only to another law that few respect or obey.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

ACLU Vs. U.S. (Cont'd)

From IBD:
Posted 5/17/2006

Homeland Security: The U.S. government can't prevent domestic terrorism with its hands tied. But when it comes to monitoring possible al-Qaida allies living in America, that's exactly what the ACLU is trying to do.

The American Civil Liberties Union this week filed a Freedom of Information Act request on behalf of Islamic groups for any and all surveillance since the 9-11 attacks by the FBI of Muslims and mosques in Southern California under the expanded powers granted by the Patriot Act.

Shakeel Syed, executive director of Anaheim's Islamic Shura Council, complained that "People should not be afraid that practicing their religion or even visiting a mosque will make them a suspect of the government."
But the idea of "homeland security" would be meaningless if federal law enforcement shirked at doing its job to find and catch would-be terrorists and their supporters.

If we're treating little old ladies with canes as suspects — singling them out for questioning by Transportation Security Administration personnel — what sense does it make to ignore mosques? And as to Syed waving the First Amendment at us, it isn't bake sales and bingo games the FBI is investigating at Muslim places of worship.

Sheikh Mohammed Hisham Kabbani is a traditional Islamic scholar from Lebanon who heads the moderate Islamic Supreme Council of America, a group that keeps tabs on Muslim extremism in the U.S. He famously warned America during a State Department forum in 1999 that "more than 80%" of the 3,000-plus mosques in this country are run by extremists representing the radical, exclusivist Wahhabi brand of Islam prevalent in Saudi Arabia.

"They form small circles in different homes or different basements or in different areas, and they begin to brainwash the people," Kabbani said. "That's why we find this kind of movement is becoming big now, especially when the idea is that we have a struggle between us and the United States."

ACLU attorney Renjana Natarajan grumbles that the FBI has "asked what mosque they attend or what the imam says, where they went on religious pilgrimages and how many stops they made. They're really questions that are at the heart of our religious constitutional freedoms."

But these questions don't prevent religious practice. And they must be asked if we are to track down Islamofascists determined to destroy our constitutional freedoms and murder as many innocent Americans as they can — and the ACLU can stop feigning that it isn't well-aware of that.

The USA PATRIOT Act stands for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism." But true to its hard-left origins, the ACLU is once again proving it will stop at nothing to divide America and take away the tools needed for defense against our enemies.

Voice Of Reason

From IBD:
Posted 5/16/2006

Immigration: President Bush makes a strong case for the "rational middle ground." Polarized political camps may not be pleased, but thinking Americans will welcome his leadership.

The president of the United States, even one who appears not to be very popular at the moment, can accomplish quite a lot with 17 minutes of plain talk from the Oval Office in prime time. George W. Bush's Monday evening speech on immigration reform may prove to be one of the most effective acts of communication in his presidency.

We say this knowing full well that the president probably made new enemies among the people who have taken death-before-compromise stands on the immigration issue. These are the folks who get most of the media attention, and the president gave them plenty to complain about.

To the amnesty-now crowd, his plan to put National Guard troops on the border is "militarization." To the Minutemen it's woefully inadequate — and don't get them started on his guest-worker plan.

We've heard again and again how the nation is deeply divided and that there's no political gain from taking the middle ground and brickbats from both sides. But the president believes otherwise, and on Monday he convincingly staked his claim to the center.

With more detail than in the past, he outlined the sort of bill he would like to see from Congress. He explained how tougher enforcement, on the border and in the workplace, can co-exist with a realistic and humane policy toward the current population of illegal immigrants. He made the distinction between simple amnesty and earned citizenship. He noted that there is a "rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant, and a program of mass deportation."

His plan has weak spots here and there. One is his suggestion that a plan for permanent residency favor the illegals who have been here the longest. Such a rule is too easy to get around with the help of fake documents, and there's nothing fair about crediting people simply for spending a certain number of years in this country, underground and unassimilated.

It makes more sense to pin eligibility on future behavior and to raise the bar high — requiring would-be legal residents to pay fines and back taxes and learn English, and making them attain a high school-level education. This would help ensure that legalization is open only to those truly motivated to become Americans.

We also see the need for some changes in the reform bill now moving through the Senate. A major flaw is the measure's proposed new rules for legal immigration, which downplay skills and invite wholesale immigration by aging relatives of workers. The nation needs productive newcomers, not a further boost to the Medicare population.

Even if the president supports the Senate bill in general terms, he's not telling the enforcement-minded House Republicans to roll over and play dead. If anything, his five-point plan is tilted toward conservative concerns — border security, barring employment by illegals and promoting assimilation. He truly seems to want a meeting of minds in Congress, leading to a reasonable compromise.

Is such a thing possible? Let's say this much: The president on Monday made it more possible than it was before. By putting his plan on the table, he has left Congress with no excuse for failing to act. Earlier, the case could be made that he had not made himself clear enough or did not consider immigration reform his top domestic priority. No more. Congress now has all the presidential leadership it needs, or has any right to demand.

As for the perils of taking the middle way in a nation allegedly so divided, the president seems to believe he has a silent (and realistic) majority on his side. From what we've seen of polls, he's right.

Americans want both a secure border and some enforceable plan, such as a guest worker program, to bring the law in line with the needs of the economy. Our guess is that he was speaking for them, not just to them, on Monday.