Thursday, March 31, 2011

Republicans Learning To Play Hardball!

For decades, the Democrats attacked Republican-supporting institutions. They spied on churches and sent the IRS to investigate their tax exempt statuses. They tried to ban corporate giving and attacked the Chamber of Commerce because they favored Republicans. They attacked wealthy Republican donors and groups like the Mormon Church and the Boy Scouts which they saw as being on the “wrong side.” And the Republicans never fought back. Now that’s changing, and it’s about time.

Unlike their ancestors, the new Republicans seem to be getting it. In the budget battle, they’ve specifically targeted federal funding for left wing bastions like NPR and Planned Parenthood. Arizona, Texas and Indiana started cleaning up the illegal immigration mess, much to the chagrin of the race lobby. Wisconsin and Ohio Republicans are going after unions, which is particularly significant because unions have become the backbone of the Democratic Party. Democrats draw money directly from taxpayers through the unions, and union bosses provide Democrats with “workers” for political campaigns. All of this will be a huge blow to the Democratic Party, as it will end their taxpayer subsidy.

Now three House Republicans are targeting another Democratic stronghold -- AARP. AARP is ostensibly a non-partisan interest group that represents old people. Indeed, they need to be non-partisan to maintain their tax exempt non-profit status. But everyone knows they aren’t non-partisan. Consider this:
● AARP opposed tax cuts under Reagan and Bush.
● AARP worked to defeat the nomination of Clarence Thomas.
● AARP helped Clinton defeat the balanced budget amendment.
● AARP supports gun control and lobbied to strengthen the Brady Bill.
● AARP supports entitlements for illegal aliens.
● AARP partnered with race-hate group La Raza to promote amnesty and drivers licenses for illegals, and to end enforcement of immigration laws.
● AARP calls homosexuality a civil right and opposes the Defense of Marriage Act.
● AARP pushed heavily for Obamacare even though it would cut $500 billion from Medicare, THE program upon which all of its members rely.
● While AARP does not contribute to candidates, AARP executives give overwhelmingly to Democrats.
AARP has 1,800 employees in Washington and they lobby. John Boehner notes that “AARP is one of the most liberal organizations in Washington, D.C.” And for their efforts, AARP gets around $83 million a year in direct payments from the federal government, not to mention their non-profit status saving them from hundreds of millions in taxes.

Now Republican Reps. Wally Herger (Ca.), Charles Boustany (La.) and Dave Reichert (Wash.) are challenging AARP’s tax exempt status and demanding the IRS investigate. They point out that while AARP claims to speak for seniors, it actually “operates in direct opposition to their senior membership.” Specifically, in lobbying for Obamacare, AARP supported a bill that would drain $500 billion out of Medicare, which would hurt seniors severely. Why would AARP do this? Because AARP stands to make an additional $1 billion over ten years as a result of Obamacare because AARP gets paid to refer seniors to insurance that fills in the gaps in Medicare. . . which will now have $500 billion in new gaps.

Moreover, AARP-sponsored insurance policies are not cheaper for seniors than policies seniors could get alone on the open market, and several AARP executives are paid seven-figure salaries. . . none of which is consistent with AARP being a non-profit. Indeed, a quick look at AARP’s funding is rather illuminating as to AARP's true nature. AARP gets most of its money from selling insurance and advertising. In 2008, AARP was paid $652 million in royalties from insurance companies for referrals. It also received $120 million for advertisements inserted in its publications. By comparison, it collected only $249 million in membership dues. Of this, Boustany said:
“During this investigation it became very clear that despite its privileged tax-exempt status, in many cases, AARP represents a for-profit entity, in fact, an insurance company.”
Of course the Democrats are screaming bloody murder as they always do whenever their allies get attacked. Democrat Sander Levin (Mich.) called this a “witch hunt.” Boo hoo hoo.

First of all, the Republicans are right that AARP is not a non-profit. It is clearly a very large for-profit insurance referral company -- so large it belongs in the Fortune 500. Secondly, its lobbying is clearly partisan. Thus, it cannot be a non-profit. Third, I don’t care if it is a witch hunt. The Democrats have tried to stifle anyone who disagrees with them for decades by passing laws against them and sending the IRS after them. It’s time the Republicans started playing the same game. As long as only Democrats are willing to use this weapon, they will continue to use it with impunity. Only by doing to their friends and allies what they have done to everyone else will the Democrats ever be stopped from playing these destructive games. And if that damages a couple of Democrat-fellow-traveler institutions in the process, then all the better.

Their next target should be the ABA and the AMA.

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Stop Punishing Kids, Says Obama

Educator-in-Chief Barack Obama has announced that students and schools are being unfairly and unnecessarily punished. And what is this punishment that must be ended? Testing. After all, school isn't about the three R's, understanding of language, history, and reasoning, let alone analytical thinking. It's about in-groupness, self-esteem, going-along to get-along, and of course learning the words to "Obama--mmmm, mmmm, mmmm."

Hyper-educated Obama's opposition to standardized testing should come as no surprise. He mysteriously appeared at and graduated from Columbia Unversity (no public record of achievement). He was the editor of the Harvard Law Review (but never published a single peer-reviewed legal article of his own). And he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago (where nobody remembers him and nobody can produce an Obama course outline). That's one of the main problems with tests. They have a habit of requiring actual knowledge and becoming permanent records. Not a good thing for future Democratic public figures.

No system is perfect, and testing is not the sole determinant of future success. But standardized tests are highly valuable and provide the one thing lacking in all other forms of evaluation--objective standards. But Obama is not satisfied with calling testing a punishment. He also believes it is boring (which is probably why there is no record of him ever taking a test). As we all know, keeping children entertained is a major goal of schooling. You'll notice I didn't use the word "education" as a major goal. That's so mid-20th Century.

Obama proposes re-writing education law, including No-Ignoramus-Left-Behind, to use tests every few years rather than every year, and to use only tests that "everybody agrees makes sense." By "everybody," I assume he means "educators" such as his good friend and neighbor, semi-retired terrorist and current University of Illinois professor William Ayers. Among those vital things that kids and schools should be judged on is attendance. I'm picturing students showing up every day for school and promptly snoozing at their desks all day, yet getting one-quarter of their evaluation based on attendance. In most urban schools, the best thing that could happen is for half the students never to show up so the other half could learn something instead of dodging bullets, trying to hear the teacher over the din of the daily riots, and fending-off drug dealers. To say nothing of hiding from the pedophile teachers protected by the union.

Obama addressed the issue before a largely Hispanic audience at a Town Hall hosted by Univision, the largest Spanish-language broadcaster north of the border. Needless to say, among the tests that Obama feels are to boring and to punitive are tests of English proficiency. Even though Ebonics has largely died a natural death, creative spelling and creative sentence structure have jumped into the void. Obama doesn't want students bored or scared by tests that might actually require the students to put coherent sentences and paragraphs together in plain English.

In another brilliant defense of his plan, Obama said "young people do well in stuff that they're interested in--they're not going to do as well if it's boring." That might explain why most of these dolts do well in sex-education, although they don't apply anything they learn into real life. Although Obama wouldn't directly endorse non-testing and non-education for illegal immigrants, he did say that he would continue to push vigorously for passage of the DREAM Act. That way it would be perfectly legal for former illegal aliens to feed at the public trough and avoid getting bored or frightened by tests. Very democratic.

Obama also threw his two daughters into the discussion. Sasha and Malia attend one of the most expensive private schools in the country, but Obama acts as if PS19 in the South Bronx provides the same sort of education. As he says: "They recently took a standardized test that didn't require advance preparation. Instead, it was just a tool to diagnose their strengths and weaknesses." Oh, brother. Sidwell Friends School (where the girls go to school) teaches a curriculum which would be familiar to any public school student who attended school during the late 1940s through the late 1950s.

We of the 50s (and early 60s) were tested three times from kindergarten through our senior year in high school simply because it was a valid assumption that basic education had been provided at each level. Constant testing was unnecessary. So of course Sasha and Malia don't need regular testing either. But in large numbers of public schools, taught by ignorant union teachers, attended by hostile and unwilling students, with grading systems based on no known objective criteria, standardized tests are essentially the only way of establishing at least one solid basis of evaluation of the students and the schools. It at least assists in determining if a high school graduate can read his own diploma.

I suppose I should expect this President to eschew standards, since he and his administration have bloody few of their own. It also makes me wonder if he asked the students in Beijing if the constant testing and discipline in their schools bored them. Perhaps such a question would help us to determine why American public schools are among the worst in the civilized world. A little boredom and fright might just be a good thing. 2 + 2 = 4 is boring, but it's always correct, and if a student answers "5" on a test, it's likely that the school or the student, or both, are deficient (or a member of the Obama administration). Only standardized tests can give us that answer.

Tomorrow I will discuss how testing in the adult world is being officially dismissed as a determinant of success by no less than the Holder Justice Department
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Top 10 Reasons We Like Top 10 Lists

Ok, I lied, I'm not giving you ten reasons for anything. But I will tell you why people are so obsessed with top 10 list and why this is normally a waste of time.

Human beings are by their very natures classifiers. We classify everything. We group by color, shape, weight, width or any other distinguishing characteristic. We feel compelled to put our books in a particular order, as we do with our CDs, which are kept separately. We put labels on species, trees, rocks, and each other. We even match our socks.

The reason for this is the nature of our brains which are designed to gather information and put it into a format that is easy to understand. Think of it this way. Take everything you own and put it into a pile. How long would it take to find two socks? And how much easier does this become when you create a system for storing your junk? The same holds true for the facts stored in your brain. Our brains literally hold trillions of pieces of information. Categorizing makes it possible to search this information in a fraction of the time it would otherwise take, because each category eliminates trillions of possible alternatives that otherwise would need to be sorted through: “Let's see. . . human (ignore animals, minerals and vegetable), white (ignore Bill Clinton), male (ignore Perez Hilton), fat, red coat and hat. . . must be Santa!”

This ability is perhaps the single most important ability we have. If we could not categorize and process the world around us, we could never know what is relevant to our lives, what is dangerous to our persons, or what we need to survive. Without this ability we would not know what is edible, we could not spot family members, we wouldn't know when we need to run or duck, and science would be impossible. This ability to spot patterns and bring order from the chaos lets us live and grow.

But this ability doesn’t always work perfectly. There is a psychological phenomenon called Pareidolia, where we have a tendency to see faces in random objects. This is a subset of something called Apophenia, where humans see patterns in randomness that aren’t there. This is our brain trying too hard to categorize the world around us. Essentially, these two phenomena result in us trying to group things that can’t be grouped. Coincidentally, this is where most conspiracy theories are born.

And that brings us to Top 10 lists. The problem with most Top 10 lists is that the list maker usually is trying to group together items using subjective judgments. For example, they are looking for the "best" or "worst" somethings. But subjective judgments are meaningless as they vary from person to person based on personal preference. Thus, these lists only offer us a glimpse into how this particular person has classified these items inside their brain.

So why do this and why listen? My first instinct is to say that both the list maker and the list reader are engaging in a form of Apophenia, as the list maker is trying to categorize that which can't be categorized to bring order to their world, and the reader is hoping to piggyback on their efforts. But that explanation isn't entirely satisfying because both should know that the list is subjective in nature and thus useless.

So what is really going on? Maybe the list maker has learned that they can exploit the human herd instinct? Maybe people continue to look at “best” lists despite the obvious meaninglessness of the information because they are looking for someone to affirm their own choices. In other words, if this guy lists “Melt With You” as his favorite 1980s song, then you were right to feel the same way. . . your behavior is consistent with the herd. And maybe the list maker knows this and making the list is their way of trying to lead the herd?

Or possibly, people are just trying to check their brain's functioning against how other people's brains function?

Or maybe it really is that our need to categorize is just so strong that we will accept false data, even knowing it is false, so long as it offers the promise of further categorizing our world?

In any event, think twice the next time someone offers you a "best" or "worst" or "most overrated" list. Ask yourself what criteria they are really using before you add their lists to your brain.

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Liberals Are Tax Cheats!

Liberals love raising taxes, and the reason is mainly that they don’t expect to pay those taxes. Some liberals are rich trust fund kids who have their income well hidden behind tax hedges. Other liberals are the perpetually lazy who don’t plan to work enough to pay those taxes. And the rest. . . well, they’re apparently tax cheats.

There was an interesting article the other day which outlined the demographic profile of the typical tax cheat. The article concluded that the average tax cheat also “engages in a range of other risky behaviors.” But they missed the bigger point: these tax cheats are liberals.

Of the people surveyed, 15% admitted cheating on their taxes. Comparing those who admit cheating against those who did not cheat, the survey found that those who admitted cheating were:
● Far more likely to say that they are “overall better people” than others.

● Far more likely to say that they are “special and deserve to be treated that way.”

● Much more likely to describe themselves as “spenders rather than savers.”

● Much more likely to lie about their income to qualify for government benefits.

● Much more likely to file a false insurance claim.

● Much more likely to keep the wrong change given to them by a cashier.

● And 28% of the cheaters admitted “they’d steal money from their kids’ piggy-bank” compared to just 3% of the non-cheaters.

So the typical tax cheat is someone who thinks they are special and deserves better treatment than the rest of us because they are better people. Tell me that’s not a liberal trait! In fact, that kind of undeserved smugness is the very foundation of modern liberalism, which seeks to instill both unearned entitlement and unwarranted self-esteem in its adherents.

Plus, these “better people” are on government benefits. Again, this is solid liberal territory, as both rich and poor liberals look to the government as their provider. What's more, they lied to get those benefits. Lying has become a pillar of Democratic politics and second nature to liberals.

Moreover, these tax cheats have no qualms about stealing from the government, from corporations and from their kids to fund their out of control spending.

Clearly, the typical tax cheat is a solid liberal. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear this survey was conducted just on Congressional Democrats!

Imagine that.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Obama Speaks on Libya

Ladies and Gentlemen. Through our sources, we have obtained the original copy of Obama’s Libya speech before someone apparently cleaned it up ever so slightly. After you read this, tell us in the comments if you think this would have been better than Obama’s confused snoozer last night? And feel free to tell us what you might have said in his place. . . we'll pass your comments on to our contact "Joey B."


Enter speechifying room. . .
Look serious. . .
Read from TOTUS. . .
NO adlibbing. . .

Good evening. Tonight, I’d like to update you Americans on the international effort going on in a place called Libya -- what they have done, what I heard the Frensh and Britters plan to do about it, and why you should blame George Bush if you are unhappy.

I want to begin by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform on both sides. Because of them, our dedicated diplomats have saved uncountable numbers of lives. Meanwhile, as we speak, American troops are supporting your ally Japan, leaving Iraq to its people, generally not invading 187 other countries, futzing around with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and some other stuff that I don’t remember from the briefing. That has nothing to do with Libya, but it sounds good (don't read this part out loud).

You may not know this, I certainly didn't, but Libya sits directly between Tunisia and Egypt -- two nations that are located in a place called “the Middle East,” near Mexico. We used to call them the Orient, but that was racist, so we no longer call them Orientals. Instead, they are now called Orientations, which makes them happy and gay. Let me give a shout out to my third biggest contributors!

Libya is ruled by a man named Miramar Gandalf, who looks like Michael Jackson and smells like fish oil. He has denied his people their freedom, he exploited their wealth, he raised their taxes and he tried to seize their health care system and put it under the control of his sinister government. He has also involuntarily-ended-the-continuing-living of those who oppose him at home and man-made-disasterized journalists. That is what happened in Libya six weeks ago.

Exactly one day after that began, some people in places called Frensh and Britterica took action to try to stop Mr. Gandalf. Because they acted, we too have a responsibility to act so that we don’t seem weak. Though, we are naturally reluctant to use non-peaceful-expression to solve the world’s many challenges, the use of non-peaceful-expression is called for in this instance. But you can rest assured that I will do my utmost not to solve any of the problems in this Libya place.

When Gandalf began non-peacing his people, my immediate concern as President was with the safety of our citizens in Brazil. So I went to Brazil to ensure that our people, Kenyan and American, were not being mistreated. Contrary to what those who oppose tell you in the media, this was not just a vacation. And I can happily confirm to you that my trip was a success and for the first time in my wife’s life, she is proud to know where Brazil is located.

I understand that when the Frensh and Britters started non-peacing Gandalf’s non-peacing paid-volunteers, Gandalf chose to escalate his non-peacing. That was when I received a call from Obama bin Laden, my long lost uncle. He asked if we could non-peace some people in Libya too. So I unleashed non-civilian jets and helicopter regulated-militia-owners-ships upon people who had no means to defend themselves. These were taxhoarders and the IRS made swift work of them. I also ordered our non-peacers to do something about Libya. They tell me they have.

And we are not alone in this. Canada sent a box of maple syrup. Denmark and Norway sent a card. Italy and Spain and Greece sent promissory notes. Turkey sent a brigade to help Mr. Gandalf. And some of the Orientations sent other things in a box that I haven’t opened yet.

Make no mistake, we are serious about not-surrendering in this mutual non-agreement until our grievances are given a fair hearing by Mr. Gandalf. And we will stay involved and proactive in these events until such time as it is no longer time to remain involved or proactive, and I assure you that will be at some point. In the meantime, I have ordered my political team to find an exit strategy that allows me to blame this entire incident on the failure of George Bush to solve these problems before they were dumped in my lap. Tonight I ask you all to respond to all poll questions regarding Libya by blaming Mr. Bush.

Good night and may Allah bless you with a sexy camel.

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Old Stalinists Never Die--Or Even Fade Away

I spent the early 60s singing along with the then-popular "folk" groups who crooned "If I Had A Hammer" and "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" I was a big fan of the Byrds, and loved "Turn, Turn, Turn." And as a good wannabe revolutionary, I got all goose-fleshy to the sound of "We Shall Overcome." Those big hits were written or adapted by Pete Seeger (shown). I would praise him, while my mother would mutter "that goddam commie."

I wouldn't have known a Stalinist from a floutist at the time, and certainly didn't understand how important catchy tunes are to propaganda. I also didn't know much about how evil people can co-opt a legitimate movement like the civil rights struggle. As I got older and learned more about Seeger, I realized how right my mother was and how naive I had been. Seeger wasn't one of those gullible fellow-travelers who bought into the goodness of "socialism in a hurry." He was an avowed Stalinist, knew exactly what Stalinism meant, and talked about what a great man Stalin was.

So imagine my surprise when I found out the other day that the goddam commie is still alive and still promoting evil causes. After half-heartedly disavowing Stalinism (but not communism) a few years back, Seeger has moved onto greener pastures. But he didn't leave the antisemitism of the Soviet leadership behind, and merely adapted it to his current cause--the destruction of Israel and the ascendance of the "Palestinians."

Yessir, old Pete had an epiphany a few months ago, and has eagerly joined the Boycott, Disinvest, Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS wants to starve Israel into nonexistence, with a little violence thrown in for good measure. Seeger had to go back to the time of his greatest popularity, and before, to find a leftist cause to hang his moth-eaten hat on. Before there even was an Israeli nation, there was an active Zionist group called the Jewish National Fund. That group survives and thrives today. Seeger had been contributing to an organization called the "Arava Institute."

The Institute promoted a "virtual rally for a better Middle East" last year. Although the group has a bad habit of drawing moral equivalencies between Palestinian terrorists and Israeli defense measures, it is not a Palestinian group in disguise. All Seeger saw was that the Institute and the rally were designed to promote Palestinian-Israeli peace. But then (drum roll) he discovered that Arava and the Jewish National Fund worked together from time to time. Seeger had gone ballistic over the JNF decades ago when he found out it planted trees in "Palestine" which made Israel look like an oasis while leaving the poor Arabs to their sand.

So, Seeger quickly went public with his mea culpa for having supported Arava. Said a spokesman for Seeger: "Arava's online event obfuscated basic facts about Israel's occupation and systematic seizure of land and water from Palestinians (largely for planting those damn trees, I suppose)." And now it gets really good. "Arava's partner and funder, the JNF, is notorious for planting forests to hide Palestinian villages demolished by Israel in order to seize their land. Arava was revealed as a sterling practitioner of Israeli government efforts to 'rebrand Israel' through 'greenwashing' and the arts."

Seeger himself believes that the Jews have been dispossessing "Palestinians" since the turn of the last century. Never mind that the Jews prior to 1948 bought and paid for the land that Palestinians didn't have a clue how to use. What remaining land Israel now controls was the result of their having won defensive wars perpetrated by Arab nations that wanted Israel wiped off the map. Rather than face clear facts, Seeger has reintroduced "Turn, Turn, Turn" with some minor changes as an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian anthem. He claims that all royalties he now receives for both the original and modified versions will go to Palestinian causes.

Well, the old fart has plenty of younger company. Among the celebrities and musicians of more recent vintage who agree with Seeger are Elvis Costello, Tom Morello, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, and the ever-stoned Carlos Santana. As one critic of Seeger has said: "He took fifty years to openly condemn Stalin--he was fifty years too late." I simply don't think the old buzzard has another fifty years to disavow the Palestinian lies. In fact, I hope they will soon be awarding him an in memoriam Grammy. Now, why am I humming "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?"

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Monday, March 28, 2011

NAACP Discovers Diversity

"Founded more than a century ago to promote black equality, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is seeing remarkable diversity in its leadership ranks. It's the result of an aggressive effort over the past four or five years to boost NAACP membership and broaden the civil rights organizations' agenda to confront prejudice in its many forms."

I'm guessing by now you've figured out that I didn't write that lede. It came from the non-partisan, apolitical Associated Press. As a former contributor to the organization, I was intrigued by the concept. Gee, I thought, they've promoted a white businessman from the South to a leadership position. Why not? They've elected a divisive former Congressman who helped found the Congressional Black Caucus, and a convicted violent felon as head of the organization. Why shouldn't they have a raving capitalist oppressor in a position of power? Celebrate diversity.

Alas, I was disappointed to find out there's a limit to the organization's tolerance of people who are different from the oppressed black masses still being held in bondage by the white man. The Worcester, Massachusetts chapter elected, gasp, a gay black man to head the local committee. The Worcester president announced that this is "the new NAACP." Now I'm not ignoring the white man who was recently elected to head the Jackson State University Chapter, but, well, it's a college. When they graduate, they'll find that white men actually have no interest in the plight of black people. All white people are racists, even those who aren't consciously racist. It's a racial genetic defect from which all white people suffer.

What made the Worcester "breakthrough" interesting is that among the very few issues on which the black population is far to the right of the white population is gay issues. That got me thinking that the organization's near-unanimous support of all things Obama makes sense in more ways than one. Like Obama being out of tune with fundamental American values, the NAACP is out of tune with the majority of blacks. The formerly great organization has slipped into meaninglessness of late, and it has now proven that the agenda of the left trumps the agenda of the majority of the people it has sworn to protect.

I applaud the Worcester chapter for recognizing that a person's sexual preference has very little to do with civil rights and discrimination against blacks and other persons of color. But it also seems to me that they have bought into the left's grand strategy of equating past slavery and Jim Crow with the current nearly non-existent oppression of homosexuals de facto and the total non-existence of oppression of homosexuals de jure. Even legal discrimination (as opposed to oppression) has disappeared in nearly every jurisdiction except for the dubious "discrimination" against gay marriage. I simply can't see how the election of one gay man to a post at one chapter demonstrates how the NAACP has in any way returned to its original goal.

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Why Unions Are Bad

With all the union vitriol lately, I thought I would explain exactly what I despise about unions. Philosophically, I have no qualms with unions. America guarantees the freedom to associated (First Amendment) and we enforce contract rights. So if a group of employees bind together and demand a group contract and employers are willing to accept that, then so be it. The problem with unions is what they've become.

First, I have a serious problem with union protections being put into law. If employees want to bind together, I support that. But only if the employer also has the right to not contract with them. I cannot support federal law giving one side or the other the right to force their will upon the other. I do not believe in freedom for only one side.

Secondly, modern unions have long ago stopped being organizations that seek to protect “workers.” Instead, they’ve become corrupt bureaucracies whose sole purpose has become self-perpetuation. What’s more, these unions are intensely short-sighted. They really would rather see a company or industry fail and see jobs sent overseas than they would compromise in any meaningful way. That’s why clothing is no longer made in America and why American cars can’t compete.

Nor do they care about consumers or the products they make. That’s why union companies fail to innovate and their products are shoddy. As proof that unions don’t care about consumers, no matter who they are, let me present this quote from Albert Shanker, the former President of the United Federation of Teachers: “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I'll start representing the interests of school children.” That’s why our schools not only are falling behind, but cannot change.

Third, unions have become organizations of thugs. Witness the number of death threats their membership sent to Republican legislators in Wisconsin. This is unacceptable in America and the unions that encouraged these members need to be charged as racketeering organizations. Or consider that former SEIU executive Stephen Lerner was caught on tape discussing a plan to destroy banks and the stock market by trying to coordinate a “strike” on mortgage, student loans and local government debt repayment. His idea is to destabilize banks to “create the conditions necessary for a redistribution of wealth and a change in government.” Or consider the recent civil RICO lawsuit by Sodexo against the SEIU. The complaint alleges harassment of employees, threats of making false claims of wrongdoing, putting roaches into food served by Sodexo, and lying to hospital patients about Sodexo food containing bugs, rat droppings, mold and flies. These are not people who care about workers. They have become criminal enterprises that dabble in politics.

Finally, even when the unions aren’t misbehaving, their priorities are disgusting. Rather than protecting workers from abusive employers, they are protecting abusive perverts and criminals from justice. Consider what the New York Times just discovered. The Times conducted an investigation into state-run nursing homes in New York State. After examining 13,000 allegations of abuse by staff in 2009, including sexual abuse and violence against people with conditions like Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy, the Times found that only 5% were reported to law enforcement even though state law requires that each instance be reported.

Moreover, the Times reviewed 399 disciplinary actions take in 2008 against employees accused of serious neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse. It found that in each case, the allegations were proven true and in each case the worker had previously been disciplined at least once. And what happened to these people? In 25% of the cases involving physical, sexual or psychological abuse, the agency just transferred the worker to another home. The agency tried to terminate 129 of these employees, but only succeeded in firing 30 of them. The rest skated through to abuse again.

Why can’t these people be fired and their crimes reported? You guessed it: their union. The Civil Service Employees Association (their union) challenged EVERY attempt at discipline. Said union executive Ross D. Hanna:
“If they’re brought up on charges, we have an absolute duty to represent them. That’s our job. When we know the person is guilty, we try to convince the person to get out of it by resigning. But if the person decides to go forward, we have to do our best job.”
That's bull! Nowhere is there an obligation to protect someone the union knows to be guilty. And if there is, then the union is not legitimate.

This is why people have come to hate unions. They don’t care about workers and they don’t care about companies. They don’t care if companies die or jobs vanish. They don’t care about consumers or taxpayers. All they care about is redistribution of wealth in the country, bulking up their political power, and protecting the vilest creatures from getting what they deserve. How does that help anyone?

This is what’s wrong with unions. They served a purpose in the age of robber barons when workers were treated like expendable machines. But now they’ve become the robber barons themselves. It’s time for them to reform or die.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

UN Caves To Vicious Defamers of Islam

Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted its annual resolution concerning religious intolerance. But unlike the past resolutions, the Christian Crusaders and the perfidious Jews bullied the Council into producing a document that encourages tolerance but throws out all language concerning "defamation" of religion.

That's the first time that has happened since the halcyon days of the predecessor of the HRC, the Commission on Human Rights, first introduced defamation into the recipe back in 1999. For those twelve years, the Organization of the Islamic Conference had managed to get the two commissions to include language that encompassed both "defamation of religion" in general and Islam specifically. The only thing that remains of the former Islamic-leaning resolutions was wording that encourages nations to "adopt measures to criminalize incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief." That sounds amazingly like America's own "clear and present danger" test.

We can only hazard intelligent guesses as to why the Mad Muslims at the Geneva meeting lost control of the Council's agenda, but there are a few recent events that may have contributed to the change. Pakistan is at the forefront of the debate. Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws have resulted in the deaths and injuries of countless human beings, ranging from moderate Muslims to Christians, Jews and Buddhists. There was a particular emphasis on apostates. But the murder of two prominent Muslim opponents of the capital punishment provisions of Pakistan's blasphemy laws was a particular spur to reform on the Council. The mass murders and displacement of Christians in Ethiopia and Sudan haven't helped the Muslim cause either.

It appears that the support for defamation of religion resolutions in the General Assembly has eroded seriously. Since 2005, the General Assembly has adopted the Council's resolution without modification. But last year, the resolution was passed by a narrow margin of twelve votes. In 2007, the margin was 57 votes. All signs are that the General Assembly will adopt the new resolution verbatim. This would come after several years of dilution of the language of the ongoing resolutions. Each successive year, the number of references to Islam specifically have been decreased, while such neologisms such as Judeophobia and Christianophobia were added to the ever-present Islamophobia. But this resolution is a landmark in that all moral equivalencies are off the table, and no "phobias" of any kind are included.

Previous resolutions had conflated victim and perpetrator by using language that spoke of "discrimination against Muslim minorities following the events of September 11, 2001." Events? Did they mean the mass murder of 3,000 civilians of all races and creeds by Muslims flying planes into buildings? This time, the resolution is much more in line with the reality that blasphemy laws result in the deaths of political figures who are Muslims themselves. The murder of Pakistani Minorities Minister Shabhaz Bhatt and Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer seemed to put the Council over the top. Both were assassinated for their opposition to religious blasphemy penalties, and both assassinations were followed by massive celebrations of the murders among mainstream Muslims.

A prime mover in the initiative to end blasphemy laws, Human Rights First, summed it up nicely: "This resolution is an important shift away from efforts at the UN to create an international blasphemy code." Shehrbano Taseer, the daughter of the slain Punjab Province governor, spoke for Human Rights First at the Geneva hearings on the resolution. Taseer and the religious rights group contended that ". . . states need to do more to adopt measures to combat violence and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, as well as address religious hatred without restricting speech." That is a radical departure from the past, and the Council adopted both the words and the reasoning.

Human Rights First documented more than seventy cases in fifteen Muslim nations in which blasphemy penalties resulted in death sentences and/or lengthy prison terms and provoked attacks by murderous mobs. They were even able to cite a western example in that an Austrian writer was convicted of "denigrating the teachings of a legally-recognized religion." She had given lectures on jihad and the horrific treatment of women in Islamic lands, and said that today Mohammed would be considered a pedophile. As for the latter charge, she had merely cited a Koranic Hadith which itself stated that Mohammed consummated his marriage to his youngest wife when she was nine years old.

Giving the devil his due, President Barack Obama allowed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to praise the new resolution. She called the resolution "a landmark achievement which must be followed by sustained commitment." The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom stated more specifically that "tragically, it took the assassination of two prominent Pakistani officials who opposed the country's draconian blasphemy laws to convince the OIC that the annual defamation of religions resolutions embolden extremists rather than bolster religious harmony."

Before we start dancing in the streets over this, we need to be reminded that the heavily American-subsidized government of Pakistan immediately announced to its population that there will be no changes whatsoever to Pakistan's blasphemy and religious defamation laws. We await the State Department's statement on that issue.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bombing Libya? When were you gonna tell us?

The Obamas in Chile
Finally, President Obama has announced that he will address the nation about Libya this Monday. Better late than never. In the meantime, as we wait with baited breath for Our Dear Leader to speak to us, I have a question. Is it just me, or what?

For the past week we have been bombing Libya as part of a UN coalition of nations lead by France...yes, that France to presumably aid the rebel forces trying to oust Qaddafi. Now, maybe it's just me, but when the President of the United States commits our resources, military or otherwise, to send planes, pilots, and 2,200 members of the 26th Marine Expedition­ary Unit to bomb someplace, don't you think he should have the good grace to be sitting in the Oval Office when he signs the order? It is just unseemly to me that, as the Commander-In-Chief, he is committing the might of the American military while out of the country clinking glasses of wine (presumably a lovely Chilean red) at a State Dinner in South America. [See photo]

Am I the only one who thinks that the President of the United States should be in the Oval Office in Washington DC in the US of A when he makes these decisions? At the very least, he could be using a photo-shopped "Oval Office"*** to make a address. So, not only do we have a new war front, but our President has been out of the country, so we don't even know why, when, or for how long we will be doing this. Oh, the MSM insist it will be days, but the UN insists it will be months. I don't expect the President (any President) to tip his hand and tells us everything. BUT, after we started bombing, it would have been nice to know that the President respected the American people and the gravity of this new commitment enough that he would cut his trip short and hurry on back to American soil to let us know in person what the hell is going on!

Oh, one thing - expect to hear on Monday that this is not another war, it's a "kinetic military action". Somehow, that won't make me feel any better. How about you?

Oh, second thing - did you hear that Al Qaeda is fighting on the side of the Libyan rebels too?

***One would think they would have thought of that after the WH publicity office decided to use Air Force One to dive bomb the Statue of Liberty for a photo op in 2009.

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Putting The Fox In Charge Of The Henhouse

As if we don't have enough to worry about, reports coming out of Washington DC indicate that Jamie Gorelick (shown on the left, appropriately) is on the President's A List to be the next head of the FBI. Gorelick played a major role in keeping federal intelligence agencies from sharing information on terrorist activity prior to 9-11. At the 9-11 Commission hearings, she was unable to find any flaws in her career with the Clinton Justice Department's handling of potential terrorist attacks.

Gorelick's handling of interdepartmental/interagency cooperation on terrorist intelligence has become known as Gorelick's Wall. There is a strong belief among terrorism experts that Gorelick's Wall played a major role in allowing the 9-11 World Trade Center attack to proceed for lack of coordinated counter-terrorism efforts. She set strict "no contact" rules for the agencies investigating and following up on the 1993 World Trade Center attack. She also strictly interpreted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in place at the time to prevent intelligence officers from sharing information with the law enforcement agencies attempting to prosecute the Trade Center conspirators.

Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft testified at the 9-11 hearings that: "In 1995 the Justice Department, imposed a series of restrictions on the FBI that went well beyond what the law required. The single greatest structural cause for September 11 was the wall that segregated criminal investigators and intelligence agents. Government erected this wall, government buttressed this wall, and before September 11, government was blinded by this wall." Later, and not under oath, Gorelick responded in an op-ed in the Washington Post. She proclaimed: "I did not invent the wall, which is not a wall but a set of procedures implementing a 1978 statute and federal court decisions interpreting it."

True enough, Ms. Gorelick, as far as it goes. But Ashcroft did not accuse Gorelick of inventing the wall (he specifically said "government erected it"). Ashcroft clearly said that Gorelick didn't disobey the law--she tortured it. But in fairness to Gorelick and the Clinton Justice Department, Ashcroft didn't do anything much himself to make the wall more transparent during his tenure prior to 9-11. Nevertheless, Ashcroft has re-examined his lack of action prior to 9-11 and has found his agenda wanting. Gorelick, on the other hand, has continued to be entirely convinced she did everything exactly as she should have.

After setting up rigid rules preventing intelligence and criminal prosecution agencies from sharing information on terrorist activities in 1994 and 1995, Gorelick left the Justice Department in 1977 to become the "go-to guy" for Franklin Raines, the CEO of Fannie Mae. That's understandable. She didn't make $26 million in salary, bonuses and stock options at the Justice Department the way she did at Fannie Mae. In league with Raines and Congressman Barney Frank, she helped to create the machinery for subprime loans and government purchases of Fannie Mae bad debt which resulted in the economic crash which was the economic equivalent of the 9-11 attack. She learned her banking skills during her tenure as the Clinton budget director before moving over to Fannie Mae.

Intelligence incompetence and economic disaster-enabling deserve great reward. And the Wall Street Journal, among others, has reported that the post of FBI Director might very well be that reward. Talk about terror. The concept of an Eric Holder Justice Department working hand-in-glove and head-in-sand with a Jamie Gorelick FBI terrifies me.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Film Friday: The Spanish Prisoner (1997)

Can a movie be too intelligent? Not really. But it can try too hard to seem intelligent. That’s the case with The Spanish Prisoner. Written and directed by David Mamet, The Spanish Prisoner has many of the hallmarks of great films: intelligent plot, fascinating twists and turns, smart dialog, and an interesting atmosphere or mood. It also has staying power, as it’s on television all the time and I find myself drawn to it. I like this film a lot, but I can’t call it a great film because Mamet tries too hard to prove he's clever.

** spoiler alert **

Without spoiling too much, The Spanish Prisoner involves a confidence game. It centers around Joe Ross (Campbell Scott), an engineer who has invented a secret process that is about to make his company rich. As the story opens, we learn that Ross’s boss Mr. Klein (Ben Gazzara) is talking to wealthy investors about backing the company’s new invention. At the same time, Joe starts to realize that he has no protection should the company claim the invention and stiff him. His attempts to get such protection place him in an adversarial position vis-à-vis his company. While this is going on, Joe runs into a mysterious man named Jimmy Dell (Steve Martin). Dell is a wealthy man who befriends Joe and starts to advise him regarding the issues with his company. Beyond this set up, all I will say is that Joe soon finds himself way out of his league as various people around him may or may not be trying to manipulate him, and he has no idea who he can trust.

I really do enjoy this film, but it also disappoints me every time I watch it. What bothers me is not the story or the characters, but a dozen small moments in the film. And what each of these moments has in common is they try too hard to prove how smart the film is:
The Macguffin
Right out of the gates we’re presented with the Macguffin. This is a term coined by Alfred Hitchcock to mean the object/thing that drives the plot and motivates the characters' actions, i.e. what the characters want -- like a necklace in a robbery story or papers in a spy story. But there's an interesting aspect to the Macguffin, which is that it's also irrelevant what it actually is. In other words, the necklace could just as easily be a diamond, a work of art or a pile of money. This realization has led some of the more clever filmmakers to play around with the Macguffin. A perfect example of this comes from Pulp Fiction, where the characters are chasing a briefcase that shines gold when it opens. Despite this titillating clue, we never do find out what's inside the briefcase because Tarantino is intentionally teasing us, knowing that it doesn’t actually matter to the story.

Mamet tries the same thing here by never telling us what this formula is or how much it's worth. Unlike Pulp Fiction however, where this was a clever tease, here it feels more like showing off. For example, Mamet does things like blatantly turning the camera away from a blackboard as the dollar amount is written upon it. And he repeatedly finds ways to highlight that he’s not telling us what the formula is, such as when FBI Agent McClure (Felicity Huffman) makes a huge point of telling Ross not to tell her what the formula is. Once or twice would have been fine, but this quickly becomes like the annoying acquaintance who explains over and over how something they did was clever.
The Dialog
Next comes the dialog. Mamet is famous for his dialog, which is typically an intelligent noir style. Generally, his characters speak in sharp, abrupt, and yet complex sentences that leave important details unsaid and which say something larger about the characters no matter what topic they are discussing. Thus, in Ronin, every word uttered by Robert DeNiro tells us he is a man with vast experience and incredible skills. Mamet’s characters in Glengarry Glen Ross detail their failed lives as they beat around the bush about revenge they'll never take and disguise their real concerns in fake talk of insults to their dignity.

The Spanish Prisoner is different. The dialog used by these characters lacks the depth and vision of Mamet’s other characters. Other than the things they tell us specifically, we know nothing about these people. But that’s not the real problem. The real problem arises when Mamet tries to insert depth by having his characters utter cryptic sounding but entirely ridiculous quotes. “I put a thief in my mouth to steal my brain.” What does this mean? It means he's hung over. When Susan the secretary says “my troika was pursued by wolves,” what do you think she's referring to? Nothing, she's just delivering snacks. The script is littered with these lines. It’s like Mamet sat around coming up with cryptic lines and then dumped them into the dialog at random.

Indeed, with characters passing these kinds of quotes back and forth, none of the relationships seem real. In real life, the most common response to these kinds of lines would have been “huh” rather than the firing back of a counter line. This makes the whole story feel “acted.” And forget emotion because it’s hard to show anger or passion when you speak in sentences like: “beware of all ventures requiring new clothes.” Even characters like the FBI agents speak in riddles when more common word usage would be appropriate. In the end, this feels like Mamet is trying to show us how clever he can be at writing lines, but in the process he fails to write effective dialog.
Arrogant Casting
Finally, we come to the cast. Different issues drive casting. Money plays a big role, as does the desirability of the parts and the tastes of the director. In this instance, however, the casting feels arrogant. I say this because Mamet includes several actors who are playing against type, and it feels like Mamet did this just to prove that he could make it work. For example, Ed O’Neill (Married With Children) is called upon to play an FBI team leader, but he lacks the gravitas to escape his Al Bundy role. Rebecca Pidgeon is cast as Susan Ricci, the secretary/love interest/temptress, a role for which she is entirely unsuited. Felicity Huffman is similarly miscast as an FBI agent. A Japanese actress is cast to play a character with an unbelievable, ultra-heavy Texas accent for no apparent reason.

Steve Martin plays Jimmy Dell. Now, in truth, Martin is brilliant. Prior to this film, I viewed him as a rather poor actor who could only play the “put-upon guy.” Yet here he plays a suave and brilliant businessman, and he does it incredibly well. But his success doesn’t change the fact that like the others, he was cast in a role for which he appears unsuited. It was as if Mamet decided to cast inappropriate actors just to show he had the skill to pull this off. And the problem with this is that several of these people are jarring in the roles they play and that makes them difficult to believe, and I'm constantly left feeling that Mamet is basically telling me how great he is.


Let me stress that you should not read this review as a condemnation. I really like this film and I highly recommend it. But I feel the film artificially limits my ability to love it because of these entirely avoidable flaws. Had Mamet stopped telling me how intelligent he is, then this could have been a great movie. As it is, it’s a good movie which wasted its potential to become a great movie. In fact, it’s probably screaming out for a remake.

Check out the new film site -- CommentaramaFilms!

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ninth Circuit Reaches New Heights of Idiocy

You are looking at the grand corridor on the first floor of the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. When it was first opened as a replacement for the old Post Office, it was called by Sunset Magazine the most magnificent public building in America. But beauty is only skin deep. It is the most frequently reversed Court of Appeals in the country, with reversals totaling nearly as many as all the other Circuits combined.

Like a wounded pigeon arising from the ashes, the building was spared destructive damage in the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, and after reconstruction and remodeling as a courthouse, the building has become the preeminent whited sepulcher of the law in America. Bookies have stopped taking bets on Ninth Circuit rulings which will be overturned at the United States Supreme Court since everybody knows the odds of that occurring are extremely high.

The most recent dangerous nonsense came recently as part of a Ninth Circuit Social Engineers reversal of a conviction in the brutal rape and murder of a 72 year old woman in Sacramento. The reason for the reversal? Racism, what else? The vicious murderer is black, the victim was white, and the jury was [largely] white. But it isn't the obvious agenda of the liberal judges on the court that is noteworthy. It's the utterly crazed reasoning they used to reverse the trial court conviction.

You see, there were no facts at issue on appeal. Only the arcane lawyering of leftist lawyers and judicial stooges. All the evidence, including substantial DNA evidence, convicted career violent criminal Steven Frank Jackson. Since it was Jackson's third conviction of a violent felony, he was sentenced to 100 years to life in prison. Even the sentence wasn't appealed, only the conviction. And that was based solely on the racial makeup of the jury. Felkner v. Jackson, 10-797.

Once again, even that might have a slight ring of truth to it if it weren't for the arguments the lawyers used on appeal. Here's the Alice-in-Wonderland reasoning. The District Attorney had three black people in the jury panel. Of the three, he challenged two, but allowed the third to be seated. The prosecutor dismissed one of the black potential jurors after he answered that he had experienced repeated police harassment over his lifetime. Aha, that must be it! Well, no. The juror that the prosecutor accepted answered the same question the same way. I should mention that the defendant's appellate lawyers had no serious problem with the prosecutor dismissing the third black person, a woman with a degree in social work. However, she was brought up in the appeal because it turned out that the prosecutor was in error since he always dismisses social workers and it turned out the prospective juror was not a social worker, though she does hold the degree.

For sane people with normal reasoning ability, the fact that one black man was dismissed and another with almost identical qualifications and responses was agreeable to the prosecution would be sufficient to dispel any concept that the dismissal was based on race and hostility toward the police. Not in the wonderful world of the Ninth Circuit. The court stated that the record reflected "different treatment of similarly situated individuals." Huh? If you think that's an unreasonable stretch of illogic, you need to know how the court explained it. Oh, wait, the court didn't explain it. What it did was throw a legal non sequitur into the ring, then based its decision on it. The statement is correct, but what the hell does it explain? Nothing. Why would it be grounds for a reversal? Who knows?

The United States Supreme Court reviewed the case. It found multiple fatal errors in the Ninth Circuit's ruling. But it summed up the Ninth Circuit's ruling in one quick word--"inexplicable." That was far too kind. In the body of the unanimous reversal of the Ninth Circuit and reinstatement of the lower court rulings, the high court held that the trial judge found that the prosecutor had very adequately explained his reasons for accepting or dismissing jurors, and that both the California Court of Appeal and the state Supreme Court had found no error. The unanimous decision means that even wise Latina Sotomayor and senile Ginsburg couldn't find anything wrong with the state's case.

The high court made it clear that it did not appreciate federal courts taking jurisdiction of state cases where there were already clear findings on constitutional issues. It also indicated its distaste for the imperial federal judiciary making up nonsensical rules ad hoc by holding that: "There was simply no basis for the Ninth Circuit to reach the opposite conclusion [from the state courts], particularly in such a dismissive manner (emphasis added). And if that doesn't grab your attention, remember that Barack Obama's nominees for the Ninth Circuit bench are to the left of the current court.
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Jamie Gorelick?! Is Obama Kidding?

The latest rumor has Obama looking at appointing Jamie Gorelick to be the next director of the FBI. Good grief. This pick should bother everyone. Gorelick’s career has been an unending series of conflicts of interest, abuses of power, and questionable decisions. Let’s look at the highlights of Gorelick’s reign of error.
1. Gorelick's Wall of Silence
Between 1994 and 1997, Gorelick was Clinton’s Deputy Attorney General, the number two position at the Justice Department. In 1995, Gorelick wrote a memo outlining what would become known as “Gorelick’s Wall.” This memo interpreted court decisions on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and recommended a set of restrictions on the ability of criminal investigative organizations, like the FBI, to share information with intelligence agencies, like the CIA. Gorelick’s Wall prevented intelligence agencies from accessing the computer of Zacarias Moussaoui, a computer which could well have led to the discovery of 9/11 before it happened.

But wait, says Gorelick in an editorial, the 9/11 Commission found that this wall already existed under Reagan and Bush I, and it never found this wall to be that big of a deal. What Gorelick fails to mention, however, is that she was on the 9/11 Commission AND that she never disclosed her 1995 memo to her fellow Commissioners.

This is not only an incredible conflict of interest that never should have been allowed, but it shows exactly why such conflicts must be avoided. By accepting the position on the 9/11 Commission, Gorelick essentially placed herself in the position of investigating herself. The fact she ignored such an obvious conflict of interest speaks poorly of her judgment. Moreover, her failure to disclosed this key memo to the Commission makes any conclusion they reached on this issue meaningless.

Further, Gorelick tries to defend herself by blaming Reagan and Bush for creating the policy, even though she is the one who provided the new interpretation. Then she tries to blame Janet Reno by claiming that her memo was less restrictive than what Reno ultimately put out (an argument which contradicts her attempts to blame Reagan or Bush). Also, she attacks her critics as “partisans” and blames “public rancor” for the allegations against her, which is an evasive tactic.

This incident is an ethical disgrace, and it calls into question whether she can put the interests of the FBI and the nation above her own self-interest.
2. Gorelick Champions Governments’ Right To Know
Also while serving as Clinton’s Deputy Attorney General, Gorelick tried to give the government control over the internet. Arguing that the internet was “transmitting child pornography into our homes,” that terrorists could use the internet to communicate, and that the internet could allow hackers to “shut down the banking system,” Gorelick fought for a ban on the domestic use of strong encryption and tried to force companies to put their encryption codes into escrow so the government could get at them. This is evidence of a mind that cares little for civil liberties and Constitutional rights.

(FYI, internet expert Gorelick didn’t even know her own e-mail address at the time.)
3. Fannie Mae Pay Day
Moving on from the Justice Department, Gorelick took a job as the Vice Chairman of Fannie Mae between 1997 and 2003. Guess what Fannie Mae started doing while Gorelick was there? Yep: bundling subprime loans into securities. . . the same securities that blew up the world economy in 2008. In March of 2002, Gorelick defended this practice in an interviewed with Business Week: “We believe we are managed safely. . . . Fannie Mae is among the handful of top-quality institutions.” She was paid $26,466,834 during her time at Fannie Mae. We would pay $338 billion to bail them out (and take on $5 trillion in loan guarantees).

Moreover, during this period, a $9 billion accounting scandal arose at Fannie Mae. According to the Director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, false signatures were used by Fannie Mae to shift expenses into the future and wrongly increase profits. During 1998, these false profits triggered $27.1 million in bonuses to a handful of Fannie Mae executives, including Gorelick, who received $779,625 of that.

This scandal eventually resulted in $9 billion in profits being removed from Fannie Mae’s books. And while there is no direct proof of Gorelick’s involvement, let me point out that direct proof was not considered necessary in scandals like Enron or under Sarbanes-Oxley, where executives are considered responsible for the actions that occur under their watch. Further, her senior position and the unwillingness/inability of Fannie Mae to investigate who faked these signatures or who was aware of what, call into question her role, especially as she apparently made no attempt to expose this issue.
4. Railroading White Kids At Duke
Following her departure from Fannie Mae, Gorelick returned to a big DC law firm. In 2006, she joined the defense team that represented Duke University in the 2006 Duke University lacrosse case. This was the incident where Duke railroaded 47 Duke University students on flimsy and contradictory rape allegations by a stripper with a history of mental problems, who actually identified people who were not present as the rapists, who then confessed to a friend that she was lying to get money from the “white boys,” and who later tried to set fire to her live-in boyfriend. Despite this, Gorelick’s client suspended the entire lacrosse team, took no action to stop threats made against the players, their families and the team’s coach, and sent out e-mails stoking racial tensions.
5. International Peace Through Superior Firepower
Gorelick now serves on the board of directors of United Technologies Corporation, a defense contractor with $5 billion in defense contracts, while also serving on the board of directors of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, organizations dedicated to (leftist) international peace. Do you see any conflict there?
6. Student Loan Lobbyist
Finally, Gorelick is currently a lobbyist for the lending industry fighting student loan reform. Remember the whole “no lobbyist” thing from Obama? No? Well, neither does Obama apparently. Oh, and she represents BP.

Gorelick has shown a lack of judgment when it comes to conflicts of interest, a penchant for passing blame to others, questionable business ethics, and an utter indifference to the rights of individuals. This is not someone who should be running the FBI.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Good and Bad PSAs...

The idea behind PSAs is to get people to change their behavior. Classic examples of successful PSAs include the crying Indian who got us to stop littering and the “this is your brain on drugs” spot that significantly reduced drug use among the young. But most PSAs fail miserably. Why? In a word, liberalism.

What successful PSAs all have in common is they are promoting ideas we already believe. For example, we know drugs are harmful to our brains, our bodies and our lives. Five minutes with any stoner or methhead will confirm that. So when the PSA told us drugs will mess you up, it confirmed something we already knew and helped to offset the cultural peer pressure that said “drugs are cool.” The Indian ad did the same thing. We knew littering was wrong because it’s disrespectful to other people’s property. That ad reminded us that our littering was not a victimless crime, and it reminded us that just because other people did it didn’t make it right.

Liberal PSAs, however, don’t do this, because their goal is not to reawaken an idea you already believe, but is instead to jam a new idea into your head. But that doesn’t work.

Take for example, the latest PSAs about bullying. They are infuriating. For starters, these ads make use of the liberal racist rainbow, meaning they make sure to include all the right races in the right proportions and with each race playing the “right” role. Right here, these PSAs lose a lot of whites, who will object to being told that all bullies are white. And if you think this is being overly-sensitive, then let me suggest that we make all the bullies into black lesbians and let’s see who objects. Next, they try to sell the idea that being a bully “feels bad.” Oh, so now I’m stupid? Seriously, show me a bully who isn’t getting a kick out of feeling powerful. . . that’s what it’s all about. Finally, despite the fact that the only solution to bullying is to fight back, they tell us to fight bullying by running like a whiny baby to someone in authority. That person will then happily run to the scene and fix everything. Except we’ve all dealt with this in school and we know what really happens. IF you find a teacher and IF they come with you, they will see nothing by the time they get there. Good thinking idiots!

So what you have here is an ad that will offend whites (and will reinforce the victimization theology being beaten into minority kids), which misdiagnoses the problem of bullying, and which gives you a “solution” that every kid on the planet knows won’t work. You’d have to be a fool to think these ads will resonate with kids. The only people this will resonate with are adult liberals.

It’s the same with all the other liberal PSAs of the past. I remember a PSA in the 1970s in which Batgirl demanded equal pay to what Batman got (think ERA). Only Batman never got paid, so I knew right there not to respect anyone who made that ad or to listen to anything they said. Moreover, Batgirl was a useless extra. At best, she was in Robin’s league, not Batman’s. So not only was the whole concept stupid, but it was wildly off the mark in terms of equity. Thus, I knew right there at the tender age of 8 or 9 that this whole ERA thing was bullsh~t and to be very careful of the liars who were pushing it. Ditto on the PSA telling me the kid in the wheelchair would be great at basketball, or telling me to save the polar bear by narc-ing on my parents’ excessive use of electricity. The presentation of nonsensical propaganda will never be effective except to the people who are already true believers.

That bring us to the Foundation for a Better Life (FBL), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The FBL has been running private PSAs that I think are actually pretty effective. They are responsible for the ad with the kid who chases the bus to return a woman’s purse, the girl who welcomes the new kid, the basketball player who admits to fouling even though the referee didn’t see it, and the guy who helps the old woman get something from the top shelf in the grocery store.

I think these are effective because they involved values that we all recognize as good values. These are things each of us believes to be right already, even though we may not act on our beliefs. Moreover, the way these ads are presented is key. For example, unlike the liberal utopia PSAs where you are told to act because “you have an obligation,” these ads take a different approach. In each instance, the do-gooder gets a moment of flack or suspicion before people realize that they have done the right thing. After that, they get the one thing liberals can never promise you: respect.

In other words, these ads are telling you that if you do the right thing, you will earn the respect of those around you. That’s a truly powerful motivator. And that’s why I think these ads will resonate.

Agree? Disagree?

** To my knowledge FBL is not associated with any religious or political organization. If I am wrong, please let me know.

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Liberals Savaging Liberals

I’ve been reading an interesting series of posts at a blog belonging to a liberal named Lee Stranahan. He bills himself as a writer and a filmmaker, is regularly featured at Huffpo, and now has worked with Andrew Breitbart. I’d never heard of him until someone mentioned us in his comments and that got back to us, but what makes these posts so interesting is that Stranahan has recently discovered that liberals aren’t that tolerant of dissent. Surprise!

His first experience with liberal intolerance began when he suggested at the DailyKos that John Edwards may indeed have had an affairs as the National Enquirer was then saying. This resulted in him being banned by DailyKos, something which continues today, and he received a vicious verbal beating from his former brethren. Here's a sample:
“Mr. Stranahan, you seem to be clueless, dimwitted and, apparently, stupid. . . So, my dear idiot friend, Mr. Stranahan, please, I implore you, go and crawl back into whatever foul putrid pit of a hole that you and your Republican Minion Trolls were spawned from.”
Can you feel the love?

More recently, he’s been blasted for working with Andrew Breitbart on the Pigford fraud scandal -- a situation where a large group of blacks are pretending to be farmers so they can claim they were discriminated against and thereby share in a settlement with the Department of Agriculture. Breitbart’s interest is exposing the black racism and the fraud going on. Stranahan says his interest is keeping as much money as possible for the actual victims, rather than the fraudsters. That’s fair. Yet, he soon found himself attacked for working with Breitbart. Here’s a tweet: “Listen douche. I don’t care what you think about anything. You’re a whore and a traitor. Just piss off, weasel.”

All of this opened his eyes. And now he’s discovered that leftist bloggers willingly spread false stories to attack Republicans. Imagine that! This story involves attempts by Minnesota Republicans to prevent people from taking more than $20 in cash off welfare credit cards each month, i.e. to stop them from using these as cash cards. Simple enough. Yet, a leftist blogger turned this into the following:
“Minnesota Republicans are pushing legislation that would make it a crime for people on public assistance to have more than $20 in cash in their pockets any given month.”
That’s a total lie and is not even close to a reasonable interpretation of the law. But that didn’t stop other leftist bloggers from running with this: “GOP wants it to be illegal to carry cash if you’re poor” and “[GOP] make it a crime for poor to have more than $20.” Stranahan says he found hundreds of leftist blogs repeating this -- the only blog that accurately portrayed the law belonged to a conservative.

Having decided that lying was bad for their side, Stranahan notified one of the blogs belonging to a woman he’d known for years. He expected she would retract the story. She didn’t. Instead, she trashed Stranahan.

Now, he’s found leftists telling everyone to block him for asking whether the unemployed really should be getting 99 weeks of unemployment.

All of this has shocked Stranahan. He is shocked that people he assumed were his friends could turn on him so nastily and so quickly. He’s even more shocked that the reason they turned on him wasn’t that he no longer believes in liberalism, but that he had the nerve to express doubts on a couple minor points. But what’s shocked him the most is that leftists would continue to spread lies when they know them to be lies.

Of course, none of this surprises us. We’ve all experienced this ad nauseum by now. In my experience, and those of most conservatives with whom I’ve spoken, the vast majority of liberals love to describe themselves as loving, caring, open-minded people, but are anything but. They don’t allow even the slightest hints of dissent. They shout down their opponents rather than debate them. They use racist, sexist and homophobic attacks freely. They condone violence, threats and death threats, so long as they believe in the cause. They lie. They deny the truth. And when it becomes impossible to lie or deny, they shift blame. Indeed, they excel at seeing themselves as victims in every instance. They even blacklist conservatives in professional ranks. What’s more, the behavior of leftist in the past decade has reached such a psychopathic level of rage that I have to assume there is a great deal of insanity in their ranks.

This isn’t a group that is going to like anyone asking inconvenient questions. So it surprises me that Stranahan is shocked by the response he got.

Now, to be fair, there are conservatives like this. But here’s the difference. As a conservative, when I go to a liberal blog and start posting, I will be savagely attacked by almost everyone at that site. I will be called a monster, a criminal, a fascist, a racist and/or a hater. My motives will be impugned. And I will be told that my views don’t matter and that I shouldn’t be allowed to speak them.

By comparison, when I’ve seen liberals come to conservative blogs (excluding trolls of course), they are generally allowed to speak their minds and many of the regulars will try to engage them in discussions. Are there conservatives who will unfairly attack them? Sure, but we’re talking about a small percentage of conservatives, maybe 10%-15%. At liberal sites, it’s close to 80%-90% who will do the attacking. Thus, I see the current poisonous state of our national discourse as the fault of liberals, as it’s virtually impossible to engage them in conversation, whereas most conservatives are willing to debate.

Stranahan sounds like a “good” liberal, in the sense that he sounds thoughtful and has shown himself willing to question sacred cows. If more liberals were like that, then our politics wouldn’t be nearly as poisonous as it has become. Let’s hope that his asking these questions might convince other liberals that it’s time to stop hating those who disagree with them and to treat those who dissent with dignity and respect.

In the meantime, let me congratulate Stranahan for taking the red pill.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mainstream Media Are The Fifth Column

Two weeks ago, Brandon Darby filed a defamation suit against the New York Times for "reporting" that he was an agent provocateur for the FBI who enticed two innocent leftists into planning and attempting to execute a firebombing at the Republican national convention in Minnesota in 2008. Shortly thereafter, the Times printed a half-hearted retraction.

The Times had originally reported that Darby "encouraged" the conspiracy. The Times knew or should have known that this was a patently false statement. The least bit of research shows that Darby did no such thing. The trial judge had made a specific finding that Darby was innocent of any wrongdoing, as well as finding that one of the terrorists admitted that he had lied about Darby's alleged complicity. For that, the terrorist got extra time added to his sentence. The only complicity involved here was that of the Times, multiple MSM outlets, and a truly obnoxious George Soros-funded propaganda film entitled "Better This World."

It is a given that the Times and its fellow-travelers will ruthlessly lie, defame, and crucify conservative investigators and documentarians (e.g. the ACORN exposes and now the Planned Parenthood revelations). But there is another side to the leftist Fifth Columnists. The only thing they hate more than conservative revelations of their nefarious agenda is when one of their own dares to put America and American lives ahead of leftist loyalty. You see, Brandon Darby is no conservative. He is very much a self-styled radical. But when he discovered some of his fellow leftists plotting to kill Americans on American soil, he went to the FBI and told them the whole story, warts and all.

There is a reason why leftists and Islamofascists get along so well. Both want death for apostates. This is not something new. As far back as the McCarthy era, the left saved its greatest vitriol for the "innocent victims" of the "witch hunt" rather than for the communist traitors who were exposed for supporting the overthrow of the government by force and violence. The very real traitors were found at every level, including at the highest levels of the State Department. Today, there are still MSM deniers of the guilt of the Rosenbergs and Assistant Secretary of State Alger Hiss. They continue to vilify former leftist Whittaker Chambers who helped to expose communist infiltration of the federal government, despite the fact that the Venona Transcripts of the KGB after the fall of the Soviet Union proved him right, once and for all.

You see, it is a far greater sin to snitch on your fellow leftists than it is to commit mass murder in the name of bringing America down. That is the mentality of street gangs, Hollywood pinky-finger propagandists, communists, and the New York Times and company. So the story the Times and their friends wanted the public to hear was that "peaceful demonstrators" were outed by a traitor within their midst. Darby was merely an FBI stooge who helped the feds suppress simple protest. A firebombing? A simple protest?

However wrong-headed his political views, Darby loves his country and eschews violence as a means to bring about change. He wrestled with his conscience (something most leftists are lacking), and grudgingly but wholly truthfully informed on the wannabe terrorists. Yet "Better This World" depicts Darby as a Svengali who brainwashed two ordinary social engineers into becoming potential mass murderers. The terrorists were railroaded for their beliefs while a cowardly traitor walked away scot-free.

Darby was pretty stoic about the personal attack on him until "Better This World" premiered in his home town of Austin, Texas to rave reviews from the local newspapers, The Hollywood Reporter, and of course, the New York Times. To add insult to injury, the Times embellished the review with its phony report on Darby. At the same time, Eric Kohn at IndieWire claimed that "Darby gets to play the righteous man while his 'recruits' face as much as thirty years behind bars. He 'radicalized' the two protesters, then entrapped them." Kohn's biggest complaint about Darby is that he is "traitorous." Get it? Traitor to America, good. Traitor to the Left, bad.

Kohn and the Times both defended the terrorists by painting Darby as a "back-stabber" who should have given the erstwhile firebombers time to reconsider their actions and "do the right thing" by abandoning the murderous plot. Instead, the traitor Darby got the FBI to stop the plot. Boo! Apostate! Traitor! Collaborator! Coward! The leftists writers actually have the chutzpah to claim that McKay and Crowder (the terrorists) were deprived by Darby of "their opportunity to find the right outlet to express an authentic sentiment."

And what outlet might that be? A dirty nuke? A biochemical launch? A few tons of TNT? I'm getting the impression that the greatest sin the Times can find on the part of the wannabe terrorists is that firebombing isn't sufficiently efficacious.
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Is Obama Right On Nuclear Plant Locations?

I don’t often agree with Obama, but it does happen. And right now, I agree with something he’s done. On Sunday, Obama’s Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that, in response to the nuclear crisis in Japan, the US would start giving “population” much more weight when deciding where to build nuclear power plants. In other words, they’re going to start putting these plants away from large population centers. It’s about time.

I am not opposed to nuclear energy. I do not fall for leftist arguments, which are based on emotion rather than science and which mistake possibility for probability and demand perfection when no such thing is possible. But I also don’t fall for industry propaganda, which tries to pretend that a nuclear plant is no more dangerous than an old tractor sitting in some field.

The truth is that nuclear power plants are fairly safe, but they are not entirely safe. Indeed, there have been 33 serious accidents at nuclear plants since 1952 (with another 39 military accidents) and there are any number of things that can go wrong. And more importantly, when these accidents do happen, they have the potential to do serious, serious harm. Not only can they kill large amounts of people and make many more significantly ill, but they can make large chunks of land uninhabitable. Chernobyl, for example, resulted in an 1,100 square mile exclusion zone.

Thus, when thinking about building a nuclear plant, the first question we should be asking is: where can we put it that it doesn’t cause a major catastrophe if something goes wrong? This is simple common sense. When you store a can of gasoline, you don’t store it under your bed or next to your fireplace. You put it somewhere safe. You don’t build a house underneath a hanging boulder and you don’t put a school next to a toxic dump. It’s just common sense to account for potential dangers when building something.

Yet, for whatever reason (read: heavy lobbying), we have never thought about this when building nuclear plants. Indian Point power plant, for example, is only 40 miles from New York City, and 21 million people live within 50 miles of the plant. Imagine the cost if something went wrong! Not only could you be dealing with millions of sick people, but even if they all got out, you still could be looking at abandoning New York City in its entirety! And I’m not talking about evacuating until the danger passes, I’m talking about abandoning the city. What kind of criminally negligent fool thought this was a good place to put that plant?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t build plants. To the extent these plants make economic sense, without subsidies, I’m all for them. But that doesn’t mean we have to be stupid about where we place them. Here’s why.

Have you ever wondered how cities, states and countries are able to sell each other electricity? It’s because the transmission of electricity is highly efficient -- even given our outdated and poorly constructed electric infrastructure. According to electrical industry groups, the power loss resulting from transporting electricity 1,000 miles is only 8.71%. To transport electricity 2,000 miles results in a loss of around 17%. (Apparently, 2-3% is normal even for local transport.)

So how far is 1,000 miles? Well, St. Louis to Washington, D.C. is only 878 miles. New York City to Miami is only 1090 miles. Even New York City to Los Angeles is only 2,462. That means you can put reactors almost anywhere in the country and service most of the country with less than 10% loss in energy.

So why haven’t we done this? Well, it would increase the costs of electricity! True, but doesn’t it make more sense to pay 10% more for electricity than it does to run the risk that some disaster could eliminate a major metropolitan center?

Building any of these plants in or near a large population center is shortsightedness at its worst. Put them in the middle of deserts or on the far reaches of the coast. Don’t be stupid.

Thus, I have to congratulate President Obama for making the right decision here. I’m glad someone finally decided to use a little common sense.

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