The Patriot Post Digest
“Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.” –James Madison
Government & Politics
AOL’s next target for acquisition: The Patriot Post
On the heels of AOL’s $315 million purchase of the Leftist news and opinion site The Huffington Post, AOL Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong’s board of directors has authorized him to offer $425 million for The Patriot Post.
Armstrong notes, “With our traffic dropping like a polished stone and major losses at our media properties, we believe that the acquisition of both The Huffington Post and The Patriot Post will provide us with the ability to control the Internet’s giants on both ends of the spectrum of public opinion in the U.S. market. This will be good for AOL and good for ‘the fundamental transformation of the United States of America’.”
Much Nothing About Ado
We didn’t think it possible for a president to present a nationally televised speech on a “kinetic military action” for roughly half an hour and say virtually nothing, but we were wrong. Late to decide on a course of action at all, Barack Obama’s address to America on his nine-day-old decision to impose a no-fly zone over Libya was likewise late-to-need. The empty prattle had no substance so the speech would have been equally effective had Mr. Nobel-Peace-Prize-Winner given it on the same day he ordered all those “peaceful” bombs to rain down on Libyan heads.
Timely or not, we still would have liked to hear several statements that weren’t included in the president’s used-car pitch. Among these was an explanation for why the president didn’t ask Congress for approval before giving the go-ahead order to bomb Libya — a nation posing no imminent danger to the U.S. It also would have been nice to hear exactly what America’s vital national interests are in Libya. If the answer — as some left-pundits have posited — is, “It’s the oil, stupid,” then let’s hear that from the president.
Instead, Obama declared, “Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act.” He took “time-limited, scope-limited” military action over “values“? Truly progressive.
In 2002, Obama had this to say about interests and values: “Saddam Hussein is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. [He has] developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He’s a bad guy. But Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors. I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by … armchair, weekend warriors … to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.” The weekend warrior now in the White House had and still has it exactly backwards.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated this week that Libya was neither an actual or imminent threat to the U.S. nor is intervention vital to our national interests. We would also like to have heard why Obama waited for UN permission to intervene — America is supposed to receive its marching orders from the U.S. Constitution and the people through their elected representatives, not from the UN.
Also high up on our list was a discussion of what our military objectives are and how we will know when we have achieved them, let alone a “way forward.” Closely related is the question of precisely what is the “reduced role” that America will supposedly assume over the course of the next few weeks, and who will pick up the slack when that role “reduces” — the so-called “international community” of which Obama spoke? (Good luck with that!)
We suppose we shouldn’t care that the role of the rebels was also not mentioned, or that Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, praised the al-Qa’ida element of his rebel forces — those who took up arms against coalition troops in Iraq — as “good Muslims [who] are fighting against the invader.” Earlier this month, al-Qa’ida made a plea for support for the rebellion, claiming it would lead to “the stage of Islam,” which in al-Qa’ida terminology means jihadism. We also note that it was the sharing of intelligence against Libyan jihadis including al-Qa’ida that led the Bush administration to take Moammar Gadhafi and Libya off the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Thus, Gadhafi was correct to claim that the “rebels are al-Qa’ida” — indeed, a 2007 West Point study found that Libya constituted one of the largest per-capita contributions to the insurgency in Iraq. Team Hope-&-Change knew, or should have known, that Gadhafi’s claim was true.
We likewise should mention that by “no fly zone” the White House really means pretty much every military action that doesn’t include boots on the ground. Contrary to the Obama’s potpourri-scented assertions otherwise, we actually are supporting the rebels and aren’t neutral in Libya’s civil war. Make that were supporting. The Pentagon announced Thursday its intent to pull U.S. planes out of the air campaign after Saturday.
Finally, with similar unrest and open civil strife in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and who-knows-what other Middle East nations on the precipice of the same, shouldn’t we be asking whether it’s a wise decision to tack an interventionist course? Even as we go to press, the announced timeline that has been modified from “days” to “a few weeks” is now, in Gates’s words, likely “several months.” This intervention in Libya has become such an ado; so far, we have heard nothing cogent from the president about it.
News From the Swamp: Budget Theater, Act 17
The threat of a(nother) government shutdown, albeit only a partial one, looms once again when the latest continuing resolution expires on April 8. Much of the time gained by the latest stopgap bill was wasted by Democrats looking to blame Republicans for cuts that are supposedly too deep. If cutting $61 billion out of a $3.7 trillion budget is “extreme,” imagine what “reasonable” must look like to the whiny Democrats. There have been rumors of a “deal” to cut $33 billion, though the Republican leadership rejected that notion. “There is no deal,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said. “Yes, there’s a lot of talk about some number being out there. That number is not the $61 billion we’re looking for.”
The leftists and their public relations team in the mainstream media have also blown a lot of hot air speculating about the impending disaster of a government shutdown and how it will be the fault of Republicans when it happens. The fact that we wouldn’t be in this particular mess right now if Democrats had bothered to pass a budget last year is lost on them.
House Republicans passed a budget in January, but they have yet to meet with Senate counterparts to negotiate a final spending package to carry the federal government through the rest of the fiscal year. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has instead spent his time accusing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) of being a prisoner of the Tea Party. Schumer was also recently caught telling other Senate Democrats to portray the Republicans as “extreme” whenever talking to the media so as to blame them for any shutdown. “I always use the word extreme,” Schumer told his fellow spendthrifts. “That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”
That sums up the entire Democrat strategy for budget negotiations: Don’t negotiate in good faith; just focus on the PR war and smear the Republicans. The GOP should turn it around: Extreme spending requires extreme cuts.
The real budget battle — the one over the 2012 budget — has yet to begin. Cutting billions of dollars now is important, but dealing with trillions of dollars takes precedence. We’d like to hope Republicans are ready to win the fight, but if past is prologue, then we’re not holding our breath.
This Week’s ‘Alpha Jackass’ Award
“I’m tired of reading the Constitution and all the silly things we’ve done for the last 13 weeks.” –Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)
See the video and comment here.
State of Wisconsin Stops Collecting Union Dues, Despite Judge’s Order
The battle between Big Labor and Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker has, as expected, moved from the streets of Madison and halls of the state Capitol to the courtroom. The non-partisan Wisconsin’s Legislative Reference Bureau published the recently passed law eliminating collective bargaining for public employees, a move that some deemed to put the law into effect. However, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi renewed her injunction against enforcement and declared that the law “has not been published.”
At question is whether the law needs to be placed into effect by order of Wisconsin’s Democrat Secretary of State Doug LaFollette. Sumi’s original ruling kept him from acting on the bill but was silent on whether the Legislative Reference Bureau could publish it, so the latter went ahead and did so. They contend that state law forced them to publish the new law, even if LaFollette didn’t provide a publication date.
Meanwhile, the state halted the collection of union dues in public employees’ paychecks and enacted the pension contribution increase prescribed by the law. Local governments such as the cities of Madison and Milwaukee and Milwaukee County are waiting for the courts to sort out the law before making changes.
Moreover, unions and their Democrat allies could be stalling on the bill as they await the results of an April 5 election that may change the balance in the state’s Supreme Court. A win by the pro-labor candidate would almost surely bring a halt, via judicial fiat, to Walker’s reforms.
From the Non Compos Mentis File: Biden Takes a Hostage
An Orlando fundraiser for Democrats isn’t all that unusual, even if it features Sen. Bill Nelson and Vice President Joe Biden. At $500 a plate for the lunch, this sort of event is well attended among the upper crust — at least those who still have that sort of money to spare. What makes this one different, though, is that they kept a guest in the closet. That guest was Scott Powers, a pool reporter for the Orlando Sentinel. “Sounds like a nice party,” he Tweeted from inside the storage room where he was kept waiting for 90 minutes before Biden and Nelson showed up to speak. After their 35 minutes of remarks, Powers was again ushered into lockdown in the event’s “hold room.”
According to a statement released by Biden’s office, a print pool reporter is allowed at fundraisers to cover remarks made by the speakers and allotted a hold room to wait for their arrival. Normally, they claimed, the hold room isn’t a closet. They blamed an “inexperienced staffer” for the error. While both Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander and homeowner Alan Ginsburg apologized to Powers after the fact, a picture of the not-so-fancy digs made it to the Sentinel the next day.
Preventing Powers from mingling among those in attendance prior to the remarks of Biden and Nelson leaves us wondering what he could have found out about the patrons writing the checks — and the size of the checks — for Barack Obama’s re-election effort. Maybe that’s the real reason for the lack of transparency.
Speaking of transparency, Barack Obama seems to be progressing toward making his the most open and transparent administration since — well, never mind. The president met this week with Gary Bass of OMB Watch, Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive, Danielle Brian of the Project on Government Oversight, Lucy Dalglish of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and Patrice McDermott of OpenTheGovernment.org to receive an award recognizing his steps toward transparency. How odd, then, that the meeting was held behind closed doors with no press access. It wasn’t even on his public schedule. Steve Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, likened the award to Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize — indicative of the “hope” people place in him, not in any actual accomplishments. We’re beginning to sense a theme.
Department of Tortured Explanations: Clinton Describes Syria
In a sham move worthy of old Joe Stalin, the Syrian “cabinet” resigned en masse on Tuesday as Bashar al-Assad tried to get in front of the protests that have spread from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya, and now to Syria. Assad also kicked several hundred political prisoners out of jail, one of the most tried-and-true gambits for dictators looking to appear benevolent. Meanwhile, the Syrian secret police went right on about their business of cracking heads and instilling fear, trying to keep the population from getting too excited over Assad’s “concessions.”
Reasonable people have asked how Libya qualifies for a NATO-imposed no-fly zone and air strikes to neuter the Libyan military, but Syria is somehow different. Don’t the Syrians want exactly the same relief from a murderous, tyrannical government that the Libyans want? Isn’t the regime using deadly force against civilians? What happened to the “interests and values” about which Obama so sanctimoniously opined?
Granted, Bashar al-Assad has not publicly promised to go door to door exacting revenge against anyone who rises against him, but could anyone be naive enough to believe such retribution wouldn’t be meted out after what it brought down from Moammar Gadhafi? After all, Syria is a charter member of the State Sponsors of Terror list, predating even Iran in that designation.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had begun to look positively presidential in recent weeks compared to her boss, on Sunday made the jaw-droppingly foolish statement that she viewed Bashar al-Assad as a “reformer.” We suppose that, with a secretary who’s a Clinton, it depends on the meaning of the word “reform.” She later walked back her claim saying she wasn’t “speaking either for myself or the administration.” That fits right in with the incoherence and utter lack of strategic vision that plagues the administration. Hope ‘n’ Change, y’all.
Immigration Front: ‘We Want Them to Succeed’
Typical of his smug distain for middle- and working-class Americans, law and business, our fearful leader told a “town hall” meeting on Spanish language Univision that he doesn’t want to deport illegal aliens. Rather, he said, “we want them to succeed,” referring to illegals who are “doing all the right things.” Clearly, “the right thing” includes breaking into the country and robbing Americans of their jobs, taxes and right to incorruptible law enforcement.
Under Janet Napolitano’s leadership of the Department of Homeland Security, the administration has quietly switched its approach on immigration from deportation to workplace “silent audits” in which the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement raids employers, looking for illegals. Workers without legal status lose their jobs (at least, that is the story) but gain greatly prized Employment Authorization Document (EAD) work permits to remain in the U.S. and work. These permits are equivalent to permits given law-abiding people who follow the rules to obtain a green card or citizenship. Currently, over 1,000 “audits” (Beltway-ese for “let’s fool ‘em again today”) are progressing nationwide, mostly with small firms.
The administration now focuses on busting employers and giving a pass to law-breakers who scam the system better than Tony Soprano. Clearly, guilty employers contribute greatly to illegal immigration, both by employing illegals and by supporting lobbyists to oppose genuine enforcement. Yet it’s just as clear where BO’s loyalties lie: Not with Americans citizens suffering the effects of the government-caused economic Katrina. Don’t expect authentic immigration reform while this shyster is president.
Business & Economy
Regulatory Commissars: Obama Plans to Cut Oil Imports
“Today, I’m setting a new goal: one that is reasonable, achievable, and necessary,” announced Barack Obama this week. “When I was elected to this office, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day. By a little more than a decade from now, we will have cut that by one-third.” Naturally, Obama’s plan doesn’t include drilling more oil domestically. In fact, he mocks such an approach. “I give out this statistic all the time,” he also said this week, “and forgive me for repeating it again: America holds about 2 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves.” This statistic is meaningless, however, because it refers to “reserves” and not production.
The U.S. produces between 6 and 10 percent of the world’s oil and we consume roughly 22 percent of it. Obama’s own Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that the U.S. can increase its oil production by about 7.7 percent between now and 2035. The absurdity of Obama’s comments is also illustrated in his promise last week to invest in and purchase more Brazilian oil with over $2 billion of your tax dollars.
Obama’s proposals always include alternative energy, such as wind, solar and fairy dust. Well, okay, not that last one. Developing alternative energy sources isn’t something we oppose, but placing a moratorium on drilling here while reducing purchases of foreign oil on the other end will serve only to make oil — and the gas we put in our cars — more expensive. Until someone invents a car that runs on Obama’s hot air, it’s best we continue producing fossil fuels.
Taxing Vehicle Miles Traveled and Cash for Clunkers II
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released a study considering the pros and cons of a tax based upon Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) to raise revenue for highway maintenance. At a recent hearing on transportation funding, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that a large chunk of the $556 billion Obama plans to spend over the next six years would involve the enhancement of federal transportation. The VMT tax, LaHood said, would go a long way to raising that money. Putting aside for a moment our ardent hope that there won’t be another six years of this administration, this sort of tax may appear to be a fair way of generating revenue from those who use roads most. Unfortunately, it would also involve installing devices in each vehicle that would track and report miles traveled to the government — “for tax purposes only.”
A more likely measure is the proposed “insta-credit” on electric vehicles, or Cash for Clunkers II. Currently, those driving electric cars are eligible for a $7,500 tax credit. Now, Obama and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) want to change that to a cash credit for the same amount that would apply immediately upon purchase. Government Motors (GM) is all for it because they would then be reimbursed for the difference with taxpayer money. Apparently, the fact that the original month-long Cash for Clunkers program cost the American people $3 billion, drove up the price of used cars and added nothing to the economy has escaped them.
Around the Nation: Home Values Continue Decline
The Obama administration’s response to the crash of the American housing market bubble is a textbook example of political perfection by featuring an unbroken record of misdiagnosing the problem and applying the wrong solutions. Federal interference with the market correction has lengthened and deepened the decline of the housing sector. The government tries to keep people in homes they cannot afford by reducing mortgage payments for a select few, and this meddling slows down the process of transitioning the properties to qualified new buyers.
Nanny-state Democrats’ wrongheaded Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) has resulted in continually declining housing prices in nearly every U.S. market. Those values also continue to be dragged down by a large supply of vacant homes in addition to the poor, albeit slowly recovering, job market (reported unemployment dropped to 8.8 percent in March). If HAMP weren’t retarding the correction by delaying eligible foreclosures from hitting the market, the fallout from the burst housing bubble would have passed already. Recognizing the complete failure of HAMP to fulfill its stated purpose, the GOP-controlled House voted to end the program this week. Democrats in control of the Senate and White House, however, refuse to let the program die.
While U.S. home prices declined 3 percent from a year ago, there are signs that the Canadian housing boom fueled by a better economy and artificially low interest rates may be headed for its own correction. Driven in part by keen interest from Chinese buyers, home prices have risen almost 9 percent in the last year. Mortgages are for longer periods of time, and interest rates are on the rise. We hope our northern neighbors won’t make the same mistakes the Obama administration has in interfering with the inevitable market correction.
Hope ‘n’ Change: Social Security COLA to Be Offset by Medicare
Many Social Security recipients are likely to face another year without a cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA), thanks to rising Medicare expenses. According to federal law, people who receive both Medicare and Social Security benefits, which is about one in seven Americans, have their Medicare Part B premiums deducted from their Social Security payments each month. These deductions don’t lead to net reductions in payments due to a hold-harmless provision, but with the rising cost of Medicare, it also means that these dual-benefit recipients won’t see a gain in Social Security payments to match the rate of inflation. There hasn’t been a COLA for Social Security since 2009.
Culture & Policy
Second Amendment: Schumer’s Latest Gun Grabbing Idea
While the gun grabbers have been suspiciously quiet during the first two years of the Obama regime, there was never a doubt that they would raise their ugly heads at some time. That time is now. As we detailed previously, Barack Obama exploited the recent Tucson shootings and wrote an op-ed about new gun-control efforts. Now it’s time for the tyrants in Congress to come forward.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), sponsor of various anti-firearms legislation over the years including the Clinton-era “assault weapons” ban, recently introduced the “Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011,” an Orwellian-named bill if ever there was one. One of the alleged goals of the bill is to close the so-called “gun show loophole” about which hoplophobes are always screaming. Specifically, private gun owners can, sans scrutiny of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS,) sell their firearms to other private citizens they may meet at gun shows. However, Schumer’s bill doesn’t even mention gun shows. Instead, it would require an NICS check on all firearm transfers whether commercial or private regardless of location. Under some interpretations, even lending a firearm to a friend would require an NICS check.
Naturally, all these checks would require paperwork, and the Brady Campaign wants the FBI to keep it, essentially resulting in a universal federal firearm registration, long a dream of the anti-Second Amendment crowd.
Schumer’s bill also includes provisions for greatly expanding the number of people who would forever be denied Second Amendment rights. Perhaps most Orwellian, an individual who receives any type of mental health service would be included, regardless of whether he poses any danger. Interestingly, the bill would also require colleges that receive federal funds to set up “mental health assessment teams” who would evaluate and refer students to mental health authorities for further evaluation. Does anyone believe this would stop at colleges? (Besides, who didn’t do something in college that might make for a poor mental evaluation?)
We fear that firearms owners would be hunted down, “evaluated,” “treated,” and then have their firearms forever confiscated. While this bill’s passage is questionable in this Congress, it illustrates the tactics the anti-Second Amendment leftists will use. Keep your powder dry.
Village Academic Curriculum: DC School Choice
By a vote of 225-195 the House passed this week the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act, which would renew the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program. According to Heritage Foundation’s Rachel Sheffield, “Since 2004, this program has provided low-income schoolchildren in Washington, D.C., which ranks 51st in the nation in standardized test scores, with scholarships worth $7,500 each to attend private schools of their choice.” The program has resulted in improved test scores and vastly increased graduation rates, but political games now jeopardize that chance for children.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) successfully amended other legislation in 2009 to phase out the program. Of course, Durbin and 40 percent of members of the 111th Congress sent their children to private schools, though just 11 percent of their constituents nationwide did the same. The White House released a strong statement opposing the renewal, saying, “Private school vouchers are not an effective way to improve student achievement. The administration strongly opposes expanding the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program and opening it to new students.”
According to Patrick J. Wolf, the principal federal investigator of the scholarship program, the administration is trying to make up its own facts. “In my opinion,” Wolf testified to Congress in February, “by demonstrating statistically significant experimental impacts on boosting high school graduation rates and generating a wealth of evidence suggesting that students also benefited in reading achievement, the DC OSP has accomplished what few educational interventions can claim: It markedly improved important education outcomes for low-income inner-city students.” In short, Barack Obama is ignoring the research and selling out inner-city schoolchildren for purely political reasons. Support from those teachers union must be pretty valuable.
Climate Change This Week: Green for Green
Stimulus funds for “green energy” just happened to be directed to some of Barack Obama’s biggest campaign donors. For instance, the government is backing a $535 million loan for a solar panel manufacturing plant in California. An investor in the company “bundled” between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama’s campaign. The company promised 1,000 new “green” jobs with the taxpayers’ green, but a year later, 200 workers were laid off when the plant shut down.
Four companies in another venture capitalist’s portfolio received more than $500 million in loans, grants or other stimulus money. The venture capitalist bundled $500,000 for Obama. This backscratching was repeated for another big donor whose investment firm backs Fisker Automotive, an electric car company. Fisker received a $528 million loan. All told, the inspector general of the Department of Energy has “64 open investigations” into stimulus funding channeled through that department.
Meanwhile, George Kukla, a retired professor of paleoclimatology at Columbia University and researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, is predicting another ice age. He also says, “The only thing to worry about global warming is the damage that can be done by worrying. Why are some scientists worried? Perhaps because they feel that to stop worrying may mean to stop being paid.” Well said.
Just in case you missed it, last Saturday night at 8:30 local time was “earth hour,” during which environmentalists the world over turned off all their lights so they could feel good about saving the planet. The real problem is, as blogger Doug Powers put it, we “tend to get a little put off when being preached to by hypocrites who swim in their own heated pools, travel in private jets, play sports under bright lights at night, heat cavernous homes they’re not even living in for months at a time, trash national monuments when celebrating politicians who are going to save the environment, and ride in limo caravans to speeches where they tell the rest of us how our pickup trucks, lawn mowers, hamburgers and 75-watt light bulbs are killing the planet.” We suppose that if sitting in the dark in solidarity with the communist paradise of North Korea suits some people, more power to them. Oops, make that not so much power to them.
(Please pray for our Armed Forces standing in harm’s way around the world, and for their families — especially families of those fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, who granted their lives in defense of American liberty.)
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