Monday, August 29, 2011

The Weekly Standard's Snark

The Weekly Standard (TWS) used to be one of my favorite magazines. I quit about eight months ago and wrote to them that I was thinking of coming back after the 2012 election when our political differences over Sarah Palin might be resolved. But, it will take a good bit to get me back after their increasing snark volume.

First there was their "light humor" man, Matt Labash's snark on Palin's Alaska series and then his sexism on her personal appearance.

But now, Matt Continetti, not a "humorist", but as the TWS opinion editor a serious member of the staff (and someone who has himself financially prospered off Palin), implies that personal profit from a fat Fox paycheck is the reason Palin will not run. From a Ricochet podcast (discussion starts about the 44:45 mark).
“And Palin hasn’t given any sign that she want’s to, you know, relieve herself of the money she’s making from Fox News Channel. So, I continue to be skeptical that she gets in.”
I don't mind opposing opinion, but snark gets really tiresome, and, of course, is the preferred weapon of those without argument.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

5 Heroes Who Died August 23 to August 27, 2011, Fighting in Afghanistan

August 23 - 1st Lt. Timothy J. Steele, 25, of Duxbury, Mass., died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.

August 24 - Sgt. Andrew R. Tobin, 24, of Jacksonville, Ill., died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit using small arms fire.

August 25 - Pfc. Brandon S. Mullins, 21, of Owensboro, Ky., died Aug. 25 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

- Pfc. Jesse W. Dietrich, 20, of Venus, Texas, died Aug. 25 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.

August 27 - Spc. Michael C. Roberts, 23, of Watauga, Texas, died Aug. 27 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Palin's Foreign Policy Wisdom

From: On the Future of Libya
". . . we should not commit U.S. troops or military assets to serve as peacekeepers or perform humanitarian missions or nation-building in Libya. Our military is already over-committed and strained, and a vaguely designed mission can be the first step toward a quagmire. The internal situation does not seem stable enough for U.S. forces to operate in a purely humanitarian manner without the possibility of coming under attack. Troop deployment to Libya would mean placing America’s finest in a potentially hostile zone that is not in our vital national security interest."

1. Troops should not be committed without a clear mission goal.
2. Troops should not be committed even for humanitarian purposes where ability to protect our troops is lacking.
3. Troops should not be committed when our national security interests are not at stake.

I would add that, aside from military considerations, there are economic realities. When our economic condition is so weak that we have to borrow 40 cents of every dollar we spend, that has a real limiting effect on foreign policy/intervention potential.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Striking Sky at Sunset Tonight

Kirsten Powers: Biden's Appalling Blunder Thoughtlessly Amplified by Media, Feminists, Liberals

Kirsten Powers has a powerful column on Vice President Joe Biden's "appalling" statement:
“Your policy has been one which I fully understand—I’m not second-guessing—of one child per family.”
Powers quotes Chai Ling, "a two-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and former leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Democracy Movement":
"The one-child policy means the child has to be killed, whether it is forced or coerced through pressure. The women don’t feel like they have a choice. In a culture that is not welcoming to women who get pregnant and keep the baby they will be persecuted, financially and politically by the government.”
Powers faults NPR, the media, feminists, and liberals for failure to even minimally grapple with the human-rights implications of the one-child policy.
"When various Republican presidential candidates blasted Biden for the statement, NPR’s blog ran a story titled 'Biden’s Comment on China’s One-Child Policy Spurs Anti-Abortion Ire.' This really misses the point. The media predictably frame this issue as 'pro-choice vs. pro-life' when in fact it is a major human-rights issue. In particular, it’s a women’s-rights issue, which makes the silence from feminists and liberals about Biden’s comment particularly disturbing."
[emphasis added]
Powers then cites some of the real world effects on women of "understanding" the one-child policy.

- trafficking in child brides (including toddlers); "'Today in China, 200,000 children a year, usually from poor families, are seized or sold as child brides.'”

- sex trafficking where "girls from surrounding countries are kidnapped or lured under false pretenses and forced to work in brothels"

- "sending a frightening message to other countries, like India, where sex-selective abortions are epidemic in a country that places little value on girls." [emphasis added]

A must read column by an insightful liberal. Thank you, Kirsten!

Palin, Like Reagan and Nixon, Is a Candidate Who Creates New Molds

Sarah Palin, like Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, is a candidate who creates new molds rather than fitting within the constraints of conventional political structure.

Ronald Reagan lost his first serious bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976. Every speck of conventional wisdom would have said that was a deal breaker on any future chance to win. Not only did an aging Reagan lose, but he challenged the sitting president of his own party, Gerald Ford, and the Republicans lost the presidency.

Besides losing another four years, and putting himself in the position of being the oldest elected president, Reagan should have suffered the same fate as Ted Kennedy when he ran against Jimmy Carter in the 1980 primaries. No more presidential bids for Kennedy. When you take on your own party's president, and your party loses the White House, you burn lots of political bridges.

Instead of fading into second tier status as would happen to Kennedy, Reagan won the presidency in landslides in 1980 and 1984.

Richard Nixon's predicament was even worse. He actually lost the 1960 presidential election to John F. Kennedy, and then, adding insult to injury, the 1962 California governor's race to Edmund G. Brown Sr. Nixon "quit" politics with the wry observation “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.” Talk about washed up. Nixon not only lost the presidency, but couldn't even win a governor's race. Of course, Nixon then went on to win the presidency in 1968 and 1972.

Sarah Palin has nothing to lose by running in 2012. First of all, she could win.

But, even if she loses the primary, she can run in 2016 or 2020, having learned the valuable lessons on how to wage a primary fight that Reagan learned in 1976. And unlike Reagan, she will not have the "old age" factor dogging her.

If she runs and wins the nomination but loses the presidential election in 2012, she can run again in 2016 also having learned the valuable lessons of running a presidential campaign that Nixon learned in 1960. Like Nixon, she will still be young.

Unlike Nixon, and similar to Reagan, Palin carries a mass of committed supporters into her campaigns. As Frank Luntz points out, Sarah Palin "has hundreds of thousands of grassroots supporters on her side" and "doesn’t have to do it the way other candidates do it.”

Frank Luntz:
"One thing is clear about her potential candidacy. Should she announce she would have an instantaneous national operation, grassroots operation that would be effective in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. But, anyone who tries to guess her is making a big mistake. It’s going to be difficult for her, should she decide to run, because of Michele Bachmann’s candidacy. They do appeal to the same people. But, Sarah Palin doesn’t have to play by everybody else’s rules because she has hundreds of thousands of grassroots supporters on her side, and they would be motivated by her candidacy.

"[Steve Doocy:] Frank, could Sarah Palin win?

"[Luntz:] It would be very tough at this point, but, you know, I’ve learned in this campaign we don’t know who’s running. We don’t know who’s out. We were all expecting Haley Barbour. We were expecting Mitch Daniels. Some people thought of Paul Ryan, Chris Christie. Who knows?"
. . .
"But, she ran a different campaign when she was the vice-presidential nominee. She’s always run, I guess you call it 'marching to the beat of your own drummer'. And that’s one of the reasons why she has such respect. But remember one thing, in the Iowa State Fair unlike all the other candidates that were surrounded by security people, Sarah Palin walked among the public virtually alone, shaking hands, connecting to people. She’s a breath of fresh air, and she doesn’t have to do it the way other candidates do it.”
H/T Sheya and Conservatives4Palin

Why Massive U.S. WWII Spending Is Not Like Massive U.S. Spending Today

The incomparable Victor Davis Hanson:
"In short, in 2011 there is nothing that suggests the present massive borrowing will lead us to anything like the prosperity of the postwar years — a time when social spending and entitlements accounted for 30 percent, not 70 percent of the annual federal budget; when households both had cash and were eager to buy long-denied items; when America did not import high-cost oil (having recently supplied 80 percent of its wartime allies’ oil needs from domestic production); and when an unscathed industrial-powerhouse United States was alone on top of the world.

"But if we must go back to the post–World War II era for an example to enlighten us about what the current Obama policies presage, then the similarities to the present are not to be found in 1940s America. A better guide is Clement Attlee’s 1946 United Kingdom, which, like Obama’s 2011 America, sought to retrench from the world scene, lead from behind, and establish a much-vaunted high-tax, big-government, cradle-to-grave redistributive welfare state — one whose legacy we have just witnessed in London’s streets."
Read the whole piece.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Oregonian Incompetence Again Rears Its Head

The Oregonian has a fairly long Jeff Mapes' piece by on Bill Sizemore's early release from his 30 day prison sentence.

It also has a link to a long file of its articles on Sizemore. However, if you want to know why Sizemore struck a plea deal that sent him to prison, you have to go to the Statesman Journal.
"Judge Claudia Burton denied most of Sizemore's pretrial motions in a proceeding July 26, leaving little legal ground for Sizemore to argue why he chose not to file returns despite obtaining extensions for at least two of those years and paying some estimated taxes. It was after that proceeding that Sizemore raised the possibility of a plea deal.

"Burton later denied Sizemore's remaining motion, offered in writing, that would have allowed him to argue that he failed to file because he was not certain what his income was.

"'The reality is that the court would not allow me to put on any defense whatsoever,' Sizemore said Monday. 'The Department of Justice persuaded the court that I did not have the right to put on a defense.'"
At least three different Oregonian reporters have written on Sizemore's plea deal and jail sentence at some length (Ryan Kost and Michelle Cole as well as Mapes) and this is the closest any of them came to the above coverage:
"Last week, the Statesman Journal reported that Sizemore lost several pretrial motions he had hoped to use to defend himself against the charges he faced. Instead, he reached a plea agreement with state prosecutors."
This is why the Oregonian is a "constantly-needs-to-be-checked" news source.

As Oregonian reporters Cole and Kost suggest above, if you really want to know about Oregon news, you need to read sources other than the Oregonian. Otherwise you won't have a clue about all the important facts the Oregonian leaves out of its reporting.

H/T Oregon Watchdog

UPDATE: If you would like to give the Sizemore family a little help in getting back on their feet after this travesty of justice, you can paypal a gift to

Interesting that even John Kroger has admitted that cases like this are "moral wrongs" and "grossly unjust". Ending his discussion of the Lea Fastow case where Kroger's government team entered criminal charges against a woman who had evaded paying taxes on $208,000 of income when the government for such a low sum usually only brings civil charges and asks for back taxes and a fine (as happened with Tim Geithner), Kroger writes:
"When government actors pursue outcomes that are good for society as a whole, they often commit serious moral wrongs against individuals caught in their web. We should not, like Professor [John] Yoo, sweep this fact under a rug. Instead, we should acknowledge that we have done something which, however necessary, was also grossly unjust. These moments are not to be celebrated. We should not boast that we like to play hardball, as prosecutors often do. Instead, we should confess that in our effort to achieve justice, we have done something atrocious, used another person like a pawn. This expression of remorse is the only way to remind ourselves that utilitarianism has its costs and that the moral stakes, in [Michael] Walzer's words, are ‘very high.’"
(Convictions, p. 448)

The Problem with Taxing the Rich

Professor William Jacobson:
"The problem with relying on taxing the rich … in order to pay for your grand spending plans is that sometimes you run out of rich:
"'… based on 2009 IRS figures, … the number of taxpayers reporting annual income over $1 million fell 39 percent between 2007 and 2009; the number of super-wealthy individuals making over $10 million annually plunged 55 percent.'

"'The carnage wasn’t confined to millionaires. The number of taxpayers earning over $200,000 per year also decreased by 612,000 – or 13 percent.'
"Ya didn’t think this through, did ya, geniuses?"
The numbers charted:

Monday, August 22, 2011

9 Heroes Who Died August 12 to August 19, 2011, Fighting in Afghanistan

August 12 - Master Sgt. Charles L. Price III, 40, of Milam, Texas, died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

August 13 - 2nd Lt. Joe L. Cunningham, 27, of Kingston, Okla., died at Laghman province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident.

August 14 - Died in Paktika province, Afghanistan, while conducting vehicle recovery operations, and encountered a secondary explosion while dismounted:
- Sgt. Matthew A. Harmon, 29, of Bagley, Minn.; and
- Spc. Joseph A. VanDreumel, 32, of Grand Rapids, Mich.

- 1st Lt. Damon T. Leehan, 30, of Edmond, Okla., died in Laghman province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

August 16 - Spc. Dennis G. Jensen, 21, of Vermillion, S.D., died in Helmand province, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident.

- Spc. Joshua M. Seals, 21, of Porter, Okla., died in Paktia province, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident.

August 18 - Lance Cpl. Travis M. Nelson, 19, of Pace, Fla., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

August 19 - Pfc. Douglas L. Cordo, 20, of Kingston, N.Y., died in Zabul, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Palin and Steyn Agree: Americans Need to Take Charge of Their Own Destiny

Sarah Palin and Mark Steyn both struck the same chord this week: the answer to the nation's problems will come from Americans themselves.

Both Steyn and Palin go on to say it will not be in electing the right, magical leader. Palin adds that after Americans have done the heavy lifting themselves, electing good leaders to get government out of the way will result in the private sector turning the economy around.

In an interview with Matt Lewis, Mark Steyn (about the 7:55 mark) says:
"I’m asked a lot of the time because I’m in the punditry game which candidate is going to save the republic in November next year. Well, the reality is no candidate is going to save the republic. You’ve got to save the Republic. Millions and millions of Americans got to save the Republic.

"And if as a citizen you’re not interested in being in that game, and you’d rather just some godlike figure descended from the heavens, well we tried that in 2008. Didn’t work out too great.

"And I don’t think we should be in that business in 2012, because the guy we elect in 2012 is going to be, if the IMF is correct and China is going to become the dominant economic power in 2016, the guy we elect next year is going to be the last president of the United States to preside over the world’s leading economy. So, it’s a consequential election.

"And the best thing I think citizens can do is create the climate on the ground whereby we need to move the meter of political discourse citizen by citizen the way the Tea Party guys did in 2009, 2010. That’s far more important than waiting for some glamor boy to turn up and be the perfect candidate. Whether it’s, you know, Rick Perry, whoever. This isn’t about a superstar politician. This is about millions of citizens."
Sarah Palin, in an interview with Greta Van Susteren, says (about the 4:10 mark):

"You know that is a great question, what we can all do to help our country right now.

"One thing we cannot do is put our faith in an individual, a politician, nor even really a political party or government policies.

"I talked about this in my gubernatorial inaugural address a few years ago. I said, 'Government cannot make you happy, healthy, wealthy or wise.' We have to reach within ourselves and find within us the entrepreneurial spirit, the ingenuity, the work ethic, those things that Americans back in pioneering days built and resulted in the greatest, most prosperous, most exceptional country on earth.

"We have to look within ourselves, do what we can to create our own jobs. Don’t wait for government to create jobs for us. They’re just going to mess it up, that bureaucratic morass that we find in Washington, D. C. Let’s get out there and let’s hire people, let’s save for the future. We have to make sure that we’re taking care of our families and our small businesses and being prudent and planning ahead. But, let’s get out there and be bold with our own initiatives and not wait for that elite bubble in Washington, D. C., those folks who are within that bubble, to tell us how it’s going to be and how the economy is going to be planned for us. They just keep messing it up, Greta.

"And we’re going to have to do that within ourselves and in our own families, in our own small communities and in our own states. And kind of ignore the chaos and the turbulence that’s coming out of Washington, D. C. And pull ourselves up from the bootstraps just like Americans used to do. Ignore the problems in Washington. Let’s take care of it ourselves.

"And then let’s hope that soon we do have elected officials who will come in and get government out of the way so that the private sector can do what it does best and stimulate the economy."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Victor Davis Hanson: Obama Has Hastened Our Day of Reckoning

Victor Davis Hanson again proves he is the best American political commentator now writing.
"When Barack Obama won the election in 2008, he was quite right that the old system needed fixing. America’s debt, its poorly educated youth, its imbalances in trade, its counterproductive tax system, its out-of-control annual spending, its culture of entitlement and subsidies, all in perfect-storm fashion were starting to coalesce and weaken America from within and the perception of America abroad. The statesmanlike thing to do — in the manner of a once-naïve Harry Truman, who woke up to the threat of Soviet-inspired global Communism, or of a Bill Clinton, who finally addressed some of the contradictions of the welfare state and deficit spending — would have been to overhaul the tax system, recalibrate Social Security and Medicare, cut spending, lecture the citizenry on personal responsibility, and address the therapeutic curriculum in our failing schools. With a 70 percent approval rating and supermajorities in both houses of Congress, Obama could have done almost anything throughout 2009.

"Instead, he chose the path of Jimmy Carter and the pre-1995 Bill Clinton — even more redistributive state programs, more stifling regulations, more petulant talk about “them,” more class warfare, more debt, and more failed big government.

"As a genuine reactionary wedded to the dream of the 1960s, Obama not only rejected the idea of national renewal, but hastened by a decade or so our day of reckoning with the out-of-control welfare state. Was he naïve in thinking that the private sector could be hectored and harassed, and still create enough new wealth to fund his growing redistributive agenda? Or was he Machiavellian in seeing that only by massive new debt, government regulations, and spread-the-wealth programs would America be reduced to the status of just another indebted European-style socialist state — in itself a good and long-overdue thing?

"Finally, one last paradox remains: The once-divine Obama will do more to discredit the Left than any other progressive in modern history — as its greatest dream becomes its worst nightmare."
Obama has moved up our looming rendezvous with bankruptcy? Yep.

Obama is discrediting leftist answers in Jimmy Carter fashion? Yep.

They'll be hard pressed to find another Bill Clinton/Dick Morris combo after Palin's coming Reaganesque dance with the country.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Both Thomas Sowell and George Will Strike Out on Pawlenty

Now with Pawlenty out of the race, two pundits look a bit silly. One of them is someone who usually gets things more right than wrong and wrote a book about the folly of intellectual hubris (Sowell).

Thomas Sowell:
"Among the other announced Republican presidential candidates, former governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota talks the most sense and shows the most courage. When you tell people in a corn-producing state like Iowa that you want to cut back on Ethanol subsidies, that takes guts, because Iowa will also produce the first results in next year's primary campaign season. And first results, like other first impressions, carry a lot of weight."
. . .
"Politicians and the media may want a candidate with verbal fireworks but the people want jobs. As Tim Pawlenty put it: 'Fluffy promises of hope and change don't buy our groceries, make our mortgage payments, put gas in our cars, or pay for our children's clothes.'"
Unfortunately Governor Pawlenty didn't show sufficient courage to stay in the race until actual voting began.

George Will went out on the limb even further and said the 2012 winner would be Obama, Pawlenty or Mitch Daniels.

It reminds me of Dr. Sowell's point in Intellectuals and Society that intellectuals usually are not held to account for wrong counsel. Whereas an architect whose building has problems or a doctor whose treatment does not heal are held responsible for bad advice, intellectuals (and pundits) rarely feel chastened and humbled when they get it wrong. But, they should, and that should inform their future willingness to comment. Unfortunately, it rarely does because there are no real consequences to being wrong for intellectuals.
"Innumerable other wrong predictions, about everything from the price of gasoline to the outcome of Cold War policies, have left innumerable other false prophets with just as much honor as if they had been truly prophetic.

"In short, constraints which apply to people in most other fields do not apply even approximately equal to intellectuals. It would be surprising if this did not lead to different behavior. Among those differences are the ways they see the world and the way they see themselves in relation to their fellow human beings and the societies in which they live." (Intellectuals and Society, p. 9)

Sarah Palin Shows the Media What Respect Is

Both CNN's Don Lemon and Wolf Blitzer are grateful for an unscheduled interview with Governor Sarah Palin. Lemon is respectful, as anyone asking questions to a presidential candidate or possible presidential candidate should be. And both he and Wolf Blitzer were thrilled that Palin answered all his questions and addressed Lemon by name. About the 4:15 point:
Wolf Blitzer: "And it was so nice of Sarah Palin to stay there and answer all of your questions. Did she know you? Did she know who you were, Don?"

Don Lemon: "She did. Sarah Palin, she stopped and she answered the questions. And I said, 'Thank you for answering the questions.' And she said, 'Don, thank you for saying that.' I said, 'You didn't shy away. You didn't try to avoid any of the questions'. And there were hordes of media around her, but she seemed to focus on me. She wanted to answer my questions. And I asked her, I said, 'I'm not giving you . . . this isn't a got you question . . . and she said, 'I would tell all the people to do what you do. No talking points.' She even mentioned that."
In not setting up "media events" and announcing where she is going or what she is going to say, Sarah Palin is schooling the media on how to do political journalism (really any kind of journalism). Sources aren't going to be open with you if you don't treat them and interview subject matter with respect.

Top rung media reporters have become proud, arrogant and open about badgering those they interview who they disagree with. Well, proud, arrogant and badgering no longer works with Sarah Palin. If you are respectful and really want to discover information rather than make a political point yourself, you get your questions answered. Otherwise you can be in the horde of those stringing along.

The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, and now CNN* have all found reporters who care more for getting answers and the story than in making political points. Governor Palin has rewarded them with real, no-talking-point answers and even photo sessions. This shows amazing executive ability. Palin can read people quickly and decide whether they are trustworthy. Compare that to Representative Bachmann's treatment by Newsweek (or, apparently, her campaign's treatment of Lemon as described in the video above).

This may be the beginning of a return to real journalism helped along by someone important enough to both demand respect from as well as give it to reporters (and Palin was a journalism major to boot). Amazing that both Wolf Blitzer and Don Lemon are publicly grateful for Governor Palin's answers and CNN being given a non-talking point interview.

*UPDATE: CNN's Peter Hamby has also seemed fair in his coverage of Palin.

H/T Nicole Coulter

41 Heroes Who Died August 6 to August 11, 2011, Fighting in Afghanistan

UPDATE: added obituary and photo of Hospitalman Ryley Gallinger-Long

August 6 - Sgt. Daniel J. Patron, 26, of Canton, Ohio, died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Died in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

The following sailors assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit were killed:

- Lt. Cmdr. (SEAL) Jonas B. Kelsall, 32, of Shreveport, La.,

- Special Warfare Operator Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Louis J. Langlais, 44, of Santa Barbara, Calif.,

- Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Thomas A. Ratzlaff, 34, of Green Forest, Ark.,

- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Senior Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Kraig M. Vickers, 36, of Kokomo, Hawaii,

- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Brian R. Bill, 31, of Stamford, Conn.,

- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) John W. Faas, 31, of Minneapolis, Minn.,

- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Kevin A. Houston, 35, of West Hyannisport, Mass.,

- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Matthew D. Mason, 37, of Kansas City, Mo.,

- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Stephen M. Mills, 35, of Fort Worth, Texas,

- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist/Diver) Nicholas H. Null, 30, of Washington, W.Va.,

- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Robert J. Reeves, 32, of Shreveport, La.,

- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Heath M. Robinson, 34, of Detroit, Mich.,

- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Darrik C. Benson, 28, of Angwin, Calif.

- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Parachutist) Christopher G. Campbell, 36, of Jacksonville, N.C.,

- Information Systems Technician Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Jared W. Day, 28, of Taylorsville, Utah,

- Master-at-Arms Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) John Douangdara, 26, of South Sioux City, Neb.,

- Cryptologist Technician (Collection) Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) Michael J. Strange, 25, of Philadelphia, Pa.,

- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist) Jon T. Tumilson, 35, of Rockford, Iowa,

- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Aaron C. Vaughn, 30, of Stuart, Fla., and

- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jason R. Workman, 32, of Blanding, Utah.

The following sailors assigned to a West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit were killed:

- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jesse D. Pittman, 27, of Ukiah, Calif., and

- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 2nd Class (SEAL) Nicholas P. Spehar, 24, of Saint Paul, Minn.

The soldiers killed were:

- Chief Warrant Officer David R. Carter, 47, of Centennial, Colo.;

- Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Nichols, 31, of Hays, Kan.;

- Staff Sgt. Patrick D. Hamburger, 30, of Lincoln, Neb.;

- Sgt. Alexander J. Bennett, 24, of Tacoma, Wash.; and

- Spc. Spencer C. Duncan, 21, of Olathe, Kan.

The airmen killed were:

- Tech. Sgt. John W. Brown, 33, of Tallahassee, Fla.;

- Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell, 26, of Long Beach, Calif.; and

- Tech. Sgt. Daniel L. Zerbe, 28, of York, Pa.

August 7 - Died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan:

- Sgt. Adan Gonzales Jr., 28, of Bakersfield, Calif.; and

- Sgt. Joshua J. Robinson, 29, of Omaha, Neb.

August 8 - Sgt. Alessandro L. Plutino, 28, of Pitman, N.J., died in Paktia province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.

August 10 - Cpl. Nicholas S. Ott, 23, of Manchester, N.J., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Ryley and Hope Gallinger-Long
August 11 - Hospitalman Riley Gallinger-Long, 19, of Cornelius, Ore., died while conducting a dismounted patrol in the Marjah district, Helmand province, Afghanistan. From the Oregonian obituary:
"The 19-year-old Navy hospital corpsman from Oregon who died in Afghanistan last week was a newlywed, an avid fisherman, and a born patriot with a trademark crooked smile.

"Ryley Gallinger-Long of Cornelius died Thursday while conducting a dismounted patrol in the Helmand province. The 2010 Forest Grove High School graduate was less than a month into his first overseas deployment.

"He is the 148th service member with strong ties to Oregon or Southwest Washington to die in the Mideast wars and the 29th Oregonian to die in Afghanistan.

"Gallinger-Long's brother, 26-year-old Zack Gallinger-Long of Hillsboro, said his brother was shot in the lower back while tending to a wounded Marine.

"Ryley Gallinger-Long married Hope, his high school sweetheart, in March, four months before he was deployed to Afghanistan.

"Navy corpsman are military medics. While Gallinger-Long was deployed, he wore a Marine uniform.

"Zack Gallinger-Long said his brother was a Forest Grove fire cadet in high school and hoped the military would prepare him for a future as a fire chief or emergency medical technician.

"'He was born on the Fourth of July, so he was already a patriotic guy from day one,' Zack Gallinger-Long said. 'He wanted to go there; he wanted to do that job.'

"In addition to his older brother, Gallinger-Long is survived by his wife, Hope Gallinger-Long; identical twin, Wyatt Gallinger-Long; mother Susan Blanchard, of Cornelius; and father Jeff Gallinger, of Seaside.

"Gallinger-Long's twin brother, stationed at Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois, expects to be deployed to Afghanistan after he finishes training, Zack Gallinger-Long said. On the day his brother died, Wyatt Gallinger-Long was celebrating his graduation from the second of three required training programs.

"By Sunday afternoon, nearly 400 people had joined a Facebook group dedicated to Gallinger-Long's memory.

"Cody Brown, 19, a Hillsboro resident and close friend of Gallinger-Long, described him as a natural peacekeeper who was always happy and always surrounded by friends.

"'I can't think of a single time he got into a fight or argument,' Brown said. 'He was very upbeat.'

"Brown said Gallinger-Long loved the outdoors and spent nearly all of his free time fishing in Hagg Lake or Gales Creek. 'If we weren't in class, we were fishing pretty much all the time,' Brown said.

"Gallinger-Long joined the Navy in August 2010 and was assigned to the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He married Hope, his high school sweetheart, in March. The pair lived at Camp Lejeune until Gallinger-Long was deployed in July."
Died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle:

- Sgt. Edward J. Frank II, 26, of Yonkers, N.Y.

- Sgt. Jameel T. Freeman, 26, of Baltimore, Md.

- Spc. Patrick L. Lay II, 21, of Fletcher, N.C.

- Spc. Jordan M. Morris, 23, of Stillwater, Okla.

- Pfc. Rueben J. Lopez, 27, of Williams, Calif.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Governor Palin Inspires Again

Sarah Palin--following her own unlikely path to the presidency?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Mark Hatfield (1922-2011): The Conscience of a Christian Politician

From a 1982 interview in Christianity Today:
[Senator Hatfield:] Finally, I reached a point where I knew I either had to get on or get off. I had to make some kind of commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Master as well as Redeemer. Salvation was not just a historic thing that happened back there once, but a continuity that had to be reflected in my own life. That commitment was my real encounter with Christ. I learned more from those Christian students than they learned from me.

I soon realized my illiteracy, my lack of maturity, and my poverty in the spiritual realm. So I began to arm myself with knowledge and read J. B. Phillips, C. S. Lewis, and D. R. Davies. Their style of writing was very provocative and specific, so I read and read and read.

I next felt the need to become part of a community of believers. I went back to the same church with a more tolerant attitude than I had when I was less active in church. Soon I was elected moderator. One day Doug Coe asked me to speak at a public Young Life meeting. I had never witnessed publicly, and I knew I couldn't play games. I wrestled with this because it was in my own community.

That old banquet hall had mirrored posts. I can recall vividly, as if it were yesterday, the point in my speech when I had to say something more than "the Galilean" or "the Master." When I finally used the phrase 'Jesus Christ," I felt the Devil was there. I really did. If I ever had an encounter with the Devil, it was then. That name Jesus Christ resounded off every post. I got the most piercing headache that I ever had, like hammers hitting the back of my head, pounding me from every angle—Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ. When I finished and sat down I was almost nauseated.
. . .
My goal as a senator is the same as my goal in life. Whatever role I may have, it is all part of my goal of helping build the kingdom. I am striving to help trigger a spiritual revolution. As a senator, I am dealing with political, economic, social, military, and international problems. Fundamentally, these are spiritual problems. The attempt to find a political or economic answer to a spiritual problem will never work. Therefore, in whatever role I play in life, as a senator, as a husband, as a father; in my social life, in my economic life—whatever—I have a single objective: to help create spiritual understanding.
. . .
For instance, education and welfare both average a 40 percent overhead in administrative costs. With a block grant program the overhead is reduced to 20 percent. Therefore, when we reduce a program by 25 percent, we are only reducing it by about 5 percent in terms of the recipient, because 20 percent of the 25 percent would be absorbed by the change in administrative structure. In cutting some of these programs we are putting additional pressure on removing waste and abuse. I cannot tolerate that in the name of the poor or anyone else.

I also have sought to change eligibility criteria. Last year the federal government paid out over a billion dollars in Medicare payments to people who earned more than $30,000 a year. Spreading that entitlement to such a broad base of people is really weakening the whole program. By tightening the criteria we'll have sufficient resources to help those who have desperate needs and no alternative. The appearance is that I'm trying to take away from the poor, but in effect, what I'm really doing is building strength into the programs so they reach the poor and are not wasted.
. . .
[Question:] You have said that when Christians organize politically they lose the real power of their Christian witness. Is this necessarily the case?

I think so. I don't know of any profession or pursuit in life that is more seductive than politics, because it deals primarily with power.

[Question:] Shouldn't we have Christian organizations to take positions and then disseminate literature propounding them and defending them?

I don't think so. Let me tell you my alternative: it is the living presence of Christ in the life of the believer in every facet of society. Christ calls us to be the leaven, the light, the salt. Those elements are known for their capacity to make an impact, to influence, to transform their environment. The infusion of the institutions of society with the presence of Christ, lived out through the lives of Christian people, brings the impact.

Christian political action tends to pull apart. When we try to form a new force, we're imitating the world and its means of exercising power. We have a greater power, the power of the Holy Spirit working within us, expressed in love, compassion, and the other fruit of the Spirit. Why should we reduce that power, thinking we're enhancing it through organizations? At times we need to mobilize ourselves, to speak out as bodies. But when we say, in effect, that if we can get enough people out to vote and get enough Christians elected to public office we'll have the levers of power, we are reflecting a cultural, not a spiritual, bond.
. . .
But let me be frank: reelection is an issue that all politicians play to a certain advantage. When I made my commitment to Christ, I said in effect, "Christ, I want to live my life for you, I want to be in your will." From the standpoint of that commitment, I don't know what the future holds for me, but I do know it's the Lord's will that I'm here now. I'm in a business where you are constantly tempted to think ahead to the next term, to wonder what impact your vote is going to have on your reelection. It's easy to succumb to this political culture that says you have to commit yourself for 30 or 40 years because if you don't, the world will fall apart.
. . .
When I came to know the Lord, I sensed a liberation from enslavement to intellectualism, to cultural acceptability, to being socially debonair. Having sensed my liberation from those false gods, why should I imprison myself again in any area of life?

Run, Sarah, Run!

She is the straight shooting, clear thinking, inspiring leader we need!
Conquering the Storm
by Sarah Palin on Monday, August 8, 2011 at 3:53pm

In the coming days we’ll sort through the repercussions of S&P’s downgrade of our credit rating, including concerns about the impact a potential interest rate increase would have on our ability to service our suffocating $14.5 trillion debt.

I’m surprised that so many people seem surprised by S&P’s decision. Weren’t people paying attention over the last year or so when we were getting warning after warning from various credit rating agencies that this was coming? I’ve been writing and speaking about it myself for quite some time.

Back in December 2010, I wrote: “If the European debt crisis teaches us anything, it’s that tomorrow always comes. Sooner or later, the markets will expect us to settle the bill for the enormous Obama-Pelosi-Reid spending binge. We’ve already been warned by the credit ratings agency Moody’s that unless we get serious about reducing our deficit, we may face a downgrade of our credit rating.” And again in January, in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address I wrote: “With credit ratings agency Moody’s warning us that the federal government must reverse the rapid growth of national debt or face losing our triple-A rating, keep in mind that a nation doesn’t look so ‘great’ when its credit rating is in tatters.”

One doesn’t need a Harvard Law degree to figure this out! Just look across the pond at Europe. European nations with less debt and smaller deficits than ours and with real “austerity” plans in place to deal with them have had their ratings downgraded. By what magical thinking did we figure we could run up perpetual trillion dollar deficits and still somehow avoid the unforgiving mathematics of a downgrade? Nothing is ever “too big to fail.” And there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Didn’t we all learn that in our micro and macro econ classes? I did at the University of Idaho. How could Obama skip through Columbia and Harvard without learning that?

Many commonsense Americans like myself saw this day coming. In fact, in June 2010, Rick Santelli articulated the view of independent Tea Party patriots everywhere when he shouted on CNBC, “I want the government to stop spending! Stop spending! Stop spending! Stop spending! STOP SPENDING!” So, how shamelessly cynical and dishonest must one be to blame this inevitable downgrade on the very people who have been shouting all along “stop spending”? Blaming the Tea Party for our credit downgrade is akin to Nero blaming the Christians for burning Rome. Tea Party Americans weren’t the ones “fiddling” while our country’s fiscal house was going up in smoke. In fact, we commonsense fiscal conservatives were the ones grabbing for the extinguishers while politically correct politicians and their cronies buried their heads in what soon became this bonfire.

With S&P and others now warning that we could face another downgrade if we don’t get serious about our debt problem (i.e., recklessly spending money we don't have), Washington needs to wake up before things get worse! We’re already hearing murmurs about QE3, which is just madness and will further debase our currency at a time when the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency is already being questioned. The loss of the dollar’s reserve currency status would adversely impact us in every conceivable way. Our standard of living would decline as imports become more expensive (including imports of foreign oil), government wouldn’t be able to finance deficits as cheaply, and American corporations – employers – would lose a competitive edge. It would be another crack in our status as a financial superpower.

Last May, I gave a speech at Westhills Community College in Lemoore, California, to an audience that included farmers from California’s Central Valley. I tried to paint a picture for them of where all of this was heading. The following is an excerpt from my prepared remarks:
Now we’re all getting hit with rising food prices too. Back in November of last year, I predicted this would happen when the Federal Reserve dropped a $600 billion money bomb called QE2 on us! That’s short for “quantitative easing 2.” It’s a fancy term for running the printing presses and creating money out of thin air – which drives down the value of the dollar and makes the price of everything more expensive.

As I predicted six months ago, these policies will lead us down a path where for the first time in our history our fate will be taken out of our own hands and placed in the hands of the world’s capital markets. They will force us to make the responsible decisions that our leaders are unwilling to make. Just as the destinies of the Central Valley farms have been taken out of your hands by the federal government’s overreach into your water rights, so the destiny of our nation will be taken out of our hands because our leadership has failed to get our financial house in order.

This isn’t some theoretical threat any more. It’s already happening. The world’s biggest bond investment fund PIMCO announced last month that it was dumping U.S. Treasury bonds. The head of PIMCO, Bill Gross, one of the world’s preeminent debt investors, warned that the U.S. is in serious risk of default with our trillion dollar deficits and no end in sight. And last week, credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded our credit outlook to “negative” – that’s the first time that has happened to us since the attack on Pearl Harbor. The IMF has even given us formal notice that, unless we do something to deal with our debt problem, we could tip the world economy into another recession.

It is a disgraceful and embarrassing situation when the United States finds itself justifiably chastised in the same tone normally reserved for near-bankrupt economies.

And in this, like in shutting off your water, the federal government has failed you. Their reckless spending and destruction of the dollar will make access to available credit for farmers and small business owners harder to get. And it will make transportation costs higher because it will hit everyone at the gas pump. You see, because the Obama White House won’t let us drill domestically, we’re forced to import oil that we pay for in dollars. So, when the value of the dollar drops, the price of gas goes up. And if you think $4 a gallon is bad, wait till you see what life is like at $6 or $7 a gallon.

Last November, the so-called smart people all laughed at me when I warned them of this. They told me not to make such a big deal about rising prices. Well, guess what – it became a big deal all on its own.

In fact, there was an editorial in the New York Sun that said – and I quote: “As gasoline is nearing six dollars a gallon at some pumps, the cost of groceries is skyrocketing, and the value of the dollars…has collapsed to less than a 1,500th of an ounce of gold. Unemployment is still high. Shakespeare couldn’t come up with a better plot. But how in the world did Mrs. Palin, who is supposed to be so thick, manage to figure all this out so far ahead of the New York Times and all the economists it talked to?”

Well, I’m sure the New York Times writers will remember the famous line: “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” And right now the American economy is in the howling, hot headwinds of a gathering storm. We’re printing up and buying up our own notes at an unprecedented rate, and the Fed is artificially holding interest rates down to nearly zero. Anyone with commonsense could see what was coming. Unfortunately, common sense is in short supply among our leaders. It’s like they never believe that the rules of common sense apply to them. They think somehow we'll escape from the consequences of their policies. It’s the same magical thinking that allows them to run up trillion dollar deficits and still think that we can “win the future.”

Every other generation has weathered recessions by sacrifice and belt tightening. But our leaders today decided that they could magically paper over the tough decisions by running the printing presses. A little history lesson might have showed them how well that worked out for Germany in the 1930s. The Weimar Republic inflated its currency so much that it took a wheel barrel full of paper money to buy a loaf of bread. That might be the main thing I remember from Mr. Crum’s history class at Wasilla High, but it told me all I needed to know about the inflationary dangers of a weak currency and why we must avoid it. What a shame Mr. Crum didn’t teach at Harvard.
That was just three months ago, and things have already gotten worse. We have to face this storm head on. It won’t be easy, but there are real solutions to grow our economy and reduce our debt.

First, we need to get serious about our deficit. No more accounting gimmicks. No more cuts in “out-years” that never materialize. The permanent political class in D.C. might be fooling themselves with these Enron-like accounting games, but they’re not fooling the world’s capital markets. And we don’t need any more happy talk from the White House about “investing” in solar shingles and really fast trains. The White House shouldn’t even bother floating these new spending programs. We can’t afford them. Period. We need to stop this deficit spending, balance our budget, repeal Obamacare, cancel all unused stimulus funds, and reform our entitlement programs. We have to have an adult conversation about our spending commitments; circumstances have changed, and we must adapt. I know none of this will be easy, but, “thick” or not, the average American outside the D.C. politico bubble knows that we no longer have a choice! We will have entitlement reform and a balanced budget; it’s just a matter of how. We can do it ourselves in a calm, methodical, and responsible manner, or we can wait for the world’s capital markets to ram it down on us. Let’s be responsible and do it ourselves. And let’s get serious about reducing the size of government across the board and rooting out waste. How many more reports (that today are destined to merely gather dust on the shelf) do we need about duplicative and unnecessary programs before we actually do something about government waste?

We need to get this economy moving again, and the real stimulus we’ve been waiting for is domestic energy development. We must reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil by responsibly developing natural resources here. This will provide good paying jobs, reduce our trade deficit, increase federal and state revenue, ensure environmental standards, and actually stimulate our economy without incurring any debt. That’s real stimulus! Affordable, plentiful, and secure energy is the foundation of every thriving economy. Let’s make it the foundation of ours. Let’s do the opposite of President Obama’s manipulation of U.S. energy supplies. Let’s drill here, build refineries, and stop kowtowing to foreign countries in asking them to ramp up energy production which makes us even more beholden to them as we rely on their foreign product. Let’s move on tapping our massive domestic natural gas reserves. Natural gas is the perfect “bridge fuel” to a future when more renewable sources are available. It’s clean, it’s green, and we’ve got a lot of it. Let’s drill. Let’s build an infrastructure for natural gas cars and power plants. Energy development can help kick start our economic engine.

In addition to energy security, I embrace a pro-growth agenda that can make American corporations far more competitive on the global stage. (I will be writing more about this in the coming days.) We need to tell the world, “America is open for business again!” And let’s welcome industry by reducing burdensome regulations. The Obama administration keeps strangling businesses in red tape. From the EPA’s rulings to that nightmare known as Obamacare, the Obama administration is hanging one regulatory albatross after another around the private sector’s neck. Let’s get government out of the way and give the private sector room to breathe, grow, and thrive. We can provide businesses confidence to expand and hire Americans in a stable environment.

Be wary of the efforts President Obama makes to “fix” the debt problem. The more he tries to “fix” things, the worse they get because his “solutions” always involve spending more, taxing more, growing government, and increasing debt. This debt problem is the greatest challenge facing our country today. Obviously, President Obama doesn’t have a plan or even a notion of how to deal with it. His press conference today was just a rehash of his old talking points and finger-pointing. That’s why he can’t be re-elected in 2012.

Our economic news is disheartening and the task before us can seem daunting, but we must not lose our sense of optimism. People look around today and may see only the negative. They see a culture and a nation in decline, but that’s not who we are! America must regain its optimistic pioneering spirit again. Our founders declared that “we were born the heirs of freedom.” We are the heirs of those who froze with Washington at Valley Forge, who held the line at Gettysburg, who freed the slaves, carved a nation out of the wilderness, and allowed reward for work ethic. We are the sons and daughters of that Greatest Generation who stormed the beaches of Normandy, raised the flag at Iwo Jima, and made America the strongest and most prosperous nation in the history of mankind. By God, we will not squander what has been given us!

Our destiny is still in our own hands if we pick ourselves up and act responsibly and quickly. We must all get involved. Concerned Americans must seek truth, work harder than ever, and be willing to sacrifice today to ensure freedom tomorrow. Please get engaged in 2012 electoral politics and support experienced, vetted, pro-free market fiscal conservatives who will dedicate all to preserving our Republic and protecting our Constitution.
[emphasis added]

14 Heroes Who Died July 31 to August 5, 2011, Fighting in Afghanistan

July 31 - Pfc. Brice M. Scott, 22, of Columbus, Ga., died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.

Died while supporting combat operations in Herat province, Afghanistan:
Staff Sgt. Patrick R. Dolphin, 29, of Moscow, Pa.,
Sgt. Dennis E. Kancler, 26, of Brecksville, Ohio, and
Sgt. Christopher M. Wrinkle, 29, of Dallastown, Pa.

August 1 - Staff Sgt. Leon H. Lucas Jr., 32, of Wilson, N.C., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

August 2 - Staff Sgt. Kirk A. Owen, 37, of Sapulpa, Okla., died in Paktia province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

August 3 - Spc. Barun Rai, 24, of Silver Spring, Md., died in Logar province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained during a vehicle rollover.

Died in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device:
Pfc. Cody G. Baker, 19, of Holton, Kan.
Pfc. Gil I. Morales Del Valle, 21, of Jacksonville, Fla.

August 4 - Capt. Waid C. Ramsey, 41, of Red Bay, Ala., died in Paktika province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked with small arms fire.

Sgt. Anthony Del Mar Peterson, 24, of Chelsea, Okla., died in Paktia province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire.

August 5 - Sgt. Daniel D. Gurr, 21, of Vernal, Utah, died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Spc. Jinsu Lee, 34, of Chatsworth, Calif. died in Kunar province, Afghanistan.

Spc. Mark J. Downer, 23, of Warner Robins, Ga. died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with a rocket propelled grenade.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Andrew McCarthy on Christie's Terrorism Judgement Problems

Recently Governor Chris Christie called questions about one of his judicial nominations to the New Jersey Superior Court "crap" and the result of "ignorance".

Apparently Christie's nominee, Sohail Mohammed, isn't as squeaky clean as Governor Christie makes out. More disturbing, this isn't Christie's first brush with poor judgement regarding Islamic terrorist links.

Over at National Review Andrew McCarthy gives some background on Christie that gives one pause.
"The Department of Homeland Security has been trying for some time to deport Qatanani for lying on his 1999 immigration paperwork. . . .

"The deportation case against Qatanani was heard by an immigration judge in 2008. Christie was then the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney for New Jersey, though his office did not handle the case. In light of Qatanani’s track record and the Islamic Center of Passaic County’s connections to the Bush Justice Department’s then-ongoing HLF prosecution, it is nothing short of shocking that U.S. attorney Christie went to Qatanani’s mosque for a Ramadan celebration while the immigration case was underway. There, he is reported to have embraced Qatanani and praised the former Hamas operative as “a man of great good will.”

More astoundingly, Christie permitted one of his assistant U.S. attorneys, Charles B. McKenna, to testify at the immigration hearing as a character witness on behalf of Qatanani — i.e., a Justice Department official was dispatched to undermine the Homeland Security Department’s case against Qatanani, which was built in part on an investigation conducted by the FBI, an agency of the Justice Department.

The immigration judge, Alberto Riefkohl, ultimately ruled in Qatanani’s favor . . . [but] was later reversed by the Board of Immigration Appeals, which found that there was no basis for Riefkohl to have ignored the government’s evidence.

"The questions about Governor Christie’s appointment of Sohail Mohammed and his exertions on behalf of Mohammed’s client, Mohammed Qatanani, have nothing to do with either sharia or the all-purpose smear of Islamophobia. They are about the governor’s judgment. They are about a U.S. attorney with political ambitions pandering to a politically active constituency at the expense of national security and enforcement of the immigration laws. They are about his decision to award a state judgeship to an attorney who was an active and vocal board member of a very troubling Islamist organization — and who has a penchant for presuming that perfectly valid anti-terror prosecutions are, instead, anti-Muslim persecutions."
[emphasis added]
McCarthy, who led the prosecution in winning the case against the jihad organization responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, knows a thing or two about U.S. Islamic terrorist activities and nails Governor Christie's assertions.

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Oregonian Hyperventilates over Sizemore Again

The Oregonian has a thing about Bill Sizemore. They hyperventilate over there whenever anything negative happens to Sizemore.

Just today the Oregonian made Bill Sizemore's plea deal front page news alongside the DOW's terrible 500 point drop. There was even a picture of Sizemore as well as a text chart showing "key provisions" of Sizemore's sentence. Further, there was link information to other Sizemore stories by the Oregonian. You can feel their salivation in the headline phrase for the online story "goes directly to jail" [does not pass Go; does not collect $200].

Overkill? Sizemore holds no public office and does not disburse public funds, but this is top of the front page news with link information that in Oregonian editorial minds vies with the Dow plunging 500 points in a day and U.S. Representative David Wu's sex scandal and resignation election. Or maybe is more important since the Wu election story and link to past stories is well below the fold.

Compare that with the non-front page story when the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that Dorothy English won her case against Multnomah County. This resulted in a $1.15 million judgement to be taken from public funds as well as a ruling on the application of two conflicting laws. But, there were no sidebar details or in depth analysis of the Supreme Court's ruling. Not even a quotation from the ruling. Just a two sentence paragraph with the $1.15 million award as key fact.

I have no idea what page the English story was was printed on, but the Oregonian's front page images for June 17 and 18, 2010 don't show the story. Still, Bill Sizemore's conviction and 30 day (count 'em 30!) sentence are top priority news at the Oregonian.*

It's this kind of personality-based, political bias that makes the Oregonian a constantly-needs-to-be-checked news source. It requires a number of other Oregon and Portland news resources to balance Oregonian coverage as well as fill in the blanks they leave.

Though I empathize with the 61% of Americans who are "angry" at the media, I still feel sorry for the Oregonian. They haven't a clue about how their bias affects their news coverage. It comes with living in a group think/cascade effect environment.

*Then there's the Oregonian's non-treatment, no mention front page or otherwise, of their own editor's (Robert John Caldwell) DUII arrest.

UPDATE: Sizemore's Side (H/T NW Republican)

By Bill Sizemore

August 6, 2011

If you are reading this, I am behind bars for failure to file Oregon income tax returns. I was not charged with tax evasion, but with failure to file tax returns that I simply could not file.

I did not have trial. I was literally forced to plead guilty to three felonies, because a Marion County judge ruled that I would not be allowed to put on a defense. The court ruled that if I attempted to explain my defense to the jury, a mistrial would be declared and I would be held in contempt pending a new trial under the same rules. Of course if that happened, I would end up in prison after the trial.

The court explicitly ruled that I could not tell the jury why I did not file my 2006, 2007, and 2008 Oregon income tax returns. The judge also ruled that I could not explain to the jury why I could not file the tax returns and also that I could not tell the jury that I paid more than $50,000 in estimated taxes to the state and to the IRS for the years in question.

I also could not tell the jury that I had consulted at length with my CPA, who informed me that he could not calculate my income until a Multnomah County court answered some substantive questions in a pending case. I also could not inform the jury that my own attorney had told me that if filed tax returns not claiming income that was literally more than double my actual income, there was a one hundred percent chance Oregon’s current attorney general would prosecute me for filing false returns.

How did this all come about? Three years ago, two teachers unions and the Oregon Department of Justice told a Multnomah County court that I had taken for personal use approximately $850,000 from a nonprofit I was working with at the time. This statement was blatantly and demonstrably false. In fact, the total expenditures of the nonprofit up to that time for all purposes was hundreds of thousands of dollars less than what the unions and the state said I had personally received.

Nonetheless, the Multnomah County court found me in contempt of court and thanks to the Oregon media the false claims regarding the amount of money I had been paid were front page news in newspapers across the state.

Meanwhile, an extremely ambitious law professor and former federal prosecutor ran for state attorney general and was elected largely with public employee union donations, which totaled approximately $400,000. Attorney general, John Kroger, literally owed his office to the same unions I had been fighting for more than a decade.

I had placed measures on the ballot that had reduced taxes in Oregon in the range of $10 billion. I had put measures on the ballot to force unions to get permission from employees before taking money out of their paychecks for politics and to prevent the use of the public payroll system to collect union political money, which just happens to be the lifeblood of the Democrat machine that runs this state. Over the years, the unions had spent more than $50 million fighting my measures, which is a lot of money in Oregon, and they wanted me gone.

Shortly after taking office, the new attorney general began to pay back his union donors. He opened an investigation and then indicted my wife and I for failure to file Oregon tax returns for three years. ( I had filed tax returns for more than 30 years before the three years in question and have filed since.)

I pled “not guilty” at arraignment, as did my wife. We asked for a jury trial. Later, the attorney general came to us and said he was going to charge my wife with several other felonies, but would drop all charges against her if I would plead guilty to a felony and do ninety days in jail. The charges were entirely baseless and this was clearly emotional blackmail, but this was not the first time John Kroger had shown his ugly side. He had done the same thing in high profile federal cases, i.e. prosecute the wives of executives to force the husbands to plead guilty to save their wives the stress of prosecution. Kroger even confessed in his book that he had moral qualms about this tactic, but had done it anyway.

Nonetheless, here he was doing it again. The prosecutor even told me face to face that he knew my wife was not guilty of anything.

I was fully prepared to go to trial and explain to a jury why I did not file these three tax returns and that in the meanwhile I had in good faith paid my estimated taxes so as to not violate my obligations as a citizen. I wanted to explain to jurors the specific questions that remained unanswered and made it impossible for me to sign the bottom of the return and certify that the information on it was accurate. I wanted to explain why my attorney and I were absolutely certain that this attorney general would prosecute me, if I filed my returns. I believed I had a right as an American to put on a defense when charged with a felony.

The final ruling by Judge Claudia Burton this week truly floors me. It seems so un-American not to allow a person charged with a crime to not put on a defense. The American judicial system clearly has devolved to the point that courts today give so much deference to precedents that they ignore the injustices caused by their doing so. When a judge does that, he or she is not really being a judge. They are not pursuing justice, just choosing which court precedents they wish to apply. In this case, the judge made a series of decisions that resulted in me literally not being allowed to put on a defense.

The bottom line is that by donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to an ambitious law professor who wanted to be attorney general, the public employee unions got their worst political opponent tossed into jail as a felon for something 40,000 Oregonians do every year, not file timely tax returns. In fact, to my knowledge no other person has ever paid estimated taxes and then been prosecuted for not filing their state tax returns.

It is at least worth mentioning that the Oregon Department of Revenue broke with their established procedures in my case. Over the past five years, they did not send me one reminder letter or request for returns. They just quietly convened a secret grand jury and indicted me.

Today, August 4, 2011 I will be heading off to jail. This afternoon, I will enter a plea of guilty to three felonies because my attorney, the prosecutor, and another “mediator” judge told me that if I chose to go to trial I would almost certainly be found guilty, since I could not put on a defense, and would be sentenced by the court to state prison for a year and a half to three years with a possibility of nine years or so.

Do I really have a choice? Thirty days in jail if I plead guilty today or face years in prison if I go to trial where I can’t put on a defense. Concerns for my family dictate the obvious. But am I being railroaded? The answer to that question is self-evident. Is this about tax returns or is it really all about politics? No need to answer that. Have the unions used the legal system to get rid of someone they didn’t want to fight at the ballot box? No doubt about it.

© 2011 Bill Sizemore - All Rights Reserved
The only silver lining is that the Oregonian is not half as shameful as Judge Claudia Burton, Attorney General John Kroger, and the Oregon Department of Revenue. There is a Judge who sees it all.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Minorities in Worse Financial Shape Now than in Last Quarter Century

From the Pew Research Center:
"The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from 2009.

"These lopsided wealth ratios are the largest since the government began publishing such data a quarter century ago and roughly twice the size of the ratios that had prevailed between these three groups for the two decades prior to the Great Recession that ended in 2009."
[emphasis added]
In 2009 dollars, black household income dropped more than 1/4th from $6,679 in 1984 to $4,900 in 2009. Hispanic household income dropped more than 1/3rd from $9,660 in 1984 to $6,325 in 2009.

Here's Pew's summary of how bad the loss since 2005 has been:
"The Pew Research Center analysis finds that, in percentage terms, the bursting of the housing market bubble in 2006 and the recession that followed from late 2007 to mid-2009 took a far greater toll on the wealth of minorities than whites. From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66% among Hispanic households and 53% among black households, compared with just 16% among white households.

"As a result of these declines, the typical black household had just $5,677 in wealth (assets minus debts) in 2009, the typical Hispanic household had $6,325 in wealth and the typical white household had $113,149.

"Moreover, about a third of black (35%) and Hispanic (31%) households had zero or negative net worth in 2009, compared with 15% of white households. In 2005, the comparable shares had been 29% for blacks, 23% for Hispanics and 11% for whites."
[emphasis added]
Most of this income loss was due to the housing market bust.* However, minority business owners took a huge hit.
"In light of the economic downturn, it is notable that business owners, regardless of race and ethnicity, reported large losses in the equity they hold in their businesses. The loss in business equity was highest among minority households, all losing about half the value they started with in 2005."
[emphasis added]
As Thomas Sowell points out, the idea of forcing lenders to give housing loans to families who couldn't afford them ended up devastating poor families.
*Though housing prices actually rose or remained the same between 2005 and 2009 in 42% (21) of the states. Worst states to live in: Nevada (by far the worst at a 49% drop in home prices), Florida Arizona, California, and Michigan (all in the 34-38% drop range).

Monday, August 01, 2011

3 Heroes Who Died July 29 to July 31, 2011, Fighting in Afghanistan

July 29 - Killed at Paktia, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device were:

- 2nd Lt. Jered W. Ewy, 33, of Edmond, Okla., and

- Spc. Augustus J. Vicari, 22, of Broken Arrow, Okla.

July 31 - Sgt. William B. GrossPaniagua, 28, of Daly City, Calif., died in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.

The Wall Street Journal, the Tea Party and Tricksy Hobbits

Last week the Wall Street Journal published an editorial comparing the Tea Party and Hobbits. From the editorial:
"The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against . . . Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor."
Best comment:
"By the way, just in case in you don’t recall … the hobbits win in Lord of the Rings. They got a lot of ridicule from the elite and the powerful along the way, but they end up saving the West from ruinous destruction."
Not meaning to be too snide, but C. S. Lewis's take might apply here: "The answer to such people [who misuse literary imagery] is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them." Heh.

At the least the Wall Street Journal editors certainly didn't get Tolkien's theme about high intellect good guys (like Gandalf) realizing that the really dangerous part often has to be left to those not as high up and tempted by power. Remember that Gandalf refused to take the Ring?
[Gandalf:] "'But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.'

[Frodo:]"'But I have so little of any of these things! You are wise and powerful. Will you not take the Ring?'

"'No!'cried Gandalf, springing to his feet. 'With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly.' . . . 'Do not tempt me! I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe, unused. The wish to wield it would be too great for my strength.'"
(The Fellowship of the Ring, chapter 2)
The moral of Tolkien's story, missed by Wall Street Journal editors, is that it might just be the non-insider Tea Party people who don't have all that political know-how who need to lead the fight, rather than the politically wise beltway, establishment wizards.

Best headline: One DEBT to Rule Them All!!!

Apparently understanding hobbits is tricksy not just to Gollum and Sauron, but to Wall Street Journal editors too.