Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Taxes? What Taxes?

Oh for crying out loud, isn't this just getting silly?

Is NOT paying your taxes a requirement for getting nominated to the Obama administration? Now it seems that Kathleen Sebelius, nominee for Health and Human Services secretary has made an "unintentional error" on her taxes over three different years.

Kathleen, meet Tim.
Tim, meet Tom,
Tom, meet Nancy,
Nancy, meet Mr. Solis,
Mr. Solis, meet Ron....

Is it too late to order one of those Tax Cheat stamps?

"The wheels of the bus go round and round...round and round....round and round..."

Ayers Erratic Speaking Schedule

First there was Canada, then Boston College, and now Naperville.

It's rough being Bill Ayers. The life of an old terrorist is not all it's cracked up to be. Just last week Ayers was uninvited to speak at Boston College and now Napervillie North High School has rescinded its invitation after a flurry of protests and hostile e-mails from parents and residents.

The Naperville Sun reports that "Superintendent Dr. Alan Leis released a statement Monday that noted the district’s original reaction was a possible change in venues, saying 'over the weekend, however, it became clear that this issue was not really about where Dr. Ayers was speaking, but that he was speaking at all.'"

Ayers was also scheduled to speak at a local bookshop and that visit has also been canceled; Boston College has also said that Ayers will not only be not visiting the campus but he will not be speaking via videoconference either.

What's a terrorist to do? This certain opens up his social calendar, and the graduation season is near. Maybe Notre Dame will have an opening?

Quote of the Day

"What is morality?" she asked.

"Judgment to distinguish right and wrong, vision to see the truth, courage to act upon it, dedication to that which is good, integrity to stand by the good at any price."

bum in a diner to Dagny Taggert
Atlas Shrugged
Ayn Rand

Monday, March 30, 2009

Gitmo Updates

I'm wondering how the folks around Alexandria, VA feel about the Gitmo terrorists coming soon to their neighborhood, including Abu Zubaydah, Al Qaeda's operations chief, or Abd Al-Nashiri, the alleged planner of the U.S.S. Cole attack.

Sheriff Dana Lawhorne tells FOX News it is a real possibility; previously, the jail held Al Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui.

Holding these guys who have promised to kill Americans at any chance they get is not the same thing as holding your common street drunk or burglary suspect. Soldiers at Gitmo learned very quickly that any and everything can be made into or used as a weapon by these guys. They are very resourceful.

Another part of the problem in holding them in American prisons is that some of these enemy combatants worked as bodyguards, for example. Men in this kind of position would have access to critical information - anything from money laundering information, explosives design, recruiting info, and so on. This makes them an attractive target to reprisals.

Holding enemy combatants on American soil is dangerous on many levels and one is that it puts unnecessary risk on the community that holds them. This is one reason why Gitmo has been such a viable alternative. Why close it; if it helps keep one single American safer, why close it? Why expose one single American to unnecessary risk?

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has agreed to release Ayman Saeed Batarfi, the al Qaeda doctor who treated mujahideen fighters in the Afghanistan caves during the battle of Tora Bora. He'll be released just as soon as we can find a country willing to take him. If nobody wants him, he can restart his lawsuit in thirty days. Any takers?

He's a doctor - maybe he can sign on to help Team Obama with their health care agenda.

Update: Here is more from Thomas Joscelyn at Weekly Standard.

Government Motors

The whole GM business just stinks.

We, of course, learned over the weekend that GM CEO Rick Wagoner would be stepping down. Then we learn that it was at the behest of The White House. Now I don't care WHO the president is, this is just wrong.

I know that Bush opened the door for this with the initial bailout of the auto makers. I'm referring to the December bailout, the one AFTER the election, the one he consulted with Obama on during that smoothest transition EVAH, and the one approved by the Democratic congress. Most conservatives, myself included, were against the bailout from the git-go, as my mother would say, but again, water under the bridge at this point.

So here we are with Barack Obama guaranteeing your warranty.

" If you buy a car from Chrysler or General Motors, you will be able to get your car serviced and repaired just like always. Your warranty will be safe. In fact, it will be safer than it's ever been because starting today the United States government will stand behind your warranty.

Well don't we all feel better!

Obama has never run anything more complicated than a pencil sharpener; how are we to take solace in the fact that he is now de facto CEO for GM? Because he feels your pain.

"I’d like to speak directly to all those men and women who work in the auto industry or live in countless communities that depend on them. Many of you have been going through tough times for longer than you care to remember, and I won’t pretend that the tough times are over. I can’t promise you there isn’t more difficulty to come.

But what I can promise you is this: I will fight for you. You are the reason I’m here today. I got my start fighting for working families in the shadows of a shuttered steel plant. I wake up every single day asking myself, what can I do to give you and working people all across this country a fair shot at the American dream?"

Were those violins in the background?

Rush Limbaugh asked today, "Where are the unions in all of this?" Well yeah. Hello? Can somebody please hold the unions accountable? Or is BHO just paying them back now by handing GM to them on a silver platter?

And remember, according to BHO, this whole move is not a condemnation of Wagoner - it's just that Wagoner didn't have the right vision. The "right" vision? And who, pray tell, does have the "right" vision? Tim-Turbo-Tax Geithner? And what actually makes him qualified to decide that? His vast experience in business? Hmmm, probably not.

It doesn't matter WHO was behind this debacle at this point. It's just wrong. In fact, now we even have Obama telling Chrysler that they HAVE to reach a merger agreement with Fiat or consider themselves SOL. The bottom line is that this is not how capitalism works. We are a free market society. We do NOT have the White House telling companies with whom they must merge.

Oh but wait. Now we do.

One day you will look at your grandchildren and tell them about the free country that America used to be.

Tea Party Call to Arms

Two weeks to go until the Shreveport Tea Party - or whatever Tea Party is happening near you!

Robert Stacy McCain has a powerful call to arms you should go read. Enough already with the whining about the media not covering the Tea Parties. RSM is right; if enough of us show up, all across the country, they'll have no choice but to cover it. And besides, it'll be fun! RSM even invokes the good-natured Boon and Otter - how can you refuse! Wear togas!

The Shreveport Tea Party will be held at the Louisiana Boardwalk so you can do your part to stimulate the economy while you're there. Do some shopping! See a movie! If you don't fill up on roast pig at the Tea Party, there are plenty of restaurants down there where you can get your fill!

Don't forget that the Shreveport organizers are asking that you bring canned goods to contribute. La Outlaws will provide entertainment and Congressman John Fleming will be one of the speakers. Good times.

John Rich on Glenn Beck

I saw John Rich Sunday for the first time; he was on Glenn Beck and was talking about his grandfather who was a WWII veteran. His grandfather was a "tunnel rat" during WWII and earned multiple Purple Heart commendations.

I liked this verse:

"If it wasn’t for the good lord and the man
there wouldn’t be a breath of freedom in this land
and I see people on my T.V. taking shots at Uncle Sam
I hope they always remember why they can
cause we’d all be speakin’ German livin’ under flag of Japan
if it wasn’t for the good Lord and the man."

Rich talked about "The Greatest Generation" and about how his grandfather lied about his age in order to enlist; he was 17 at the time. He talked about the pride that young men felt in serving their country.

I was reminded of my own father who wanted to enlist so badly and didn't weigh enough. He had to eat bananas to gain enough weight so they'd take him. My grandmother didn't want dad to enlist; he was her only child. Nothing would stop him. He was Army Air Force and served primarily as a flight instructor.

If you get the chance, catch John Rich and his new album. It's worth a listen!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Andrew Klavan and the Limbaugh Challenge

Andrew Klavan is daring liberals to listen to Rush Limbaugh. What genius!

Full disclosure - I'm an EIB subscriber; I love Rush and listen to him whenever I can. When I can't listen live, I can go back and listen to the recorded show. I think he's a genius.

Klavan sums it up for me when he says: "I listen to Limbaugh every chance I get, and I have never heard the man utter a single racist, hateful or stupid word. Do I always agree with him? Of course not. I'm a conservative; I think for myself. But Limbaugh, by turns insightful, satiric, raucously funny and wise, is one of the best voices talking about first principles and policy in the country today."

The problem many people have with Rush is that they fall victim to The Ransom Note Method and hear only distorted clips of what he says as reported by the media they already prefer to listen to. A prime example is the "I hope he fails" comment. Widely reported to have been taken out of context, everyone jumped on Rush for being unpatriotic and unwilling to support our new president; they accused him of wishing certain doom on the Obama presidency. Rush is powerful, but if doom comes to the Obama presidency it won't be because Rush wished it so.

No, the media chopped that comment out of context and skewed it the way they wanted it. And what's with the New Yorker Octo-Rush cover?

Klavan calls on liberals to spend some time listening to Limbaugh before judging him based on what they have heard about him. And as Klavan correctly asserts, they will say, "I have heard him!" but they haven't, really. Or you might get the "I can't STAND to listen to him!" Tolerant souls. But you can stand Al Gore. Bore.

The thing about Rush is that yes, he is an entertainer, but he is brilliant. He can knock the dirt away and get to the root of an issue faster than anyone else out there. He has a quick and a logical mind and the logic is the thing that scares the liberals off.

So I'm going to second Klavan's dare. Listen to Rush. You may never be converted to conservatism, but at the very least, you'll laugh. Rush is funny. And you will occassionally feel the synapses in your brain fire off as he makes a truly logical and clear point.

As Arsenio Hall used to say, ...things that make you go "Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm!"

I mean, it's hard to argue with facts. Rush on the Notre Dame invitation to Obama:

"We secure the truth on this program, and the truth is, that President Obama -- by virtue of his votes, as a member of the Illinois Senate, and as a member of the United States Senate -- is perhaps the most anti-life president. Well, there's no question. He is the most anti-life president we have had in American history. This is a man who three times voted for infanticide in Illinois. He tried to excuse it any number of ways, but this is a man who voted three times, that if a baby survives an abortion, it may still be killed because of the mother's original intent to abort it. "

Klavan promises to run an update if any libs take his challenge and let us know how it comes out. If you're a liberal and you take the challenge, let me know how you do. Comments are open.


Oh happy day! My first ever link at Memeorandum!

North Korea's Missile Launch

Missile experts from Iran are in North Korea to help Pyongyang prepare for its rocket launch, according to reports. Pajamas Media suspects "and doubtless to learn what they can about evading US anti-missile defense methods. " The Iranian delegation consists of fifteen representatives and they have been there since early March.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates feels certain that the launch will proceed and that of course there is nothing the U.S. can do about it. The North Koreans contend that this is to launch a communications satellite but obviously the same technique could be used to launch more deadly weapons. Reports are that a missile could reach all the way to Hawaii.

Asked if the North Korean rocket could reach the US states of Hawaii or Alaska, Admiral Mike Mullen told CNN: "In some cases, yes, they could probably get down to Hawaii."

Gates said on Fox News Sunday "I don't know anyone at a senior level in the American government who does not believe this technology is intended to mask the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile."

That is all troubling enough but the fact that Iran is now in the mix further complicates things. Obama has been making overtures to Iran, extending the open hand of peace, sending Happy New Year messages, etc. But this launch is clearly a violation of a UN Security Council resolution banning them from carrying out ballistic missile activities.

Japan's Air Force has begun deploying units capable of shooting down a rocket but Pyongyang has insisted that any attempt to shoot it down would be considered an act of war. The launch is scheduled to occur between April 4 - 8.

Yet another Biden-predicted-test for Obama. What will he do?

The Chinese Uighurs

National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair said this week that some Gitmo detainees may very well be released into the United States; not only that, they would have to be provided with assistance and training to start their new life. As one might expect, this created a firestorm of criticism in the press.

The group most likely to be released here would be the Chinese Uighurs who were cleared for release quite some time back but have no place to go. The United States is concerned that they would be tortured or killed if returned to China. The Uighur population in China is primarily from the northwest region but there are smaller communites throughout China.

I went back to my friend Gordon Cucullu who wrote Inside Gitmo and took another look at the Uighurs. He writes:

"To the security-minded Chinese government officials, the Uighur community has a darker side. Within the Uighur community are extremist groups who are radical Islamist fundamentalists dedicated to using terrorism to achieve their goals of independence."

Well, now that's reassuring. Isn't it? No? Cucullu continues:

The Uighurs "were captured in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, in which they were by their own admission undergoing training so that they could return to China to be terrorists supporting an independent Uighur Islamic nation."

The camps where they were captured were in the notorious Tora Bora region.

Thomas Joscelyn at The Weekly Standard has done some excellent reporting on the Uighurs. He writes:

"First, the Uighur detainees are alleged, for good reasons, to be members or associates of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). The ETIM is a designated terrorist organization affiliated with al Qaeda.

There is sound evidence that the Uighur detainees are affiliated with the ETIM. For example, most of the detainees have made admissions during their tribunals and hearings at Guantanamo that tie them to the group. The ETIM is a jihadist organization and not part of some noble anti-China resistance. So, even if you have sympathy for the Chinese government’s opposition (as I do), including other Uighur organizations, the Uighur detainees at Guantanamo are not part of any legitimate, anti-Chinese government organization that deserves our support. The ETIM is an ideological cousin of al Qaeda that seeks to establish a radical Islamist state throughout South and Central Asia."

"The ETIM has openly targeted and threatened civilians, as it did last year during the Chinese Olympics. In a publicly-released video, an ETIM member stood in front of al Qaeda’s black flag as he threatened anyone who attended the Olympics. The ETIM has also executed terrorist bombings against civilian targets inside China. ETIM trainees have fought alongside Taliban forces in Afghanistan on a number of occasions. They have also been used to buttress other al Qaeda-allied jihadist forces throughout Central Asia, including in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan."

Why on earth would we choose to import terrorists? And why are we so concerned with what happens to them in the first place? I say send 'em back to China and let China worry about them.

The idea of bringing them to the United States is crazy enough on its own without the additional insult of using taxpayer dollars to fund their new life. Welfare. The euphemistic "assistance."

The Obama administration is more concerned with keeping an ill-conceived campaign promise than with the security of the American people. Are they so naive that they think this move will raise us up in the eyes of the international community and erase the "blight" of Guantanamo? Iran could care less if we bring these guys over here and give them "assistance." They'll continue to hold Roxana Saberi without charge in a Tehran prison. They won't be impressed with our magnimity.

Where will we settle these guys? Will they have to register in the same way sex offenders do? Not likely. Will they settle in "sanctuary cities"? Will we keep track of them? I guess we'll have to so we can keep sending them those welfare checks.

The Uighurs are still committed to their cause and there is little reason, according to Cucullu, that they won't continue to fight from within the United States.

Bone-headed idea.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Round-Up

Your gratuitous Rule 5 Sunday picture this week is of course Robert Stacy McCain and his Speedo!

Stacy wrote a great post this week on The Ransom Note Method which is how Rush Limbaugh became ensnared in the "FAIL" kerfuffle. It also explains the Ezra Klein tactics toward Ann Althouse to some degree. Go read the post - it's pure genius.

While you are visiting RSM be sure to check out the Menu-ized version of The Rules. I can't seem to beg or buy any link-love from Instapundit OR Memeorandum, but I'll keep invoking Rule 1 and my small contribution of Rule 2 in hopes that one day it will happen. Just so I can say they linked me.

I made a new BFF this week in Pundit and Pundette; I LOVE this site. LOVE LOVE the layout, too. I love Pundette's take in this post about the Economist article. Can I use the word "LOVE" one more time for this link?!

Little Miss Attila has some wise advice for BHO about the carpet.

Critical Narrative has a GREAT post on the subject of evil.

Professor William Jacobson calls out Ezra Klein - we're waiting Ezra. C'mon. Shy?

The Anchoress has the latest Hillary gaffe. Ed at Hot Air has some words on the same subject.

Women of the GOP has a great profile of Supriya Jindal.

Clever S.Logan has a new candidate for the Oval Office.

Sister Toldjah has the latest on the SCOTUS bashing.

Update: Welcome Memeorandum readers!! Thanks Memeo, for the link! :)

Boston College Rejects Terrorist Bill Ayers

Boston College has turned back unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers who was scheduled to speak there on education reform and civic engagement at the invitation of Americans for Informed Democracy and the College Democrats. The event was to be co-sponsored by Boston College’s Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy.

Ayers, you will remember, is a founding member of the violent radical-left anti-war group the Weather Underground, which was blamed for a series of bombings that killed several people.

The listeners of radio station 96.9 WTKK mobilized and shut the event down. Michael Graham has the time line of the shut-out here. The Boston Herald reports that Jack Dunn, director of public affairs for Boson College, indicated he was "unaware that Ayers had been invited to BC when first contacted by the Herald yesterday. Student organizers who had confirmed the speaking engagement in the afternoon called back shortly afterward to report it was canceled."

At last word, students are attempting to reschedule the event off-campus.

Ayers is, however, still scheduled to speak on April 8 at Naperville North High School in Illinois. Officials there say Ayers will be limited to speaking about three subjects. Those are Ayers' time with the Weather Underground, the attention he received on the campaign trail and education.

Nitwit Melissa Roberts, a member of the College Democrats at BC said, “We’re going to make sure this respected academic gets heard.” He might be a "respected academic" in some circles, but he's still unrepentant about his radical, terrorist past and for that reason alone he should not have a public forum in which to espouse his hate for America.

(Related post here)

Tea Party Mania

Something is brewing with all these Tea Parties!

Instapundit has pictures of today's Tea Party in Stamford, CT. and also makes note of the crazy-long lines for Mark Levin's new book (which I have ordered!) . He also points to a link about the Tea Party in Cape Coral, Florida which was canceled because ... they were afraid too many people would show up. Crazy.

A radio station in Carson City is handing out tea bags to listeners today and encouraging them to mail them to their representatives in Washington.

The Shreveport Tea Party is scheduled for April 15, 5:00 at The Louisiana Boardwalk. As of now, reports are that there are at least 300 scheduled Tea Parties for April 15, and each state is participating. At least ten cities are expecting over 5,000 people.

Will the mainstream media cover them?

(Related posts here, here, here and here)

Freedom Tower or One World Trade Center?

Lots of folks were upset this week when the Port Authority announced the name change from Freedom Tower to One World Trade Center. The building is to be the tallest of five planned buildings at the site of the 2001 attacks. Symbolically the name "Freedom Tower" is supposed to represent our triumph over terrorism by rebuilding.

A number of the relatives of 9/11 victims are against the name change. Rosaleen Tallon said,"My gut reaction is calling a building the World Trade Center when it really isn't the World Trade Center is pretty creepy." She lost her brother Sean, a 26-year-old probationary firefighter with Ladder 10, on 9/11.

Debra Burlingame, whose brother was the pilot of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon, said, "If we can't say the word freedom out loud, God help us. I understand the decision from a marketing point of view. But it saddens me that it's no longer economically viable to declare who we are."

Last year Gov. Pataki told the NYTimes, “It is a little troubling to me that again there is a 1 World Trade Center, because a lot of great people and a lot of true heroes died in 1 World Trade Center. I think that name should be reserved, for those who did die on that horrible day.” Pataki coined the name Freedom Tower two years after 9/11.

Mayor Bloomburg's response? "If they name this 1 World Trade Center, people will still call it the Freedom Tower.” He's probably right about that. I still call CVS "Eckerds" and the Circle K is still the "7-11." Until recently I still called it the "Pak-a-Sak."

The Port Authority contends that One World Trade Center is the actual legal name and as they move into leasing the building, it might be nice to call it by that name. So far, ten floors have been built.

CNN reported Thursday "the signing of a lease that will create the China Center, a 190,810-square-foot business and cultural facility, to be on portions of the 64th floor and the entire 65th through 69th floors of One World Trade Center. Hailing it as a great day for the Port Authority and its partners in the China center, Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward added, 'this is the first step in a long journey as downtown is finally rebuilt.'"

Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia refused to answer when asked if the name Freedom Tower would appear anywhere on the building.

It seems to me we are missing the point. We could take offense that the word "freedom" is removed, as some have. I don't think it's a political correctness issue. I actually prefer the name Freedom Tower but the point is that the towers are rising again and that's the best evidence we can show that America will not be defeated by terrorism. If changing the name helps the PA lease the space, then more power to 'em. What we want in that space is the phoenix risen from the ashes - we want fully leased, thriving buildings filled with life, tenants, and a future.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Back to the Big Bands

Peter Robinson has a nifty piece on Forbes this evening about Big Bands; regular readers will recognize this as a subject near and dear to my heart. I was raised on that music because my mother and father loved it and the 40s station is a regular on my XM radio.

Robinson writes about his teenagers discovering Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and the great Gene Krupa.

So like Robinson, who was sick of blogging about politics today, I'm doing the same and re-posting my favorite Gene Krupa moment. Do yourself a favor and watch it; it'll make you smile.

Michael Yon on Gary Sinise

Don't miss Michael Yon's words on Gary Sinise. Sinise is ONE TRUE PATRIOT and does so much for the troops! Yon has a schedule of the Lt. Dan Band's base shows and another hot picture here.

(Photo credit William G. S. Smith)

GOP Brackets

Some NPR fun:

Quote of the Day

"Selfish greed for profit is a thing of the past. It has been generally conceded that the interests of society as a whole must always be placed first."

Jim Taggert
Atlas Shrugged
Ayn Rand

Welfare for Gitmo Detainees?

This just stuns me. It shouldn't, but it does.

[National Intelligence Director Dennis] Blair also said the Obama administration is still wrestling with what to do with the remaining 240 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which the president has ordered closed.

Some of the detainees, deemed non-threatening, may be released into the United States as free men, Blair confirmed. Blair said the former prisoners would have get some sort of assistance to start their new lives in the United States. "We can't put them out on the street," he said.

Really? We know that at least 61 of those already released are already engaged in militant activities. Those are just the ones we know about.

Let's give them welfare, build them a house, fix them up with a nice "green" car, and see how they do, Okay? Brotherly love and all that.

It gives a whole new meaning to the term "bailout."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Shreveport Tea Party - 19 More Days

Only 19 more days until the Shreveport Tea Party!

There are a few updates since I last posted. The Louisiana Boardwalk is now the confirmed site of the event and the time is still 5:00 p.m. Organizers are requesting that you bring LOTS of canned goods to contribute to the food bank when you come. We want to show Washington that we can take care of our own neighbors!

Confirmed speakers are Congressman John Fleming and also Claudia Boutte who owns a small business and will address the topic of small business taxes. Spots are running on local media now so listen for those.

There will be a roast pig and there will also be a live performance by La Outlaws!

So start working on your signs (you can go here to the Shreveport Tea Party site for sign ideas) and gathering your canned goods. Bring your camera and plan to have a good time. Volunteers are still needed to help distribute flyers; if you have a little time to help, go here to sign up.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Medal of Honor Day

Today is Medal of Honor Day. Take the time and read about Medal of Honor recipients here.

Marcus Luttrell is not a Medal of Honor recipient but is a survivor of Operation Red Wing in which his buddy Michael Murphy gave his life to save his fellow soldiers and try to get them out of a very bad situation. Monsoor was awarded the Medal of Honor by George W. Bush. If you've never read Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell, go straight to your library, or to Amazon, and get it. It's a fascinating and thrilling read. Here is an interview with Marcus:

Upate on Roxana Saberi

International Herald Tribune reports today that Swiss diplomats are pressing Iranian officials to let them visit American journalist Roxana Saberi who has been imprisoned in Iran without charge since January. Initially reports were that she was picked up for buying a bottle of wine, then it was reported that she was working as a reporter while her credentials had expired, then it was said that she was arrested at the order of the revolutionary court.

Roxana's father said Tuesday that she had been told by a prosecutor she may be imprisoned for months or even years despite previous reports that she would be released in a few days. When the Iranian New Year holiday commenced and Roxana was still imprisoned, her family realized it would be at least a couple more weeks until she was released as government offices all but shut down during the holiday. This new report is even more grim. Her father is terribly concerned about her mental state.

In early March, Hassan Haddad, Tehran's deputy prosecutor for security matters, said she would be freed "within a few days." But when the family's lawyer attempted to make a bail payment, he was told that officials"cannot free her now," her father said.

There is a pattern here that concerns her parents. What of Robert Levinson? The former FBI agent, and father of 7, disappeared in March 2007 while on a business trip to Iran. He was investigating a cigarette smuggling case for private clients. Because of poor diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran his case was not aggressively addressed.

The St. Petersburg Times reported in February of this year:

"Florida's Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Robert Wexler have also filed a joint resolution in Congress calling for Iran to cooperate and provide information about the former agent. The resolution would require that the Obama administration raise Levinson's case "at every opportunity" in talks about Iran.

Nelson says he believes Levinson is being held by the Iranian government in a secret prison, and urged Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at her confirmation hearing last month to take up the case."

Unless I missed it, Obama missed a chance to bring it up in his Happy New Year message he sent to Iran.

The St. Petersburg Times continues:

"I feel it's very important that nobody forget about Bob," [Mrs. Levinson] said in a phone interview. "Politics is not my game. But I believe that the Iranians have the ability to find Bob and bring him home to me."

Another factor that is surely on the minds of the Saberis would certainly be the fate of Iranian blogger Omid-Reza Mirsayafi who died last week in the same prison that holds Roxana Saberi. He was arrested when he found out that he had been summoned to court; when he realized "that he may end up with a prison sentnece, he wrote an email to friends. He said he felt powerless to withstand what torture he would face in prison."

Bret Stephens of WSJ writes that "Mirsayafi's forebodings proved well-justified. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that he was taken to the prison hospital shortly before his death with an irregular pulse. "The doctor told [the prison authorities] how to treat him, asked him to send him to a city hospital," Mirsayafi's lawyer told RFE/RL's Radio Farda. "But they ignored the doctor and said [Mirsayafi] was faking his illness. The doctor said, 'his heartbeat is 40 per minute, you can't fake that.' But they sent the doctor out of the room." Prison authorities ruled the death a suicide; Mirsayafi was only 25."

Both Saberi and Levinson are Americans. Mirsayafi was Iranian. It doesn't seem to matter to the Iranians what nationality you are; in fact, Saberi holds dual citizenship.

After my last post on Saberi, I received stunning comments via email and on Free Republic that "she got what she deserved" by going to Iran; that she "knew what she was getting into and was only there to sympathize in the first place" and that she willingly violated the laws of the country by buying alcohol. The fact is, she likely was not arrested because she bought alcohol. And what did Levinson do? And why are we so into blaming the victim?

Both Saberi and Levinson are American citizens and before Obama extends the olive branch and praises Iran for their sweetness and light, for their contributions in making the "world a more beautiful place" he might do well to address gaining the release of these American citizens.

Again, here is the place to keep up with breaking developments on Roxana. Here is the Facebook page. And here is the Twitter feed.

Here is a help page for Bob Levinson.

As Americans we need to be concerned about these cases; we need to do whatever we can to secure their release and support their families. Report these on your blogs, write letters, contact Congress, the White House, and don't forget them.

Quote of the Day

"Nothing can make it moral to destroy the best. One can't be punished for being good. One can't be penalized for ability."

Dagny Taggert to Dan Conway
Atlas Shrugged
Ayn Rand

Defining the Deficit

This is scary.

H/T: Instapunit

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Audacity of the Rewrite

That sound you hear is Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers rolling over in their graves.

Robert Stacy McCain (and Smitty) reports, via Jerry Pournelle, that Team Obama has undertaken a rewrite of the Constitution. I don't think I can express my burning, fuming disgust any better than Smitty has so you need to go read his take on it.

But let me just say that it is audacity indeed to try to rewrite the Constitution of the United States. Our Founding Fathers did a pretty darn good job.

As an educator in the public school system, I am strongly opposed to the "dumbing down" of any
course material. We are encouraged to raise our students to the reading level of a text; one government program after another is designed to help bring kids up to reading/grade level. Yet it remains true that throughout the American educational system we continue to dumb down reading material. When I was in high school, WAY back in the day, we read Silas Marner in 10th grade and Pride and Prejudice.

The first year I taught high school seniors and put Jane Eyre in their hands, well, you would have thought I'd given them the entire text of Milton's Paradise Lost. They asked me if we could read The Outsiders. And given a choice, they'd rather watch the movie.

You know what I said? NO! We're going to read THIS book. And they did. And most of them liked it (not so much the boys!)

If Team Obama wants our American students to be competitive worldwide with other students then why in the world would you lower the reading level of the Constitution? In fact, studies have been done which show that lowering the reading level of material does NOT necessarily increase comprehension, if that was actually his point.

But more than that it is just the arrogance of it. What's next? As Smitty so eloquently said,

"Mr. President, you are encouraged to conserve your creativity for your next best-seller. You are discouraged from setting a precedent for people to get jiggy wit' da text."


There is no more GWOT! The Global War on Terror is over! Done. Finis.

However, we are now engaged in an Overseas Contingency Operation. Which means that since it's "overseas" there are no terrorists here.

At least not until Gitmo closes and they are released here.

Since there are no more "enemy combatants" then it makes sense that there is no more Global War or Terror. And we don't make "war" against terrorists, we just have a "contingency" plan.

Do we have to change those service medals now?

I suppose Radical Islamofascists are in fact Enthusiastically Religious Patriots.

It's all "just words", right?

Meghan McCain, Republican?

"I consider myself a progressive Republican. I am liberal on social issues, and I think that the party is at a place where social issues shouldn't define the party...in fairness to me, I am a different generation than the people that are giving me heat...I think there's such a generation gap that the people that don't understand me, I actually take it as compliment, that sort of this new young Republican can come forward and make progress and be successful in the ways that this party has currently failed."

This from Meghan McCain last night on CNN. There's been a lot of talk among Republicans about solidifying the party and getting our act together. I don't have the answer to that one, honestly. But I have to differ with Ms. McCain when she says that the "party is at a place where social issues shouldn't define the party." To a point, this is true, but not completely. I can't separate the social issues from the party.

On the topic of social issues I think there is much to divide Republicans from Democrats. At least, there used to be. Now, it seems that many Republicans are, as Ms. McCain says, Progressive Republicans, whatever that means. I think it means Republicans that think like Democrats. Is it Republicans who believe in fiscal responsibility but are liberal in social issues? Or just a neutral mix of both parties, making one sort of non-denominational party?

I not qualified to say what the Republican party should do to win back Congress in 2010 or the White House in 2012, but I know who will get my vote. That would be a Conservative candidate; one that believes in fiscal responsibility, strong national security, and conservative on social issues. I don't think "conservative" has to be "hard line." Ms. McCain makes the valid point that we all have certain issues in which we find ourselves more flexible or more liberal. But a true Conservative has fewer of those issues than say, a Progressive Republican.

I'm looking for candidates that are more to the conservative end of the spectrum.

Chris Good, writing for The Atlantic, says that "McCain could foster a social liberalism among young conservatives--or a conservatism among young social liberals--and become that model 'new young Republican.'"

Then, aren't they Democrats?

The bottom line for me, though, is that I don't think Meghan McCain charming as she is, is the same kind of Republican that I am.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Meghan Interviews Supriya

Here is Meghan McCain's interview with Supriya Jindal. Meghan, bless her heart, sounds like a bit of an airhead, but I LOVE Mrs. Jindal!

Here's her bit on finally dating Bobby:

"So he finally asks, “Are you ever going to go out with me?” I said, “Yeah, I’m just busy, you know”—my little shrug off. And he said, “When are you not going to be busy?” I said “in a month.” I was working on my master's at the time and working nights and working crazy schedules. I won’t be free for a month. He says "a month" and takes out his calendar: "I want to book you in a month for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I want to book you for those three days." So I said, “OK.” So that weekend, he calls and asks if we were still going out and I said, “I guess so.” So we went out and had a wonderful time. We were engaged about a month later, it was pretty quick."

She has started a foundation, The Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana's Children which encourages children to become more involved in math and science (she has a chemical engineering background.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Power of Blogs

Are blogs relevant? Who cares what bloggers think? Why do we need blogs when we have 24/7 cable news? Are bloggers biased? Do we really need so many political blogs; they all say the same thing!

These are questions I see all the time about the blogosphere. And of course, the irony is that often these criticisms of blogs are found...on blogs. It leads me to point out this New York Times piece on their own blog, The Caucus, about the relevance of blogging, especially these days.

"Even a White House press shop renowned for its mastery of the Internet has at times seemed unprepared for the swiftness of blogger outrage. Online criticism is especially relevant to the Obama administration, since it leaned so heavily on Internet activism to come to power.

“The blogs accelerate the way a story can spread,” Nate Silver, founder of political blog fivethirtyeight.com said, in pointing to the uproar over executive bonuses at the American International Group. “With a new communications team in the White House, they have shown inexperience. They underestimated how different the world is nowadays.”

The mainstream media has been proven to be biased and that was never more obvious than during the presidential campaign. And face it, the mainstream media is NOT covering the nationwide Tea Party movement. Oh, you might catch a 10 second mention here and there, but for the most part, it isn't out there. It is the bloggers covering that one.

The mainstream media hardly covered the Charles Freeman nomination either. I received several emails after my own post on Freeman that said this was the first they'd heard of it. I don't think I'm breaking any ground with my reporting or coverage. I'm actually NOT writing about anything that other bloggers aren't also writing about. I'm not "reporting" so much as pointing out or analyzing. Or criticizing.

It's not all that diffferent than other genres, for that matter. Should only the best and most famous writers be the only ones writing? What if photographers had stopped taking pictures and adopted the attitude of "Oh why should I take pictures of landscapes when Ansel Adams or Georgia O'Keefe has already done that?" What if artists had put down their brushes because Van Gogh already painted those sunflowers and Monet had already done those haystacks?

Obviously as bloggers we are not Van Gogh, or Ayn Rand or any other genius of his genre. But we practice our craft and we are relevant. Bloggers serve a purpose. Take the AIG story, for example. The NYT article points out that “AIG was dominating the blogosphere discussion by midday on Sunday, whereas mainstream media outlets, except for the Times and Post, didn’t really catch up until that evening.”

Don't underestimate the power of blogs. Lots of people get their information from blogs and more people are getting their information from the web these days than they are from newspapers. Trust me, if you had to rely on our own Shreveport Times for any national news, you'd be in a black hole.

The Case of Roxana Saberi

Roxana Saberi, an American citizen and a native of Fargo, N.D., has been held in a Tehran prison since the end of January. Her parents said she has dual citizenship in Iran and America. She is a freelance journalist who has done work for NPR and British Broadcasting Corp.

The Iranian government says she was doing reporting work after her credentials expired and they picked her up two months ago after she bought a bottle of wine. While alcohol is illegal, her action was not uncommon and her parents feel as if this was simply an excuse to arrest her.

According to the National Press Photographers Association, Hasan Quahqavi, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, said that Saberi was "engaged in illegal activities" because she had continued to work as a journalist in Iran after the country revoked her press credentials in 2006.

Saberi's parents have contacted the Iranian ambassador to the U.N., the U.N. high commissioner on human rights and the North Dakota House and Senate have passed a resolution backing her. Saberei's mother is from Japan and her family is hoping that the good relations between Japan and Iran will help secure her release. Human Rights Watch has called the Iranian government pressing for her release.

Ms. Saberi moved to Iran six years ago to work as a journalist and to complete her master's degree in Iranian studies. A New York Times report says that she "has frequently tackled subjects that skirt the edges of taboo" and that in 2007 she posted a report about women being arrested in Iran "as part of 'a new wave of Iran’s nationwide morality crackdown against fashions deemed un-Islamic.'"

The Washington Post has an article today about the Iranian government's pattern of harassment and detention of women. They say "Saberi's arrest and delayed release are the latest twists in a frightening pattern of harassment and detainment of women and dual nationals by Iran's Intelligence Ministry, whose clout and reach have expanded under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The ministry is behind a stepped-up campaign to silence female writers, journalists and peaceful activists."

Iranian press reports that she will be released soon, but her parents are concerned about her welfare. Her father said, "We don’t want anything to happen to our daughter. She’s young and she hasn’t had this kind of experience in life. It’s hard on her. I’m worried she may have a nervous breakdown.” Her family had hoped for her release before the Iranian New Year holiday which is sure to slow things down. Schools are closed during the two week holiday and government offices are either closed or half-staffed.

There is a great site to keep up with developments on the case here. There is also a Facebook page. Here is the Twitter Real Time search on her.

Thanks to Legal Insurrection for the link!
Bill Kristol puts it into perspective here.

Sunday Link Round-Up

Your gratuitious Rule 5 Beefcake picture this week is: Dennis Quaid.

American Power has a great post entitled Disrespecting the Presidential Office in which he says:

"It seems to me that there's a majesty to the office that goes beyond the individual occupant in power. Barack Obama campaigned for a year as a coolster, someone who was down with the younger generations. President Obama makes it known that he likes the Rolling Stones, and one of his biggest priorities in office is to install a basketball court in the White House (and now he's picking tournament brackets for the NCAA Championship). Sure, he's entitled, but when he makes it a point to go on Jay Leno's show amid a both a national crisis and an executive scandal, and is quick to ridicule - however inadvertently - those of limited physical abilities, it seems as though slapping down some late-night jive is more important than slapping down his own administration's tax-cheats and policy imbeciles."

Robert Stacy McCain has a critique of the Obama Ethics Rules (which is a sort of ironic companion piece to the above American Power post!)

William Jacobson is getting a lot of response on his Ezra Klein/Ann Althouse piece; he was linked in Memeorandum, among others. Klein was behind a nasty piece of work and should be exposed for it. High five to Jacobson for calling him on it.

My friend Sarah points us to the new Women of the GOP blog; check it out!

And if you're in the Shreveport area, don't forget to check out the Shreveport Tea Party site.

Monique Stuart has a DEAD ON post about your "rights." She's right inside my head on this one. This is a topic that makes me crazy -- the whole sense of entitlement thing.

Oh dear. Don't miss Ed's Obamateurism of the Day. It's a painful 40 seconds.

More to come throughout the day.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Is Your Head in the Sand?

IBDEditorials raises an interesting point regarding Obama's love letter to Iran:

Franklin Roosevelt's strategy against Hitler was not to send a Christmas card noting the artistic achievements of Goethe and Wagner. Does this Democratic president, like his great 20th century predecessors, recognize evil when he sees it?

The love letter, or video, in question was sent by Obama in observance of the Persian New Year. He extolled the virtues of the Iranian culture and expressed appreciation for them making "the world a more beautiful place."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was not impressed. His reponse, according to IBD was:

"Ahmadinejad spokesman Ali Akbar Javanfekr immediately responded to Obama's message by calling on the U.S. to end its support for Israel and apologize for: siding with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s; accidentally shooting down an Iranian airliner in 1988 (for which the U.S. has already paid Iran $132 million); and the CIA's role in the shah's 1953 coup.

The Tehran regime has been in a de facto state of war with the U.S. for 30 years. It has provided bombs that have killed our soldiers in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan. It spends millions supplying and training Lebanon's Hezbollah terrorists, and funds Hamas' rocket and suicide attacks against Israel."

Clearly, Iran has no intention of making nice with us. They are not impressed or concerned with overtures of peace 'n love. They are still holding Roxana Saberi after all.

Commenter Anonymous left me this message last night in response to this post:

"Please. We are such an isolated country. Europeans have MUCH higher percentages of Muslims (or what you would call enemies) in their countries than we do. So why do we feel so threatened? For some reason, we feel like we are protected when we have more guns. what a joke.

When the horrible socialist English were bombed DAILY by the Germans. They carried on with their daily lives in defiance of the attacks. We were attacked ONCE, 8 YEARS AGO, and we still try to scare each other into believing that the rest of the world is out to get us, so GO GRAB YOUR GUNS!

Conservative America - Quite [sic] being scared."

Am I scared? I'm not sure scared is the right word, but do I think danger is on the horizon for America? Yes, I do. To Anonymous, I would say "Get your head out of the sand." We still consider Iran a terrorist state; the same Iran that is rapidly developing a nuclear program knowing full well there is nothing there to stop them now. Ronald Reagan once said that "man has never developed a weapon he didn't eventually use."

Iran denies the Holocaust ever occurred and calls for the destruction of our ally Israel.

Do I believe that a nice little video with Farsi sub-titles and the American flag cropped out will make one bit of difference? Do I think that we just need to love them more and Iran will love us back? As if our differences are just some ideological, communicative misunderstanding? Do I feel safer because of it?

Those are rhetorical questions and I don't even need to answer them.

More Tea, Please?

They had a Tea Party in Orlando today. And in Ridgefield, CT. And in Lexington, KY. Instapundit has lots of pictures and some comments from folks that were there. Rachel Pereira has over 100 pictures posted of the Orlando Tea Party, one of which I've posted here, and she reports a huge crowd of 3000 -- and 2 members of the media.

Where is the media on this story? It's all over the blogs and Michelle has been covering it.

The Tea Party phenomenon has been growing and spreading all across the country and shows no sign of slowing down. There's a nationwide Tea Party planned for April 15 and our own Shreveport will be participating in that one.

To clear the record, for those who misunderstand the intent of the Tea Parties, let me offer a quote from Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party:

"The Tea Party protests, in their current form, began in early 2009 when Rick Santelli, the On Air Editor for CNBC, set out on a rant to expose the bankrupt liberal agenda of the White House Administration and Congress. Specifically, the flawed "Stimulus Bill" and pork filled budget.

On February 27th, an estimated 30,000 Americans took to the street in 40+ cities accross the country in the first nationwide 'Tea Party' protest."

Here is the link (again) for the Shreveport Tea Party if you want to get involved or attend. There are also events scheduled in Lake Charles, Mandeville, and Baton Rouge. There are LOTS of events scheduled in Texas, including Longview, Dallas, Lubbock, Houston and the Woodlands.

Ezra Klein's Smarmy Smear

The flap between Ann Althouse and Ezra Klein (pictured) raises some questions about bloggers, blogging, and blog comments. William Jacobson summarizes the brouhaha nicely today. Basically, it seems that Klein is holding Althouse responsible for some comments on her blog, some of which were hostile to Klein. He used this theory to attack Althouse as an anti-Semite because of some of the comments in the thread, completely misrepresenting Althouse herself.

Memeorandum even picked up the scurfuffle with links to internet discussion of the issue.

As bloggers, are we responsible for the comments left by anonymous, or even attributed, posters? Jacobson says, "One of the problems with allowing open commentary on a blog and not screening for content is that one opens oneself up to these sort of attacks." Are we expected to remove and censor any comments that might be hurtful or harmful to specific groups? What about free speech? I've only removed one comment left on my blog and that was one I felt was personally venomous and hateful towards me. And, in retrospect, I felt like I probably should have let it stand. But most of the comments on this blog, not that I get all that many, attack my dim-witted view of the world.

Jacobson writes: "Now Klein plays the 'anti-Semite' card against Althouse by using anonymous blog comments against her. Who placed the anti-Semitic blog comments? Was it Klein himself acting under a pseudonym? I have no evidence of that, but how about if I ran a post titled "Did Ezra Klein post anti-Semitic comments to set up Ann Althouse?"
Klein has effectively smeared Althouse by his twisting of the issue. At the very least he should be exposed for the juvenile "journalistic" tactics he has used. As bloggers we are all subject to this kind of snarky, smarmy smear tactic.

The Blame Game

This quote from Obama in the New York Times caught my attention:

“With the fiscal mess we’ve inherited and the cost of this financial crisis, I’ve proposed a budget that cuts our deficit in half by the end of my first term,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s why we are scouring every corner of the budget and have proposed $2 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade.”

I wonder how long will this "we've inherited" line actually play? Does Mr. Obama truly hold previous administrations 100% responsible for our current situation? Didn't he say the other day that "I'm responsible, the buck stops with me"? He was referring to the AIG bonuses, but isn't that part of the "fiscal mess" in which we find ourselves? Geithner is in no way responsible for that fiasco?

The point is, it's time for Obama to quit blaming the previous administration for everything, accept the responsibility for the economy, and fix it. He wanted the job, he wanted the responsibility, he campaigned for it, so stop blaming everyone else and take care of it.

Most of us learned in elementary school that blaming someone else does not solve the problem or make it any less your responsibility. You own it now, Mr. Obama. You won it.

Which brings us to the budget, speaking of a financial mess, and the proposals Obama can't blame on Bush. Obama has proposed a $3.6 trillion dollar budget, historically huge by all accounts. Yesterday the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released a frightening assessment of the Obama budget proposal. They expect another $1 trillion dollar increase over the already predicted $3.6 trillion dollar proposal.

Some Democrats on Capitol Hill are already demanding changes in the proposal and some think, gasp!, that he's over reaching. Trying to do too much.

There are many things in this budget that are troubling, one of which is the cap and trade proposal. This policy will inevitably make energy costs soar to frightening levels. The anticipated revenue to the government from energy providers is expected to exceed $645 billion over 8 years. Do we think those costs won't get passed on to the consumer?
And don't forget that higher energy costs don't just appear in your electric and fuel bills, but also at the grocery store, among other places.

In September 2008, Obama said “And I can make a firm pledge: under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase – not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes" [emphasis mine].

Yet in November 2008, Obama signed the SCHIP expansion bill which incresed the federal excise tax on tobacco by 156 percent.

It's all just "words," right?

With his words, is Obama laying the groundwork for an excuse when this administration spreads too thin and fails to achieve its glorious promises and utopia for all? "What a great president he could have been if only he hadn't inherited that pesky economic crisis! It's all George Bush's fault!"

Drop the blame game and the finger-pointing, Mr. Obama, and get to work.

Update: Ed points out that Cap 'n Trade will probably get pushed back to 2011 and that the focus this time will be on health care.