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War Blog By: FrontPage Magazine
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, December 03, 2008



SILENT SUCCESS: ALL-TIME LOW DEATH RATE IN IRAQ; AFGHANISTAN IMPROVING, TOO

by Tom Blumer

How can you tell that the news from Iraq about American casualties continues to be good? You barely hear about it.

It would be better to report no deaths, of course. But according to icasualities.org, 17 US soldiers died in Iraq during November. Only seven of those deaths were the result of hostile enemy action, tying an all-time low:

IraqHostileDeaths1108

And here's another "surprise," considering how we were told during the presidential campaign that the situation in Afghanistan was deteriorating: Combined November coalition deaths from all causes in Afghanistan and Iraq were the lowest in over 4-1/2 years, and the two-month total is by far the lowest ever:

IraqAndAfghanCombined1108.jpg

Back in Iraq, the 2-, 3-, and 6-month totals for US soldier deaths from all causes, as well as from only hostile causes, came in at record lows:

UStroopDeathsIraq236month1108

UShostileDeathsIraq236month1108.jpg

In fact (I can see leftists gritting their teeth now, and I'll spare readers the calculations until there is another safe month), it was only marginally less safe to be a US soldier in Iraq during the past two months than it was, on average, to be a 30 year-old man anywhere stateside (the average age of US soldiers in Iraq is 30).

Press coverage? Let's just say that it's way below anything resembling a level of saturation.

The only thing about Iraq getting less coverage is the idea that the situation represents what less-jaundiced observers like IBDeditorials.com, Zombietime, and the incomparable Michael Yon have all called ..... (wait for it) ..... victory.

*

MEDIA IGNORE INDIA'S STRICT GUN CONTROL LAWS

by Joe Sharf

Completely missing from media reports of the Mumbai attacks are India's strict gun control laws, which virtually disarmed the people at the point of attack, turning them almost inevitably - and almost immediately - into victims.  (Hat Tip: Instapundit)

Should you - God forbid - find yourself in such a situation, you must act as though your life is already forfeit, since the jihadis will treat your life that way.  Difficult though it is, acting to thwart or complicate the attack is the best way to save your life and those of others.

Apparently, it hasn't occurred to the media that the best way of making sure that doesn't happen is to make the targets helpless.

NewsBusters.org

***

WILL AL FRANKEN'S SENATE BUDDIES OVERTURN AN ELECTION?

by Scott Johnson

Al Franken's last resort is an attack on the result based on the rejection of certain absentee ballots from the tabulation. Franken now anticipates losing the recount. And Franken stands ready to call on the Senate to reject the result he anticipates in the recount.

We've noted the threat aimed by Franken at the heads of Minnesota authorities in the event his position on rejected absentee ballots is not adopted. Yesterday the head of Franken's legal team reiterated it for the benefit of the press including The Hill:

Franken attorney Marc Elias made the case to reporters Monday that as many as 1,000 absentee ballots were improperly disqualified and that the Senate or the courts may need to step in to resolve the issue.

"No recount can be considered accurate or complete until all the ballots cast by lawful voters are counted," Elias said of the recount that became necessary when only about 200 votes separated the two candidates on Nov. 4.

Minnesota's Board of Canvassers ruled last Wednesday that it would not revisit the improperly disqualified ballots. The bipartisan board ruled unanimously that it did not have the authority to order that the ballots be reviewed and counted.

Elias said that of the 12,000 disqualified absentee ballots in the race, "as many as 1,000" ballots were improperly excluded, and should be counted. He added that the campaign would appeal to the Board of Canvassers, courts or the U.S. Senate to ensure those ballots are counted. Last week, Elias had indicated that the campaign would not directly appeal the board's ruling.

The U.S. Constitution allows each congressional chamber to be the "Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called the Board of Canvassers' decision to not count the absentee ballots "a cause for great concern" last week, fueling speculation that the Senate would explore the legality of the Minnesota recount's results.

"If ultimately there is no remedy before the canvassing board or before the courts, then that is certainly an option," Elias said of the Senate's potential intervention in the election results.

Threatening the authorities who hold your case in their hands is not usually a winning strategy. Yet Franken appears to see little prospect of winning the election the old-fashioned way.

As the recount nears completion, with more than 91 percent of the votes recounted, MinnPost's David Brauer reports that "Coleman's recount margin keeps growing in the late innings."

According to MinnPost's calculation, Coleman now holds a 344-vote lead over Franken. The Star Tribune pegs Coleman's lead at 340 votes. Brauer concludes that time is running out for Franken "in this phase."

For Franken, if Elias is to be taken at his word, turning to his allies in the Senate to overturn the result arrived at in Minnesota is the final phase.

PowerLineBlog

*

"OUR FRIENDS IN BOMBAY"

by John Hindraker

That's the title of this essay by Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens clarifies something that I missed, for some reason: the origin of "Mumbai." I first realized that Bombay had been renamed within the last year or two when, on an airplane, I read an airline magazine article about "Mumbai," evidently one of the great cities of the world, but of which I was entirely ignorant. I figured it could only be Bombay. Hitchens writes:

When Salman Rushdie wrote, in The Moor's Last Sigh in 1995, that "those who hated India, those who sought to ruin it, would need to ruin Bombay," he was alluding to the Hindu chauvinists who had tried to exert their own monopoly in the city and who had forcibly renamed it--after a Hindu goddess--Mumbai. We all now collude with this, in the same way that most newspapers and TV stations do the Burmese junta's work for it by using the fake name Myanmar. (Bombay's hospital and stock exchange, both targets of terrorists, are still called by their right name by most people, just as Bollywood retains its "B.")

This may seem like a detail, but it isn't, because what's at stake is the whole concept of a cosmopolitan city open to its own citizens and to the world--a city on the model of Sarajevo or London or Beirut or Manhattan.

I agree with Hitchens's assessment of India's importance as an ally:

India is emerging in many ways as our most important ally. It is a strong regional counterweight to Russia and China. Not to romanticize it overmuch, it is a huge and officially secular federal democracy that is based, like the United States, on ethnic and confessional pluralism. Its political and economic and literary echelons speak English better than most of us do. Its parliament in New Delhi--the unbelievably diverse and dignified Lok Sabha--was viciously attacked by Islamist gangsters and nearly destroyed in December 2001, a date which ought to have made more Americans pay more attention rather than less.

India is a country with many flaws, some of which were sharply revealed by the terrorist attacks, but if the history of the next 50 years is to be a happy one, India must play an important and positive role.

PowerLineBlog

*

JUAN HERNANDEZ IS BUMMED BY OBAMA

by Michelle Malkin


Left behind.

Barack Obama has appointed senior VP of The National Council of La Raza (The Race) Cecilia Munoz to “oversee the White House office responsible for relations between the administration and state and local governments.”

Via WaPo:

Munoz, meanwhile, will oversee the White House office responsible for relations between the administration and state and local governments. The 2000 MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” winner is a senior vice president at the National Council of La Raza, a leading Hispanic civil rights group. There, she has spearheaded many of the organization’s immigration initiatives. Currently, she is in charge of the group’s entire advocacy and legislative agenda.

“We’re continuing to build a White House team that can rise to the challenges facing this country — and I couldn’t be more excited to announce Jon and Cecilia,” Obama said. “I’m confident that at a critical time in our history, this White House will restore openness and accountability to our executive branch and help to put government back in the hands of the people it serves.”

McCain open-borders advisor Juan Hernandez is bummed, but you never know. If Hillary can be Obama’s Secretary of State, why can’t Juan serve as Obama’s ICE chief?

Also in line for an Obama slot: Former MEChA member and radical open-borders congressman Raul Grijalva.

Flashback: 15 things you should know about “The Race”

Previous La Raza blogging.

Michelle Malkin

*

THE GLOBAL WARMING POLICE ARE HERE

by The Heritage Foundation

The Heritage Foundation has long been against allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. So when the EPA unveiled their plan to regulate 1/5 of all food service businesses, 1/3 of all health care businesses, 1/2 of the entire lodging industry, and even 10% of all buildings used for worship, we encouraged citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to petition their government by telling the EPA exactly what they thought of its plan.

But for the left, massive government intervention to combat global warming has become such a doctrine of faith that no dissent is to be tolerated. So last week when the White House reminded mayors from around the nation to lodge their opinions with the EPA, the Center for American Progress labeled the effort ‘Treason‘. Never mind that even Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) has called plans to regulate carbon under the CAA “a glorious mess” … CAP is undeterred. Instead of putting such a massive reorganization of the entire economy before both chambers of Congress, CAP wants to institute heavy new energy taxes as undemocratically as possible. CAP Senior Fellow and Obama EPA transition team co-chairman Robert Sussman wrote last month:

In fact, a new administration could enforce new global warming regulations with common sense, focusing on large emitters of greenhouse gases to achieve reasonable reductions while spurring trillions of dollars worth of economic growth and green-collar jobs.

And remember, if you dare disagree with Sussman, CAP will call you a traitor.

The Foundry Blog

*

GEORGE GALLOWAY SAYS MEDIA COVERAGE OF MUMBAI WAS RECKLESS

by Sweetness & Light

Remember Saddam Hussein’s paid stooge George Galloway?

Well, he is still pitching — and for the same team.

Here is the latest press release from his (laughably named) Respect Party:

Galloway calls for watchdog inquiry into reckless reporting of Mumbai atrocity

Respect MP George Galloway and the party’s leader, Cllr Salma Yaqoob, have today called for an urgent investigation by the Press Complaints Commission into “reckless, inaccurate and inflammatory” claims by several newspapers about the provenance of the gunmen who were responsible for the atrocities in Mumbai, India, last week.

“In the midst of the unfolding tragedy in Mumbai,” says Galloway, “A large section of the British press disgraced itself by publishing as fact the baseless claim that some of the terrorists responsible hailed from Britain.

“On Saturday morning [29 November] the Times, Telegraph, Sun, Mirror, Express and Star all prominently reported at least some of the terrorists were British Pakistanis. The number was reported as between two and seven, and the cities they were said to hail from were variously Bradford, Leeds and Hartlepool.

“But on that same day the British government and its agencies strongly rejected any claim that British nationals were responsible. So too have the Indian authorities.

“The press, however, has cast a pall of suspicion over the Pakistani populations of these three cities. Potentially most damaging is the impact on Hartlepool. The Asian, and Pakistani, population there is very small. They have been made more vulnerable still by reckless claims that someone from their midst was part of committing this atrocity.

“Predictably, there was no apology of correction on these titles’ websites or in their sister publications. So Salma Yaqoob and I have written today to the Press Complaints Commission asking them to investigate as a matter of urgency this flagrant breach of clause one of their code of practice, on accuracy.”

Salma Yaqoob (with Mr. Galloway in the photo above), who comes from Bradford and is a councillor in Birmingham, adds:

“Incendiary reporting like this threatens to bring deeper division and mistrust between the varied parts of our community. It has made British Pakistanis in places such as Bradford feel vulnerable and scapegoated. The world is rightly calling for the Indian and Pakistani governments to tread carefully in their response to this terrorist attack. If it’s right not to inflame feelings and communal hatred in the sub-continent, then it’s surely right for the British media not to do the same at home.”

Notes:

Below are the grounds in the PCC code for complaint.

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate - an apology published.

iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

How long will it be before we have a “Press Complaints Commission.”

Not that there is any danger of our watchdog media doing any incendiary reports about Muslim terrorists.

Sweetness & Light

*

CINDY SHEEHAN'S HOLY LAND CONNECTION: THE UNHOLY ALLIANCE

by Sweetness & Light

In the rush of events and the holiday we almost allowed the Holy Land Foundation verdict to pass by without comment.

From an outraged Associated Press:


Flanked by supporters Valley Reed, left, and Hadi Jawad, Noor Elashi speaks about the guilty verdict rendered against her father, Ghassan Elashi, in Dallas, Monday, Nov. 24, 2008. A Muslim charity and five of its former leaders were convicted Monday of funneling millions of dollars to the Palestinian militant group Hamas, finally handing the government a signature victory in its fight against terrorism funding.

Holy Land charity and leaders found guilty on all 108 counts

Michael Ainsworth / Associated Press

By Paul J. Weber
November 25, 2008

Reporting from Dallas — A Muslim charity and five of its former leaders were convicted Monday of funneling millions of dollars to the Palestinian militant group Hamas — a long-sought victory in the government’s fight against terrorism funding.

U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis announced the guilty verdicts on all 108 counts on the eighth day of deliberations in the retrial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, once the nation’s largest Muslim charity. It was the biggest terrorism financing case since the Sept. 11 attacks…

After Monday’s verdict, family members showed little visible reaction until the jury left. Several women sobbed loudly…

Ghassan Elashi, Holy Land’s former chairman, and Shukri Abu Baker, the chief executive, were convicted of a combined 69 counts, including supporting a specially designated terrorist, money laundering and tax fraud.

Mufid Abdulqader and Abdulraham Odeh were convicted of three counts of conspiracy, and Mohammed El-Mezain was convicted of one count of conspiracy to support a terrorist organization. Holy Land was convicted of all 32 counts…

Holy Land was accused of giving more than $12 million to support Hamas. The seven-week retrial ran about as long as the original, which ended in October 2007, when a judge declared a mistrial on most charges…

The U.S. designated Hamas a terrorist organization in 1995 and again in 1997, making contributions to the group illegal. Government officials raided Holy Land’s headquarters in December 2001 and shut it down.

Prosecutors labeled Holy Land’s benefactors — called zakat committees — as terrorist-recruiting pools. The charities, the government argued, spread Hamas’ violent ideology and generated loyalty and support among Palestinians…

Bizarrely, many of the articles about this verdict did their best to portray it as a show trial and to make these terrorist enablers as sympathetic as possible.

But there is an ancillary part of this story that is of particular interest to us here at S&L.

For, lest we forget, one of the Holy Land Foundation’s staunchest supporters and defenders is Hadi Jawad:


John Wolf, left, and Hadi Jawad hold signs supporting the Holy Land Foundation defendants while standing outside the federal courthouse in downtown Dallas, Texas, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007.

Longtime readers of this site should recognize the names John Wolf and Hadi Jawad.

They are the founders and owners of the “Crawford Peace House,” the organization that first sponsored Cindy Sheehan’s peace vigil in Crawford.

They were celebrated back in 2005 by the Dallas Peace Center:


Hadi Jawad, speaking on behalf of the Crawford Peace House, Friday Nov 25th, 2005.


John Wolf and Cindy Sheehan uncover a memorial to Cindy’s vigil in Crawford for the first time, Friday Nov 25th, 2005

Hadi Jawad and Johnny Wolf

You would be hard-pressed to find two more honorable, spiritual, and dedicated men than Hadi Jawad and John Wolf. They have very diverse backgrounds, and yet agree that their values and morals are so close that they could have been raised in the same family. Jawad and Wolf are being honored by the Dallas Peace Center on December 1 as 2005 Peacemakers of the Year for their tireless work for peace and justice

[O]n August 5th of this year, Jawad heard that Cindy Sheehan wanted to go to Crawford. He sent her an e-mail inviting her to the Peace House, and the next day drove her down to Crawford. The CPH became the in-town connection for the month long vigil at Camp Casey. The Peace House in Crawford is a busy place these days, with renovations, meetings, and a “homecoming” for Sheehan on Thanksgiving. Jawad says, “How easy it is to feed hundreds of people is the essence of what we do.”

Jawad and Wolf feel that the efforts of the Dallas Peace Center and the Crawford Peace House have raised the consciousness of this whole area…

Jawad and Wolf’s vision for the Crawford Peace House post-Bush is that it will be a center for community. Wolf states, “The Peace House is so much more than President Bush – it is a centralized location where we perform miracles, offering hope to humanity to counter the cult of war.” Jawad adds, “I’d like it to be a permanent memorial to peace and justice, with an historical marker which says, ‘Peace began here’.”

We often wondered who was funding Ms. Sheehan’s noble mission, and now we know. (Though, to be fair, we knew it at the time as well.)

It was a natural enough fit, given Ms. Sheehan’s oft-expressed anti-Semitism.

But, gee, why would Muslim terrorists want the US to leave Iraq? And why would they help fund someone who was leading the charge for our withdrawal?

Aren’t these the kind of inquiries that our watchdog media should be making?

And while we are asking questions, why aren’t Messrs Wolf and Jawad in jail for their own tax problems with the “Crawford Peace House” anyway?

Sweetness & Light

*

MUSLIMS "WORRY ABOUT IMAGE"

by John Hinderaker

toon120108.gif

That's what the Associated Press says. Somehow, it seems like we've been down this road before:

Muslims from the Middle East to Britain and Austria condemned Sunday the Mumbai shooting rampage by suspected Islamic militants as senseless terrorism, but also found themselves on the defensive once again about bloodshed linked to their religion.

Yeah, that keeps happening. Funny thing.

Many Muslims said they are worried such carnage is besmirching their religion.

D'ya think? Some Muslims, though, don't seem to share that concern:

In Islamic extremist Web forums, some praised the Mumbai attacks, including the targeting of Jews.

A man identified as Sheik Youssef al-Ayeri said the killings are in line with Islam.

"It's all right for Muslims to set the infidels' castles on fire, drown them with water .... and take some of them as prisoners, whether young or old, women or men, because it is one of many ways to beat them," he wrote in the al-Fallujah forum.

In the Gaza Strip, the territory's Islamic militant Hamas rulers declined comment. Hamas has carried out scores of suicide attacks in Israel, killing hundreds of civilians in recent years. However, Hamas has said it does not want to get involved in conflicts elsewhere.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad referred to the attacks as terrorism, but added that the violence is rooted in "unjust policies" aimed at destabilizing the region. He did not elaborate.

No doubt Muslims who actually advocate mass murder are a minority. Some would say that it's what the majority does, or doesn't do, that is the problem.

Muslims and Arabs must confront the violence "that is taking place in our name and in the name of our (Islamic) tenets," wrote Khaled al-Jenfawi, a columnist for Kuwait's Al-Seyassah daily.

"Unfortunately, we have yet to see a distinguished popular condemnation in the traditional Arab or Muslim communities that strongly rejects what is happening in the name of Islam or Arab nationalism," wrote al-Jenfawi.

That's true. So far, most of the world's Muslims haven't been embarrassed enough to take any significant action to reform their religion. They have, I think, a remarkably high threshold of embarrassment.

PowerLineBlog

*

NOW THIS MEANS WAR...AGAINST ISLAM?

by Richard Fernandez

Christian Whitton and Kristopher Harrison of the State Department make a private argument for the establishment of a government propaganda to fight “the ideology that underpins the global jihadist insurgency”. In an article in the WSJ they write:

The U.S. government needs to resurrect the nonviolent practice of “political warfare” and create an agency to manage it. The Bush administration started this process by providing more resources for public diplomacy and appointing prominent officials to oversee the task. But efforts to explain America’s values and ideals to Muslims need to be supplemented with measures that confront directly the jihadist ideology.

Mr. Obama’s administration could use as a model the British Political Warfare Executive, which rallied support for the Allied cause behind enemy lines during World War II, or the U.S. Information Agency, which helped network opponents of communism and undermine Moscow’s intellectual appeal during the Cold War.

A civilian should sit atop this new organization. His or her mission should be to undermine the jihadist ideology that underpins terrorism. We believe this mission is so important that the person should answer directly to the President, just as military combatant commanders do.

The question is: does fighting “the ideology that underpins the global jihadist insurgency” mean waging ideological warfare against Islam? In other words, it engaged in “information operations” in the same sense that Hezbollah today would understand it.

The Political Warfare Executive of World War 2 was specifically designed to discredit Nazism. It engaged in polemic, it de-programmed Nazis, it even engaged in campaigns of deception.

PWE included staff from the Ministry of Information, the propaganda elements of the Special Operations Executive, and from the BBC. Its main headquarters was at Woburn Abbey with London offices at the BBC’s Bush House. As the Political Warfare Executive was a secret department when dealing with the outside world PWE used the covername Political Intelligence Department (PID).

The main forms of propaganda were in the form of radio broadcasts and printed postcards, leaflets and documents. PWE created a number of clandestine radio stations including Gustav Siegfried Eins, Soldatensender Calais and Kurzwellesender Atlantik. In order to deliver its subversive messages, PWE also disseminated reliable news and information on events in Germany and the occupied countries, gathering intelligence from other services and agencies, including POW interrogations, and newspapers obtained from occupied countries, and bombing raid photo analysis. This latter source was used to broadcast lists of streets (and even individual houses) that had been destroyed and on occasion to mock up faked “real time” reports of actual raids. …

At the end of World War II PWE were tasked with the re-education of German Prisoners of War. As with different types of propaganda, PWE used the same ‘white’, ‘grey’, and ‘black’ classifications for German POWs. Prisoners classed as ‘black’ were considered dangerous ardent Nazis, with anti-Nazis classed as ‘white’ and regular non-political soldiers classed as ‘grey’.

The problem with creating a new Political Warfare Executive is not primarily bureaucratic. It is political. Western societies do not have the same uncompromising opposition to radical Islam that the wartime alliance had against Nazism. It is difficult to imagine the BBC, the State Department or PBS taking marching orders to discredit the foundations of radical Islam. Why even President Obama might object.

But Whitton and Harrison are right in arguing that the struggle against radical Islam can’t be won by bullets alone. The only problem is that they may be too right. No one — as yet — will bell this cat.

It may be far more cost effective to provide protection to dissident elements in the Islamic world itself. For example, Hot Air describes how Muslims in Mumbai have blocked the burial of the terrorist gunmen.

The influential Muslim Jama Masjid Trust, which runs the 7.5-acre Badakabrastan graveyard, said it would not bury the gunmen because they were not true followers of Islam.

Hanif Nalkhande, a spokesman for the trust, said: “People who committed this heinous crime cannot be called Muslim. Islam does not permit this sort of barbaric crime.” …

It is only a matter of time before the Jama Masjid Trust is put under collegial pressure — perhaps even from human rights organizations in the West — to bury the malefactors. Radical Islam itself engages in information operations by supporting the Wests’s own internal critics. It funds academic departments, provides lavish welcomes for its Western allies, etc. Why not return the favor?

Currently the West cannot even provide security for Salman Rushdie or Hirsi Ali. They have to shift for themselves. Given that, the best form for a Political Warfare Executive could be a witness protection program. If government can’t do it, then perhaps a billionaire can become the real John Beresford Tipton and hand out grants to Muslim dissidents on the run. That would be more effective, I think, than creating a propaganda bureaucracy whose heart won’t be in the task.

Belmont Club

*

IF UNIONS ARE SO GREAT, WHY DOESN'T THE ECONOMY SHOW IT?

by InsiderOnline.com

Defenders of unions have a very interesting response to critics of the proposed automaker bailout. The opponents of a bailout, say defenders of unions, want to force the automakers into a chapter 11 restructuring so that they can roll back gains that unions have made.

Well, either you think unions are part of the problem or you don’t.

To be sure, getting upwards of $70 per hour in benefits is a good deal for unionized auto workers. But only as long as such rich compensation doesn’t put those workers’ employers out of business. A broader issue, however, is whether unions are a good deal for all workers. Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway tackled just this issue in their 2002 paper, “Do Unions Help the Economy?” Here is their conclusion:

While there are no doubt many individual members of labor unions who feel that they have benefitted from collective bargaining, the overall evidence is overwhelming that labor unions in contemporary America have had harmful aggregate effects on the economy. Unions are associated with lower rates of growth in income and jobs. On balance, people move away from union-intensive areas to areas with relatively low rates of union density. Occupations and industries with high rates of union density have had less vibrant job growth in recent decades. Widespread unionization of an industry is often associated with initial sharp declines in employment, as the steel industry demonstrates. The more strident and intense union involvement in industry, the bigger that industry’s decline, as the experience of coal mining shows. Also, high levels of unionization are associated with out-migration of native born Americans, while low levels are associated with in-migration. The decline in union density in the private sector in the past generation has been sharp, and that decline has added to the vitality of the economy at the beginning of the new century. The increasing weakness of unions in the market economy has contributed to economic growth and a rising proportion of the working age population that actually works.

InsiderOnline.com

*
A CAUTIONARY TALE FOR THE PRESIDENT-ELECT, FROM SUNNY CALIFORNIA

by Carol Platt Libeau

Arnold Schwarzenegger ascended to the governorship in a blaze of glory, an aura of celebrity surrounding him, and powered by his campaign promises of reform, hope and change.

About five years later, he is now declaring California in a state of fiscal emergency.  The reason?  The state legislature has been captured by the far left, and policy has been tilted to favored Democrat constituencies -- including unions and trial lawyers -- at the expense of the well-being of the rest of us.

Arnold tried to turn things around in the early days of his governorship, but when he was defeated, he essentially capitulated.  He made nice with the lefties in the legislature, and traded short term political gain (and re-election) for the opportunity to effect lasting and beneficial change for California.  We are now witnessing the result of that trade-off. 

As President-elect Obama begins to deal with the Pelosi Congress, it's a cautionary tale well worth keeping in mind.

Townhall Blog

*

FOR VISITORS, A CAPITOL TRAVESTY

by The Heritage Foundation

It’s a scandal what Congress has arranged for the public to be taught inside its Capitol Visitor Center, the $621 million underground gateway and “educational experience” that opens Tuesday.In the Visitor Center’s Exhibition Hall, the theme is “E Pluribus Unum — Out of Many, One.” Initially,  words etched in marble called that stirring phrase the nation’s motto. A bad plaster job now covers the reference, someone having noticed that, well, “E Pluribus Unum” is not our national motto. “In God We Trust” is. But so far that’s notably absent, along with other references to faith.

But what bothered me the most as I toured the Visitor Center on Tuesday at the request of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)  –  who first sounded the alarm last year on this politically correct outrage — is how the Visitor Center twists and distorts the Constitution.

I thought the Constitution (because it says so) was about powers delegated to government by the people, who possess individual rights. Article I begins: “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.” A written agreement on the extent (and limits) of those powers is critical to a government deriving its “just powers from the consent of the governed,” as the Declaration of Independence prescribes.

“If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare,” James Madison wrote, “the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.”

Wrong, Mr. Madison. Congress’ new Visitor Center decrees the Constitution isn’t a list of powers but rather of “aspirations” Congress is expected to define and realize. The exhibit specifies six:

  1. Unity (as in “a more perfect Union” in the Preamble, which grants Congress no power).
  2. Freedom (based on the First Amendment, which begins with the words  “Congress shall make no law …”).
  3. Common Defense (from Article I, Section 8).
  4. Knowledge (authority to promote public education, support arts and sciences, fund extensive research).
  5. Exploration (to justify funding “curiosity and boldness” — like 4, this comes from a convoluted reading of the clause granting Congress the power to issue patents).
  6. General Welfare (found in Article I, Section 8’s restriction of the taxing power, but taken here to mean “improving transportation, promoting agriculture and industry, protecting health and the environment, and seeking ways to solve social and economic problems”).

See for yourself. The Heritage Foundation has put the full text, including the script of  an orientation film, online.

This exhibit is Congress’ temple to liberals’ “living Constitution,” the eternal font of lawmakers’ evolving mandate to achieve the nation’s ideals. No fixed meanings here, only open-ended “aspirations.” In this distorted view, the Constitution is an empty vessel, to be adapted to the times, as change requires. It means nothing — or anything.

The Foundry Blog

*

RULES FOR REAL RADICALS: HOW AUSSIES PROTESTED A MADRASSA

by Richard Fernandez

Here’s an Australian community organizer who knows how to criticize the establishment of an Islamic school using the arguments of the Left against itself. Here’s what they did.

Protesters have swarmed the Gold Coast City Council headquarters, and with blaring rock anthems vented anger over a planned Muslim school.

Almost 200 residents turned out for the demonstration, draped in Australian flags and shouting pro-Aussie slogans while Australian rock classics such as Down Under and Great Southern Land boomed across the parkland, The Courier-Mail reports.

Australian International Islamic College, planned for Carrara, has raised the ire of residents who fear it will lead to the local Muslim population withdrawing from the rest of the community. A rally last week attracted about 400 people, while people turned out yesterday carrying placards bearing slogans such as “no Muslim school, hell no” and “integration, not segregation”. Resident’s spokesman Tony Doherty said Muslim schools did not encourage multiculturalism. “It’s segregation, not integration,” he said.

Whether you agree with protesters or not, the interesting thing is their use of the terms “segregation” and “multiculturalism” to oppose the school. Saul Alinksy once wrote that you can beat the Establishment to death with their own book of rules. Now that the liberals are the Establishment the lesson still holds.

Belmont Club

*

OBAMA THROWS WINDFALL PROFITS TAX UNDER THE BRIDGE


by Ronald Bailey


During the campaign, President-elect Barack Obama promised to stick it to Big Oil with a windfall profits tax. At the time, reason explained why such a tax was a bad idea:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is also calling for a windfall profits tax on oil companies. But will it work?

The last time the United States imposed a windfall profits tax on oil companies was in 1980 and it lasted until 1988. The result, according to a 1990 Congressional Research Service analysis, was that the tax on oil company profits decreased domestic production by 3 percent to 6 percent and increased dependence on foreign oil by 8 percent to 16 percent. Keep in mind that the big private oil companies actually control only about 6 percent of the world's known oil reserves—the rest are owned by gigantic foreign national oil companies. And just where do private oil companies get the billions they invest in projects to increase supplies? That's right; their profits.

Obama has now quietly dropped the idea:

President-elect Barack Obama has removed any reference of his promise to implement a windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry from the Obama-Biden Transition Team website, www.change.gov.

Activists are dismayed: 

With the election behind him, President-elect Obama has failed to justify the removal of the windfall profits tax from his tax plan. The subtle and unexplained elimination of this issue from the Obama-Biden agenda should concern Americans from every background.  The American Small Business League (ASBL) questions whether the sudden elimination of this issue is a further indication that large corporations are already demonstrating their ability to influence the Obama Administration.
Hooray for economic sanity.

Reason Hit & Run

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HO-HO, HO'

by Matt Lewis

Merry Christmas: Get $25 Off Your Next Abortion!
From Hotline's Wake-Up Call:
Just in time for Christmas, Planned Parenthood of IN is offering "holiday gift certificates" in $25 denominations for "health screenings, birth control" and even "abortion services".
Townhall Blog

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