Today’s Digest would not have been possible without the dedicated work of our Patriot team across this great nation. As those of us here in Tennessee devoted our manpower to helping our neighbors with trucks, chainsaws and spare freezers, our contributors around the country picked up the slack with the edition today. As of this morning, we have power once again at “headquarters” and will resume normal functions as much as possible. Also, we extend our deepest thanks to all of our faithful readers for your thoughts and prayers.
“There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily.” –George Washington
Government & Politics
The Birther Blather
“I can’t spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead.” –Barack Hussein Obama in August 2010
Of course, Obama never spent any time with his birth certificate plastered to his forehead, the subterfuge has been part of a successful political charade.
Since Obama’s election, we have received some complaints that Mark Alexander has never devoted an essay to the controversy concerning Obama’s birth certificate or nationality. The issue has received the mention it deserved in our analysis (not much) but mostly it has been featured in our humor section (e.g., Jay Leno’s quip, “Obama’s overseas trip has been such a disaster that people in Kenya now claim that he has an American birth certificate.”).
Alexander responded to the issue early on, noting that he believed Obama was born in Hawaii, and the birth certificate controversy was one facet of Obama’s campaign strategy to divide up opposition resources. In other words, it was a ploy to divert the political capital of some well-meaning Obama detractors, and lead them to focus on the question of where Obama was born, rather than much more important questions about his qualifications to be president.
Alexander noted that at some point, Obama would release his original birth certificate, thus discrediting the so-called “birthers.” By extension, and by design, this undermines the credibility of other legitimate concerns about Obama, first and foremost, his socialist agenda for the “fundamental transformation” of our nation.
Apparently this week, Obama’s handlers determined they had squeezed all the political juice out of this issue, now that Jerome Corsi’s book was out and Donald Trump released his birth certificate. (Was Trump actually born in this galaxy?) Finally, Obama did what any humble and respectable candidate should have done the first day the question was asked – he released his long form birth certificate. Of course, “humble and respectable” are not characteristics of Obama’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
For the record, we were as interested as any conservatives should be about the constitutional question of Obama’s eligibility to run for president, but understood that even if definitive evidence was produced that Obama was born in Kenya, the question then becomes a statutory debate about eligibility based on the fact that at the time of his birth, his American mother was below the statutory age for recognition of her child as a U.S. citizen.
Further, it was clear two years ago that no matter what form of birth certificate Obama released and when, it would still be seen as a fraud by those claiming he was born in Kenya, and make no difference one way or the other to his sycophantic lemmings.
We still demand that Obama release other information that presidential candidates should release – transcripts, passport and travel information, etc., but don’t expect to see that information in this election cycle.
Finally, we offer this advice to grassroots conservatives: Caveat Emptor! Beware of organizations like WorldNetDaily and other “conservative news” sources, which build readership by hyping issues such as Obama’s nationality in order to sell advertising. Many of those controversial stories are based on 10 percent substance and 90 percent fragrance. Hyping political issues serves only their self-interest, and distracts from serious concerns about Obama and his cadres of Leftists, which is precisely what Obama wants.
No Silver Bullets for Gas Prices, Tonto
“The truth is, there’s no silver bullet that can bring down gas prices right away,” Barack Obama said this week. Thanks, Mr. President, for answering the question no one was asking. He does feel our pain, though. “I remember before I was president the last time gas prices went up this high, it’s tough,” he said. “And if you’re somebody who’s gotta drive 20 miles, 30 miles to a job and maybe you don’t have the money to buy a new car that gets better gas mileage, so you have that old beater, it’s eight miles a gallon, you know. I’ve been there. It hurts.”
People that drive older cars out of necessity should certainly feel better knowing that Obama has “been there.” He knows what it’s like to be a beater clinger.
So far, however, Obama’s only “solutions” for the high price of gas involve telling people to buy his company’s Chevy Volt, vowing to “invest” in alternative energy (that doesn’t happen to power cars at present) and promising to help drill for oil … in Brazil.
When Obama took office in January 2009, the national average for gas was less than $2.00 per gallon; now it’s over $4.00. We’re not laying all the blame at Obama’s doorstep, but some of it does belong there. His drilling moratorium has restricted supply, which increases prices. (The EPA just this week blocked more drilling for 27 billion barrels of oil in Alaska.) Obama’s fiscal policy of simply printing more money is also driving up the price of commodities, including oil.
To deal with the issue, Obama has appointed a Justice Department “task force” to investigate private companies for price gouging. After all, as he put it, those evil “traders and speculators” could be “taking advantage of American consumers for their own short-term gains.”
As Andrew McCarthy of National Review points out, however, “There is no need for a task force on gas price gouging. The Federal Trade Commission already is a task force on gas price gouging.” No doubt speculators and investors are having an effect on the price of gas, but increased global demand coupled with restricted supply and a weaker dollar have had a far greater impact. Of course, a task force witch hunt is a much easier way for the administration to appear to be “doing something” than actually correcting its terrible policies or even admitting mistakes.
News From the Swamp: GOP ‘Playing Chicken’ With Economy?
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) last week gave voice to the GOP claim that the Republicans will not support a national debt limit increase unless the bill also includes major spending cuts or budget and spending reforms. The debt limit currently stands at $14.3 trillion, and it has been raised by legislative action 74 times since 1962. This limit will be breached at some point between mid-May and July.
Republicans have suggested, among other ideas, a constitutional amendment that would call for the budget to be balanced by prohibiting spending from outstripping revenue in any year without a two-thirds vote of each chamber of Congress. Tax increases and debt limit increases would also require a two-thirds vote, and federal spending would be capped at 18 percent of GDP. Sounds pretty good to us.
Democrats like New York Sen. Charles Schumer and Vermont Rep. Peter Welch have demonized Cantor’s stance as “playing chicken” with the country’s economic recovery. Their counterarguments were predictably light on policy alternatives, however. Democrats want a so-called “clean” debt ceiling bill that would merely raise the limit without addressing the reckless spending practices that have produced the debt. The only thing such a bill would be clean of is the moral fortitude necessary to face down our fiscal problems.
Democrats in general have done their best to avoid engaging in a real debate about the government’s budget problems since the start of the new Congress in January, choosing instead to brush up on their demagoguery skills. In fact, Democrats don’t appear to even care about the debt crisis. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) recently took off for a 10-day junket to China with members of his staff. Barack Obama is in full-on campaign mode, appearing on Oprah, filling his calendar with fundraisers, and using more energy to fill his 2012 coffers than in providing substantive leadership on critical fiscal issues. So, once again, America waits while its elected leaders engage in brinksmanship over our economic future.
Hope ‘n’ Change: Improper Payments
Federal agencies reported making $125 billion in improper payments in 2010, 94 percent of which came from social spending programs. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) defines improper payments as outlays that are overpayments, underpayments, or insufficiently documented payments, including, but not always, fraudulent claims. The $125 billion was spread across 70 different programs in 20 federal agencies. The bulk of the problem showed up in areas such as – surprise – Medicare ($34 billion), Medicaid ($22 billion), and unemployment insurance ($17.5 billion).
To put the $125 billion worth of improper payments in perspective, according to the Treasury Department, the entire State Department spent just over $11 billion in 2010, the Justice Department spent $16 billion, and NASA spent $17 billion. In other words, last year it cost more for the government to absorb fraud and poor accounting practices than it did to implement our foreign policy (such as it is), administer justice at a federal level, and fund our entire space program. The GAO said that the high total of improper payments was a result of the government’s spending more money. This makes the solution to this problem even more obvious – cut spending.
From the Left: The Enemies List
The Obama administration, fearful of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling in favor of free speech, is looking to change the rules of the campaign game for 2012. The administration is demanding that potential federal contractors make known any political donations over $5,000 made by the contracting company or its executives. Government contractors are already required to disclose political contributions to candidates, but this order will expand that to include independent groups, a category in which conservatives outspent liberals in the last election cycle.
The implications are obvious: If a company wants to win a federal contract while Obama is in the White House, it had better have a campaign donation record that reflects greater support for Democrats. Leftists attempted to rig the corporate donation game in 2010 with the Disclose Act, but it failed to pass. Now the White House is again extra-constitutionally taking matters into its own hands with the same intent – reduce the overall dollar amount received in donations by independent conservative groups. Federal labor unions don’t have to worry, though. The SEIU, AFL-CIO and other groups that brought Obama some $200 million worth of support in 2008 are conveniently exempted from the new disclosure rules in the executive order. Perhaps they slipped the president’s mind.
Around the Nation: Vermont Joins National Popular Vote Effort
We all recall the result of the 2000 election, in which George W. Bush won despite receiving fewer popular votes than opponent Al Gore. In its wake, a compact was formed where some states agreed to cast their Electoral College votes based upon the winner of the nationwide popular vote, regardless of state results. Vermont has now become the eighth state to join the compact, joining the District of Columbia, Hawaii, New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and Washington. Supporters claim it will become effective once the plateau of states representing 270 electoral votes (a majority) is reached. This could also be called the “sore losers law.”
Since these eight states are reliable Democrat strongholds, we can’t help but wonder what would happen if a Republican candidate these states didn’t support was the winner of the popular vote. In theory, such a candidate could be rendered a loser if the states allowed the Democrat electors who won their state to vote in the Electoral College. How quickly would the compact be broken should these blue states' own ox be, er, Gored?
While backers claim that National Popular Vote (NPV) makes “every vote equal,” we all know that candidates will still focus their efforts on large population centers – states in “flyover country” would still be ignored. Why campaign throughout the entire state of Wyoming when nearby Denver has just as many voters in a concentrated area? If anything, NPV would enhance the power of urban areas – which, not coincidentally, tend to be Democrat strongholds. The next target for NPV is California, where it’s on the fast track to passage and would place the measure into effect in states representing nearly 150 electoral votes.
From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File: The Wisconsin Recount Begins
On April 5, Joanne Kloppenburg declared victory in a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat despite a razor-thin margin of a couple of hundred votes, a tally based on media reports. When the official count came in, however, she was proved a loser by over 7,300 votes.
Undaunted by both that count and the fact that the most votes ever changed in a Wisconsin recount is only 489, Kloppenburg is out to prove the voters indeed cast more ballots in her favor and called for a recount, even going so far as to hire the attorney who handled Al Franken’s recount victory in neighboring Minnesota. Kloppenburg still believes the election is “too close to call.”
Needless to say, backers of Justice David Prosser are concerned, saying, “The only way she can achieve her nakedly political goal is to do one thing: challenge and disenfranchise thousands of Wisconsin citizens who exercised their right to vote April 5th and believed this election over.” Don’t put it past a leftist.
Warfront With Jihadistan: More WikiLeaks
Last Sunday, exciting new details gleaned from WikiLeaks documents about the U.S. effort in Afghanistan were published by The Washington Post and McClatchy Newspapers. Among the numerous new and intriguing facts are, um, not much. The Post made a valiant effort to draw attention to itself by using a headline that said, “WikiLeaks discloses new details on whereabouts of [al-Qa'ida] leaders on 9/11,” and the article itself does actually deliver what the headline promises.
For example, on September 11, 2001, al-Qa'ida’s leadership was pretty much concentrated in Karachi, Pakistan, with the accused mastermind of the USS Cole bombing recovering from a tonsillectomy, the organizer of the 2002 Bali bombing buying biological weapons equipment, and the man who would later be identified as the brains behind the 9/11 attacks gathering with other al-Qa'ida members to watch New York and Washington burn on TV. Within a day, many of al-Qa'ida’s leadership were heading back to Afghanistan to plan for an expected war with the U.S.
While these are all interesting historical facts, they mean little for anything going on today. About the only significant detail from the Post story concerns Osama bin Laden and the fact that he had to put the Taliban in charge of al-Qa'ida when he fled Afghanistan, which should certainly raise serious questions about inviting the Taliban to any Afghan negotiations as is the current case.
The McClatchy piece, which focused on Guantanamo Bay and its detainees, was similarly short on useful information, although it tried to show the U.S. was up to no good at Gitmo. The U.S. apparently allowed Chinese and Russian interrogators to question detainees at Guantanamo, while other detainees were held at Gitmo so that U.S. military intelligence could gather information on countries other than Afghanistan. These appear to be serious charges – until one realizes that all the countries involved are potential targets of al-Qa'ida, so it makes sense for them to be involved. All in all, not a whole lot of heat or light from this new release, despite the efforts of the Post and McClatchy.
Business & Economy
Regulatory Commissars: Labor Board Hammers Boeing
You know the federal government is overreaching when The New York Times has a problem with it. In its never-ending push to end the free market society which we are supposed to be living in, the Obama administration – via the National Labor Relations Board – is now trying to dictate where private companies do business.
This week, Obama appointee Lafe Solomon filed a complaint on the NLRB’s behalf, seeking to force the Boeing Company to build its new plant in Washington State. As bad as this complaint appears on its face, the underlying reasons for it are even worse. Boeing originally planned to build its new plant near Washington’s Puget Sound, but after tangling with the International Association of Machinists, the company gave up. Indeed, this union had already cost the company nearly $2 billion in revenues due to its penchant for striking. Boeing instead moved to South Carolina, a right-to-work state not in the grip of organized labor. It then set to work constructing the plant and hiring over 1,000 locals.
Solomon alleges that, in avoiding the union’s reach, the company is infringing on the worker’s “fundamental right to strike.” It doesn’t matter to Solomon, the NLRB, or Obama that the Supreme Court has ruled that businesses can take union shenanigans into account when making decisions; it doesn’t matter that this move will cripple business and hurt the American worker; and it doesn’t matter that it undermines our right to self-determination. It doesn’t even matter that Boeing increased employment in Washington by 2,000 workers. We certainly hope these things will matter, however, to the administrative law judge who will hear the case on June 14.
Crashing and Burning
In merely the latest sign of government ineptitude to manage anything, not only is the Democrats' $80 billion deficit-financed takeover of American auto giants GM and Chrysler poised to lose tens of billions in tax dollars, but vehicles produced by the Democrats and their UAW allies now dominate nine of the bottom 11 spots on Forbes “Worst Cars on the Road” list. Every one of these nine failed safety, reliability, value or gas mileage tests. Barack Obama has ushered in soaring gas prices with his adamant refusal to allow oil companies to access domestic oil resources and other policies, and now poor vehicle quality will have Americans shopping for other cars. We suppose it’s all part of the effort to get everybody to board the high-speed train to “win the future.”
Meanwhile, speaking of the auto industry, nanny state social engineering by Democrats in Washington State also continues unfettered. After pushing citizens to buy electric vehicles through wasteful tax breaks, public-relations efforts and nearly the highest gas tax in the country, the state of Washington is now proposing to tax electric car owners with a special yearly fee of $100. Nothing quite like friendly fire.
Culture & Policy
Judicial Benchmarks: SCOTUS Denies Petition to Hear ObamaCare Yet
With the 2014 implementation date for ObamaCare’s “individual mandate” just a few years away – and with employers already concerned over costs of compliance (not to mention non-compliance) with the behemoth law – the Supreme Court has rejected a request by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to give the law an expedited review. Cuccinelli, who filed suit against the health care bill and won in federal district court, was hoping SCOTUS would agree to skip the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case now stands on appeal from the Obama administration. Instead, the Court turned down the request, almost definitely delaying a final ruling on the constitutionality of the law until at least next year.
In addition to waiting at the Fourth Circuit, where it will be heard on May 10, ObamaCare is also on appeal before the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, where it landed after a Florida judge declared the law unconstitutional in a case championed by attorneys general from more than 25 states. SCOTUS’s choice to let the lower courts have their say first is typical, and the Court’s denial doesn’t mean the case won’t end up there – undoubtedly it will. With a hearing delayed, though, odds are looking better and better that ObamaCare’s trial before the High Court will coincide not with the relative calm of a non-election year but with the political hurricane of the 2012 presidential election.
Faith and Family: Defending DOMA
Washington has a new version of “Find Waldo.” In this case, it’s “Find the Principled Lawyer.” Law students are taught that every person is entitled to a defense, no matter how despicable the defendant or how heinous the offense. Thus, gruesome mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer was able to obtain a lawyer to defend him, and the American Nazi Party was able to rely on the American Civil Liberties Union.
In 1996, Congress enacted, and President Bill Clinton signed into law, The Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA. The law forbids the federal government from extending spousal benefits to same-sex couples, even if they are legally wed in their states, in effect not recognizing these “marriages.” As the head of the executive branch of the federal government, the president is responsible for defending through the Department of Justice the constitutionality of laws of the United States in court.
However, the Obama Justice Department took the unusual step in February of announcing that it would no longer defend DOMA because Attorney General Eric H. Holder said the administration had determined that the law was unconstitutional. The job of defending the legislation then fell to Congress, and last week House Republicans hired Paul D. Clement, a partner at the firm of King and Spalding and a former solicitor general under President George W. Bush, to do what the Justice Department refused.
Since the announcement that Clement and King and Spalding would defend DOMA, the firm has been sharply criticized by homosexual rights groups. This criticism led the firm to announce that it has withdrawn from the case. In response, Clement resigned from the firm and will continue to defend the constitutionality of DOMA as a partner at another firm.
Find the principled lawyer.
Climate Change This Week: Apple Named ‘Least Green’ Tech Co.
Apple aficionados are a loyal bunch, and with good cause. From iPads and iPods to iPhones and Macs, the tech company – which posted 95 percent growth in its latest quarterly earnings – must be doing something right. For all the colorful apps Apple offers, however, it seems one color that’s missing is green.
Last week, Greenpeace named Apple the least green tech company in the world, thanks to “dirty data” centers. As the UK’s Guardian opines, “Greenpeace’s report, How Dirty is Your Data? reveals that the company’s investment in a new North Carolina facility will triple its electricity consumption, equivalent to the electricity demand of 80,000 average US homes.” Indeed, the facility’s power will draw on “a mix of 62% coal and 32% nuclear.” (Incidentally, as The Heartland Institute points out, the U.S. Department of Energy itself praises coal, calling it “the workhorse of the nation’s electric power industry, supplying more than half the electricity consumed by Americans.”)
Still, those of the monochromatic political ideology would rather stifle productivity altogether than benefit from “dirty” coal. In fact, one would think Al “It’s Not Easy Being Green” Gore would be the first to call for Apple to cease and desist its dirty ways given that he’s on Apple’s Board of Directors. Ah, the irony.
Most people have never heard of Hubert J. “Hub” Schlafly Jr., but if you’ve watched any major political speech in the last 50 years, you know his work. Schlafly, after all, invented the teleprompter. He died April 20 at the age of 91. Presidents from Dwight Eisenhower on have used the teleprompter to deliver speeches, though the device has been most closely associated with Barack Obama. Even Vice President Joe Biden has teased the president about his seeming inability to function without his trusty teleprompter. And word is that when Obama learned the sad news about Schlafly’s passing, he was utterly speechless.
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
The Patriot Post Editorial Team