"Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual -- or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country." --Samuel Adams
Government & Politics
Blame it on the Rain
The most watched of Tuesday's primaries was that between Sen. Arlen Specter (D-R-D-PA) and Rep. Joe Sestak, a retired admiral who has always admitted to being a Democrat. Specter began his career as a Democrat, switched to the GOP, and then went back to his first love before being shown the exit by his new/old party. Pennsylvania Democrat Gov. Ed Rendell, doing his best Milli Vanilli impression, blamed it on the rain: "The rain hurt" turnout for Specter, "no doubt about it."
On the other hand, the fact that Specter was heartily endorsed by George W. Bush in 2006 before being heartily endorsed by Barack Obama in 2010 didn't help, as made clear by a compelling comparison of Specter ads from 2006 and 2010 mixed by the liberal TalkingPointsMemo. As for Snarlin' Arlen, long known as one of the meanest and most arrogant senators on the Hill, all we can say is, Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Arlen.
More heartening news came out of Kentucky, where Rand Paul, son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), won the GOP primary to fill the Senate seat of Republican Jim Bunning, who is retiring. Paul trounced the establishment's choice, Secretary of State Trey Grayson, 59 percent to 35 percent. Democrats are spinning the result as benefiting them in November. DNC Chairman Tim Kaine said, "Rand Paul's positions fail to resonate beyond the far-right Republican segment of the electorate that supported him." It could be that Paul will have a tough time beating Democrat Attorney General Jack Conway, but there's no doubt the Tea Party is a force to be reckoned with.
In Arkansas, Democrat incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a leftist supporter of ObamaCare, couldn't hold off even-further-leftist challenger Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and is headed to a June runoff. Rep. John Boozman, winner of the GOP primary, leads both Democrats in polls.
Only one election pitted a Democrat against a Republican, and the Democrat won. Republicans had hoped to pick up Demo-gogue John Murtha's old House seat in PA-12, but failed to do so in a district that was the only one in the country to go for John Kerry in 2004 and John McCain in 2008. For Republicans, it was the third straight special election loss in a year when the climate is anti-Democrat. What's noteworthy is this: Democrat Mark Critz beat Republican Tim Burns by running as a conservative -- pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-Arizona immigration law, anti-cap-n-tax and anti-ObamaCare. That Pennsylvania voters swallowed his schtick is not to their credit. Then again, the district does feature a 2-1 Democrat majority, so maybe Republicans shouldn't have gotten their hopes up.
Quote of the Week
"Republican consultants are doing a wonderful job raising expectations sky-high for the November elections, so that now, even if Republicans do smashingly well, it will look like a defeat (and an across-the-board endorsement of Obama's agenda). Thanks, Republicans! That's what happened in the 1998 congressional elections, nearly foiling Clinton's impeachment. It's what happened to the Conservative Party in Britain a week ago. And that's what happened this week in the 12th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, formerly represented by Rep. John Murtha. Note to Republicans: Whenever possible, victory parties should be held after the election, not before it." --columnist Ann Coulter
The BIG Lie
"On occasion I have misspoken about my service and I regret that and I take full responsibility. But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country." --Connecticut Attorney General and Democrat Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal
What misplaced words? The New York Times blew the lid off Blumenthal's dishonesty in a blockbuster report this week that could change the election landscape. Though he received five deferments and spent time in the Marine Reserves stateside during Vietnam, he repeatedly spoke of having "served in Vietnam." But one cannot "misspeak" about such things, particularly someone like Blumenthal, whom the Times describes as a "brilliant lawyer who likes to argue cases in court and uses language with power and precision." Blumenthal is a liar, plain and simple.
News From the Swamp: Souder Resigns
Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) resigned this week after admitting that he had an affair with a member of his staff. The eight-term congressman was part of the Republican revolution of 1994, making his name as a family values conservative. He opted to quit now rather than put his family through the pain of a drawn-out ethics battle. Unfortunately, his good sense came too late. Only 10 of the original 56 GOP members who won Democrat-held seats in 1994 remain in Congress, in part because, as blogger Michelle Malkin put it, "That is what happens to a Republican's brain and soul after eight terms in office. Beltway-itis corrupts."
Meanwhile, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and South Carolina Republican Gov. Mark Sanford remain in office after similar infidelity. At least Souder had the dignity to resign, though his portrayal of himself as both the victim of "the poisonous environment of Washington, DC," and the better of those other cheating "politicians who drag their spouses up in front of the cameras rather than confronting the problem that they caused," was less than dignified. As Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto put it, "He still humiliated his wife by cheating on her, and by doing so in a way that became public. What does he want, a medal for not compounding the humiliation?"
Immigration Front: Holder Denounces Law He Hasn't Read
The Obama White House was so flummoxed over the recent passage of Arizona's immigration law that it wasted no time sending Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano onto the talk show circuit to decry the law's constitutionality. Holder even threatened a court challenge. It wasn't until this week that we learned that neither official has actually read the law. When Holder was challenged by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) about how he assessed the law without even reading the 10-page document, Holder replied that he "made the comments that I've made on the basis of things that I've been able to glean by reading newspaper accounts, obviously, television..." So the nation's "top cop" bases his legal actions on behalf of the federal government on what he sees on TV? Maybe it's a good thing that "Law & Order" is going off the air.
The administration is also busy embarrassing itself overseas regarding the Arizona law. In human rights talks with China, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner lent a sympathetic ear to Chinese delegates who complained about U.S. human rights issues, namely the Arizona immigration law. This from a government that practices institutionalized infanticide to control its population, as well as routinely jailing and executing Chinese citizens who speak out against it. As Investor's Business Daily notes, "The administration's apology tour continues with a mea culpa to the world's worst human-rights violator for Arizona's enforcement of U.S. immigration law. You'd think Tiananmen Square was in Phoenix." That is moral relativism at its lowest, proudly brought to you by Barack Obama, who declared, "[W]e are defined not by our borders, but by our bonds."
Meanwhile, Arizona utility commissioner Gary Pierce wrote Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, suggesting that, in the spirit of L.A.'s boycott of its neighboring state, the Arizona Utility Commission is more than willing to help. "If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives any power from Arizona-based generation," Pierce wrote. L.A. gets 25 percent of its power from a plant in Arizona.
This Week's 'Alpha Jackass' Award
"I strongly disagree with the recently enacted [immigration] law in Arizona. It is a law that not only ignores a reality that cannot be erased by decree but also introduces a terrible idea using racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement." --Mexican President Felipe Calderon denouncing Arizona before the U.S. Congress, where Democrats cheered
Calderon also called for a renewal of the so-called "assault weapons" ban. Again, Democrats gave him a standing ovation.
New and Notable Legislation
In a 59-39 vote Thursday, the Senate passed Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-CT) egregious financial "reform" bill, ending more than three weeks of debate and amendments on the measure. The bill now heads to reconciliation with the House version, which passed in December. Four Republicans -- Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Scott Brown of Massachusetts -- voted for the legislation. If it wasn't already, Brown's short-lived honeymoon with conservatives should now be declared over.
According to The Wall Street Journal, "The legislation, broadly, is designed to close the regulatory gaps and end the speculative trading practices that contributed to the 2008 financial-market crisis, which prompted federal regulators to engineer a series of taxpayer bailouts of financial institutions. Among other things, the bill would create a new regulatory system to manage the collapse of failed financial institutions. The bill would also create a new consumer-protection agency." Naturally, all of this will be accomplished by the crushing weight of bureaucracy, all while leaving Fannie and Freddie alone. We're sure it was coincidence, but the Dow fell 376 points, or 3.6 percent, closing at 10,068 Thursday.
This Week's 'Braying Jenny' Award
"We see [health care] as an entrepreneurial bill, a bill that says to someone, if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work, focus on your talent, your skill, your passion, your aspirations because you will have health care." --House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
Hope 'n' Change: Press Freedom Met With Silence
Barack Obama signed into law the Daniel Pearl Freedom of Press Act in a high profile Oval Office ceremony this week. The law, named after the Wall Street Journal reporter who was beheaded by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 2002, passed Congress earlier this year. It will add treatment of journalists to the State Department's human rights watch list, making note of any government that censors journalists or subjects them to physical attacks, threats or unlawful imprisonment.
Obama touted the law as an expression of core American values. He promptly refused to take any questions from journalists in attendance. It's a cowardly habit to which he's grown rather accustomed: The "transparency" president hasn't held a press conference since July 2009.
Iran Strikes a Deal With Turkey and Brazil
The high stakes nuclear chess match between Iran and the West continued this week at the United Nations. Unfortunately for the West, the ever-passive Obama regime continues to be outmaneuvered by the Mad Mullahs of Tehran. Obama came into office 17 months ago claiming that he could sweet-talk Tehran into giving up its nuclear ambitions; that sufficient bowing and groveling and blaming of the United States for the ills of the world would appease Iran's rulers. Iran used those 17 months to its advantage, first, by openly ignoring UN Security Council resolutions demanding that it give up its nuclear program, and now by signing a nuclear agreement with Turkey and Brazil, non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, that gives the Iranian nuclear program international recognition.
Under terms of the agreement unveiled Monday, within the month Iran will send more than a ton of low-enriched uranium to Turkey, and within a year get back more than 250 pounds of enriched uranium. The new agreement allows Iran to continue enriching what low-enriched stock it may still have to convert it into bomb-grade material. The U.S. had encouraged Brazilian and Turkish diplomacy as a step toward tougher UN sanctions, but this has clearly blown up in Obama's face. It's pretty much game/set/match to Iran.
With ever more limited options, Obama continues to seek UN pressure on Iran. This week, the U.S. won support for new sanctions from Russia and China, although that support is probably as strong as the paper it's written on. The sanctions, if passed, would ban Iran from pursuing "any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons," freeze assets of nuclear-related Iranian companies linked to the Revolutionary Guard, bar Iranian investment in activities such as uranium mining, and prohibit Iran from buying heavy weapons such as missiles and attack helicopters. This is more or less what all the other sanctions threatened to do, and we know how well those worked.
Iran has told us what it wants to do with nuclear weapons: wipe Israel from the face of the earth. The longer Obama and the West refuse to accept Iran at its word, the more likely it is that Iran will try to do just that. Clearly, neither Israel nor the West can wait much longer.
South Korea Blames North for Torpedoing Ship
"South Korea said Thursday that an international investigation has found overwhelming evidence that one of its warships was sunk by a torpedo made in North Korea and that the weapon was fired by a North Korean submarine," reports The Washington Post. The South Korean vessel sank on March 26 near a disputed sea border between the two nations, killing 46 sailors. According to the Post, "The report said that investigators had confirmed that 'a few small submarines and a mother ship' had left a North Korean naval base two to three days before the attack on the Cheonan and returned to port two to three days later."
South Korea, Japan and the United States are likely to pursue punitive action against Pyongyang, which denies involvement. Of course, given China's veto power on the UN Security Council, it's doubtful that much will be accomplished.
Is Third Time the Charm at TSA?
As we have detailed before, Barack Obama isn't doing well in selecting a leader for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Both Errol Southers and Maj. Gen. Robert Harding had to withdraw after questions arose regarding their past dealings. Southers ran into issues regarding an unauthorized background check on his ex-wife's boyfriend, as well as warning of right-wing terrorists. In Harding's case, questions arose about contract irregularities between the federal government and the consulting company Harding founded.
So Obama turned to a person who could presumably pass an FBI background check -- John S. Pistole, currently the FBI's deputy director. In selecting a lifetime federal government employee, Obama avoids some of the issues that derailed his prior two nominees.
A career FBI agent in several offices since 1983, Pistole advanced to his current post in 2004 after working in both organized crime and counterterrorism posts for the Bureau. Assuming a clean background check (a big assumption for any Obama nominee), Pistole should have an easy route to confirmation and Obama may finally have his TSA head a year and a half into his term.
Profiles of Valor: U.S. Army Air Forces Col. (ret) Walker 'Bud' Mahurin
We at The Patriot Post frequently honor America's heroes. Accordingly, we mark the passage of retired Colonel Walker "Bud" Mahurin with both thankfulness and mourning. Col. Mahurin, a fighter pilot who shot down more than two dozen planes in two wars and three theaters, died last week. Bud was 91. The first American pilot to become a double ace in the European Theater, and the only ace to shoot down enemy planes in both European and Pacific Theaters as well as the Korean War, Col. Mahurin was unique among U.S. combat aviators.
Bud joined the Army Air Forces in September 1941 -- just three months prior to Pearl Harbor -- fully anticipating the conflict America faced. Having downed enemy aircraft in every plane he flew -- the P-47 Thunderbolt, the P-51 Mustang and the F-86 Sabre -- today Bud is revered by America's fighter community as one of its all-time top aces. His unrivaled dedication, perseverance and integrity earned him the call sign "Honest John."
Twice shot down in World War II and once during the Korean War, Bud's 16-month captivity and torture during the latter especially tested his call sign, but he would nonetheless live up to it. Subjected to extensive physical and psychological torture by North Korean communists (read: Red Chinese), Col. Mahurin was coerced into signing a "confession" that was so wrought with falsehoods that even a Democrat would at once recognize it as bogus. Bud's brutal P.O.W. experiences, however, would shape future generations of fighter aviators through incorporation of Survival-Evasion-Resistance-Escape (SERE) training. That training would later prove invaluable to downed aviators in Vietnam.
Of course, we can never repay Col. Mahurin for his selfless service and heroism. We can and should, however, honor heroes like him by pausing to remember him and by simply saying, "Thank you, Col. Mahurin. Your nation owes you a debt we can never repay -- well done."
Business & Economy
Regulatory Commissars: Regulating Drilling
In dealing with what is likely a far larger oil spill than that of the Exxon Valdez, the Obama administration has responded with its signature move in the wake of any crisis: more government control. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, whose office oversees the Mineral Management Service (MMS), has announced more stringent regulations for onshore drilling, including the "categorical exclusion" -- which allows expedited oil and gas drilling on federal lands. BP's Deepwater Horizon had such an exception, and Salazar claims that these new rules are in response to that spill. Of course, the fact that the regulations will apply only to onshore drilling, while last month's spill was offshore, is irrelevant.
The new regulations are clearly a diversionary tactic to cover up the administration's own shortcomings. In 2009, under Obama's watch, the MMS awarded a National Safety Award to Transocean, the contractor who had leased the rig to BP. This award is given to companies who spend extra money on safety, closely follow regulations, and employ "trained and motivated" personnel. Chris Oynes, the high-level MMS official who personally presented the award to Transocean is coincidentally "retiring" at the end of this month.
In addition, the Associated Press found that the number of MMS inspections of the site had fallen since 2005. When the AP queried MMS about this, they were provided with new numbers significantly and mysteriously higher than before, all without explanation. So much for transparency.
In a further effort to deflect blame from his administration, Obama announced that he will call an "independent" panel to investigate the spill, particularly the "cozy relationships" those in the federal government have with the oil companies. The finger-pointer-in-chief declared, "I will not tolerate more finger-pointing or irresponsibility."
Greece May Investigate U.S. Banks
After the Obama administration indirectly helped bail out Greece with your tax dollars, you would think we might at least get a "thank you" from the Mediterranean nation. Instead, we might get a lawsuit. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is weighing legal action against American investment banks, as he believes they may have helped bring on Greece's crisis. "I wouldn't rule out that this may be a recourse," Papandreou said.
However, he noted that before making a decision he would wait for a Greek parliamentary investigation into the reason for the crisis. (As a socialist, Papandreou naturally can't believe the nation's huge social-welfare spending had anything to do with it.) "Greece will look into the past and see how things went," he said. "There are similar investigations going on in other countries and in the United States. This is where I think, yes, the financial sector, I hear the words fraud and lack of transparency. So yes, yes, there is great responsibility here."
So much for Obama's attempt to play global bank teller with American tax dollars. We suppose this means he will have to add one more bow and "I'm sorry" to his international apology tour.
Some Charitable Organization Could Lose Tax-Exempt Status
When used in the same sentence, "IRS" and "extensive outreach" can ignite apprehension in any American. But "extensive outreach" is just how Bobby Zarin, an IRS director, described the agency's efforts to inform more than 500,000 non-profits that they must file the new 990-N form to maintain their tax-exempt status. Notwithstanding, the requirement -- which Congress passed three years ago and which applies to non-church organizations reporting $25,000 or less in income -- has caught many non-profits by surprise. Just days before the May 17, 2010, filing deadline, the Urban Institute's National Center for Charitable Statistics estimated 214,000 non-profits still hadn't filed.
The IRS says the new requirement will provide "a much cleaner list of organizations that actually do exist," meaning more transparency and fewer defunct groups on IRS rosters. But Suzanne Garment and Leslie Lenkowsky of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University see cause for concern. "A larger issue is whether government agencies should expand their apparatus for monitoring charities," they write, noting, "Until now, the smallest charities did not have to file 990s."
Transparency can be good, but when used by the IRS as a reason to glean more information from private organizations, it's downright frightening.
Government Motors Turns a Profit?
Given the shell game GM is playing on unsuspecting consumers by claiming it has paid off a government loan (using the proceeds of another government loan), perhaps we should look askance at the reports of GM's having a profitable quarter for the first time since 2007. Detroit's largest government-owned automaker claims an $865 million first-quarter profit.
Despite projections that GM will sell 5 million fewer cars this year than it did in 2004, its last profitable year, the automaker expresses confidence that it has turned the corner. Company CFO Christopher Liddell believes that if GM can continue to sell more cars and the industry as a whole improves, "then we have an extremely good profit picture." Another optimistic forecast sees the company making a public stock offering as soon as the fourth quarter of this year, when it can begin truly paying back the money taxpayers gave to it. The automaker is even contemplating returning to the financing business after previously spinning off its GMAC division.
There's no word on when the damage to previously ignored bankruptcy laws and rules, allowing the United Auto Workers to receive a disproportionate share of GM's and Chrysler's spoils, will be rectified. The fact that GM turned a profit when it still owes American taxpayers billions certainly indicates that the infusion of capital was unnecessary except to provide a gift for a bloc of Democrat supporters.
Culture & Policy
From the 'Non Compos Mentis' File
It appears as though another Miss USA contestant has lost the title over politics. Last year, it was Carrie Prejean over the issue of same-sex marriage. This year, Miss Oklahoma and pageant frontrunner Morgan Elizabeth Woolard quickly became first runner-up after being asked about the Arizona immigration bill.
"I'm a huge believer in states' rights," Miss Woolard told celebrity judge Oscar Nunez of the NBC show "The Office," adding, "I think that's what's so wonderful about America. So I think it's perfectly fine for Arizona to create that law." Woolard knew she was in dangerous territory and immediately qualified her answer by saying she is against racial profiling.
Instead, Rima Fakih, Miss Michigan, took the crown, becoming the first Arab-American and first Muslim to win Miss USA -- or so the Leftmedia would have you believe. As The Washington Times notes, "The first Arab-American to win the Miss USA crown was really Julie Hayek in 1983. However, Miss Hayek was a Lebanese Christian, and the notion of Christian Arabs is probably too complicated for the liberal media to bother explaining." But Fakih is likely the first with family ties to Hezbollah. That was far less interesting to the judges than her thoughts on whether birth control should be completely covered by health insurance or provided free by doctors.
Asylum Granted to Obama's Aunt
"Auntie Zeituni" can stay in the United States, an immigration court in Cleveland has ruled. As the half-sister of Barack Obama's father, Zeituni Onyango was fondly remembered by the president in his book "Dreams from My Father" after meeting her during a trip to his ancestral homeland in 1988. Onyango moved to the United States in 2000 but was ordered to be deported in 2004 when her previous request for asylum was denied. Yet she remained in her Boston-area public housing and attracted little notice until her illegal status was discovered at the tail end of the 2008 presidential campaign.
Eventually, a judge suspended her deportation order and ordered a new show trial. Onyango, who at 57 is just a few years older than Obama and partially disabled, claimed that violence in her home country and the status of being known as Obama's relative would put her in danger of harm. During the last decade, only about one in five Kenyans have been granted asylum, according to immigration records. Perhaps this was a special case.
To Keep and Bear Arms
A man recently attempted to rob the Bee Ridge Pharmacy in Sarasota, Florida, but instead left with a gunshot wound. The suspect approached a counter, pointed what appeared to be a real pistol at a clerk, and demanded oxycodone. As the clerk walked toward the back, Frederick "Jerry" Pireaux, owner of the pharmacy, grabbed his gun and began shooting. A bullet hit the suspect in the shoulder and he ran through the front glass door, which had been shattered by another bullet. The suspect dropped the gun he was carrying on his way out, which turned out to be an air gun. Police are questioning a person who checked into a hospital shortly after with a gunshot wound.
Al Gore was up to his usual doom-and-gloom rhetoric last weekend. After receiving an honorary degree at the University of Tennessee, Gore turned on his best Tennessee accent and gave an incredibly depressing commencement speech (video montage here). Gore droned on about average humidity increasing, the polar ice caps decreasing, the migration of tropical diseases, and how, if we fail to address the "crisis," our descendants will be right in asking, "What were they thinking?" Frankly, we're surprised that anyone in attendance stayed awake.
Meanwhile, there's another summit in Copenhagen this weekend. This summit, however, is one that you jump over. With a gas-guzzling, 1,500-horsepower monster truck. That's right, Monster Jam, the professional monster truck series, is in Copenhagen to dazzle the Danes with death-defying stunts performed with products of the industrial revolution combined with a whole lot of testosterone. Come to think of it, attending the show might fix some of Gore's problems.