“[A] wise and frugal government … shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” –Thomas Jefferson
Government & Politics
A Slick Shakedown
New & Notable Legislation
The DISCLOSE Act, a campaign finance bill meant partially to reverse the outcome of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, came one step closer to passing this week. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) made a deal with the National Rifle Association that would exempt the organization from disclosure rules in the bill. The NRA’s reasoning for this back room deal is that it exists to protect Second Amendment rights and will fight to keep its donors’ information private. They aren’t offering support for any version of the bill, but by backing out of the way, they are handing the keys to passage to Democrats and their union allies, who oppose everything the NRA stands for. Despite the NRA’s Faustian bargain, Republicans remain opposed and Democrats were forced to cancel a Friday vote as they struggled to unify their own caucus.
The “jobs” bill under consideration in the Senate failed Thursday, garnering only 56 of the needed 60 votes to move forward. Republicans blocked the $120 billion package until the cost can be covered by cutting existing federal programs. Trimmed down from Democrats’ original wish list, the bill still would have increased the deficit by $55 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) has introduced an amendment that would essentially force diversity appointments on the Federal Reserve Board and its 12 regional banks. These appointments would be made by a diversity officer who would be appointed by the president. Diversity officers would also be charged with forcing more “diversity” on mortgage lending – virtually the same idiotic scheme used by Fannie and Freddie that produced the housing bubble that triggered this recession in the first place.
“A new U.S. Senate bill would grant the president far-reaching emergency powers to seize control of or even shut down portions of the Internet,” reports CNET News. Broadband providers, search engines and other companies chosen by the government “shall immediately comply with any emergency measure or action developed” by the Department of Homeland Security under a new bureaucracy called the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications (NCCC). Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), the primary sponsor, said it would give the federal government the power to “preserve those networks and assets and our country and protect our people.” Forgive us if we’re a bit skeptical.
This Week’s ‘Braying Jackass’ Award
“We’re not satisfied with everything we’ve done [in Congress]. The way to cure that is to give us more authority and more ability.” –Rep. Barney Frank
News From the Swamp: So Transparent
Some House Democrats are complaining that the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) is cramping their style by conducting intrusive investigations and releasing documents to the public that reflect poorly on House members. The Congressional Black Caucus has gone so far as to introduce a bill to weaken the office’s ability to conduct investigations. Again, no word from the Congressional White Caucus, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who touted the creation of the office in 2008 as a way to bring an end to “the culture of corruption,” has signaled that she might be fine with watering it down. Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL) may have best encapsulated the sudden loss of favor of the OCE among Democrats: “The cynical among us would assert that the people crying the loudest have the most to hide. Perhaps the OCE is a victim of its own success. If it weren’t making a difference, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
SC Democrats Perplexed Over Their Own Senate Candidate
The strange case of South Carolina Democrat primary winner Alvin Greene continues to be an embarrassment to the Democrats. Vic Rawl, who lost by 18 percentage points to Greene in the June 8 Senate primary, filed a formal protest and hired election analysis experts to review the data from the primary. Rawl’s team alleged a number of election anomalies including faulty voting machines, irregular counts and missing votes. On Thursday, the state party rejected Rawl’s appeal. No one is yet sure just how Greene, 32, with no job, virtually no campaign, and no name recognition was able to beat Rawl, a longtime politically active officeholder. Greene has refused all requests to step aside, claiming that he is a lifelong Democrat, not a Republican plant as Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) has alleged, and that he won the race fair and square. Indeed, it appears that Democrat voters were simply too lazy to find out anything about the candidates, and chose the one with the nicer name.
From the Left: Congressman Assaults Student
“Do you fully support the Obama agenda?” Such was the question posed to Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-NC) this week by two young men identifying themselves as students. Etheridge proceeded to assault one of the students, which, unfortunately for the congressman, was caught on tape. Predictably, there has been no move toward discipline from fellow House Democrats. While the dinosaurs of television and print media look high and low for phantom Tea Partiers spitting at congressmen or shouting racial epithets, their leftist comrades are denouncing the young videographer instead of the ill-tempered congressman.
Etheridge eventually issued an apology for the incident – well, for having it caught on video anyway – but he still hasn’t answered the original question: Does he fully support the Obama agenda? That’s a question for which voters in Etheridge’s district deserve an answer, and his GOP opponent, Renee Ellmers, will continue asking for it as that campaign rolls on.
We Don’t Support the Obama Agenda
The Patriot Post is on the front lines opposing the Obama agenda at every turn. Whether it’s the health care takeover, industry nationalization, or tax increases and regulation, we stand in the way of Leftist action with every edition we publish. Proudly, we didn’t take government handouts from TARP, the so-called stimulus, or Cash-for-Clunkers. (In fact, here in our humble shop, we each drive a clunker made in the previous century.) But we do need your help to weather the third quarter funding drought by reaching $200,000 by Independence Day. We’re nearly a third of the way there.
Thank you and God bless!
Warfront With Jihadistan: ‘Winging It’
Americans would be right to expect that their country – after the 9/11 attacks, the anthrax attacks, Saddam Hussein’s quest for uranium, nuclear-armed Pakistan’s trend toward militant Islam, and Iran’s headlong pursuit of a nuclear weapon – is ready for a WMD attack. Especially after the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism said in 2008 that by 2013 terrorists will likely launch a WMD attack somewhere in the world, a conclusion with which the House Homeland Security Committee last week said they agreed.
In May, however, a report from the inspector general of the Department of Justice (DoJ) said that the DoJ is not prepared should the U.S. suffer a WMD attack. While the Department of Homeland Security is the first national responder in the event of such an attack, the Justice Department is supposed to coordinate law enforcement across the country and, if needed, take charge locally if state and local authorities are overwhelmed – which, given the WMD scenario, is likely.
Details from the report are worrisome, presuming that we can trust anything issued by the Obama administration. “The Department is not prepared to fulfill its role … to ensure public safety and security in the event of a WMD incident,” the report states. Additionally, the DoJ has yet to assign anyone with clear authority for managing the department’s WMD response, doesn’t know who the department’s WMD personnel are or what its equipment resources are, and doesn’t even have a written plan for a WMD attack. An unidentified DoJ official said, “We are totally unprepared. Right now, being totally effective would never happen. Everybody would be winging it.” These are hardly comforting words. Given the clear threats this country faces, this lack of preparedness is inexcusable.
In light of all this, it’s even more disturbing that James Cole, Obama’s nominee to be the number-two official at Justice, wrote an editorial in 2002 that likened the 9/11 attacks to domestic crimes such as murder, rape and child abuse. He also argued, par for Obama’s leftist course, that jihadis should be treated as domestic criminals instead of the illegal war combatants that they are. So don’t look for the DoJ to be ready for a WMD attack any time soon.
Huge Mineral Deposits Discovered in Afghanistan
Geologists have discovered vast deposits of various minerals in Afghanistan with a potential value of more than $3 trillion. The geologists’ report describes deposits of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and lithium, among others. To put $3 trillion in perspective, it represents 250 years’ worth of Afghanistan’s current estimated GDP of $12 billion. Or just one Obama budget. While many years of work will be required even to begin extracting these minerals, at least Afghanistan can look forward to an economy based on more than just opium. China has already made serious inroads into the extraction of Afghan minerals, and we expect to see it go all-out to win the contracts that will result from this new discovery.
Of course, giving what amounts to a free cash machine to a society that still lives in the 13th century is not necessarily a good thing. Saudi Arabia is the best example of what sudden, enormous wealth can do to a repressively backward nation with a tribal society. One tribe attains power and spends the ensuing years doing whatever it can to hold onto it, while every other tribe bends to the will of the rulers or is ground underfoot. (Sounds like the Obama model.)
Afghanistan is one of the few places on earth that’s even more backward, and possibly more tribal, than Saudi Arabia was in the 1930s, with a very weak central government, a weak military of dubious allegiance to the government, warlords who are the de facto kings of their various provinces, woefully inadequate infrastructure, a thousand-year-old drug trade – oh, and the Taliban to boot. The Taliban, China, Russia – each will do what it can, by any means it can, to scoop up as much money as possible from Afghanistan’s soil. While we hope that the Afghan people will be able to build a successful and peaceful capitalist society with these newfound resources, history and current conditions are not encouraging.
Immigration Front: Anchors Away
Borrowing a line from the ‘70s hit movie “Network,” the people of Arizona are “mad as hell and [they’re] not going to take it anymore,” as far as illegal immigration is concerned. On the heels of Arizona’s controversial immigration law is proposed legislation from Arizona state senator Russell Pearce that would block the children of illegal immigrants – so-called “anchor babies” – from becoming citizens, even though born in the United States. Explaining his rationale, Pearce stated, “This is an orchestrated effort by [illegal immigrants] to come here and have children to gain access to the great welfare state we’ve created.”
Read more about this hot issue here.
In related news, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this week that “the Justice Department, under [Obama’s] direction, will be bringing a lawsuit” against Arizona over its immigration law. It’s not clear if Justice has actually decided, or if Hillary simply jumped the gun.
Business & Economy
Income Redistribution: Obama Requests $50 Billion for States
Not unlike O.J. searching for the “real” killer, the president is searching for someone’s arse to kick over the Gulf oil crisis. Coincidentally, both men seem to be focusing their searches on exclusive golf courses. Obama briefly interrupted his diligent search, however, to propose plugging yet another bottomless financial pit with even more deficit spending. This time it’s another $50 billion in “stimulus” aid to state and local governments. These needy governments have refused to balance their budgets and are claiming the latest infusion is needed to avoid “massive layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters” and to support the imaginary economic recovery.
Ignoring the fact that last year’s $800 billion stimulus boondoggle rewarded only state and local governments that kicked the fiscal can down the road, Obama again demonstrated his unflinching allegiance to Keynesian economics by asserting that going further into hock to keep the government partying like it’s 1999 somehow helps the same economy which must pay the bills to stay afloat.
Despite not being able to conclusively link his hyperventilating about “massive” local government layoffs to any actual facts, Obama needs to learn that employment of teachers, police and firefighters is not a matter in which the White House or Congress should have any legitimate interest. Such persons work for their local governments, which, until now, have been perfectly capable of budgeting for their own employees since the founding of the Republic. Obama should instead focus his renowned intellect (just ask him, he’ll tell you it’s renowned) on finding places to cut expenditures and get the federal deficit under control.
Fannie and Freddie Bailout May Reach $1 Trillion
Once upon a time, there was a $400 billion limit on taxpayer dollars authorized to bail out mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Then, on Christmas Eve, the Treasury Department eliminated the cap, opening wide the doors to unlimited bailouts and borrowing. Now, according to Bloomberg, the cost of salvaging the beleaguered giants may hit $1 trillion. Bloomberg reports, “Fannie and Freddie, now 80 percent owned by U.S. taxpayers, already have drawn $145 billion from an unlimited line of government credit.” And the price tag may go higher – much higher.
Edward Pinto, a former Fannie Mae chief credit officer, calls it “the mother of all bailouts.” To Qumber Hassan, a mortgage strategist at Credit Suisse Group AG, “It’s like a debt trap … The more they draw, the more they have to pay.” The reason: The bailout terms require the mortgage duo to pay an annual dividend of 10 percent on taxpayer-owned shares. To date, the IOU stands at $14.5 billion, topping even the highest-profit years ever reported by Fannie and Freddie.
Republicans proposed tackling the issue by phasing out Fannie and Freddie, but Democrats would have none of it. Yet even as Washington is willing to throw unlimited taxpayer dollars at Fannie and Freddie, Treasure Secretary Timothy Geithner admits, “It’s very hard to judge what the scale of losses is.” How comforting.
Hope 'n’ Change: Health Costs Go Up, Some Lose Coverage
Chalk it up to another Obama promise that’s gone the way of the dodo. It seems the mantra, “If you like your insurance, you can keep it,” should have been followed by, “Just kidding.” Politico reports, “Part of the health care overhaul due to kick in this September could strip more than 1 million people of their insurance coverage.” At issue are “limited benefit” or “mini-med” plans, which carry a lower price tag and which many employers, such as restaurants and retail companies, offer to low-wage or part-time workers. Obama’s health care takeover could outlaw these plans.
As pointed out by Neil Trautwein, a health care lobbyist with the National Retail Federation, “There’s slight irony, given the president’s repeated assertion that if you enjoy your coverage you can keep it, that this would take the coverage away from part-time employees until 2014” (when, as Politico notes, “the exchanges are set up and tax credits become available for low-wage workers”).
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that health insurance costs are expected to continue rising next year. Citing a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, the AP says, “For the first time, most of the American workforce is expected to have health insurance deductibles of $400 or more.” Supposedly the health care overhaul “will have little impact” on these cost hikes. But wasn’t ObamaCare supposed to fix everything?
Regulatory Commissars: FCC to Regulate Broadband
In April, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Communications Act empowered the FCC to regulate “telecommunications” only, and thereby prohibited the FCC from regulating broadband Internet, which the agency had specifically determined was not telecommunications. Thursday, in a 3-2 partisan vote, the FCC decided it would begin regulating broadband after all – by reclassifying it as telecommunications.
The decision allows the Commission to proceed with so-called “net neutrality” rules, which will restrict how Internet service providers can manage the traffic on their broadband networks. Republican Commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker were the two “no” votes, and they objected saying that legislation was needed before the agency could assume this power. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), former chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, criticized the decision, saying, “Despite overwhelming opposition within a Congress that possesses the actual authority that the FCC covets, the commission now inexplicably appears poised on Thursday to take another misguided leap towards its investment-suffocating attempt to regulate broadband providers as common carriers.”
Culture & Policy
Faith and Family: Crist Embraces Abortion
In light of recent events, one might wonder why Florida Governor and former GOP senatorial candidate Charlie Crist was a Republican in the first place. A bill that would have required mothers to receive an ultrasound of their baby before an abortion was vetoed by Gov. Crist last week. Among other things, he criticized the bill because it would “coerce people to obtain medical tests or procedures that are not medically necessary,” and would invade a mother’s “right to privacy.”
While he claimed to be clearing away an “inappropriate burden” on mothers who wished to have an abortion, Crist refused to waive the burden on Floridians of buying health insurance once ObamaCare takes effect. He also vetoed an amendment to a nursing home bill that would have declared government could not compel state residents to purchase health insurance.
Since dropping his bid for the Republican nomination to the Senate and declaring himself an independent, Crist’s campaign website has excised pages devoted to positions on the sanctity of life and same-sex marriage. This after campaigning for governor in 2006 on a pro-life platform.
Drifting away from the GOP on social issues may be a campaign ploy, but it also should lend itself to Sunshine State voters questioning the character and principles of this shameless opportunist. If saying one thing and doing another is a qualification for serving in the United States Senate, it seems Crist is already mentally measuring the curtains in his new Senate office.
Climate Change This Week: Pacific Islands Still Stand Tall
One of climate change huckster Al Gore’s much-hyped claims was that global warming would cause sea levels to rise, in turn imperiling a number of small islands around the world, particularly in the Pacific Ocean. Well, he may need to revisit his theory.
Researchers in New Zealand studied aerial photographs taken as far back as 1944 to determine whether 27 South Pacific islands were indeed shrinking due to higher sea levels. The study found that while sea levels have risen a few inches over the last century, 20 of the 27 islands have either grown or stayed relatively stable – none has been swallowed up by the rising tide.
In truth, the findings suggest that sand removed by waves and swells pounding the windward side of the island is replaced by more deposits on the leeward side – in essence the islands slowly move along with the current. It’s a process which nature has perfected over time, keeping the landmasses more or less intact. Thus, we have proof that Al Gore’s head isn’t the only thing growing on the planet, and if he wants to buy himself a South Pacific island paradise to go along with his two mansions, the price per acre should be coming down.
Around the Nation: Vote Early and Often
Federal Judge Stephen Robinson gave a whole new meaning to the term “legislating from the bench,” when he ordered Port Chester, New York, to institute cumulative voting in its election of village trustees. Under this system, voters have not one, but six, votes. They could vote for six different candidates, vote six times for one candidate, or any combination in between. Also ordered by the judge: early in-person voting up to five days before Tuesday’s election.
Robinson’s decision is the result of a lawsuit filed by the Bush Department of Justice in 2006, which sought to address the fact that although half of 30,000 residents of Post Chester are Hispanic, there has never been a Hispanic village trustee. This, the judge ruled, violates the Voting Rights Act. What he failed to acknowledge, however, was a history of low turnout among Hispanic voters. His answer: let everyone vote six times!
Although new to New York State, cumulative voting has been used in other areas of the country to help minority voters elect “their” candidates. Even if we forget about the implications of this, in every other case the system was adopted by consent, not ordered by a judge. Port Chester residents were issued instructions on the new system in English and Spanish, which were approved by the DoJ. One voter told the media that the instructions were so “thorough, it made voting easier.” One would imagine it to be so, when one doesn’t have to decide upon a single candidate.
Village Academic Curriculum Video of the Week
‘I am an Obama scholar.’ You won’t believe it until you see it.
To Keep and Bear Arms
A man had just returned home with his three daughters in Upper Gwynedd, Pennsylvania, one evening and was greeting his wife, when five men approached and ordered them inside the house. The suspects, some armed, allegedly had been targeting the family and had been hiding near the home when the residents arrived. Once inside, however, the homeowner was able to grab a handgun and began firing at the suspects. More than 20 shots were exchanged in the gunfight that left one intruder dead and the resident critically wounded; his family was unharmed. The other four suspects fled the scene and are still on the run. It was unclear whether any of them suffered gunshot wounds.
As part of the White House’s new “Recovery Summer,” Obama adviser David Axelrod said, “This summer will be the most active Recovery Act season yet, with thousands of highly visible road, bridge, water and other infrastructure projects breaking ground across the country.” One such project is in Arizona, where the federal government will pay $1.25 million to build bridges for 250 rare red squirrels, which until the 1970s were thought to be extinct. Each year, it seems, an average of five of them are hit by cars as they attempt to cross the road. The solution? Your hard-earned dollars will now fund 41 “canopy tunnel crossings” for $400,000, and numerous cameras to monitor the bridges for $160,000.
All of this begs the question, Why did the squirrel cross the road? The answer is obvious: To take advantage of the federally funded bridge. Still, we in our humble shop wonder whether it would’ve been better just to buy “Squirrel Crossing” signs similar to those yellow ones that tell deer where it’s safe to cross.