“[N]either the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.” –Samuel Adams
Government & Politics
To Justify Its Own Existence, NAACP Condemns Tea Party for ‘Racism’
First Lady Michelle Obama went to the NAACP convention in Kansas City, Missouri, this week to speak on childhood obesity, but if you read the ABC News story on the speech, you might think she railed on the Tea Party movement for being racist. On the contrary, the First Lady stuck to her theme of encouraging children to eat healthy foods and get more active in their lives.
Yet since the NAACP’s jihad against all things Tea Party is sexier and more inflammatory than yet another lecture on childhood obesity, the Leftmedia outlet hijacked its own headline story to play up the conflict and promote an upcoming protest march in Washington this fall. It’s a telling dichotomy that ABC emphasizes polls diminishing the Tea Party movement’s impact yet continues to treat the movement as a significant threat. If the Tea Parties were so impotent, one would think the media would ignore them. Then again, they tried that while the movement grew last year – and just like everything from the Left, it didn’t work.
NAACP chief Ben Jealous lived up to his name when he noted the Tea Party’s political success, saying, “We have to close the enthusiasm gap.” And to close that “enthusiasm gap,” the “civil rights” group unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Tea Party movement to repudiate the supposed racism and bigotry in its ranks.
The entire text won’t be available until the board of directors votes in October (that’s brave of them), and Jealous equivocated: “We take no issue with the Tea Party movement. We believe in freedom of assembly and people raising their voices in a democracy. What we take issue with is the Tea Party’s continued tolerance for bigotry and bigoted statements. The time has come for them to accept the responsibility that comes with influence and make clear there is no place for racism and anti-Semitism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry in their movement.”
According to a press release, the resolution cites phantom incidents as proof. “In March, members of the Congressional Black Caucus were accosted by Tea Party demonstrators and called racial epithets. Civil rights icon John Lewis was spit on, while Congressman Emanuel Cleaver was called the ‘N’ word.” But the NAACP can’t even get their story straight when it comes to these fabricated altercations.
In response, the St. Louis Tea Party passed a resolution condemning the NAACP’s resolution condemning the Tea Party movement, specifically calling for the NAACP to withdraw its, “bigoted, false, and inflammatory resolution.” We concur. The time has come for the NAACP to accept the responsibility that comes with influence and make clear that there is no place for racism and anti-Semitism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry in their movement.
As for our “post-racial” president and First Lady, they’d do well to focus their NAACP legions on the content of their own character, rather than baseless attacks on the character of others.
This Week’s ‘Braying Jackass’ Award
“The Tea Party, as a political philosophy, is to reverse what civil rights did and that is saying the federal government must protect people.” –the “Reverend” Al Sharpton, calling states' rights a racist issue
Sharpton added, “There clearly are some racial leaves in their tea bag, but this is not just about race. It is about how you see government.”
At least he got the last part right – limited government versus nanny state.
News From the Swamp: Senate Passes Financial Bill
“The Senate approved a wide-ranging overhaul of the nation’s financial regulations Thursday, handing President Barack Obama his second major domestic-policy victory of the year,” reports The Wall Street Journal. The vote was 60-39, mostly along party lines. Republican (in the loosest sense of the word) Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine joined Scott “Kennedy” Brown (?-MA) in supporting the 2,300-page bill, offsetting the loss of Sen. Robert Byrd, who died recently, and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), who voted “no” – because the legislation’s not tough enough. Barack Obama will sign the bill into law in the coming days.
According to the Journal, “The measure, once implemented, will touch all areas of the financial markets, affecting how consumers obtain credit cards and mortgages, dictating how the government dismantles failing financial firms and directing federal regulators' focus on potential flashpoints in the economy.” Left out of the bill, though, were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the quasi-government-run mortgage giants that were the prime “flashpoints” of the current financial crisis. Instead, Democrats took the opportunity to put the screws to everyone else.
The New York Times adds further clarity: “The bill … is basically a 2,000-page missive to federal agencies, instructing regulators to address subjects ranging from derivatives trading to document retention. But it is notably short on specifics, giving regulators significant power to determine its impact.” One worrisome provision grants the federal government subpoena power for any financial information from any institution it wants, without probable cause.
Giving the game away, the bill’s co-author, lame-duck Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), said, “No one will know until this is actually in place how it works.” If this sounds chillingly familiar, recall what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said regarding the 2,400-page health “reform” legislation: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
Income Redistribution: Democrats Talk Taxes
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said Tuesday that Democrats in the House will push to extend some of the Bush tax cuts before they expire at year’s end. Of course, Hoyer didn’t say this without venturing into the usual class warfare. “What you want to do is stimulate at this point in time, so you certainly do not want to increase taxes on the middle class, middle-income working Americans,” he said. Without congressional action, rates will rise across the board. As for individuals earning more than $200,000 or couples more than $250,000, your taxes are going up because, according to Democrats, you do nothing to stimulate the economy. Running small businesses – the hiring engine of America – doesn’t count.
Oddly enough, for Democrats to talk of extending cuts for the middle class (i.e., preventing a tax increase), they have to admit that taxes were cut for the middle class in the first place. “Tax cuts for the wealthy” was how the Bush cuts were always couched. Of course, if Democrats do take action, they will pat themselves on the back all the way to Election Day.
Meanwhile, the death tax expired at the end of 2009 and the Senate is just now getting around to taking action on it. Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) have introduced an amendment to a small-business bill that would extend permanently the death tax at 35 percent with a $5 million exemption, indexed for inflation. We suppose that’s better than the 55 percent rate and $1 million exemption set to kick in on Jan. 1, but it would be nice if they’d just let it die. The lack of any death tax for just this year makes estate planning interesting. Just ask the Steinbrenners.
Immigration Front: DoJ Threatens Second Suit Against Arizona
On the Sunday talk-show circuit, Attorney General Eric Holder said that the Justice Department hasn’t ruled out filing a racial profiling lawsuit against the state of Arizona for its immigration law. This would be a new and separate suit from the one already filed to kill the law because it supposedly interferes with federal immigration statutes. Holder maintains that the federal government could revisit the law in six months or a year to see if there has been any racial profiling in the execution of the law. If Holder believes this, he must not have much confidence in the suit the DoJ has already brought. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer appeared unimpressed by Holder’s threat of a second lawsuit, saying, “Why would they have to hesitate, after all the comments they made, and all the outrage that they made against the bill in regards to racial profiling, that it didn’t show up?”
The federal government’s hypocrisy over the Arizona immigration law just keeps piling up. See, for example, sanctuary cities such as Chicago and San Francisco that are in conflict with federal law because they willfully refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in identifying and apprehending illegal immigrants. Yet, the Obama administration won’t file suit against these sanctuary cities. Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler explained, “There is a big difference between a state or locality saying they are not going to use their resources to enforce a federal law, as so-called sanctuary cities have done, and a state passing its own immigration policy that actively interferes with federal law.” Of course, the difference is that sanctuary cities obstruct federal law, while Arizona seeks to enforce it. Such cities, however, do tend to be part of Barack Obama’s base. The president would rather appeal to Hispanic voters than strengthen our borders and enforce our laws.
From the Left: Felons for Franken
Minnesota Majority, a conservative watchdog group, believes that illegal felon voters may have pushed Democrat Al Franken to victory in the hotly contested Senate race with Republican Norm Coleman. After several recounts, Franken ended up winning the election by just 312 votes, going on to become the 60th Democrat in the Senate and providing key support for ObamaCare and other legislative insults to our Republic. Minnesota Majority did a careful comparison of 2008 voter rolls with a list of known felons and discovered that there were 393 illegally registered voters in the state’s two largest counties alone. Since the vast majority of felons routinely vote Democrat, it’s likely that Franken has convicts to thank for his victory.
Minnesota Majority hasn’t found much sympathy for its report in Hennepin County, the state’s largest, but District Attorney Phil Carruthers of nearby Ramsey County is seeking more manpower to fully investigate the situation. A statewide review is certainly needed, but considering that Democrat Secretary of State Mark Ritchie enjoyed ACORN’s support in his own election, don’t hold your breath. If he truly cared about felon voting, he would’ve already investigated the registration rolls.
Administration Denies NASA Muslim Outreach
The wisdom in working for the federal government has become akin to that of marrying King Henry VIII – it’s great to be asked, but there’s always that likelihood that eventually, your head’s gonna roll. The latest victim of the Obama guillotine is NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. As noted last week, Bolden stated that he had been charged with “making Muslims feel good about their contributions to science and engineering.” He even went on al-Jazeera to announce that it was his “foremost job.”
For numerous reasons this blew up in the administration’s face, and now Bolden finds himself thrown under the bus with the rest of Obama’s inconvenient allies. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced Monday that “such activities are not among Bolden’s assigned tasks,” adding that the administration “has already spoken to NASA.” Note that Gibbs didn’t deny that currying favor with the Muslim world is now a task of NASA, just that it was assigned to Borden. Also note that this backtracking comes after some NASA employees were informed they would be losing their jobs because of our fearless leader’s “vision,” which will take the space program in a “new direction.” Judging from the job this administration has done with just about everything, that new direction will most likely be straight into the ground, not into the heavens.
UN Security Council Slaps N. Korea’s Wrist … Kind Of
After an act of war against a United Nations member nation, executed with malice aforethought, one might expect the UN to take a firm and principled stance against said naked aggression, upholding the highest standards of its long and storied history of preserving peace around the world and… Okay, that last part was a stretch, but after North Korea sinks a South Korean warship, wouldn’t you expect something serious from the UN Security Council? The joint investigation of the sinking left zero room for doubt about who was behind the attack that killed 46 South Koreans. At a minimum, the UN would surely pass a Security Council Resolution demanding compensation for the families of the dead sailors and the loss of South Korean state property, right?
Wrong. In an act of craven spinelessness that sets a new standard for a body already known for spinelessness, all that the UNSC could muster was a Presidential Statement “condemning the attack.” Not condemning North Korea, mind you, just condemning the attack, as though it was merely a random act of weather. Worried that even this might appear too judgmental, the statement also found room for North Korea’s claim that it “had nothing to do with the incident.” The entire sorry episode is too absurd for parody – who would believe it? If ever there were an argument for scrapping the UN – or at least getting the U.S. out of it – this is that argument.
Profiles of Valor: Nick Popaditch
Nick Popaditch is a war hero. A Marine for 15 years, Gunnery Sergeant Popaditch became famous when the Associated Press photographed him smoking a cigar while his unit pulled down a statue of Saddam Hussein in April 2003. A year later, Popaditch was severely wounded during fighting in Fallujah – he lost his right eye and much of his hearing after a grenade was thrown through the hatch of his M1A1 Abrams tank. He was later awarded a Purple Heart and a Silver Star.
Now, Popaditch, bald and wearing an eye patch, is running for Congress in California on a platform of limited government, strong national defense and secure borders. The race inspired a cartoon in the Imperial Valley (CA) Press that didn’t go over too well. It depicts two skateboarders viewing a campaign poster of a bald man with an eye patch and cracking jokes about him. Even Popaditch’s Democrat opponent criticized the cartoon, and the paper has since made an apology after explaining that they were mocking the skateboarders' ignorance, not the candidate himself. Popaditch said he wasn’t offended: “I’ve got much thicker skin than that.” Not surprisingly, the gaffe has raised his profile and may help him in November.
Business & Economy
Regulatory Commissars: Deep-Sea Deep-Freeze
Having had its moratorium on offshore drilling smacked down twice already by the courts, “Team Chosen” is now attempting to prove yet again that no significant ethical hurdles are presented to it by the Rule of Law. The “new” moratorium effort is substantively no different from the previous two attempts. “But never mind that,” administration attorneys confidently tell us, “we really need this moratorium, so here it is again.” Notwithstanding terminology referencing so-called “deep-water” sites, however, the moratorium will apply to virtually any “floating facility with drilling activities” (read: anything and everything associated with drilling for offshore oil).
Meanwhile, the first of many drilling rigs has begun sailing away from the Gulf. Diamond Offshore announced last week that its Ocean Endeavor rig is now bound for Egyptian waters. Don’t look for it, or any others, to return soon, either: Estimates put the earliest possible return at a decade or more, given the time and expense associated with these moves. And therein lies the real goal: Stall, foot-drag, litigate and obfuscate long enough to render the issue moot. Once the rigs are gone, who cares if the ban is operative? This piece of the dismantling of America will have been completed by that time, moratorium or not.
Feebly attempting to justify the suspension, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar stated, “I cannot conclude at this time that deep-water drilling can move forward in a safe and environmentally sound manner.” But even Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) noted that Salazar’s claim “contradicts testimony given by drilling experts and ignores the history of oil and gas operations in the Gulf.” Does anyone really think this moratorium could successfully negotiate a hat trick of federal judicial gauntlets otherwise?
To counter actual news and public outrage associated with the truth, the Obama administration has launched a propaganda – um, “information” – campaign using two different websites, restorethegulf.gov (that’s $3.5 million to you, taxpayer) and deepwaterhorizonresponse.com, the latter funded by BP in the wake of more government arm-twisting. The most recent site, “Restore the Gulf,” centers on “transparency and openness about the BP oil spill,” to include the administration’s lightning-fast-Day-One response (remember that?) and its assistance to the Gulf Coast communities. The recently retired former head of the Coast Guard, credibility-challenged Admiral Thad Allen, announced the new campaign (did we mention he just “retired” following his brief tenure as disaster-cleanup point man?).
Finally, don’t plan on going down to the Gulf anytime soon to find out what the government is actually doing to fix the problem … or else also plan on going to jail shortly afterwards. According to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, reporting on the Gulf oil spill is now essentially a crime, punishable by a fine of up to $40,000, now that the most “transparent administration in history” has made approaching within 65 feet of what the Coast Guard deems “essential recovery efforts” a Class D felony. From our perspective, the truth couldn’t be any more “transparent.”
Hope ‘n’ Change: Let’s Pretend the Government Creates Jobs
The White House isn’t just issuing propaganda about the oil spill, but about jobs, as well. The administration claimed this week that the so-called “stimulus” has “created or saved” between 2.5 million and 3.6 million jobs, approaching, if not surpassing, the promised 3.5 million jobs by the end of this year. But even if they took the “million” out, they’d miss the mark by a mile. Since February 2009, the economy has lost a net 2.35 million jobs. Unemployment remains just below 10 percent – 2 percent higher than promised in the rush to pass the stimulus. “Yes, but it’s not 12 or 13 – or 15,” argued Barack Obama recently.
The Wall Street Journal sums it up: “This is called a counterfactual: a what would have happened scenario that can’t be refuted. What we do know is what White House economists at the time said would happen if the stimulus didn’t pass. They said the unemployment rate would peak at 9% without the stimulus (there’s your counterfactual) and that with the stimulus the rate would stay at 8% or below. In other words, today there are 700,000 fewer jobs than [the administration] predicted we would have if we had done nothing at all. If this is a job creation success, what does failure look like?”
On the other hand, it could be that the jobs the administration is bragging about having created are those placing millions of dollars worth of road signs touting the stimulus.
Bowles Warns of Debt ‘Cancer’
The economic outlook doesn’t get much worse than that painted last week by the leaders of Barack Obama’s debt commission. Erskine Bowles, White House Chief of Staff under Bill Clinton and current commission co-chair, stated, “The [federal] debt is like a cancer. It is truly going to destroy the country from within.” Smashing the government-expansionist dreams of the Obama administration, Bowles warned, “We can’t tax our way out… We’ve got to cut spending or increase revenues or do some combination of that.” Of course, as Investor’s Business Daily notes, “‘[I]ncrease revenues’ in Washington-speak is often code for ‘higher taxes.’ We hope Bowles isn’t leaving the door open to that.”
Apparently recognizing voter disgust with his spending spree, this week Obama nominated Clinton White House Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew to return to the post, citing the “record … budget surplus” generated during Lew’s previous tenure. But Concord Coalition Director Robert Bixby says things were different then: “The Redskins brought back [ex-coach] Joe Gibbs, but it didn’t mean they were going to win the Super Bowl.”
Part of Lew’s job will be helping the debt commission pitch its recommendations to Congress. Coincidentally (or not), the commission is due to deliver its final report in early December, just late enough for Democrats to ignore it during mid-term election campaigning.
ObamaCare: Temper Tantrums and Abortion Lies
Speaking about ObamaCare with constituents, Democrat Rep. Ciro Rodriguez claimed, “If we had not done anything in the next eight years based on CBO, Congressional Budget office, numbers it would have cost us $4.1 trillion.”
In other health care news, we’re shocked – shocked – to report that Democrats lied. Pennsylvania will receive $160 million to establish a “high risk” insurance program that will, among other things, fund abortions – something Obama signed an executive order saying wouldn’t happen. New Mexico will use $37 million in federal funds for a similar program. And we have lame-duck “pro-life” Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), et al, to thank for buying Obama’s promises and signing on to ObamaCare.
Some Banks Are Too Small to Matter for TARP
TARP may become self-perpetuating. It seems that the Troubled Asset Relief Program is creating more troubled assets in need of relief. The one-size-fits-all program was initially conceived to stabilize banks considered “too big to fail.” Such institutions derive a considerable portion of their earnings from fee income for services provided, rather than interest income from loans. Consequently, their asset turnover ratio is much higher, allowing them to exit the TARP program quickly when their funding sources stabilize.
Community banks are the opposite. While these banks derive some fee income from deposit account service charges (including overdraft charges) along with loan fees such as discount fees and late charges, these sources are generally less than 15 percent of total income. Consequently community banks rely on interest income generated by loans, and that’s where the trouble begins. Home mortgage rates are at 40-year lows – so low, in fact, that community bankers are finding it difficult to obtain interest rates higher than about 7 percent. This is a major problem when the TARP program requires payments of 7.7 percent for the first five years, increasing to 13.8 percent in year six.
Once again a government that is too big to function has insured the dominance of institutions that are too big to fail. Of course, we in our humble shop note that both the Titanic and the Bismarck, once considered unsinkable ships, presently reside at the bottom of the Atlantic; ergo, TBTF simply means that when a failure occurs, it will leave a big mark.
Culture & Policy
Second Amendment: State Department Celebrates Gun Destruction
While the State Department is charged with helping to conduct our foreign affairs, Hillary Clinton’s agency sometimes takes cheerleading for international interests a little too far. Last week, the United Nations held its annual “International Small Arms Destruction Day,” and the State Department was pleased to reveal that it had aided the effort by spending $130 million and taking 1.4 million weapons “off the street.” This was part of a program the UN uses to cut down on the (allegedly illicit) trade in small arms and light weapons.
While the writers of the Second Amendment weren’t aware of science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein, they knew without saying that “an armed society is a polite society.” One would think that if the United Nations were truly seeking a polite, peaceful society, they would encourage self-defense and not taking guns out of the hands of responsible citizens. However, if it’s about government controlling the population, well, you have an “International Small Arms Destruction Day.” Subordinating America’s interests (and Constitution) to those of an organization controlled in part by our enemies seems to be a perpetual order of the day in the Obama-Clinton State Department.
To Keep and Bear Arms
Eighty-two-year-old Robert Wallace from Wheat Ridge, Colorado, may be spending the rest of his life in jail after defending his home. In February, Wallace says that he witnessed two thieves hooking his flatbed trailer to their pickup truck. The suspects ignored demands to stop and sped off with the trailer; Wallace says that he fired two shots toward the truck as they were leaving.
Just minutes later, Damacio Torres, 32, arrived at the ER at a local hospital to get Alvaro Cardona, 28, medical attention. The latter had been struck in the face by a bullet. Later, Torres admitted to police that they stole the trailer from Wallace’s home. According to Wallace, the suspects threatened him during the incident, and he says, “They almost ran me over.”
Despite the confession of the crime, and despite both Torres and Cardona living in the United States illegally with arrest records, neither suspect so far has been charged with any wrongdoing. Ironically, Wallace is being charged with 12 felony counts, four of those on the count of attempted first-degree murder. While currently free on bond, Wallace’s court date is scheduled for September; at age 82, he may well spend the rest of his life in prison.
Update: The Wheat Ridge Police issued a statement indicating that Wallace did not initially report having fired at the suspects – only when the suspects arrived at the hospital for treatment did that become evident. Wallace later admitted to firing two shots. He also never reported being in fear of his life, which is why he is being charged. However, we’re still trying to figure out how two shots at two suspects resulted in four charges of attempted murder.
Climate Change This Week: An Idea With Merit
A recent Washington Post article fondly recalls the American work environment before air-conditioning. It was a kinder, gentler, more relaxed time of shorter work hours and the peaceful whirring of the desk fan. The author suggests that a return to those days would not only be good for the environment but for the soul as well. For those who have endured the high heat in the Northeast over the past few weeks, those words are enough to incite a riot.
However, when the author moves on to Washington, DC, the notion suddenly seems much more appealing. The article quotes New York Times columnist Russell Baker, who noted that, before air-conditioning, Congress would adjourn for the summer, and “the nation enjoyed a respite from the promulgation of more laws, the depredations of lobbyists, the hatching of new schemes for Federal expansion and, of course, the cost of maintaining a government running at full blast.”
A break from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid – now that would be as refreshing as a glass of ice-cold lemonade on a scorching day. And it would also be a win-win situation for Democrats; after all, think of all the votes Pelosi and her ilk would garner from the envirofascists who think we should abandon technological advancements to halt global warming.
Judicial Benchmarks: SCOTUS on the First Amendment
The Supreme Court last month delivered another blow to liberty in finding against the chapter of the Christian Legal Society (CLS) at the University of California, San Francisco (Hastings) Law School. CLS limits membership to those who share its doctrine forbidding sexual relations outside of marriage. The school found that this condition violated Hastings' rule forbidding discrimination based on religion and sexual orientation.
Read more here.
It seems the NAACP was busy this week on matters even more ridiculous than falsely accusing the Tea Party of racism. The California NAACP is backing a resolution seeking to make Neverland Ranch, the home of the late pop star Michael Jackson, into a state park. Jackson lived there from 1988-2005. According to the Sacramento Bee, Neverland featured a “working locomotive, a Ferris wheel and other amusement park rides, a 10,000-volume library and a zoo.” As for making it into a state park, state NAACP President Alice Huffman, who also serves on the state Parks Commission, said, “I think Michael’s history is world history and I think it would become the number one attraction for the state parks if we could pull it off.” Given California’s recent fiscal irresponsibility, what could be more fitting than making a monument out of the foreclosed home of a celebrity who went bankrupt?