A Lesson Congress Should Learn about Fiscal Responsibility

Hat Tip: Shane Vander Hart

By |March 11th, 2009|The Blog|0 Comments|

Still Rebuilding the Blog

I am working on rebuilding the blogroll for the site.  It’s about as much fun as it sounds.  There are going to be a few blogs that are deleted.  Some simply don’t exist anymore, like A Newt One, and some I can’t remember why we added them in the first place.

If your blog is not on the blogroll, and you want to be added, there is a pretty complex system for adding it.

Ask.

You add us and we’ll usually add you.  Now, if you are some really whacked out site that promotes nothing but the idea that 9/11 was an inside job planned by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Federal Reserve, we’re not gonna link to you.  But, if you are making an effort and are putting out a good product, you have a spot on our sidebar.

Let us know and please, be patient.  I worked on this thing for about two hours and made it half-way through the Cs.  It’s gonna take me a while.

By |March 11th, 2009|The Blog|0 Comments|

How to Waste Money and Kill School Choice in One Move

The Senate passed the $410 billion omnibus bill yesterday and sent it to President Obama’s desk.  There was no surprise.  As I have said before, there are enough spineless, self-serving RINOs in the Senate to pass anything the left wants.  This bill had $7.7 billion worth of earmarks in it.  From what I have read, 40% of them had Republican names attached to them.

Tough to chastise the left for stealing cookies when you leave chocolate chip fingerprints.

schoolchoice1

More troubling than the thousands of earmarks worth billions of dollars we simply don’t have was the attack on school choice.  This bill ends a scholarship program that has allowed students in the DC area, 1,900 of them, to attend private schools, including the same school Obama’s girls attend. 

Known as the "Durbin language" after the Illinois Democrat who came up with it last year, the provision mandates that the scholarship program ends after the next school year unless Congress reauthorizes it and the District of Columbia approves. The beauty of this language is that it allows opponents to kill the program simply by doing nothing. Just the sort of sneaky maneuver that’s so handy when you don’t want inner-city moms and dads to catch on that you are cutting one of their lifelines.

The Senate had a chance to prevent this.  The purpose of Ensign Amendment was "To strike the restrictions on the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program."  It was defeated down party lines, with a few RINOs defecting.  How many billions have they voted to give away to banks, yet they vote against scholarships for poor families?

When given the chance to allow poor parents the opportunity to send their children to good public schools, the Democrats voted against it.  Tell me again this is the party of the little guy. 

This party is owned by the NEA. 

Photo Credit:

By |March 10th, 2009|The Blog|0 Comments|

Peace through begging

Peace through strength.

~ President Ronald Reagan

If President Reagan’s foreign policy with communist nations, Muslim dictatorships and other various evil empires like North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Libya, China and the old Soviet Union was characterized by the philosophy “Peace through strength,” then surely it can be argued that Obama’s foreign policy philosophy is “Peace through begging.”

Let’s start with the recent trips Obama’s secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, made to key countries in an effort to differentiate his policy from Bush’s foreign policy, but also to show these intractable nations, “I’m not George Bush.” What were the results?

Secretary’s Clinton’s recent trip to China was not as a representative of the leader of the free world or of the most powerful nation in the history of the world, but was, with hat-in-hand, essentially our chief diplomat begging Chinese General Secretary Hu Jintao to please buy more of America’s debt before we descend into a Great Depression. China balked and did not seem to accede to nor respect Hillary’s urgent request for economic aid.

The irony of this trip is irresistible. Recall that it was Secretary Clinton’s husband, President Bill Clinton, who essentially allowed to be stolen, sold or outright gave to China billions of dollars in sensitive nuclear technology that enabled this communist nation to take a “new” “Great Leap Forward” (1958-63) as it tried to become America’s No. 1 nuclear power rival in the world, surpassing even Russia.

Let’s look at the Middle East and the Muslim terrorist group Hamas, which rules over the Gaza Strip as a fanatical regime. Obama and Hillary want to give “the Palestinians” $900 million to rebuild Gaza. This is beyond the pale. Even the most faithful Kool-Aid drinkers of the left took pause at this astonishing announcement, for they rightly understood that Israel had just fought another bloody war with Hamas, which is still firing rockets at Israel right now.

In a BBC article on Hamas’ attacks against Israel, one writer said, “Since 2001, when the rockets were first fired, more than 8,600 have hit southern Israel, nearly 6,000 of them since Israel withdrew from Gaza in August 2005. The rockets have killed 28 people [Israelis] and injured hundreds more.”

Of course most reasonable people understand that virtually every dollar of the $900 million in foreign assistance Obama wants to give the Palestinians will go directly to the coffers of Hamas, which will then buy new and better rockets and WMDs from Egypt, Syria and Iran to terrorize our “friend and ally” Israel. The election of conservative Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s new prime minister hopefully will be an obstruction in Obama’s Hitler-like plans to reward Hamas for killing Jews.

Finally, let’s examine Obama’s policy to deal with perhaps America’s most intractable enemy – Iran. U.S. officials told us earlier this week that Obama sent a secret letter to Russia’s President Medvedev last month suggesting that he would back off deploying a new missile defense system in Eastern Europe if Moscow would help stop Iran from developing long-range weapons.

New York Times columnist Peter Baker wrote the following incredible statement regarding Obama’s foreign policy strategy:

The plan to build a high-tech radar facility in the Czech Republic and deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland – a part of the world that Russia once considered its sphere of influence – was a top priority for President George W. Bush to deter Iran in case it developed a nuclear warhead to fit atop its long-range missiles. Mr. Bush never accepted a Moscow proposal to install part of the missile defense system on its territory and jointly operate it so it could not be used against Russia.Now the Obama administration appears to be reconsidering that idea, although it is not clear if it would want to put part of the system on Russian soil where it could be flipped on or off by Russians. Mr. Obama has been lukewarm on missile defense, saying he supports it only if it can be proved technically effective and affordable.

Obama’s peace through begging foreign policy has transmuted into peace through treachery. Not only is our president willing to be a traitor to the Czech Republic and Poland, two historical and faithful allies of America, by leaving them defenseless should Russia becomes aggressive against them again, but, to add insult to insanity, Obama is even contemplating building a missile system on Russian territory that would be jointly run with the United States, “where it [the missile defense system] could be flipped on of off by Russians.”

For a sitting president of the United States to even consider such treachery as allowing Russia veto power over the defense of our historical allies like the Czech Republic and Poland should motivate Congress to write articles of impeachment to remove Obama from the presidency immediately. This naïve and dangerous policy is truly beyond the pale. Yet Congress does not act. These 535 dolts are too busy exploring deep, profound issues like “Oh, my God, it’s Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie! May I have your autograph?” “Is Rush Limbaugh the real leader of the Republican Party?” or “The rich have a moral duty to pay more taxes” (Tim Geithner).

“Madam, we have given you a republic, if you can keep it,” was Benjamin Franklin’s prescient reply to an anonymous lady who asked him after the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Sept. 17, 1787, “Dr. Franklin, what have you given us today?” Well, America, with the ascent of the neo-Marxist Barack Obama and all of his socialist minions like Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, Joe Biden, Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, Holder, Salazar, Napolitano and a trillion dollars in new taxes and spending in six weeks, have we “kept” this sacred republic bequeathed to us by the Constitution’s framers? … No!

Vladimir Putin views Obama as Lenin viewed the legions of fools who believed in communism, referring to them as “useful idiots.” Putin couldn’t have picked a better president of America himself. Obama’s first forays into foreign policy has him clearly outclassed and in way over his head. Strongman Putin wants no less than a hegemonic revival of Lenin and Stalin’s communist empire on a global scale.

Reagan constantly exclaimed, “Peace through strength,” as the only logical, moral and pragmatic means to deal with an evil, intractable enemy like North Korea, China, Iran or Russia. Obama has seemingly taken an opposite approach based not on strength but weakness; not only with Russia, but with an even more dangerous enemy of America, Iran, whom we now know for years Russia has been surreptitiously supplying with scientists, technology and materials to build their very own nuclear weapons – WMDs Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has repeatedly promised he will use to “wipe Israel off the map.”

And now we reach the apotheosis “the enemy (Russia) of my enemy (Iran) is my friend” as America under President Obama practices foreign policy like slaves on our knees. Peace through strength? Or peace through begging? You decide which foreign policy will best serve America and her vital national interests.

Author: Dr. Ellis Washington

(Also published at WesternFront America)

By |March 10th, 2009|The Blog|0 Comments|

Obama, Meet China

It has become a case of international "He said/She said," with the United States on one side saying:

…Chinese ships harassed a U.S. surveillance ship Sunday in the South China Sea in the latest of several instances of "increasingly aggressive conduct" in the past week.

and the Chinese on the other side saying:

"The U.S. navy vessel concerned has been in China’s special economic zone conducting illegal surveying activities," said a statement from the Chinese embassy in Washington, reported by the website of Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television (news.ifeng.com).

"China cannot accept these baseless accusations. China demands that the United States halt all illegal surveying activities," said the statement.

It wasn’t too long ago the Chinese barred U.S. Navy ships access to Hong Kong.

But this time, we have Hillary Clinton on the job to deal with the Chinese.  (Hope she doesn’t give them too much.)

Obama Lifts Ban on Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Despite Evidence It’s Obsolete

Remember this headline:

Bush Was Right to Veto

Probably not (I didn’t.)  As headlines go, that one is really weak.  But the article was sound.  It gave a primer on stem cells, the difference between pluripotent and multipotent cells and why Bush was right to veto a Democrat bill to fund embryonic stem cell research with federal dollars.  Give it a day in court and tell me what you think.

Anyway, President Obama not only turned that Bush policy on its head, but took several shots at the Bush administration while he was doing it:

President Barack Obama urged researchers on Monday to follow science and not ideology as he abolished contentious Bush-era restraints on stem-cell research. "Our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values," Obama declared as he signed documents changing U.S. science policy and removing what some researchers have said were shackles on their work.

"It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda – and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology," Obama said.

Researchers said the new president’s message was clear: Science, which once propelled men to the moon, again matters in American life.

When I was driving home today, I heard a woman with Parkinson’s Disease celebrating the decision, saying it might be the beginning of the end for Parkinson’s sufferers.  I wonder if she has any opinion on this story:

"We have documented the first successful adult neural stem cell transplantation to reverse the effects of Parkinson’s disease and demonstrated the long term safety and therapeutic effects of this approach," says lead author Dr. Michel Levesque.

The paper describes how Levesque’s team was able to isolate patient-derived neural stem cells, multiply them in vitro and ultimately differentiate them to produce mature neurons before they are reintroduced into the brain.

Man that’s fast!  Obama’s already curing Parkinson’s Disease!  Actually, that story is from last month and the success was made with adult stem cells.  In fact, adult stem cells have produced essentially all the positive results in stem cell research.  Embryonic stem cells have produced tumors.

And let’s not pretend it’s because there has been a ban on embryonic stem cell research.  There hasn’t.  There has been a ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.  The fact is, adult stem cells produce better results without the moral dilemma.  You can even turn an adult stem cell into an embryonic stem cell, making the destruction of embryos totally unnecessary.  U.S. News even reported "Why Embryonic Stem Cells Are Obsolete":

To date, most of the stem cell triumphs that the public hears about involve the infusion of adult stem cells. We’ve just recently seen separate research reports of patients with spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis benefiting from adult stem cell therapy. These cells have the advantage of being the patient’s natural own, and the worst they seem to do after infusion is die off without bringing the hoped-for benefit. They do not have the awesome but dangerous quality of eternal life characteristic of embryonic stem cells.

A second kind of stem cell that has triumphed is an entirely new creation called iPS (short for induced pluripotent stem cell), a blockbuster discovery made in late 2007. These cells are created by reprogramming DNA from adult skin. The iPS cells are embryonic-like in that they can turn into any cell in the body—and so bypass the need for embryos or eggs. In late February, scientists reported on iPS cells that had been transformed into mature nerve cells. While these cells might become a choice for patient therapy in time, scientists are playing this down for now. Why? These embryonic-like cells also come with the risk of cancer.

James Thomson, the stem cell pioneer from the University of Wisconsin who was the first to grow human embryonic stem cells in 1998, is an independent codiscoverer of iPS cells along with Japanese scientists. Already these reprogrammed cells have eclipsed the value of those harvested from embryos, he has said, because of significantly lower cost, ease of production, and genetic identity with the patient. They also bring unique application to medical and pharmaceutical research, because cells cultivated from patients with certain diseases readily become laboratory models for developing and testing therapy. That iPS cells overcome ethical concerns about creating and sacrificing embryos is an added plus.

In spite of all these successes, the Obama administration and liberals across America insist the future of medicine lies in the destruction of life.  And now, you and I get to pay for it.

As I said before, Bush was right to veto. 

Buffet and McGovern Agree: The Employee Free Choice Act is Bad for America’s Workers

When the Congressional Democrats voted for their leadership, they did it in private.  Some leadership posts were highly contested and Congressmen counted themselves lucky to be able to hide their votes.

Rep Lousie Slaughter, a New York Democrat, told the Congressional Quarterly, "It’s a secret ballot, thank the Lord."

Sometime this week, if not today, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) will be introduced in the Senate.  This bill will eliminate a persons right to a secret ballot as far as unions are concerned.

The bill sounds innocent enough, but that is by design.  Leftists long ago learned the art of camouflage and title the most destructive bill to sound as vague or innocent as possible.  This bill’s title has been called "Orwellian." 

But understand one thing:  the Employee Free Choice Act does nothing for the employee and everything for the unions.

For a shop to become union, thirty percent of the employees have to collected signed authorization cards.  Those cards are then used to petition the National Labor Relations Board to hold an election, generally done within 60 days.  During that time, the employers are generally allowed to give another perspective on the idea of unionizing a shop.  The employees are then allowed to vote for or against unionizing in private.  The key there is "in private."

If the EFCA becomes a law, private ballots are a thing of the past.  All that would be necessary is for 51% of a shop to sign a card and it’s union.  Here’s how the Heritage Foundation sees it:

The EFCA would make it easier for union officials to pressure workers. Under the card-check process, union organizers would publicly solicit signatures on union authorization cards. After a majority of workers at a company sign the cards, the union becomes the bargaining representative of all the workers at the company.

Without secret ballots, union organizers know exactly who has signed union cards and who has not. In the past, union organizers have repeatedly approached and pressured—and, in some cases, threatened—reluctant workers.[1] They have also used pro-union co-workers to solicit signatures, putting peer pressure on "holdouts" to change their minds.

The card-check process also denies workers the right to vote "yes" or "no" on joining a union. Workers can only vote "yes" by signing the card. Not signing a card simply means "not yet." Organizers are free to return again and again until they get the result they want. That is not voting, which by definition is a choice between two or more options.

Even the limited freedom of saying "not yet" would be denied to some workers. Under card check, all workers in a company must join the union after organizers collect cards signed by a majority, even if some of those workers did not know about the organizing drive and were never asked to sign a card. A worker has a right to express his or her views with a ballot, even if that vote does not change the results of the election. Card check takes that right away.

But don’t take their word for it.  After all, they are a conservative think take, probably in bed with big business, right?  How about the word of Democratic Presidential candidate George McGovern:

Now Obama supporter Warren Buffet has even come out against the idea.  Speaking on CNBC today, he said:

It would be the height of irony if the first black president eliminated the right to a private ballot to 105 million people in what is supposed to be the freest country in the world.  Not only would it open any worker in America up to pressure from union thugs, but it is estimated that it would cost the country 600,000 jobs in 2010.

Yet Joe Biden says he is for it and Obama says he’ll sign it.  If he does, it is to payback the unions for their money and manpower in 2008.

DC Homeless Snap Cell Phone Pics of First Lady – UPDATED

I don’t have a cell phone.  I would love to have one, but the fact of the matter is simple:  I can’t afford one.  I have a tight monthly budget, and until I get certain debts out of the way, a cell phone isn’t an option. 

Which makes this story doubly irritating to me. 

Michelle Obama made a surprise visit to a D.C. area soup kitchen to volunteer to feed the poor and homeless who needed a bite to eat.  She brought food from the White House kitchen and started dishing it up to the poor, destitute people who were struggling on a daily basis.

Then some homeless dude wanted a picture of her and took it…on his CELL PHONE CAMERA!

This is just one of several irritating aspects of this story.  The second one is that they brought so much food from the White House kitchen.

мебели бургасThe fruit salad served along with the risotto, steamed broccoli, apple-carrot muffins and whole wheat rolls was prepared with fresh fruit donated by the White House. Eight cases were sent over, enough to make Thursday’s salad and be used at breakfast for two weeks, said Scott Schenkelberg, executive director of Miriam’s Kitchen.

You and I pay for that food, which they saw fit to just give away.  It’s small potatoes compared to the waste we see every day, but it’s the principle of the thing, you know.

(Update:  Turns out I was wrong about that.  Mental Floss notes that the president pays for all his meals:

Apparently, the White House functions like a luxury hotel in this regard. At the end of each month, the president receives a bill for his food and incidental expenses. Nancy Reagan was famously taken aback by this practice when an usher presented her first bill in 1981, saying, “Nobody ever told us the president and his wife are charged for every meal, as well as incidentals like dry cleaning, toothpaste, and other toiletries.” (Once they got used to the bills, though, the Reagans loved the White House; President Reagan often joked that all the amenities made it like living in an eight-star hotel.)

Thanks for pointing that out, Matt.)

The third thing that really bothers me Dan Riehl brought to light.  Seems the people who are feeding the needy are picky eaters:

"We said we were celebrating the end of February. And Steve, our chef, was making a special meal. They know his cooking is so good," said Sara Gibson.

"If anyone brings us donuts, Steve throws them away," Gibson said. "It is not good food for our guests. We care too much to give them anything but the best. Steve wants our guests to have the same experience as if they were paying $30 for the meal."

One person.  One meal.  $30.

I can’t remember the last time I spent $30 per person for a meal. 

This is Bizzaro World.  It has to be. Only in Bizzaro World would a soup kitchen throw away food donated for the needy.  Why in the world would they do that?  If they don’t want to serve it, they could donate what they won’t serve to a place that will. 

I had never considered the idea of elitist charities.  Only in Bizarro World.

Hillary Clinton: American Democracy “has been around a lot longer than European democracy.”

For eight years, we were told how President Bush’s gaffes were and embarrassment to America and his mistakes were an impediment to effective foreign policy. That is all in the past now.  Today, we have the brilliant mind of Hillary Clinton visiting foreign countries.  And while she is there, she mispronounced officials’ names and showed a decisive lack of historical knowledge:

Tiredness appeared to show Friday when she answered questions in front of 500 young Europeans at the European Parliament, where she was the highest-ranking U.S. visitor since the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1985.

A veteran politician, Clinton compared the complex European political environment to that of the two-party U.S. system, before adding:

"I have never understood multiparty democracy.

"It is hard enough with two parties to come to any resolution, and I say this very respectfully, because I feel the same way about our own democracy, which has been around a lot longer than European democracy."

The remark provoked much headshaking in the parliament of a bloc that likes to trace back its democratic tradition thousands of years to the days of classical Greece.

One working lunch later with EU leaders, Clinton raised more eyebrows when she referred to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who stood beside her, as "High Representative Solano."

She also dubbed European Commission External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner as "Benito."

I may be wrong, but I don’t recall the press ever excusing President Bush’s gaffes prior to reporting them. 

Mark Hemmingway at The Corner writes:

The E.U. delegate from Athens must have been particularly impressed by the Secretary of State’s command of history. Between this, the Fleet Street accolades over Obama’s handling of U.K. prime minister Gordon Brown’s recent visit, and the way the administration deftly brought Russia on board to help rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions — they’re just running the foreign policy table. It feels so good to have the adults in charge once again.

Finding Lost Hope and a Little Perspective on a Long Boring Day

Those who serve in the military understand many of the mundane tasks one gets stuck on while serving. Details like painting rocks, pulling weeds in a concrete motor pool, and my personal favorite “dud stomping”. Yesterday, I had the honor of pulling staff duty. In essence I spent the whole day sitting at a desk in the front entrance greeting any and all who entered the brigade headquarters. I also did a little runner duty, raised and retired the colors, and cleaned the conference room. All this added to the fact I had to shave the OPFOR beard I had been growing for months now and cut my long hair so I could pull out the dusty old ACU’s (uniform) I had not wore in months. In other words
yesterday sucked.

Guarding the FallenSometime during my long boring day I had decided maybe to read a Soldiers Magazine that was sitting on a table for people who where waiting to see someone in the building. If anyone knows Rob the soldier they know I am not the type to read “hooah” magazines like this. There was an actual time in my early career where I proudly held the title of “The Anti-Soldier”, in other words I always pushed the envelope but only so far as to not receive any real trouble. I joked a lot, grew my hair as long as the standard permitted, and was pretty much a pain to any NCO within my chain of command. This has followed me even today as many of the guys who knew me in those days bring up what a true pain in the ass I was, all the while always making a sometimes mundane life interesting. So what I am trying to say in more words than I should is I was more the type to pick up a Maxim not a Soldiers Magazine. But as many soldiers who have pulled such duties would attest Brigade Staff Duty is no place for Maxim.

This particular issue was a sports special. With articles about the members of the Olympic team who currently serve in the Army. It also had articles about the Army 10 mile run, racing, as well as the basketball team. That was all interesting but what I found fascinating more than any of the feats these athletes had done was the stories of wounded veterans and the programs they participate in. I read about former PGA players taking time out to teach injured soldiers, a lot of whom where amputees, how to play golf. I read about a hockey team consisting of the “Wounded Warriors”, amputee soldiers running the 10 miler, and even injured soldiers participating in rodeos. I read about how these brave warriors who have lost so much decided not to give in to the depression so many of us would feel had we been hit with the same circumstances. Instead choosing to prove that they are still able to do the things they love not only to themselves but to those of us who take them for granted.

The funny thing for me as I read of these brave Warriors I realized that I have taken what they have done for this country for granted. I realized that the uniform I complained about wearing all day yesterday was the same uniform these heroes wear or have worn with pride. Somewhere down the line I had become jaded, I let my political views as well as my disdain for current events in this country make me forget just how great these heroes are. The sad truth is, as I had been told a few times in the past “Rob I love you but right now I don’t like you”, I love the U.S. but I right now I don’t like it. That feeling dictated how I felt about a number of things. But somehow reading of these “Wounded Warriors” gave me perspective and the hope that I had lost. A feeling that this country is still the same country I fell in love with and although I might not like the decisions made by the leaders, it is not these leaders who make the country it is the people who are what make the U.S. great. Leaders come and go, but the spirit of America lives on. I am sure I will still have my bad days. Thankfully, there are so many everyday heroes to give me inspiration and pride where our leaders fall short.

Cross posted on Newsvine.