Archive for May, 2009

Heads Are Busting Out All Over

Liberal heads, that is.

Uighurs aren’t budging:

The Obama administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court Friday to reject a request for a hearing from 17 Chinese Muslims currently being held at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, arguing they have no right to come to America despite a district judge’s orders last Fall that they immediately be brought to the U.S. and released.

“Petitioners are free to return to their home country, but they understandably do not wish to do so, because they fear inhumane treatment there,” reads the filing, signed by US Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Assistant Attorney General Tony West, and other Justice Department officials. “Petitioners are also free to go to any other country that is willing to accept them.”

But why should they wish to leave? They’ve never had it so good:

“In contrast to individuals currently detained as enemies under the laws of war, petitioners are being housed under relatively unrestrictive conditions, given the status of Guantanamo Bay as a United States military base,” Kagan writes, saying they are “in special communal housing with access to all areas of their camp, including an outdoor recreation space and picnic area.” They “sleep in an air-conditioned bunk house and have the use of an activity room equipped with various recreational items, including a television with VCR and DVD players, a stereo system, and sports equipment.”

Who has a VCR anymore? The barbarity!

So not only does B-HO adopt Bush’s policy on the Uighurs—but now Gitmo ain’t so bad after all. Go figure.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration says, like Bush, butt out:

The Obama administration insists it has no obligation to provide access to a top secret document in a [warrantless] wiretapping case, setting up a showdown next week with the judge who ordered it released. …

The judge has ordered department lawyers to appear before his court Wednesday to make the case why he should not award damages to the now-defunct Oregon chapter of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation. That group is challenging the wiretapping program.

In its response, the department said that in this case “disclosure of classified information–even under protective order–would create intolerable risks to national security.”

The filing said President Barack Obama has authorized access to classified information on a “need-to-know” basis and argued that the government “cannot be sanctioned for its determination that plaintiffs do not have a need to know classified information.”

Another judge told to go pound sand. Must be one of those white male judges.

And here’s another affirmation of Bush policy you might not have seen elsewhere:

With the election of President Obama, environmentalists had expected to see the end of the “Appalachian apocalypse,” their name for exposing coal deposits by blowing the tops off whole mountains.

But in recent weeks, the administration has quietly made a decision to open the way for at least two dozen more mountaintop removals.

In a letter this month to a coal ally, Rep. Nick J. Rahall II (D-W.Va.), the Environmental Protection Agency said it would not block dozens of “surface mining” projects. The list included some controversial mountaintop mines.

The industry says the practice of using explosives to blast away a peak is safer and more efficient than traditional shaft mining. But critics say the process scars the landscape and dumps tons of waste — some of it toxic — into streams and valleys.

The administration’s decision is not the final word on the projects or the future of mountaintop removal. But the letter, coupled with the light it sheds on relations between the mining industry and the Obama White House, has disappointed environmentalists. Some say they feel betrayed by a president they thought would end or sharply limit the practice.

I’m afraid even my head is about to explode: I thought coal was bad; I thought coal was dirty; but Obama is willing to blow up whole mountain ranges to get more of it.

Well, that’s what China’s doing (I’ll report on that later today or tomorrow). Maybe the president decided there was no point in being a green sap when China was going black.

Should we start a flip-flop pool? What’s the next policy to go under the bus?

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Not Buying It

When liberal columnists in the Washington Post call BS, President Obama, that’s probably what you’re spewing:

Nice try, Mr. President, but I’m not buying the poor-choice-of-words defense for Sonia Sotomayor. “I’m sure she would have restated it,” President Obama told NBC News about his Supreme Court nominee’s now-famous 32 words: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” Said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, “I think she’d say that her word choice in 2001 was poor.”

You spin the speech that’s dealt you. But it seems clear to me that Sotomayor, to quote that great jurist Dr. Seuss, meant what she said and said what she meant. This was no throwaway line or off-the-cuff linguistic stumble along the lines of the judge’s other controversial comment about appeals courts making policy.

Rather, Sotomayor was deliberately and directly disputing remarks by then-Justice Sandra Day O’Connor that a wise old woman and a wise old man would eventually reach the same conclusion in a case. “I am…not so sure that I agree with the statement,” Sotomayor said. Moreover, if Sotomayor regretted that YouTube moment, she had the chance to revise and extend: Her remarks were reprinted in the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal. Knowing the multi-layered editing process of law journals, I’d be shocked if Sotomayor did not at least have the chance to review the transcript of her speech and make any tweaks.

Sonia from the Bronx will get her own chance to explain herself in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which I’m sure will entertain us all. It’s beyond dispute that Obama picked her because of this belief, not in spite of it.

But if I were on the committee, I’d ask her about her boss’s judicial philosophy. What does she think of re-writing the Constitution to address what the “government must do on your behalf”? Does she agree that the Warren Court (or any court) should “break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution”? What in her view is “redistributive change”, and is it the role of the courts to bring it about?

Make the hearings more than a referendum on So-So. Rather put Obama’s entire radical judicial and social agenda in the dock, and cross examine the hell out of it. I think Americans would be appalled to learn the truth.

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Where’s Meyer Lansky When We Really Need Him?

The Israelis discover for themselves what it’s like to “go to the mattresses” against Vito Obama:

[T]ensions between Washington and Jerusalem are growing after the U.S. administration’s demand that Israel completely freeze construction in all West Bank settlements.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Sunday told cabinet ministers that the U.S. demands on settlement activity were tantamount to “expulsion.”

Israeli political officials have accused the administration of taking a preferential line toward the Palestinians with this regard.

Some officials expressed disappointment after Tuesday’s round of meetings in London with George Mitchell, Obama’s envoy to the Middle East. “We’re disappointed,” said one senior official. “All of the understandings reached during the [George W.] Bush administration are worth nothing.”

An Israeli official privy to the talks said that “the Americans took something that had been agreed on for many years and just stopped everything.”

What’s Hebrew for “I won”? Maybe that will get the point across.

What agreement are the Israelis referring to? With the help of Aaron Lerner at IMRA, this one:

Letter from US President George W. Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon

His Excellency
Ariel Sharon
Prime Minister of Israel

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

We welcome the disengagement plan you have prepared, under which Israel would withdraw certain military installations and all settlements from Gaza, and withdraw certain military installations and settlements in the West Bank. These steps described in the plan will mark real progress toward realizing my June 24, 2002 vision, and make a real contribution towards peace. We also understand that, in this context, Israel believes it is important to bring new opportunities to the Negev and the Galilee.

The United States appreciates the risks such an undertaking represents. I therefore want to reassure you on several points.

Under the roadmap, Palestinians must undertake an immediate cessation of armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere, and all official Palestinian institutions must end incitement against Israel. The Palestinian leadership must act decisively against terror, including sustained, targeted, and effective operations to stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. Palestinians must undertake a comprehensive and fundamental political reform that includes a strong parliamentary democracy and an empowered prime minister.

Second, there will be no security for Israelis or Palestinians until they and all states, in the region and beyond, join together to fight terrorism and dismantle terrorist organizations.

The United States understands that after Israel withdraws from Gaza and/or parts of the West Bank, and pending agreements on other arrangements, existing arrangements regarding control of airspace, territorial waters, and land passages of the West Bank and Gaza will continue.

As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.

By pulling back from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, Israel has only opened its citizens to terrorism from the Palestinians, which has continued without abatement for the past five years.

And what do they hear from the Obama administration?

Tensions reportedly reached a peak when, speaking of the Gaza disengagement, the Israelis told their interlocutors, “We evacuated 8,000 settlers on our own initiative,” to which Mitchell responded simply, “We’ve noted that here.”

Gee, thanks, George.

Perhaps when President Obama stands upright and removes the love organ of King Abdullah from his mouth, he can explain where he thought the Israeli refugees from Gaza were going to go? On second thought, maybe we’d rather not know.

Obama has already begun to loosen the domestic constrictions of that “charter of negative liberties”, the Constitution. I don’t see how a few commitments in writing by a former president to one of our closest allies are going to stop him.

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The Money Hole

I don’t remember if I’ve posted this before, but I love it so much I think we can all watch it again. We all need to confront the reality of the money hole. – Aggie

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When Even the Lies Aren’t Enough

Jake Tapper would appear to be the only member of the White House press corps with balls (Helen Thomas excepted).

But I wouldn’t buy any green bananas, Jake.

Tapper, in contrast, referenced a new administration report on the stimulus entitled “100 Days, 100 Projects” and wondered, “But, how much of this is real? And how much is hype?” He asserted, “Critics have long said the administration overstates the impact of the stimulus.” After playing a clip of Obama claiming 150,000 jobs have been created by the stimulus bill, Tapper called that “a number based on theory, not fact.” University of Maryland economist Peter Morici appeared briefly to point out, “It’s simply an implausible statement to say that some 150,000 jobs were created by direct spending, indirect spending and so forth.”

The ABC correspondent noted the government report claims $27 billion was used for “green improvement” to public housing in Washington D.C. Tapper dismissed, “But, that’s not true. The stimulus paid for only two of [seven items listed in the report]. The other five were installed before the stimulus bill was even introduced in Congress.” He went on to point out that the $27 billion was the total the D.C. Housing Authority is getting. Only $44,000 came from stimulus money.

Finally, Tapper closed his piece by explaining that the White House, in its first quarterly report, stated $46 billion of the stimulus had been spent. The journalist noted, “They had to revise that figure. It’s now $36 billion, which means that less than five percent of the stimulus has gone out the door.”

But that’s very small potatoes indeed compared to this glum news:

The experience of being choked to death can concentrate a person’s attention. When the chokehold is removed, a feeling of relief, perhaps even of exhilaration, is to be expected.

But allowing a person to breathe may not be enough to restore him to health.

In that regard, 2009 is starting to feel a little like 1980.

The argument is too well-made and too involved to excerpt, but here’s the conclusion:

In baseball terms, the financial system had a good crop of minor leaguers available when the big league stars went onto the disabled list in the 1980s. Now the minor leaguers are also battered and bruised.

Bailouts and government spending do appear to have warded off Great Depression II, but the current government-supported financial system may not be enough to do much more than keep the economy breathing. In the words of Mr. Kaufman, whose prescient warnings of credit market excesses in recent years were largely ignored by Wall Street, “we do not have the financial firing power to lift this economy in any meaningful way.”

If he is right, the end of the current recession is unlikely to produce much of a recovery.

That shouldn’t be a problem for this crowd in the White House. If anyone can spin bust into boom, they can.

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Overkill

Which comes first, the beheading or the crucifying?

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi authorities beheaded and crucified a man convicted of brutally slaying an 11-year-old boy and his father, the Interior Ministry announced.

According to the statement issued by the ministry Friday, shop owner Ahmed al-Anzi molested the boy and then strangled him with a length of rope. He then stabbed the boy’s father to death when the man came looking for his son.

He hid both the bodies in his shop, the statement said, adding that al-Anzi threatened police with a knife when they came to arrest him.

Crucifying the headless body in a public place is a way to set an example, according to the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islam. Normally those convicted of rape, murder and drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia are just beheaded.

London-based rights group Amnesty International criticized al-Anzi’s execution and crucifixion.

“It is horrific that beheading and crucifixions still happen,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui of Amnesty International in a statement Friday.

Beheading comes first.

- Aggie

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Lame Lament

Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these:
Fatuous liberals are yet again heartbroken that another ruthless, opportunistic politician has betrayed their collectivist dreams (poetic license fully deployed):

We expected broken promises. But the gap between the soaring expectations that accompanied Barack Obama’s inauguration and his wretched performance is the broadest such chasm in recent historical memory. This guy makes Bill Clinton look like a paragon of integrity and follow-through.

Obama is useless. Worse than that, he’s dangerous. Which is why, if he has any patriotism left after the thousands of meetings he has sat through with corporate contributors, blood-sucking lobbyists and corrupt politicians, he ought to step down now — before he drags us further into the abyss.

Obama is cute. He is charming. But there is something rotten inside him. Unlike the Republicans who backed George W. Bush, I won’t follow a terrible leader just because I voted for him. Obama has revealed himself. He is a monster, and he should remove himself from power.

That’s Ted Rall. You know him:

rall

I was going to say something about Obama losing the hearts and minds of the American left—but they have no hearts, and they’ve clearly lost their minds.

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Sonia From the Bronx “Misspoke”???

The forgotten Brother Gibb, Robert, now acknowledges that So-So (as I named her) employed a poor choice of words:

“I think she’d say that her word choice in 2001 was poor; that she was simply making the point that personal experiences are relevant to the process of judging,” Mr. Gibb said. “Your personal experiences have a tendency to make you more aware of certain facts in certain cases, that your experiences impact your understanding.”

Well, that’s horse[bleep].

Speaking of whom:

“I’m sure she would have restated it,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with NBC News. “But if you look in the entire sweep of the essay that she wrote, what’s clear is that she was simply saying that her life experiences will give her information about the struggles and hardships that people are going through — that will make her a good judge.”

We printed the entire context of her “wise Latina” comment which made it clear she not only meant what she said, but rejected any alternative.

Rich Lowry at NRO makes the point in another way:

I’ve gone back and with a few edits shown how Judge Sotomayor’s poor word choice in her Latina Lecture could be fixed—hey, it could happen to anyone:

While recognizing the potential effect of individual experiences on perception, Judge Cedarbaum nevertheless believes that judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to achieve a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the reason of law. Although I agree with and attempt to work toward Judge Cedarbaum‘s aspiration, I wonder whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases. And I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society. Whatever the reasons why we may have different perspectives, either as some theorists suggest because of our cultural experiences or as others postulate because we have basic differences in logic and reasoning, are in many respects a small part of a larger practical question we as women and minority judges in society in general must address

Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

As he says in another post:

[H]ow are you the victim of poor word choice in a speech, as Ed Whelan pointed out the other day, that was apparently delivered from a prepared text and that was then turned into a law review article months later? (Ed refers to it as the “unscripted” law review article.) The problem wasn’t the word choice; the problem was quite obviously what Sotomayor meant to say and said several times in several different ways very clearly.

If BG Bob and Obama himself feel the need to answer for her, you wonder if there’s some traction here.

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Ilan Halimi

The barbarians who murdered Ilan Halimi

More than just a sadistic murder, the Halimi case highlights French anti-Semitism. At first, the nation attempted to deny the anti-Semitic motive in the murder; eventually the evidence was so overwhelming that they had to concede the point.

fofana1_534879q.jpg
Youssouf Fofana has confessed, or bragged about, the murder of Ilan Halimi

A self-proclaimed Muslim barbarian shouted his contempt for his judges yesterday at the start of his trial for the torture and murder of a young Jewish man.

Youssouf Fofana, 28, who led a loose-knit gang of youths from an immigrant housing estate, swaggered into court and shouted “Allah will conquer” as the court began hearing a case into a killing that horrified France and the world Jewish community in 2006.

Mr Fofana and most of his 26 alleged accomplices have admitted their roles in the kidnapping of Ilan Halimi, 23, an assistant in a Paris telephone shop, who was held for ransom for 24 days in the suburb of Bagneux.

Mr Fofana, whose parents came to France from Ivory Coast, denies killing the victim, who was tied up in a cellar and tortured with acid, cigarettes and knives. He died in an ambulance after Mr Fofana dumped him by a railway line and allegedly set him alight.

The crime symbolised the casual and violent anti-Semitic culture among the young on the immigrant estates. It shocked France because many residents, including parents of gang members, were alleged to have been aware that Mr Halimi was being held. Some allegedly took turns in guarding the captive for a few euros. Half the defendants, mainly teenagers at the time, face charges of failing to render assistance or alert police.

The racially charged trial proceeded in camera because two of the accused were minors in 2006, including Emma, 19, of Iranian background, who is alleged to have lured Mr Halimi to his doom by visiting his shop and inviting him on a romantic date.

Ruth Halimi, the victim’s mother, has accused the police of bungling the inquiry. She initially attacked the Government, including Nicolas Sarkozy, then the Interior Minister, for playing down its anti-Semitic aspect.

After thousands demonstrated, Mr Sarkozy promised Jewish leaders that everything would be done to bring all those involved to justice.

Mrs Halimi sat apparently praying in court as Mr Fofana, bearded and in a white tracksuit, grinned at her and jokingly told the judges that his name was “Arabs African revolt barbarian Salafist army”. Salafism is a fundamentalist movement espoused by many young immigrant radicals.

By the way, this was what was called “life” for Jewish people in most of the world before the creation of the State of Israel.

- Aggie

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Grecian-Gate

Sweetness & Light has done the arduous, thankless, and necessary work to find out the truth behind President Obama’s hair color.

The people should be told.

Back during the campaign, when Mr. Obama needed gravitas and the patina of experience, CBS News helped out with this report from August 4, 2008:

Obama Gets Older
The stress of campaigning for presidency is starting to show on Barack Obama. Bianca Solorzano reports a little gray hair might help Obama.

This angle got another boost from this November 2008 US Magazine ‘exclusive’ scoop, again largely thanks to the claims of Mr. Obama’s private barber, ‘Zariff’:

Barber: Obama Not Bothered by Gray Hair
Monday November 17, 2008

Barack Obama’s longtime Chicago barber says his client has kept mum about his graying hair.

“It’s just a normal thing,” Zariff, who’s been cutting the President-elect’s hair for 14 years from the Hyde Park Hair Barber Studio, says in the newest issue of Us Weekly.

“It’s not like he has a head full of gray hair,” adds Zariff – who only goes by one name. “It’s just a few gray hairs, so it’s nothing to get excited about.” …

And soon the rest of our watchdog media was off and running with articles and photographs of the newly grizzled Mr. Obama:

Even after the campaign ended, another variation on this story resurfaced in March and April of 2009.

This round, was initiated, as so much as our news is, by the New York Times recycling an earlier story.

And even the New York Times sought out ‘Zariff’ for the truth:

For Young President, Flecks of Gray
By HELENE COOPER

March 5, 2009

WASHINGTON — Well, that didn’t take long. Just 44 days into the job, and President Obama is going gray.

His barber, who goes by only one name, Zariff, takes umbrage with bloggers who alternately claim Mr. Obama, 47, is dyeing his hair gray (to appear more distinguished) or dyeing it black (to appear younger). “I can tell you that his hair is 100 percent natural,” Zariff said. “He wouldn’t get it colored.”

Well, that would appear to be “settled science”, as the saying goes.

Whoa, not so fast:

And yet these days Mr. Obama’s hair suddenly appears to have stepped back from the brink. Or maybe, despite Zariff’s claims to the contrary, he is ‘blacking up.’

In any case, that reassuring the salt and pepper look seems to have completely disappeared practically over night.

Maybe Mr. Obama is being forgiven because his ‘gray hair ‘was just another obvious campaign gimmick to be quietly put away once the election was safely won.

Like so many of his promises.

S&L provides plenty of photographic evidence to back up his claim. Somehow President Obama went from the Morgan Freeman Express to the Jamie Foxx Local with no one noticing. Well, almost no one.

Will his gray hair be the equivalent of Al Gore’s drawl—more or less pronounced as the audience and circumstance demands? Only his hairdresser knows for sure.

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Now They’ve Gone and Done It

No taxation without pumpernickel! Give me sesame or give me death!

One if they’re plain, two with a schmear:

For a few hours Friday, the shuttering of H&H Bagels, on Broadway at West 80th Street, left a hole in the heart of the Upper West Side.

New York State tax authorities shut down the bagel emporium, renowned even before it was featured on “Seinfeld,” for some three hours on Friday after its owners had failed to pay tens of thousands of dollars in sales and withholding taxes. The authorities also shut down H&H’s bagel factory in Hell’s Kitchen, which remained closed as of early Friday afternoon.

The closing, however temporary, was met with considerable distress on Friday.

You’ll have to pry this poppy bagel out of my cold dead hands, Mr. President.

First they came for the rye…

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Barack Obama Rocks

This is a photo of music producer, Phil Spector, going into the courtroom to receive a 19 year to life sentence for murder. And notice the pin he’s wearing:

philspector.jpg

I only wish he’d had a flag pin on the other lapel. Oh Look! He does! The Photo Genie granted my wish. I can die happy.

- Aggie

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