Archive for September, 2011

Above Whose Fruited Plain?

Damn straight, Hop Sing:

China’s state TV accompanied coverage of the historic launch of the country’s first space laboratory with a patriotic US song, America the Beautiful.

The song is regarded by many as an unofficial national anthem for the US, and features the line: “America! America! God shed his grace on thee.”

Some Chinese people say that CCTV must have made a mistake with the music. The broadcaster has not commented.

“At the time, I was eating in a hotel with foreigners from an American company and Chinese clients and we were watching the live broadcast,” posted one user on Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.

“All the Chinese there wanted to disappear.”

Don’t take it so hard, friends. Once you appropriate the song as your own national anthem, no one will remember differently.

How I hope some virginal hacker is soiling his undies from laughing so hard! I know I am.

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Guess Who Doesn’t Like the “Buffett Rule”

No, I’m not going to tell you. Guess:

CNBC: “Let’s talk about the Buffett Rule for a moment.”

Buffett: “Uh-huh.”

CNBC: “Are you happy that the way it is being described. Is the program that the White House has presented a million dollars and over your program?”

Buffett: “Well, the precise program which will — I don’t know what their program will be. My program would be on the very high incomes that are taxed very low. Not just high incomes. Somebody making $50 million a year playing baseball, his taxes won’t change. Make $50 million a year appearing on television, his income won’t change. But, if they make a lot of money and they pay a very low tax rate, like me, it would be changed by a minimum tax that would only bring them up to what the other people pay.”

CNBC: “Does that mean you disagree with the president’s new jobs proposal which would be paid for by raising taxes on households with incomes of over $250,000?”

Buffett: “That’s another program that I won’t be discussing. My program is to have a tax on ultra-rich people who are paying very low tax rates. Not just all the rich people. It would probably apply to 50,000 people in a population of 300 million.”

CNBC: “So that means you disagree with the president on the $250,000?”

Buffett: “No, no. You may disagree with him.”

CNBC: “So you agree, $250,000 is the right number?”

Buffett: “I will look at the overall plan that gets submitted to Congress, and which they are voting on, and decide net, “do I like it or do I not like it”. There is no question, there will be parts I’ll disagree with.”

CNBC: “And are you a supporter of his jobs program right now?”

Buffett: “I am supporter of the action he is trying to get the Congress to join him in taking to really do something, rather than sit there and go in different directions.”

CNBC: “Do you agree with all the details?”

Buffett: “I haven’t looked at all the details.”

It might be more truthful to call it the Garofalo Rule—but I lost myself at “truthful”.

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Born in the USA

I have been pretty hard on Obama’s extension of Constitutional rights (and extra-Constitutional rights, like Miranda) to foreign terrorists whose only connection to this country was their desire and effort to blow it up.

But I have to think a little harder about American citizens

Ron Paul aggressively criticized President Obama today for al-Awlaki’s death.

“No I don’t think that’s a good way to deal with our problems,” Paul said in a media avail after his remarks at the Politics + Eggs event here. “He was born here, Al-Awlaki was born here, he is an American citizen. He was never tried or charged for any crimes. No one knows if he killed anybody. We know he might have been associated with the underwear bomber. But if the American people accept this blindly and casually that we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys, I think it’s sad.

Kook that he is, he’s not a lone kook:

Al-Awlaki’s father filed a lawsuit against Obama, then-CIA chief Leon Panetta and then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates last year to prevent the U.S. government from trying to target his son for assassination.

A district court judge threw out the case last December, leaving open the question of whether the government has the right to kill Americans abroad without a trial.

Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union said the al-Awlaki killing was part of an American counterterrorism program that “violates both U.S. and international law.

“This is a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process,” said ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer.

I’ve thought harder. Grease the MF-er with extreme prejudice.

He was born here, but he was leading a declared war against his native country. From abroad. Were we supposed to get a warrant and arrest him in Yemen? Read him his Mirandas? John Walker Lindh was no Awlaki, but he took up arms against his country. And we had to offer him a deal to keep him quiet over “abuses” he suffered while in custody.

I’m still not sure myself, but does the ACLU envision no scenario in which a person born in America has effectively renounced his Constitutional rights?

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Cain

Can he win 1/3rd of the black vote?

After a well-received debate performance last week, Herman Cain surprised everybody by finishing atop the Florida straw poll. This week, he’s finally seeing traction in the polls, and now serious people are starting to take him seriously. It’s far past time for us to take a closer look at Cain, who appears to be making a credible bid for top-tier status.
Herman Cain

Earlier this week, Herman Cain asserted that he could win about a third of the black vote. Is this possible? And if so, what would it mean, for Republicans as well as African Americans?

The consequences of just a ten-point swing among African Americans would be enormous for the Grand Old Party. If George W. Bush had won 20 percent of the black vote in 2000 and 2004, he would have beaten Al Gore by almost a point and a half (instead of losing by half a point) and defeated John Kerry by 4 points (instead of his two-point victory). If McCain had done this well among African Americans, Obama’s 7-point victory would have been cut almost in half.

I can’t think of anything more entertaining than having the opportunity to vote against Obama by voting for a conservative African American. How can they call you racist then? (Yes, I know that they will, but it won’t be believable).

Good luck to Mr. Cain.

- Aggie

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On Average, Your Income Went Down This Month

More Hope ‘n Change, boyz and girlz.

Americans earned less last month, the first decline in nearly two years. With less income, consumers could cut back on spending and weaken an already-fragile economy.

Consumers spent a little more in August despite seeing their incomes drop 0.1 percent, the Commerce Department said Friday. Consumer spending rose just 0.2 percent, after a more robust 0.7 percent gain in July.

Most of the increase in spending went to pay higher prices for food and gas. When adjusted for inflation, consumer spending was flat last month.

Many tapped their savings to cover the steeper costs. In August, the savings rate fell to its lowest level since December 2009.

The data offered “more evidence that households are in quite a bind,” said Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

Employers added no new jobs in August and cut hourly earnings for the first time in more than three years.

Income growth has been sluggish for most of the year. After taking inflation into account, after-tax incomes actually fell 0.3 percent in August and 0.2 percent in July. That’s the first back-to-back declines in inflation-adjusted incomes since mid-2008, when the country was in the midst of the recession and financial crisis.

Even the increase in spending wasn’t necessarily a good sign. Consumers spent 0.3 percent more on nondurable goods, such as food and clothing.

On Friday, the average national price for a gallon of gas was $3.45. While that’s down nearly 53 cents from this year’s peak price, it’s nearly 76 cents more than what it costs a year ago.

Consumers spent less last month on big purchases, such as cars, appliances and furniture. Car sales fell during the month, but part of that weakness reflected supply problems stemming from the Japan crisis.

“Consumer spending is still rising, which is important for U.S. economic growth. But the gains are pretty mediocre,” said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Facing higher prices and earning less money, consumers saved only 4.5 percent last month. The savings rate rose as high as 6.5 percent in late 2008, at the height of the recession and financial crisis.

Prior to the recession, Americans saved just 2 percent. An abundance of jobs and inflated home prices made many resist stowing money away.

The economy grew at an annual rate of just 0.9 percent in the first six months of the year, the slowest growth since the recession officially ended more than two years ago.

Economists expect only slightly better growth in the second half of this year. But that’s based on expectations that consumers will spend more.

Some are predicting growth of around 2 percent in the second half of the year. That level of growth would ease recession fears, but it’s not enough to lower the unemployment rate, which was 9.2 percent in August.

Consumer confidence stayed weak in September after the economy experienced a number of shocks this summer. Lawmakers fought over raising the nation’s borrowing limit, Standard & Poor’s downgraded long-term U.S. debt, the stock market fluctuated wildly and Europe’s debt crisis intensified.

The Federal Reserve last week agreed to shift $400 billion of its portfolio of Treasury securities to try to drive down long-term interest rates. It was the Fed’s latest unconventional move seeking to give the economy a boost.

I am out of town (that is why posting is light) but I have a fascinating anecdote. A friend reported that her income went from over 150k, as an executive, to roughly 35k as an employee in a store. I didn’t ask, but I’d bet my house that she was struck by the lovely crease in Obama’s pants in 2008. Another friend got laid off two days ago, this one about forty years old and single. She too was almost certainly an O-bot. So here’s the question: Will these people vote for him again? Will their friends, spouses, neighbors?

- Aggie

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America the Soft

Isn’t that like the community organizer calling the law adjunct lecturer a waste of space?

“The way I think about it is, you know, this is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and, you know, we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades. We need to get back on track.”

– President Obama arguing for his third stimulus package in an interview with NBC affiliate WESH of Orlando, Fla.

I would agree with the president that we got a little soft in the head in 2008—but otherwise, this is his national “malaise” comment. That was one of the nail’s in Jimmy Carter’s political coffin; may this be one in Obama’s.

PS: Great minds…

Always adept at finding excuses for the economy’s poor performance under his watch, President Barack Obama recently blamed the nation’s economic difficulties on what you might call a national malaise.

This was published at 2:05; I wrote mine at 11:40. Just sayin’.

PPS: Best comment evuh! Jonah Goldberg:

“Seriously, in 2008 we elected a community organizer, state senator, college instructor first term senator over a guy who spent five years in a Vietnamese prison. And now he’s lecturing us about how America’s gone ‘soft’? Really?”

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Taking His Work Home With Him

Speaking of Uncle Omar (see below), at least he’s not freeloading off the American system like his (formerly) illegal half-sister Auntie Zeituni:

President Obama’s illegal alien half uncle, though facing a deportation order, is back on the job at a mom-and-pop grog shop in Framingham, his lawyer said yesterday — leaving advocates of tough immigration enforcement bewildered and outraged.

“It’s inexcusable,” said Bob Dane, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “The problem is that deportable aliens are being held in legal limbo because the Obama administration is getting cute with the rules and loose with the lot.”

Onyango Obama, 67, was in court yesterday for an appearance on his Aug. 24 drunken driving charge, before which his lawyer, P. Scott Bratton, confirmed to the Herald that Obama has resumed work at Conti Liquors after his release from custody earlier this month after being jailed on an immigration detainer.

Why should the owner of Conti Liquors respect the law when no one else does? Not the illegals themselves, surely—and just as surely the state government:

The fierce battle over illegal immigration intensified yesterday as tough-talking sheriffs compared the problem to terrorism, sign-waving protesters interrupted the lawmen’s State House press conference and Sen. Scott Brown demanded the feds let the Bay State bypass Gov. Deval Patrick and join the Secure Communities program.

“My constituents have made it abundantly clear to me that they view Secure Communities as an important public safety tool that could have prevented deadly incidents that have rocked their communities,” Brown wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano. “I strongly encourage (the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency) to swiftly and expeditiously activate the remaining jurisdictions in Massachusetts.”

Meanwhile, three sheriffs warned that the Bay State is becoming a “magnet” for illegal aliens and vowed to crack down — with or without Patrick’s support.

“Much like terrorists, they’re looking for a place to go where nobody’s going to notice them,” said Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson. “And if we’re sending out a message that this is where you can basically come and we’re not really going to pay much attention to your status, well, it’s no wonder we’re running into the kinds of problems we are.”

The emotional issue has heated up after a spate of appalling crimes allegedly committed by illegal aliens.

That last part is true. The president’s uncle was merely driving drunk. He didn’t kill or cripple anybody. He ought to be given a medal.

But it ain’t just the state cutting illegals slack:

The Obama administration is escalating its crackdown on tough immigration laws, with lawyers reviewing four new state statutes to determine whether the federal government will take the extraordinary step of challenging the measures in court.

Justice Department attorneys have sued Arizona and Alabama, where a federal judge on Wednesday allowed key parts of that state’s immigration law to take effect but blocked other provisions. Federal lawyers are talking to Utah officials about a third possible lawsuit and are considering legal challenges in Georgia, Indiana, and South Carolina, according to court documents and government officials.

The level of federal intervention is highly unusual, legal experts said, especially because civil rights groups have already sued most of those states. Typically, the government files briefs or seeks to intervene in other lawsuits filed against state statutes.

“I don’t recall any time in history that the Justice Department has so aggressively challenged state laws,’’ said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert at George Washington University Law School.

Can you blaming me for thinking that there are other illegal relations to the president out there? Maybe they don’t want to turn up an illegal second cousin or something. We know it sure as heck won’t be his brother!

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Anwar the Dead Terrorist?

It usually takes two or three false reports to get one of these right, but who knows—maybe he really is Dead Man al-Awlaking:

American-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the public face of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has been killed in Yemen, the nation’s Defense Ministry said Friday.

The U.S. regards al-Awlaki, who was believed to be hiding in Yemen, as the biggest threat to its homeland security. Western intelligence officials believe al-Awlaki is a senior leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most active al Qaeda affiliates.

Al-Awlaki was killed about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the Yemeni town of Khashef, east of the capital city of Sanaa, Mohammed Basha, a Yemen Embassy spokesman in Washington D.C., told CNN. Basha said the operation was launched at about 9:55 a.m. local time, though he did not say what type of operation was conducted or how al-Awlaki was killed.

A senior U.S. administration official confirmed al-Awlaki was dead, though no details surrounding the operation that led to the cleric’s death were released. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to CNN. The official was not authorized to release the information.

Born in New Mexico, al-Awlaki preached at a mosque in Virginia before leaving the United States for the Middle East.

Ever the optimist, let me use the opportunity of a dead American citizen to welcome another illegal citizen to take his place. Uncle Omar Onyango, step forward!

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BTL’s Pain Reliever

Does the thought of mortgage defaults (despite repeated modifications) give you a headache?

Here, give me your fingers: CRACK!! There, head feel better?

When critics warned about rising defaults on government-backed student loans two years ago, the question was how quickly taxpayers would feel the pain. The U.S. Department of Education provided part of the answer this month when it reported that the default rate for fiscal 2009 surged to 8.8%, up from 7% in 2008.

This rising default rate doesn’t even tell the whole story. The government allows various “income contingent” and “income-based” repayment options, so the statistics don’t count kids who were given permission to pay less than they owed. Taxpayers shouldn’t expect relief any time soon. Thanks to policy changes in recent years and fraudulent government accounting, the pain could be excruciating.

Serves the banks right, right? Power to the people. You have nothing to lose but your chains. Look both ways before crossing.

Not so much:

Readers who followed the Congressional birth of ObamaCare in 2010 may recall that student lending was the other industry takeover that came along for the legislative ride. Private lenders used to originate federally guaranteed loans, but the new law required all such loans to come directly from the feds. Combined with earlier changes that discouraged private loans sold without a federal guarantee, the result is a market dominated by Washington.

The 2010 changes did not happen simply because President Obama and legislators like Rep. George Miller and Sen. Tom Harkin distrust profit-making enterprises. The student-loan takeover also advanced the mirage that ObamaCare would save money.

President Barack Who-Me Obama uses the federal government as his own personal petty-cash account. He dispenses to unions (via the Stimulus slush-fund), to unqualified home owners (via mortgage relief slush-funds), to students and recent graduates (via the slush funds above). All valuable constituencies.

And the money for those payoffs comes not from taxpayers, but from future taxpayers—the nation’s debt stretches before us like an intercontinental railroad. President Obama has succeeded in not merely spreading the wealth, but in erasing wealth from the picture altogether.

At least this explains why I saw a busboy at the diner with a beat-up copy of Camus’ L’Etranger sticking out of his back pocket.

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About That Blockade

It’s not like I really give a fig about this, but I’m a truth fetishist:

Palestinian exports to Israel represented 90.3% of total exports in July 2011, while imports from Israel represented 60.0% of total imports to the Palestinian Territory in the same period, Wednesday said a press release by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).

Overall exports decreased in July 2011 by 26.1% compared to June, reaching US$53.9 million. Exports to Israel decreased in July 2011 by 26.1%, while exports to other countries decreased by 26.0% during the same period, said PCBS.

Overall imports to the Palestinian Territory decreased in July 2011 by 6.0% compared to June and reached $344.7 million; imports from Israel decreased by 13.4% in July, while imports from other countries increased by 8.0% in the same period, added the report.

PCBS concluded that the trade balance, which represents the difference between exports and imports, showed a decrease in trade deficit by 1.0% compared to June 2011 and reached $290.8 million.

How can one country be accused of a stranglehold on another country when country 1 is virtually country 2′s only trading partner? And if you think that proves the strangler’s stranglehold, how can that be when imports to the stranglee from other countries were the only category that increased?

Whatever.

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How Many Points for an 11-Year-Old Girl?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before:

An illegal alien who was driving without a license hit and dragged an 11-year-old Ipswich girl with his truck as she was riding her bicycle to school yesterday, authorities said.

Wanderson DaSilva-Neto, 35, a Brazilian national who was wanted by immigration authorities, was pulling out of his High Street driveway shortly after 7 a.m. on his way to work when his 1998 GMC pickup truck struck and dragged the screaming girl about four feet, a witness told police.

The Ipswich Middle School student, who was not wearing a helmet, was conscious and sitting on the sidewalk when officers arrived.

She was taken to Beverly Hospital with minor injuries, police said.

Police were booking DaSilva-Neto for negligent operation of a motor vehicle, unlicensed operation and failure to use care in starting or stopping when they found he was wanted for deportation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Nikas said. An ICE spokesman was unable to provide details on the case.

Although DaSilva-Neto’s fingerprints matched his name, Assistant District Attorney Tom Sholds questioned his identity because there is no license associated with the registration number of his vehicle.

Just one story in just one newspaper. Glad the girl’s going to be okay.

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Preach, Sister!

A conservative black person is like a pro-life woman: an offense against nature.

Don’t believe me? Just ask her:

“Herman Cain is probably well-liked by some of the Republicans because it hides the racist elements of the Republican Party, conservative movement and tea party movement,” Garofalo said.

“People like Karl Rove like to keep the racism very covert and so Herman Cain provides this great opportunity so he can say, ‘Look: This is not a racist anti-immigrant, anti-female, anti-gay movement. Look: We have a black man.’ And look he’s polling well and he won a straw poll.”

People like Karl Rove are very happy Janeane Garofalo is around. He can tell you what miserable people liberals are, but it’s so much more effective for them to show you themselves.

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