Saturday, March 7, 2009

.577 T-Rex go Boom

H/T to Doctorbulldog and a big thanks for the belly laugh..

GWOT Update

A few disturbing articles over at the Long War Journal.

Pakistan agrees to more Islamic rules in Swat
MINGORA, Pakistan (AP): Pakistani authorities have agreed to close shops at prayer times and crack down on prostitution and drug dealers as part of a proposed peace deal with militants that will impose Islamic law in a northwest valley. ...

Of course according to the Koran and Islamic teachings a truce is only a time to strengthem your forces so we shouldn't have to wait long before we hear of new attacks....
Not long at all...
Taliban violate Swat truce, kill two soldiers
The Swat Taliban have again violated the indefinite ceasefire they signed with the government, with the ambush of a military convoy by Taliban fighters. The Taliban took credit for the ambush that killed two soldiers killed and wounded one officer, and blamed the military for the attack. ...

Report: Syria will not allow IAEA inspections
Syria’s delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency said his country will no longer allow inspection visits. Syria has demanded an end to the investigation of its nuclear program and requested the IAEA inspect Israeli nuclear sites instead....

Yemen: New terror camps as a city falls to jihadists
...Along with establishing new terror training infrastructure, Yemen has seen a marked uptick in fundamentalist attacks on minorities as autonomous pockets of Taliban-like authority have sprung up across Yemen. The state has taken little action to protect its citizens in these cases, and by passivity may expect to strengthen its grip on power as Southern and Zaidi communities are intimidated along with intellectuals and modernists.
In Jahr, Abyan Jihadists declared an Islamic Emirate....

Barack Obama 'too tired' to give proper welcome to Gordon Brown

Over his head. From the Telegraph:

Barack Obama's offhand approach to Gordon Brown's Washington visit last week came about because the president was facing exhaustion over America's economic crisis and is unable to focus on foreign affairs, the Sunday Telegraph has been told.

Sources close to the White House say Mr Obama and his staff have been "overwhelmed" by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.
British officials, meanwhile, admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister....

...The American source said: "Obama is overwhelmed. There is a zero sum tension between his ability to attend to the economic issues and his ability to be a proactive sculptor of the national security agenda.... (more)

Rest assured that if the US is unable or unwilling to be "a proactive sculptor of the national security agenda"the other actors on the international stage will sculpt that agenda for us.

Pajamas Media addresses some of this concern with this aptly titled piece, An disaster waiting to happen:

Maybe part of the reason the White House is frazzling itself into the ground is that they’re trying to remake everything. Everything has now become part of the delta. Everything is changing. Now they are facing the revenge of the second derivative: the rate of the rate of change. They are trying to restructure the government so it is run with Czars instead of cabinet secretaries; “engaging” hostile nations with little or no preconditions and getting blown off; changing the basis of the economy to conform to their untried vision of the future; creating the single greatest expansion of government since FDR; redesigning health care; holding consultations on everything and planning to save the world from Climate Change.

They’re busy because crisis creates an “opportunity” for their own vague revolution.

The cumulative consequence of these actions is a vast increase in the amount of risk the entire system has to endure because variables are being added faster than they are being solved. The margins are gone — removed by design. The margins are in the way. But while things might hold together for so long as the road ahead is smooth, what happens if things hit a bump?

What happens in the Obama administration, too preoccupied to “even fake an interest in foreign policy meets a sudden challenge?

So far the Obama administration has only had to deal with the economy. And despite their campaign handwringing about how much less safe America has become, its foreign enemies, perhaps still picking themselves up off the ground from the pasting they received at the hands of George W. Bushchimp, have not yet made a move. But one day they too may notice that nobody is at home....

Dark days ahead folks.

No More Earmarks- Uhh...from now on, um, maybe...

From Maureen Dowd at the NY Times no less...

...“He’s mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse’s health, a boy’s love, or a whore’s oath,” the Fool told Lear.

And he’s truly mad that trusts in the promise of a presidential candidate to quell earmarks....

...Before the Senate resoundingly defeated a McCain amendment on Tuesday that would have shorn 9,000 earmarks worth $7.7 billion from the $410 billion spending bill, the Arizona senator twittered lists of offensive bipartisan pork, including:

• $2.1 million for the Center for Grape Genetics in New York. “quick peel me a grape,” McCain twittered.

• $1.7 million for a honey bee factory in Weslaco, Tex.

• $1.7 million for pig odor research in Iowa.

• $1 million for Mormon cricket control in Utah. “Is that the species of cricket or a game played by the brits?” McCain tweeted.

• $819,000 for catfish genetics research in Alabama.

• $650,000 for beaver management in North Carolina and Mississippi.

• $951,500 for Sustainable Las Vegas. (McCain, a devotee of Vegas and gambling, must really be against earmarks if he doesn’t want to “sustain” Vegas.)

• $2 million “for the promotion of astronomy” in Hawaii, as McCain twittered, “because nothing says new jobs for average Americans like investing in astronomy.”

• $167,000 for the Autry National Center for the American West in Los Angeles. “Hopefully for a Back in the Saddle Again exhibit,” McCain tweeted sarcastically.

• $238,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society in Hawaii. “During these tough economic times with Americans out of work,” McCain twittered.

• $200,000 for a tattoo removal violence outreach program to help gang members or others shed visible signs of their past. “REALLY?” McCain twittered.

• $209,000 to improve blueberry production and efficiency in Georgia.

“When do we turn off the spigots?” Senator McCain said in his cri de coeur on the Senate floor. “Haven’t we learned anything? Bills like this jeopardize our future.”

In one of his disturbing spells of passivity, President Obama decided not to fight Congress and live up to his own no-earmark pledge from the campaign.

He’s been lecturing us on the need to prune away frills while the economy fizzles. He was slated to make a speech on “wasteful spending” on Wednesday.

“You know, there are times where you can afford to redecorate your house and there are times where you need to focus on rebuilding its foundation,” he said recently about the “hard choices” we must make.

Yet he did not ask Congress to sacrifice and make hard choices; he let it do a lot of frivolous redecorating in its budget.... (more)

Obama Vs. America

From TownHall:

...The Obama administration and the Democrats keep repeating Rush’s line that he wants Obama to fail, and they say that nothing could be more un-American than to root for Obama to fail.

I can think of many things more un-American than wanting Obama to fail;

Democrats rooting for the United States to fail in the war on terrorism, for example. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in April 2007, “This war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything”; and the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, announcing to the world that we had lost in Iraq and we should bring the troops home in defeat, empowering our enemies to kill more American soldiers.

And they did it for selfish reasons, undermining the war effort with abject lies, divided the nation and provided them an opportunity to win more seats in the House, Senate and win back the White House. That is far more un-American than anything anyone has said about Obama.

The truth is that nobody hopes Obama fails, but many of us are rooting for America’s survival as a free and prosperous nation and that means blocking Obama’s agenda everywhere we can. (more)

Five More States Invoke the 10th

Last week, Human Events reported that eleven states, Washington, New Hampshire, Arizona, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas, had all “all introduced bills and resolutions” declaring their sovereignty over Obama’s actions in light of the 10th Amendment. These actions are in response to the Obama administration’s faux-“stimulus” legislation which directly assaults the rights of states to reject the money coming from the federal government.

So far, several Republican governors -- among them South Carolina’s Mark Sanford and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal -- have said they would refuse all or part of the stimulus money because of the constitutional infringements and because of the additional unfunded liabilities they impose on the states.

This week, HUMAN EVENTS is happy to report that five more states have decided to invoke the 10th as well.

These five -- Tennessee, Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana, and West Virginia -- have all begun their action under the 10th Amendment in a bid to protect themselves from what they view as nothing less than an unconstitutional usurpation of power on the part of the Obama administration. (more)

UPDATED: FOCA to Be Introduced "Sooner than Later": Congressman Spokesman

If passed, would "obliterate virtually all the gains" of pro-lifers since Roe v. Wade

March 6, 2009 ( - A spokesman for Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., told the St. Louis Dispatch today that the congressman intends to introduce the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) into Congress "sooner than later."

Spokesman Ilan Kayatsky said the legislation "is among the congressman's priorities. We expect to reintroduce it sooner rather than later."

Kayatsky also said he expects that the bill's other original sponsor, Sen. Barbara Boxer, will introduce FOCA in the U.S. Senate. "
We expect it to be more or less the same bill with some minor tweaks," Kayatsky said.

Boxer's office declined to comment.

The mainstream media largely scoffed at the pro-life outcry in recent months against FOCA, criticizing the anti-FOCA reaction for failing to emphasize that the bill had not yet been introduced to Congress.

Two weeks ago, a TIME Magazine article titled "The Catholic Crusade Against a Mythical Abortion Bill" claimed: "At a time when the United States is gripped by economic uncertainty ... some American Catholics are finding it both curious and troubling that their church has launched a major campaign against a piece of legislation that doesn't exist and wouldn't have much chance of becoming law even if it did."

But pro-life leaders have raised the alarm on FOCA ever since it became clear that Barack Obama, an original co-sponsor of FOCA, was on track to the presidency. Obama once assured Planned Parenthood that "the first thing" he would do as president would be to sign the legislation.

If passed, the Freedom of Choice Act would enshrine abortion as a "fundamental right" that no government can "deny" or even "interfere with." This would immediately question the validity of all state and federal abortion regulations, including the partial-birth abortion ban, parental consent and notification laws, informed consent laws, and medical providers' legal right to refuse participation in abortion on moral grounds.

In light of this last threat, U.S. Catholic bishops have led the charge against the bill, citing their concern that Catholic hospitals across the United States would be forced to choose between disobeying the law and closing altogether.

Some bishops have confirmed they would shutter their hospitals if FOCA were enforced."It would not be sufficient to withdraw our sponsorship or to sell them to someone who would perform abortions. That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil," said Chicago auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki at the bishops' annual fall meeting in Baltimore in November. (more)

Global Warming is Sleeping.

Ahh, that's it. If we have a few cold snaps well, climate can change and doesn't prove that its not warming, but a few droughts and warm spells and by golly its warming! Or changing! Or I guess, now, sleeping.
This is what happens when money (aka "stimulus") and science sleep together. The bastard child lives in the attic with the crazy aunt till the lefties let it out...

Read the article over at Creative Minority Report: Shhh. Global Warming is Hibernating.:

Politics With A Body Count

On the heels of the LA times article here on the Obama Administration's plan to reverse the Bush Policy on embryonic stem cell research Creative Minority Report: has a nice piece on why this makes so little sense...

Also this article from the Georgetown blog via the Washington Post on an "ethical middle ground" (is there such a thing?). Among the suggestions:

...Granted that the administration is going to allow the use of embryonic stem cells, how can the decision be made less ethically repugnant to those who find their use objectionable? Are their limits that can be put on embryonic stem cell research that most people, even their supporters, would recognize as appropriate? Here are some suggestions.

1. Embryos for research cannot be bought and sold. Embryos should not be created for the sole purpose of research. They should only come from excess embryos produced at fertility clinics that are scheduled to be destroyed anyway.

2. Before using human embryonic stem cells, researchers should show that the research they are doing cannot be done with non-embryonic stem cells.

3. Research using embryonic stem cells should aim at advancing toward the goal of using only non-embryonic stem cells in regenerative medicine. In other words, once the process of developing adult stem cells for treatments has been shown to be safe and reliable, any research in embryonic stem cells should be able to move seamlessly into the use of adult stem cells leaving the ethical problems behind.

These rules will not satisfy those who find any use of embryos ethically objectionable, but it will indicate that the Obama administration is trying to find some middle ground that gives some respect to the many Americans who find such research repugnant. In short, if science shows a way out of this ethical dilemma, we should follow it. (read it all here)

Well it would be a start and we all know how the Obama Administration seeks that middle ground...ahem.

FACT CHECK: Obama 'tax hikes' a matter of words

From Townhall:

President Barack Obama says he would lower taxes on 95 percent of Americans now and raise them on the rich in 2011. Republicans say he will increase taxes for all and in the midst of a recession to boot.

So who's right?

Yes, all Americans would pay more under the president's policies. His own aides concede that.
But no, Obama would not raise taxes in the midst of a recession, as long as his economic assumptions bear out....

THE CLAIM: "The president's budget increases taxes on every American, and does so during a recession," said Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the top Republican on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
"Let's just be honest and call it a carbon tax that will increase taxes on all Americans who drive a car, who have a job, who turn on a light switch, pure and simple," House Minority leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said of Obama's plan to impose a tariff on polluters.

THE FACTS: Under Obama's plan, tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush for families making more than $250,000 would be allowed to expire in 2011, increasing the top income tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. The top capital gains tax rate would jump from 15 percent to 20 percent....

...Obama also would impose fees on greenhouse gas producers, including power plants that burn fossil fuels, by auctioning off carbon pollution permits. The goal is to reduce the emissions blamed for global warming. The fees would raise a projected $646 billion over 10 years.

Obama aides don't dispute that consumers will get the passed-along costs. In testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee in September, White House budget chief Peter Orszag, then the director of the Congressional Budget Office, said companies that have to pay the emissions fees "would not ultimately bear most of the costs of the allowances. Instead, they would pass them along to their customers (and their customers' customers) in the form of higher prices."...

...Arguments that the mere expectation of direct or indirect taxes or fees is damaging in a recession are based on a 19th century economic theory that taxpayers will anticipate higher taxes when a government operates at a deficit and will hoard, not spend, their money. ...(read the article here)

Friday, March 6, 2009

No, They Can't

From over at And Sometimes Tea:
"OSV interview with Archbishop Naumann on the Sebelius matter. Excerpt:

Valerie Schmalz, OSV contributing editor: What precipitated writing Gov. Sebelius last May to tell her not to receive Communion?

Archbishop Joseph Naumann: I had actually written the August before that, in 2007, asking her not to present herself for Communion and I did not make that public. But then she violated that in March, and so in May I had written her again and made that public. Since then to my knowledge she has not presented herself for Communion.

OSV: She violated it by going to Communion in March (2008)?

Archbishop Naumann: Yep."

I share the joy in hearing Catholic leaders begin to call out two faced politicians...

Obama lied, democracy died

From WND:

The lies are piling up after only 30 days.
The campaign promises are being broken so fast, it is making the American people's heads spin.
No one is capable of compiling them all.
And most of my colleagues in the media have no desire to do so. ...

...Let's go back in time, for those who care, to June22, 2007. Obama was in Manchester, N.H., campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination.
He said government would be different with an Obama administration
"When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as the president, you the public will have five days to look online and find out what's in it before I sign it," he said. His campaign called the idea the "sunshine before signing promise." ...

...In that same speech, Obama promised there would be no more pork!
He promised there would be "no more secrets."

Self-censorship in the West

From the Economist:
Anxiety over causing religious offence limits freedom of speech in the West

...Two decades after the fatwa was imposed on Mr Rushdie, it appears that many Western artists, publishers and governments are more willing today to sacrifice some of their freedom of speech than was the case in 1989. To many critics that will be seen as self-censorship that has gone too far. But a difficult balance must be struck: no country permits completely free speech. Typically, it is limited by prohibitions against libel, defamation, obscenity, judicial or parliamentary privilege and the like. Protecting free expression will often require hurting the feelings of individuals or groups; equally the use of free speech should be tempered by a sense of responsibility. But that sense should not serve as a disguise for allowing extremists of any stripe to define what views can or cannot be aired. (entire article here)

Obama to reverse Bush policy on embryonic stem cell research

More on the emerging tragedy that is the Obama Administration..

From the LA Times:
White House sources say key restrictions on federal funding will be lifted Monday. Social conservatives protest that the move will 'aid the destruction of innocent human life.'...

...In changing the policy, Obama may further anger social conservatives who believe that the research is immoral because human embryos are destroyed in the course of obtaining stem cells. Many are already upset at Obama for reversing Bush administration policies that restricted abortion services.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said federal funding should be directed to research on stem cells not derived from embryos."The question is whether taxpayer dollars should be used to subsidize the destruction of precious human life," Boehner said in a statement Friday. "Millions of Americans strongly oppose that, and rightfully so. Taxpayer dollars should not aid the destruction of innocent human life."Administration officials did not provide much detail Friday about the order that Obama plans to sign at a White House ceremony Monday. One official said the president would emphasize "a return to sound science," a theme that Obama and other Democratic candidates talked about often during last year's presidential campaign....(more)

Is that the best question we can come up with? .."Whether 'taxpayer dollars should be used to subsidize the destruction of precious human life'.." If that is the best we can do then perhaps we are too far gone. The president would emphasize "a return to sound science," without reference to the sacredness of life or the ethical and moral implications of research and sacrifice on the weakest. This is not sound. This is diabolical.

Three on the Obama Economy

Three articles from the WSJ on the emerging tragedy that is the Obama Economy.

Running Out of People to Blame

As 2009 opened, three weeks before Barack Obama took office, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 9034 on January 2, its highest level since the autumn panic. Yesterday the Dow fell another 4.24% to 6763, for an overall decline of 25% in two months and to its lowest level since 1997. The dismaying message here is that President Obama's policies have become part of the economy's problem.

Americans have welcomed the Obama era in the same spirit of hope the President campaigned on. But after five weeks in office, it's become clear that Mr. Obama's policies are slowing, if not stopping, what would otherwise be the normal process of economic recovery. From punishing business to squandering scarce national public resources, Team Obama is creating more uncertainty and less confidence -- and thus a longer period of recession or subpar growth....(more)

Continuing Down the Wrong Road
Obama Repeats Bush's Worst Market Mistakes

What is most astounding about President Barack Obama's radical economic recovery program isn't its breadth, but its continuation of the most destructive policies of the Bush administration. These Bush policies were in themselves repudiations of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Mr. Obama's hero.

The most disastrous Bush policy that Mr. Obama is perpetuating is mark-to-market or "fair value" accounting for banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions. The idea seems harmless: Financial institutions should adjust their balance sheets and their capital accounts when the market value of the financial assets they hold goes up or down....(more)

Killing the Dow
Obama's Radicalism Is Killing the Dow

It's hard not to see the continued sell-off on Wall Street and the growing fear on Main Street as a product, at least in part, of the realization that our new president's policies are designed to radically re-engineer the market-based U.S. economy, not just mitigate the recession and financial crisis.

The illusion that Barack Obama will lead from the economic center has quickly come to an end. Instead of combining the best policies of past Democratic presidents -- John Kennedy on taxes, Bill Clinton on welfare reform and a balanced budget, for instance -- President Obama is returning to Jimmy Carter's higher taxes and Mr. Clinton's draconian defense drawdown.

Mr. Obama's $3.6 trillion budget blueprint, by his own admission, redefines the role of government in our economy and society. The budget more than doubles the national debt held by the public, adding more to the debt than all previous presidents -- from George Washington to George W. Bush -- combined. It reduces defense spending to a level not sustained since the dangerous days before World War II, while increasing nondefense spending (relative to GDP) to the highest level in U.S. history. And it would raise taxes to historically high levels (again, relative to GDP). And all of this before addressing the impending explosion in Social Security and Medicare costs....(more)

How Democracies Become Tyrannies

Cleaning out the old stuff that didn't get posted while I was under the weather....But this is a good one to remember. What should be mandatory reading for all of us from American Thinker:

...In the Republic, two young men, Glaucon and Adeimantus, accompany the much older Socrates on a journey of discovery into the nature of the individual soul and its connection to the harmony of the state. During the course of their adventure, as the two disciples demonstrate greater maturity and self-control, they are gradually exposed to deeper and more complex teachings regarding the relationship between virtue, self-sufficiency, and happiness. In short, the boys begin to realize that justice and happiness in a community rests upon the moral condition of its citizens. This is what Socrates meant when he said: "The state is man writ large."

Near the end of the Republic Socrates decides to drive this point home by showing Adeimantus what happens to a regime when its parents and educators neglect the proper moral education of its children. In the course of this chilling illustration Adeimantus comes to discover a dark and ominous secret: without proper moral conditioning a regime's "defining principle" will be the source of its ultimate destruction. For democracy, that defining principle is freedom. According to Socrates, freedom makes a democracy but freedom also eventually breaks a democracy.

For Socrates, democracy's "insatiable desire for freedom and neglect of other things" end up putting it "in need of a dictatorship." The short version of his theory is that the combination of freedom and poor education in a democracy render the citizens incapable of mastering their impulses and deferring gratification.

The reckless pursuit of freedom leads the citizens to raze moral barriers, deny traditional authority, and abandon established methods of education. Eventually, this uninhibited quest for personal freedom forces the public to welcome the tyrant. Says Socrates: "Extreme freedom can't be expected to lead to anything but a change to extreme slavery, whether for a private individual or for a city."...

...As conservative politicians court suspicion so do conservative teachers and academics who stubbornly hold on to objective measurements of performance: "A teacher in such a community is afraid of his students and flatters them, while the students despise their teachers or tutors." Conservatism becomes unpopular just about everywhere, to a point at which even the elderly "stoop to the level of the young and are full of play and pleasantry, imitating the young for fear of appearing disagreeable and authoritarian."

The explosion of boundaries and limits extends even to national identity itself, so that resident aliens and foreigners "are made equal to a citizen."

The citizens' souls become so infected with freedom that they become excessively paranoid about any hint of slavery. But slavery comes to mean being under any kind of master or limit including the law itself. Says Socrates: "They take no notice of the laws, whether written or unwritten, in order to avoid having any master at all." That is, any kind of "hierarchy" in a democracy is rejected as "authoritarian." But this extreme freedom, according to Socrates, eventually enslaves democracy...(read it all here)

Big donors dominate Obama panel

More of that "change" we all love so much...From the WashingtonTimes:

'Distinguished citizens' include subprime banking executive

President Obama's newly named Economic Recovery Advisory Board, the real-world Americans being asked to help solve the nation's financial crisis, includes a union executive who took the Fifth in a federal probe, a billionaire whose failed bank pioneered the subprime mortgage market, and deep-pocket donors who gave or gathered nearly $1.2 million for the president's campaign.
In all, 11 of the 16 board members donated or raised money for Democrats in the last election, according to a Washington Times review of campaign finance records. They include the president and chief operating officer of the American arm of UBS Investment Bank, the Swiss-based bank now at the center of a widening tax evasion probe by the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service. ...(more)

Publisher accused of 'dechristianising' church encyclopedia

From the Guardian:

Academic publisher Blackwell has been accused of attempting to "dechristianise" the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilisation it was due to publish in order to make it politically correct.

The Encyclopedia's editor-in-chief, George Kurian, claims that under pressure from an anti-Christian lobby, Blackwell decided that entries in the four-volume book were "too Christian, too orthodox, too anti-secular and too anti-Muslim and not politically correct enough for being used in universities". Kurian also claims that the press wants to delete words including "Antichrist", "Virgin Birth", "Resurrection", "Evangelism" and "Beloved Disciple" from the book, as well as objecting to "historical references to the persecution and massacres of Christians by Muslims".

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Thanks for your patience. It has taken me a full two weeks after being released from the hospital to feel like doing anything. Man, it's good to be back.

Foreign ties of nominee questioned

From the Washington Times:

An independent inspector general will look into the foreign financial ties of Chas W. Freeman Jr., the Obama administration's pick to serve as chairman of the group that prepares the U.S. intelligence community's most sensitive assessments, according to three congressional aides.
The director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, last Thursday named Mr. Freeman, a veteran former diplomat, to the chairmanship of the
National Intelligence Council, known inside the government as the NIC. In that job, Mr. Freeman will have access to some of America's most closely guarded secrets and be charged with overseeing the drafting of the consensus view of all 16 intelligence agencies.

His selection was praised by some who noted his articulateness and experience as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a senior envoy to
China and other nations. But it sparked concerns among some members of Congress from both parties, who asked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's inspector general, Edward McGuire, to investigate Mr. Freeman's potential conflicts of interest. ...(more)

Evolution of Statezilla

Excellent (and funny) commentary from Mark Steyn at the Washington Times:

The superheroes I always found hard to keep track of were the ones who kept relaunching themselves. I mean, Batman has been Batman for 70 years and Spider-man has been Spiderman for the best part of 50.

But I'm thinking of chaps like Ant-Man. Very small, as one might expect. Then he became Giant-Man. Then he became Yellowjacket (his girlfriend was the Wasp). Then he became Goliath. I've lost track of him since then. But, thanks to my usual 20-second exhaustive research, I see he was relaunched only a month ago, this time as the Wasp. Hang on, I thought the Wasp was his chick? Has he had a sex-change? Hey, why not? For a while he was both Giant-Man and Yellowjacket, playing a kind of schizoid double hero with each superpower emphasizing a different side of his identity.

Anyway, that's how I feel about the endlessly morphing supergovernment hero battling the planet-swallowing economic crisis. Back in September, we were told to put our faith in Bailoutman. Then in January, Bailoutman went to his tailor, had the long underwear redesigned, and relaunched himself as Mister Stimulus.

A few weeks later the Obama crowd noticed that "stimulus," like "bailout," had become a cheap punch line, and decided the approved term was "recovery." So Captain Recovery swung into action.

In fairness to Ant-Man, he got very small, and then he got big, and then he got small again, and then he got super-big, and for a while he was both small and big, in a superheroically bipartisan way. But Bailoutman started out as a huge staggering behemoth and has inflated from there. Once upon a time he was as a meek mild-mannered trillionaire, but a mere five months later he was a meek mild-mannered multi-trillionaire.

If you find it hard to keep track of these all these evolutions, the president in his address to Congress finally spilled the beans and unveiled our new hero in his final form: the Incredible Bulk, Statezilla, Governmentuan - a colossus bestriding the land like a, er, colossus.

What superpowers does he have? All of them! He can save the economy, he can reform health care, he can prevent foreclosures, he can federalize day care, he can cap the salary of his archenemies the sinister Fat Cats who "pad their pay checks and buy fancy drapes." No longer will the citizenry cower in fear of fancy drapes: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Elementary blots out 'In God We Trust'

From WND:

An elementary school in Tennessee, after successfully rebuffing an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit over religious expression on campus, has nonetheless ordered the words "God Bless the USA" and "In God We Trust" covered up on student-made posters in the hallway.
Administrators at Lakeview Elementary School in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., told parents that the posters, promoting the See You at the Pole student prayer event, mentioned "God" and are therefore precluded by school board policy and prohibited in the hallways as inappropriate.
Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal alliance defending religious liberty, filed a lawsuit today on behalf of 10 parents and their children, seeking an injunction against banning private religious expression on student-made posters.
"Christian students shouldn't be censored for expressing their beliefs," said ADF Senior Counsel Nate Kellum in a statement. "It's ridiculous as well as unconstitutional to cover up these references to God and prayer – one of which is the national motto itself – on posters announcing a student-led activity."
Further, Kellum surmised, "School officials appear to be having an allergic reaction to the ACLU's long-term record of fear, intimidation, and disinformation, despite a previous court ruling at this very school that said students can observe these types of events on school property." ...(more)

Ugly scenes at swingers' resort as nudists war over dress code

Funny in a weird, ugly sort of way...I think I'd want Johny to keep his britches on too...

From SMH:

Police were forced to intervene between warring nudists during a stoush at a clothing-optional resort in north Queensland.
A tourist claims he was evicted from the adults only The White Cockatoo resort in Mossman, near Port Douglas, after he refused to bare all in front of three women.
John Harrison and his wife, Lyn, had their stay cut short after resort owner Tony Fox accused the couple of being "disrespectful" to other guests because Mr Harrison chose not to get naked ahead of a dinner date.
Police were called amid threats of violence and lewd behaviour to escort the Gold Coast couple from the resort on Tuesday night...

Some Fear Obama Tax Hikes Will Hurt Charities

A study released this week by Bank of America and conducted by the Center on Philanthropy shows 47 percent of affluent households say they would give less if their tax deductions for charitable giving were eliminated...
From FoxNews:

President Obama's plan to expand health care coverage by raising taxes on the wealthy is drawing accusations that he wants to do it at the expense of charitable giving.
"I don't understand why the administration would try to create any disincentive that reduced any donations to charity," Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said.
Yet critics say that is exactly what the president's proposed budget will do by limiting the charitable giving tax break for families earning more than $250,000 per year....(More)

And it appears even some Democrats are having trouble with the idea. From MyWay News:

Key Democrats oppose Obama's tax deduction plan

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama's proposal to limit itemized tax deductions for high earners is running into opposition from key Democrats in Congress who worry that charities and the housing market would be hurt. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus questioned Wednesday whether the proposal was viable, a day after his House counterpart also expressed reservations...(more)

We Should Call Upon the Angels

An interesting summation of angelic activity in scripture:
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 1, 2009 ( The angels are a significant part of the Gospel and we should call upon them often, says Benedict XVI....more here

China says it will increase military spending by a "modest" 14.9%

More good news on the horizon...
From BBC:

...Analysts say defence spending is higher than the official figure, but Beijing says there are no hidden outlays.
"There is no such thing as so-called hidden military expenditure in China," said Mr Li at a news conference in Beijing. ...

How about that, the ChiComs have a sense of humor..

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Death on a Friday Afternoon

Once again I am reading Death on a Friday Afternoon by the late Father Richard John Neuhaus. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is the reason Lent has become one of my favorite seasons of the Christian year.