Friday, March 26, 2010

At the One-Year Mark

When Barack Obama was elected, I made some predictions as to what his Presidency might look like. These predictions were as follows:

1. Fairness Doctrine is back- goodbye conservative radio. Rush will be either fined out of business or imprisoned for 'sedition'.
2. All conservative websites will be closed down- we're FAR more dangerous than those Islamic terrorists, didn't you know?
3. Taxes will skyrocket, our economy will tank.
4. The Second Amendment will be revoked by a liberal Supreme Court.
5. The US military will be emasculated and used solely as an international police force.
6. Iran will have nuclear weapons in two years.
7. Israel will no longer exist in two years.
8. Iraq will become another Islamic terror sponsor.
9. America will accept UN domination over all aspects of our foreign policy; we will sign a treaty giving the UN the power to control our treasury and our military.
10. No contrary opinions of an Obama Presidency will be tolerated- critics will be fined and possibly even imprisoned.
11. Congress will roll out universal health care and our health care system will become worse than Canada's. Americans will face huge long waits in line and many Americans will die from lack of timely care. Many doctors will go out of business due to their inability to get reimbursed. Getting health care will be worse than a trip to the DMV. (Advice- if you have anything that needs to be addressed health-wise, get it done now. In two years, our health care system will be a disaster).
12. Borders will be flung open- all illegal aliens will be legalized, provoking a fresh flood of illegals wanting citizenship.
13. Human Rights Commissions like those in Canda will form to prevent conservative speech from being heard. Any speech deemed 'hateful' (this only applied to comments made by conservatives, of course- liberals and leftists can do and say anything they wish) will be punished severely.
14. Starting January 20, expect to see the same economic numbers that were deemed to be bad for Bush spun as being wonderful under an Obama Presidency.

So. How accurate was I?

  1. Hasn't happened yet, but several Democratic members of Congress have talked about doing it. I would not be surprised if they ram it through before the 2010 midterm elections.

  2. Hasn't happened yet, although the Obama Justice Department thinks that Tea Partiers are a greater threat than armed Black Panthers.

  3. This is a given, especially considering the health care boondoggle, the 'Stimulus' the nationalization of Government Motors and the attempted takeover of student loans. Expect to see your taxes skyrocket next year.

  4. Second Amendment is still under attack, but Heller is so far holding firm. Don't expect to see the Left give up. Language actually in the Constitution (The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed) is MUCH less important than language based on 'emanations from a penumbra' (Justice Douglas' rationale for making up a new right to privacy found nowhere in the actual Constitution)

  5. To his credit, Obama hasn't actually done this yet, although he DID just cave to the Russians as far as nuclear weapons. How many actually expect Russia to keep its word? Yes, Barack, you can put your hand down. Anyone else? No? Hmmm...

  6. Likely. Iran is well on the way to nuclear weapons. While Obama sends them pitiful little Christmas messages. Sigh...

  7. Well, so far Israel has managed to resist Obama's best efforts to destroy them. But how much longer can they hold out if Obama is supporting their enemies? Only time will tell...

  8. Well, Obama doesn't get much credit here, but at least he hasn't utterly ruined the Bush plan of action in Iraq. So far, Iraq is still surpassing expectations. In the latest development, a secular, anti-Iranian leader beat out the Islamic PM. Good for them!

  9. Obama hasn't quite dared to do this, but the signs are certainly there. Let's hope for a Republican Congress so that he can't give away our sovereignty just yet!

  10. Here again, Obama's Justice Department hasn't taken the final steps, but the warning signs are here. They seem more concerned about Tea Partiers than actual terrorists and criminals like Bill Ayers and ACORN. Oh, wait. They support Democrats. Can't possibly be bad!

  11. Done. Now we are stuck unless we can somehow get rid of it before 2013. We'll be almost as good as Canada! Oh, wait...

  12. Congress and Obama have been talking about doing exactly this since 2009. Amnesty (and vast new votes of Democrats), here we come!

  13. Campuses already do this. It is only a matter of time before these get support from the Democrats. The only speech they want to hear is the echo chamber they and teh media inhabit.

  14. heh. You mean, like this (Obama) as opposed to this (Bush)?

Well, I am batting 4 for 14. In baseball that would be a wonderful percentage. Unfortunately, this isn't baseball. This is reality. And the reality is that most of these prophecies are either already complete (higher taxers, healthcare, media spin) in progress (immigration, speech restrictions on conservatives) or are being made more possible by Obama's policies (Iranian nukes, Israel's destruction, American decline). i only hope that the electorate does something about it in the next two elections. I don't like socialism, nor its kissing kin Communism! So, how's that Hope and Change working out for all your rubes who voted for the Marxists occupying our White House and Congress?

Government 'Efficiency' At Work

The government likes to tell us how much better they are than those eeevil corporations that only care about profit. Government will make our lives better!

However, in the latest failure of this meme, it turns out that the Energy Star rating, which is supposed to be given only to products that are genuinely energy-efficient, actually gave its stamp of approval to at least fifteen fake products. As (surprisingly) reported by the Associated Press,
Fifteen phony products — including a gasoline-powered alarm clock — won a label from the government certifying them as energy efficient in a test of the federal "Energy Star" program.
Investigators concluded the program is "vulnerable to fraud and abuse."
A report released Friday said government investigators tried to pass off 20 fake products as energy efficient, and only two were rejected. Three others didn't get a response.

Why this should surprise anyone is beyond me. Government programs by definition are usually inefficient and frequently corrupt (TARP, the Stimulus, etc). The Department of Motor Vehicles is famously incompetent and the US Postal Service's lack of service is so well known that going to the Post Office has become as enjoyable as having a tooth pulled out with pliers. And we haven't even gotten mentioned the power-hungry would-be overlords at the EPA or Congressional staffers.

But when Big Government takes over your health care, of course, it will all be different.


With the recent power grab by the federal government in the person of the health care takeover (which followed the automotive takeover) ther is some talk of a Constitutional amendment. These are difficult, but the States can call one at any time.

Over at the Volokh Comnspiracy, Randy Barnett has posted his suggestions, provoking some fascinating comments. Barnett writes,

The legislative power of Congress shall not be construed to include mandating, regulating, prohibiting or taxing the private health insurance of any person; nor shall the power of Congress to make all laws which are necessary and proper to regulate commerce among the several states be construed to include the power to mandate, regulate, prohibit or tax any activity that is confined within a single state and subject to the police power thereof, regardless of the activity’s economic effects outside the state, whether it employs instrumentalities therefrom, or whether its regulation or prohibition is part of a comprehensive federal regulatory scheme.

I commented with the following:

As long as we're dreaming brainstorming:

  1. The Commerce Clause shall be interpreted as follows: Congress may not regulate any commercial activities confined solely within the borders of a State.

  2. Congress may not nationalize or have any ownership interest in any business, industry or other commercial endeavor.

  3. Congress may not pass unfunded mandates.

  4. Congress may not link funding to any specific actions on the part of the States or the People.

  5. Neither Congress nor any State may mandate the individual purchase of any goods or services.

  6. States may not tax businesses not physically located within the boundaries of that State.

  7. No executive order may remain in effect for more than 365 days without Congressional review and approval.

  8. No Act of Congress may remain in effect for more than five years without Congressional review and approval.

  9. Any Act passed by Congress will apply to all elected, appointed and career members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches.

  10. Any Act passed by Congress must be on a pay as you go basis.

  11. No regulatory agency has authority to alter or amend its scope or requirements without said regulation being reviewed and approved by Congress.

  12. Prisoners of War and non-legitimate combatants are not entitled to any access in any US court.

  13. The Second Amendment shall be read as written. The right of individuals to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

  14. The rights and privileges enumerated in this Constitution are restricted to US citizens and legal residents only.

I'm no lawyer, but I think that by framing it this way, the Equal Rights parts are unaffected. We want to restrict the power of the feds to use the Commerce Clause to stick their noses into things they shouldn't be. Thoughts?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

That data mining again...

Remember all the brouhaha over the supposedly illegal NSA data-mining and the Able Danger team? Well, it turns out that the Clinton Adminstration had a much more intrusive program going on - and one which was aimed solely at benefitting the Democratic Party. It was called Echelon.

Among other things, the program reportedly was used to eavesdrop on Republican congressmen and win contracts for American companies. As 60 Minutes host Steve Kroft said in an 2000 interview with Porter Goss and others,
Ms. NEWSHAM: It was definitely an American voice, and it was a voice that was distinct. And I said, 'Well, who is that?' And he said it was Senator Strom Thurmond. And I go, 'What?'

KROFT: Do you think this kind of stuff goes on?

Mr. FROST: Oh, of course it goes on. Been going on for years. Of course it goes on.

KROFT: You mean the National Security Agency spying on politicians in...

Mr. FROST: Well, I--I...

KROFT: the United States?

Mr. FROST: Sounds ludicrous, doesn't it? Sounds like the world of fiction. It's not; not the world of fiction. That's the way it works. I've been there. I was trained by you guys.

Rep. GOSS: Certainly possible that something like that could happen. The question is: What happened next?

KROFT: What do you mean?

Rep. GOSS: It is certainly possible that somebody overheard me in a conversation. I have just been in Europe. I have been talking to people on a telephone and elsewhere. So it's very possible somebody could have heard me. But the question is: What do they do about it? I mean, I cannot stop the dust in the ether; it's there. But what I can make sure is that it's not abused--the capability's not abused, and that's what we do.

KROFT: Much of what's known about the Echelon program comes not from enemies of the United States, but from its friends. Last year, the European Parliament, which meets here in Strasbourg, France, issued a report listing many of the Echelon's spy stations around the world and detailing their surveillance capabilities. The report says Echelon is not just being used to track spies and terrorists. It claims the United States is using it for corporate and industrial espionage as well, gathering sensitive information on European corporations, then turning it over to American competitors so they can gain an economic advantage.

I was reminded of this by the tumult over Google's disagreement with China. I do believe that companies should be subject to national laws of the country in which they do business. but I also believe that China is a growing threat and think that if we are to have any influence over them, we must demonstrate that we are not always pushovers, no matter how much President Obama might genuflect.

Kudos to Google

Followers of this blog know I am no fan of Google. Their refusal to respect privacy (especially for organizations that the political Left hates - see their exposure of the location of Britain's main SAS base) and their history of preferring to kowtow to tyrannical governments as opposed to cooperating with Republican Administrations leave me suspicious of their intentions. And of course the founders are well-known for being enthusiastic supporters of Big Government - as long as said Big government is run by their friends in the Democratic Party.

However, with all that being said, I must congratulate them for showing a little spine and refusing to continue their cooperation with China's repressive government. Whether they have finally woken up to the reality of the Chinese government or whether they are simply seeking revenge for what is almost certainly government-directed industrial espionage is irrelevant. the fact is that for once Google is actually living up to their motto 'Don't Be Evil'.

A more evil form of government than that practiced by the Chinese Communists is difficult to imagine, though north Korea certainly qualifies, as does Cuba. And if Obama gets his way, the United States may well one day fall into that category as well. I would hope that the executives at Google are watching the current shenanigans in Washington, DC closely. They appear to have finally awoken to the folly of cooperating with tyrannies. Perhaps they might actually wake up to the ever-increasing threat of tyranny here at home.

An American Prophecy

The passage of ObamaCare (with all its corrupt bargains, un-Constitutional mandates and parliamentary skullduggery) has put the United States firmly on the road to decline and fall unless it can somehow be repealed by the Legislature (unlikely) or invalidated in the courts (even more unlikely based on the legal profession's long-standing love of Marxism, Socialism and all other social fads).

Now Mark Steyn has written a somber and probably accurate prophecy of what the future without the United States may hold. Writes Steyn,
Is America set for decline? It’s been a grand run. The country’s been the leading economic power since it overtook Britain in the 1880s. That’s impressive. Nevertheless, over the course of that century and a quarter, Detroit went from the world’s industrial powerhouse to an urban wasteland, and the once-golden state of California atrophied into a land of government run by the government for the government. What happens when the policies that brought ruin to Detroit and sclerosis to California become the basis for the nation at large? Strictly on the numbers, the United States is in the express lane to Declinistan: unsustainable entitlements, the remorseless governmentalization of the economy and individual liberty, and a centralization of power that will cripple a nation of this size. Decline is the way to bet. But what will ensure it is if the American people accept decline as a price worth paying for European social democracy.

The sad part? Speaking as someone with more than a casual knowledge of history, I think he's right. Decline is a choice, but history has proven time and again that most liberal nations eventually choose it. Athens, Rome, Byzantium and Britain are all great nations that allowed themselves (and in the case of Britain encouraged themselves) to grovel at their enemies' feet and profess their own inadequacies. So too does much of the self-elected elite in the United States celebrate barbarism and blindly follow social system and philosophies that have long been exposed as good only to the elites.

The United States has indeed had a great run, but once socialism has taken over, we are done as surely as the Western European nations who have lived off our backs for the past sixty years or so. And once America falls, who will protect Europe? Who will be the motor of the UN's corrupt coffers? As Steyn concludes.
One sympathizes with Americans weary of global responsibilities that they, unlike the European empires, never sought. The United States now spends more on its military than the next 40 or so nations combined. Yet in two rinky-dink no-account semi-colonial policing campaigns, it doesn’t feel like that, does it? A lot of bucks, but not much of a bang. You can understand why the entire Left and an increasing chunk of the Right would rather vote for a quiet life. But that’s not an option. The first victims of American retreat will be the many corners of the world that have benefited from an unusually benign hegemon. But the consequences of retreat will come home, too. In a more dangerous world, American decline will be steeper, faster, and more devastating than Britain’s — and something far closer to Rome’s.

And when that inevitable decline begins to make its effects felt, will the American media and Leftists who worked so hard to bring down their own country at last acknowledge their own responsibility for hat decline? Will they finally admit that they are the villains? Don't hold your breath.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Illegal lived on taxpayer money in DC

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why we desperately need to fix our border security. And our immigration system. As reported in the Washington Examiner, an escaped Panamanian murderer lived high on the hog illegally in Washington DC for over a year - on the taxpayer's money! As The Examiner reported,
A Panamanian murderer who escaped a prison in the Central American country has been captured in the District, where authorities say he used a fake Social Security card to obtain federally subsidized housing and cruised around town in three luxury cars.

Barrera reportedly told authorities he used the bogus Social Security card to get the driver's license and secure his U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development subsidized apartment, court documents said. A property manager for Brookland Manor Apartments told authorities Barrera paid his rent for one year in advance.
Authorities also found that Barrera had three cars registered to his alias in the District: a 1998 Lexus, a 2003 Infiniti and a 2008 Acura.
Barrera reportedly told authorities he entered the United States by sneaking in through Mexico, the affidavit said.

I don't have any problem believing it. Our border authorities are disgustingly, horrifyingly incompetent. I am referring of course to the TSA, the Border Patrol, the Customs agency and any other federal agency charged with protecting our borders. These folks are always ready to read you the riot act when you complain about being profiled for the 1,000,000,000,000,000th time as a white male or as a white female. While they pass Hispanic and Arabic men and women (including fully robed and veiled women) without even so much as a tough query. But yet they consistently fall far short of the standard that we as American citizens have a right to expect. They can't even be bothered to find and deport the millions of illegals who hang out in parking lots waiting for under-the-table work. Nor do they bother to do any investigation into the H1B abuse that is rampant among employment agencies - especially those who specialize in using natives of the Indian subcontinent.

Until our elected representatives take border security (and all other forms of national security) seriously, we are going to be in danger of a repetition of September 11, 2001. Except next time, it may not be so harmless as that attack was. And Barack Obama, Eric Holder and their fellow believers in the government will probably still blame George Bush.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Nat Cole

The Power Line crew reminded me that today is the 101st anniversary of the birth of the great Nat 'King' Cole. Although Cole himself lived in times of serious racial, he and the other great jazz musicians of that era managed to transcend it and produce some of the greatest music ever recorded. Read the whole thing.

Here is a recording of Cole's 'Mona Lisa', one of my favorite songs by the great vocalist/pianist.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Deeming without Doing

Since Congress thinks it is perfectly acceptable to pass legislation without actually voting on said legislation, why don't they extend that right to the rest of us.

Lucidicus has a novel idea. He tweets,
Perhaps taxpayers should "deem" their taxes to be considered paid without actually sending a check this year.

That goes in the same category as the novel idea that when Congress creates sweeping social engineering for the little people, they better apply it to themselves as well.

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

Is the SEC over-lawyered?

Well, Harry Markopolos certainly thinks so. As reported by Gordon Smith at The Conglomerate blog, Markopolos (who blew the whistle on Madoff) says in an interview with Deborah Solomon,
Solomon: Are you saying the S.E.C. under Schapiro is about to catch fraud on Wall Street?
Markopolos: She has the wrong staff. They’re a bunch of idiots there.

Solomon: What do you mean?
Markopolos: The five commissioners of the S.E.C. are securities lawyers. Securities lawyers never understand finance. They don’t have the math background. If you can’t do math and if you can’t take apart the investment products of the 21st century backward and forward and put them together in your sleep, you’ll never find the frauds on Wall Street.

Solomon: So why doesn’t the S.E.C. hire finance people? Why don’t they hire you?
Markopolos: They’re overlawyered. They’re poisoned by lawyers.

Smith has a possible solution - hire some financial experts! He writes,
We now require at least one member of the audit committee of a public company to be a "financial expert," but where are the financial experts at the SEC? Maybe bolstering the investigative staff with forensic accountants would be sufficient, but if the leadership sets the tone for the agency, wouldn't the appointment of commissioners with experience in forensic accounting be worth exploring?

Makes sense to me. Most lawyers have little expertise or real understanding of most of the fields they litigate. Kind of like....journalists!

Of course this is the government we are talking about. So if something actually makes sense, there is probably very little chance the lawyers who make up large sectors of the government will actually do anything constructive. That would reduce their opportunities for bribery and graft, after all! Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

Journalists and History...

...don't mix it would seem. According to Tom Elia at The New Editor blog, the Chicago Tribune's Ron Grossman sent a copy of the photograph reproduced below to his newsroom. Recognize it?

A sample of the reactions from Mr. Grossman's supposedly elite colleagues are reproduced below:
While some instantly recognized the image, others couldn't quite place it.

"I know I ought to know it," one co-worker said. "It was in the movie, ‘Flags of Our Fathers.' " Some, seeing uniforms, realized it must be a war photo. Maybe Vietnam? One got the era right but the battlefield wrong. She guessed it was D-Day, not, as it was, the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima.

I have said many times before. Journalists are among the least skilled professionals in the world. They are not trained in any of the arenas they purport to explain to we the people and yet they expect those same people to listen to their analysis and instruction with respect and awe. Why? Tell me why should we give any respect or credence to what journalists say when they are so clearly deficient in both knowledge and comprehension?

As a bonus question, with what side did Japan and Italy ally with during the First World War? And what were the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente? (Hint: One included Germany). No Googling!

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds. His money quote: