Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Issue Up!!!

Happy New Year to one and all, and welcome to the first issue of 2009 of Common Conservative. As is tradition, the staff is handing out it's official Common Conservative Awards so be sure to check that out and see if any of your favorite turkeys showed up to collect their prizes. But the awards aren't the only thing to check us out for. No, we still have work to do. So, without further adieu ...

The Chief hands out much-needed New Year's resolutions for others. Believe me, they may want to take heed of them.

Larry Simoneaux is back from hiatus with an update on what's been going on with him. Don't worry, he's really back. He just needed a break.

Marcie and I focus on the Rod Blagojevic scandal, and highlight an aspect of it we think a few people have overlooked. Trust us, this thing stinks to high heaven, but not for all the reasons cited thus far.

And Patrick Shanahan is still on hiatus. We wish him a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The Chief kicks off the guest columns wit a book review. The book is "A Primer for Conservative Activism" by RD Cook. Based on the review, this is a must for our expanding library.

Ray McClendon explains how one man really did change the world.

Tom Adkins makes a triumphant return to Common Conservative and talks about Obama being a tax-cutter. (Yeah right, we'll believe it when we see it.) but he is right that if Obama does that, he could be hailed as an economic hero.

Ralph Reiland brings to light that the hard-Left Obama supporters aren't too pleased with his Cabinet picks and reneged upon promises of "hope" and "change."

Karen Williams discusses how rushed judgment in our legal system could lead to innocent people landing in jail.

And Lou Ann Anderson finishes up this issue with a topic many of us should take note of. "Predators" using the legal system to seize property from the dead, disabled, or incapacitated all in the name of fattening their wallets.

That's it for this issue. We'll see you there again on the 16th. And remember that this post will stay at the top of the page for the next 24 hours.

Publius II

This Issue has Nothing to do With Race, Mr. Rush

Bobby Rush is a former Black Panther, and today he lashed out at critics of the choice Rod Blagojevic made yesterday in naming Roland Burris as his appointment to Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat. According to Mr. Rush, anyone who disagrees with the appointment is a racist on par with Bull Connor and George Wallace and that includes members of his own party:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Yesterday we heard you say they shouldn't hang and lynch the appointee to punish the appointor. But do you believe this is the way the only African-American senator should be seated, tainted rightly or not by a scandal, and against the objections of most of his own party?

BOBBY RUSH: Well, let me just say this. You know, the recent history of our nation has shown us that sometimes there can be individuals and there can be situations where schoolchildren, where you had officials standing in the doorway of schoolchildren. I'm talking about Orville Faubus back in 1957 in Little Rock, Arkansas. I'm talking about George Wallace. Bull Connors [sic]. And I'm sure that the U.S. Senate don't want to see themselves placed in the same position.

RODRIGUEZ: But it's not just the Senate, congressman, it's Barack Obama, who is African-American, also, who disagrees with this.

RUSH: Well, I think that what needs to happen now is that all these folks who are opposed to Governor Blagojevich, they need to take a chill pill. We're still a nation of laws. And I believe that Roland Burris and Governor Blagojevich, they're on solid constitutional grounds in terms of him being selected. I think the U.S. Senate will have to accept him.

I should note for readers that this is not the first time Mr. Rush has played the race card. (A tip of the hat to Allah @ Hot Air for that link.) While Mr. Rush is correct in stating that the Senate will have to seat him, comparing the outcry of his appointment to racists of the past is a bit overboard.

The criticism of the choice is not directed at Mr. Burris, but rather towards Governor Blagojevich for the brazenness of his choice. Senator Reid stated when the scandal surrounding the governor broke that any appointment he made to the senate would be rejected as being tainted by the corruption scandal he is embroiled in right now. But that is hardly a reason to refuse to seat Mr. Burris. He meets all qualifications for the seat in the Senate. He is not indicted, nor is he under any criminal investigation. There is no legal standing for Senator Reid to refuse the appointment unless he would like to continue looking like a fool.

But Mr. Rush is flat-out wrong to level that attack at anyone in opposition to the appointment. We could possibly -- in a convoluted way -- see the accusation having merit if the people criticizing the choice was raising the stink over Mr. Burris, but they are not.

They are attacking Governor Blagojevic. If we were in Mr. Rush's shoes, we would shut out yap before inserting the foot farther down the throat. This accusation shows him to be rather foolish, and obviously not as knowledgeable about this appointment as he thinks he is.


Amity Schlaes -- Don't follow the lessons from FDR

Readers know exactly how we feel about the bailouts being handed out by Congress. While the bank bailout might have been necessary, according to some, we disliked it. Congress, in effect, rewarded bad management, and reduced the level of culpability that they perpetuated in: A) Refusing to conduct necessary oversight of Freddie and Fannie; B) Refusing to reform Freddie and Fannie when it was discovered there were problems with both institutions (problems promptly decried by Democrats like Barney Frank and Maxine Waters); C) By pressuring mortgage lenders to hand out mortgages to people they KNEW couldn't afford them.

So, Congress bails out the mismanaged FHA entities, and they also bailed out banks. Then came the Big 3 getting their loans, which will amount to more of a headache just a few short months down the road when they return to Congress asking for more money. (This is due to the fact that neither Chrysler or GM -- Ford refused the loans -- have a plan to downsize and reorganize using this loan.)

And the bailout saga goes one with more and more people looking to the federal government for help. Amity Schlaes, author of "The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression," warns people not to look to FDR for a solution to this economic problem:

The United States has entered the era of the experiment. President-elect Barack Obama is putting forward an infrastructure program whose plans and price tag are unclear. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson whipped up the Troubled Asset Relief Program to buy up bad mortgage instruments, and, expanding on that experiment, President Bush wants to try extending TARP to autoworkers.

The idea that experiments are warranted in current circumstances comes from the New Deal. The official history is familiar: FDR put forward multiple projects, some at cross-purposes. Yet New Deal inconsistency was not a problem and might have been a virtue. Through "bold, persistent experimentation," his catchphrase, Franklin Roosevelt brought recovery.

Modern economists, monetarist or Keynesian, have not rejected this story line. The trouble with the 1930s, in their view, is that government did not fiddle enough. Had the Federal Reserve, the Treasury or the White House fiddled more, the Depression might have been shorter or less severe. The New Deal Fed, they say, never got the price level quite right. Or, the New Deal stimulus programs were too little. And so on.

But there is significant evidence that the very arbitrariness of the New Deal made the Depression worse.

In 1932, stunned market players and citizens wanted to know what the new rules were. They voted for a party with a platform so moderate it could have been written by today's Concord Coalition: stability, sound money, balanced budgets. That was the Democratic Party, led by Roosevelt.

Many of FDR's initial plans did bring stability: His first Treasury secretary worked to sort out banks with the outgoing Hoover administration in a fashion so fair that an observer noted that those present "had forgotten to be Republicans or Democrats." By creating deposit insurance, FDR reduced bank runs. His Securities Act of 1933 laid the ground for a transparent national stock market. Equities shot up.

But other policies were more arbitrary. Using emergency powers, FDR yanked the country off the gold standard. Both American and international markets looked forward to a London conference at which a new monetary accord was to be struck among nations. Over the course of the conference, though, FDR changed orders to his emissaries multiple times. Some days he was the internationalist, sending wires about international currency coordination. Other days he was the cowboy, declaring that all that mattered was what the dollar bought in farm states. The conference foundered.

Some of the worst destruction came with FDR's gold experiment. If he could drive up the price of gold by buying it, he reasoned, other prices would rise as well. Roosevelt was right to want to introduce more money into the economy (the United States was deflating). But his method was like trying to raise an ocean level by adding water by the thimbleful. What horrified markets even more was that FDR managed the operation personally, day by day, over a breakfast tray. No one ever knew what the increase would be. One Friday in November 1933, for example, Roosevelt told Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau that he thought the gold price ought to be raised 21 cents. Why that amount, Morgenthau asked. "Because it's three times seven," FDR replied.

Morgenthau later wrote that "if anybody knew how we set the gold price, through a combination of lucky numbers, etc., I think they would be frightened."

They were. The "Roosevelt Rally" flattened. The arbitrary quality of other initiatives reinforced concerns. The New Deal centerpiece, the National Recovery Administration, helped some businesses compete and criminalized others for the same behavior. Sometimes Roosevelt goaded federal prosecutors into harassing corporate executives. Other times, he schmoozed the same execs at the White House. In 1936, FDR pushed through deficit spending. In 1937, he was Mr. Budget Hawk.

Uncertain, markets froze. Businesses refused to hire or invest in equipment. Unemployment stayed stuck in the teens. The 'deal' part of the New Deal phrase was problematic; businesses didn't want individual favors, they wanted clear laws for all. Industrialist Ernest Weir summed up what his community was desperate for FDR to do: "Above all to make the program clear and then stick to it."

Today, uncertainty also chills. Questions abound over the future regulation of stocks and derivatives, over tax policy, over bailouts. All this makes it hard for the market to settle on equity or home prices. And Americans follow stories about names -- Secretary Paulson, Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner -- more than they do the news about the Fed or the Treasury.

Luckily, we are entering the optimal time for reducing uncertainty: a new president's first hundred days, with a majority to back him on the Hill. Obama might start by rebuilding key institutions: creating a super-Securities and Exchange Commission, a tough regulator with clear plans for overseeing stocks as well as those instruments that had been monitored unpredictably because of vague status. He should also halve corporate tax rates, currently some of the world's highest, and reduce the capital gains rate to 5 percent. Rewriting the Fed law to clarify it will make avoiding an Alan Greenspan bubble easier. Defining his infrastructure program clearly would have the effect of putting up a sign: Open for Business.

Some will say all that sounds politically impossible. Until recently, though, so did a trillion-dollar infrastructure project. A new hundred days spent making good laws will bring sturdy recovery. A hundred days spent making more deals will not.

She's correct on so many levels. The constant tinkering and interference -- basically band-aids for a severely weakened economy then -- worsened the Depression to the point where the only thing that brought us out of it was World War II. Obama clearly has stated a specific plan of attack to combat the market instability, and unfortunately it appears that all he has to offer is more money fed to failing industries thereby rewarding their mismanagement and incompetence. This is not the solution, and neither is following FDR's model.

We know a lot of economists claim that there are two ways out of this mess. First, deficit spending, and second, print more money. The problem is that as of right now, our deficits are soaring, and it only makes the economy more unstable. Printing more money brings the possibility of devaluing our dollar, and raising inflation.

Ms. Schlaes is correct that the very first step to recovery is cutting taxes, especially the corporate tax rate. this is something that Larry Kudlow has explained time and again ever since the economic freefall occurred. ALL taxes need to be slashed. Start with the high corporate tax rates, move onto payroll taxes, and finally income taxes. The people, with more money in their pocket, can turn the economy around because we're the ones fueling it. It's not the government fueling the economy, though there are those on Capitol Hill that would love nothing more than to federalize many industries. We fuel it. We're the ones buying stocks, making investments, buying goods and services, etc. With lower tax rates, the recovery would come much quicker.

Then comes the sensible approach of regulations, reorganization, and oversight. the government dropped the ball in their oversight of the FHA, and stuck their noses into the mortgage lenders demanding they give out more mortgages to people who couldn't afford a home to get them in a home. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the people have a right to a home, so why did Congress do this? My rough guess is that they did it to show people they cared about their plight. Big whoop. thanks to their caring, we're in this mess. They broke it, and now it's time for them to fix it. But in no way should we allow those that failed to keep this from happening be in on how to fix it. For them, they still refuse to accept the responsibility of their actions. That tells us they haven't learned their lesson from this mess. If they haven't learned their lesson, then they shouldn't be participating in fixing a damn thing.

Publius II

The Blagojevic Appointment

Yesterday, Illinois governor Rod Blagojevic made his pick to fill the vacant Senate seat left by Barack Obama's election as president and it caused a firestorm all across the spectrum of politics. Harry Reid has stated he will refuse to seat former attorney general Roland Burris. This has thrown the entire drama into chaos. The question remains as to whether or not Mr. Burris can be blocked. The Illinois Secretary of State has said he will not certify the appointment. The problem with that statement is that Jesse White has no authority to certify an appointment made by the governor.

As long as Rod Blagojevic is governor, and the legislature has not stripped him of his appointment powers, he has the legal right to make this appointment. Harry Reid, Jesse White, and even Barack Obama can call this decision foul all they want, but they cannot prevent Mr. Burris from being seated. Some may not understand this, and may even cite that the Constitution gives the right to refuse anyone a seat on any grounds.

Powell v. McCormack, which was decided in 1969, set the precedent for this issue. Powell, a duly-elected member of the House, was embroiled in a scandal, yet still won reelection. The Speaker at the time refused to seat him, and this case ended up before the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the majority opinion, and in it he concluded that:

"The Constitution does not vest in the Congress a discretionary power to deny membership by majority vote," wrote Chief Justice Earl Warren. Congress may "judge only the qualifications set forth in the Constitution," he said. ...

Warren said in his opinion that the Senate's power over its members "is identical" to that of the House.

If the Senate does indeed have the same powers as the House does, as Chief Justice Warren ruled, then the Senate cannot forbid him to be seated either. Harry Reid's bold stance is moot, and if this is challenged to the high court, neither Thomas or I see them reversing set precedent. Roland Burris will be seated, regardless of the taint he may have from being a Blagojevic crony.

What is interesting in this move by the governor is that he has painted his own party into a corner. Everybody and their brother in the state party is trying to get rid of him. Lisa Madigan, the state attorney general, appealed to the state supreme court to have Blagojevic ruled incapable of fulfilling his duties, and the court rightly rejected her assertion; refusing to step in. Her father, Mike Madigan, is Speaker of the Illinois state House, and he is moving forward with impeachment proceedings, but Governor Blagojevic's own attorney is arguing that no crime has, as yet, been proven to have been committed by the embattled governor. The governor has said he will fight the impeachment, and that he refuses to step down. His very presence is an embarrassment to the state, and to his party, but mostly to his own party.

As long as he stays he continues to draw attention to a corrupt machine running the state. He also draws attention to the president-elect and his appointed chief of staff (Obama and Emanuel) because they are integrally linked to the governor. They both served as chief strategists to Governor Blagojevic in his initial election, and his reelection. Mr. Emanuel is even implicated, to an extent, in this by allegedly asking Governor Blagojevic to appoint a successor to his House seat to "keep it warm" for his return to it. That is illegal and unconstitutional under Article I, Section 2:

The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.

The governor cannot appoint someone to a House seat. There has to be a special election to fill a vacancy. that is enumerated in state law, and if the governor did appoint an interim replacement, that would be an impeachable offense. I should note, however, that this is only alleged. Nothing has been revealed regarding Mr. Emanuel asking Governor Blagojevic to appoint a successor. The allegation stems from news reports that are not exactly clear whether he asked for the appointment, or if he simply wanted a patsy chosen to win the seat, and keep it warm for his return. Why would he want that? Because he has his eyes on the Speaker's chair someday in the future.

As this drama continues to unfold, Republicans and conservatives should sit back and enjoy the show. This is just the newest chapter in an unfolding comedy of corruption exposed in Illinois. As Thomas notes, Chicago was founded on corruption, and if it were dispensed with, the state would not know how to conduct business. He has reminded me, and others, that the state is not run from the legislature. It is run out of Chicago. He would know as he used to live there.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Self Important MSMer Holds Disdain For Bloggers

I love to slap these people around and it is due to the fact that they simply do not get it. Bloggers filled a niche that the MSM refused to do itself. The niche? Actually reporting news, which they have not done for some time. They ignored the Dan Rather story that ended up getting him removed from news reporting. They ignored the Reuters "fauxtography" scandal during the Israeli/Hezbollah war back in 2006. They flat-out refused to actually dig up anything negative about Barack Obama, but they derided Sarah Palin as some hick from the sticks.

In today's Wall Street Journal, Paul Mulshine decides to take a swipe at the blogosphere in a typically inept fashion:

When my colleague at the Newark Star-Ledger John Farmer started off in journalism more than five decades ago, things were very different. After covering a political event, he'd hop on the campaign bus, pull out a typewriter, and start banging out copy. As the bus would pull into a town, he'd ball up a finished page and toss it out the window. There a runner would scoop it up and rush it off to a telegraph station where it would be blasted back to the home office.

At the time, reporters thought this method was high-tech. Now, thanks to the Internet, a writer can file a story instantly from anywhere. It's incredibly convenient, but that same technology is killing old-fashioned newspapers. Some tell us that that's a good thing. I disagree and believe that the public will miss us once we're gone.

It does depend on the dead-tree that goes by the wayside Mr. Mulshine. The Tribune company has been slashing jobs, and closing doors on newspapers for the better part of a year. The New York Times is trying to cut it's assets in an effort to save itself, and recently put it's brand-new building up as collateral for a loan to keep it's doors open. The newspapers that are suffering are that way for two important reasons.

First, the bias in newsrooms has translated to the paper's pages, and people are sick of "journalists" telling them what is and is not the truth. That is not what a journalist's job is. They are to report the facts of a news story, and let the readers decide what they will think about it.

Second, there are stories that are not reported on that the average person can find elsewhere, namely on the Internet. The New York Times does not want to talk about the clashes in Gaza? The average news-oriented person can go to Ha'aretz or the Jerusalem Post, or even the BBC to find the story.

But what is his problem with us?

The problem is that printing a hard copy of a publication packed with solid, interesting reporting isn't a guarantee of economic success in the age of instant news. Blogger Glenn Reynolds of "Instapundit" fame seems to be pleased at this. In his book, "An Army of Davids," Mr. Reynolds heralds an era in which "[m]illions of Americans who were in awe of the punditocracy now realize that anyone can do this stuff."

No, they can't. Millions of American can't even pronounce "pundit," or spell it for that matter. On the Internet and on the other form of "alternative media," talk radio, a disliked pundit has roughly a 50-50 chance of being derided as a "pundint," if my eyes and ears are any indication.

Aside from his low opinion of the average American, he is wrong. And I might also note that he did misspell "pundit" the second time he typed it, so I suppose he is among those Americans who cannot spell the word, no? And by the way, the alternative spelling of "pundit" is "pandit" according to the Oxford-American dictionary.

But we can do it. Look at PajamasMedia for an example of how bloggers have been reporting on news and opinion, and doing a very good job of it. PajamasMedia, or PJM, was established by a group of the best, well-known bloggers in the blogosphere. Glenn Reynolds was one of it's founders, as was Charles Johnson, Roger L. Simon, and Michelle Malkin. Each one of them is vastly better than the regular pundits that people read in the dead-tree rags. Maureen Dowd? Eugene Robinson? David Brooks? E.J. Dionne? Please. I should also note that PJM has also gone on to vlog, or video blog with many of it's contributors in yet another challenge to the MSM.

Now we're hearing the same thing about the blogosphere. "When enough bloggers take the leap, and start reporting on the statehouse, city council, courts, etc. firsthand, full-time, then the Big Media will take notice and the avalanche will begin," Mr. Reynolds quotes another blogger as saying. If this avalanche ever occurs, a lot of bloggers will be found gasping for breath under piles of pure ennui. There is nothing more tedious than a public meeting.

Incorrect gain, Mr. Mulshine. Plenty of smaller bloggers do report on town meetings, or city council meetings. And while they do admit that the meetings are tedious, they are there for one important reason: To inform the public what occurred during the meeting in question because government -- be it federal, state, or local -- has a bad habit of keeping the public informed of the machinations they conduct. I would be willing to make a wager that most Arizonans are unaware that as of January 1st, if you have a decorative border on their license plates that obscures the name of the state, they can be pulled over and cited for that. It is a blatant attempt to rack up fine money because the state is bankrupt. Would anyone really know about it? Not unless one paid attention to the state legislature, which many of us do. Reporters from the Arizona Republic that cover the legislature did not bother to report that little revenue generating charade.

The common thread here, whether the subject is foreign, national or local, is that the writer in question is performing a valuable task for the reader -- one that no sane man would perform for free. He is assembling what in the business world is termed the "executive summary." Anyone can duplicate a long and tedious report. And anyone can highlight one passage from that report and either praise or denounce it. But it takes both talent and willpower to analyze the report in its entirety and put it in a context comprehensible to the casual reader.

It is true that many bloggers have ads on their sites, and they do receive compensation for having those ads. In essence they are not doing their blogging for free.. We do not have ads on our site, and we do what we do for free. We do not need to have the revenue coming from ads, and many readers have complimented us in not having the annoying ads cluttering up our site. We abided by our reader's wishes.

Take, for example, the immigration reform bill that was killed by the people of this nation. The people NEVER would have reacted the way they did had it not been for talk radio and the blogs reporting on the details that A) those in the Senate refused to divulge, and B) those in the media refused to ask direct questions about. Hugh Hewitt did yeoman's work in going over the draft legislation with a fine-tooth comb, and finding that the devil is, indeed, in the details. His knowledge of just how insane this legislation was led to a a revolution in the country on a grass-roots level.

I suppose Mr. Mulshine was busy when the people of America practically melted down the Capitol Hill switchboard, which prompted a derisive backlash from the Senators trying to ram that legislation down the collective throat of the nation. But he cannot deny that a group of bloggers lead the way in helping to take down that faulty piece of legislation, and he cannot deny that we did what the media refused to do.

He concludes in stating one of the obvious reasons why newspapers are going under -- advertising. Yes, newspapers are losing ad revenue but they are also hemorrhaging subscribers. As with TV news, they are losing ad dollars as well as viewers. Why is this happening? The product is substandard, at best; the arrogance of those reporting the news, or offering editorial commentary, at worst.

The media was given First Amendment protections at the time of the founding of America because the government understood the media had to have the ability to cover and criticize those in power. Dubbed "the Fourth Rail" in politics, journalists were able to cover the government -- federal, state, and local -- with an honest and unbiased eye. But those days are long gone, much like the early days of the reporter on a beat filing a story with the home office. Today the media looks at itself with an almost imperialistic view; that they, and they alone, have the experience and talent to report on the news. But they do not do the news. They rely on injecting opinion into news stories. It is not overt, and it takes a trained eye to spot the commentary, and separate it from the news.

Mr. Mulshine comes from a long line of pundits that heaps disdain on bloggers, and for no apparent reason. To the media we must be a threat, of sorts, to them. Otherwise why would we continue to see opinion pieces like this informing readers that we bloggers are nothing more than amateur upstarts with big egos? Thomas and I do not have any sort of ego. We do what we do because we like it, and obviously our readers appreciate our commentary.

There is an old adage that when an Irishman says you are drunk, you need to sit down. Mr. Mulshine needs to sit down.


Hamas wanted a war, and they got it, and they're losing it

On Saturday, Israel launched a counterstrike at Hamas after a week of rocket attacks numbering over two hundred. Hamas called off the cease-fire last week, and started this war. Bear in mind that during the so-called cease-fire, Hamas was only lobbing about 59 rockets into Israel proper a week, and once Hamas got the itch to go to war (after rearming themselves, of course) they decided two hundred was a nice round number. Unfortunately for them, Israel wasn't having any of it:

Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in recent memory.

Hamas said all of its security installations were hit and responded with several medium-range Grad rockets at Israel, reaching deeper than in the past. One Israeli was killed and at least four people were wounded.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said “the operation will last as long as necessary,” but it was not clear if it would be coupled with a ground offensive. Asked if Hamas political leaders might be targeted next, military spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibovich said, “Any Hamas target is a target."

Now, that was Saturday, so what's happened since? Egypt opened it's borders to help the Palestinians get the wounded out, and get medical and humanitarian relief supplies in. This offensive seems to have backfired for Hamas. They wanted it, and are hoping to turn this into a wider war with Egypt's help, but Egypt hasn't thrown it's support behind this provoked war. In fact, like the Palestinians they're also blaming Hamas for this stupid move:

Hamas could have prevented the “massacre” in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday in Cairo.

“We spoke to them and told them ‘Please, we ask you not to end the cease-fire. Let it continue,’” Abbas said during a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. “We want to protect the Gaza Strip. We don’t want it to be destroyed.” ...

Aboul Gheit also attacked Hamas, saying the group had prevented people wounded in the Israeli offensive from passing into Egypt to receive medical attention.

“We are waiting for the wounded Palestinians to reach Egypt. They aren’t being allowed to go through,” he said.

Asked who was to blame for the dire situation in Gaza, the foreign minister replied: “Ask the party that controls Gaza.”

Egypt has urged Arab leaders coming to a conference they're hosting to condemn the attacks made by Hamas, and to urge Hamas to keep the truce up. We already know Hamas isn't going to do that. Hamas wanted this war, and now they have it. They want this to be a war of annihilation, and the world should allow it; the world also needs to keep it's nose out of this as it is an internal matter.

This has been a long time coming and one of the reasons we believe Egypt isn't jumping in on this is because of who is involved. Hamas is a proxy for Iran, as is Hezbollah. (Some have speculated that Hezbollah may turn this into a two-front war in an effort to drag other Arab nations into this, but that doesn't seem likely.) In fact, if you look at how Israel has gone about striking at Hamas, you can see that they are targeting the symbols of Hamas' power, the infrastructure, and, of course, Hamas fighters. This isn't indiscriminate warfare, and as yet they haven't started a ground invasion. And it should be noted that no one in Israel is calling for ground operations. Now why would that be?

Simple. They want the Palestinians to get rid of Hamas. They're the ones who made the mistake of electing them to control the Palestinian Authority. Mahmoud Abbas is sitting by the wayside, awaiting the Gazans to toss Hamas overboard, and embrace his more moderate Fatah. The question is whether the Palestinians will do that. They very well could if there's virtually nothing left of Hamas when the dust finally settles.

Publius II

Friday, December 26, 2008

How to make friends and influence people

We know that Afghanistan is in serious need of a sort of Surge like what we saw in Iraq. The problem with that is a lot of the tribal leaders in Afghanistan have been targeted by the Taliban. They ravaged the ranks of the tribes, and many didn't want to work with US and NATO forces over there. According to the WaPo, the CIA has found an in with the tribal leaders that have assumed control in the wake of the Taliban's war on the tribes:

The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, saw an opportunity, and reached into his bag for a small gift.

Four blue pills.

"Take one of these. You'll love it," the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam.

The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about
Taliban movements and supply routes -- followed by a request for more pills.

For U.S. intelligence officials, this is how some crucial battles in
Afghanistan are fought and won. While the CIA has a long history of buying information with cash, the growing Taliban insurgency has prompted the use of novel incentives and creative bargaining to gain support in some of the country's roughest neighborhoods, according to officials directly involved in such operations.

In their efforts to win over notoriously fickle warlords and chieftains, the officials say, the agency's operatives have used a variety of personal services. These include pocketknives and tools, medicine or surgeries for ailing family members, toys and school equipment, tooth extractions, travel visas, and, occasionally, pharmaceutical enhancements for aging patriarchs with slumping libidos, the officials said.

Before you laugh, think about it. The author of the article points out that giving lavish gifts and/or cash is too dangerous. The Taliban would know where they got them, and it would make those tribal chiefs an immediate target. Money draws unwanted attention, as would cars or weapons.

Most of these tribal chiefs are old and have numerous wives. They might not be able to keep up with those wives, depending on how much younger those women are. Viagra -- God's gift to aging men -- is the perfect solution. And chances are, they won't be bragging at the mosque about their night's of wild, passionate love with any of, or all of, his wives.

Publius II

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were so afraid.

And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.'

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'

Merry Christmas one and all, and may peace be to you and your families. Have a wonderful day, and may God bless all of you.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From Both of Us to All of You ...

Good morning dear readers. We would like to touch on politics today, but we are just a little busy with other work. That, and as Thomas reminds me, it is Christmas Eve, so we are hanging up the blogging duties for the holidays. But we could not go into Christmas without conveying our heartfelt wishes to all of you.

Now and always we wish you Peace and Good Tidings

A piece of knowledge from those in your life,
that are educated and wise.
The peace of heart that comes from the ones
that put the twinkle in your eyes.
A piece of history from the long valued past
from those experienced in life.
And the peace of mind from family and friends
that gives you sanctuary from strife.

May safe haven be yours with those you love,
from all in life that hounds you.
May the kindness of strangers when you "fall" in life
lift you up and surround you.
May the ships that go through life with you
find harbor during a storm.
And may the strength and love of those around
embrace you and keep you warm.

So, from Thomas and I, we wish you all a happy, safe, and very Merry Christmas, and we will see you all again on Friday.


Monday, December 22, 2008

"Fort Dix Five" Found Guilty

Slublog @ Ace of Spades gets the tip of the hat for this breaking news. MSNBC reports they were found guilty of conspiracy, but not of attempted murder, which makes little sense given the premeditation involved in planning the attack itself:

Five Muslim immigrants were convicted Monday of plotting to massacre U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix in a case the government said demonstrated its post-Sept. 11 determination to stop terrorist attacks in the planning stages.

The defendants were acquitted of attempted murder charges but face life in prison for conspiring to kill military personnel. The federal jury spent about 38 hours deliberating over the past six days.

The men lived in and around Philadelphia for years. The government said after their 2007 arrest that an attack had been imminent and that the case underscored the dangers of terrorist plots hatched on U.S. soil. ...

Defense lawyers argued that the alleged plot was all talk — that the men weren't seriously planning anything and that they were goaded by two paid FBI informants.

During the eight-week trial, the government relied heavily on information gathered by the informants, who infiltrated the group and secretly recorded hundreds of conversations.

Prosecutors said the men bought several assault rifles supplied by the FBI and that they trekked to Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains to practice their shooting. The government also presented dozens of jihadist speeches and videos that the men supposedly used as inspiration.

Recall, if you will, that Fort Dix had been chosen because the father of one of the defendants had a business selling pizza to soldiers on base. That gave them intimate knowledge of the base. Their goal was to kill as many soldiers as possible before they, themselves, would be killed by those responding to the attack.

I fail to see how they could be found not guilty of attempted murder when they were found guilty of conspiring to kill American soldiers. That makes little sense. Murder implies there is premeditation; that is, that one planned the killing out prior to carrying it out.

Needless to say these five will spend the rest of their lives behind bars. Their sixth conspirator plead guilty earlier, and will likely have a lesser sentence because chances are he rolled over on his colleagues.


Zimbabwe is starving. Thank Robert Mugabe

Very few people really pay all that much attention to Zimbabwe. It's been a nation in steady decline under the iron fist of a dictator. Captain Ed tips us off to a story from the Times Online about the rapidly deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe's highways are littered with police checkpoints, which is discomforting for foreign journalists working there illegally. But they are simply a pretext for extracting food or money from drivers.

“What are we having for Christmas?”, one policeman asked The Times. “I'm hungry,” another said bluntly. A third threatened to issue me with a ticket for stopping a yard past the point where he was standing. He then said that my companions - hitch hikers - were “unlawful passengers”. Eventually he backed down, but a black driver would have had to pay.

More alarming was when I was flagged down by two police officers near Bulawayo, prompting visions of Christmas in a lice-infested Zimbabwean prison. But they just wanted a lift.

In the car they raged against President Mugabe's regime. The senior one, a sergeant of five years' standing, claimed that his monthly salary did not buy even a litre of cooking oil. His work was merely “community service”. He said that he felt sympathy for the suffering of ordinary people, and that if they rebelled he would not fire on them.

Another passenger was a warden at Bulawayo's infamous Khami prison. The previous month he had earned 200 million Zimbabwean dollars - less than US$1 at today's rate. Of that sum he could withdraw only a fraction after queueing for four hours at the bank each morning. Every day and a bit, its value halved.

He said that he had five children to support and had not eaten bread for a year. He survived by stealing the prisoners' sadza - a porridge that is now a luxury for most - or by trading favours for food brought in by families. “There's no discipline ... We depend on the prisoners to stay alive.”

Four inmates shared cells designed for one; 400 shared a single tap. There were no working lavatories and it was overrun with rodents. Some prisoners suffered from pellagra, an illness caused by vitamin deficiency, and several died each day. Their bodies were seldom claimed because of the funeral costs. Most were kept in a stinking mortuary for the statutory 12 days, then put in sacks and given paupers' burials in the prison grounds.

Many prisoners were not criminals at all, the warden said. “They stole food to keep themselves alive.”

Zimbabwe's collapse is evident everywhere, with broken picnic tables in lay-bys serving as poignant reminders of happier times. The roads are crumbling and potholed. Few traffic lights or streetlights work. Many vehicles are ancient jalopies that frequently break down.

Everywhere, even in the country, people walk along the roadside for lack of transport. From the verges they hawk firewood, vegetables or a sour fruit called mazanje foraged in the bush. Some hold out live chickens to passing vehicles in desperation.

Outside the town of Victoria Falls two young brothers named Freedom and Promise were selling clumps of tiny fish on strings that they caught at great personal risk each day by wading into the middle of the crocodile-infested Zambesi. “We have no choice,” Freedom said.

Let me be clear on this: The solution to this is NOT to give Zimbabwe one cent. The people must rise up against Mugabe. His police force is clearly not happy with him, and it seems that they would not back the dictator to protect him from the people. Will the military? If they're in the same sad state the police are, they may not. The people may have hope in the police and military launching a coup.

Zimbabwe was once covered in lush, rich farmland but since Mugabe's rise to power the land has been left untouched. In 2000 amendments were passed that limited the president to two terms (not retroactive, so Mugabe could again run for two more terms), and allowed the government to confiscate the land from white farmers. Those farms were given to blacks to tend, and without the knowledge on how to run a farm, the farms have fallen into disarray.

The people must act if they're to survive. With famine comes war. We've seen this in other African nations such as Ethiopia and Sudan. The only way to survive is to get rid of the thugs in charge. The people of Zimbabwe need to confer with police and military people they trust to get rid of Mugabe.

Publius II

Chuckle-Worthy Post of the Day; Ingenuity From Law Enforcement Officers

A tip of the hat to Jammie @ JammieWearingFool for this amusing and ingenious story. It comes from the Chicago Sun-Times:

You could already be a winner -- if you weren't going to jail.

That's the bad news 61 fugitives got after being lured to a suburban hotel with news they had won a $1,000 gift card and the chance to take home a big-screen TV.

Earlier this month, people wanted on outstanding warrants got a letter in the mail from "Shoptastic Solutions" -- Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart's fictitious marketing outfit -- promising prizes and no gimmicks.

All they had to do was check the enclosed scratch-off ticket to see if they had won -- which, of course, they all did. The "winners" were told to call in their shopper number -- which actually was their warrant number -- to schedule an appointment to complete a shopping survey and pick up their prize.

At a hotel near Midway Airport, an undercover officer in a funny hat shot off streamers as the winners walked in. While they filled out the survey, sheriff's police -- hiding in closets -- popped out with zip-tie handcuffs and the big surprise.

Dart said he got a kick out of the bust."We tried to tap in to the Christmas spirit and throw a big dose of the Grinch on top of it," Dart said. "The Grinch definitely struck here, and the Grinch had a lot of fun. The Grinch will return, probably in a different way."

The sheriff said most of the bad guys and girls got a good laugh at the clever bust, too.

"One guy in particular came up to me and told me this was the best one ever. I got the impression this wasn't his first time," Dart said.

This is very amusing. I wonder if Sheriff Arpaio has thought of doing such a thing like this? It could not hurt to try it.


Vice President Cheney: Unapologetic to Critics

While we reflect on the departure of the president in January, few are taking time to reflect on Vice President Cheney. This past Sunday FOX News had a candid interview with the outgoing vice president:

Vice President Cheney mocked Vice President-elect Joe Biden's grasp of the Constitution, defended former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and said President Bush "doesn't have to check with anybody" before launching a nuclear attack.In a blunt, unapologetic interview on "FOX News Sunday," Cheney fired back at Biden for declaring in October that "Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history."

"He also said that all the powers and responsibilities of the executive branch are laid out in Article I of the Constitution," Cheney said in a interview that was conducted on Friday. "Well, they're not. Article I of the Constitution is the one on the legislative branch."

"Joe's been chairman of the Judiciary Committee, a member of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate for 36 years, teaches constitutional law back in Delaware, and can't keep straight which article of the Constitution provides for the legislature and which provides for the executive. So I think I'd write that off as campaign rhetoric. I don't take it seriously."

Vice President Cheney is quite correct in mocking the incoming vice president. Joe Biden is a lawyer, and has taught Constitutional Law, and yet he makes a critical mistake in identifying the difference in powers between Article I and Article II. Vice President Cheney may be right that it was merely campaign rhetoric at the time, but it is a telling gaffe. Joe Biden fired back:

"His notion of a unitary executive, meaning that, in time of war, essentially all power, you know, goes to the executive, I think is dead wrong. I think it was mistaken. I think it caused this administration, in adopting that notion, to overstep its constitutional bounds, but, at a minimum, to weaken our standing in the world and weaken our security. I stand by that -- that judgment," Biden said..

Some please get Mr. Biden a copy of the Constitution, and have him read Article II, Section 2 which lays out the case that the president is the commander in chief of the Army and Navy. In the event of a declaration of war, which we had for both Afghanistan and Iraq under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force in 2001 and 2002, respectively, the president is the only person who can command our forces. Congress has no say in the matter, save funding and defunding operations.

Mr. Biden is entitled to lower the level of power his office will wield. President Bush wanted a tough, powerful vice president helping him out and advising him. Vice President Cheney said this much in the interview. He corrects Mr. Biden on his notions that the president is not the sole source of power in a time of war:

Cheney defended the administration's aggressive prosecution of the War on Terror, which he said was a major reason the nation hasn't been attacked in seven years. He said the 1973 War Powers Act is a violation of the Constitution because Congress does not have the right by statute to alter presidential constitutional power.

"That it is an infringement on the president's authority as the commander-in-chief," Cheney said. "It has never been resolved, but I think it's a very good example of a way in which Congress has tried to limit the president's authority and, frankly, can't.

"The president of the United States now for 50 years is followed at all times, 24 hours a day, by a military aide carrying a football that contains the nuclear codes that he would use and be authorized to use in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States," Cheney said. "He could launch the kind of devastating attack the world has never seen.

"He doesn't have to check with anybody. He doesn't have to call the Congress. He doesn't have to check with the courts. He has that authority because of the nature of the world we live in."

He has that authority because of his powers enumerated in the Constitution. Congress cannot limit the president's power outside of amending the constitution itself. The Supreme Court, in numerous detainee cases they have adjudicated, have stated that the president has the sole powers to prosecute this war. Congress must defer to him when it comes to anything other than the funding of the war. If he chooses to launch strikes into the tribal regions of Pakistan to take out Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters crossing the border then he may do just that, and he does not need to seek congressional approval on the matter.

Mr. Biden might want to take a hint from the outgoing vice president. It is obvious that Mr. Biden believes he will basically be a "yes man" to President-elect Obama, and that he will help push the president's agenda through the Senate. If that is all he wishes to do then kudos to him. The nation will miss a vice president as hands-on as Vice President Cheney was.


Unacceptable -- Arnie as President

It is nice to be back on the site now that Christmas break is here. While I am enjoying this time back, it is getting rather frustrating with news coverage slowing down as Christmas approaches. But there is this story from Captain Ed Morrissey about Arnold Schwarzenegger, and his desire -- if the Congress would amend the Constitution -- to run for president.

Forget for a moment the global warming nonsense that Governor Schwarzenegger espouses in the 60 Minutes interview. Let me, instead, focus on the simple fact of why the Founding Fathers did not wish to see foreigners leading this nation. Yes, they grandfathered themselves in because the majority of the nation was British-born. But the largest reason why they did not want foreigners allowed to be president because that person would bring their own ideas from whichever country they hailed from to America. They felt that such a move might be contrary to the founding principles of the Constitution.

Governor Schwarzenegger ran on fiscally-conservative/socially-liberal ideas. He won in the Davis recall election in 2003, and he won a second term in 2006. Personally speaking, he is suited for running California with all the nuts that are on the West Coast. The state legislature has just passed a sweeping new bunch of "fees" which are nothing more than tax increases. They are urging Governor Schwarzenegger to sign them because of the deficit that the state of California is in. No one knows whether the governor will sign them, as his fiscal conservative credentials seem to be a little tarnished, given the fact of this deficit.

The 60 Minutes interview revealed some very interesting tidbits about him, but the main sticking point will be on climate change. He seems to think that the fire season in California has been extended, due to global warming, all year round. As Captain Ed pointed out the fire season in California starts in the fall. It has always started in the fall. The "lengthened" season that the governor speaks of comes from bad management of the lands; caving into the environmental nutjobs that claim that the dead brush cannot be cleared. If the fuel is not there, the fires will not burn nearly as long, or nearly as hot.

His ideas are that of a liberal Republican. He is in favor of a bigger government, which runs 180 degrees contrary to what the Founding Fathers established. Politicians of late have decided the government is the solution to all of our problems, and we should just give in and let the government do its job. The problem with this thinking is that the government cannot solve everything. At some point they have to let the people deal with the solution to problems. Now it can be said that his political ideas are not born from his native Austria, but rather from the liberally-minded people he associates himself with. Regardless of where they come from, they stand in stark contrast to the Founder's vision for this nation.

But let me take this a step further. Should the Congress amend Article II, Section Five, which speaks of presidential qualifications, are we prepared for the candidacies of foreigners? I do not believe we would be ready for such a move. The Founding Fathers believed that it would be imprudent to have such a person leading this nation. Those men were brilliant. Let us not tinker with the Constitution in the way Governor Schwarzenegger would like us to.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

The True Meaning of Christmas

As readers know we have a cartoon at the top of our homepage. It is called "Day by Day" and it is done by Chris Muir. He has made a request of his friends within the blogosphere to help out a young girl this holiday season. He linked to a site called Smart Girl Politics. At the site was this heart-wrenching story:

Many of you may remember my dear friend, Chris Garman, who lost her battle with breast cancer 2 years ago. When she was first diagnosed with breast cancer, she was pregnant with her third child. Her doctors didn't think Chris would live through her pregnancy without treatment, so they took a chance & gave her chemo while she was pregnant. Chris survived her pregnancy & had a beautiful, healthy little girl named Hannah Faith.Chris died when Hannah was three.

Hannah is now five, and this breaks my heart all over again, but In October, Hannah has been diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a rare and incurable brain tumor.

She was given about 12 weeks to live. She was going to be the flower girl in a wedding in May, but was diagnosed A week after she was asked.

Right now she has lost most of her motor skills. She is confined to bed And cannot really do anything or play with the gifts she is getting from people, but she LOVES getting cards - she has gotten so many from people she does not know and just loves to have grandma read about the people who send Them and see their pictures and is so proud of all her cards. Her room is just filled with cards.

When asked what she wants for Christmas she said she wants to see how Many Christmas cards she can get. Many people have passed this wish along to their churches, prayer groups, friends and family. There are school groups where children are making her cards. People are including pictures so she can see who it i s that i s sending her the card.If you would like to help with her wish, please send her a card at:

Hannah Garman
704 Orchard Rd
Lititz, PA 17543

THANKS! Feel free to pass this along to your own prayer group, church,school, etc. Let's see if we can have the cards coming in big postal bags for her this Christmas, since it will be her last holiday.

Please pray for her family. Her older brother & sister watched their mom go through This just two short years ago and now they are watching their baby sister go through this.

Ladies and gentlemen, Christmas is all about family, and making wishes come true. Please join us in sending little Hannah a card, and please keep her in your prayers. Let us make sure she has the best Christmas possible.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Emanuel closer to Blago than originally thought; new bombshell from Blago scandal

Yeah, consider this a two-parter in one. Unlike certain TV shows you won't be waiting for next week for the other shoe to drop. First, there's the little matter of Rahm Emanuel's lie about how much contact he and Blagojevich had. According to the Sun-Times, it was direct, and much closer than he admitted to:

President-elect Barack Obama's incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel had a deeper involvement in pressing for a U.S. Senate seat appointment than previously reported, the Sun-Times has learned. Emanuel had direct discussions about the seat with Gov. Blagojevich, who is is accused of trying to auction it to the highest bidder.

Emanuel talked with the governor in the days following the Nov. 4 election and pressed early on for the appointment of Valerie Jarrett to the post, sources with knowledge of the conversations told the Sun-Times. There was no indication from sources that Emanuel brokered a deal, however.

A source with the Obama camp strongly denied Emanuel spoke with the governor directly about the seat, saying Emanuel only spoke with Blagojevich once recently to say he was taking the chief of staff post.

But sources with knowledge of the investigation said Blagojevich told his aides about the calls with Emanuel and sometimes gave them directions afterward. Sources said that early on, Emanuel pushed for the appointment of Jarrett to the governor and his staff and asked that it be done by a certain date.

At least some of the conversations between Emanuel and Blagojevich were likely caught on tape, sources said.

So, what does this mean for Emanuel? That remains to be seen. Technically, he didn't do anything illegal, and he hasn't lied under oath. He's lied to the people, but we've seen how ignorant they can be when it comes to Obama and crew. They don't care. They just want "hope" and "change.

It's disgusting that Emanuel would lie about this. Why not just come out and say "Yes, I met ad spoke wit the governor over the Senate vacancy. We had ideas for whom he could appoint to replace Barack Obama. We had several meetings and/or phone calls." Say something like that, and this goes away. Be quiet about it, and the press will keep digging. That's pretty evident right now given the fact that the press wants to know what involvement Obama had with Blagojevich, and the fact that Obama is refusing to answer any questions.

The press would really like to have a word or two with Emanuel without him hiding behind his kids (he did that last Thursday when confronted by reporters). Mr. Tough-Guy of the Obama administration doesn't seem to be so tough right now with him ducking the questions and avoiding reporters. Sooner or later he's going to have to answer for his role in this mess. He'd better hope that the time comes soon before he ends up under the Obama bus.

Of course the Rham/Blago relationship is nothing compared to the blatantly illegal action that Blagojevich was going to take. See, pay-to-play is the Chicago Way of politics, and he wanted his pound of flesh for that Senate seat. See, Blago was working out a way to launder the campaign cash that wold have been paid for the seat:

It should come as no surprise to Gov. Rod Blagojevich that authorities are reportedly moving to freeze his campaign fund - and not just because the same thing happened to George Ryan.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Blagojevich, the governor and three of his aides contemplated that prosecutors might do just such a thing – and discussed ways to secure the millions of dollars in the fund by moving the money elsewhere.

“Also on December 5, 2008,” the complaint says, “Rod Blagojevich and three others discussed whether to move money out of the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund to avoid having the money frozen and also considered the possibility of prepaying money to Rod Blagojevich’s criminal defense attorney with an understanding that the attorney would donate the money back at a later time if it was not needed. They also discussed opening a new fund raising account named Citizens for Blagojevich with new contributions received.”

The discussion appears to have been prompted by the Tribune’s story that day that an ally of the governor’s was cooperating in the federal probe.

One individual in the complaint is described as Fundraiser A and chairman of Friends of Blagojevich. "Blagojevich's brother Robert is his campaign chairman," Newsday (and others) has reported. "Fundraiser A is listed several times in the affidavit as helping the governor pressure contributors.

"At one point when the governor remarks that he is not involved in any illegal activity, his brother responds by saying 'unless prospectively somebody gets you on a wire'."

You have to love that. His own brother knew he was doing something illegal, and all he can do is make a wisecrack about it. Let's face facts here: It's pretty obvious that both brothers are the lowest form of scum in politics, and we're not surprised by this, But if his brother had knowledge of this, why hasn't Fitz stepped in on him too as a partner of sorts in the money laundering scheme? Aiding and abetting much?

No one knows what Fitz is going to end up charging Blagojevich with, but it's clear that this goes beyond Blago. We believe that is why the state legislature is moving as quickly as possible on the impeachment proceedings. The quicker they get Blago out of office, the quicker the press can go back to covering for Obama and crew instead of hounding him.

Publius II

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The very definition of idiocy out of Congress

We have no confidence in this incoming Congress. These people are utter fools, and their obtuse ideas defy logic or reason. Geraghty the Indispensable explains the newest point of idiocy to come out of Congress:

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California, is talking about not only bringing back the Fairness Doctrine, but somehow, in some constitutionally dubious way, applying it to forms of communication that do not include public airwaves — i.e., cable and satellite programming.

It is worth remembering, at moments like these, that Obama has said he opposes reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. It is also worth remembering, at moments like these, that all statements from Barack Obama come with an expiration date. All of them.

Think about this. A congresswoman, believing that "there should be equal time for the spoken word," is going to have the government step in and regulate what can be said on privately owned communication systems, i.e., cable television and satellite radio. And at no point does it cross her mind that this would violate the First Amendment.

Not long ago, Cam spotlighted a case of local lawmakers passing gun ordinances that their own lawyers concluded blatantly violated state law and/or the state and U.S. constitutions. Upon being told that there was no way their proposal would pass a constiutional challenge, the lawmakers shrugged their shoulders and passed it anyway. One councilwoman actually declared, "Who really cares about it being unconstitutional?"

I fear we may have managed to elect a governing class that is constitutionally illiterate.

See, this is how Democrats think. They don't care if they violate the Constitution. They don't care one iota about violating private business (which they would if they apply the Fairness Doctrine to cable and satellite TV). Of course, the Fairness Doctrine in and of itself is unconstitutional, but we doubt that'll stop congressional Democrats if they wish to silence our side when we really start making a stink. And we wouldn't put it past them to try instituting it on the 'Net. All we have to say is "Go for it, sparky. It'll NEVER pass Constitutional muster, and the high court will delight in striking it down."

Publius II

The Chicago cesspool of corruption gets another head on the platter

As if Obama needed another headache after it was found out that Rahm Emmanuel is on 21 separate calls talking with Rod Blagojevich, another head comes rolling down the road care of the Chicago Sun-Times. (HT to Captain Ed) The new head? Eric Holder:

Before Eric Holder was President-elect Barack Obama's choice to be attorney general, he was Gov. Blagojevich's pick to sort out a mess involving Illinois' long-dormant casino license.

Blagojevich and Holder appeared together at a March 24, 2004, news conference to announce Holder's role as "special investigator to the Illinois Gaming Board" -- a post that was to pay Holder and his Washington, D.C. law firm up to $300,000.

Holder, however, omitted that event from his 47-page response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire made public this week -- an oversight he plans to correct after a Chicago Sun-Times inquiry, Obama's transition team indicated late Tuesday.

"Eric Holder has given hundreds of press interviews," Obama transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said in a statement. "He did his best to report them all to the committee, but as he noted in the questionnaire itself, some were undoubtedly missed in the effort to reconstruct a list of them."

Anyone think that excuse passes the smell test? That he conveniently forgot to include his association with Blagojevich from the questionnaire AFTER Blagojevich was arrested. He didn't sit there and think "Oh man, I forgot to include that one." Hell no. That was a blatant omission on his part, and most likely he was directed to by Team Obama as they attempt to run damage control over being implicated in the scandal. Now I have said repeatedly that, thus far, nothing has directly connected Obama to Blagojevich, aside from the "friendly" terms they seem to have when he was a senator and state legislature. But his associates (going back to those he associates with, again) are tied to him. The Sun-Times continues:

Holder signed the questionnaire on Sunday -- five days after Blagojevich's arrest for allegedly putting Obama's U.S. Senate seat up for sale. The Judiciary Committee asked him to provide lists and "copies of transcripts or tape recordings of all speeches or talks delivered by you" and "all interviews you have given to newspapers, magazines or other publications."

The March 2004 Chicago news conference where Holder and Blagojevich spoke was widely covered because of a controversial 4-1 Gaming Board vote earlier that month to allow a casino to be built in Rosemont. That vote defied the recommendation of the board's staff, which had raised concerns about alleged organized-crime links to the Rosemont casino's developer.

Besides that, the Gaming Board's staff had been concerned that the governor had named his close friend and fund-raiser, Christopher G. Kelly, as a "special government agent" to be involved in official state negotiations about the casino. Kelly, the Sun-Times later learned, was a business partner of Tony Rezko, another Blagojevich fund-raiser who had held an option to lease a hotel site next to the proposed casino site in Rosemont.

Rezko, also a former Obama fund-raiser, and Kelly both have denied any wrongdoing related to the casino, though both have been charged in separate, unrelated criminal cases since 2004.

The Sun-Times disclosed Rezko's interest in the Rosemont hotel site about three weeks before the news conference announcing Holder would be involved in the casino case. Holder was not aware of the story when he opted to get involved, a source said.

Geez, this just keeps getting better and better. Now Rezko is connected here (as if there was any question if he'd pop up in this scandal) and the Obama team is furiously trying to kill any questions by journalists related to this mess. Obama did it yesterday when a reporter asked him a question about this. He got testy, and cut him off.

This could cause trouble for Holder, who will be scrutinized by the Senate Judiciary Committee starting on 15 January. His involvement in the Clinton pardons is going to be under the microscope, but the addition of a connection to Blagojevich could make it difficult for Democrats on the committee to approve him.

Oh, and about that testy moment from Obama, Michael Calderone reports that for some in the media, the Obama honeymoon is coming to a close:

During today's press conference, President-elect Baracj Obama brushed off a question from Chicago Tribune reporter John McCormick about the Blagojevich scandal, and what interaction any advisers had with the Illinois governor.

"I don't want you to waste your question," Obama said.

McCormick asked another Blago-related question, and Obama said he wouldn't confirm a report in the Tribune from this weekend. Obama also said that the U.S. attorney's office asked his team to withhold an internal review until next week.

After a few attempts, the reporter finally followed up by asking who had the better jump shot: Obama or incoming education secretary Arne Duncan?

The interaction with McCormick stood out from previous meetings with the press. And speaking about the exchange on MSNBC shortly after, NBC Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker said that reporters have not been aggressive enough during Obama's post-election pressers.

"Our job is to hold him to account," Whitaker said, adding that he thinks "we're going to have to get tougher."

Mr. Whitaker, good luck with that because, chances are, if the press starts asking harder questions, they'll be disinvited from covering Obama. Obama will surround himself with "Tingles" and the monkeys at the HuffPo so that he can get his propaganda and spin out rather than the facts. And about those tough questions, why is it that they're focusing on this aspect of their job AFTER the election? Their job is to scrutinize things ALL the time, not when it's convenient for them. No offense, but if the press is offended that Obama's not being all that open with them, they have no one to blame but themselves.

Publius II