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.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Issue Up!!!

Welcome to yet another edition of Common Conservative, and as the Obama years drag on, we're sure to be hearing more from some of the best and brightest, lesser known authors in the realm of conservatism.

The Chief licks off this issue with a column defending capitalism. Imagine that!

Larry Simoneaux talks about the heroics of the common man in recounting the US Air flight that was landed in the Hudson River after being struck by a flock of geese.

And Marcie and I give the new president a foreign policy briefing he won't forget.

Carolyn Hileman kicks off our guest authors by taking Nancy Pelosi to task for her attempted, feeble defense of the contraception pork in the Obama/Pelosi/Reid Pork-A-Palooza, Generational Theft Act of 2009.

John Lillpop serves up some red meat by reminding us there is a reason the animals were kept at Gitmo.

Doug Patton channels Ronald Reagan in reminding us about what makes America great.

Baron Bodissey enlightens readers to a gross miscarriage of justice regarding Geert Wilders and his film "Fitna."

JJ Jackson touches on a subject that any common sense American should sit up and take notice of -- the fact that way too many people are getting fed up with the expanse of government, and when the straw that breaks the camel's back is finally laid down, this nation is going to explode.

And Ralph Reiland tops off this issue with a look back at Cuba on it's fiftieth birthday, and reminds us that the great experiment in socialism is a dismal failure. (This is one we'll be e-mailing to Democrats on Capitol Hill just so they have a history lesson to reflect on.)

That's it for this issue. Enjoy reading!!

Publius II

Friday, January 30, 2009

BREAKING -- Your new RNC Chairman is Michael Steele

Six rounds of voting, and definitely a nail-biter ending as Geraghty the Indispensable noted as he was covering it live, that the final ballot could have ended in an 84-84 tie, but it wasn't meant to be. Michael Steele defeats Katon Dawson 91-77:

Former MD Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele won the Republican National Committee chairmanship today on the sixth ballot.

The final vote: Steele, 91, and SC GOP chairman Katon Dawson, 77.

Steele, 50, also defeated the incumbent RNC chairman, Mike Duncan, who withdrew earlier in the contest.

"As a little boy growing up in this town, this is awesome," Steele said. "It is with a great deal of humility and a sense of service that I accept and appreciate and thank all of you for the opportunity to serve as the next national chairman."

Steele, the first African American chairman of the RNC, serves as head of GOPAC. He is perhaps best known, however, for his regular appearances on FOX News.

The final two candidates marked a critical choice for the GOP between the party's past and present: Dawson, the socially conservative southerner who recently resigned membership from an all white country club, and Steele, who was raised Washington, D.C.'s Shaw neighborhood and found his way to Johns Hopkins University and Georgetown Law.

"To those who stand in difference with us, it's time for something completely different," Steele said to applause. "And we're going to bring it to you. We're going to bring this party to every corner, every board room, every neighborhood and every community. And we're going to say to friend and foe alike, we want you to be a part of us. ... And to those of you who will obstruct, get ready to get knocked over."

The party's members broke with the GOP's past as well by choosing a non member and a Yankee. Steele, many concluded in private conversations before and during the voting process, presented a fresh new face for the party, serving as an able messenger with a national profile.

He also provides racial diversity, of course, at a time when the Democrats elected the nation's first black president. And today he promised to help the GOP compete across the country, especially in regions dominated by the Democrats last cycle.

"I look forward to visiting all of you in your neighborhoods, in your backyards," he said.

Readers will recall that we endorsed three people for the chairmanship -- Michael Steele, Ken Blackwell, and Saul Anuzis. This stems from not only what we know about them, but also the interviews conducted by Hugh Hewitt with each person running to head up the party.

Mr. Steele has his work cut out for him. Not only will it involve revitalizing grass roots efforts, fundraising, and bringing the GOP into the 21st Century in technology. Mr. Steele has endorsed the plan at Rebuild the Party. It's a solid plan for us to bring the GOP out of the wilderness, and Michael Steele is the right person to execute it. Congratulations to Michael Steele.

Publius II

Can Harry Reid and Senate Democrats get any dumber?

The Politico is reporting that the Senate Democrats are launching a pre-emptive strike on their colleagues on the other side of the aisle over the Pork-A-Palooza bill. It's not so much that they're firing shots across the bow before they really take up the bill, but rather the stupidity of their arguments:

In a Thursday afternoon news conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urged Senate Republicans not to line up against the bill, and says Republicans will be blamed for any delay in the landmark economic legislation.

“If we don’t [pass the bill], it’s not our fault, we’re trying,” Reid said. “The president has done a remarkable job covering all the bases on Capitol Hill.”

And Senate Vice Chairman Charles Schumer said that any GOP effort to lay the blame on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for failing to win was “very unfair.”

Reid argued that Senate Democrats had also been accommodating, allowing for an amendment process folding in GOP-favored tax cuts.

[Stop. They're not giving the GOP a fair shake on the tax cuts being proposed to generate an influx of capital into the markets to right the ship. They're idea of "tax cuts" is an increase of the EITC -- Earned Income Tax Credit -- which goes to people who, in essence, don't pay taxes to begin with. these people get their tax money back at the end of the year, all of it.]

The pre-emptive brush-back pitch came the day after House Republicans voted in unison to reject the stimulus package. The bill passed in a 244-188 vote.

“For those in the House that voted against this package, their alternative is what?” asked Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin.

[Gee, Senator Durbin, how about across the board tax cuts, and a suspension of all federal spending unless it is absolutely necessary. In other words, take care of what needs to be taken care of to run the government, but end the extra pork spending which this bill is loaded with.]

Schumer piled on the tough talk, accusing House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, an outspoken opponent of the package, of “leading his members off the cliff.”

Reid pushed back on GOP complaints that not all of the spending in the package was truly stimulative.

"Stimulus is in the eye of the beholder," Reid said.

To Chuck Schumer, Boehner isn't leading his party off the cliff. He's leading the House GOP out of the wilderness, and holding the line against wasteful spending which will do nothing to stimulate this economy at all. And to Senator Reid, that was the most asinine comment that could have been said. "Stimulus is in the eye of the beholder"? Representative Michele Bachmann penned a piece in the Strib today explaining that the Obama administration is following a model that didn't work back in 1929:

The stock market collapse of 1929 brought a crashing halt to the Roaring Twenties. But President Herbert Hoover’s response to the economic crisis ensured that it became a genuine catastrophe. Contrary to popular perception, Hoover did not respond to the downturn with inaction or indifference — rather, he pursued a series of misguided big-government adventures that lengthened and deepened our economic woes.

Hoover not only dramatically hiked income and import taxes, but he instituted big-government spending programs all but identical to those being debated today. Hoover’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation tried to ease economic pain by funneling tax money to state governments, local governments, banks and a variety of businesses. His Federal Home Loan Bank Act extended loans in an effort to increase low-income housing — beginning the ill-fated history of federal intervention in the housing market.

These measures proved a dismal failure, and things got only worse. In the 1932 campaign, Franklin Roosevelt actually attacked Hoover for his big-government policies, decrying Hoover’s presidency as “the greatest spending administration in peacetime in all of history.”

Yet, once elected, Roosevelt not only maintained Hoover’s programs, he used them as a foundation for his titanic New Deal expenditures. He even expanded Hoover’s failed housing program and launched the now-infamous mortgage giant Fannie Mae. And even in the face of a staggering 25 percent unemployment, FDR held fast to the big-government philosophy — jobs programs, handouts, tax hikes — and, as a result, presided over a decade of economic misery.

FDR’s own treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, had to admit as much in 1939: “We are spending more than we have ever spent before, and it does not work. … We have never made good on our promises. I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. And an enormous debt to boot!”

She's spot-on. The excessive spending done by FDR, which led to the largest expanse of the federal government ever, did nothing to help get the nation out of the Depression. It put us deeper in it, and only a world war was able to let us dig ourselves out of it. Spending money isn't the solution to a recession, nor is printing more money, which will lead us into the realm of inflation, and quite possibly hyper-inflation.

But that's exactly the plan the Democrats are pushing. They want the excessive spending and debt to rock this nation. As Rahm Emanuel famously quipped a crisis is an opportunity. With this bill, the Democrats are content to deepen the crisis, which they hope will make the people turn to the government to solve a crisis that they, themselves, created.

Memo to Harry Reid: The GOP isn't doing this because they find it fun (well, maybe they do). They're doing it because their constituents are telling them to hold the line on this. The only intelligent thing that Harry Reid has said is that if the Pork-A-Palooza fails, it's our fault. We'll accept that with a smile on our faces. We're stopping a 40 year wish list of worthless projects, programs and wasteful spending that will do nothing to help this nation.

Kudos to Mitch McConnell and the GOP in the Senate dead set against this "crap sandwich." We can't afford this bill; the nation can't afford the debt the Democrats want to heap upon future generations.

Publius II

A stealthy move by Democrats in the Pork-A-Palooza

Michael Ramirez from IBD hit the nail on the head this morning. This is his cartoon today, skewering the stimulus plan, and it couldn't have come on a better day than today. Captain Ed links to a piece by Kimberly Strassel about the sneaky little trick to expand the health care already provided by the federal government. It appears, as Captain Ed notes, that Obama and the Democrats have learned from the bungled Hillary Health Care plan that blew up in President Clinton's face, costing him his majority in the House:

Still, it’s the “stimulus” that has proven the real gift horse — a behemoth that has allowed Democrats to speed up the takeover of health care under cover of an economic crisis. They initially claimed, for instance, the “stimulus” would provide Medicaid money to states struggling to pay existing bills. What in fact it does is dramatically expand the number of Americans who qualify for Medicaid.

Under “stimulus,” Medicaid is now on offer not to just poor Americans, but Americans who have lost their jobs. And not just Americans who have lost their jobs, but their spouses and their children. And not Americans who recently lost their jobs, but those who lost jobs, say, early last year. And not just Americans who already lost their jobs, but those who will lose their jobs up to 2011. The federal government is graciously footing the whole bill. The legislation also forbids states to apply income tests in most cases.

House Democrat Henry Waxman was so thrilled by this blowout, it was left to Republicans to remind him that the very banking millionaires he dragged to the Hill last year for a grilling would now qualify for government aid. His response? A GOP proposal to limit subsidies to Americans with incomes under $1 million was accepted during markup, but had disappeared by final passage. In this new health-care nirvana, even the rich are welcome. CBO estimates? An additional 1.2 million on the federal Medicaid dime in 2009.

The “stimulus” also hijacks Cobra, a program that lets the unemployed retain access to their former company health benefits — usually for about 18 months. The new stimulus permits any former employee over the age of 55 to keep using Cobra right up until they qualify for Medicare at age 65. And here’s the kicker: Whereas employees were previously responsible for paying their health premiums while on Cobra, now the feds will pay 65%. CBO estimates? Seven million Americans will have the feds mostly pay their insurance bills in 2009. …

Add it up, and Democrats may move 10 million more Americans under the federal health umbrella — in just four weeks!

This needs to get out in the open prior to the Senate vote, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had better stand up and raise a stink about this. This is an out-and-out effort to push forward the nationalization of health care in America. Democrats knew they couldn't do this outright the way the Clintons tried it back in the early 90's. They knew that the Blue Dogs wouldn't go along with HillaryCare 2.0, and they knew they weren't going to get any Republicans on this.

What's truly sad is that the only way we can stop this Pork-A-Palooza is to hope McConnell can keep his caucus together, peel off a couple Democrats, and hold the line to attempt a filibuster on this bill. McConnell will have to pull out all the stops to pull this off, but Lord knows we need him to try whatever he can to stop this pork-laden piece of crap bill from passing.

Do we have a chance? Yes, a slim one. But it involves keeping the squishy RINOs in the Senate together with the caucus. We already have word that John McCain intends to vote against it. But he's only one in the Senate. We still have to worry about Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Specter. They're the ones we have to have concerns with because, in my opinion, they're the least trust-worthy ones in the Senate.

The Pork-A-Palooza isn't going to stimulate squat in the economy. Not. Even. Close. It's a forty-year wish list of Democrat programs they've never been able to get enacted on their own. It's all stuffed in one bill, and the Democrats are demanding we eat what Michelle Malkin calls a "crap sandwich." Expanding Medicaid is a huge mistake because it's one of those programs that needs serious reform. By expanding it's coverage, the Democrats have guaranteed that it'll be insolvent in a matter of years. Of course with this Pork-A-Palooza bill, the nation might very well be insolvent in a matter of years as well.

Publius II

Bye Rod. It's been fun. We'll miss ya'

Yes, Marcie and had a moment of silence yesterday when it was announced that Rod Blagojevich, the fortieth governor of Illinois, was convicted and removed by the Illinois Senate becoming the first governor in Illinois history to ever be impeached:

Rod R. Blagojevich at 4:51 p.m. Thursday became the first governor in Illinois' 190-year history to be driven from office by impeachment.

Senators voted 59-0 to dump Blagojevich, who was arrested Dec. 9 on federal corruption charges. And minutes later, they voted 59-0 to bar him from ever holding elected office in Illinois again.

Later, outside his Northwest Side home, Blagojevich said, "I predicted it. The fix was in from the very beginning."

At 5:40 p.m., Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn placed his hand on a family Bible held by 25-year-old son Patrick, took the oath of office from Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke and broke into a broad grin as spectators in the House rose to their feet and cheered the arrival of a new era.

"I want to say to the people of Illinois, the ordeal is over," said Quinn, who became the state's 41st governor.

Quinn wouldn't say whom he would retain from Blagojevich's Cabinet or how he plans to fill a budget hole that could reach $5 billion.

"We want to make this year a year of reform in Illinois," he proclaimed.

Reform? In Illinois? That's a laugh. Sure there'll be reform in Illinois. And for Governor Quinn's next trick, pigs will fly around Mayor Daley's home. Let's be clear here -- I grew up in Illinois. It's virtually the most corrupt state in the country. "Reform" isn't in anyone's vocabulary in Illinois.

What's most interesting about this whole circus is that he was impeached without a criminal trial to prove his guilt. We're not saying that he's clean. Of course not. Blagojevich is as dirty as they come. The whole sob story about not doing anything wrong was BS from the get-go. Readers will likely send the e-mails off for us defending him, but the simple fact of the matter remains that we have no master above God and the law.

He hasn't been convicted, and the Senate used some of the taps to reach their decision. So while it's almost a certainty that he's going to be convicted of the crimes he's been accused of. At this point it's a matter of who can he roll over on to shrink the jail time he's going to face. Will Fitzgerald get him to roll on Daley? Who knows, but it's almost a guarantee that he's probably going to take down a couple other figures along with him.

Publius II

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Consider us part of the "Do-Nothing Crowd"

The Politico has a great piece up on the "Do-Nothing Crowd" that is urging Capital Hill to literally do nothing over this financial crisis that, well, Congress technically created:

Most of Washington has reached quick consensus: Government must do something big to shock the economy, and it should cost between $800 billion and $900 billion.

But dissident economists and investment professionals offer a much different take: Most of Washington is dead wrong.

Instead of fighting over what should go in the economic stimulus bill, pitting infrastructure spending against tax cuts and contractors against contraceptives, they say lawmakers should be fighting against the very idea of any economic stimulus at all. Call them the Do-Nothing Crowd.

“The economy was too big. It was all phantom wealth borrowed from abroad,” says Andrew Schiff, an investment consultant at Euro Pacific Capital and a card-carrying member of the stand-tall-against-the-stimulus lobby. “All this stimulus money is geared toward getting consumers spending and borrowing again. But spending and borrowing were the problem in the first place.”

Washington has a habit of passing legislation in a crisis and suffering from morning-after regrets — the Iraq war, the Patriot Act and last year’s original bank bailout plan come to mind. So we thought it would be wise to air the views of the naysayers toward Washington’s latest consensus approach. ...

There is no doubt these are minority views. Most lawmakers, economists and policymakers say the economy desperately needs a massive infusion of money to prevent collapse — and needs it now. The Obama administration, backed by many economists, says unemployment could easily top 10 percent and the gross domestic product could tank absent government intervention.

The language used to make the case for stimulus is stark and gloomy — and, by all measures, pretty accurate. But there is also a caveat attached to every solution proposed: that it simply might not work. Economists on the right and left say there is a chance, perhaps a decent one, that $1 trillion injected into a $14 trillion economy might be too little, too late to turn things around anytime soon. ...

This time around, the Do-Nothing Crowd argues that the new spending — which dwarfs last year’s effort — is probably insufficient and definitely unwise. It is largely an economic argument. But there is also a cultural dimension. Many of the Do-Nothings argue that a painful recession is the best way to destroy America’s runaway culture of irresponsibility and debt. Economic turmoil, after all, has a way of grounding Americans.

Schiff and the other Do-Nothings argue that the government should simply allow the economic chips to fall where they may. Dramatic belt-tightening across the board is the only way, they say, to stop the endless cycle of borrowing.

“Our standard of living needs to come down to the point where it can be supported by organic output,” says Schiff. “It’s brutal, but it’s called capitalism, and it works. The alternative is called socialism, and it doesn’t work.”

The best thing to do, if the Congress does anything, is to do across the board tax cuts. If the Congress doesn't want to move in that direction, then we're with the Do-Nothings. Mr. Schiff is quite correct in his assessment about how to bring Americans back down to earth. Credit debt right now is astounding; debt, in general, is astronomical. I'm not saying that we have to make do with less because I'm hardly Jimmy Carter here. What I'm saying is that the populace needs to relearn the lessons of capitalism, and we need to do it fast.

The stimulus bill is anything but stimulus. Worse is this observation form further in the piece:

For the Do-Nothings, the argument isn’t about economic nuance, it’s about right and wrong. They say that borrowing more money to finance a stimulus package will pass a crushing and possibly permanent debt load on to the next generation. “The question is,” says Chris Edwards, the director of tax policy studies at Cato, “is this morally proper?”

Edwards says no. “Policymakers are saying: ‘Screw the future generations.’”

And that, dear readers, is exactly what this bill will do -- it'll screw future generations. We urge readers and friends alike to hop on board the bandwagon that's cruising through the 'Sphere. Michelle Malkin has a list of every member of the House, and their phone numbers. "Storm" the Capitol. Call your congressman (or woman) and tell them to kill this bill. Join us in stopping this fiasco called legislation from screwing this nation for decades to come.

Publius II

23 years ago today ...

Twenty-three years ago today we witnessed a disaster that few thought would ever happen. Seven astronauts -- Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik, and Christa McAuliffe -- climbed aboard the space shuttle Challenger on another space mission. It was historic because the first "civilian" was going on this mission. Christa McAuliffe was a simple schoolteacher who was excited to be going up with the other astronauts. Seventy-three seconds after lift-off people gasped in horror as the Challenger exploded.

I remember where I was when the shuttle exploded. I was thirteen years old, sitting in my junior high English class, and we were watching it live on TV. Our English teacher had been one of those teachers who had tried to be the teacher to go up on the shuttle. She was very excited to witness this historic event, and we sat there and watched as the shuttle lifted off, then blew up.

There are few things of historical significance that I can remember witnessing. 11 September 2001, the Challenger disaster, the Columbia disaster, and the attempted assassination of President Reagan are the four events that stick out in my mind. I watched each event occur, live on TV. I've always believed that events like these will remain with those who actually witness them. You can learn about anything if you read about it, but to actually witness it in person, that's something that will stick with your forever.

I also remember this from that night:

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd planned to speak to you tonight to report on the state of the union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.

Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground. But we've never lost an astronaut in flight; we've never had a tragedy like this. And perhaps we've forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle; but they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. We mourn their loss as a nation together.

For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we're thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, "Give me a challenge and I'll meet it with joy." They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us.

We've grown used to wonders in this century. It's hard to dazzle us. But for 25 years the United States space program has been doing just that. We've grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget that we've only just begun. We're still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.

And I want to say something to the school children of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them.

I've always had great faith in and respect for our space program, and what happened today does nothing to diminish it. We don't hide our space program. We don't keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That's the way freedom is, and we wouldn't change it for a minute. We'll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue.

I want to add that I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA or who worked on this mission and tell them: "Your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades. And we know of your anguish. We share it."

There's a coincidence today. On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said, "He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it." Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake's, complete.

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."

I remember crying after President Reagan's tribute to the challenger Seven, but I knew he was right. We wouldn't be deterred by the disaster. We figured out what went wrong, fixed the problem, and continued with our missions into space. When Columbia disintegrated upon reentry, we found the problem, fixed, and we continue into space today. This was the point of his tribute. We don't quit when disasters occur. We work the problem, and keep pushing forward. Those seven brave souls will always be mourned. We're pretty sure their families dread this day, as much as anyone would dread the anniversary of any disaster. But they wouldn't have quit. They were, literally, the challengers of destiny, willing to take the risks of exploration.

Publius II

What's in the Pork-a-palooza, Generational Theft Act of 2009?

We've heard the president and the Democrats in congress claiming that this so-called stimulus is a necessity; that it must absolutely be passed. We have looked at it, we have read parts of this, and we have to disagree. The GOP in the Congress needs to make sure this goes down as a party line vote. In other words, none of them should vote for this. We know that's a long shot, but the GOP should hold back, and let the Democrats take all blame for this.

Today the editors at the Wall Street Journal explain the crap that's about to be rammed down our throats:

We've looked it over, and even we can't quite believe it. There's $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn't turned a profit in 40 years; $2 billion for child-care subsidies; $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects. There's even $650 million on top of the billions already doled out to pay for digital TV conversion coupons.

In selling the plan, President Obama has said this bill will make "dramatic investments to revive our flagging economy." Well, you be the judge. Some $30 billion, or less than 5% of the spending in the bill, is for fixing bridges or other highway projects. There's another $40 billion for broadband and electric grid development, airports and clean water projects that are arguably worthwhile priorities.

Add the roughly $20 billion for business tax cuts, and by our estimate only $90 billion out of $825 billion, or about 12 cents of every $1, is for something that can plausibly be considered a growth stimulus. And even many of these projects aren't likely to help the economy immediately. As Peter Orszag, the President's new budget director, told Congress a year ago, "even those [public works] that are 'on the shelf' generally cannot be undertaken quickly enough to provide timely stimulus to the economy."

Most of the rest of this project spending will go to such things as renewable energy funding ($8 billion) or mass transit ($6 billion) that have a low or negative return on investment. Most urban transit systems are so badly managed that their fares cover less than half of their costs. However, the people who operate these systems belong to public-employee unions that are campaign contributors to . . . guess which party?

Here's another lu-lu: Congress wants to spend $600 million more for the federal government to buy new cars. Uncle Sam already spends $3 billion a year on its fleet of 600,000 vehicles. Congress also wants to spend $7 billion for modernizing federal buildings and facilities. The Smithsonian is targeted to receive $150 million; we love the Smithsonian, too, but this is a job creator?

Another "stimulus" secret is that some $252 billion is for income-transfer payments -- that is, not investments that arguably help everyone, but cash or benefits to individuals for doing nothing at all. There's $81 billion for Medicaid, $36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits, $20 billion for food stamps, and $83 billion for the earned income credit for people who don't pay income tax. While some of that may be justified to help poorer Americans ride out the recession, they aren't job creators.

As for the promise of accountability, some $54 billion will go to federal programs that the Office of Management and Budget or the Government Accountability Office have already criticized as "ineffective" or unable to pass basic financial audits. These include the Economic Development Administration, the Small Business Administration, the 10 federal job training programs, and many more.

Oh, and don't forget education, which would get $66 billion more. That's more than the entire Education Department spent a mere 10 years ago and is on top of the doubling under President Bush. Some $6 billion of this will subsidize university building projects. If you think the intention here is to help kids learn, the House declares on page 257 that "No recipient . . . shall use such funds to provide financial assistance to students to attend private elementary or secondary schools." Horrors: Some money might go to nonunion teachers.

The larger fiscal issue here is whether this spending bonanza will become part of the annual "budget baseline" that Congress uses as the new floor when calculating how much to increase spending the following year, and into the future. Democrats insist that it will not. But it's hard -- no, impossible -- to believe that Congress will cut spending next year on any of these programs from their new, higher levels. The likelihood is that this allegedly emergency spending will become a permanent addition to federal outlays -- increasing pressure for tax increases in the bargain. Any Blue Dog Democrat who votes for this ought to turn in his "deficit hawk" credentials.

We hope the Blue Dogs refuse to go along with this, but they will. But the real crux is no Republican should vote for this. It's anything but bipartisan, and it's a slap in the face to the American public. This bill will do nothing for us except provide us hyper-inflation, and send the market spinning down the johnny-flusher. Furthermore, Republicans should heed this warning because we're not the only ones making it, and those that are intend to carry it out: ANY Republican that votes for this will be targeted in 2010, and we will do our level best to remove them from office.

I hear people whining and moaning all the time that the Republican party is dead; that conservatism is dead. No it's not. Those that say it's dead are weak-kneed, and refuse to do what's necessary to bring the party back to conservatism. Those so-called Republicans need to shut up, and step aside. The rest of us will fight to rebuild the party, and it starts with putting pressure on your congressman and senators to stand firm, and not vote for this. Screw the Democrats. They want it. Then let them vote for it so the nation can see who really wanted to push a bill through to wreck the nation's economy.

Publius II

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama White House can't figure out the technology

His campaign people and supporters bragged about how techno-savvy everyone was. But, as the WaPo reports today they're not nearly as savvy as they claimed to be. (HT to Captain Ed) From the WaPo's "Voices" blog:

It's more than five hours and counting now since the entire White House e-mail system went down.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced the technical snafu at his 1:30 p.m. briefing, apologizing to the media for the e-mail silence this afternoon.

The result is maddening for the new White House team, which already has been frustrated with the archaic communications gear they discovered when they arrived at their offices.

White House aides had just switched over from their transition e-mails this weekend, finally handing out their new, government e-mail addresses when the outage hit.

Both outgoing and incoming mail are out, the result, an aide explained, of an outage with the Outlook server. The aide said the outage goes beyond the press shop. The first lady's office is also without e-mail, as are other offices.

There was no indication when the e-mail service would return. For the moment, the press office is making even more use of the loudspeaker in the briefing room.

And the executive orders that President Obama signed this morning were photocopied and are sitting on a table outside the briefing room.

As to other, more sophisticated communications equipment at the White House -- including systems that might be found in the Situation Room -- an aide said: "We don't comment on security issues."

Outlook isn't bad, and it's used by a lot of businesses, both large and small. Personally, I don't like Outlook. We have our own screen names on AOL, and one other e-mail account that we use to contact our sources that we occasionally use. But the White House isn't us, and they can use whatever they want. Captain Ed also points out there's been some whining about six-year old software on the PCs (the Obama staff prefers Macs), but we'd think they'd welcome that. Vista stinks. Sorry for all you Vista users out there that love the thing, but we know far more people who complain about it than actually like it. As a matter of fact, a few of our AOL pals constantly complained how Vista didn't work right with the AOL software, and it resulted in them removing Vista and reinstalling XP.

The point is that these guys claimed to be so techno savvy. They trumpeted it during the campaign, and we expected better from them taking over the White House. And, of course, they're blaming Bush for this. Lord knows why as the president didn't tell them not to change up the computers or the operating systems. To each their own when a new administration takes over the reins of power. Instead of complaining about it, maybe they ought to, oh I don't know, do something about it? Anyone know if the White House has a revamp mention in the pork-a-palooza generational theft bill? (I checked already. There's none mentioned. Maybe they can use some of Granny Rictus' contraception idiocy.)

Eventually these monkeys are going to have to quit with the excuses and actually man-up to take responsibility for their ineptitude.

Publius II

Monday, January 26, 2009

Obama picks a fight with the wrong person; goes about it the wrong way

This little episode shows that Obama is just inexperienced in the political realm. Over the weekend he decided to take a swipe at a very well-known individual. In doing so, he opened himself up to ridicule the same way Tom Daschle did in 2001. This past weekend Barack Obama took a shot at Republicans, in general, and Rush Limbaugh specifically:

President Obama warned Republicans on Capitol Hill today that they need to quit listening to radio king Rush Limbaugh if they want to get along with Democrats and the new administration.

"You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.

One White House official confirmed the comment but said he was simply trying to make a larger point about bipartisan efforts.

"There are big things that unify Republicans and Democrats," the official said. "We shouldn't let partisan politics derail what are very important things that need to get done."

Now why do I say this was a stupid move? Let's start with the obvious: He just gave him a ton of free publicity. He also gave him more attention which means people are going to tune into his show and hear what he has to say about this little dust-up. Like him or not, the last thing any politician should do is draw attention to a very popular media figure, especially one that gets 20 million-plus listeners a day.

Rush fired back via NRO's Byron York, and, as usual, he was spot-on:

There are two things going on here. One prong of the Great Unifier's plan is to isolate elected Republicans from their voters and supporters by making the argument about me and not about his plan. He is hoping that these Republicans will also publicly denounce me and thus marginalize me. And who knows? Are ideological and philosophical ties enough to keep the GOP loyal to their voters? Meanwhile, the effort to foist all blame for this mess on the private sector continues unabated when most of the blame for this current debacle can be laid at the feet of the Congress and a couple of former presidents. And there is a strategic reason for this.

Secondly, here is a combo quote from the meeting:

"If we don't get this done we (the Democrats) could lose seats and I could lose re-election. But we can't let people like Rush Limbaugh stall this. That's how things don't get done in this town."

To make the argument about me instead of his plan makes sense from his perspective. Obama's plan would buy votes for the Democrat Party, in the same way FDR's New Deal established majority power for 50 years of Democrat rule, and it would also simultaneously seriously damage any hope of future tax cuts. It would allow a majority of American voters to guarantee no taxes for themselves going forward. It would burden the private sector and put the public sector in permanent and firm control of the economy. Put simply, I believe his stimulus is aimed at re-establishing "eternal" power for the Democrat Party rather than stimulating the economy because anyone with a brain knows this is NOT how you stimulate the economy. If I can be made to serve as a distraction, then there is that much less time debating the merits of this TRILLION dollar debacle.

Obama was angry that Merrill Lynch used $1.2 million of TARP money to remodel an executive suite. Excuse me, but didn't Merrill have to hire a decorator and contractor? Didn't they have to buy the new furnishings? What's the difference in that and Merrill loaning that money to a decorator, contractor and goods supplier to remodel Warren Buffet's office? Either way, stimulus in the private sector occurs. Are we really at the point where the bad PR of Merrill getting a redecorated office in the process is reason to smear them? How much money will the Obamas spend redecorating the White House residence? Whose money will be spent? I have no problem with the Obamas redoing the place. It is tradition. 600 private jets flown by rich Democrats flew into the Inauguration. That's fine but the auto execs using theirs is a crime? In both instances, the people on those jets arrived in Washington wanting something from Washington, not just good will.

If I can be made to serve as a distraction, then there is that much less time debating the merits of the trillion dollar debacle.

Obama seems to think that Rush is stalling this pork-a-palooza non-stimulus package, and that's not even close to the truth. There's no lovefest going on between Rush and John McCain, and the latter appears to be against the stimulus package because he sees, as many do, that there's nothing in it to stimulate the economy
. He's not stalling anything. He has a simple job -- far more simple than being president. He's a commentator and an entertainer.

Did we ever see President Bush call out his detractors by name? No. Did we ever hear him whine about the media, in general? No. Why didn't we hear that? Because politicians have more important things to do than pick a fight with the fourth rail of politics. This was a stupid move, and it will disappear soon enough from any sort of news coverage unless Obama doubles down against Rush after Rush's show today. It's almost a guarantee that Rush is going to milk this retarded decision by Obama to call him out. And if Obama does take another swipe at him, you can bet that Rush will fire back. Unlike Rush, Democrats seem content to shoot themselves in the foot, repeatedly.

Publius II

Popcorn worthy -- Kennedy clan not happy with Paterson

He won't be summoned to the compound anytime soon to go yachting with Ted, that's for sure. Seriously, didn't Paterson see this coming? I mean, you just don't tick off the Kennedys. "Surly" doesn't begin to cover how retributive the Kennedys can be:

"An 'apoplectic' Kennedy family is seething over the rough treatment that heiress apparent Caroline got from Gov. Paterson's office and is spoiling for revenge," the New York Post reports.

Said one "well-placed" Democrat: "The governor's going to pay for this. Ted is furious. The family is furious. The Kennedys are now against the governor."

The New York Daily News quotes another source close to the Kennedy family: "Maybe [Paterson] was caught off guard by her decision, but to disparage her the way they have is beyond understanding."

New York magazine on Paterson: "His style of governance, a dizzy mix of ingratiation and trickeration, has turned what could have been a moment of triumph -- a powerful new ally in the Senate, a relationship with President Obama -- into a slapstick fiasco, a fitting sequel to the way Paterson got the job in the first place."

The New York Daily News piece also points out that the Kennedys aren't the only one upset with Paterson. So are the Cuomos. Remember that Andrew Cuomo was also in the running for this seat, and they feel just as snubbed as the Kennedys do. Granted, from the other reports on this that we've seen, the Kennedys seem to be on the verge of hiring a hitman to take Paterson out. (And no, I'm not saying they have, or am I condoning such an action. It's just when you read what they're saying about this, it's clear they're pi$$ed at him; spitting nails pi$$ed.)

But if this doesn't show the hubris the Kennedy clan has, I don't know what will. Caroline didn't deserve the seat. Paterson explained this to drama watchers last week. He didn't think she would bring the right level of seriousness to the job, you know. She seemed aloof most of the time, and she didn't have the credentials to take the seat. Kirsten Gillibrand does. She's been in the House for two terms. She dealt with legislation before.

Caroline wouldn't take the job seriously, and given how scatter-brained she sounds and acts putting her in the Senate would be just another lazy backside sitting there who doesn't know what they're voting on. The Kennedys may think that they're the preeminent political family in America, but dynasties aren't exactly a great thing for the nation. Dynasties tend to act like they deserve certain perks and privileges that the average Joe Blow can't attain.

Teddy can be as mad as he wants to be, but in the end Gov. Paterson gets to make the call. And unless Teddy has plans on the table to strip future governors of that power -- enumerated in the 17th Amendment -- then all the whining in the world isn't going to change squat. Caroline isn't going to the Senate, so Uncle Teddy just needs to pipe down and accept the decision.

Publius II

Friday, January 23, 2009

Caroline out; Kirsten in

This broke late yesterday after the tit-for-tat between Governor David Paterson and Caroline Kennedy. He made a choice, and it wasn't Caroline. It's Kirsten Gillibrand from New York's 20th congressional district:

New York City television station WPIX is reporting tonight that the state's Democratic governor, David Paterson, has settled on Democratic Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand as the successor for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's now-vacant U.S. Senate seat.

Quoting unnamed sources, the station reported on its website moments ago (Hat Tip Don Surber) that the governor would make the announcement at noon Friday in Albany. He has reportedly invited the state's entire congressional delegation to attend then, but asked Gillibrand to arrive at 11.

The governor's office would not confirm or deny the report.

Gillibrand is a moderate Democrat, the 42-year-old mother of two young children who lives in Hudson, N.Y., and is in her second House term.

Most important, perhaps, for Paterson, Gillibrand (pronounced JILL-a-brand) gives him not only a female on his ticket in next year's statewide elections, when she must run to fill the remaining two years of Clinton's term; Gillibrand's also an upstater to balance the dominant downstate power of New Yorkers like himself and Clinton that arouses such traditional resentment in the north.

She's known as a Blue Dog Democrat, not always popular with liberals for her support of the National Rifle Assn. in her significantly rural 20th District, but said to be Clinton's favorite as her replacement.

Yes, she opposes gun control, and yes she's a Blue Dog. But she's for stem-cell research, same sex marriage, and opposes partially privatizing Social Security. She broke with former Governor Eliot Spitzer on giving driver's licenses to illegal aliens. She did, and still does support the Bush tax cuts, which will expire at the end of 2010.

Here is her page at On The Issues where she is labeled a Blue Dog conservative Democrat, but at the bottom of the page she is described as a populist leaning liberal.

Is she a good pick? Meh. Paterson could've done worse had he actually picked Caroline Kennedy because Kennedy has zero experience, and didn't really seem to take the job serious enough. She always seemed rather aloof, you know. Gillibrand might be better than Hillary was but we'll have to wait and see. At least this drama is over. Now if we could just finish up Minnesota and Delaware to have the full compliment of Senators.

Publius II

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Another child-sex exploiter in the UN?

When is the world going to wise up and realize the United Nations has outlived it's usefulness? They can't keep rogue regimes from working towards creating nuclear weapons. They cover up North Korea's counterfeit scandal. And don't get us started on the Oil-For-Food scandal.

But the sex scandals that have rocked the UN went virtually unnoticed by most people, unless you read blogs. The first one shocked people in 2004 when it was discovered that UN peacekeepers were engaged in child-sex exploitation. In 2005, the sites and cases expanded to other nations where peacekeepers were stationed. And today we have a new one breaking across the wires. Another player in the scandal has emerged and given his destination, the excuse doesn't wash:

A high-ranking human rights worker with ties to the United Nations was nabbed at Kennedy Airport Tuesday with kiddie porn in his suitcase, officials said.

Clarence Dias, 65, president of the International Center for Law in Development, whose offices are located at the UN, had the smut in his carry-on bag as he passed through security on his way to a flight bound for Bangkok, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Transportation Security Administration officials doing a random bag check around 8:20a.m. allegedly found a DVD whose cover featured an apparently underage nude boy and an adult male in Dias’ handbag, prosecutors said.

The video’s title - “Winner Pub Pattaya” - apparently refers to a beach resort in Thailand, authorities said. There were also other lewd photographs in the bag, authorities said.

Dias - who holds a doctorate in law from Bombay University and Cornell Law School and has taught at Boston College of Law - claimed the porn was for research, authorities said.

Folks, this piece of garbage was on his way to Thailand, which has a rampant child sex industry. Recently, the Thai government has begun turning these sickos away. They really started cracking down on pedophiles and child-sex crime offenders when they realized how out of control the exploitation has become. Captain Ed reminds us that even Gary "Pedophile" Glitter spent time in a Thai prison for his crimes and that was after London refused his return. There is no doubt that such an industry needs to be shut down and dismantled, and we praise the Thai authorities for the steps they've taken in an attempt to end the victimization of their children.

But this is yet another example of the uselessness of the United Nations. They coddle terrorists behind closed doors, has a large amount of diplomats that are anti-Semitic (or anti Israel, at the very least), and they sweep the sex scandals under the rug. One of our early columns for Common Conservative was an indictment of the UN; noting their failures, and touching on the peacekeeping scandals. This is an organization that should be shut down. Forget reform because it'll never be reformed. It needs to go the way of the League of Nations because that's how feckless -- and dangerous to the world as a whole -- this organization is.

Publius II

This is such a non-issue

It's not bad enough that the birth certificate truthers are still trying to flood lawsuits in federal court to get Obama removed as president (Um, forget it guys. It won't work, especially now that he's inaugurated) Captain Ed picks up on what is possibly the most asinine meme from yesterday that is making the rounds through the 'Sphere and punditocracy today.

Obama flubbed the oath of office, so is he really president?

First off, Obama didn't screw it up. Chief Justice John Roberts did. This is the oath enumerated in the Constitution:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Here is the transcript of the flub, via Little Green Footballs. There is also a video of it at this link:

ROBERTS: Are you prepared to take the oath, Senator?
OBAMA: I am.
ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama...
OBAMA: I, Barack...
ROBERTS: ... do solemnly swear...
OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear...
ROBERTS: ... that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully...
OBAMA: ... that I will execute...
ROBERTS: ... faithfully the office of president of the United States...
OBAMA: ... the office of president of the United States faithfully...
ROBERTS: ... and will to the best of my ability...
OBAMA: ... and will to the best of my ability...
ROBERTS: ... preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
OBAMA: ... preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
ROBERTS: So help you God?
OBAMA: So help me God.
ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.

Obama's lone mistake was jumping the gun in the beginning. It was Chief Justice Roberts (bolded above) that made the mistakes. But the question is does this make him the legal president? The Constitution says that before he takes office, he must swear to the oath. IF Chief Justice Roberts believed that there was a legal issue at stake, he would have readministered at a different time. But this isn't going to prevent him from being president.

This is literally a non-issue. I criticize Chris Wallace for even raising the concern on FOX News, as if this is somehow newsworthy. It's not. It makes no difference. And should someone choose to file suit that he's not, what are they going to do when the high court refuses to grant them certiorari? Will they whine and cry like the Berg-bots who are claiming the Supreme Court isn't doin it's duty to uphold the Constitution? Please. Get a life already.

Publius II

Good morning Mr. President

OK, we gave him his day yesterday. (Thanks to all the e-mailers accusing me of drinking the Obama kool-aid yesterday. Today you now have egg on your face.) Today is a brand new day. I figured I'd give the new president a quickie briefing. And just scanning some headlines I see my warning yesterday is more than true. He does have quite a bit on his plate.

Mr. President, France is saying they will send no further soldiers to Afghanistan. French Defense Minister Herve Morin claims they've sent their fair share there. As an unofficial adviser, I'd suggest a phone call to President Sarkozy.

Additionally the Gaza saga continues as Palestinian smuggling tunnels have been reopened which has Israel quite nervous considering it was revealed yesterday that Iran will try to rearm Hamas with longer range rockets.

At the behest of the Congoese government Rwandan troops have entered the Democratic Republic of Congo in an effort to deal with Hutu rebels. Yet more evidence that the Congoese government can't handle these rebels that have plagued them since 1994.

The "crackdown" on dissent in Russia has claimed another life in Stanislav Markelov. Markelov was a human rights lawyer fighting to keep a criminal in jail, and worked regularly with underground reporters working to expose the criminal corruption of the current Russian government. His murder was very professional; a single gunshot to the head.

North Korea is screaming for attention again claiming that they've "weaponized" plutonium into warheads. We can joke about Kim Jong-Il being "so ronery" but this little runt needs to be dealt with decisively.

Closer to home violence along the US/Mexico border persists as the drug cartels continue to wreak havoc against government soldiers and law enforcement personnel.

It appears that there might be a power struggle, of sorts, between Hamas and Fatah in the wake of Operation Cast Lead with both sides accusing the other of holding back humanitarian aid, and Hamas taking retribution on Fatah leaders they believed were collaborating with the IDF.

And, Mr. President, Israel's problems are far from over as Hezbollah is now threatening to strike from the Lebanese border to mark the anniversary of the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh with terrorism.

Oh, and former CIA chief James Woolsey has a small piece of advice for you -- think like your enemy does.

And your poll of the day is that a majority of Americans don't want to see Gitmo closed and many people aren't fond of your idea to halt the Gitmo trials.

Bus drivers in Pakistan are being threatened with suicide bombings by the Taliban should those drivers play music or videos for their passengers. Your Secretary of State nominee -- currently being held up by Senator Cronyn -- is advising that you send Rodney King to Pakistan as an envoy so he can teach them "how to get along."

Finally, the Iranians are not happy with you and you've yet to do anything concerning them. Furthermore, 100,000 hardline students in Iran have signed up, and are enthusiastic about, martyrdom operations in Gaza against the IDF.

That ends your briefing this morning Mr. President. Remember, the only easy day was yesterday. Good luck.

Publius II

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Iran not sitting on it's laurels

Yeah, I know. That's hardly news, right? I mean, we all know they're working as fast as they can to create a nuclear weapon, so what's the title mean. It means what Captain Ed links to. From the J-Post today on Iran's collaboration with Hamas after an embarrassing defeat:

Iran has renewed efforts to supply advanced weaponry to Hamas and the IDF is concerned that the terror group will try to smuggle long-range Fajr missiles into the Gaza Strip.

According to the latest intelligence assessments, Iran, which was responsible for writing Hamas's military doctrine, has already launched an internal probe to determine how the plan it had created for Hamas failed to cause more IDF casualties.

The military plan created by the Iranians was based on three pillars: The first was the defensive measures that Hamas had created in Gaza, which included dozens of kilometers of tunnels and thousands of roadside bombs and booby-trapped homes.

The second pillar was rocket attacks against the home front. Here too, Hamas failed to fire rockets farther than 40 kilometers, even though it had planned to.

The third pillar was creating a "victory image" in the form of a burned-out tank or the abduction of an IDF soldier.

"Hamas thought it would succeed like Hizbullah did in 2006," a senior defense official said.

The IDF is concerned that Hamas and Iran will try to smuggle long-range Fajr missiles into the Gaza Strip. Fajr missiles, manufactured in Iran, have a range of 70 km. and if fired from Gaza would easily reach Tel Aviv.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that renewed weapons smuggling would be legitimate grounds for Israel to renew attacks against Hamas.

While the Fajr is large - 10 meters in length compared to the two-meter Grads - it is believed that it would be possible to smuggle the rockets into Gaza after it was disassembled into several components and via a tunnel dug especially large for the purpose.

Iran's not happy with Hamas. Remember that when Hamas was mulling a cease-fire, Iran warned them not to do it, lest they lose support from the regime in Tehran. That would have had more teeth behind it had they gotten Hezbollah involved in the recent dust-up. But Hezbollah stayed out of it. Our best guess is they saw how intent the Israelis were about rendering justice on Hamas.

But this is just one thing sitting on the new president's place. Not only do we have to deal with them over their nuclear program, but we have to deal with them in how they are interfering with allies of ours. And remember that this isn't the only realm that Iran is involved in. They are still trying to work that old black magic in Iraq. People jumped all over McCain when he stated that Iran was helping to train al Qaeda operatives but the record is there for people to see that Iran has been working with some very nasty people. (Yes, we get the whole Sunni/Shiite thing but this has been proven before, in Iraq, with al Sadr's groups working with Zarqawi's AQ guys -- before the latter reached room temperature -- showing that "the enemy of my enemy is my ally" is far more prevalent than people will admit.)

This story should concern those in the Israeli government. Tzipi Livni is right to stand firm in doing the best job possible to stop the smuggling of these weapons. And the government should also warn Hamas that if they utilize those rockets that there will be no quarter given when they go back into Gaza. And stories like this remind me of a recent Michael Ramirez cartoon epitomizing the stupidity of Hamas.

Of course we could have told people this was coming. Hamas only uses cease-fires and truces to restock their depleted armaments and ammunition. On occasion when they've had a lengthy one, they come back with new toys, and Israel almost always strikes back. And after kicking Hamas' @$$ again, they go to another round of cease-fires. This is quite predictable. The easiest way for Israel to end this is to destroy the organization, and it starts with striking Iran in retribution for them arming these animals.

That day is coming, and if we were in the mullahs' sandals in Tehran, we'd be rather concerned. Not that they'll be the target of an attack, but rather what sort of attack will it be? How decisive will the strike be?

Publius II

Goodbye 43; Hello 44

As conservatives, we are celebrating today. No, not because Bush is leaving and Obama is coming in, but because the inauguration is a celebration in and of itself. Imagine the world watching us as we peacefully transition from one leader to another -- with plenty of pomp and circumstance to gag the odd onlooker -- as we have for 232 years.

We say goodbye to President George W. Bush, and unlike the Left and some grumbling Republicans, we thank him for the efforts and success in his eight years in office. Tax cuts that spurned the economy to record heights; Preventing further attacks against the United States, and her allies; Pushing through much-needed reforms in the federal government; Two superb Supreme Court jurists; Victory in a theater of war where all was thought to be lost. And he did it all without engaging in the mudslinging that Democrats used consistently for eight years. Thank you Mr. President. God bless you, and godspeed on your next step in life.

To the incoming president, Barack Obama, we urge humility and tenaciousness. He is coming into office in the midst of a financial meltdown the likes of which we haven't seen since the late 1980s. (Contrary to some Chicken Littles out there, this is not on par with the Great Depression.) He also comes into office amidst a world in chaos. In Russia we hear the sabers rattling towards their former satellite nations. In North Korea, they are feverishly continuing work on their own nuclear arsenal. In Iran similar things are going on behind closed doors, and those machinations are making the region very nervous. If Afghanistan we are facing what is slowly becoming a quagmire, and one that's not by our own doing. Because over in Pakistan, their nation is divided between the moderates who want a democracy, and the radicals that want an Islamic fundamentalist nation. In Latin America we have dictators that are swinging back towards the socialism that gripped that region in the late 70's and throughout the 80's. And looming on the horizon is China.

The incoming president has a full plate in front of him. And like it or not, he is our president. We didn't vote for him. We don't particularly like him. We don't really trust him much. And we know damn well that his incompetence might even be worse than Jimmy Carter's was. But he is our president. He's going to have successes in office and he will have failures. But we're not like the rest of the knee-jerk Republicans out there wishing that his term in office is one failure after another. Why? Let me be clear about this answer so there isn't a shred of ambiguity.

He needs to succeed because if he doesn't WE, the people of the United States, will be the ones paying the ultimate price.

If he fails to keep this nation as secure as it has been post-11 September, we will be the ones who bear the brunt of any attack.

If he fails to stabilize the financial markets, then it will be us who feel the pinch, as we are right now.

If he fails to appoint federal judges who adhere to the rule of law, and instead make things up as they go along, then we will be the ones who suffer the consequences.

Get the picture? He's not going to suffer from any of that. We will. We're the little people out here that all those failures will reflect upon.

So, enough of the petulant behavior. We're sick of it. Acting like babies because our guy didn't win makes us look no better than the Left did after the election in 2000. Remember all the petulant brats then? Those that claimed Bush stole the election, that the Supreme Court made the final choice? Do we really want to act like them? Siting in a chatroom at night, we still get liberals coming in and whining about the 2000 election. Give it a rest already.

This goes especially to those who just won't let up on the birth certificate issue. The latest suit will be in conference on 23 January before the Supreme Court, and I can tell you already it won't be granted certiorari; it will not be granted an oral argument. They're going to toss it as they have tossed the others. The birth certificate meme didn't work, and frankly those pushing this are idiots. Why? Because if they wanted to make this case they had plenty of time during the primaries to do so, and stop Obama then. But they didn't. They waited until after the election to do this. There is no truth to the accusation Barack Obama isn't a natural-born citizen. Yes he is. Deal with it. Man-up and move on, or shut up because we're tired of the antics.

We wish President Barack Obama all the best. We hope he does do well as president. At the very least, we hope he keeps this nation protected and secure. Now, does this mean that we've caught "hopenchange" fever? Hardly. Does this mean we're going to roll over, like the Republicans in Congress have, and give Obama everything he wants? Not bloody likely. He's the president, and he is owed the respect his office deserves, but we are going to fight him every step of the way over these next four years. When he screws up, he'll hear from us. When he proposes some sweeping new socialist idea, we'll melt down the Capitol Hill switchboard demanding our elected representatives oppose it.

Fall for this shyster? Hell no. We need to stand together and give this man fits for the next four years. We won't interfere in anything that will benefit this nation, but anything that is detrimental to it -- that is 180 degrees contrary to the Founding Father's vision -- is fair game, and we'll come out with guns blazing.

So, goodbye and godspeed to President Bush. You will be missed. Hello to President Obama. Get ready sparky, because you're about to get an education on what it means to be a leader.

Publius II

So our enemy is harmless? They're on the ropes?

There is a problem with armchair quarterbacks. They know as much about that which they speak as they do a hole in the ground. A lot of people who like to click their tongues and claim our enemy has been vanquished seem to think that they know all there is to know about al Qaeda, and that AQI's defeat in Iraq was enough to finish the terrorist group off.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Al Qaeda is in North Africa, in Asia, is still within the heart of the Middle East, and even in Europe. They're not dead and gone. They're wounded, and nothing more. And in today's Washington Times, Eli Lake looks at their continued efforts to gain a WMD:

The official, who spoke on the condition he not be named because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said he could not confirm press reports that the accident killed at least 40 al Qaeda operatives, but he said the mishap led the militant group to shut down a base in the mountains of Tizi Ouzou province in eastern Algeria.

He said authorities in the first week of January intercepted an urgent communication between the leadership of al Qaeda in the Land of the Maghreb (AQIM) and al Qaeda's leadership in the tribal region of Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan. The communication suggested that an area sealed to prevent leakage of a biological or chemical substance had been breached, according to the official.

"We don't know if this is biological or chemical," the official said. ...

Al Qaeda is believed by U.S. and Western experts to have been pursuing biological weapons since at least the late 1990s. A 2005 report on unconventional weapons drafted by a commission led by former Sen. Charles Robb, Virginia Democrat, and federal appeals court Judge Laurence Silberman concluded that al Qaeda's biological weapons program "was extensive, well organized and operated two years before the Sept. 11" terror attacks in the U.S.

Another report from the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation, released in December, warned that "terrorists are more likely to be able to obtain and use a biological weapon than a nuclear weapon."

British authorities in January 2003 arrested seven men they accused of producing a poison from castor beans known as ricin. British officials said one of the suspects had visited an al Qaeda training camp. In the investigation into the case, British authorities found an undated al Qaeda manual on assassinations with a recipe for making the poison.

The late leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi, was suspected of developing ricin in northern Iraq. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell referred to the poison in his presentation to the U.N. Security Council in February 2003 that sought to lay the groundwork for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Roger Cressey, a former senior counterterrorism official at the National Security Council under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, told The Washington Times that al Qaeda has had an interest in acquiring a poisons capability since the late 1990s.

"This is something that al Qaeda still aspires to do, and the infrastructure to develop it does not have to be that sophisticated," he said.

This is something that needs to be drilled into everyone's head. Al Qaeda isn't done, by a long shot, in this war. They still want to hurt us, and our Western allies. They still want to punish the Western world for it's decadent ways, for not turning to Islam, for resisting them. Now everyone knows that al Qaeda has tried it's hardest to acquire a nuclear weapon, and they haven't gotten one (thank God) yet, and with a little luck they'll never get one.

But that doesn't mean they're not open to trying to get their mitts on another WMD. Why something like a weaponized bubonic plague? Because by the time it's released, and people are infected, locating "Patient Zero" will be nearly impossible, and Ground Zero wold be devastating. Why? Because, as Mr. Lake points out above, it spreads like wildfire.

Anyone recall the Iraqi document dump in 2004 where our soldiers brought back tons and tons of documents from Mukhbarat headquarters? We do because we were among a group of bloggers going through those records until the NY Times blew the lid off of that. (They reported that those files contained schematics for a nuclear warhead.) In those records was evidence that Saddam Hussein had been working on biological and chemical weapons. Among these weapons was something known as "blackpox." That is a hybrid strain of Ebola and smallpox. And while the symptoms of infection mirror that of the flu at first, it quickly becomes apparent that it is anything but the flu.

Let's face facts, folks. They don't even need something like the plague or "blackpox." If they were to release something as simple as smallpox, they could unleash an epidemic not seen since 18th Century Europe. But the simple fact that they are looking to these weapons speaks a great deal on their resilience and determination to keep this fight up.

That means we can't let our guard down on these animals. They're still out there, and they still want to hurt us in ways we can only imagine.

HT to Hugh Hewitt

Publius II