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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 In Review -- Politically Speaking That Is.

"Count[ing]Down" 2008. Watch Video.

So Much For That Governorship, "Sir Charles". But, Isn't Bad Behavior How You Get Elected In The First Place? Make Sure You Read The "Oral" Report.

It Is Time For The Person For The Year: POTUS Barack Obama.

Any questions?

Oh, BTW, in Kentucky, we pick Senator Mitch McConnell -- the comeback kid -- who withstood all manners of opposition and year long attempts to "ditch Mitch" and convinced a majority of voters to "stick with Mitch", as Kentucky's Person For the Year.

Yes, again, any questions?


Bob Woodward On President Bush's Legacy. Watch Video.

"This Year Saw The End Of An Illusion."

The 'Market' Isn't So Wise After All
This year saw the end of an illusion.


As I read the last tranche of disastrous news stories from this catastrophic year, I found myself thinking back to the old days when it all seemed to work, when everyone agreed what made an economy go and the stock market raced and the commentators and economists and politicians of the world stood as one under the boldly soaring banner of laissez-faire.

In particular, I remembered that quintessential work of market triumphalism, "The Lexus and the Olive Tree," by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. It was published in the glorious year 1999, and in those days, it seemed, every cliché was made of gold: the brokerage advertisements were pithy, the small investors were mighty, and the deregulated way was irresistibly becoming the global way.

In one anecdote, Mr. Friedman described a visit to India by a team from Moody's Investor Service, a company that carried the awesome task of determining "who is pursuing sound economics and who is not." This was shortly after India had tested its nuclear weapons, and the idea was that such a traditional bid for power counted for little in this globalized age; what mattered was making political choices of which the market approved, with organizations like Moody's sifting out the hearts of nations before its judgment seat. In the end, Moody's "downgraded India's economy," according to Mr. Friedman, because it disapproved of India's politics.

And who makes sure that Moody's and its competitors downgrade what deserves to be downgraded? In 1999 the obvious answer would have been: the market, with its fantastic self-regulating powers.

But something went wrong on the road to privatopia. If everything is for sale, why shouldn't the guardians put themselves on the block as well? Now we find that the profit motive, unleashed to work its magic within the credit-rating agencies, apparently exposed them to pressure from debt issuers and led them to give high ratings to the mortgage-backed securities that eventually blew the economy to pieces.

And so it has gone with many other shibboleths of the free-market consensus in this tragic year.

For example, it was only a short while ago that simply everyone knew deregulation to be the path to prosperity as well as the distilled essence of human freedom. Today, though, it seems this folly permitted a 100-year flood of fraud. Consider the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), the subject of a withering examination in the Washington Post last month. As part of what the Post called the "aggressively deregulatory stance" the OTS adopted toward the savings and loan industry in the years of George W. Bush, it slashed staff, rolled back enforcement, and came to regard the industry it was supposed to oversee as its "customers." Maybe it's only a coincidence that some of the biggest banks -- Washington Mutual and IndyMac -- ever to fail were regulated by that agency, but I doubt it.

Or consider the theory, once possible to proffer with a straight face, that lavishing princely bonuses and stock options on top management was a good idea since they drew executives' interests into happy alignment with those of the shareholders. Instead, CEOs were only too happy to gorge themselves and turn shareholders into bag holders. In the subprime mortgage industry, bankers handed out iffy loans like candy at a parade because such loans meant revenue and, hence, bonuses for executives in the here-and-now. The consequences would be borne down the line by the suckers who bought mortgage-backed securities. And, of course, by the shareholders.

At Washington Mutual, the bank that became most famous for open-handed lending, incentives lined the road to hell. According to the New York Times, realtors received fees from the bank for bringing in clients, mortgage brokers got "handsome commissions for selling the riskiest loans," and the CEO raked in $88 million from 2001 to 2007, before the outrageous risks of the scheme cratered the entire enterprise.

Today we stand at the end of a long historical stretch in which laissez-faire was glorified as gospel and the business community got almost its entire wish list granted by the state. To show its gratitude, the finance industry then stampeded us all over a cliff.

To be sure, some of the preachers of the old-time religion now admit the error of their ways. Especially remarkable is Alan Greenspan's confession of "shocked disbelief" on discovering how reality differed from holy writ.

But by and large the free-market medicine men seem determined to learn nothing from this awful year. Instead they repeat their incantations and retreat deeper into their dogma, generating endless schemes in which government is to blame, all sin originates with the Community Reinvestment Act, and the bailouts for which their own flock is desperately bleating can do nothing but harm.

And they wait for things to return to normal, without realizing that things already have.

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"Let Detroit Build Profitable Cars".

Let Detroit Build Profitable Cars
UAW chief Ron Gettelfinger doesn't seem to get the picture. Let's help him.


In the continuing battle over Detroit, UAW chief Ron Gettelfinger doesn't seem to get the picture. Let's help him.

With shareholders virtually wiped out and debt holders taking a massive haircut, labor is the only stakeholder with anything left to lose. Even a friendly Obama administration will have to acknowledge this. But there is an alternative that would at least take some of the pressure off wages and benefits -- and that's freeing auto makers to build cars for a profit rather than to meet regulatory mandates.

Like all regulatory schemes, Congress's hallowed Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules froze in place a conception of the auto industry as it appeared to the simple minds of Congress in the early 1970s, when three manufacturers dominated the U.S. market, making full lines of vehicles. Today, more than 25 companies sell vehicles here, and the corollary of such diversity, normally, is specialization.

The Big Three, left to their own devices, would surely specialize in those vehicles on which they make money -- i.e., those with hefty price tags and markups relative to their man-hour content. Even at the peak of gas prices, half the vehicles sold in the U.S. were light trucks. In November, amid a collapsed home construction industry and with $4 gasoline fresh in mind, what were the two top sellers? Pickups by Ford and Chevy -- and the Dodge Ram was No. 7.

Shouldn't this be telling us something about how to make the Big Three "viable"?

The fuel-economy rules apply equally to foreign brands, of course, some of which also specialize in big, powerful vehicles. But they afford themselves an out. BMW paid $230 million in CAFE fines from 1983 to 2007 to avoid building small cars at a loss to please Washington. Volvo paid $56 million. Daimler paid $55 million.

Why don't the Big Three take this out? Explains the Government Accountability Office, because they fear the political repercussions of being tagged with "unlawful conduct."

They must be laughing up their sleeves in Stuttgart, having unloaded Chrysler in the nick of time. Democrats had just taken over Congress the previous November, vowing tough new mileage standards. One week before the Chrysler sale, candidate Barack Obama gave an environmental speech harshly critical of the Detroit auto makers. Three weeks after, the Big Three ran up the white flag and agreed not to oppose new fuel economy rules.

This year, Daimler paid one of the biggest CAFE fines ever, $30 million -- or $118 per car, a pittance to Mercedes buyers. By dumping Chrysler, meanwhile, it avoided its share of an estimated $100 billion in unremunerative investments the Big Three will have to make to meet the new fuel-mileage rules.

Mr. Gettelfinger's should be the loudest voice calling for an end to CAFE, an idiotic scheme that has done little to reduce gasoline demand or oil imports. Flexibility to build cars for a profit couldn't help but benefit all of Detroit's stakeholders, including a UAW struggling to preserve an island of high-wage manufacturing (à la Mercedes's German workers) inside what would at least have the possibility of becoming healthy Detroit-based global competitors.

Yes, at the end of the day, the 1935 Wagner Act is still to blame for the auto makers' predicament. But it's misguided to think Sen. Bob Corker (or a new "car czar," or some group hug of Detroit "stakeholders," or even a bankruptcy judge) can fix the problem with a one-time settlement.

For one thing, the Wagner Act would still exist. And altogether too stick-figure is the reasoning that Detroit must match the wages and benefits of the foreign transplants to become "viable." Even the transplants don't match the transplants, as evidenced by new factories from Honda and Kia with starting wages about half those of existing foreign-owned plants. That doesn't mean Toyota and Nissan will be going out of business.

Of course we're wasting our breath here. Mr. Gettelfinger and his union are creatures of government. They can only see one way forward -- a wan hope that Washington will fork up unlimited billions to subsidize both green cars and UAW wages and benefits. Anyone who seriously sizes up the demands being made on the federal budget these days knows this is crazy. Mr. Gettelfinger ought to know it too.

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Here's Something To Make Many Happy: Oil Prices Drop To $37, From July's High Of $147 Per Barrel.

Read more here.


This IS F-u-n-n-y, Thanks To Joel Pett.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Illinois' Embattled Governor, Rod "Political Thug" Blagojevich, Gives ALL A "Finger", Appoints "Good And Honest Man" Roland Burris U. S. Senator.

So can the other U. S. Senators refuse to sit Blago's choice?

Well, Article 1, Section 5 of the Constitution says: "Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members . . ." Additionally, the Constitution provides that “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two-thirds, expel a Member."

So "there’s nothing constitutionally that would require them to accept the appointment". "But if they would say no and not seat him, a lawsuit would likely be filed, and it would probably work its way up to the United States Supreme Court -- as did the case of Adam Clayton Powell."

In 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the House of Representatives had no authority to exclude Rep. Adam Clayton Powell (D-N.Y.), who had been accused of ethics violations but had been re-elected to his congressional seat.

The Court initially believed that it did not have the constitutional authority to intervene in the case – but then-Chief Justice Earl Warren insisted it did.

"They ultimately decided that they did, and held that Congress only had the right to decide if a prospective member was of legal age – that kind of thing".

So can the Senate refuse to sit Illinois' next Senator?

I say: NOT likely, without a two-thirds majority.

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STOP The Presses And Alert The IDIOTS: POTUS Barack Obama Is Wearing His Cap Backwards. That Must Be A Muslim Signal Of Some Sort! Oh, My!!

Yes, America, as we know it, is no more.


We're All Bernie Madoff?

Swindler extraordinaire
By Eugene Robinson

WASHINGTON -- For anyone taking stock of 2008, Barack Obama is the inevitable choice as Person of the Year. But he's not the only American whose story suggests that this thrilling, dramatic, unforgettable year will be seen as a demarcation of grand historical eras, a bright line between yesterday and tomorrow. My choice for runner-up is Bernard Madoff.

In a sense, we're all Bernie Madoff. We've been running our economy in accordance with his accounting principles for a generation -- and now we face a most unpleasant reckoning.

As everyone knows by now, Madoff -- once one of the most respected financiers on Wall Street -- stands accused of being perhaps the biggest swindler in history. Before his arrest earlier this month, he reportedly told his sons that he had defrauded investors of up to $50 billion. He allegedly followed the playbook written more than eight decades ago by the elegant grifter Charles Ponzi, who used money from new investors to pay juicy returns to old investors. That works fine for a while, but every Ponzi scheme eventually collapses in ruin.

Wall Street veterans recall how investors once begged to be allowed to invest their money with Madoff. Unlike Ponzi, he didn't promise to deliver flashy double-digit returns overnight. He "earned" his investors 1 percent or 2 percent a month, bull market or bear, rain or shine. Because he didn't overpromise, and because he limited his clientele, he was able to keep it going for decades.

Such steady gains, unsullied by the occasional bad year or disastrous quarter, are patently impossible. Some potential investors took one look at Madoff's operation and took a pass. Some of the millionaires, billionaires and professional money managers who unwisely gave their money to Madoff were guilty of allowing greed to overwhelm their powers of observation and reason.

But not all of Madoff's investors could have been in the dark. At least some must have realized how unlikely it was that he had developed some sort of Holy Grail strategy or technique that would always make money, no matter what the financial markets were doing. Some investors, I would wager, must have calculated that they could get in, get their return and get out before the whole thing fell apart.

Which makes me wonder how many of us had our eyes open when housing prices were soaring in Ponzi-like increments -- by 10 percent or more a year, in some parts of the country -- while middle-class incomes were largely stagnant. How many of us stopped to ask just who was supposed to be able to pay $1 million for a standard suburban split-level, even if it had an upgraded kitchen with a Sub-Zero fridge?

The whole subprime mortgage industry was based on the idea that housing prices would always rise. Given that assumption, it was perfectly rational for first-time homebuyers to sign up for adjustable-rate mortgages that they couldn't really afford. From the moment they signed the loan papers, they would be building equity -- through appreciation -- that soon would make it easy, and lucrative, to refinance or sell.

In other words: get in, get their return and get out before the whole thing fell apart.

I'm not saying that average Americans were as culpable as Wall Street in creating this financial and economic crisis; our sins were venial, whereas theirs were mortal. Madoff's alleged fraud was at least straightforward. Much worse was the creation of exotic "derivative" investment products that were bought and sold with enormous leverage -- products whose true value turned out to be impossible to ascertain. As long as real estate values kept rising, it didn't matter what these chimerical investments were worth. What mattered to Wall Street was the ability to collect enormous fees from real people, in real dollars, for trading unicorns and dragons.

After the bursting of the Internet bubble and the housing bubble, I think we're done with bubbles for a while. Obama's first challenge -- and it may take much of his first term -- is to get the economy back into a pattern of tangible, sustainable growth. He will be able to thank Madoff for giving us the simplest possible explanation of what we knew all along but chose to ignore: that there's still no such thing as a free lunch.

Eugene Robinson is a Washington Post columnist. His
e-mail address is

Laugh below:

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Senator Mitch McConnell Aims To "Hold Their Feet To The Fire". I'm Glad Someone is Doing So. Read More ...

... by following this link.

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SILLY Sarah Falin's Daughter, Bristol, Goes Trippin'. Read More.

Yes, read more here.

Watch news video below:

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Laugh Out Loud.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Some Are In Denial.

All I Wanted for Christmas Was a Newspaper
Bloggers are no replacement for real journalists.


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.

Mr. Farmer, who is now the Star-Ledger's editorial page editor, retold his experience of the old days a short while ago at a wake of sorts for departing colleagues. The paper has been losing money and might have had to shut its doors sometime early next year. So the drivers' and mailers' unions made contract concessions, and about 150 nonunion editorial staff took buyouts as part of an effort by the publisher to save the paper.

The Star-Ledger is among the 15 largest newspapers in America, and it circulates in some of the most prosperous suburbs of New York City. We are perhaps alone among the major papers in devoting extensive coverage to small-town news and sports. We routinely get scoops on what the Steinbrenners are thinking about the Yankees. And in 2005, the paper won the Pulitzer Prize for its sober coverage of Democrat Gov. Jim McGreevey's resignation after his admission to an adulterous affair with another man.

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.

The type of person who can't even keep track of the number of times the letter "N" appears in a two-syllable word is not the type of person who is going to offer great insight into complex issues. But the democratic urge expressed by Mr. Reynolds is not new. Someone is always heralding the rise of "the intellectual declaration of independence of the American people," as H.L. Mencken once put it.

In his 1920 essay "The National Letters," Mencken traced this sentiment back to the early days of our democracy. He noted how first Ralph Waldo Emerson and then Walt Whitman prophesized the rise of what Whitman termed "a class of native authors, literatuses, far different, far higher in grade than any yet known." Mencken was pessimistic about this prospect thanks to what he termed "the democratic distrust of whatever strikes beneath the prevailing platitudes."

I share that pessimism. Every time a new medium arises, a new group of avatars arises with it, assuring us of the wondrous effects it will produce for our democracy.

I encountered this back in the early 1970s in my communications classes at Rutgers. Cheap, portable video cameras had just been invented, and I was assured by the bearded professors and grad students that these cameras would lead to a rebirth of democracy. The citizenry would start recording public meetings and the result would be a revolution.

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.

After I got out of Rutgers, I began as a reporter at a newspaper in Ocean County, N.J. If the Toms River Regional Board of Education had not offered free coffee, I fear that I might have been found the next day curled up on the floor in the back of the room like Rip Van Winkle. As it was, I only made it through the endless stream of resolutions and speeches by employing trance-inducing techniques learned in my youth during religion class at St. Joseph's school up the street.

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.

This highlights the real flaw in the thinking of those who herald the era of citizen journalism. They assume newspapers are going out of business because we aren't doing what we in fact do amazingly well, which is to quickly analyze and report on complex public issues. The real reason they're under pressure is much more mundane. The Internet can carry ads more cheaply, particularly help-wanted and automotive ads.

So if you want a car or a job, go to the Internet. But don't expect that Web site to hire somebody to sit through town-council meetings and explain to you why your taxes will be going up. Soon, newspapers won't be able to do it either.

Over the past few weeks, I've watched a parade of top-notch reporters leave the Star-Ledger for the last time. The old model for compensating journalists is as obsolete as the telegraph. If anyone out there in the blogosphere can tell me what the new model is, I will pronounce him the first genius I've ever encountered on the Internet.

Mr. Mulshine is an opinion columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger.


Thomas A. Schweich: Obama's Task: Civilians Must Call The Shots.

We no longer have a civilian-led government. It is hard for a lifelong Republican and son of a retired Air Force colonel to say this, but the most unnerving legacy of the Bush administration is the encroachment of the Department of Defense into a striking number of aspects of civilian government. Our Constitution is at risk.

Go here to read more.

Alarming, indeed.

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Did You Miss Steve Kroft's 60 Minutes Report On POTUS Barack Obama? Well, Not Anymore. Watch Below.

Remembering Nathan, The Messenger Of God: Obama, Rick Warren And The Politics Of Prayer.

Obama, Rick Warren and the politics of prayer
By Cal Thomas

These days everything is political, or can be made so -- even an inaugural prayer.

That isn't exactly correct. The inaugural prayer in question is not the Rev. Joseph Lowery's benediction, but Rick Warren's invocation. Lowery favors same-sex "marriage," and Warren does not.

Homosexual activist groups and individuals such as Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., are angry, upset and hurt (and probably many other things, too) that Barack Obama would invite Warren to pray at the inaugural. Warren openly supported California's Proposition 8, which voters approved. The measure changed the state constitution to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Obama, so far, has stood by his choice, noting he favors much of the gay-rights agenda (though not marriage). Warren, too, felt the need to say "some of my best friends are ..." at a Dec. 20 event in Long Beach, Calif., sponsored by a Muslim organization. Warren tried to pacify gays opposed to him by saying how much he loves singer Melissa Etheridge, who is a lesbian. He said he owns all of her albums. He also said he loves Muslims, Jews and everyone else.

Warren has been dubbed the successor to evangelist Billy Graham, who has known every president since Harry Truman and counseled several of them. Graham could serve as an example to Warren of how to (and how not to) relate to presidents should he become even closer to President Obama.

All presidents want the cover of religion for their policies, and preachers, who are just as human as the rest of fallen humanity, are sometimes vain enough to think they can be unofficial advisors to the most powerful person on earth and not be compromised by him. The problem comes when the pastor and representative of another King and another Kingdom waters down his advice, or endorses bad decisions in order to maintain access to the president. People of different faiths -- or no faith -- and those with political objectives will seek to use the preacher not only to advance their agendas, but to get him to compromise his, which is primarily sharing a message not of this world.

Secretly recorded conversations between Graham and President Richard Nixon expose some of the dangers in such relationships. Graham told Nixon he thought the president should bomb the dikes in North Vietnam to help bring the war to an end.

In an embarrassing recording from early 1972, for which Graham later profusely apologized, the evangelist is heard volunteering to Nixon that the Jewish "stranglehold" on the media "has got to be broken or this country's going down the drain."

"You believe that?" asks Nixon.

"Yes, sir," replied Graham.

"Oh boy," said Nixon, "So do I. I can't ever say that but I believe it."

"If you get elected a second time," said Graham, "then we might be able to do something."

If Obama plans on having Warren as a presence in his presidency, Warren should seek to model himself more after Nathan the prophet. Nathan confronted King David over his affair with Bathsheba, whose husband, Uriah the Hittite, David sent to the front lines to ensure he would be killed so that David could have his wife. God sent Nathan to David. Nathan told David a story about a rich man who stole a poor man's lamb rather than take one from his own flock to feed a visitor. Nathan asked David what should happen to such a man. David replied, "That man should surely die." To which Nathan replied, "You are the man." (2 Samuel 12)

Nathan's confrontation led to David's repentance and one of the most beautiful Psalms ever written (Psalm 51). The point is that Nathan did not compromise Truth, but confronted David with what he had done wrong. How many modern preachers would confront a president like that? Probably not many if they wanted to maintain access.

I suspect Rick Warren knows these dangers, but what he could use are some people around him to say he's not as great as people might think. Checks and balances are not only good in government, they are also helpful to people who ascend to high places. No one is above the temptations of pride, including preachers who pray at inaugurals and possibly in the White House.

Cal Thomas is a columnist with Tribune Media Services. His e-mail address is

Editor's comment: While I profess to harbor a liking for both POTUS Barack Obama (particularly for his love of my Hero, Abraham Lincoln) and Reverend Rick Warren, I must suggest both listen to Cal Thomas' sage advise about Nathan, the messenger and David, the "Apple of God's eye", of God, for which I say "AMEN, Brother Cal".

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Below is Your Every Monday Redbox Movie Promo Code. Enjoy.

On a slow newsday, and while recuperating from all that Christmas binging, and while at work wishing you were someplace else, like at home enjoying a good movie, we bring you relief in the form of a free movie.

So use the code below and enjoy the doldrums.

Here is your code: 545DZ9



"Theodore Roosevelt Was No Conservative".

Theodore Roosevelt Was No Conservative
There's a reason he left the GOP to lead the Progressive Party.


We know that Barack Obama and his allies identify themselves as "progressives," and that they aim to implement the big-government liberalism that originated in America's Progressive Era and was consummated in the New Deal. What remains a mystery is why some conservatives want to claim this progressive identity as their own -- particularly as it was manifested by Theodore Roosevelt.

The fact that conservative politicians such as John McCain and writers like William Kristol and Karl Rove are attracted to our 26th president is strange because, if we want to understand where in the American political tradition the idea of unlimited, redistributive government came from, we need look no further than to Roosevelt and others who shared his outlook.

Progressives of both parties, including Roosevelt, were the original big-government liberals. They understood full well that the greatest obstacle to their schemes of social justice and equality of material condition was the U.S. Constitution as it was originally written and understood: as creating a national government of limited, enumerated powers that was dedicated to securing the individual natural rights of its citizens, especially liberty of contract and private property.

It was the Republican TR, who insisted in his 1910 speech on the "New Nationalism" that there was a "general right of the community to regulate" the earning of income and use of private property "to whatever degree the public welfare may require it." He was at one here with Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who had in 1885 condemned Americans' respect for their Constitution as "blind worship," and suggested that his countrymen dedicate themselves to the Declaration of Independence by leaving out its "preface" -- i.e., the part of it that establishes the protection of equal natural rights as the permanent task of government.

In his "Autobiography," Roosevelt wrote that he "declined to adopt the view that what was imperatively necessary for the nation could not be done by the President unless he could find some specific authorization to do it." The national government, in TR's view, was not one of enumerated powers but of general powers, and the purpose of the Constitution was merely to state the narrow exceptions to that rule.

This is a view of government directly opposed by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 84. Hamilton explains there that the fundamental difference between a republican constitution and a monarchic one is that the latter reserves some liberty for the people by stating specific exceptions to the assumed general power of the crown, whereas the former assumes from the beginning that the power of the people is the general rule, and the power of the government the exception.

TR turns this on its head. In his New Nationalism speech he noted how, in aiming to use state power to bring about economic equality, the government should permit a man to earn and keep his property "only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community." The government itself of course would determine what represented a benefit to the community, and whether society would be better off if an individual's wealth was transferred to somebody else.

We can see the triumph of this outlook in progressive income taxation, which TR trumpeted in his speech (along with progressive estate taxes). We may also see this theory in action when a government seizes private property through eminent domain, transferring it to others in order to generate higher tax revenues -- a practice blessed by the Supreme Court in its notorious Kelo v. New London decision of 2005.

Some conservatives today are misled by the battle between TR and Wilson in the 1912 presidential election. But Wilson implemented most of TR's program once he took office in 1913, including a progressive income tax and the establishment of several regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission.

Others are misled by TR's crusade against an activist judiciary. But unlike our courts today, the judiciary during the Progressive era properly struck down legislation that violated our bedrock rights to liberty of contract and private property. TR hated the judiciary precisely for standing up for the Constitution; this is certainly no reason for conservatives today to latch on to his antijudicial rhetoric.

Many who respect individual liberty and the free market believe that the electoral tide has turned, and that an era of big government is inevitable. But recall that John McCain gained traction in the closing days of his campaign only when he attacked Mr. Obama's desire to "spread the wealth" through higher tax rates on the upper-income earners. His attack clearly resonated among the public. But it came too late, and truth be told, his heart wasn't really in it.

Looking ahead, conservatives hardly need to look back to progressives for inspiration. If there is a desire to "conserve" or restore something about our political tradition that has been lost with the rise of modern liberalism, how about the American founding as a model? It is with the founders that we can find the patriotic promotion of America as an exceptionally great nation -- a notion that attracts some conservatives to TR.

The difference is that, with the founders as a model, we get the idea of American greatness, but without the progressives' assault on the very enduring principles that justify America's claim to greatness in the first place.

Mr. Pestritto is the Shipley Professor of the American Constitution at Hillsdale College and a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute. Among his books are "Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005).

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Let's Laugh Some.


Words To Live By.

"The virtues of men are of more consequence to society than their abilities; and for this reason, the heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head."

--Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America, 1788


Sunday, December 28, 2008

George Will: American Czars.

American Czars
by George Will

WASHINGTON -- In 1966, the price of eggs rose to a level that President Lyndon Johnson judged, God knows how, was too high. There were two culprits -- supply and demand -- and Johnson's agriculture secretary told him there was not much that could be done. LBJ, however, was a can-do fellow who directed the U.S. surgeon general to dampen demand by warning the nation about the hazards of cholesterol in eggs.

Johnson, the last president with a direct political connection to Franklin Roosevelt, was picked by FDR in 1935 to be Texas director of the New Deal's National Youth Administration. Two years later, Johnson came to Congress, a rung on the ladder that led to glory as Egg Czar. Today, with Washington experiencing a Roosevelt revival, Johnson's spirit, too, goes marching on as the federal government permeates the economy with politics.

Or not. In an interview with Business Week, Rep. Barney Frank, the effervescent Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the Financial Services Committee, was asked, concerning the auto industry, "How do you make sure the government doesn't meddle too deeply in day-to-day operations and bring politics -- like a push for green cars -- into the equation?" Frank replied: "Oh, well, a push for green cars is very much a part of what we're involved in. We don't think that's politics." So, when the government, its 10 thumbs stuck deep in the economy, uses its power to compel an industry to pursue the objectives of the political party that controls both of the government's political branches, that is not politics.

Business Week: "Should GM acquire Chrysler?" Frank: "I'm not competent to say." Frank's humility is selective: He obviously thinks he is competent to say what kind of cars should be made.

Business Week: "Does Congress realize how few hybrids have been sold, as it pushes Detroit to make them, and will Congress give consumers greater incentives to buy these cars?" Frank: Those who are "blaming the auto companies forget to blame somebody else -- the consumers. In the recorded history of America, no one was ever forced at gunpoint to buy a Hummer. But we do believe that the combination of genuine concern about global warming and energy efficiency means people are now ready to buy these cars." Consumers are such a disappointment to Congress. But what Congress really believes is that people are not ready to buy those cars at a price that reflects the costs of making them. Why else has it voted tax subsidies for buyers?

Forty years ago, Vietnam was a disaster and the Great Society was a disappointment as Johnson limped back to Texas. Today, there is more Johnsonian confidence in government's competence than at any time since Johnson's policies shattered such confidence. The resurgence of confidence began under today's Texan president.

The 1996 Republican platform said: "The federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in school curricula. ... That is why we will abolish the Department of Education (and) end federal meddling in our schools." One year ago, the Department of Education announced: "U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today honored President Lyndon Baines Johnson in a ceremony officially renaming the U.S. Department of Education Building ... as the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building."

The domestic achievement for which George W. Bush will be most remembered, the 2001 No Child Left Behind law, was the seventh reauthorization of LBJ's 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which brought the federal government heavily into primary and secondary education. NCLB requires states to define "proficiency" in reading and math, and achieve 100 percent proficiency by 2014.

Frederick M. Hess, director of education policies studies at the American Enterprise Institute, notes that unless the "proficiency" standards are risible, the goal is delusional.

It is ironic, Hess writes, that 50 states establishing divergent standards -- the decentralized approach Republicans demanded -- have sparked demands for centralization, in the form of national standards, a decade after congressional Republicans opposed President Bill Clinton's plan for voluntary national standards.

Furthermore, Hess notes, there has been striking dissonance between Republican resistance to race-conscious government policies, and NCLB "requiring states to identify every student by race and then report test scores -- and impose sanctions -- on that basis." The Johnsonian attributes of NCLB, which Hess says include "Great Society-style ambition and race-conscious rhetoric," suggest that the Egg Czar, who also was the first National School Superintendent, would feel right at home in a Washington where he could be Automotive Engineer in Chief.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Kentucky's Mike Duncan Shines, Repudiates A "Chip" Of The Old Republican Party "Block".

Check it out on the Politico.

I guess for some Republicans, you can take them out of the gutter of politics, but you can't take gutter politics out of them.

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Here We Go Again -- Gaza Strip[ping].

After Celebrating The Birth Of Christ, We Re-Visit EVIL!

Informant recalls fear of spying on Klan
Klan mole provided information to FBI
By Chris Kenning

Dave Hall recalls the spring night in 1999 when he was jolted from bed at the Kentucky headquarters of the Imperial Klans of America and found Imperial Wizard Ron Edwards looming over him -- a shotgun in one hand and a Bible in the other.

Hall said Edwards, flanked by fellow white supremacist Kale Kelly, began quizzing him about Judas' betrayal of Jesus, asking, "So what do you think about Judas?"

Though he was wearing an FBI wire at the time -- and would go on later to provide information that foiled an alleged assassination plot and result in Kelly's arrest -- Hall said he managed to defuse the situation.

But he still recalls the terror of that moment, and he said he was shocked recently to see Kelly testify as a prosecution witness in a recent case against Edwards that played out in a Meade County, Ky., courtroom.

In that case, Edwards' Dawson Springs-based Klan group lost a $2.5 million civil suit to the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., for the beating of a minority teenager at a county fair in 2006.

Kelly, who served four years in prison on weapons charges related to the alleged 1999 plot to kill the law center's attorney, Morris Dees -- a plot Hall helped foil -- testified during the trial that Edwards had ordered him to kill Dees.

Edwards denied involvement, calling Kelly's story "bull." He was never charged, and FBI officials in Washington, D.C., declined to comment.

"If a plane fell on (Dees), I'd probably be happy," Edwards said. "But would I do it? No."

Hall, a southeastern Kentucky native who recently released the book, "Into the Devil's Den," which he co-wrote with FBI agent Tym Burkey, his FBI handler, spoke to The Courier-Journal about his time as an informant in the Aryan Nations and his brushes with the IKA, the nation's second-largest Klan group.

Today, Hall said he lives in isolation "somewhere in the Rocky Mountains," in part because he fears being targeted. He said he's still troubled by his time among white supremacists.

"I'm pretty much a hermit. I've got one friend that comes by every now and then, and a vicious guard dog," he said. "I don't know if I could go back to normal life."
Connection to motorcycle gang

In 1996, Hall, a 350-pound tattooed biker, was arrested near Dayton, Ohio, on a marijuana charge, he said.

Burkey, who was an FBI special agent, began using Hall as a criminal informant.

But when Burkey was assigned in early 1997 to a domestic-terrorism unit tracking the Aryan Nations, it turned out that Hall had a connection to members of the Outlaws motorcycle gang who they associated with, Burkey wrote in his book.

"I didn't even know the Aryan Nations existed," Hall said.

To avoid prison, Hall agreed to work his way into the group, eventually becoming a trusted associate of leaders of the Ohio Aryan Nations.

"I was asked to become a member by Ray Redfeairn himself," he said, referring to the man who took over the Aryan Nations in 2001, before dying in 2003. Photos in his book show Hall giving Nazi salutes and standing in white supremacist churches.

All the while, Hall was passing information to Burkey at the FBI. Hall said he suffered from insomnia and drank heavily to cope with the stress.

In 1999, Dees was preparing take the Aryan Nations to court. He was suing them on behalf of an attack victim from Idaho.

Around this time, Hall said he overheard talk that made him think a plot might be afoot to either kill Dees or bomb the law center.

"White supremacist groups throughout the country hated Dees, and, privately, many expressed the view that the assassination of Dees would be the greatest achievement any white supremacist could accomplish," Hall wrote in his book.

Hall said he and Kelly twice traveled together to Edwards' Klan compound -- then located in Powderly, Ky.

On one visit, Hall said, he drove Kelly to a farmhouse to get PVC pipes that he feared could be used as bombs; on a second trip, Hall said he wore an FBI wire.

"They engineered a leather vest, it was like James Bond," Hall said. "It had a wire, but you couldn't find it … it was terrifying."

In an interview, Edwards said he remembered Hall, and suspected he was an informant.

"I didn't like him. I didn't trust him. He asked too many questions," he said.

During that visit, he said, Hall overheard Edwards tell Kelly said he was looking forward to Dees' death, although he never directly implicated himself.

"Edwards said, 'I'll be glad when that son of a bitch Dees is dead,' " Hall recalled in an interview. "Not if, but when."

Testifying in the recent Kentucky case, Kelly said Edwards took him aside and told him to gun down Dees.

Eventually, Hall produced enough information for authorities to arrest Kelly on April 14, 1999, in Ohio. Although he later admitted he'd planned to kill Dees, the FBI could only get Kelly on weapons charges, Burkey wrote in the book.

"Snagging Kale Kelly before he could pull off a hit or worse was worth the loss" of Hall as an informant, Burkey wrote.

Edwards was never charged, nor was anyone else in the Aryan Nations.

"I believe they just didn't have enough to charge him," Hall said. "In Kelly's mindset, it was better for him not to implicate Edwards. If he would've ratted out Edwards, in jail, he would've had the Aryan Brotherhood (prison gang) to worry about."

Although the FBI wouldn't comment, Dees -- who won a $6.3 million verdict in 2000 that forced Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler to give up his organization's 20-acre compound in Idaho -- said he thinks it is probably too late to charge Edwards.
Followed Klan trial online

Hall said he followed the recent Klan trial by reading newspaper and television accounts online.

"It was amazing to me that he got Kale Kelly to testify," Hall said. "The Kale Kelly I knew was a pretty dedicated white supremacist and a close friend of Ron Edwards."

At trial, Edwards denied Kelly's testimony, calling it "a new one on me."

Meanwhile, Edwards recently announced that he is stepping down from his post as Imperial Wizard in the wake of the trial.

"I have an appeal to work on, children to take care of and have not had any time for my family and myself. I will still always be here when needed," he said in an e-mail to The Courier-Journal.

But he vowed to keep the law center from taking the Klan's 15-acre compound outside Dawson Springs, despite Dees' promise to seize the land next year.

Experts estimate that Klan membership nationally is about 6,000 to 8,000, just a fraction of the 5 million in its 1920s heyday.

Today's membership has remained steady, researchers estimate, even as Klan chapters have risen from 110 in 2000 to 164 in 2006 within 34 splintered, named groups.

The IKA was the second-largest Klan group last year, behind the Illinois-based Brotherhood of Klans, according to the law center.

Editor's comment:

"Dave Hall recalls the spring night in 1999 when he was jolted from bed at the Kentucky headquarters of the Imperial Klans of America and found Imperial Wizard Ron Edwards looming over him -- a shotgun in one hand and a Bible in the other."

Those who live by the sword, shall die by the sword, the Bible tells us. So the shotgun and Bible imagery rings home for this EVIL group!

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What Do POTUS Barack Obama And Hillary Clinton Have In Common? Watch And Laugh.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Theoneste Bagosora: Evil In Disguise?

Guilty of genocide

Theoneste Bagosora will never be a household name, but it should be fixed indelibly in the mind of every murderous dictator around the world.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda convicted Bagosora of being the "mastermind" of the Rwandan genocide that resulted in the deaths of at least 800,000 people. Bagosora and two accomplices were sentenced to life in prison.

The massacres began after a plane crash on April 6, 1994, that took the lives of the president of Rwanda and of neighboring Burundi. The court said the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired from the airport of Kigali, the Rwandan capital.

In the aftermath, Bagosora, a Hutu and a colonel in the army, took control of the Rwandan military and ordered Hutu militia to slaughter rival Tutsis, according to the determination of the court.

Putting mass murder on trial cannot lead to genuine satisfaction that justice was served. Some perpetrators, such as Pol Pot in Cambodia, escape prosecution altogether.

Even when the architects and agents of genocide are put in the dock, where their crimes can be exposed, there is no undoing the deaths, suffering and dislocation brought on by their atrocities. And, of course, no punishment can ever fit such horrors.

But trials and convictions do serve as a reminder that mass murder violates the consciences of decent people on all continents and as a warning to tyrants that the international community may hold them accountable.

That is not enough, but it is something. And it will have to suffice until the day when the world at last says "Never again" and means it.


Patrick J. Buchanan: George Bush, [The NEW] Protectionist.

George Bush, Protectionist
by Patrick J. Buchanan

"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system," President Bush told CNN, defending his offer of $17 billion in loans to the Big Three "to make sure the economy doesn't collapse."

Thus did Bush concede that protectionism, if a critical U.S. industry is in peril, must trump free-trade ideology. For in offering the bailout to GM, Ford and Chrysler, Bush, by omission, excluded BMW, Mercedes, Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai -- though all operate auto plants here in the United States and all are feeling the same sales slump.

Indeed, Toyota claims losses for the first time in 70 years -- though how Toyota's management was able to keep sales up in 1945, when Gen. Curtis LeMay's B-29s were conducting their nightly visits, escapes me.

Bush may believe he has sinned against free-market principles, but he is following the path of his great free-market predecessor. Ronald Reagan, too, was not prepared to see Japan take down the U.S. auto industry, or steel industry, or computer chip industry, or Harley-Davidson.

Believing Japan was dumping to destroy U.S. companies, Reagan put patriotism before ideology and imposed quotas on Japanese imports. He, too, was castigated by the same commentariat that is berating Bush.

Vice President Cheney, too, has endorsed the bailout of Detroit. Of the senators who voted to pull the plug on General Motors, Cheney is said to have remarked, "It's Herbert Hoover time" up there in the GOP caucus

Averting Chapter 11 for GM, which could lead to liquidation of the greatest manufacturing company in U.S. history -- cutting America out of the premier consumer market of the 21st century -- makes sense not only from the standpoint of politics, but economics, as well.

For other nations, as The Washington Post reports, are far ahead of Bush in sheltering their industries and protecting their markets:

"Moving to shield battered domestic manufacturers from foreign imports, Indonesia is slapping restrictions on at least 500 products this month, demanding special licenses and new fees on imports. Russia is hiking tariffs on imported cars, poultry and pork. France is launching a state fund to protect French companies from foreign takeovers. Officials in Argentina and Brazil are seeking to raise tariffs on products, from imported wine and textiles to leather goods and peaches, according to the World Trade Organization."

India has levied a 20 percent duty on soybeans to cut imports and protect her farmers. The United States has just filed charges with the World Trade Organization against China for "unfair support of its export industry -- including the award of cash grants, rebates and preferential loans to exporters."

Awfully late in the game, Bush seems to have awakened to an ancient reality. When the tough times come, nations protect their own interests first, free trade be damned.

"Country first," as the John McCain slogan ran.

Libertarians of the Milton Friedman school may be unforgiving of Bush. But what has their free-trade globalism given us, but $5 trillion in trade deficits since Bush 1 and a new dependency on foreigners for the necessities of our national life and the loans to pay for them?

Were all the Playstations and Priuses worth it?

By traditional free-trade theory, a nation should import what it does not produce from the nations that produce it most cheaply.

But in 1946, Japan produced almost no steel, no TVs and no cars. Instead of buying them from America, Tokyo subsidized its own steel, TV and auto industries for decades, and protected their market. Now, as Sony did to Philco and Dumont, Toyota, Honda and Nissan are taking down Ford, GM and Chrysler. Were the Japanese foolish to subsidize their industries and protect their market? Were we wise to let our TV industry be taken down, and watch our auto and steel industries driven to death's door?

To 1970, Boeing, Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas produced almost all of the world's jetliners. But rather than rely in perpetuity on Americans for passenger planes, Britain, France, Germany and Spain subsidized a socialist cartel, Airbus, that did not make a profit for 25 years and sold its planes for less than it cost to build them.

That trampled all over free-trade theory, but it did kill Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas and almost killed Boeing.

Were the Europeans foolish to create an aircraft industry and subsidize the destruction of Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas? Or were they wise to sacrifice today to capture the world's aircraft market of tomorrow?

Like Prohibition in Hoover's phrase, globalism is "an experiment, noble in purpose, that has failed."

As we have learned, at a cost of $10 trillion in wealth wiped out on Wall Street, the nations of the future are not the consumer nations that pile up debt as they live on imports, but the producer nations that save and sacrifice and make the things the world wants.

With the tax-and-trade policies of the Old Republican Party that made America first by putting Americans first, we can be that nation again.

As for President Bush, welcome to the Protectionists Club, sir.

Mr. Buchanan is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, "The Death of the West,", "The Great Betrayal," "A Republic, Not an Empire" and "Where the Right Went Wrong."

Editor's comment: The Big Three Automakers have to start building cars that Americans WANT at a price Americans think is REASONABLE or they will keep "sucking air".

So, Pat Buchanan, and protectionists like him, including the NEW protectionist and Socialist George Bush, will have to pass laws MANDATING AND REQUIRING that Americans "buy American products ONLY" to get their protectionist plans to materialize, like those of SORCERY!


"Yeah, That's Right. So What?"

Bush's legacy: 'So what?'
By Eugene Robinson

Understanding isn't the same as forgiving. The history-be-my-judge interviews that President Bush and Vice President Cheney have been giving recently help me understand why they acted with such contempt for our Constitution and our values -- but also reinforce my confident belief, and my fervent hope, that history will throw the book at them.

The basic argument that they're making deserves to be taken seriously. I don't think either man would object to my summing it up in one sentence: We did what we did to keep America safe.

That terse formulation of the Bush-Cheney apologia leaves out important details. Cheney came into office with preconceived ideas about restoring executive branch powers and prerogatives that he believed had been lost after Vietnam and Watergate; Bush either shared Cheney's views or was willing to go along. But the main narrative of the Bush presidency began with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by al-Qaida terrorists -- the worst such assault on American soil.

In a not-for-attribution chat with a member of the Bush Cabinet a couple of years ago, conversation turned to 9/11. I said something like, "I can imagine what that day must have felt like for you." The response was immediate: "No, you can't."

The official went on to describe the chaos and anguish -- the shock of seeing the 110-story World Trade Center towers collapse into rubble, the fear that other hijacked planes might still be in the air, the gut feeling that the President and those around him were personally under attack. The official talked of how administration officials racked their memories to think of anything they might have done differently to prevent the 9/11 attacks. I doubt that anyone in the Situation Room actually quoted Malcolm X, but essentially a vow was taken to protect the country from another assault "by any means necessary."

These were human reactions, understandable and appropriate at the time. The truth is that the administration had missed signs that an attack was brewing -- most famously, the president's daily brief titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." But these portents were lost amid the avalanche of information that buries every president every single day. Anyone in Bush's position would have been filled with grief, anger and resolve.

Initial reactions are supposed to give way to reasoned analysis, however. For Bush and most of his top aides, this didn't happen until far too late.

For Cheney, apparently it never happened at all. In an interview broadcast Sunday, he invited Fox News' Chris Wallace to "go back and look at how eager the country was to have us work in the aftermath of 9/11 to make certain that that never happened again." People have since become "complacent," he said, but the administration's actions have "produced a safe 7 1/2 years, and I think the record speaks for itself."

That record, admirably, includes the overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the dismantling of al-Qaida's infrastructure and the killing or capture of some of the terrorist organization's most important operatives. Shamefully, however, it also includes the violation of international and U.S. legal norms by subjecting terrorist suspects to indefinite detention and cruel, painful interrogation; the creation of a mini-gulag of secret CIA-run prisons abroad; and unprecedented domestic surveillance without court supervision -- all justified, Cheney maintains, by a state of "war" that has no foreseeable end.

The Bush-Cheney record also includes the invasion of a country -- Iraq -- that had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. This misadventure has claimed more than 4,000 American lives, wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and grievously damaged our strategic position in the Middle East. In an interview with Martha Raddatz of ABC News earlier this month, Bush claimed credit for vanquishing al-Qaida's forces in Iraq. When Raddatz pointed out that there were no al-Qaida forces in Iraq until after the U.S. invasion, the President answered, "Yeah, that's right. So what?"

Here's so what: Bush and Cheney, understandably shaken by an unprecedented act of terrorism, declared and prosecuted a "war" without specifying the enemy. Rather than focus on the architect and sponsor of the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, they lashed out at others in pre-emptive blows that dishonored our nation's most precious ideals.

History will note that the point of the Constitution is that the ends don't always justify the means -- and that nowhere in the document can be found the phrase "so what?"

Eugene Robinson is a Washington Post columnist. His e-mail address is

Editor's comment: You all are forgetting something:

Former President Richard Milhouse TRICKY DICK Nixon is quoted in the movie "Frosty:Nixon" as famously stating that "if a President does it, it is not illegal".

Ah, for America's IMPERIAL Presidency!

"We, the people" asked for it, so we got it!!


Sorry We Forgot To Wish Happy Boxing Day To ALL Our Friends.

We Mourn The Passing Of Eartha Kitt.

Read more.

Below is news video:


George Will: Picturing America.

'Picturing America'
By George F. Will

WASHINGTON -- In Winslow Homer's 1865 painting "The Veteran in a New Field," a farmer, bathed in sunshine, his back to the viewer, his Union uniform jacket cast on the ground, harvests wheat with a single-bladed scythe. That tool was out of date, and Homer first depicted the farmer wielding a more modern implement. Homer then painted over it, replacing it with what evokes a timeless symbol of death -- the grim reaper's scythe. The painting reminds viewers how much Civil War blood was shed, as at Gettysburg, in wheat fields.

Homer's painting is one of 40 works of art that the National Endowment for Humanities is distributing, in 24-by-36-inch reproductions, with teaching guides, to all primary and secondary schools and libraries that ask for them. About one-third of them already have done so, according to Bruce Cole, the NEH's chairman.

So as Washington's dreariest year in decades sags to an end -- a year in which trillion-dollar improvisations that will debase the dollar have been bracketed by a stimulus that did not stimulate and a rescue that will prolong automakers' drownings -- at the end of this feast of folly, consider something rarer than rubies. It is a 2008 government program that costs next to nothing -- $2.6 million this year; a rounding error in the smallest of the bailouts. And "Picturing America" adds to the public stock of something scarce -- understanding of the nation's past and present.

The 40 works of art include some almost universally familiar ones -- John Singleton Copley's 1768 portrait of a silversmith named Paul Revere; Emanuel Leutze's 1851 "Washington Crossing the Delaware"; Augustus Saint-Gaudens' bronze relief sculpture "Robert Gould Shaw and the Fifty-fourth Regiment Memorial" on Boston Common. But "Picturing America" is not, Cole takes pains to insist, "the government's 'top 40.' " Forty times 40 other selections of art and architecture could just as effectively illustrate how visual works are revealing records of the nation's history and culture, and how visual stimulation can spark the synthesizing of information by students.

The colorful impressionism of Childe Hassam's flag-filled painting "Allies Day, May 1917" captures America's waxing nationalism a month after entry into World War I. And it makes all the more moving the waning of hope captured in Dorothea Lange's 1936 photograph "Migrant Mother." This haunting image of a destitute 32-year old pea picker, a mother of seven, is a springboard into John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath.

One of the 40 images in "Picturing America" is more timely than Cole could have suspected when the project was launched in February. It is a photograph of Manhattan's Chrysler Building.

Built between 1926 and 1930 -- between the giddy ascent of the '20s stock market and the Crash -- this Art Deco monument to the might of America's automobile industry is decorated with motifs of machines and streamlining. There are winged forms of a Chrysler radiator cap; an ornamental frieze replicates a band of hubcaps. The stainless steel of the famous spire suggests the signature of the automobile industry in its salad days -- chrome.

To understand the animal spirits that drove New York's skyscraper competition -- the Chrysler Building was the world's tallest for less than a year, until the Empire State Building was completed 202 feet higher -- is to understand an era. Two eras, actually -- the one that built the building, and ours, which has reasons to be reminded of the evanescence of seemingly solid supremacies.

After seven years of service, Cole, the longest-serving chairman in the 43-year history of the NEH, is leaving to head the American Revolution Center at Valley Forge. America has thousands of museums, including the Studebaker National Museum (South Bend, Ind.), the Packard Museum (Dayton, Ohio) -- yes, Virginia, there was a time when automobile companies were allowed to perish -- the Hammer Museum (Haines, Alaska), the Mustard Museum (Mount Horeb, Wis.) and the Spam Museum (Austin, Minn.) featuring the sort-of meat, not the Internet annoyance. There is, however, no museum devoted to the most important political event that ever happened, here or anywhere else -- the American Revolution.

Cole says there will be one, at Valley Forge. It will be built mostly by private money, for an infinitesimally tiny fraction of the sum of public money currently being lavished on corporations. Perhaps a subsequent iteration of "Picturing America" will feature a thought-provoking photograph of the gleaming towers that currently house, among other things, General Motors' headquarters. Looming over Detroit's moonscape desolation, the building is called the Renaissance Center. Really.

George F. Will is a syndicated columnist with The Washington Post. His e-mail address is


Laugh Out Loud Funny.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

"In Hoc Anno Domini".

In Hoc Anno Domini

When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in bondage. There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.

Everywhere there was civil order, for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so.

But everywhere there was something else, too. There was oppression -- for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar. There was the tax gatherer to take the grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave largess to the people. There was the impressor to find recruits for the circuses. There were executioners to quiet those whom the Emperor proscribed. What was a man for but to serve Caesar?

There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.

And the voice from Galilee, which would defy Caesar, offered a new Kingdom in which each man could walk upright and bow to none but his God. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. And he sent this gospel of the Kingdom of Man into the uttermost ends of the earth.

So the light came into the world and the men who lived in darkness were afraid, and they tried to lower a curtain so that man would still believe salvation lay with the leaders.

But it came to pass for a while in divers places that the truth did set man free, although the men of darkness were offended and they tried to put out the light. The voice said, Haste ye. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you, for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

Along the road to Damascus the light shone brightly. But afterward Paul of Tarsus, too, was sore afraid. He feared that other Caesars, other prophets, might one day persuade men that man was nothing save a servant unto them, that men might yield up their birthright from God for pottage and walk no more in freedom.

Then might it come to pass that darkness would settle again over the lands and there would be a burning of books and men would think only of what they should eat and what they should wear, and would give heed only to new Caesars and to false prophets. Then might it come to pass that men would not look upward to see even a winter's star in the East, and once more, there would be no light at all in the darkness.

And so Paul, the apostle of the Son of Man, spoke to his brethren, the Galatians, the words he would have us remember afterward in each of the years of his Lord:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.


MERRY CHRISTmas To ALL. Remember CHRIST IS The Reason For The Season.


"Protect The First Amendment: Wish Someone A 'Merry Christmas'."

Protect The First Amendment: Wish Someone A 'Merry Christmas'
by Michael Reagan

Christmas is once again upon us, and we can expect to witness countless new displays of the rampant secularization of what is meant to be a joyous celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Frankly I’m fed up with seeing federal, state and local governments, local and nationwide chain stores, and even the White House -- which last year couldn’t call their Christmas Party a Christmas party -- all of them giving in to the intimidation of a handful of secular progressives who loathe Christianity and any celebration associated with it.

Despite the fact that close to 90 percent of all Americans are Christians -- and that along with Easter, Christmas is one of the two most sacred days in the Christian calendar -- we have allowed a tiny minority among us to turn Christ’s birthday celebration into a secular holiday devoid of any religious significance whatsoever.

Merely to greet another by saying “Merry Christmas” is now deemed politically incorrect and potentially offensive to non-Christians and is thus taboo. Pity the poor store employee who dares to greet customers with this traditional salutation instead of uttering the meaningless "Happy Holiday."

Municipalities large and small tremble in fear of being charged with violating the hallowed creed of separation of church and state if they allow the erection of a crèche or Christmas tree on city property, or dare to call the tree anything other than a “holiday” tree. Obviously, any mention of the holiday’s correct title -- Christmas -- is absolutely verboten.

It has long been clear that the sole official purpose of the so-called holiday season is to boost the economy with an orgy of buying Christmas presents from establishments which insult us by strenuously avoiding calling them Christmas gifts.

Last year, after decades of meekly accepting these demonstrations of the nation’s increasingly enforced paganism, many Americans began to shout “enough,” and won some significant victories in the fight to put Christ back into Christmas.

The secular progressives who shrivel at the sound of a “Merry Christmas” greeting have long succeeded in intimidating the world of commerce and government. It’s about time for the 90 percent of Americans who call themselves Christians to do a little intimidation of their own.

My fellow Christians should join me in pledging never again to shop in any commercial establishment where the clerks greet us with that “Happy Holiday” greeting as an insult to our religious beliefs, just as we must defend the exhibition of the menorah or other Jewish symbols at Hanukkah.

We should never again vote for a candidate who does not recognize the right of Christians to have their sacred religious observances recognized by all levels of government, and who will not vigorously oppose all attempts to take Christ out of Christmas and Christmas out of the calendar.

We should not buy a single product manufactured or sold by a commercial enterprise that bows to the intimidation of those who hate our faith and seek to deny it any recognition, official or otherwise.

On the positive side, we should applaud all those commercial entities that joyfully and unambiguously recognize and celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, and stand side-by-side with our Jewish brothers and sisters as they fight to have their religious observances celebrated without restriction.

Have a Merry Christmas. And don’t be afraid to say that loud and clear to everyone.

Mr. Reagan is a syndicated radio talk-show host, author of "Twice Adopted" (Broadman & Holman Publishers) and "The City on a Hill,"and the son of former President Ronald Reagan.

Editor's comment: I do NOT usually side with Ronald Reagan's adopted son, who imagines himself a successor to his adopted dad's mantle, but I agree with him on this issue.

This may yet to prove to be, not only the first time I agree with him, but it may be the last!


CHRIST IS The Reason For CHRISTmas.

(Click on image to enlarge it).


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"Ask God For The Ultimate Gift: FAITH."

Faith: the ultimate gift
By Cal Thomas

Examples of faith abound at this time of year. There is the faith children put in Santa Claus to bring them stuff that magically no one seems to have paid for. Call it a "bailout" for kids.

There is adult faith which believes that a Bernard Madoff can do what no one else can: guarantee a consistent rate of return on money invested with him while others who invest the legal and old-fashioned way experience the normal ebb and flow of the stock market.

Then there is the messianic-like faith many have placed in Barack Obama, the faux messiah of our time, who has been sent by the political gods to deliver us, if not from our sins, than at least from George W. Bush. Those who place their faith in Obama see him as god-like and Bush as the devil. These metaphors serve them well as substitutes for the genuine articles, in whom they either do not believe or have re-created in their own image.

A Broadway play and film called "Doubt" has won fans, many of whom probably do when it comes to God. Bill Maher made a movie about faith, mocking those who believe in God and ignoring the warnings, "The fool has said in his heart 'There is no God' " (Psalm 14:1) and "The cross is foolishness to those who are perishing" (1 Corinthians 1:18). If Maher thinks the Christmas story is foolish, isn't that evidence he is perishing?

Shoplifting increases during the Christmas season and so does its spiritual equivalent: Those who want the blessings of Christmas without paying the price. Laura Miller, a staff writer for Salon, engaged in this practice in a New York Times column, "It's a Narnia Christmas." Miller said about the C.S. Lewis classic, "That I'm not a Christian doesn't much hinder my enjoyment of either the holiday or the book."

Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia series was not meant solely to entertain, though entertaining it is. The books are metaphors for great truths. Elsewhere, Lewis writes that those who claim Jesus as just a great teacher have it wrong. Lewis said Jesus is either who he said he is -- the Son of God -- or a liar, a fool, or deranged. Call him anything you like, said Lewis, but don't call him a great teacher. That is an option he does not allow. Besides, how can anyone be a great teacher if he teaches something that is not true?

The mockers and doubters, like the poor, have always been with us. They have nothing new to say. Their unbelief is as familiar as it is predictable.

Faith is a gift, the ultimate gift. It is of far greater and eternal value than anything to be found under a Christmas tree. While clothes and toys wear out or are forgotten, faith lasts. It has the additional benefit of already having been bought and paid for by someone else. It is the "substance of things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).

Faith cannot be taught (though teaching plays a role). No one is argued to faith, which is why it is fruitless to debate those who lack it. Better to demonstrate the faith one has than berate and belittle people who do not yet have it.

Christmas offers an opportunity to again consider what matters most. Especially this year with the anemic economy and multiple challenges to our misplaced faith in prosperity and politicians, now would be a good time to consider the song lyric: "Fame, if you win it, comes and goes in a minute. Where's the real stuff in life to cling to?"

The answer to that question is to be found where it has always been: Start in the manger and then move to the cross and the empty tomb and consider the carol, "Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in."

You don't have that kind of faith? You asked someone for a Christmas gift, didn't you? Ask God for the ultimate gift.

Cal Thomas is a columnist with Tribune Media Services. His e-mail address is

Editor's comment: AMEN to Brother Cal Thomas.


Newspaper: Caroline Kennedy Is Worth $100 Million! I Say: NOW "Sweet Caroline" Can BUY That New York Senate Seat, As "Good Times Never Seemed So Good"

Read more here, and join in singing Sweet Caroline below, because "good times never seemed so good" in New York politics (Heck, the state gave us Hillary Clinton, and others, right?):

What is it you say? What ... you do not know the lyrics?

Well fret none, and sing along below:

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What I've ALWAYS Suspected About Rahm Emmanuel Is NOW Confirmed. Read More.

Read more from the Sun Times.

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Walmart Aims To Play Gingrich That Stole CHRISTmas? Watch Video.

2008 Christmas.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Historian Sees Lessons, Lincoln Parallels For Obama".

Read why POTUS Barack Obama's embrace of my hero, Abraham Lincoln, is music to my ears.

Oh, BTW, Obama is going to use Abraham Lincoln's Bible for his swearing in.

My heart is gladdened.

uPDATE: 12/24: Watch news video below:


BREAKING NEWS: POTUS Barack Obama Releases "Report" Of Contact With Illinois Governor, Tod "Political Thug" (Blago) Blagojevich. Read Report Below.

TO: The President-Elect
FROM: Greg Craig
DATE: December 23, 2008
SUBJECT: Transition Staff Contacts with the Governor’s Office

At your direction, I arranged for transition staff to provide accounts of any contacts that you or they may have had with Governor Blagojevich or his office in which the subject of your successor came up.

The accounts support your statement on December 11, 2008 that you “have never spoken to the Governor on this subject [or] about these issues,” and that you “had no contact with the Governor’s office.” In addition, the accounts contain no indication of inappropriate discussions with the Governor or anyone from his office about a “deal” or a quid pro quo arrangement in which he would receive a personal benefit in return for any specific appointment to fill the vacancy.

One member of the transition staff, Rahm Emanuel, did have contacts of the type covered by your request. I discuss the nature of those contacts in the attached report. David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, two other individuals on the transition staff, did not have any contacts with the Governor or his office but are included in the report to address questions raised by the press.

These accounts were communicated to the Office of the United States Attorney in interviews that were conducted last week. At the request of the Office, we delayed the release of this report until such time as the interviews could be completed. The interviews took place over a period of three days: Thursday, December 18, 2008 (the President-Elect); December 19, 2008 (Valerie Jarrett); and December 20, 2008 (Rahm Emanuel).

One other individual, Dr. Eric Whitaker, a family friend, was approached and asked for information by a member of the Governor’s circle. I have included an account of this contact even though Dr. Whitaker is not a member of the transition staff.

Report to the President-Elect On December 11, 2008, the President-Elect asked the White House Counsel-designate to determine whether there had been any staff contacts or communications – and the nature of any such contacts of communications – between the transition and Governor Blagojevich and his office relating to the selection of the President-Elect’s successor in the United States Senate.

The results of that review are as follows:

The President-Elect

The President-Elect had no contact or communication with Governor Blagojevich or members of his staff about the Senate seat. In various conversations with transition staff and others, the President-Elect expressed his preference that Valerie Jarrett work with him in the White House.
He also stated that he would neither stand in her way if she wanted to pursue the Senate seat nor actively seek to have her or any other particular candidate appointed to the vacancy.

After Ms. Jarrett decided on November 9, 2008 to withdraw her name from consideration as a possible replacement for him in the Senate and to accept the White House job, the President-Elect discussed other qualified candidates with David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel. Those candidates included Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Jesse Jackson, Jr., Dan Hynes and Tammy Duckworth.

The President-Elect understood that Rahm Emanuel would relay these names to the Governor’s office as additions to the pool of qualified candidates who might already be under consideration. Mr. Emanuel subsequently confirmed to the President that he
had in fact relayed these names. At no time in the discussion of the Senate seat or of possible replacements did the President-Elect hear of a suggestion that the Governor expected a personal benefit in return for making this appointment to the Senate.

Rahm Emanuel

Mr. Emanuel had one or two telephone calls with Governor Blagojevich. Those conversations occurred between November 6 and November 8, 2008. Soon after he decided to accept the President-Elect’s offer to serve as Chief of Staff in the White House, Mr. Emanuel placed a call to the Governor to give him a heads up that he was taking the Chief of Staff’s position in the White House, and to advise him that he would be resigning his seat in the House of Representatives. They spoke about Mr. Emanuel’s House seat, when he would be resigning and potential candidates to replace him. He also had a brief discussion with the Governor about the
Senate seat and the merits of various people whom the Governor might consider. Mr. Emanuel and the Governor did not discuss a cabinet position, 501c(4), a private sector position for the Governor or any other personal benefit for the Governor.

In those early conversations with the Governor, Mr. Emanuel recommended Valarie Jarrett because he knew she was interested in the seat. He did so before learning -- in further conversations with the President-Elect -- that the President-Elect had ruled out communicating a preference for any one candidate. As noted above, the President-Elect believed it appropriate to provide the names of multiple candidates to be considered, along with others, who were qualified to hold the seat and able to retain it in a future election. The following week, Mr. Emanuel learned that the President-Elect and Ms. Jarrett with the President’s strong encouragement had
decided that she would take a position in the White House.

Between the time that Mr. Emanuel decided to accept the position of Chief of Staff in the White House and December 8, 2008, Mr. Emanuel had about four telephone conversations with John Harris, Chief of Staff to the Governor, on the subject of the Senate seat. In these conversations, Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Harris discussed the merits of potential candidates and the strategic benefit that each candidate would bring to the Senate seat. After Ms. Jarrett removed herself from consideration, Mr. Emanuel – with the authorization of the President-Elect – gave Mr. Harris the names of four individuals whom the President-Elect considered to be highly qualified: Dan Hynes, Tammy Duckworth, Congresswoman Schakowsky and Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.

In later telephone conversations, Mr. Emanuel – also with the President-Elect’s approval – presented other names of qualified candidates to Mr. Harris including Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Ms. Cheryle Jackson. Mr. Harris did not make any effort to extract a personal benefit for the Governor in any of these conversations. There was no discussion of a cabinet position, of 501c(4), of a private sector position or of any other personal benefit to the Governor in exchange for the Senate appointment.

Although Mr. Emanuel recalls having conversations with the President-Elect, with David Axelrod and with Valerie Jarrett about who might possibly succeed the President-Elect in the Senate, there was no mention of efforts by the Governor or his staff to extract a personal benefit in return for filling the Senate vacancy.

Valerie Jarrett

Ms. Jarrett had no contact or communication with Governor Blagojevich , with his Chief of Staff, John Harris or with any other people from the Governor’s office about a successor to replace the President-Elect in the United States Senate or how the decision should be made. Nor did she understand at any time prior to his arrest that the Governor was looking to receive some form of payment or personal benefit for the appointment. Her only contact with the Governor was at the Governor’s Conference in Philadelphia on December 2, 2008, over three weeks after she had decided not to pursue the Senate seat and had accepted the President-Elect’s offer to
work in the White House. She had a brief conversation with him on that occasion. He wished her well.

On November 7, 2008 -- at a time when she was still a potential candidate for the Senate seat -- Ms. Jarrett spoke with Mr. Tom Balanoff, the head of the Illinois chapter of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Mr. Balanoff is not a member of the Governor’s staff and did not purport to speak for the Governor on that occasion. But because the subject of the Governor’s interest in a cabinet appointment came up in that conversation, I am including a description of that meeting. Mr. Balanoff told Ms. Jarrett that he had spoken to the Governor about the possibility of selecting Valerie Jarrett to replace the President-Elect. He told her that Lisa Madigan’s name also came up.

Ms. Jarrett recalls that Mr. Balanoff also told her that the Governor had raised with him the question of whether the Governor might be considered as a possible candidate to head up the Department of Health and Human Services in the new administration. Mr. Balanoff told Ms. Jarrett that he told the Governor that it would never happen. Jarrett concurred.

Mr. Balanoff did not suggest that the Governor, in talking about HHS, was linking a position for himself in the Obama cabinet to the selection of the President-Elect’s successor in the Senate, and Ms. Jarrett did not understand the conversation to suggest that the Governor wanted the cabinet seat as a quid pro quo for selecting any specific candidate to be the President-Elect’s replacement. At no time did Balanoff say anything to her about offering Blagojevich a union position.

David Axelrod

Mr. Axelrod had no conversations with anyone outside the President-Elect’s immediate circle about who should replace the President-Elect in the United States Senate. No one ever came to Mr. Axelrod to propose a deal involving the selection of a replacement, and nothing came up in any of his conversations with the President-Elect or the members of the President-Elect’s immediate circle that suggested that the Governor was seeking some kind of quid pro quo for the

Mr. Axelrod recalls that, after the election, the President-Elect discussed – with Mr. Axelrod and Mr. Emanuel – a number of individuals who were highly qualified to take his place in the Senate.

Mr. Axelrod was under the impression that the President-Elect would convey this information to the Governor or to someone from the Governor’s office, which explains why Mr. Axelrod gave an inaccurate answer on this subject to questions from the press. He later learned that it was Mr. Emanuel who conveyed those names to the Governor’s Chief of Staff, John Harris.
Dr. Eric Whitaker

Dr. Whitaker had no contacts or communications with either the Governor or his Chief of Staff, John Harris. He did have contact and communication with one individual purporting to act on behalf of the Governor.

In the period immediately following the election on November 4, 2008 – on either November 6, 7 or 8 – Deputy Governor Louanner Peters called him at his office and left a message. When he returned the call, Ms. Peters asked who spoke for the President-Elect with respect to the Senate appointment. She explained that the Governor’s office had heard from others with recommendations about the vacant seat. She stated that the Governor’s office wanted to know who, if anyone, had the authority to speak for the President-Elect. Dr. Whitaker said he would find out.

The President-Elect told Dr. Whitaker that no one was authorized to speak for him on the matter. The President-Elect said that he had no interest in dictating the result of the selection process, and he would not do so, either directly or indirectly through staff or others. Dr. Whitaker relayed that information to Deputy Governor Peters.
Dr. Whitaker had no other contacts with anyone from the Governor’s office.

Watch news video below for me: