WE'RE ON TWITTER, GO HERE WE'RE ON FACEBOOK, GO HERE
Please note that you can leave a comment on any of our posts at our Facebook page. Subscribers can also comment at length at our Angel's Corner Forum.
OUR DAILY SNIPPETS ARE HERE.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 27, 2010
BUT SOMETIMES THERE'S SANITY – AT 8:15 P.M. ET: As Charles Krauthammer points out, this administration has gone out of its way to antagonize as many Americans as possible. But, apparently, someone shut down the power on what could have been a major blowout:
In a swift and unexpected decision, the Environmental Protection Agency today rejected a petition from environmental groups to ban the use of lead in bullets and shotgun shells, claiming it doesn't have jurisdiction to weigh on the controversial Second Amendment issue. The decision came just hours after the Drudge Report posted stories from Washington Whispers and the Weekly Standard about how gun groups were fighting the lead bullet ban.
Leave me I should translate that into English: The White House, seeing the Drudge Report, made a call to some honcho at EPA, speaking as follows: "Jerk, what are you people thinking? Don't you realize that gun control cost us the Congress in 1994? Clown, get this off the table as quickly as possible. Fool, do you want your job tomorrow?"
The EPA had planned to solicit public responses to the petition for two months, but this afternoon issued a statement rejecting a 100-page request from the Center for Biological Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy, and three other groups for a ban on lead bullets, shot, and fishing sinkers. The agency is still considering what to do about sinkers.
The decision was a huge victory for the National Rifle Association which just seven days ago asked that the EPA reject the petition, suggesting that it was a back door attempt to limit hunting and impose gun control. It also was a politically savvy move to take gun control off the table as the Democrats ready for a very difficult midterm election.
COMMENT: You can be sure that, after the election, some other group will try to get gun control in the back door. Look, I'm no fanatic. There are reasonable measures to reduce gun tragedies that can be taken, like the instant background check. And we have banned private ownership of automatic weapons (machine guns) since 1934. But the Second Amendment, which celebrates the supremacy of the people over the government, is critically important to this nation's character, and must be preserved.
August 27, 2010 Permalink
THE MADNESS CONTINUES – It is reported that President Obama has invited New York's Mayor Mike "the mosque" Bloomberg for a round of golf. Why not? They think alike. My hunch is that there may be a place in the Obama administration for Mayor Mike. Meanwhile, back in the city, New York's liberals continue their descent into madness:
(Reuters) - The Muslim center planned near the site of the World Trade Center attack could qualify for tax-free financing, a spokesman for City Comptroller John Liu said on Friday, and Liu is willing to consider approving the public subsidy.
The Democratic comptroller's spokesman, Scott Sieber, said Liu supported the project. The center has sparked an intense debate over U.S. religious freedoms and the sanctity of the Trade Center site, where nearly 3,000 perished in the September 11, 2001 attack.
"If it turns out to be financially feasible and if they can demonstrate an ability to pay off the bonds and comply with the laws concerning tax-exempt financing, we'd certainly consider it," Sieber told Reuters.
Spokesmen for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor David Paterson and the Islamic center and were not immediately available.
The proposed center, two blocks from the Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, has caused a split between people who lost relatives and friends in the attack, as well as conservative politicians, and those who support the project. Among those who support it are the mayor, civic and religious groups, and some families of victims.
COMMENT: Note the fact that the story does not list among those who oppose the placement of the mosque former Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
As for tax-free financing, New York City is about to increase its already astronomically high transportation charges. I don't think the populace will be overly pleased to help finance the mosque near Ground Zero. But, of course, they're all Islamophobes.
August 27, 2010 Permalink
DISGRACEFUL – AT 10:12 A.M. ET: Do the embarrassments of this administration ever end? The great Ed Lasky at American Thinker alerts us to a WaPo report on the latest weirdness from Obama's Department of Maybe Justice, Maybe Not:
The Obama administration has shelved the planned prosecution of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged coordinator of the Oct. 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, according to a court filing.
The decision at least temporarily scuttles what was supposed to be the signature trial of a major al-Qaeda figure under a reformed system of military commissions. And it comes practically on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the attack, which killed 17 sailors and wounded dozens when a boat packed with explosives ripped a hole in the side of the warship in the port of Aden.
This must make the families feel just great. But, given this administration's sensitivity to the grief of those who've suffered in the war on terror, why should Washington care?
"It's politics at this point," said one military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy. He said he thinks the administration does not want to proceed against a high-value detainee without some prospect of civilian trials for other major figures at Guantanamo Bay.
A White House official disputed that.
Whom do you believe, the military official or the White House guy? I've made my choice.
"After 10 years, it seems like nobody really cares," said Gloria Clodfelter, whose 21-year-old son, Kenneth, was killed on the Cole.
Welcome to the cold world of Washington, ma'am. Maybe you can join with the 9-11 mourners, who are seeing a mosque go up at Ground Zero with the full support of the president of the United States.
What's wrong with this administration? Does the word "everything" come to mind?
August 27, 2010 Permalink
TO BE YOUNG AND UNEMPLOYED – AT 9:11 A.M. ET: The national economic figures, grim as they are, hide the fact that young people are being hit especially hard. Add to this the fact that they often have college debts. It's inevitable that this will start affecting the way they see Barack Obama, and the way they vote:
One indication of the weakness of the job market is that research institutions are getting too many intern applications -- from college graduates who should be getting paid jobs.
Generally, intern applicants are studying for B.A. degrees in economics and looking for some practical research experience to accompany their coursework. They might be enrolled at local universities, or come to Washington on one of many Washington Semester programs, such as those run by American University or the University of California systems.
Now, applications are flowing in from young people who already have B.A.s in economics. In any other year, they would already have jobs. After all, they're not comparative literature majors. One reason people major in economics is because economics is supposed to be a marketable degree.
The unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds is 16 percent, far higher than the overall unemployment rate of 9.5 percent. Two years ago, the rate for this age group was 10 percent. Men are having a tougher time than women. Their unemployment rate is 18 percent, compared with 13 percent for young women.
By some measures, it's never been this difficult to find a job. Almost half of the unemployed have been out of work for six months or longer, a record since the Labor Department began keeping track of these data in 1948.
And upcoming requirements on employers to offer health insurance or pay a penalty discourage employers from hiring low-skilled workers, because employers can't reduce these workers' salaries to compensate for the extra benefits.
Yeah, that Obamacare. What a great idea. Not.
Unless the economy turns around soon, the lack of job opportunities is going to have a major effect not only on the lifetime earnings of young people but on their appetite for risk.
Just as those who grew up during the Great Depression are more frugal, current and future graduates might be more risk averse. Once they have jobs, they might be more likely to avoid looking elsewhere, reducing the traditional dynamism and job mobility that made America a major economic power.
This risk aversion has been a feature of European economies, where high unemployment has meant a preference for government employment and a lack of job mobility in the economy.
Ah yes. And the outrage is that some Obamans have no problem with that outcome. More government employment. Never take a risk. Get benefits. What a way to live.
Sometimes I wish we had a parliamentary system, where the president could be sent packing in the middle of a term. It is quite possible, I think, that President Obama, after a GOP victory in November, and if the economy continues to tank, will be seen as nothing more than a caretaker until the end of his term.
Change we can believe in?
August 27, 2010 Permalink
RECOVERY? ARE WE SERIOUS? – AT 8:48 A.M. ET: The figures have just been released. Happy days are not here again:
Economic statistics released Friday offered the clearest sign yet that the recovery, already acknowledged to be sauntering, had slowed to a crawl.
The government lowered its estimate of economic growth in the second quarter to an annual rate of 1.6 percent, after originally reporting last month that growth in the three-month period was 2.4 percent.
The revision is a significant slowdown from the annual rate of 3.7 percent in the first quarter and 5 percent in the last three months of 2009.
The news came at the end of a week that showed the economic retrenchment that began in the second quarter has spilled over into the summer. Existing home sales in July were down to their lowest level in a decade, and sales of new homes that month were at their lowest level since the government began tracking such data in 1963. Orders for large factory goods, excluding the volatile transportation sector, dropped in July, indicating that recovery in the manufacturing sector is also stalling.
With such grim reports, economists are now concerned that the outlook for job creation, which has been spluttering all summer, could deteriorate further. Companies and consumers tend to be spooked by bad news, and market analysts and economists worry that faltering confidence could cause employers to hold back on hiring.
COMMENT: We are a bit more than two months away from the election. It is simply impossible for the economy, in this short period ahead, to turn around. These are the figures the Dems will carry with them to the polls. This is a catastrophe. Some analysts are already talking about losses for the Dems in the House that go far beyond the 39 seats needed to flip control.
On the other hand, beware a Democratic fear campaign that can affect close races.
In my lifetime, I have never seen a midterm election quite like this. We don't look to midterms for earthquakes. But I'm starting to feel the ground rumble.
August 27, 2010 Permalink
OBAMACRASH, BY FAITH GROUP – AT 8:12 A.M. ET: American Muslims heart Obama. A new survey shows Obama still popular among Muslims, but fading among other faith groups. From Andrew Malcolm at the L.A. Times's Top of the Ticket blog:
As a group, Americans of the Muslim faith give Barack Obama the highest job approval rating of any major religion.
A new Gallup Poll of 275,000 adults this morning finds that while the Democrat's overall approval ratings have dropped across all faiths -- even those Americans without any -- Muslims continue to approve of him the most. And you'll never guess which faith based in Utah thinks the least of the 44th president's job.
Seventy-eight percent of Muslims (down from 86% after Obama's inauguration) now approve of the president's 19-month job performance, while less than one-in-four Mormons (24%) do (down from 43%).
Catholics' job approval has fallen from 67% to 50%. Protestants' from 58% to 43%. Jews' from....
...77% to 61%. Other non-Christian religions' from 74% to 64%. And atheist/agnostic from 75% to 63%, believe it or not.
Overall, Gallup finds Americans' approval of Obama's job has dropped in the same time-span from 63% to 48%.
While consistently declining across faiths, Obama, who describes his own faith as Christian, has lost more among Mormons and least among Muslims, a group his administration has made special outreach efforts toward.
COMMENT: The most startling drop is among Jews, a critical component of the Democratic coalition. One of the indicators that Ronald Reagan would be elected in 1980 was Jimmah Carter's sharp drop in popularity among Jews. Jews are only two percent of the population, but about 90% go to the polls, and that vote is concentrated in large, critical states.
Protestants are, of course, the nation's largest faith group, and Obama's approval rating of 43% among the group does not bode well for Dems this November. Midterms are often a referendum on a presidency.
August 27, 2010 Permalink
THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010
THE DECLINE OF THE LEFT – AT 8:32 P.M. ET: It's sad to see the left in such decline. Well, not really, but we have to say that to sound gracious and open. But the dive of liberalism into what it is today – a kind of snotty, top-down movement run by those who'd never rub shoulders with those they claim to weep about – is pretty evident. Charles Krauthammer has been out front in pointing that out. Here he comments on the latest indicator:
Ah, the people, the little people, the small-town people, the "bitter" people, as Barack Obama in an unguarded moment once memorably called them, clinging "to guns or religion or" — this part is less remembered — "antipathy toward people who aren't like them."
That's a polite way of saying: clinging to bigotry. And promiscuous charges of bigotry are precisely how our current rulers and their vast media auxiliary react to an obstreperous citizenry that insists on incorrect thinking.
Beautifully said. I was watching a CNN reporter go crazy over the Ground Zero mosque again. I felt like e-mailing her to recommend she seek professional assistance.
Resistance to the vast expansion of government power, intrusiveness and debt, as represented by the Tea Party? Why, racist resentment toward a black president.
Disgust and alarm with the federal government's unwillingness to curb illegal immigration, as crystallized in the Arizona law? Nativism.
Opposition to the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history, as expressed in Proposition 8 in California? Homophobia.
Opposition to a 15-story Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero? Islamophobia.
Charlie nails it.
Note what connects these issues. In every one, liberals have lost the argument in the court of public opinion...
...What's a liberal to do? Pull out the bigotry charge, the trump that pre-empts debate and gives no credit to the seriousness and substance of the contrary argument.
The Democrats are going to get beaten badly in November. Not just because the economy is ailing. And not just because Obama over-read his mandate in governing too far left. But because a comeuppance is due the arrogant elites whose undisguised contempt for the great unwashed prevents them from conceding a modicum of serious thought to those who dare oppose them.
COMMENT: It is a sad time for a once dynamic and decent party. And to think, this is the party that formed much of the basic American defense doctrine that eventually won the Cold War. Harry Truman wouldn't recognize his party today. He would probably leave it.
August 26, 2010 Permalink
THERE ARE SOME PROBLEMS BESIDES THE ECONOMY – AT 7:08 P.M. ET: Iran will loom larger and larger as the months progress and the country's nuclear sophistication increases. Even a former UN inspector is going public with his concerns:
(Reuters) - Iran has stockpiled enough low-enriched uranium for 1-2 nuclear arms but it would not make sense for it to cross the bomb-making threshold with only this amount, a former top U.N. nuclear official was quoted as saying.
In unusual public remarks about Iran's disputed nuclear programme Olli Heinonen, the former chief of U.N. nuclear inspections worldwide, told Le Monde newspaper that Iran's uranium reserve still represented a "threat."
Until he stepped down earlier this month for personal reasons, Heinonen was deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency and head of its nuclear safeguards department, which verifies that countries' nuclear programmes are not being diverted for military use.
A no-nonsense Finn, he was one of the U.N. agency's leading experts on Iran, which denies Western suspicions that its nuclear programme is aimed at making bombs despite intelligence indications to the contrary, which he investigated for years.
In the interview published on Thursday, Heinonen said the Islamic Republic now possessed three tonnes of low-enriched uranium, material which can be used to fuel nuclear power plants, or form the core of a bomb if refined much further.
COMMENT: Remember the 2007 U.S. report that said Iran had given up its weapons program? Remember all those cheery estimates that it couldn't have the bomb until, say, 2015? Apparently, revision is in order.
We have made no progress with Iran. Think where they might be a year from now.
August 26, 2010 Permalink
REALITY INTRUDES – AT 9:09 A.M. ET: Argentinian reader Susana Kohan alerts us to today's column by George Will, commenting on the Mideast. Remember that face-to-face "peace talks" begin next week between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But Will's portrait of "Palestine" gives us no hope for encouragement:
Israelis can watch West Bank Palestinian television incessantly inculcating anti-Semitism and denial of Israel's right to exist. Across the fence that has substantially reduced terrorism from the West Bank, Israelis see Ramallah, where Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, lives and where a square was recently named in honor of Dalal Mughrabi. In 1978, she, together with 11 other terrorists, hijacked an Israeli bus and massacred 37 Israelis and one American. Cigarette lighters sold on the West Bank show, when lit, the World Trade Center burning.
Please note that last sentence. After September 11, 2001, in an act of pure corruption, most of the American press suppressed pictures of Arabs dancing in the streets at the murder of 3,000 souls. It didn't fit the leftist party line. Maybe we should ask the mosque builders at Ground Zero about this.
And consider this:
The Obama administration, which seems to consider itself too talented to bother with anything but "comprehensive" solutions to problems, may yet make matters worse by presenting its own plan for a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian problem. Barack Obama insists that it is "costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure," although he does not say how. Gen. David Petraeus says Israeli-Palestinian tensions "have an enormous effect on the strategic context." As though, were the tensions to subside, the hard men managing Iran's decades-long drive for nuclear weapons would then say, "Oh, well, in that case, let's call the whole thing off."
Some common sense from George Will. But our "Muslim outreach" president undoubtedly has his own ideas. Does anyone doubt where his multicultural heart lies?
The Arab-Israeli conflict will not be solved until the Arabs are reconciled to Israel's existence, and our dispute with the Islamic world will not be solved until Islam recognizes that it will not be permitted to take over our cultures and values. That will take some work on our part, however, and I don't see that work being done. It's not considered chic or "progressive" by our elites.
August 26, 2010 Permalink
ECONOMIC GRIMNESS – AT 8:53 A.M. ET: Reports on the housing market continue to raise alarm. They get worse and worse. People no longer see homes as an investment, and that removes much of the allure. From the Washington Post:
Sales of new homes dropped to their lowest level since the government started tracking the numbers more than four decades ago, offering an ominous sign for the direction of the already fragile housing market.
The Commerce Department's report, released Wednesday, was the second this week to underscore home buyers' crumbling confidence.
It said new homes sold in July at an annual rate of 276,000, off 12.4 percent from June's pace while plummeting 32.4 percent from a year earlier. That's the lowest level since 1963 and far worse than what analysts expected.
The report comes a day after the National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes in July plunged to their lowest point in more than a decade. Sales were down 27.2 percent from June, the largest monthly drop since 1968.
COMMENT: In addition, many American homeowners are underwater. Their homes are worth less than the cost of their mortgages. This isn't the bill of goods sold to them in other times, when they were told that real estate never goes down. (Apparently, no one ever heard of the great Florida land bubble in the 1920s.)
In addition, many people cannot sell their homes, or cannot sell them for anywhere near what they paid for them, and are trapped. Some of these people have become unemployed. And all have to pay often increasing property taxes. There's a lot of hurt out there, and it isn't being eased.
August 26, 2010 Permalink
I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT – AT 8:31 A.M. ET: Well, maybe next time the Obamas won't vacation so close to the sea. Some Americans have something planned for them. From the L.A. Times's Top of the Ticket blog:
Having successfully shut down an estimated 23,000 American oil drilling jobs off the Gulf Coast, citing possible environmental concerns, the Obama administration is now moving on New England fishermen.
It's rained during much of Obama's latest vacation there. And now the Democratic president is scheduled to be confronted with a flotilla of protesters today off his private estate on the souvenir-laden island of Martha's Vineyard.
The immediate boating protest is about their claim the feds are using bad science to set extremely limited area fishing allotments, certain to wipe out many traditional private family businesses.
The fishermen -- possibly involving as many as two dozen vessels -- will be traveling from as far away as New Jersey and all along the Northeastern coastline. Wednesday the noon protest earned the support of the Greater Boston Tea Party.
The fishermen maintain that once-threatened stocks have returned naturally under existing regulations and don't require the newly shaped government-run market system favored by President Obama. Elizabeth Scalia calls it: "So Soviet."
As explained by the ever-thoughtful Ed Morrissey, the move by Obama appointee Jane Lubchenco, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is designed to replace private fishing with new government-regulated operations:
"They want to close the fisheries into 'commodities markets' where the government essentially licenses fishermen and then allocates the catch based on a predetermined distribution plan. The 'commodities markets' will kill many fishing-based jobs and essentially turn fishermen into government employees, and they’re not happy about it."
COMMENT: Day by day, action by action, Obama officals are trying to socialize America, to turn it into the European ideal they've admired since they spent their junior years abroad, debating Marx in the cafes of Paris. And they have a willing press corps fronting for them.
November can't come around too soon.
August 26, 2010 Permalink
DEMS IN DESPAIR – AT 7:59 A.M. ET: House Democrats are starting to realize the possibilities of a November disaster. From The Politico:
Top Democrats are growing markedly more pessimistic about holding the House, privately conceding that the summertime economic and political recovery they were banking on will not likely materialize by Election Day.
In conversations with more than two dozen party insiders, most of whom requested anonymity to speak candidly about the state of play, Democrats in and out of Washington say they are increasingly alarmed about the economic and polling data they have seen in recent weeks.
They no longer believe the jobs and housing markets will recover – or that anything resembling the White House’s promise of a “recovery summer” is under way. They are even more concerned by indications that House Democrats once considered safe – such as Rep. Betty Sutton, who occupies an Ohio seat that President Barack Obama won with 57 percent of the vote in 2008 – are in real trouble.
In two close races, endangered Democrats are even running ads touting how they oppose their leadership.
“Democrats kept thinking: ‘We’re going to get better. We’re going to get well before the election,’” said one of Washington’s best-connected Democrats. “But as of this week, you now have people saying that Republicans are going to win the House. And now it’s starting to look like the Senate is going to be a lot closer than people thought.”
A Democratic pollster working on several key races said, “The reality is that [the House majority] is probably gone.” His data shows the Democrats’ problems are only getting worse. “It’s spreading,” the pollster said.
COMMENT: That's encouraging, but it's only encouraging. The only poll that counts is the one on election day. Many of the races that Republicans are depending on are actually very close. A Democratic surge, or a successful fear campaign by the Dem leadership ("They'll take away your Social Security") may just reverse enough races to save things for the president's party. For our side it has to be work, work, work. Work as if you're 20 points behind. Then, we can smile.
August 26, 2010 Permalink