22 December 2008

Douche Of The Week 12.21.08

The Winner: OPEC

The Reason: Raising Fuel Prices

The Story

Saudi Arabia, OPEC's de-facto leader, said Wednesday the oil group will slash production by 2 million barrels a day at the beginning of next year — its largest single reduction ever.

Russia and other non-OPEC countries said they would join in the effort by removing hundreds of thousands more barrels from the market.

An official decision to cut 2 million barrels from output all at once would be a first for the organization. OPEC had cut that amount from its output four years ago, but that was done in two stages.

Asked Wednesday if he stood by that figure, Naimi told reporters "that's the correct number." Later, he said the cut would take effect Jan.1, pending formal approval by the ministers.

Also significant would be formal support from Russia, Azerbaijan and other non-OPEC producers. Mexico, Norway and Russia slashed production in the late 1990s, at a time oil was selling for about $10 a barrel.

Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said he supported the oil supply cut of at least two million barrels per day at the group's Wednesday meeting in Algeria.

OPEC gave ministers ammunition to justify cuts in its latest monthly market report, released Tuesday. The bloc predicted demand for its crude oil will have fallen by 700,000 barrels per day this year, and will drop by at least twice that amount in 2009 as the worsening global economy "is expected to have a strong impact on oil demand."

Ahead of a formal decision, other OPEC ministers also expressed sentiment for a large cut to shock the market and put a floor under prices.

Shokri Ghanem, Libya's delegate to OPEC, said that "we should make a substantial cut" and that 2 million barrels was "a very good number."

Iranian Petroleum Minister Gholamhossein Nozari did not give a number, but said that Iran would support a reduction of 2 million barrels per day.

Still, while eager to push prices higher, OPEC must weigh production cuts against the risk of driving the economies of its top customers deeper into recession.

A senior OPEC official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly, said "reasonable" OPEC nations would accept prices around $50 a barrel in the short term so as not to contribute to the world economic downturn.

Russian media quote Deputy Premier Igor Sechin as saying Moscow is ready to take 300,000 barrels off the market. And the oil minister of Azerbaijan tells The Associated Press that his country is willing to cut back by the same amount.

The International Energy Agency recently forecast that global demand for oil would fall this year, the first decline since 1983.

Oil's collapse by more than $100 a barrel has made July's all-time high above $147 seem a distant memory but many analysts now expect a rebound and say crude's bear market may prove to have been exceptionally brief.

Oil prices could already have hit rock-bottom for 2008 when they touched lows near $40 a barrel this month, and are poised to climb despite the dire outlook for the global economy.

Merrill Lynch shocked investors earlier this month by saying that oil prices could fall as low as $25 a barrel next year.

Robocop's Comment:

So much for the excuse of supply and demand. Demand is at a constant high, so for our troubles,these sand monkeys want to keep the prices high. When OPEC finally falls on their asses, I hope we don't bail them out.

21 December 2008

More Christmas Joy


11 December 2008


Iraq, American Ally

By Charles Krauthammer

The barbarism in Mumbai and the economic crisis at home have largely overshadowed an otherwise singular event: the ratification of military- and strategic-cooperation agreements between Iraq and the United States.

They must not pass unnoted. They were certainly noted by Iran, which fought fiercely to undermine the agreements. Tehran understood how a formal U.S.-Iraqi alliance endorsed by a broad Iraqi consensus expressed in a freely elected parliament changes the strategic balance in the region.

For the United States, it represents the single most important geopolitical advance in the region since Henry Kissinger turned Egypt from a Soviet client into an American ally. If we don’t blow it with too hasty a withdrawal from Iraq, we will have turned a chronically destabilizing enemy state at the epicenter of the Arab Middle East into an ally.

Also largely overlooked at home was the sheer wonder of the procedure that produced Iraq’s consent: classic legislative maneuvering with no more than a tussle or two — tame by international standards (see YouTube: “Best Taiwanese Parliament Fights Of All Time!”) — over the most fundamental issues of national identity and direction.

The only significant opposition bloc was the Sadrists, a mere 30 seats out of 275. The ostensibly pro-Iranian religious Shiite parties resisted Tehran’s pressure and championed the agreement. As did the Kurds. The Sunnis put up the greatest fight. But their concern was that America would be withdrawing too soon, leaving them subject to overbearing and perhaps even vengeful Shiite dominance.

The Sunnis, who only a few years ago had boycotted provincial elections, bargained with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, trying to exploit his personal stake in agreements he himself had negotiated. They did not achieve their maximum objectives. But they did get formal legislative commitments for future consideration of their grievances — from amnesty to further relaxation of the de-Baathification laws.

That any of this democratic give-and-take should be happening in a peaceful parliament just two years after Iraq’s descent into sectarian hell is in itself astonishing. Nor is the setting of a withdrawal date terribly troubling. The deadline is almost entirely symbolic. U.S. troops must be out by December 31, 2011 — the weekend before the Iowa caucuses, which, because God is merciful, will arrive again only in the very fullness of time. Moreover, that date is not just distant but flexible. By treaty, it can be amended. If conditions on the ground warrant, it will be.

True, the war is not over. As Gen. David Petraeus repeatedly insists, our (belated) successes in Iraq are still fragile. There has already been an uptick in terror bombings, which will undoubtedly continue as what’s left of al-Qaeda, the Sadrist militias, and the Iranian-controlled “special groups” try to disrupt January’s provincial elections.

The more long-term danger is that Iraq’s reborn central government becomes too strong and, by military or parliamentary coup, the current democratic arrangements are dismantled by a renewed dictatorship that abrogates the alliance with the United States.

Such disasters are possible. But if our drawdown is conducted with the same acumen as was the surge, not probable. A self-sustaining, democratic, and pro-American Iraq is within our reach. It would have two hugely important effects in the region.

First, it would constitute a major defeat for Tehran, the putative winner of the Iraq War according to the smart set. Iran’s client, Moqtada al-Sadr, still hiding in Iran, was visibly marginalized in parliament — after being militarily humiliated in Basra and Baghdad by the new Iraqi security forces. Moreover, the major religious Shiite parties were the ones who negotiated, promoted, and assured passage of the strategic alliance with the U.S. — against the most determined Iranian opposition.

Second is the regional effect of the new political entity on display in Baghdad — a flawed yet functioning democratic polity with unprecedented free speech, free elections, and freely competing parliamentary factions. For this to happen in the most important Arab country besides Egypt can, over time (over generational time, the timescale of the war on terror), alter the evolution of Arab society. It constitutes our best hope for the kind of fundamental political-cultural change in the Arab sphere that alone will bring about the defeat of Islamic extremism. After all, newly sovereign Iraq is today more engaged in the fight against Arab radicalism than any country on earth, save the United States — with which, mirabile dictu, it has now thrown in its lot

08 December 2008

05 December 2008

Right to carry guns in U.S. parks expanded

Washington Times

The Bush administration Friday announced a new policy allowing people to carry concealed firearms in nearly every national park and wildlife refuge.

The move changes a nearly 25-year-old policy that only permitted firearms to be carried in areas of parks that are specifically designated for hunting and target practice.

According to the Department of Interior, the new rules apply to national parks and refuges located in states that allow people to carry concealed weapons, and a person carrying a concealed weapon must have proper authorization from the state where the park or refuge is located.

Forty-eight states allow people to carry concealed firearms; only Illinois and Wisconsin do not.

Chris Paolino, a spokesman for the Interior Department, said concealed firearms likely would be allowed in 388 national parks and not allowed in only three.

But Mr. Paolino also said the new rules don't extend to federal buildings on national parks, meaning, for example, that a licensed person can carry a concealed firearm on the grounds of Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, but cannot bring the gun inside Independence Hall.

The change was met with approval from the National Rifle Association, which, along with 51 senators from both parties and Reps. Nick J. Rahall II, West Virginia Democrat, and Don Young, Alaska Republican, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the House Natural Resources Committee.

"We are pleased that the Interior Department recognizes the right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families while enjoying America's National Parks and wildlife refuges," said the NRA's chief lobbyist, Chris W. Cox. "These changes respect the Second Amendment rights of honest citizens as they enjoy our public lands."

The decision puts the incoming Barack Obama administration in a potentially awkward position — whether to reverse the rule and risk an early political fight over the contentious issue of gun rights or let stand the rule, which is disliked by Mr. Obama's liberal base.

Guns were not a major issue in the presidential election, with neither Mr. Obama nor Republican John McCain choosing to emphasize it and Mr. Obama making guarded steps away from some gun control votes he made early in his career and assuring gun owners that he backs the Second Amendment.

Nick Shapiro, a spokesman for the transition team, said only that "President-elect Obama will review all eleventh-hour regulations and will address them once he is president."

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence blasted the decision, saying it will make national parks more dangerous.

"The Bush administration's parting gift for the gun lobby to allow hidden weapons in our parks threatens the safety of these national treasures and those who visit them," said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign. "We should not be making it easier for dangerous people to carry firearms in our parks. We urge proper authorities to use common sense and stop this senseless rule."

The policy change also was opposed by all seven living former National Park Service directors and groups including the Association of National Park Rangers, the Ranger Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.

"This regulation will put visitors, employees and precious resources of the national park system at risk," said Bill Wade, president of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. "We will do everything possible to overturn it and return to a common-sense approach to guns in national parks that has been working for decades."

Mr. Young, the top Republican on the panel that has jurisdiction over national parks and wildlife refuges, worried about efforts to change the new policy.

"While this is a positive step forward, we have to remain vigilant because there are many people in Congress and the incoming administration who strongly oppose our Second Amendment rights," he said.

The push to change the rules began with a letter sent last December to Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne from a group of 39 Republican and eight Democratic senators.

Since the early 1980s, firearms in national parks had to be kept unloaded and packed away, except in those areas where hunting and target practice were specifically allowed.

Proponents of the change said allowing people to have guns in national parks will let them protect themselves from animals and other dangers.

Robocop's Comment:

Holy Shit! Bush did something right? The sky is falling!

03 December 2008

A Small Victory

Dem Supermajority Hopes Crushed

ATLANTA -- Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss handed the GOP a firewall against Democrats eager to flex their newfound political muscle in Washington, winning a bruising runoff battle Tuesday night that had captured the national limelight.

Chambliss' victory thwarted Democrats' hopes of winning a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. It came after a bitter month long runoff against Democrat Jim Martin that drew political luminaries from both parties to the state and flooded the airwaves with fresh attack ads weeks after campaigns elsewhere had ended.

Minnesota -- where a recount is under way -- now remains the only unresolved Senate contest in the country. But the stakes there are significantly lower now that Georgia has put a 60-seat Democratic supermajority out of reach.

With 70 percent of the precincts reporting, Chambliss captured 60 percent to Martin's 40 percent. Chambliss' win is a rare bright spot for Republicans in a year where they lost the White House as well as seats in the House and the Senate.

"It's been a hard and tough four weeks," Chambliss said at a victory party in Cobb County. "We had a hardcore campaign on both sides and while things look good right now, we're going to continue to follow the returns as they come in."

Chambliss' mantra on the runoff campaign trail was simple: His re-election was critical to prevent Democrats in Washington from having a blank check. Chambliss, 65, had angered some conservatives with his vote for the $700 billion bailout of the financial services industry and his early support in 2007 for the guest worker provision in President Bush's immigration bill. But fearful of unchecked Democratic dominance, some came back into the GOP fold Tuesday.

Martin made the economy the centerpiece of his bid, casting himself as a champion for the neglected middle class. He also linked himself at every opportunity to Barack Obama and his message of change. The Democratic president elect was a no show on the campaign trail in Georgia but did record a radio ad and automated phone calls for Martin.

In the end, Martin, a 63-year-old former state lawmaker from Atlanta, wasn't able to get Obama voters back to the polls in large enough numbers to overcome the Republican advantage in Georgia, which has become an increasingly a reliable red state since 2002.

Turnout was light throughout the state Tuesday. A spokesman for Secretary of State Karen Handel predicted between 18 and 20 percent of the state's 5.75 million registered voters would cast ballots -- far less than the 65 percent who voted in last month's general election.

The runoff between the former University of Georgia fraternity brothers was necessary after a three-way general election prevented any of the candidates from getting the necessary 50 percent.

Chambliss came to the Senate in 2002 after defeating Democratic Sen. Max Cleland in a campaign that infuriated Democrats. Chambliss ran a TV ad that questioned Cleland's commitment to national security and flashed a photo of Osama bin Laden. Cleland is a triple amputee wounded in the Vietnam War.

He was a loyal supporter of President Bush and, as a freshman, rose to become chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. the former agriculture lawyer from Moultrie has been the ranking Republican on the panel since Democrats won control of the Senate.

Some 3.7 million people cast ballots in this year's general election, and both sides have since tried to keep voters' attention with a barrage of ads and visits by political heavy-hitters.

Former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore both stumped for Martin. President-elect Barack Obama recorded a radio ad for Martin and sent 100 field operatives, but he didn't campaign in the state despite a request from Martin to do so.

Several ex-Republican presidential candidates made appearances for Chambliss, including GOP nominee John McCain, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Chambliss brought in Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain's vice presidential pick, as his closer. She headlined four rallies for Chambliss across the state Monday that drew thousands of party faithful.

Robocop's Comment:

I am surprised that the Libtards are not bringing this up in court like they do every other time they lose something. I hope this at least slows Obama's agenda down.

02 December 2008

Meet the Taliban

By Clifford D. May

‘Afghanistan is the most foreign country in the world,” says William Wood, the American ambassador in Kabul. I ask if I may quote him on that. He hesitates, then says it’s alright, then adds: “It’s a ferociously foreign country.”

Mountainous, landlocked and remote, populated by legendary warriors — Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek — historically rich but economically dirt poor, Afghanistan has been in a state of turmoil for almost 30 years, since the Soviet invasion of 1980. “People here are used to violence, Gen. David McKiernan, the U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, says. “But they also have been traumatized by violence.”

By 1989, the Afghans had defeated the Soviet invaders — a great and consequential victory, achieved with assistance from the U.S. But once the Russians were gone, Americans and Europeans lost interest in Afghanistan. Warlords fought among themselves for land, power and wealth — mostly in the form of the poppies from which heroin is made.

In 1994, a group of provincial vigilantes led by Mullah Mohammed Omar, the administrator of a religious school, rose up against the chaos and corruption. He and his followers called themselves “the students” — the “Taliban” in the Pashto language.

The Taliban restored law and order. People welcomed that. The Taliban also had the support of Islamists entrenched in Pakistan’s intelligence service. The Saudis approved as well.

Before long, the Taliban’s ultra-radical agenda became apparent. Girls were no longer permitted to go to school. Women could not leave their homes unless covered from head to toe in a burqa and accompanied by a male. Singing, dancing, playing music, watching television, sports, even flying kites — an Afghan national pastime — were prohibited. Prayer five times a day became compulsory.

Those who transgressed were sentenced to amputations or executions — by the thousands, often in public. Traditional tribal leaders were murdered and replaced by fire-breathing mullahs who broke with Afghan tradition by combining religious and political power.

In March 2001, the Taliban dynamited the Buddhas of Bamiyan — giant statues, great works of religion and art, built in the sixth century. To the Taliban, these were pagan “idols” that deserved destruction — like all things not Islamic. “It is purely a religious issue,” then-Afghan Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawekel told a Japanese reporter.

The Taliban, wrote the Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, represented a new kind of Islamic fundamentalist: “aggressive, expansionist and uncompromising in its purist demands to turn Afghan society back to an imagined model of seventh-century Arabia at the time of the Prophet Mohammed.”

At this same time, of course, the Taliban also was providing refuge to a Saudi exile by the name of Osama bin Laden. He was plotting another kind of assault against the despised infidels. In the wake of the slaughter of September 11, 2001, the Taliban remained loyal to bin Laden and al-Qaeda. The result was an American-led invasion of Afghanistan and the toppling of the Taliban.

Both bin Laden and Mullah Omar escaped, presumably to the wild reaches of western Pakistan.

Today, Taliban forces — bolstered by Arabs, Chechens, Pakistanis, and other “foreign fighters” — are attempting to retake Afghanistan, using the same terrorist tactics that al-Qaeda used in Iraq: assassinations, roadside bombs, and — while I was in Afghanistan earlier this month — throwing acid in the faces of young girls walking to school. A European diplomat in Kabul notes that this year 900 Afghan policemen have been killed — an improvement over the 1,200 killed in 2007. “The Taliban are not sentimental people,” he says.

Like other militant Islamists groups — Hamas and Hezbollah, for example — the Taliban acts locally but thinks globally. “We want to eradicate Britain and America,” Ay’atulah Mahsoud, the emir of the Pakistani Taliban, has said, “and to shatter the arrogance and tyranny of the infidels. We pray that Allah will enable us to destroy the White House, New York and London.”

The available evidence suggests the vast majority of Afghans would not welcome the Taliban’s return to power. Indeed, the Taliban has not managed to regain a single city. But they have been stepping up the violence.

In past years, fighting has slowed during Afghanistan’s cold and snowy winter. This season, Gen. McKiernan plans to keep the pressure on. “If we allow enemy forces time to rest and relax over the winter,” explains one of his commanders, “they will be back with a bang in the spring.” The hope — one can’t yet say the expectation — is that Pakistan also will move aggressively against Taliban fighters within is borders.

“Do it right,” an American general in Kandahar says, “and we won’t have to come back here years from now.

01 December 2008

Chicago Defies the Second Amendment

by Steve Chapman

Since the Supreme Court upheld the individual right to own guns last summer, one municipality after another with handgun bans has faced reality. Washington, D.C., which lost the case, changed its law. Morton Grove, Ill., repealed its ban. So did neighboring Wilmette. Likewise for Evanston. Last week, Winnetka followed suit.

Then there is Chicago, which is being sued for violating the Second Amendment but refuses to confront the possibility that what the Supreme Court said may apply on this side of the Appalachians.

When it comes to firearms, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is no slave to rationality. "Does this lead to everyone having a gun in our society?" he demanded after the ruling came down. "Then why don't we do away with the court system and go back to the Old West, where you have a gun and I have a gun and we'll settle it in the streets?"

From listening to him, you might assume that the only places in North America that don't have firefights on a daily basis are cities that outlaw handguns. You might also assume that Chicago is an oasis of concord, rather than the site of 443 homicides last year.

So it's no surprise that Daley refuses to make the slightest change in the handgun ordinance, preferring to fight the lawsuits filed by the National Rifle Association. He is not impressed that 1) the law almost certainly violates the Constitution, which elected officials are supposed to uphold, and 2) it will cost taxpayers a lot of money to fight lawsuits the city is bound to lose.

The Chicago ban dates back to 1983 -- a time when no one had to worry about the forgotten Second Amendment. The ordinance prohibited the possession of all handguns (except those acquired before the law took effect).

It had no obvious benefits: Homicides climbed in the ensuing years and by 1992 were 41 percent higher than before. But the policy rested undisturbed until last summer, when the Supreme Court ruled that Washington's complete ban on handguns violated the individual right to use arms for self-defense in the home.

If that logic applies to the D.C. statute, it very likely applies to Chicago's law. The city, however, notes that the nation's capital is a federal enclave, and that the court did not say that states must respect the Second Amendment. That's true. The court's ruling also did not say that China is in Asia, which doesn't make it part of South America.

Once upon a time, the Bill of Rights restricted only what the federal government could do: States were free to restrict free speech, conduct unreasonable searches and impose cruel and unusual punishments. But nowadays, the court says that because of the 14th Amendment, passed after the Civil War, states must respect virtually all the rights set out in the Constitution.

There is no reason to think the justices would exempt the Second Amendment from that rule. Ronald Rotunda, a constitutional scholar at Chapman University law school, thinks the Chicago ban has no more than a one in five chance of surviving court review.

That might be worth the gamble except for all the money the city is asking to be relieved of. The losing side would not only have to cover the costs of its own lawyers but also pay the winning attorneys. In the D.C. case, the amount has not been settled, but the lawyers who handled the suit asked the court for nearly $3.6 million, while Washington offered some $800,000. So if Daley insists on fighting all the way to the Supreme Court, the total tab will probably run into multiple millions.

The city says this is not necessarily money that can be saved, since even a revised ordinance could face a court challenge. But sensible changes might deter opponents from pursuing a lawsuit, and if not, at least the new version would stand a good chance of being upheld. Judging from its lawsuit, the NRA is aiming only at eliminating the city's total ban on handguns -- which is what the Supreme Court will almost surely demand anyway.

Daley's recalcitrance may be viscerally satisfying to him and some others, but it doesn't change the choice the city faces. It can change the law now or it can change it later. Later will be a lot more expensive

Robocop's Comment:

This is classic Libtard hypocrisy. They applaud when the court embarks on judicial legislation. Yet, when the courts actually do their actual job of interpreting the Constitution, they throw a tantrum. By the way, the homicide rate in the "old west" was much lower than "civilized" areas with gun control like New York. Perhaps this is also a classic example of Libtard memory loss.

30 November 2008

The Law on Terror

By Wendy E. Long

It was not just any after-dinner speech.

Last Thursday night, at the annual gala of the Federalist Society, Attorney General Michael Mukasey delivered a keynote address that will go down as a speech of historic proportions: a solemn, powerful, and disarmingly blunt apologia for the Bush Administration's legal positions and actions in War on Terror.

The tough, no-nonsense, stoic former Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, who inherited from his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, a Justice Department that had become a shooting target for liberal critics in Congress, the legal academy, and the media, answered those critics head-on.

And he put down a marker for the incoming Obama administration: given the dangers involved and the stakes for the security of Americans, there will have to be a better reason than the empty criticisms voiced to date to justify an Obama departure from the Bush legal architecture.

The familiar refrain that the War on Terror has trampled constitutional rights, civil liberties, and even the rule of law itself rests "on a very dangerous form of amnesia that views the success of our counterterrorism efforts as something that undermines the justification for continuing them." Because the Administration's strategy has been "successful based on what matters most" -- that in the more than seven years since September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda hasn't launched another terrorist attack on American soil -- the critics seem to assume that Al Qaeda "never posed much of a threat after all."

But the threat that materialized on 9/11 was as unprecedented as it was real. The fact that "19 lightly armed terrorists could murder nearly 3,000 Americans" in the "most catastrophic attack on our homeland since Pearl Harbor," Mukasey said, created a new kind of "asymmetric warfare" that forced President Bush and his advisors to reassess and revise not just the military, but also the legal, tools to fight back. The Bush response, as he summarized it, was to:

Declare war: Some critics still argue that "war" in this situation is unjustified. One does not declare war on isolated instances of crime. But systematic terrorism can't be addressed after the fact, as America did as late as the 1990s, just by sending the FBI to collect evidence and then prosecuting the perpetrators. Indeed, Osama bin Laden was already under indictment for the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. On September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration finally recognized the war that Al Qaeda and other groups had declared years earlier.

Capture and detain the enemy: Unlike ordinary criminals who are apprehended, indicted, and often freed on bail, terrorist warriors captured by the U.S. military should not be returned to the battlefield (or released to join it). They needed to be detained, and where appropriate in military judgment, transferred to the U.S. naval station at Guantanamo Bay.

Reorganize government to keep Americans safe from attack: Domestic security agencies throughout the executive branch were brought under the umbrella of the new Department of Homeland Security, and a "Director of National Intelligence" was established to coordinate intelligence efforts in tracking and preventing terrorist attacks. The FBI was restructured to gather intelligence beforehand, not just gather evidence after, attacks.

Enhance intelligence gathering: The lightning pace of technological advances in recent years required new legislation -- the Patriot Act and modernization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- to allow analysts, investigators, and intelligence professionals to access data about the enemy's communications and movements.

Typical of the critics of these and other Bush legal policies, Mukasey said, was the head of a nonpartisan legal organization who gave a speech condemning the "oppressive, relentless, and lawless attack by our own government on the rule of law and our liberty." Mukasey noted that the lawyer didn't rely for his criticisms on the text of the Constitution, statutes, treaties, or laws. Instead, he cited the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the New York Review of Books. There has been a widespread condemnation of the Bush War on Terror by critics who fail to distinguish between "whether a course of action is permitted as a matter of law, and whether that course of action is prudent as a matter of policy."

And even when legal arguments are raised against the Bush policies, they fail to acknowledge that there is an equally, if not more, powerful legal justification to support the Bush course in uncharted waters when Americans' safety and security is at stake. For example, the Bush position that such non-citizens held abroad cannot use the U.S. civil courts to challenge their detention is grounded in the text of the Constitution, historical practice, and -- before several months ago -- Supreme Court precedent.

As Mukasey noted, even the majority of the Supreme Court in the recent Boumedienne decision (allowing Guantanamo inmates to file habeas corpus petitions in U.S. federal courts challenging their detention) acknowledged that the Court had never before held that noncitizens detained by our government outside the United States had any rights under our Constitution. (Hitler's "willing executioners" would doubtless have been pleased to assert their rights under the U.S. Constitution to challenge their detention while awaiting trial at Nuremberg.)

Now that a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court has given those detainees such "rights" (the text of Constitution actually calls the writ of habeas corpus a "privilege," and says that it "shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it"), the first federal court rulings handed down last week ordered 5 of the first 6 detainees released. In an op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal the morning after his speech, Mukasey said the general problem with these hearings is the attempt to apply "a civil litigation framework to wartime decisions that often must be made on the basis of the best available intelligence." Accordingly, he warned, courts are going to arrive at different answers in the some 250 Guantanamo habeas cases now pending. And "I fear," he said, that some of those answers will "create risks for our national security."

Bush antagonists in Congress have asked the Attorney General to appoint a special counsel to open a criminal investigation into the actions of the President, cabinet members, administration lawyers, and intelligence officers in connection with CIA interrogation of captured members of Al Qaeda. Mukasey said they've presented no evidence that these government officials acted with "any motive other than a good-faith desire to protect the citizens of our Nation from a future terrorist attack," and there is no indication that any government official "sought to authorize any policy that violated our laws."

IRONICALLY, IN THE MIDDLE of Mukasey's speech about opponents of the War failing to make their case in law or reason, he was interrupted by a heckler -- a state court judge -- who stood and shouted at him, "Tyrant! You ARE a tyrant!" Pausing briefly to look in the direction of the heckler, but returning immediately to his speech, Mukasey was too much of a gentleman to quash the outburst by saying that such wild charges and name-calling illustrated precisely the point of his remarks.

The Attorney General made it almost to the end of his speech, and then, suddenly and inexplicably, he faltered and collapsed. Shock and concern over his collapse overshadowed his final point: that the Bush administration had tried "to make sure that our counterterrorism efforts stood on a sound institutional and legal footing so that the next Attorney General and the new Administration have what they need to assure the safety of the Nation."

The Obama administration, as he noted, will review those institutions and legal decisions that have kept us safe for the past seven years. He expressed "hope" that the Obama administration "understands the threat we continue to face and that it shares the priority we have placed on remaining on the offense to prevent future terrorist attacks."

As we left the ballroom after the Attorney General was rushed to the hospital, those present had a dual sense of uncertainty -- about his condition and about the future course of the War on Terror.

As to the former, thankfully, the word came within hours that the Attorney General was well. As to the latter, one can say only one thing for sure: the Mukasey speech is one that history will vindicate, in one way or another.

29 November 2008

Playing Games at Gitmo

By Michelle Malkin

The human-rights crowd is right: Life is hard for a Guantanamo Bay detainee. The deprivation is unspeakable. According to the facility’s “cultural adviser,” their brains have not been “stimulated” enough. So this Thanksgiving, America is drawing up plans to provide the 250 or so suspected jihadists at the “notoriously Spartan” detention camp with basic sustenance including, as reported by the Miami Herald, movie nights, art classes, English-language lessons, and “Game Boy-like” electronic devices.

Next up: Wii Fit, Guitar Hero, Sudoku, People magazine, and macrame. Anything less would be uncivilized.

On a deadly serious note, the detainees aren’t the only ones playing games at Gitmo. Some top legal advisers and supporters of Barack Obama, whose name detainees chanted on election night, are now rethinking the president-elect’s absolutist campaign position on shutting the center down and flooding our mainland courts with every last enemy combatant designee. Yes, reality bites. And Democrats must now grapple with the very real possibility that an Obama administration could potentially release a Gitmo denizen who would turn around and commit mass terrorist acts on American soil or abroad.

Nothing clarifies the mind like a jihadi boomerang. Never before have an administration and its followers matured so quickly in office — and they haven’t even taken office yet.

While Obama paid lip service to the “Close the Gitmo gulag!” agenda on 60 Minutes over the weekend, his kitchen cabinet is proceeding more pragmatically. Believe it or not, the Obama crowd is now contemplating a preventive detention law and an alternative judicial system for the most sensitive national security cases involving the most highly classified information — information that has no place being aired in the civilian courts for public consumption.

Listen to relentless Bush critic David Cole, who told the New York Times last week: “You can’t be a purist and say there’s never any circumstance in which a democratic society can preventively detain someone.” Added Ben Wittes of the Brookings Institution: “I’m afraid of people getting released in the name of human rights and doing terrible things.”

Moreover, Obama transition team members have suggested to The Wall Street Journal that despite his campaign season CIA-bashing, “Obama may decide he wants to keep the road open in certain cases for the CIA to use techniques not approved by the military, but with much greater oversight.”

Next thing you know, they’ll start arguing that the world has been fooled by years of sob-story propaganda about the Gitmo detainees — funded by Kuwaiti government-subsidized lawyers who cast them all as innocent potato farmers and schmucks dazed and confused on battlefields.

Next thing you know, they’ll rediscover the facts that detainees have systematically lied and exaggerated stories about mistreatment at Gitmo, and that interrogators and military personnel have bent over backward to accommodate their personal and religious needs and wants.

Next thing you know, they’ll start reminding us that dozens of former Gitmo detainees have been released and recaptured on the battlefield while committing acts of terrorism.

Funny, when President Bush and his homeland-security team realized these very realities seven years ago, they were branded terrorists and hounded relentlessly by Congress, the media and the left. When Attorney General Michael Mukasey eloquently defended the administration’s counterterrorism policies at the Federalist Society before he collapsed, he was heckled as a “tyrant.” And when I wrote my second book expounding on this very thesis, I was labeled a racist and fascist whose ideas exploring the proper balance between security and civil liberties had no place in public discourse.

Now, at long last, some liberals have realized that the sacred goal of “regaining America’s moral stature in the world,” as Obama put it, may be less important than ensuring that al-Qaeda killers don’t strike on American ground again.

Viva la Hope and Change

27 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

In 1621, after a hard and devastating first year in the New World the Pilgrim's fall harvest was very successful and plentiful. There was corn, fruits, vegetables, along with fish which was packed in salt, and meat that was smoke cured over fires. They found they had enough food to put away for the winter.

The Pilgrims had beaten the odds. They built homes in the wilderness, they raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, and they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. Their Governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.

The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770's) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.

In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.

26 November 2008

Cautiousness You Can't Believe In

By George Neumayr

Like Barack Obama, Bill Clinton ran on the mantra of "change," but many of his plans for it ran aground not long into his presidency. Now Obama seeks to enact the radical changes Clinton couldn't.

His recruitment of Clinton-era leftists isn't "governing from the middle," but an attempt to implement the thwarted radicalism of Clinton's first two years in office. It suits the ideological purposes of the media to push "the middle" gradually leftward and cast the return of experienced Clinton-era hands as a measure of Obama's caution and moderation.

But this is circumspection at the service of radicalism. Obama is not choosing experience over radical change, but choosing experience for the sake of it. What the Daschles and Holders couldn't accomplish in the 1990s they will try again now. The passage of time hasn't made their positions any less radical.

A sign of the ease with which Obama practices stealth radicalism is that he can even take positions to the left of those early Clinton-era positions and still retain the media's halo of moderation.

Notice that at change.gov legislation Clinton passed -- legislation that was considered outrageous at the time -- is deemed insufficiently liberal in Obama's eyes. Take Clinton's job-killing Family and Medical Leave Act. It is just not good enough for Obama: "The FMLA covers only certain people who work for employers with 50 or more employees. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will expand the FMLA to cover businesses with 25 or more employees, and to cover more purposes including allowing: leave for workers who provide elder care; 24 hours of leave each year for parents to participate in their children's academic activities at school; leave for workers who care for individuals who reside in their home for 6 months or more; and leave for employees to address domestic violence and sexual assault."

Expansion of past liberal legislation, not modification of it, is the theme of the web page for the most part, whether it's Clinton's minimum-wage hikes (which Obama thinks should be turned into a "living wage") or "hate crimes" legislation: "Obama and Biden will strengthen federal hate crimes legislation, expand hate crimes protection by passing the Matthew Shepard Act, and reinvigorate enforcement at the Department of Justice's Criminal Section."

That an incoming president has a special section devoted to the "LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] Community" isn't exactly a sign of governing from the middle either. Obama hints at his support for gay marriage on the page by including the word "full" in front of same-sex civil unions: he favors not just civil unions but "full civil unions." Or, as his wife put it during the campaign, "robust" civil unions. Whenever Obama arrives at that nebulous destination point to which he referred in his victory speech, euphemisms like "full civil unions" will apparently no longer be necessary.

The Clinton-era retreads Obama is selecting wanted these purer liberal positions in the first place and will have another crack at advancing them. They are eager to sweep away the very compromises, such as the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the military and Defense of Marriage Act, that political resistance forced them to craft reluctantly. This prior experience, and the bogus media-decreed establishment respectability that comes with it, will make their task all the easier. An Eric Holder or Tom Daschle are far more effective conduits for radicalism than any fresh face championed by Daily Kos.

Obama likes to present his positions in the form of triangulation -- he is just offering a reasonable third way. But he invariably places the third position to the left of the first liberal one, or at best restates it (as in the case of tax hikes, in which he used tax rates under Clinton to argue for the moderation of his plan; he wasn't raising taxes, he said, but "restoring" previous tax rates).

His decision to clear the bench of old Clinton hands in Washington fits this game plan perfectly. Still ringing in their ears is the Fleetwood Mac-performed inaugural them of "yesterday's gone." While they couldn't accomplish that in two years or two terms, they now have a chance to get "there" with Obama.

25 November 2008

The Tru Meaning Of The Second Amendment

Robocop's Comment:


Defense needs must come first

From The Washington Times.

If the U.S. military infrastructure that the Obama administration will inherit in January could be compared to racing cars, it would be a collection of clunkers - manned by brilliant and heroic drivers, but nevertheless drivers who can't take their vehicles around the track with any assurance the cars won't break down or run out of gas. Not to mention that the drivers are exhausted from the previous races.

Of course, the metaphor is inspired by recurrent deployments of equipment and manpower in Iraq and Afghanistan, with both the equipment and personnel getting banged up badly, the latter more psychologically than physically (hundreds of thousands of current military have post-traumatic stress syndrome, according to some studies.) Despite a roughly $685 billion military budget that nearly equals all the rest of the world's military budgets combined, the two wars at hand have sucked much of the necessary funding away from other defense needs -- more specialized units to help friendly countries, more littoral combat ships, more ground troops to break the far-too-frequent cycle of deployments, more sealift and airlift capacity, more replenishment of dwindling war stocks, the list goes on.

Military experts are almost unanimous that the nation's current military might is terribly ill-equipped to meet national security challenges. That's not just Iraq and Afghanistan, or al-Qaeda forces elsewhere such as Pakistan, but the potential threats from North Korea, Iran, China, Russia, and smaller unstable countries such as Somalia. Even The New York Times (who would have thought?) editorialized: "To protect the nation, the Obama administration will have to rebuild and significantly reshape the military."

Rebuilding and reshaping must be done prudently, but it must be done, with a clear understanding of our enemies and what's at stake. With many hands and many causes clamoring to get into the public Treasury, and the economy in a tizzy, it is vital to the nation's very survival that the real needs of national defense in this volatile world be first in line. The only real entitlement Americans should expect is the entitlement of living in a free and secure America

24 November 2008

Bush's Legacy: European Socialism

by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann

The results of the G-20 economic summit amount to nothing less than the seamless integration of the United States into the European economy. In one month of legislation and one diplomatic meeting, the United States has unilaterally abdicated all the gains for the concept of free markets won by the Reagan administration and surrendered, in toto, to the Western European model of socialism, stagnation and excessive government regulation. Sovereignty is out the window. Without a vote, we are suddenly members of the European Union. Given the dismal record of those nations at creating jobs and sustaining growth, merger with the Europeans is like a partnership with death.

At the G-20 meeting, Bush agreed to subject the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and our other regulatory agencies to the supervision of a global entity that would critique its regulatory standards and demand changes if it felt they were necessary. Bush agreed to create a College of Supervisors.

According to The Washington Post, it would "examine the books of major financial institutions that operate across national borders so regulators could begin to have a more complete picture of banks' operations."

Their scrutiny would extend to hedge funds and to various "exotic" financial instruments. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), a European-dominated operation, would conduct "regular vigorous reviews" of American financial institutions and practices. The European-dominated College of Supervisors would also weigh in on issues like executive compensation and investment practices.

There is nothing wrong with the substance of this regulation. Experience is showing it is needed. But it is very wrong to delegate these powers to unelected, international institutions with no political accountability.

We have a Securities and Exchange Commission appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, both of whom are elected by the American people. It is with the SEC, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve that financial accountability must take place.

The European Union achieved this massive subrogation of American sovereignty the way it usually does, by negotiation, gradual bureaucratic encroachment, and without asking the voters if they approve. What's more, Bush appears to have gone down without a fight, saving his debating time for arguing against the protectionism that France's Nicolas Sarkozy was pushing. By giving Bush a seeming victory on a moratorium against protectionism for one year, Sarkozy was able to slip over his massive scheme for taking over the supervision of the U.S. economy.

All kinds of political agendas are advancing under the cover of response to the global financial crisis. Where Franklin Roosevelt saved capitalism by regulating it, Bush, to say nothing of Obama, has given the government control over our major financial and insurance institutions. And it isn't even our government! The power has now been transferred to the international community, led by the socialists in the European Union.

Will Obama govern from the left? He doesn't have to. George W. Bush has done all the heavy lifting for him. It was under Bush that the government basically took over as the chief stockholder of our financial institutions and under Bush that we ceded our financial controls to the European Union. In doing so, he has done nothing to preserve what differentiates the vibrant American economy from those dying economies in Europe. Why have 80 percent of the jobs that have been created since 1980 in the industrialized world been created in the United States? How has America managed to retain its leading 24 percent share of global manufacturing even in the face of the Chinese surge? How has the U.S. GDP risen so high that it essentially equals that of the European Union, which has 50 percent more population? It has done so by an absence of stifling regulation, a liberation of capital to flow to innovative businesses, low taxes, and by a low level of unionization that has given business the flexibility to grow and prosper. Europe, stagnated by taxation and regulation, has grown by a pittance while we have roared ahead. But now Bush -- not Obama -- Bush has given that all up and caved in to European socialists.

The Bush legacy? European socialism. Who needs enemies with friends like Bush?

23 November 2008

A recipe already doomed for disaster

By Merrill Matthews.

President-elect Barack Obama says his plan to ensure universal health-insurance coverage will lower family premiums by about $2,500 a year by the end of his first term - a roughly 20 percent reduction in the $12,000 cost of an average comprehensive family health-insurance policy.

While most health economists agree there is waste in the system - perhaps as much as 30 percent - the question is where is it and how to remove it? The Obama team suggests at least three areas for savings:

-- Computerizing medical records would save $77 billion.

-- Reducing administrative costs would cut out $46 billion.

-- Improving prevention and chronic disease programs would reduce spending by $81 billion.

How did Mr. Obama come up with those figures? Is he inflating those numbers (rather than his tires)?

The New York Times published a story recently outlining how some of his advisers reached these conclusions. Let's just say the process wasn't what you'd call academically rigorous. And it's certainly not the kind of hard numbers one would want to build a health care reform campaign around - unless no one is willing to exercise the audacity of inquiry.

Take Mr. Obama's $77 billion savings on computerizing medical records. The campaign pulled this figure from a study by the well-respected RAND Corp., which says that widespread (90 percent) adoption of health information technology would cost perhaps $8 billion a year to implement, but "annual savings from efficiency alone could be $77 billion or more." But the study goes on to say, "Because process changes and related benefits take time to develop, net savings are initially low at the start of the 15-year period, but then rise steeply." In other words, no help early on.

And now the Congressional Budget Office has raised questions about whether aggressive efforts to adopt health information technology would create any significant savings.

Of course, the fact is doctors and hospitals are increasingly computerizing their medical practices on their own - or at least mine are - without threats from the government.

Even shakier is Mr. Obama's hope of saving $46 billion in administrative costs. Government-run health care proponents claim that Medicare has a 2 percent administrative cost, while private health insurers spend 20 percent or 25 percent - or more. Both numbers are wrong.

As the Council for Affordable Health Insurance showed in a study by a Milliman actuary, that 2 percent is simply the cost of processing Medicare claims. The figure doesn't capture rent on the buildings, management, monitoring for fraud, etc. - all the things that private insurers must include in administrative costs. Medicare's real administrative costs are nearly three times the official figure, while the administrative costs of large groups in the private sector, which can maximize economies of scale, are only a little higher than Medicare's.

Finally, with regard to prevention and chronic disease, about 75 percent of our health care dollars go toward such diseases as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and others. Since many - though clearly not all - of the chronic diseases can be a result of lifestyle choices, getting people to change their behavior could significantly reduce total health care spending and improve quality of life.

But how do we do that in a free society? Many employers and insurers are taking a carrot approach, exchanging premium reductions or other perks when employees participate in certain measures or programs. The government, by contrast, tends to use a stick - and a pretty big one at that. Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, for example, proposed requiring everyone to get preventive care and an annual physical.

To be sure, we can and should improve in the area of prevention and chronic care management, which could both improve health and save money. But be very skeptical of any proposal that claims it can save $80 billion a year. People just aren't that fond of tofu.

What Mr. Obama's plan really lacks - and why it will certainly fail - is a way to get the economic incentives aligned correctly so that consumers have a reason to be value-conscious shoppers in the health care marketplace. Instead, he distorts incentives even more than they are by imposing more mandates, regulations and price controls.

We probably can cut health insurance by $2,500 a year, as Mr. Obama suggests, but only by giving consumers, not bureaucrats, more control over their health care dollars

22 November 2008

Public Improvement Announcement 11.22.08

Kentucky Executes Child-Killer Who Asked for Death

EDDYVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky has executed a confessed child-killer who resisted all appeals.

In the state's first execution in nine years, 37-year-old Marco Allen Chapman was given a lethal injection Friday at the Kentucky State Penitentiary. He was pronounced dead at 7:34 p.m. CST.

Chapman pleaded guilty in 2004 to killing two children in their northern Kentucky home in a 2002 attack that wounded their mother and another child.

He asked to be put to death and fought for the right to fire his attorneys to clear the way.

Kentucky's last execution was in 1999, when Eddie Lee Harper died by lethal injection.

Israel's Existential Threat

By Philip Klein

Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Iran and is prepared to take military action to prevent the possibility of the Islamic regime obtaining such weapons should diplomacy fail, according to a senior Israeli security source.

"If you consider the prospect of military action, you have to consider the alternative of a nuclear Iran, and that reality is worse than the consequences of any military action," the source said in an interview conducted last week in Tel Aviv.

In the United States, there is a vibrant debate over how seriously to take the threat of Iran becoming a nuclear power. In the wake of the Iraq War, there is little appetite among Americans to launch a military strike on another nation in the Middle East in the name of preventing it from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. Some American analysts argue that the Iranian regime would never risk its own demise by using nuclear weapons, and they have dismissed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration that Israel should be "wiped off the map" as mere rhetoric.

But in Israel, the issue is a lot less muddy. While dangers from Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist groups persist, a nuclear Iran would threaten Israel's very existence. A majority of the country's population resides on a narrow strip of land along the coast, north and south of Tel Aviv, making the prospect of a nuclear blast in the area catastrophic. With the memory of the Holocaust seared into the minds of Israelis, they don't have the luxury of debating whether or not to take Ahmadinejad at his word.

"There's no margin of error, because you can't take the risk that they have the capability, and that it's only a matter of intentions," the security source explained. Iran could decide that they "have the ability to finish the Jewish problem once and for all…so this is something we cannot tolerate."

The source said "the international community's pressure on Iran isn't efficient" and predicted that "the window of opportunity will close, and soon. We're not talking about decades, but years. Perhaps months."

Asked specifically whether or not Israel would resort to military action, the source responded by saying that "all the options are on the table and relevant."

Noting reports that Iran had learned a lot from Israel's air strike on Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981 and had spread out its nuclear facilities and buried them under bunkers, TAS asked, "Do you think there is a viable military option?"

The source then repeated the earlier statement about keeping all options on the table, but placed special emphasis on the words "and relevant," later adding that, "there is a point that we may be forced to take action because of the alternative."

Meanwhile, an Israeli official familiar with the ongoing diplomatic efforts to prevent a nuclear Iran argued that there were still tools that could be employed against Iran to resolve the issue without military action, but said that at the moment, Iran seems intent on continuing its nuclear program.

"You don't find a lot of countries on Earth as determined as Iran," the official said.

According to the source, the combination of diplomatic and economic warfare could be effective in thwarting the nuclear ambitions of the Iranian regime, especially with the price of oil declining, and given the fact that Iran imports a majority of its refined oil. The problem is that at the moment, the UN Security Council process remains "frozen" and Russia and China have prevented sanctions that would have had more teeth.

Over the course of the campaign President-elect Barack Obama called for engaging Iran, even famously vowing to hold unconditional talks directly with President Ahmadinejad. The position makes Israelis nervous because it could allow Iran to buy more time to perfect its uranium enrichment capacity.

"Israel is not ideologically opposed to engagement, but we don't want to put the cart before the horse," the official said.

Citing a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the official explained that Iran had overcome many technological challenges, and once it mastered the nuclear fuel cycle, it could be well on its way to obtaining nuclear weapons should it decide to go that route.

"Iran is trying to run out the clock, and the international community keeps struggling for a magic formula, and it hasn't found one yet," the official said

21 November 2008

ANWR -- Trillion-dollar Arctic cathedral

By Robert Nelson

Barack Obama promised change. Here is a good prospect. Few areas of public debate have been as stale - as barren of substance, focused instead on powerful emotional symbols - as the oil development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northeast Alaska.

For the environmental movement, ANWR development long ago became a sacred cause that served above all as a litmus test of whether "you are with us or against us." It is time to move past all that.

The proponents of ANWR development have also distorted the picture by themselves making false arguments. First, it should be acknowledged that ANWR oil production will not in itself come close to achieving energy independence for the United States. Second, ANWR production alone will not affect oil prices significantly. Even the large reserves that ANWR possesses are not large enough, relative to the total world oil market, to have much effect on future world prices.

The real issue in ANWR is the proper use of the fiscal assets of the U.S. government. The oil there is worth, minimally, $500 billion in gross value and, potentially, $1 trillion dollars or more - depending obviously on the future world price of oil. With the current dire economic situation, and federal deficits projected to approach a trillion dollars in the next year or two, the United States can no longer afford to leave this immensely valuable economic asset to simply sit idle.

The best estimates available, released by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1998, concluded there was a 95 percent probability of finding at least 5.7 billion barrels of "technically recoverable" oil, a 5 percent probability of finding 16.0 billion barrels, and a 50 percent "mean" probability of finding 10.4 billion barrels. For the mean probability, this includes 7.7 billion barrels actually inside ANWR on federal lands, and 2.7 billion barrels owned nearby by Alaska Native Corps. and the state of Alaska (which could be economically produced only in conjunction with the development of the ANWR federal reserves).

World oil prices have been changing so rapidly that any prediction is uncertain. But at assuming for purposes of discussion a future world oil price of $50 per barrel, the mean expectation for the federal and nonfederal ANWR oil reserves is a cumulative gross market value of more than $500 billion - and it would be worth more than $1 trillion at prices of $100 per barrel. It might cost $20 to $30 per barrel to produce most of the ANWR oil, but the net revenues (after costs) would still probably be greater than $300 billion (and could turn out to be much higher, depending on the future price of oil). To put this in perspective, the United States could have paid most of the interest payments on the national debt in 2008 with the likely future oil revenues obtainable from ANWR.

The objection will no doubt be raised that ANWR production would benefit oil companies, not the federal government or average American citizens. As noted above, however, three-quarters of ANWR oil is on federal land, and the rest is on Native American and Alaska state land. Like existing federal oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), the ANWR oil would probably be made available to oil companies by competitive auctions and the government would also charge a large royalty on any future production. Throughout the world, the true beneficiaries of petroleum resources are not the oil companies who may physically extract the oil but the actual owners of the resource.

It is true that the residents of Alaska might benefit disproportionately - one reason virtually every Alaska politician, Democratic and Republican alike, has strongly favored ANWR production. In past proposed legislation to make ANWR oil available for exploration, any future revenues derived from the federal part of the oil resource would be shared 50/50 with the state of Alaska. However, if oil prices stay as high as they have been recently, it would be reasonable to reduce the Alaska share - say to 25 percent or less.

But what about the environmental costs? Remarkably enough, considering the widespread opposition to oil development, they are modest. In 2003, the National Academy of Sciences released the most authoritative study to date of the environmental consequences of oil development on the North Slope of Alaska. The study concluded that in the Prudhoe Bay area (on lands owned by the state of Alaska) the extensive past oil development "had not resulted in large or long-term declines in the size of the Central Arctic Herd" of caribou (which had in fact increased in numbers). Ironically, some animal species increased in numbers due to the oil company presence. It might not represent the ideal of wild nature but brown bears, Arctic foxes, ravens, and glaucous gulls had benefited from "the ready availability of new sources of food from people in the oil fields."

The proponents of ANWR oil development have signaled a willingness to divert a share of future revenues to other environmental purposes. Even if this is only a small percentage share, many billions of dollars of ANWR revenues could be committed to building new trails, providing greater visitor services, and otherwise upgrading the National Parks. Additional billions could be made available to compensate private land owners and otherwise taking more steps to protect endangered species.

Seen in this light, the net environmental impacts of ANWR oil development from the perspective of the nation as a whole would be overwhelmingly positive.

Instead, the environmental movement seeks to maintain ANWR as a quasi/religious symbol of isolated nature supposedly "untouched by human hand." Given all of today's other fiscal needs, a cathedral in the Arctic worth as much as a trillion dollars is more than the nation can afford.

Robert H. Nelson is a professor of environmental policy in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland and an affiliated senior scholar with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

20 November 2008

The Insane Rage of the Same-Sex Marriage Mob

by Michelle Malkin

Before Election Day, national media handwringers forged a wildly popular narrative: The right was, in the words of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, gripped by "insane rage." Outbreaks of incivility (some real, but mostly imagined) were proof positive of the extremist takeover of the Republican Party. The cluck-cluckers and tut-tutters shook with fear.

But when the GOP took a beating on Nov. 4, no mass protests ensued; no nationwide boycotts erupted. Conservatives took their lumps and began the peaceful post-defeat process of self-flagellation, self-analysis and self-autopsy.

In fact, in the wake of campaign 2008 there's only one angry mob gripped by "insane rage": left-wing same-sex marriage activists incensed at their defeat in California. Voters there approved Proposition 8, a traditional marriage initiative, by 52 percent to 48 percent.

Instead of introspection and self-criticism, however, the sore losers who opposed Prop. 8 responded with threats, fists and blacklists.

That's right. Activists have published on the Internet an "Anti-Gay Blacklist" of Prop. 8 donors. If the tables were turned and Prop. 8 proponents created such an enemies list, everyone in Hollywood would be screaming "McCarthyism" faster than you could count to eight.

A Los Angeles restaurant whose manager made a small donation to the Prop. 8 campaign has been besieged nightly by hordes of protesters who have disrupted business, intimidated patrons and brought employees to tears. Out of fear for their jobs and their lives, workers at El Coyote Mexican Cafe pooled together $500 to pay off the bullies.

Scott Eckern, the beleaguered artistic director of California Musical Theatre in Sacramento, was forced to resign over his $1,000 donation to the Prop. 8 campaign. Rich Raddon, director of the Los Angeles Film Festival, is next on the chopping block after the anti-Prop. 8 mob discovered that he had also contributed to the "Yes on 8" campaign. Calls have been pouring in for his firing.

Over the last two weeks, anti-Prop. 8 organizers have targeted Mormon, Catholic and evangelical churches. Sentiments like this one, found on the anti-Prop.8 website "JoeMyGod," are common across the left-wing blogosphere: "Burn their f---ing churches to the ground, and then tax the charred timbers."

Thousands of gay-rights demonstrators stood in front of the Mormon temple in Los Angeles shouting "Mormon scum." The Mormon headquarters in Salt Lake City received threatening letters containing an unidentified powder. Religion-bashing protesters filled with hate decried the "hate" at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif. Vandals defaced the Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills, Calif., because church members had collected Prop. 8 petitions. One worshiper's car was keyed with the slogans "Gay sex is love" and "SEX." Another car's antenna and windshield wipers were broken.

In Carlsbad, Calif., a man was charged with punching his elderly neighbors over their pro-Prop. 8 signs. In Palm Springs, Calif., a videographer filmed unhinged anti-Prop. 8 marchers who yanked a large cross from the hands of 69-year-old Phyllis Burgess and stomped on it.

In San Francisco, Christians evangelizing in the Castro District needed police protection after the same-sex marriage mob got physical and hounded them off the streets. Enthusiastically shooting themselves in the foot, anti-Prop. 8 boycotters are now going after the left-wing Sundance Film Festival because it does business in Mormon-friendly Utah.

Also targeted: Cinemark Theaters across the country. The company's CEO, Alan Stock, donated just under $10,000 to the traditional marriage measure. Never mind that Cinemark theaters are hosting the new biopic about gay icon Harvey Milk. They must pay for the sins of the company head who dared to exercise his political free speech.

Corporate honchos, church leaders and small donors alike are in the same-sex marriage mob's crosshairs, all unfairly demonized as hate-filled bigots by bona fide hate-filled bigots who have abandoned decency in pursuit of "equal rights." One wonders where Barack Obama -- himself an opponent of Proposition 8 -- is as this insane rage rages on. Soul-Fixer, Nation-Healer, where art thou?

Country First, No Surrender

by Guy Benson

The election is over, and the results aren't pretty for Republicans. Barack Obama won the presidency by a fairly comfortable margin, Democrats expanded their majority in the House, and the GOP is hanging onto the filibuster by a hair in the Senate. Now that the rallies have died down, the attack ads have been pulled off the air, and Americans are facing a new political reality, it may be instructive for those who supported the McCain-Palin ticket to revisit a slogan with which they're quite familiar: "Country First."

Throughout the general election season, this catchphrase adorned thousands of McCain rally signs, stump speech podiums, and election banners. It summed up, in two simple words, the essence of McCain's candidacy—the Republican ticket would put the nation's interests above all else, including partisan consideration and personal ambitions. Many of the 57 million citizens who pulled the lever for McCain have at some point waved a placard featuring this motto, and countless more have chanted it at campaign stops. Now that the votes have been cast and the people have spoken, what does "country first" mean for those who are disappointed with the results of November 4th? The Republican post-election manifestation of this noble creed should take several forms.

First, it should mean respecting the President of the United States, and the office he holds. The Left has attacked, defamed, belittled, and mocked the current president for the better part of eight years. They often carp about America's standing in the world without suspecting for an instant that their ceaseless efforts to tear down their own country's leader may well have contributed to the negative perception abroad. The Right should prove itself to be better than that by affording the new president the respect he deserves. Conservatives should do so not merely to foster a smug sense of superiority, but because it's the right thing to do. We face a dangerous and hostile world, rife with regimes and organizations that would like nothing better than to see the United States unravel. A modicum of national unity and solidarity could go a long way to put the country in the best position to confront these challenges.

President Bush's harshest critics vowed to move overseas after his election, and renewed the same silly pledge four years later. Disappointingly, precious few followed through on their immature threats, opting instead to undermine the sitting commander in chief at every turn. Many seemed to take a bit too much pleasure in American economic and military setbacks over the last eight years, so long as they could be laid at the feet of the man they so despised. When Katrina hit, prompting a woefully inadequate federal response, the near-joy with which the Left pilloried the Bush administration seemed to outstrip any real concern for the actual victims. Conservatives ought not fall into this political trap. Actively rooting against a presidency to the point of hoping for widespread suffering leading up to the next election is shamefully political and, indeed, unpatriotic.

Furthermore, the GOP cannot simply become the Grand Obstructionist Party. Knee-jerk opposition and partisan gridlock marked the Tom Daschle era in the US Senate from 2002 to 2004. What did these tactics earn them? A slew of lost seats, and a one-way plane ticket back to South Dakota for minority leader Daschle. Sen. John Thune successfully challenged Daschle, in part, by employing the rallying cry of "Stop the Obstruction" against a Democratic leader who orchestrated filibusters to thwart everything from Republican-sponsored legislation to a long roster of judicial appointments. The public viewed the Democrats as a party that had cornered the market on complaining and obstructing while proposing few proactive remedies. Sound familiar 2008 Republicans? With the roles now reversed, Republicans cannot simply be the party of "No!" over the next few years, as tempting as it may be. Not only do they lack the power or numbers to stop everything they'd like to, voters will continue to be unimpressed with a party whose main aim appears to be blocking and frustrating their political opposition.

On the other hand, a final—and crucial—element of embracing a "Country First" mentality is adhering to another McCain slogan, "No Surrender." It demonstrates neither good will nor patriotic fervor to simply lay down political arms and capitulate on essential values and principles. Granted, considering its weakened state, the Republican apparatus in Congress will be forced to pick its spots carefully to avoid the aforementioned obstructionist image, but when a cause is deemed worth fighting for, conservatives ought to battle to the political death.

A few examples come to mind. The possible attempt by the Left to silence talk radio through the Orwellian "Fairness" Doctrine is an abomination to the First Amendment and worthy of vigorous opposition. Card check, otherwise known by its misleading "Employee Free Choice Act" moniker, also merits a fight. Denying workers a private ballot on which to decide of whether or not to unionize represents an appalling transfer of power and intimidation tools to union bosses. Finally, the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which Obama once cited as a top priority, must be stopped. Pro-life and pro-choice Americans can agree that some reasonable restrictions on abortion are acceptable. Bans on partial birth abortions and parental notification laws, for example, are widely supported by Americans of all stripes. FOCA would wipe away virtually all democratically-implemented checks on unfettered abortion, and would introduce taxpayer funded abortion. This must not be tolerated, and should be resisted every step of the way.

In his election night victory speech, President-elect Obama quoted Abraham Lincoln's words, "We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." Obama then pledged to listen to the voices of the tens of millions who opposed him, explaining that he needs their help and promising to be their president, too. These Americans should heed his call for unity and give him the benefit of the doubt until he gives them reason to believe otherwise. They should also remind him of this promise, and make sure that their voices are heard loudly, clearly, and respectfully for the next four years.

19 November 2008

Keep Right

By Jonah Goldberg

By now you’ve probably heard: The GOP is becoming too regional, too white, too old to compete at a national level. Democrats look like a merging of the cast of Rent and Up With People, while Republicans look like diehard fans of Matlock and Murder, She Wrote.

Fine, fine. The GOP needs to win over more Hispanics, young people, suburban women. That sounds perfectly plausible. But what does “win over” mean?

To listen to many pundits and analysts, it means Republicans must become Democrats. The GOP has become too socially conservative, and if it wants to win the support of mainstream voters, it will need to become more socially liberal. To be “economically conservative but socially liberal” is the beginning of wisdom for this school of thought.

Or, put another way, if only the party could be more like former New Jersey Gov. and Bush EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman, these voices have been saying for years, the GOP would truly become the majority party. Remember the Alan Alda character on NBC’s blessedly defunct West Wing? We were told that his pro-choice stance on abortion would make the Republican Party vastly more competitive in places like California and New York.

The problem is that Alda’s TV character is only marginally more fictional than Christine Todd Whitman. Economically conservative social liberals are the “jackalopes of American politics,” in the words of the National Review Institute’s Kate O’Beirne. The press keeps telling us they exist out there in huge numbers, but when you go looking for them, they refuse to emerge from the bushes.

In fairness, many people do describe themselves this way. Most of the time we simply call them “Democrats.” Those who call themselves Republicans should more properly be called “confused.”

This is not to say that one can’t be a moderate on this issue or that and be a Republican. But the idea that social liberalism and economic conservatism can coexist easily is not well supported by the evidence. For example, in Congress and in state legislatures, the more pro-life you are, the more likely you are to be a free-market, low-tax conservative. The more pro-choice you are, the more likely it is that you will be remarkably generous with other people’s money.

Former Sen. Phil Gramm, the best deregulator of the last 20 years, was adamantly pro-life. Sen. John Sununu, who just lost a brutal campaign in New Hampshire, is a champion of economic liberty and social conservatism. Even Ron Paul, the arch-libertarian congressman from Texas, almost surely would lose his seat if he weren’t ardently pro-life.

One objection is that “economic conservatism” and “fiscal conservatism” are different things. One can be socially liberal and fiscally conservative, in the sense that you’re only willing to constrain your statist do-goodery to the extent you’re able to pay for it. This is certainly an intellectually defensible position.

But politically, this is hard ground to defend. It turns out that people who buy into the logic of social liberalism, not just on abortion but racial and other issues as well, usually find themselves ill-equipped ideologically to say no to additional spending on causes they care about. They even find it difficult to stay Republicans, as we can see from recent example Colin Powell, who endorsed Barack Obama for president for largely ethereal reasons.

It should be noted that it’s also difficult to be fiscally conservative and socially conservative if you’ve jettisoned the conservative dogma of limited government. We saw this in spades as President Bush embraced “activist government” and ended up wildly increasing government spending over the last eight years.

And that should serve as a warning to those, on the right and left, who would like to see the GOP defenestrate millions of actual, living, breathing members of the party — e.g., social conservatives — in order to woo millions of largely nonexistent jackalopes. The GOP would simply cease to exist as a viable party without the support of social and religious conservatives. But not so the other way around. We’ve seen what happens in this country when the passionately religious abandon love for limited government and instead embrace social liberalism and government activism. The results have been good, as in the abolition movement. And the results have been more mixed, like during Prohibition and the Progressive Movement.

The religious right is much more likely to stop being “right” than stop being religious. And secular conservatives and libertarians who passionately believe in limited government should be very grateful indeed that most of today’s religious conservatives believe in it, too

18 November 2008

Fifteen Questions For People Who Say the GOP Should Become More Moderate

by John Hawkins

After a second crushing defeat in a row, it's not surprising that there is a debate in the GOP about whether the party should move to the right or even further towards center.

Like many conservatives, I'm of the opinion that we should move back to the right and try to formulate some new ideas and messaging using conservative principles. However, some people disagree. For the people who do, I have some pertinent questions for which no convincing answers have yet been offered.

If you're going to argue that the party needs to move even further away from conservatism, especially on issues like fiscal conservatism and illegal immigration, I'd suggest that these are questions that need to be answered first.

#1) If both the GOP and the Democrats support bigger government, how does the country survive long term given the size of the debt we already have and the deficits we're running right now? In other words, how can running massive deficits possibly be sustainable over the long haul?

#2) If the GOP were to officially become a big government party, wouldn't there be a real danger of having a large third party spring up that would represent the considerable number (I'd say a majority, at least in the abstract) of Americans who do want smaller government and less spending?

#3) If the GOP becomes a big government party, how do you see us differentiating ourselves from the Democratic Party? Do we spend almost as much as they do, but not quite as much? Do we spend even more? Do we favor deficit spending, but just on different things? Isn't there a real danger that Democrats -- since their base tends to generally be OK with excessive spending -- could simply outbid us on anything we offered to the American people?

#4) Since the majority of the GOP's core supporters don't agree with "moderate" positions like big spending or amnesty, feel very strongly about it, and feel those positions harm the party politically, how can the party continue to hew to those positions over the long term without being permanently at odds with the people who should be their strongest supporters?

#5) Let's do the math on amnesty: there are roughly 12-20 million illegal immigrants, most of whom are Hispanics. Hispanics broke 70/30 for the Democrats in 2006 and 69/31 for the Dems in 2008 according to the latest exit poll data. If the split stayed at 70/30 and 12-20 million new illegals were made citizens, that would mean the Democrats would add another 4.8 to 8 million potential new voters as a result of amnesty. The top end of that scale is a larger margin than what Barack Obama won by in 2008.

Additionally, even if the GOP improved our numbers with Hispanics -- which we certainly need to do -- we've never come close to getting 50% of the Hispanic vote. With all that in mind, isn't amnesty political suicide for the GOP?

#6) Some people tend to assume that Hispanics vote almost entirely on the illegal immigration issue, but I would assert that there is very little objective evidence for that. George Bush and John McCain are the two biggest proponents of amnesty in the Republican Party and neither of them is particularly popular with Hispanics today. In fact, according to exit polls, against a candidate who was thought to be weak with Hispanics, John McCain only got 31% of the Hispanic vote. So, what objective evidence convinces you that Hispanics vote largely on illegal immigration and that if the GOP supports amnesty, it will get us over the 50% threshold with Hispanics?

#7) Given that the mainstream media overwhelmingly supports the Democrats, it's extremely important for the GOP to have the support of conservative talk radio hosts, magazines, and the RightRoots. Since the new media is overwhelmingly comprised of conservatives, how does a moderate GOP gain their genuine support over the long haul?

#8) Follow-up question to #7: If the GOP can't get the new media back enthusiastically on its side -- which is likely to be the case unless there are changes on spending and illegal immigration policies -- how does the GOP get the base fired up? In other words, if Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, etc., etc., are telling everyone who'll listen that the Republicans stink, how does the Republican Party work around that?

#9) Setting aside the conservative media, obviously the conservative movement is lacking energy and passion right now. Many people, myself included, would say that this has a lot to do with the position that the GOP has been taking on immigration and spending issues. How does the GOP get conservatives supporting the GOP again, instead of just opposing the Democrats, if the party continues to pursue big government policies and amnesty?

#10) If amnesty, big government, and deficit spending are winning issues for the Republican Party, why did we take such a huge beating in 2006 and 2008 despite pursuing those very policies?

#11) Over the last two elections, moderate Republicans haven't quite been wiped out, but percentage wise, they've suffered much higher losses than conservative Republicans. If moderate Republicans can't even win elections in moderate districts now, why would we want to adopt that losing philosophy across our whole party when conservatives are winning at a much, much higher clip across the country?

#12) As moderate columnist David Brooks has said,

There is not yet an effective Republican Leadership Council to nurture modernizing conservative ideas. There is no moderate Club for Growth, supporting centrist Republicans. The Public Interest, which used to publish an array of public policy ideas, has closed. Reformist Republican donors don't seem to exist. Any publication or think tank that headed in an explicitly reformist direction would be pummeled by its financial backers. National candidates who begin with reformist records -- Giuliani, Romney or McCain -- immediately tack right to be acceptable to the power base.

So, there are no moderate think tanks, no moderate donors, the new media is overwhelmingly conservative, the Republican base and activists are overwhelmingly conservative -- shouldn't that tell people something about whether the idea of a moderate GOP is workable?

#13) Follow-up question to #12: If a moderate Republican Party is workable, how do you make it work without the new media, think tanks, money, or an excited base on your side?

#14) John McCain was the most moderate candidate the GOP has run since Richard Nixon. In fact, he's the standard bearer of the "moderate Republican" wing of the party and yet the media trashed him, he had trouble raising money -- and other moderates, including prominent moderate Republicans like Colin Powell and Christopher Buckley, voted for Obama. In the end, McCain received almost 4 million less votes than Bush did in 2006. Doesn't that suggest that moderate Republican candidates may have trouble raising money, retaining moderates, and generating the enthusiasm from the Republican base that will be needed to win?

#15) When the Democratic Party was out of power, the party moved to the left, not to the center. They obstructed the GOP at every opportunity, put hard-core left-wingers in charge of everything, and ran an extremely liberal candidate in 2008. Granted, they also had moderate Democrats that they ran in states and districts that leaned red, but those people are almost completely locked out of power and their agenda is largely ignored. Since that strategy worked so well for the Democrats, doesn't it make more sense for the GOP to pursue the same strategy instead of continuing the move to the center that has done so much damage to the party over the last two elections?

This Is Funny

Got this from American And Proud

White Guilt Emancipation Declaration

We, black American citizens of the United States of America and of the National Black Republican Association, do hereby declare that our fellow white American citizens are now, henceforth and forever more free of White Guilt.

This freedom from White Guilt was duly earned by the election of Barack Hussein Obama, a black man, to be our president by a majority of white Americans based solely on the color of his skin.

Freedom is not free, and we trust that the price paid for this freedom from White Guilt is worth the sacrifice, since Obama is a socialist who does not share the values of average Americans and will use the office of the presidency to turn America into a failed socialist nation.

Granted this November 4, 2008 - the day Barack Hussein Obama was elected as the first black president and the first socialist president of the United States of America