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The PJ Tatler

Is Obama Dumb? Three Data Points to Consider.

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Point one: When President Obama introduced his new economic adviser today, he spoke for three minutes. He only spoke on the one subject, the economy and this new adviser’s credentials.

The president needed two teleprompters to pull off this one-note, three-minute speech. What person in public life needs a teleprompter just to introduce someone else?

Point two: Obama’s speeches score lower in their content reading level than any other modern president. The words tend to be small, and the sentence structures simple. Obama doesn’t write these speeches entirely, of course, but they are supposed to represent his thinking and are crafted to suit his delivery style.

Point three: Obama himself is a terrible writer. Read Jack Cashill’s post at that link. It’s convincing, and the letter Jack writes about isn’t from fairly early in Obama’s life, but when he was already editor of Harvard Law Review. There are a couple of things in Jack’s post that jump out, to me. One is that many of Obama’s sentences are muddled messes. The other is that Obama’s extemporaneous speaking sounds very similar to the muddled sentences he wrote as a young man. The ideology is certainly the same.

The obvious counter point to this is that Obama has written two books and they’re fine. The counter to that is that he wrote two books about himself, he had a lot of time, and those books went through a publisher’s editorial process to clean them up. The letter in Cashill’s post is straight from Obama’s typewriter.

None of these points by themselves prove that Barack Obama is as dumb as a bag of hammers. I know more than a few people I would consider intelligent to brilliant who are either not very good writers or are even pretty bad writers. Their intelligence manifests itself in other ways, to the point that it’s too obvious to wonder about. They may not write well but they speak in paragraphs, and the choices they make show their smarts clearly enough. Obama might keep his speeches simple so that they will connect with a broader slice of Americans. And he might have trouble memorizing things too, which could account for his use of a teleprompter even in such a brief, one-topic speech.

But the three taken together suggest that Barack Obama actually does not think very deeply, does not retain information very well or for very long, and cannot form the ideas he does believe into coherent, grammatically-correct sentences. For a fourth point, consider that he hardly ever shows any real curiosity or passion about much and has not shown any ability to process new information or change his mind about anything, and you have ample evidence that Barack Obama is quite average, and possibly below average.


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Republicans Banned from Labor Day Celebration?

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by Howard Nemerov

Organizers of the Wausau, Wisconsin Labor Day parade have “made it clear some Republican lawmakers aren’t invited. The reason: not supporting workers’ collective bargaining rights back in February.”

They’re mad because Wisconsin’s Republican legislature and governor curtailed government union bargaining rights. But they ignore the fact that legislation addressed only public employee unions, not those in private enterprise. So the “not supporting workers’ collective bargaining rights” is an overstatement.

(Aside: Why do spineless Republican prostiticians avoid addressing this baseless allegation head-on, thereby strengthening the myth? The main talking point should be: Why should working taxpayers be forced to pay taxes for public employees, who turn around and use our taxes to lobby for more taxes via collective bargaining? They’re using our money to empower themselves to be more effective in getting more of our money!)

Organizers also ignored the fact that many registered Republicans are workers, too. And if it’s true that most non-workers vote Democrat, the insult is even more egregious.

Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple stated that such behavior won’t be tolerated, because the city pays for the insurance and provides other services for the event. Tipple noted:

The banning of a political party from participation at any event co-sponsored by the City is against public policy and not in the best interest of all the citizens of the City of Wausau. And therefore, we encourage the event organizer to invite all interested parties, or reimburse the city for other costs.

There’s another reason for this, perhaps hinted at in the “not in the best interest” phrase: the First Amendment right of assembly. Since the city government is involved in the event, if they ban Republicans, it would be an interesting court case, to say the least.

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Polls: Obama Down, Perry Up

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

The first is from Gallup. President Obama has hit yet another all-time low in support while hitting yet another all-time high in disapproval.

Barack Obama’s approval rating has plummeted to 38 per cent – an all time low for the beleaguered President.

Despite NATO successes in Libya, the latest Gallup poll results show the President continuing to loose ground among voters.

The news came after it emerged whites and women are a re-election problem for Obama, along with his traditional base of younger voters and liberals.

I love the framing in that paragraph — as if “success” in Libya could ever help Obama attract or retain voters. Throw in the dubious nature of the “success” in Libya and no one should expect Obama to get anything more than a dead cat bounce of out that. The real story is the economy, that it stinks, and that Obama is making it worse.

It’s that story that’s helping propel Texas Gov. Rick Perry to the top of the GOP pack. Where Obama is a demonstrable failure on the economy, Perry can point to tangible successes in his record as governor. Perry is also taking the fight to Obama in ways that put him up against the president in what’s looking more like a two-man race. All of that is working to Perry’s benefit.

The survey, released Monday, indicates that 27 percent of Republicans nationwide support Perry for their party’s nomination, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who’s making his second bid for the White House, at 14 percent. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin follows at ten percent, with Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at nine percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who’s making his third bid for the presidency, at six percent. Every one else listed on the questionnaire registered in the low single digits.

The survey follows a Gallup poll out last week which also placed Perry at the top of the GOP field. Other polling released in the past week also confirms the findings of the CNN and Gallup surveys.

“Perry’s support is higher among Republican men, at 32 percent, than Republican women, at 23 percent, but he has more support among either group than any other candidate,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

According to the survey, Perry supporters tend to be older and have higher incomes, but the longtime Texas governor also tops the list, albeit by smaller margins, among lower-income Republicans and those under 50 years old.

“Perry’s biggest support comes from Republicans who say they are supporters of the tea party movement – he wins 37 percent of their vote – but he also edges Romney by a couple of points among Republicans who don’t call themselves tea party supporters,” adds Holland.

How bad are things for Obama right now? About 27 percent of Democrats want another candidate on the ballot next year. We’ve been treated to lots of talk on the weakness of the GOP field over the past few months, but what of the weakness of the Democrats’ one-man field? Having one in four in your own part pining for a replacement, when you’re the unchallenged incumbent, speaks to turnout when it comes time to vote next year.

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Was Bachmann Joking? It Doesn’t Matter: Conservatives Should Discuss It Anyway

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by Robert Wargas

I, for one, do not believe Michele Bachmann was joking when she implied that Hurricane Irene was an act of God. Someone who is as devout a Christian as Bachmann is never completely joking when the word God enters a sentence. What’s more significant is that it doesn’t matter whether she was joking. Merely mentioning the word God in that context is enough to ignite a debate that should be taking place on the Right but sadly is not. No, Bachmann’s comment doesn’t quite sink to the level of Jerry Falwell’s post-9/11 vulgarity, but the Tea Party movement is in many ways a new fusionism, and for the first time in history, it’s not just liberals who might have a problem with Bachmann’s theistic identity politics.

Don’t hate me for bringing this up. It needs to be said. Candidates like Bachmann have not yet come to terms with the fact that vast numbers of young conservatives and libertarians take more cues from Barry Goldwater than they do from Russell Kirk (and it’s not yet totally clear how Bachmann’s church would treat Catholics like Kirk). Indeed, many younger conservatives are not interested in defending Bachmann’s religiosity, much less indulging it. I certainly am not. The same goes for Rick Perry.

There needs to be room in the conservative movement for saying things like, “Please don’t invoke the name of God in every speech.” This is not the same as uttering a favorite liberal sneer like “evangelical.” Nor should it be grounds for, excuse me, ex-communication from the Right. Faith should never be a means of rallying “the base”; it should remain emancipated from the theatrics of campaigning. This is something on which both theist and atheist conservatives ought to agree, or, at the very least, discuss.

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Romney: Obama is the “Triple D President”

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Mitt Romney is out with a pretty solid new attack line, turning the S&P downgrade of US credit into a swipe at the president who did more than any other to make the downgrade happen.

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“I’ll call it a triple D presidency. It’s been a presidency that’s associated with debt. And with downgrade. And with delay.”

Romney goes on to note that with 25 million Americans out of work, Obama shouldn’t be vacationing and playing golf on the vineyard. That fits with his campaign theme – Obama Isn’t Working.

Thematically, Romney is doing nearly all the right things so far. He flipped on global warming last week, but has steadily trained his fire on Obama’s economic record, which is the president’s greatest point of vulnerability. What Romney has not done well, though, is create media coverage and draw the blogs in to aid his attacks well. Every day it seems I could write four or five posts about Rick Perry without really trying, because Perry is so effective at forcing the media to cover what he’s saying. The latest example of that is Perry’s fairly obvious assertion that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Who hasn’t heard that line at least 10 times in your life? Who under 40 doesn’t believe that it’s actually true — because thanks to the size of the retiring Baby Boom generation, it is true? The media hears him say this and thinks “gaffe,” but everyday Americans hear it and think “Yup.” Knowing how the two very different groups will respond, Perry says what he says, the media goes a bit nuts about it, and he generates a whole lot of what turns out to be free positive coverage. And then he’ll get another day of lesser but still positive coverage as various experts come out of the woodwork to say yes, he does have a point here.

Romney has not been as effective at this. He just doesn’t seem to have the instinct for it. But this line, that Obama’s presidency is triple-D, should have some legs. It’s true and it’s easy to repeat and remember and turn into TV and radio ads.

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So, Just How Many Teachers Are There in the State of Texas?

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Skipping ahead, the answer is “A lot.” I was actually surprised to find out just how many teachers there are in the state of Texas.

But why ask the question in the first place? It’s not a “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” question. There has been a blog feud over the past week or so regarding Rick Perry, Aga Khan and a 2005-2006 seminar for about 80 Texas teachers regarding Islam and the teaching of world cultures in Texas public schools. World cultures instruction begins early in Texas schools and covers about what you’d expect: Cultures, traditions, religions and such around the world. Islam is going to come up, just as it did when I was a kid in Texas public schools farther back in the mists of time than I’d care to admit. The allegation regarding the Aga Khan seminar is that it’s not actually instruction, but a dawah, a call to Islamic faith, and makes Muslims out of the teachers. That’s not my view of the curriculum; I don’t think it’s a dawah. That’s the position held by some bloggers including Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. I don’t know Geller personally, but I do know Spencer and consider him a friend and a very credible blogger. I do disagree with them on this story, though. They have made their case, but have not proven it, and their evidence backing up the incendiary charge against Perry, because he met with Aga Khan in 2002 to discuss the seminar, is quite weak. The evidence that Khan himself is a stealth jihadist is also quite weak. For one thing, unlike them I actually live in Texas and have a child in the schools here. If sharia is being taught here, it’s being taught with such stealth that it has had literally no impact at all. For another, the idea that Rick Perry is some sort of stealth sharia supporter is ludicrous and doesn’t square up with his very strong support for Israel at all.

But getting back to the question in the headline, the seminar was given to about 80 Texas teachers. Well, 80 out of how many? How proportionally large a group is this subset of teachers who some claim were indoctrinated by the stealth jihadist, Gov. Rick Perry? It turns out that Texas does publish the number of teachers in the public schools, and it turns out that that number was a political point of contention a little over a year ago, when conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan pointed out that Texas public schools employ a non-teacher for every teacher. PolitiFact checked out that claim (probably at the behest of Democrats who routinely enlist PolitiFact to engage conservatives to brand them liars and whatnot) and found out that Sullivan’s point is “Mostly True.”The proportion of non-teachers to teachers in Texas public schools is nearly one-to-one. Sullivan used that number to point out that there is substantial room to cut public school budgets without laying teachers off, and I rate that statement as “Entirely True.” Just check out the outrageous salaries public school superintendents pull down these days, for one thing.

So here’s the number: There are 321,092 teachers in public schools in Texas. There were probably a few more than 321,092 teachers in Texas in 2006, and there are probably a few less now — budget crunches have hit public schools everywhere. Statistically, the fluctuation probably doesn’t mean much though. Of that number, let’s say 322,000 just to have a round number, 80 teachers of the thousands who actually teach world cultures attended the controversial seminar. Of that number, at least one came away and drafted a curriculum that turned out to be very critical of Islam.

If that’s anyone’s idea of a stealth jihad, well, it’s so stealth as to be entirely meaningless. This whole story is just a rabbit that’s not worth chasing.

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Obama Only Weak On Economic Issues

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by Myra Adams

Republican presidential candidates should put the appropriate amount of emphasis on each of these issues if they are to mount a successful challenge to President Obama.



Terrorism: 60%/38%
Relationships with other countries: 59%/38%
Environment: 57%/39%
Education: 55%/41%
Energy: 52%/45%
Situation in Iraq: 51%/47%
Situation in Afghanistan: 50%/49%
Health care: 46%/53%
Abortion: 44%/44%
Same-sex marriage: 43%/47%
Immigration: 43%/53%
Unemployment: 40%/59%
Taxes: 40%/59%
Gas Prices: 36%/61%
Economy: 36%/63%
Federal budget deficit: 35%/64%=

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Surprise: Iran ‘Discreetly Aided’ Libyan Rebels

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

The maddening ambiguity over our non-war by committee in Libya may be clearing up, but not in a good (or very surprising) way:

Iran “discreetly” provided humanitarian aid to Libyan rebels before the fall of Tripoli, Jam-e-Jam newspaper quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Sunday as saying.

“We were in touch with many of the rebel groups in Libya before the fall of (Moamer) Kadhafi, and discreetly dispatched three or four food and medical consignments to Benghazi,” Salehi told the daily.

“The head of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, sent a letter of thanks to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for having been on their side and helping,” he added.

It would be just as unsurprising to learn that the Iranians had been discreetly helping Gaddafi, too. They’re probably playing both sides so they can gain a foothold no matter who wins. And it will be unsurprising when we learn that Tehran has been operating in Egypt the whole time, too.

As for the Obama administration, it stepped into Libya not knowing who the rebels were at all. There’s no evidence that even after Gaddafi has bugged out and the rebels have overrun Tripoli, that we we know who they are now. We do know that they haven’t handed over the Lockerbie bomber.

You can bet that Tehran knows who they are, though.

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Lawfare Defeats Gaza Flotilla

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Bury ‘em in red tape: The left has used that tactic for decades to tie up business expansion, road building, anything and everything. Now, Israelis have turned lawfare into a weapon against terrorists and their useful idiots.

Hoping to avoid a repeat performance by suicidal activists, the Israelis used lawsuits to halt this year’s blockade runners. A group of Israeli activist lawyers worked with the Israeli government to keep the blockade runners tied up with red tape. Turns out the blockade runners thought, because they were on the side of all that’s good, they could skimp on paperwork and ship safety regulations. Moreover, the blockade runners were going to the aid of a place (Gaza) run by a group (Hamas) that was officially recognized as international terrorists. This provided even more openings for the Israeli lawyers. Nine of the ten blockade runner boats eventually gave up, and the operation [w]as officially a failure. This proved that lawfare works both ways.


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Should Ugly People get Affirmative Action?

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by Helen Smith

“Hell, no!” I thought, as I read a post on this topic at Amy Alkon’s blog but unfortunately, economist Daniel Hamermesh, author of a new book, Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful thinks otherwise. In an article in the New York Times, he states:

Beauty is as much an issue for men as for women. While extensive research shows that women’s looks have bigger impacts in the market for mates, another large group of studies demonstrates that men’s looks have bigger impacts on the job.

Why this disparate treatment of looks in so many areas of life? It’s a matter of simple prejudice….

A more radical solution may be needed: why not offer legal protections to the ugly, as we do with racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women and handicapped individuals?

We actually already do offer such protections in a few places, including in some jurisdictions in California, and in the District of Columbia, where discriminatory treatment based on looks in hiring, promotions, housing and other areas is prohibited. Ugliness could be protected generally in the United States by small extensions of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Ugly people could be allowed to seek help from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other agencies in overcoming the effects of discrimination. We could even have affirmative-action programs for the ugly.

I noticed that some bloggers were arguing about whether or not ugly people have it so bad, but that’s not really the point. The more important point here is that every time some overly-dramatic academic comes up with a “theory,” they run to get the government involved as a “solution” –almost always making the problem worse. It’s no wonder we are in such financial and moral trouble these days.

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Cantor Lists, Assails Obama’s Top 10 Job-Destroying Regulations

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has posted a list of what he terms the Top 10 Job-Destroying Regulations. This is the first list I’ve seen that spells out the most destructive regulations on the move, out of the 4,257 regulations set for implementation this year. Here’s the list. On his blog, Rep. Cantor goes into detail about each one. The dates in parentheses are targets for the House to take them up and repeal them as part of its larger jobs agenda.

1. NLRB’s Boeing Ruling (Week of September 12)

2. Utility MACT and CSAPR (Week of September 19)

3. Boiler MACT (Week of October 3)

4. Cement MACT (Week of October 3)

5. Coal Ash (October/November)

6. Grandfathered Health Plans (November/December)

7. Ozone Rule (Winter)

8. Farm Dust (Winter)

9. Greenhouse Gas (Winter)

10. NLRB’s Ambush Elections (Winter)

The House will begin taking these regulations up for repeal in a couple of weeks. Repeal would depend on the Democratically controlled Senate, of course. But President Obama could unilaterally repeal all but the NLRB action via executive order today if he really wants to get the economy moving again (whether or not he can overrule the NLRB is less clear).

I think the GOP should put the focus on the president to act. He is unlikely to do it; these regulations fit his overall agenda and represent, for him and many of his supporters, policy successes. But pushing him to act while defining the damage these regulations will do highlights that he is choosing to allow these job killers to move ahead, and exposes everything else he says about economic growth to be either clueless or disingenuous. He can’t vote present on this, and can’t be allowed to hide behind the bureaucracy that he controls. Make him answer directly for what his minions are doing to the US economy.

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Why Doesn’t Politico (Or Any Other MSM Organ) Ask If Barack Obama is Dumb?

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Here’s an actual Politico headline on a five-page story they have up today:

Is Rick Perry Dumb?

If you take the time to read the piece, clicking through all five pages, you’re likely to come away believing that the answer to the headline is “No” despite the anonymous smears peppering the piece. But that’s beside the point, since the headline itself will connect three words in Google searches in ways that are useful to anyone opposed to the 9-0 in elections, former Air Force pilot and currently the longest-serving and most powerful governor in Texas’ history.

Having seen Barack Obama in the presidency for nearly three years, though, this question really ought to be asked: Is Barack Obama Dumb?

There is a case to be made that Barack Obama is not very bright. We haven’t seen his college grades at all (Perry’s have already been leaked); if his grades were stellar, he would trumpet them or they would have been leaked by now. In his biography of the president, David Remnick writes that Obama was “a serious, if unspectacular, student” who enjoyed hearing lectures from far left speakers — people with whom Obama already evidently agreed. In his lone foray into foreign policy as a student, Obama wrote about nuclear arms control, siding with the “nuclear freeze” point of view (they turned out to be wrong about everything, from the effects of the Reagan arms build-up to the true intent of the USSR). There is nothing in what we know of Obama’s academic record that suggests he ever challenged himself. Obama published nothing during his time as editor of Harvard Law Review, which is extremely uncommon. His reputation as an adjunct professor was one of detached, aloof laziness. As a state Senator in Illinois, and as a US Senator, Obama was known for eloquence in speaking as long as his notes or teleprompter were handy, but not for any serious achievement. He was a backbencher over on the far left. In Illinois, he won his seat in the state Senate by clearing the field of opponents — he never had to debate them. He was known for voting “present,” a tactic that kept him from having to go on the record on controversial issues — and in the background, may have kept him from having to think much about controversial issues. He did weigh in on one issue, though, when he supported partial birth abortion.

As president, Obama has been known for outsourcing major bills to Congress, and for “leading from behind.” There is to date no evidence at all that Obama is the least bit intellectually curious. He continues to follow policies that have demonstrably not helped lift the US economy out of recession. When he calls up business leaders for their advice, he tends to call up leaders known for agreeing with him, not leaders who might challenge any of his assumptions. When criticized, Obama has proven to be a thin-skinned man prone to overreacting.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s unwise to underestimate one’s opponents. Barack Obama did defeat the Clinton machine which was thought to be invincible going into the 2008 election. His strategy of using the regulatory state to push his agenda despite the fact that Congress has repeatedly rejected that agenda is probably the shrewdest and most effective component of his presidency. Either Obama or those behind him are tactically intelligent.

But on the individual cases, Perry vs. Obama, there is a better case to be made that Obama has benefited from luck, from others’ guilt, from social promotion, and from his instinct to conceal what he really thinks, than Rick Perry has. Perry learned to fly military aircraft, has built an impressive undefeated election record in bona fide contests, and led Texas as that state leads the nation in just about every economic category. In a political blind taste test — cover their names and political affiliations — Perry is by far the more impressive of the two.

The fact is, east coast elitists are prone to treating anyone not from the east coast or Chicago, or who speaks with a flyover country twang, as their inferiors. And a corollary fact is, east coast elites tend to treat anyone with Harvard on their resume as automatically brilliant no matter how they actually got into Harvard (unless they’re a Republican, in which case the insults fly). Bush was dumb though he attended both Harvard and Yale and was a successful pro baseball team owner and governor; Obama is smart despite his record of failure in the presidency and his lack of real achievement prior to. Reagan was dumb because he went to Eureka College. Perry is dumb because he majored in animal science at Texas A&M.

Meanwhile, we still know next to nothing about Barack Obama’s academic record, and his political record suggests that he is much more of an ideologue than an intellect.

Is Barack Obama dumb? I would like to see Politico examine that question. But they won’t. They might end up learning too much.

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Syria Has the Largest and Most Advanced Chemical Weapons Stockpile in the Middle East

Monday, August 29th, 2011 - by Richard Pollock

A front page WaPo article this morning warns that Syria has the largest confirmed stockpile of chemical weapons throughout the Middle East. Syria has repeatedly refused to sign the U.N. chemical weapons convention barring use of the weapons.  The government of Syria’s Bashar al Assad is estimated to have also amassed the most advanced chemical weapons including weaponized Sarin-based warheads. The newspaper citing the CIA as its source says most of Syria’s current chemical arsenal was built by the Russians. Sarin was used by Japanese terrorists in a Tokyo subway in 1995 killing 13 people and blinding or sickening 1,000.

The WaPo’s article is another article subtly supporting the Obama administration’s cautious policy on the Syrian crackdown by pro-democracy demonstrators.  Like most of the pro-democracy movements, President Obama has been slow to embrace the protests in Syria, although his Ambassador Robert Ford has bucked the regime by twice traveling to Syrian cities in support of the demonstrators.

The article warns that if Assad’s regime falls there is the possibility the chemical depots could fall into terrorist hands.  The article by Joby Warrick warns, “it is not inconceivable that weapons could vanish amid the chaos of an uprising that destroys Syria’s vaunted security services, which safeguard munitions.”

The CIA estimates that the regime has “tens of tons of highly lethal chemical agents and hundred of Scud missiles as well as lesser rockets, artillery rockets and bomblets for delivering the poisons.”

The same security services have reportedly killed more than 2,000 civilians in the government’s violent clampdown against protesters and their families.

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Israel Wiped Off the Map, The Sequel

Sunday, August 28th, 2011 - by Michael Ledeen

Yes, he’s said it before, but his little amen chorus is forever chanting “mistranslation!”

Like the criminal returning compulsively to the scene of the crime, he can’t stop himself from doing it again.  Maybe he wants to provoke even bigger protests when he swoops in to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly next month.

Here’s the report as carried by Haaretz:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran was determined to eradicate Israel, ISNA news agency reported Thursday.

“Iran believes that whoever is for humanity should also be for eradicating the Zionist regime (Israel) as symbol of suppression and discrimination,” Ahmadinejad said in an interview with a Lebanese television network, carried by ISNA.

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Where Are Qaddafi’s Sexy (but Virtuous) Bodyguards?

Sunday, August 28th, 2011 - by Michael Ledeen

In the bad old days, Qaddafi was famous for the beauty of his (East German) bodyguards, and of course there were lots of rumors about the relationships between the tyrant and his protective shields.  When the Cold War ended, he changed the cast to locals, who became known as his “nuns.”

So with all  the great reporters in the world, you’d think at least one would be inquiring about the destiny of these famously beautiful, brave and virtuous women.  But so far as I’ve seen, it’s only al Arabiyah.

I somehow hope they survive and write the tell-all book.  It would probably be even more interesting than the Cheney Memoirs…

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MSM Picks Up on Issa Fight With NYT — Two Weeks After the Fact

Sunday, August 28th, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

Stephan Clark over at Fox News is now reporting Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-Calif.) has gone to war with the New York Times over Eric Lichtblau’s hit piece accusing Issa of everything but planning the Lindbergh kidnapping:

Rep. Darrell Issa, the powerful chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has declared war on the New York Times after the newspaper published a front-page story last week linking the California Republican’s business activities to his congressional duties.

The story, “A Businessman in Congress Helps His District and Himself,” claims that Issa has used his congressional power to further enrich himself.\]

Nice Work Stephen, but we had this story two weeks ago. Where you been?

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Obama Arrrested for Drunk Driving in Massachusetts. Wait, What? (Update)

Sunday, August 28th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Not the Obama you’re probably thinking of. It’s only the president’s illegal alien uncle. And he only got arrested for drunk driving, after running his SUV into a police officer’s vehicle.

So, the president’s uncle is an illegal alien drunk driver who hit a cop. No big deal.

A number of media outlets have already reported that an illegal immigrant from Kenya by the name of Onyango Obama, 67, was arrested last week on Wednesday after he rammed his SUV into a police car in Framingham, Massachusetts.

He was later charged with DUI among other violations. I spoke to Framingham Public Information Officer Lieutenant Delaney who told me that when Onyango Obama was asked at booking if he wanted to make a telephone call to arrange for bail, the Kenyan immigrant replied: “I think I will call the White House.”

That’s the Washington Times‘ Kerry Picket reporting. She digs up some 2008 vintage stories to show that this Obama is indeed Barack Obama’s uncle, who moved to the US from Kenya 27 or so years ago and was never seen by the Kenyan side of the Obama family again.

That makes two (known) Obama relatives living in the US who are illegal aliens, Uncle Omar (as the alledged drunk driver Onyango Obama is called) and Aunt Zeituni, who lives on welfare furnished by US taxpayers. Obama’s father also nearly faced deportation, when Harvard sought to have him booted (and dubbed him a “slippery character”). Obama Sr. did live in the US for a time as an illegal alien himself — he overstayed after his visa expired. So that’s three (known)* Obamas who have lived in the US in violation of US immigration law. Being a scofflaw seem to run in the family.

Is it out of bounds to wonder if President Obama enacted his amnesty by fiat in order to keep his welfare queen aunt and drunk driving uncle from having to face deportation? Well, I’m wondering it anyway,** along with noting the obvious political benefits Obama hopes to reap from his lawlessness. Obama’s fiat put a police officer and Massachusetts drivers in very unnecessary jeopardy, with Obama’s drunk uncle who ought to be in Kenya menacing American roads. It will be fascinating to see how Uncle Omar’s case gets handled.

Bottom line: The Obama family apparently doesn’t respect American rule of law at all. Too bad one of them got elected president.

Updates: * — I keep saying “known” because every time we learn about another Obama relative living here in the US, they’re here illegally.

** — Upon further review, this theory is obviously wrong. As proreason points out in the comments, Barack Obama hasn’t shown any sign that he cares much about that side of his family at all, except for his father. So he isn’t granting mass amnesty by fiat for any family reason. Just cynical and lawless politics.

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Al Gore: Global Warming skeptics should be shunned like racists

Sunday, August 28th, 2011 - by Zombie

Al Gore’s freshly energized campaign to demonize Global Warming skeptics officially jumped the shark on Friday when he compared doubters to those eeeevil racists of the Deep South in the early ’60s:

Gore: Global warming skeptics are this generation’s racists:

One day climate change skeptics will be seen in the same negative light as racists, at least so says former Vice President Al Gore….

“I remember, again going back to my early years in the South, when the Civil Rights revolution was unfolding, there were two things that really made an impression on me,” Gore said. “My generation watched Bull Connor turning the hose on civil rights demonstrators and we went, ‘Whoa! How gross and evil is that?’ My generation asked old people, ‘Explain to me again why it is okay to discriminate against people because their skin color is different?’ And when they couldn’t really answer that question with integrity, the change really started.”

The former vice president recalled how society succeeded in marginalizing racists and said climate change skeptics must be defeated in the same manner.

“Secondly, back to this phrase ‘win the conversation,’” he continued. “There came a time when friends or people you work with or people you were in clubs with — you’re much younger than me so you didn’t have to go through this personally — but there came a time when racist comments would come up in the course of the conversation and in years past they were just natural. Then there came a time when people would say, ‘Hey, man why do you talk that way, I mean that is wrong. I don’t go for that so don’t talk that way around me. I just don’t believe that.’ That happened in millions of conversations and slowly the conversation was won.”

Out: Accusing people of being racists.
In: Saying people are just like racists, even when the topic has nothing to do with race.

UPDATE: Buzzsawmonkey keenly points out that the backdrop behind Gore in the video of his “racists” interview has the word “FEAR” hidden as a subliminal message in the geometric pattern on the wall. We’re just lucky it didn’t say “OBEY.”

UPDATE II: Turns out the guy interviewing Gore is associated with a group called “FEAR LESS”, which had their faux-subliminal digital logo as the backdrop. What it all means is anybody’s guess!

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Protesters Show Up – Then Quickly Leave

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 - by Tony Katz

As the Tea Party Express kick-off at the Napa Fairgrounds in Napa, CA, was getting started, (approximately 10:30am PST) the street that bordered the Fairgrounds was lined with protesters, carrying signs saying “Tax The Rich,” as well as multiple solidarity signs professing their connection with Wisconsin, complete with big red fists.  I had spotted two or three protesters on the street corner when the bus arrived at just after 10am PST, but the vast majority had yet to arrive.

There was even a 15 foot tall inflatable rat.  Really. (Video coming soon.)

Yet, as soon as the event got started, (11am PST) they were gone.  No sign of a protester anywhere.  We often hear in the MSM, throughout the leftists blogosphere and from Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and others, that the Tea Party is dead….done….gone.  Yet it was the protestors who had no staying power. After a few poorly organized chants and one woman asking why I hate poor people, they went their own way.

The majority of the Tea Party crowd was still partying at 1:20pm.  The event officially ended at 1pm.  Who has the staying power?  It’s one hell of a metaphor.

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Breaking News Flash! Successful Christian Supports Rick Perry

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 - by Christian Adams

A curious worldview is on full display in this Huffington Post piece by Paul Blumenthal – “Religious Millionaire Backed Rick Perry’s Career.”  Dr. James Leininger is a successful Christian businessman who has supported Perry financially.  There was a time in this country when this piece would have never appeared.  If it did, it would receive an odd reception rather than a place in a leading media forum.  Imagine – “Church Goers Support Coolidge,” or, “Seminarian Volunteers Time for Kennedy.”  But apparently there is a part of America that finds the following commentary in the Blumenthal piece noteworthy:

“Since the 1980s he [Leininger] has pushed a mix of religious right fervor and pro-business activism.”  Oh, the horror!

“In 1994, Leininger pumped tens of thousands of dollars into the candidacies of three Christian conservatives seeking seats on the State Board of Education.”  Yikes!

Even worse, “the board members he supported also shared Leininger’s Christian conservative values.”

And – “Leininger has also bankrolled a number of anti-abortion groups, including Texas Right to Life, Heidi Group and the Christian Pro Life Foundation.”  One thing is for sure, they never tried to kill anyone.

Which brings up an important point.  Apparently to Blumenthal, close association with a successful Christian is worth him spending the time to write the piece.  That there might be an audience for this is doubly unfortunate.  Notably, Blumenthal has never written any other guilt-by-association pieces (if such a thing was possible about Dr. Leininger) about William Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, or other surprises I will be covering in my forthcoming book Injustice.

Thankfully the hardened heart world view of Paul Blumenthal is a distinct minority in this nation.  The founders made no secret of the importance of virtuous influence on public officials.  That Perry attracts the support of such people, to most Americans, is hardly a liability.

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First Amendment Rights of Individuals are Equal to those of Traditional Media

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 - by Dan Miller

In Glik v. City of Boston, et al, a Mr. Glik had used his cellular phone to video and audio tape a police encounter with a man on the Boston Common. He was arrested for doing so but charges were thereafter dropped. He then filed suit in Federal District Court alleging violation of his First and Fourth Amendment rights, viz freedom of speech and from arrest without probable cause. Defendants’ motion to dismiss was denied and an interlocutory appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit followed. The court held that Glik had a Constitutional right to record the encounter and to not be arrested for doing so. As the court noted,

In this interlocutory appeal, the defendant police officers challenge an order of the district court denying them qualified immunity on Glik’s constitutional claims. We conclude, based on the facts alleged, that Glik was exercising clearly established First Amendment rights in filming the officers in a public space, and that his clearly-established Fourth Amendment rights were violated by his arrest without probable cause. We therefore affirm.

This is, or at least should, be fairly simple boilerplate stuff. However, the more interesting analysis follows where the court found no First Amendment distinction between an “ordinary” citizen and a respectable member of the credentialed press.

It is of no significance that the present case . . . involves a private individual, and not a reporter, gathering information about public officials. The First Amendment right to gather news is, as the Court has often noted, not one that inures solely to the benefit of the news media; rather, the public’s right of access to information is coextensive with that of the press. Houchins,(Stewart, J., concurring) (noting that the Constitution “assure[s] the public and the press equal access once government has opened its doors”); Branzburg, (“[T]he First Amendment does not guarantee the press a constitutional right of special access to information not available to the public generally.”).

Indeed, there are several cases involving private individuals among the decisions from other courts recognizing the First Amendment right to film. See, e.g., Smith; Robinson v. Fetterman, (holding that arrest of individual filming police activities from private property violated First Amendment); Cirelli v. Town of Johnston Sch. Dist., (holding that teacher had a right under the First Amendment to videotape potentially hazardous working conditions at school, which were a matter of public concern). Moreover, changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw. The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.

To be sure, the right to film is not without limitations. It may be subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions. . . . We have no occasion to explore those limitations here, however. On the facts alleged in the complaint, Glik’s exercise of his First Amendment rights fell well within the bounds of the Constitution’s protections. Glik filmed the defendant police officers in the Boston Common, the oldest city park in the United States and the apotheosis of a public forum. In such traditional public spaces, the rights of the state to limit the exercise of First Amendment activity are “sharply circumscribed.” Perry Educ. Ass’n v. Perry Local Educators’ Ass’n. Moreover, as in Iacobucci, the complaint indicates that Glik “filmed [the officers] from a comfortable remove” and “neither spoke to nor molested them in any way” (except in directly responding to the officers when they addressed him). Such peaceful recording of an arrest in a public space that does not interfere with the police officers’ performance of their duties is not reasonably subject to limitation. (emphasis added, some citations omitted)

The court did not hold that members of the public (or, for that matter, members of the press) can interfere with the police in the performance of their duties or that discretionary admission of members of the press to crime scenes to examine and/or to record them mandates the admission of members of the public; such matters were not before the court. However, it is refreshing to find a clear judicial acknowledgement that “the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.”

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On Board with the Tea Party Express

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 - by Tony Katz

I have been part of the kick off of the Tea Party Express bus tour as it starts its 17 day, 30 city tour, ending in Tampa, Florida on September 12th for the Tea Party Express/CNN debate.  The tour starts in Napa Valley, and then heads east to Reno, NV, then across the nation up to Maine, finally following the eastern seaboard South to Tampa Bay.

On Friday, August 26th, the Napa Tea Partyheld a dinner in celebration of the impending Tea Party Express launch.  Over 400 people attended a night of music, laughter, conversation and cigars (if you were anywhere near me!)  At the table I sat at, I met a gentlemen in his sixties who drills water wells. With his wife by his side, he told me that he has been drilling for near 40 years, and this is the first year – ever – that there is simply no work.  The economy has just stalled his business.

Another person at the table identified himself as a real estate broker.  He mentioned the massive drop in real estate prices, with houses going for half of what they used to be worth.  I was quick to point out that, especially in California, housing prices are far higher than the national average, and it isn’t that surprising that there would still be serious depression in the California housing market.  He turned to me, agreed with my assessment, and then stated clearly:

It used to be that owning a home was the American dream.  Now, you go into a house, and all you see is broken dreams.

We will be reporting throughout the day on the upcoming rally, any corresponding protests and the feel of the Napa crowd as the 2012 Presidential Race heats up.

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The Education of Janus Adams

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 - by Robert Wargas

First, full disclosure: I have neither seen the movie The Help nor read the novel on which it is based. But I am wondering whether I should bother, as both have seemed to provoke a reaction of rage and resentment among many professionals in the race industry, and the last thing I need is to have my entertainment remind me of this debauched quarter of our society.

The general tenor of this rage is that The Help somehow glosses over (shall we say “whitewashes”?) the more sordid aspects of black females’ service to whites in the pre-Civil Rights South. It is true that before the 1960s, many black women were kept in a state of semi-indentured servitude as maids to Southern white families, and it almost goes without saying that a book or film would not be an adequate rendering of that type of humiliation, unless the objective is to drown the audience in Passion of the Christ-like levels of sadism.

What I found most interesting, however, is that one needn’t have seen or read The Help to know that many of its critics are dishonest frauds, and that their criticism is more about confirming their own paranoid views of whites than about redressing any deficiencies in the book or movie. A perfect example of this crudity is a recent column by historian and commentator Janus Adams in Newsday, in which she decries The Help, in both its literary and cinematic form, as something that falls tragically short of depicting “the pain and the promises we fought for.”

Adams is a black woman, and if this were her only complaint about the The Help, maybe we should listen to her. Any “dialogue” on race, however, soon turns into a monologue. Adams packs her column full of every charge and slander and innuendo that she can muster. For instance, she subscribes to a quasi-conspiratorial theory as to why The Help is not as accurate as it could be: this is “hardly a coincidence,” Adams writes, since “the country is rife with revisionism” due to the “political havoc” created by those (i.e. white non-leftists) who oppose President Obama’s policies. As an example of this denialism, Adams mentions that the Republican leadership opened this year’s Congressional session by reading the Constitution, and in doing so “expunged all mention of slavery from the text.”

There’s nothing to expunge; the Constitution in its present form doesn’t mention slavery, except to ban it. The three-fifths clause (designed to weaken the power of the slave-holding states) is no longer valid. The document contains two things called the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments, which outlaw slavery and ensure equal protection under the law, respectively. Republicans read both those amendments. We are supposed to believe, however, that reading aloud an explicitly anti-slavery document such as the Constitution (which all presidents, black and white, have sworn an oath to defend) is an indication of pro-slavery sentiment.

Unsurprisingly, Adams indulges an overt racism of her own, which she flaunts proudly since there are no consequences for it. She begins one paragraph thus:

“As the writer of histories of African-American women and the Civil Rights era, I was prepared to dislike the film. The book’s author is a white southerner writing for black women, so I knew that neither the book nor the film would tell the story as I knew it from serious research and personal experience.”

Adams was “prepared to dislike the film” simply because the author was white, a fact that, to her, precluded any possibility of the story’s being genuine or accurate or based on “serious research.” Adams leaves out the fact that the book’s author, Kathryn Stockett, was herself raised in Mississippi by her family’s own black “help” and therefore brings at least some authentic insight to the table—and perhaps a bit of empathy.

Let’s say I wrote a column saying that I was “prepared to dislike” anything Adams wrote, since I knew instinctively that she, being a black woman, would either distort or ignore things for her own interests. Would I be published regularly in a large daily newspaper as the resident racial healer?

I feel unoriginal even asking it. These types of questions have become a cliche, but that’s only because they have yet to be answered intelligently. Such hypocrisy is no longer simply overlooked in discussions of race; it is demanded. The race industry cannot sustain itself without two sets of standards; indeed, it is based on the idea that standards are at best something to be molded by one’s “experience” and at worst a construct of the white bourgeoisie.

Licensing hypocrisy has meant that there is no limit to the odiousness that can be spoken by one side in the name of race. Thus the demands of the race industry are Sisyphean as well as ever-expanding. If The Help had never been written, the column inches would have been devoted to decrying the absence of books and films on the experience of pre-Civil Rights black women. Now that such works have been done, the complaint is that the attempt to do the subject justice is itself another indicator of white malice.

Adams declares confidently: “We know this truth, too: Few of the black actresses portraying maids in ‘The Help’ will be offered roles as anything but.”

This is quite an extraordinary claim, and its bombast matches its stupidity. A glance at the Internet Movie Database shows that each of the black women starring in The Help has had careers that nowhere suggest the tendency toward serfdom that Adams predicts for them. One of the actresses, Viola Davis, is a Juilliard graduate who has had a recurring role as a defense attorney in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The film also features Cicely Tyson, a highly accomplished actress with a career stretching back to 1951. So far as I can tell, she never played a maid even before the Civil Rights Act was passed.

Hoping one of her slurs sticks well enough to fool even the dumbest reader, Adams also avers: “On this Women’s Equality Day, there are still many homes where privileged white women employ women black and brown to tend their babies—women conscripted by the inequality of options open to them.”

As one of those evil white revisionists, I should like to recast that last sentiment: On this day, there are still many newspapers where privileged black columnists indict millions of people whom they don’t know—columnists conscripted by the hypocrisy of the industry they serve.

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Perry Bills Feds for $349 Million to Cover Texas Costs of Incarcerating Illegal Aliens

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Your move, Barry.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Securityfor nearly $350 million to cover the costs he says Texas has incurred incarcerating illegal immigrants in state prisons and county jails.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Perry reiterated a claim he’s often leveled against the federal government: that it’s not doing enough to secure the border with Mexico and as a result, has allowed illegal immigrants to enter the U.S. and use taxpayer-funded resources, including the prison system.

 The letter was dated Aug. 10, three days before the Republican governor formally announced he is running for president.

Reached after-hours Friday by phone, DHS spokesman Matthew Chandler said he wasn’t in position to comment and said he could not confirm that the DHS had even received the letter.

This isn’t the first time Perry has tried to get the president’s attention on the border, and Obama is known for not taking any letters from Perry.

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Obama is also known for making stupid insult comic jokes in response to the rolling mess that is the US-Mexico border.

When she was governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano sent several in invoices similar to Perry’s to the federal government.

Two separate stories can give a glimpse of just how extensive and expensive the illegal alien problem is here in Texas. At Dallas’ Parkland Hospital, fully 70% of the births there are to illegal alien parents. And in Leon County, TX, as of two months ago, all five inmates in the county jail were illegal aliens awaiting action by ICE. One hospital, one rural county, a huge and ongoing problem. And note that Perry’s invoice just covers incarceration costs, not the total costs Texans are forced to shell out to support illegal aliens.

Obama’s answer so far: Race-baiting, pandering and a lawless and not very stealthy amnesty by fiat.

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Gore’s Plan to Spam the Social Media Universe

Friday, August 26th, 2011 - by Charlie Martin

Matthew Nisbet’s Age of Engagement blog reports:


Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project has asked their online supporters to donate for one day their Twitter and Facebook accounts to the campaign. The apparent goal on September 14 is to flood the social media networks of supporters with coordinated messages pegged to a 24 hour multimedia event and Internet broadcast.  As advertised, the event features a day of presentations by Gore linking climate catastrophe to the efforts of Big Oil, Big Coal, and climate deniers.

The Climate Reality Project page says:

Starting a day before the event (Sept 13 Central Time) you grant us permission to post on your behalf. We will only post content relevant to 24 Hours of Reality and climate change, and we won’t post more than a few times an hour. You’ll still be able to tweet and use Facebook normally, and you can revoke our access anytime through your Facebook and Twitter settings. After September 15 (CT) we will stop posting any content on your Facebook or Twitter feed and you can revoke our access. [Emphasis mine.]

Now, at my last reload, the page says they have 641,013 registered supporters.  Let’s say “a few times an hour” means every 15 minutes.  That means they expect to tweet 2,564,000 messages an hour.  Now, according to Mashable, the highest number of tweets per hour recorded was when bin Laden was killed, with about 12,000,000 per hour.

In other words, Gore is planning a spam attack to take up at least a quarter of Twitter’s highest load, and run it for 24 hours.

Honestly, I started out being outraged, but you know what?  I say they should go ahead and do it.  This should be fun to watch.

Anyone know what the legal definition of “spam” is?

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North Korea No Longer Heads UN Nuke Watchdog. That Job Now Goes To…Cuba.

Friday, August 26th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Did someone secretly swap reality with what the Onion writes as a parody of reality? There’s this little story about Maxine Waters apologizing to Castro (but the Tea Party can still “go to hell” since they’re the real enemy), and now this story about the UN’s nuclear watchdog swapping hands from Kim Jong-Il to the the world’s other rogue Communist family dynasty.

A top House lawmaker ridiculed the United Nations after Cuba assumed the rotating presidency of a nuclear arms control panel, replacing North Korea at the helm of the group.

Cuba succeeded North Korea on the 65-member U.N. Disarmament Conference in Geneva.

“It’s hard to fathom a more ludicrous image than Kim Jong Il passing the chair of the Conference on Disarmament to the Castro brothers, but that’s what passes for change at the U.N.,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

U.N. watchdogs were outraged when North Korea took the helm earlier this year despite its breaches of arms embargoes and threats to expand its own nuclear program.

Ros-Lehtinen expressed concern that Cuba would “exploit” its new position to “distract from the increasing threat of proliferation posed by its allies Iran, North Korea and Syria.” She called for new “membership and leadership standards” for U.N. organizations.

I’m sure that’s exactly what Cuba will do. For them, that plus the perception of credibility that comes with leading these worse than useless UN bodies is the point of membership.

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When MSNBC Wants an Expert on Hurricane Preparedness, They Naturally Turn to…Ray Nagin

Friday, August 26th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

File this under Not. Making. This. Up.

You don’t even have to watch the video; Nagin doesn’t say anything useful. Sort of like when was mayor.

As the blogger most responsible for finding the infamous buses of New Orleans during hurricane Katrina — buses Nagin was unable to find despite being mayor, but which I and others found on Google though we were hundreds or thousands of miles away from New Orleans — allow me to enjoy a hearty laugh at MSNBC’s folly. They really aren’t even trying to be a serious news network anymore.

Consulting Ray Nagin on hurricane prep makes about as much sense as consulting Tony Romo on winning big games. It makes as much sense as consulting LeBron James on how well he plays four full quarters. It makes as much sense as consulting Barack Obama on creating jobs, or Joe Biden on keeping your mouth shut. It would be more productive to ask Czar Nicholas II about the best way to defeat Communism.

Simply put, Ray Nagin is Exhibit A in how not to handle a hurricane. But he’s a Democrat, so he’s credible to MSNBC. Why didn’t they think of having a Blanco-Nagin Failure Reunion, and get them ready to go out with Obama on his next Magical Misery Tour?

Don’t get me wrong, NOLA had a hurricane plan. But it was a mostly fake plan drafted to kick the hard decisions down the road, and Nagin had failed to learn the lessons of hurricane Georges, as Chris Regan and I wrote back in 2005. As we wrote at the time, Nagin’s New Orleans had–

Plans, working groups, more plans, an in-progress DVD, a near-miss, a relieved sigh, a folding of the hands, and then back to sleep. The city and state had directives to plan the planning session to start the process of making a plan, but little in the way of any real plan to deal with a real disaster. So the buses sat in their lots. The winds and the floods came, the unlucky local officials kicked in Plan B, and the city of New Orleans drowned with its least fortunate trapped inside. The evacuation plan was a plan, but it was really just a ghost plan with ghost buses and ghost drivers, with ghost emergency supplies kept in ghost “shelters” under control of a ghost police force with a ghost emergency communications system overseen by a ghastly governor.

It was a plan for a ghost town. That plan worked.

And here come the ghosts.

Dodging failure, opining on a ghost of a cable news network.

(h/t NewsBusters)

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Biden: You Know, What We Really Need Is Another Government Stimulus

Friday, August 26th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

More government spending is, of course, the last thing we actually need.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Friday the U.S. economy needed more stimulus to get it moving, putting in a plug for government measures shortly before the White House unveils new proposals to boost job growth.

This is the second big signal we’ve gotten from the Obama administration on what his jobs program, outline, whatever, will look like. Obama’s calls to certain business leaders show that he’s considering tax hikes. Biden’s remarks show that he’s also considering more government spending.

They won’t dismantle the regulatory state, and Bernanke won’t bail them out with an interest rate cut. So being liberals, tax and spend is all they can come up with. Tax. Spend. Repeat. If we were to diagram the plan that Obama seems to be formulating, it would look like this.

1. Regulate massively

2. Tax job creators even more massively

3. Spend even more massively, despite the unpatriotic debt already incurred

4. ???

5. Prosperity and re-election! Also: oceans stop rising, lions lay down with lambs.

Question: If liberals like Biden and Obama really do think that government spending is the cure for what ails us, then are they rooting for hurricane Irene to whip ugly on the east coast this weekend?


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Aww: Obama Cutting Vacation Short to Escape the Wrath of Irene

Friday, August 26th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

The approaching nature storm is accomplishing what the ongoing economic storm has not: Get Barack Obama off the links.

Urging everyone in Hurricane Irene’s path to prepare, President Barack Obama decided to cut his vacation short Friday and return to the White House for a storm he described as potentially historic.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the president would leave Martha’s Vineyard a day early, on Friday evening, because it would be prudent to be in Washington as Irene strikes the Eastern Seaboard.

This contradicts stories earlier in the day, which said that Obama was staying put even as island residents were all bugging out. Of course, Obama doesn’t really have to worry about the things the little people have to worry about, like getting stuck in escape traffic for hours while the storm bears down. He can just wring up Marine One and get out any time he likes.

Which leaves time for another round of golf this afternoon, actually.

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Issa’s Communication Director Lights into NYT

Friday, August 26th, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

So it seems the NYT has decided to “correct” a couple of errors in their hit piece on Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-Calif.) the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. You will recall this is the piece where Pulitzer Prize-winning “journalist” Eric Lichtblau, who has a history of hostility toward Issa, painted the congressman as an evil capitalist out to make a buck at the expense of the American people. A corrupt pol, who uses his office to enrich himself.

None of which, except perhaps the part about being a capitalist (which I don’t consider evil) was true. In fact there were 13 factual errors in the piece starting in the lede (pronounced with a long “e”) where Lichtblau talked about Issa’s office being in a “gleaming office building overlooking a golf course.” The “gleaming office building” turns out to be an ugly three-story concrete and glass box and the “golf course” is a freeway. Ever heard of Google Maps Eric?

The NYT has now corrected a grand total of three, according to a release by Frederick Hill, Issa’s communications director:

The office of Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, today sent a letter to New York Times Assistant Managing Editor and D.C. Bureau Chief Dean Baquet.  The letter is in response to one sent to Rep. Issa last night acknowledging two additional significant factual errors in the New York Times’ August 15 front page article while refusing to correct other errors or issue a retraction.  The Times has now run corrections on three items in the story.

Hill sent a letter in return to editor Dean Baquet which stated in part:

Dear Mr. Baquet:

As Congressman Darrell Issa’s Director of Communications, The New York Times’ acknowledgement of two more critical errors in its front page article of August 15 in addition to a previous error corrected on August 16 are steps in the right direction. The new acknowledgement of these false assertions about enormous profits from the sale of a mutual fund and the appreciation of a commercial real estate property owned by Rep. Issa fully removes all examples cited in the article as evidence that the “congressman’s government actions [help] to make a rich man even richer” and that values of his holdings have “soared” due to his official actions.

Hill also pointed out allegations of misconduct (nothing new to the Times) by Lichtblau (contributor’s note, henceforth deliberate lying by the MSM will be referred to as “Doing a Lichtblau”) and even provided a helpful timeline:

Rep. Issa’s office decided not to speak with Mr. Lichtblau for his August 15 story because of concern about his inability to put his negative view and bias against Rep. Issa aside in objectively reporting this story. After reading his story, which contained multiple errors smearing Rep. Issa, we feel vindicated by our decision. Had The New York Times assigned a different reporter, our response would have almost certainly been different.

While you do not offer a clear defense of Mr. Lichtblau’s bias against Rep. Issa and his efforts to smear him with factual errors and other distortions, your letter does contain explicit descriptions explaining your views of my efforts to work with him on correcting factual errors in his story. What follows is a timeline of my interaction with him:
Monday, August 15th, 9:15 a.m., I wrote Mr. Lichtblau asking for corrections from the New York Times. I asked for three corrections: the golf course error, the multibillion rather than multimillion misstatement, and correction of the “major supplier” to Toyota assertion.
On the same day, at 10:31 a.m., Lichtblau wrote back that the multibillion error was a typo that will be corrected, but refused the other two requests. He cited an unspecified advertisement as the source for the golf course statement and an Imus clip from over a year ago as the source on the Toyota supplier confirmation.
At 11:37 a.m., I responded to Mr. Lichtblau expressing my continued disagreement on the items he refused to correct. I asked him to provide me with his editors’ contact information if he still found himself in disagreement with my requests.
At 3:13 p.m., nearly four hours later, he responded to my e-mail with a reply that, in its entirety, read: “You must not have seen the Imus interview.” He did not include any names or contacts for his editors.

All of this really tells you all you actually need to know about Eric Lichtblau, the Times and the Pulitzer, which used to be my dream. Now I think it’s worth about as much as a roll of toilet paper, and the toilet paper is more useful.

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Confirmed: Obama’s Economy Still A Wasteland as Growth Revised Downward Again. Unexpectedly!

Friday, August 26th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

There are two stories out there that, it seems to me, very few are willing to directly connect. Here’s one, which is the story in the headline.

The U.S. economy grew at a meager 1 percent annual pace this spring, slower than previously estimated. The downward revision stoked fears that the economy is at risk of another recession.

Fewer exports and weaker growth in business stockpiles led the government to lower its growth estimate for the April-June quarter from the initial 1.3 percent rate.

The economy expanded only 0.7 percent in the first six months of the year, the Commerce Department said Friday.

It’s interesting how the Obama administration keeps putting out numbers that end up being better than the truth, and the press keeps falling for it.

Now here’s the second story, about which I’ve already written today — the apparently unstoppable march of Obama’s regulatory state. There are 4,257 new regulatory actions hitting businesses this year. That’s on top of the more than 4,000 that hit businesses last year, and the more than 3,000 that hit in 2009.

Am I crazy to see a connection here? When you pound the life out of business with a massive and often confusing regulatory state, you end up with a stagnant economy. A vibrant economy depends to a great extent on confidence — confidence that your hires will help produce more profits, confidence that you will get to reap the rewards for your hard work, and confidence that the state isn’t waiting to spring some nasty new surprise on you ten minutes from now. But fear is part of what is keeping businesses from hiring — fear that their obligations for new hires will outpace the benefits of hiring them, fear that the tax burden will eat up all of their profits, fear that at any moment some insane new regulation will smash into their business like a comet and shut them down entirely. As long as that fear is in command, the economy will not get out of its funk. The gloom, despair and agony out there will not just magically go away.

The latest example of the government as comet strike, by the way, centers on the Department of Justice’s inexplicable action against Gibson Guitar. Last time I checked, it wasn’t the US DoJ’s job to enforce laws passed in India. But that’s what seems to be happening, and has shut down a legendary American icon. If you’re a business owner and you see your own government taking this sort of action, unless you’re Gibson’s most bitter competitor, your reaction is likely to be: Fear. Pair it up with what the NLRB is doing to Boeing: Fear. Throw in a dash of ObamaCare: Fear. See what the EPA is doing to power producers: Fear.

It’s fear, as far as the eye can see. Or at least until January, 2013.

Obama could make some of that fear go away today if he wanted to, by relegating his regulatory state to the dust bin of history via executive order. But Obama is choosing not to do it.

All of this seems very obvious to me, but evidently not to the MSM. They never make the connection. They just keep buying the administration’s inflated growth numbers, and fret that the economy has the Golfer in Chief’s job in jeopardy. And they never call the regulatory state into question.

Obama’s job should be in jeopardy. He either stinks at it, or he is going out of his way to fail at it in order to accomplish some larger purpose. We really aren’t left with any other alternatives here.


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David Brooks, Resident Conservative at the New York Times, Really Wants Romney to Attack Perry

Friday, August 26th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

David Brooks, nominally a conservative columnist at the New York Times, is really really worried that Rick Perry may win the GOP nomination.

His persona is perfectly tuned to offend people along the Acela corridor and to rally those who oppose those people.

That would be, people like David Brooks and Peggy Noonan.

He does very well with the alternative-reality right — those who don’t believe in global warming, evolution or that Obama was born in the U.S.

So now rejecting global warming hooey is part of an “alternative-reality”? I see what you did there, Mr. Brooks, and I don’t like it.

Since Brooks doesn’t like Perry, he decides to give Romney some tips for attacking him.

First, Romney could accuse Perry of being the latest iteration of Tom DeLay Republicanism. On the one hand, he is ideologically slippery. The man who sounds so right wing today was the Texas chairman of the Al Gore for President campaign in 1988. The man who now vows to appoint only anti-abortion officials to relevant administration jobs endorsed Rudy Giuliani four short years ago. On the other hand, he is unwavering in his commitment to the government-cash nexus. Even this week — amid much attention to his pay-to-play proclivities — Perry named two big donors to powerful state jobs.

The second line of attack is to shift what the campaign is about. If voters think Nancy Pelosi is the biggest threat to their children’s prosperity, they will hire Perry. If they think competition from Chinese and Indian workers is the biggest threat, they will hire Romney. He’s just more credible as someone who can manage economic problems, build human capital and nurture an innovation-based global economy.

If only Mr. Brooks had devoted such attention to strategizing against Barack Obama in 2008. But back then, Brooks was too smitten with Obama’s fancy pants-crease to notice what a hard-edged lefty Obama really is.

“I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging,” Brooks recently told me, “but usually when I talk to senators, while they may know a policy area better than me, they generally don’t know political philosophy better than me. I got the sense he knew both better than me.”

That first encounter is still vivid in Brooks’s mind. “I remember distinctly an image of–we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant,” Brooks says, “and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.”

Not to put too tight a bow around that, but the lovestruck Mr. Brooks could not possibly have turned out to be more wrong.

For what it’s worth, it is evident that Romney will have to attack Perry now. He can’t get past Perry without launching some broadsides at him. I don’t think either of Brooks’ preferred lines of attack will work though. For the first, Perry can snap back about RomneyCare, a non sequitur that will put Romney on the defensive about his record while simultaneously pointing out that Perry’s record is solid. Former Democrat? Yeah, so are most Texas Republicans. Supported Gore? That’s way back when Gore was sane. Etc. For the second line of attack, anyone wanting an alternative to Nancy Pelosi would be hard pressed to find a more obvious one than the governor of Texas. Seriously. And neither Perry nor Romney are running against Pelosi anyway. They’re running against Obama.

Brooks would also do well to take a look at how Texas’ innovation-based economy has done over the past decade or so. There’s a reason companies as diverse as Caterpillar and Facebook have chosen to relocate to the Lone Star State. There are reasons more Americans are moving from other states to Texas than any other state. Romney just cannot beat Perry on that point, not when Massachusetts still has the reputation for being a tax-wild deep blue state while Texas boasts the nation’s most energetic economy.

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Pro Golfer to Obama: You’re Playing a Bit Too Much Golf, Champ (Update: ESPN is Not Amused)

Friday, August 26th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Paul Azinger just earned the hero tag. Also, the heh, and obvious tags.

Pro golfer Paul Azinger thinks President Obama might be hitting the links a bit too hard.

The author, businessman and 12-time PGA Tour winner took to Twitter Thursday to zing the commander-in-chief over his frequent golf outings while on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.

“Facts: Potus has played more golf this month than I have: I have created more jobs this month than he has,” Azinger wrote.

Double eagle.

I have a theory about all this golf the president is playing. I haven’t fully thought it all through and it’s going to be controversial, so bear with me.

Tiger Woods notwithstanding, golf has long been seen as a white man’s game. I’m a white man, really can’t stand to watch golf on TV and can barely play it myself, but that is its public perception. I prefer football, soccer, baseball, really nearly anything to golf as a sport. Tiger Woods did a great deal to change the game’s perception, and then he self-destructed.

Beyond the pro game, there’s the perception of golf as a white man’s game because it’s a game in which business deals get proffered and made. It’s a game during which politicians decide the fate of the world while taking a mulligan on the 8th hole. Those politicians have historically been white men.

So along comes the first black president. In two years in office, he has played more golf in office than his predecessor did in eight, despite the fact that his predecessor was regularly ripped for playing golf. Obama didn’t have a particular reputation for playing golf when he came to office, but he does now. He plays golf, gets ripped for it, and then plays more golf. Mitt Romney has even turned Obama’s penchant for not working into a very effective slogan — “Obama’s Not Working.” And he’s not. He’s playing more golf than a pro golfer.

We know Barack Obama is a narcissistic, vindictive sort. We know that he likes to do all sorts of historic things, and sees everything he does in office as precedent-setting, ground-breaking, first evah, changing the game, etc.

So…is Obama spending so much time on the links as a way of sticking it to The Man, by (in his own mind) taking The Man’s power game away from him?

I give it a firm “maybe.” It’s the kind of thing a suddenly powerful, privately bitter, self-centered grievance-mongerer would do.

Update: ESPN has warned Azinger about getting political. I think they should have him on SportsNation and see what the channel’s polls say.

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Surely, Warren Buffet’s $280m Check is in the Mail

Friday, August 26th, 2011 - by Kyle-Anne Shiver

Obama supporter, multi-billionaire, hedge-fund director Warren Buffet has been quite vocal in his calling for higher taxes on the “wealthy.”   Buffet put his name to an August 15theditorial on “shared sacrifice” in the New York Times, writing:

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Let’s try to forget for a moment, dear readers, how many millions (billions?) these mega-wealthy individuals and corporate conglomerates spend yearly on lobbying congress for those showered “blessings,” as well as how many millions more they pump into campaign coffers on the strength of promised “blessings.”  Let’s try to give Warren Buffet the benefit of doubt on the patriotic mantle he’s assuming here.  And let’s try to remember that he could just be indulging a guilty conscience and trying to do something he perceives as “good for the little people” before he dodders off to his final reward or lack thereof.  Benefit of doubt hereby granted.

Let’s just stick to the facts of the matter at hand here.

Following a personal call from President Obama from his Vineyard-vacation hideaway,  Buffet has pumped a cool $5 billion into a floundering Bank of America.  And it has today been reported that Mr. money-bags Buffet made a cool $280 million dollar profit in a single day on this personal investment.

So, surely, Warren Buffet’s $280 million dollar gift check is in the mail – as we speak – to the U.S. Treasury.

In fact, I expect patriotic Democrats to be following Buffett’s example immediately and they can find all the info they need right on the U.S. Treasury website, like I did:

Gifts to the United States Government

How do I make a contribution to the U.S. government?

Citizens who wish to make a general donation to the U.S. government may send contributions to a specific account called “Gifts to the United States.” This account was established in 1843 to accept gifts, such as bequests, from individuals wishing to express their patriotism to the United States. Money deposited into this account is for general use by the federal government and can be available for budget needs. These contributions are considered an unconditional gift to the government. Financial gifts can be made by check or money order payable to the United States Treasury and mailed to the address below.

Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Credit Accounting Branch
3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
Hyattsville, MD 20782

It has also been reported today that Warren Buffett will be hosting a September 30 fundraiser for President Obama in New York, where he is sure to pass the hat.  And surely the reporter who said this will be a political fundraiser to plump the personal campaign chest of Barack Obama got it wrong.

Surely – oh, surely – Mr. Buffett will actually be passing the hat amongst his mega-rich friends for patriotic gifts to our sad and beleaguered U.S. Treasury instead.

If personal gift checks are not immediately forthcoming, then I am hereby declaring all of these Democrat “patriots” are, in reality, cowards and liars.  Actions speak louder than words, honey.  And that’s true whether one is rich as sin or poor as dirt.  Time to call the bluff of every one of these hypocrites.

Put your own money where your mouth is, or shut the heck up.

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Really, Peggy? You’re Worried that Rick Perry May be Too Macho?

Friday, August 26th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Ohfertheloveof…Peggy Noonan now thinks Rick Perry may just be too darn much of a strapping hot tempered he-man for America’s good.

His primary flaw appears to be a chesty, quick-draw machismo that might be right for an angry base but wrong for an antsy country. Americans want a president who feels their anger without himself walking around enraged…

[T]he nation is roiling and restive. After Mr. Obama was elected, the right became angry, feisty, and created a new and needed party, the tea party. The right was on fire. The next time a Republican wins, and that could be next year, it will be the left that shows real anger, with unemployment high and no jobs available and government spending and services likely to be cut. The left will be on fire. The only thing leashing them now is the fact of Mr. Obama.

So there will be plenty of new angers out there. It probably won’t be helpful if the next president is someone likely to add to the drama with a hot temperament or carelessness.

Peggy, you need to let go of the feely stuff and do some research. You also need to spend a few minutes with Perry or people who have spent time around him before writing about him. He’s not walking around enraged, hot-tempered and careless. At all. People who lack self control don’t rack up 9-0 records in political campaigns. They screw up, and either gaffe or tweet their way out of office, or lose the public’s patience and then lose elections.

The Bernanke comment was not a gaffe. It drew attention to a dangerous policy that’s worth opposing, and set up a two-man race for the presidency.

These are not the ‘roids you’re looking for.

It fascinates me, how the very same columnist who completely misread Barack Obama’s temperament is now misreading Rick Perry’s temperament. She and other elitist types saw in Obama’s grin and gauze, a first-class temperament. Never mind he had no experience relevant to the job he sought, and no track record of working with people outside his narrow ideological band. Obama has turned out to be a very thin-skinned man with extremely poor leadership skills and no evident capability to cast his gaze beyond his very narrow and rigid ideology. Noonan herself has noted what a lousy leader Obama has turned out to be. Perry, by contrast, is actually gregarious, quick-witted, and capable of re-examining the world to the point that like Peggy’s former boss, he switched from Democrat to Republican as his former party left him. Perry also was the first major politician in either party to allow scientists to study his own campaign to determine which techniques actually work and which ones don’t, and then applied that new knowledge to both his 2010 campaign and his current one. Perry’s stewardship of Texas shows that he does know how to lead a very large state very effectively. Incapable of controlling himself? The man shot a coyote that attacked his dog, killing it in one shot, on a morning jog. That’s what I call gun control.

What I’m saying in all that, is that Peggy Noonan doesn’t seem to have the foggiest idea what she’s talking about.

Look, we all get things wrong sometimes. Just about a week or so ago, I wrote a fierce little blog post, and went to someone who knew more about the subject than I did to double-check things, and my post turned out to be wrong. So I trashed it. It happens. You get carried away on a theme or a meme, past the point where the facts are keeping up with you. The proper thing to do is keep your mouse off the Publish button until you know more about your subject.

Peggy Noonan needs a fact-checker who knows the subjects she is writing about. She is a great writer but she has now publicly misread two pretty important figures in American life.

(h/t Hot Air)

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