Get PJ Media on your Apple

The PJ Tatler

Rick Moran

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.
Follow Rick:

Obama Will Propose to Close Tax ‘Loopholes’ Worth $320 Billion

Sunday, January 18th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

President Obama, looking to fund a host of new spending schemes, will propose in his State of the Union speech to close tax “loopholes” on the rich that will generate $320 billion over the next decade.

One loophole the president wants to target is the lack of capital gains taxes on assets passed down to heirs via trust funds. The president wants those assets taxed at 28%, which is the rate the president is proposing to increase the capital gains tax and tax on dividends.

Also, big banks with assets over $50 billion would be hit with “fee” on their liabilities, theoretically discouraging them from gambling on borrowed money.

In addition to the much ballyhooed “free” community college goodie the president is proposing, he also wants to increase the tax credit for families with two working parents, and triple the child care credit to $3,000.

Reuters:

In a conference call with reporters to preview the taxation aspect of Obama’s address, one official said some of the ideas the president is outlining already have “clear congressional bipartisan support or are ideas that are actually bipartisan in their nature.”

Obama’s proposals call for reforming tax rules on trust funds, which the administration called “the single largest capital gains tax loophole” because it allows assets to be passed down untaxed to heirs of the richest Americans.

They also would raise the capital gains and dividends rates to 28 percent, the level during the 1980s Republican presidency of Ronald Reagan.

As a way of managing financial risk that could threaten the U.S. economy, Obama also wants to impose a fee of seven basis points on the liabilities of U.S. financial firms with assets of more than $50 billion, making it more costly for them to borrow heavily.

The changes on trust funds and capital gains, along with the fee on financial firms, would generate about $320 billion over 10 years, which would more than pay for benefits Obama wants to provide for the middle class, the official said.

The benefits mentioned on Saturday would include a $500 credit for families with two working spouses, tripling the tax credit for child care to $3,000 per child, consolidating education tax incentives and making it easier for workers to save automatically for retirement if their employer does not offer a plan.

The price tag on those benefits, plus a plan for free tuition at community colleges that Obama announced last week, would be about $235 billion, the official said. Specifics on the figures will be included in the budget Obama will send to Congress on Feb. 2.

“We’re proposing more than enough to offset the new incremental costs of our proposals without increasing the deficit,” the administration official said.

It should be noted that the majority of trust funds are formed by small business owners and entrepreneurs who work their entire lives to build security for their families after they’re gone. And now, Obama is proposing that the Feds swoop down and carve out more than a quarter of that lifetime effort. Reliable information on trust funds is hard to come by, but the most recent survey shows that half of trust funds (median) are worth below $285,000.

Of course, it’s not the amount, it’s the concept. Punishing people for wanting to give their children a decent life when they’re gone is morally repugnant — but perfectly in keeping with the president’s class warrior view of himself. Some people, in his view, just have too much money — even if they don’t — and deserve to have their wealth trimmed.

As for charging fees to big banks to ostensibly prevent them from borrowing too heavily, it’s a good concept — if the federal government wasn’t responsible for implementing policies that encourage reckless loans in the first place.

The benefits are largely uncontroversial. Throw out the community college giveaway and you have very popular proposals to increase the tax credit for working families with both parents employed and a tripling of the child care credit, which would be of great help to single moms.

But how do you pay for it? The president is insulting the intelligence of the American people if he says that the only alternative to funding these benefits is to raise taxes. Is he honestly saying that in a $4 trillion budget, he can’t find $32 billion a year in savings? Only 4 year olds and liberals believe that.

We are still running a $400 billion+ federal deficit. What good is a “revenue neutral” increase in spending when the deficit is at such an unacceptable level?

If every dollar appropriated by the Congress is necessary and prudent for the function of the federal government, we are in huge trouble. Taxes should not be raised until every dime of waste, unnecessary, bizarre, and fraudulent spending is excised from the budget.

That’s a no-brainer — which is why it would never fly in Congress.

Read bullet | 5 Comments »

‘Hero’ Cat Masha Saves Abandoned Infant

Saturday, January 17th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

This story is a couple of days old — and if you’re a cat lover, you’ve probably already seen it. But it’s Saturday, a notoriously slow news day, and how many times can you write that Obama is a poopie head without it getting old and stale?

A cat from the Kaluga region of Russia has become an internet sensation by supposedly saving the life of an abandoned infant.

The story being told by residents is that the fat and happy Masha, a cat taken care of by an entire neighborhood, came across a cardboard box left in an entranceway to an apartment building. The cat heroically jumped inside, her mothering instincts taking over, and kept the baby alive until health arrived.

Washington Post:

One of the building’s residents heard the cat and the baby’s cries. At first, Nadezhda Makhovikova just thought she was hearing Masha in some sort of distress. “When I went down, I saw it was a baby crying,” Makhovikova told REN TV earlier this week.

Reports said the baby had been left with a pacifier, bottle and diapers, and was dressed warmly, wearing a little hat, as residents described him – though he likely would have had difficulty staying warm enough to survive a whole night in the sub-freezing temperatures in the area.

Residents called an ambulance, which whisked the baby away to a local hospital – but not before Masha would try to accompany the baby on the way.

“She was so worried about where we were taking the baby,” Vera Ivanina, a paramedic who responded, told REN TV. “She ran right behind us, meowing. She seemed quite intelligent.”

Doctors determined that the child was about 2 ½ months old, and was well-fed, clean and clothed, showing no signs of abuse or neglect – save, of course, that he had been left out in the cold to be found by a concerned cat. The child is staying at the hospital while police search for the baby’s parents.

But the humans in the story are crediting the cat for likely having kept the baby alive during the crucial hours it spent in the cold.

I have been kept by cats for more than 40 years and can tell you that this is one smart feline. The ability of Masha to manage her environment — including the people within it — is incredible. Take a look at this picture of Masha, a cat without a home:

000000

Masha is by far and away the best-fed stray I’ve ever seen. This is a cat whose survival instincts are so finely honed that her ability to tap into the human heart and manipulate each and every individual she comes in contact with may be without equal. Cats are expert at this, of course, which is why the smart human realizes the extremely subtle ways in which cats seek to get their way. A certain lilt in the meow (different meows for different people), the uncanny ability to read human body language and know when to press their advantage and when to back off. This is part instinctive but mostly learned behavior.

I suspect that Masha heard the baby, looked inside the box, and correctly sized up the situation. This is Russia, it’s winter, it’s cold as hell, and this little human probably won’t mind if I snuggle real close to keep warm. This was the extent of Masha’s “heroism.” Not very romantic, but a lot closer to the truth than a human baby bringing out the cat’s “mothering instincts.”

We can’t help but anthropomorphize the behavior of our pets. My father used to say that someday our golden retriever would start talking to him, she was that smart. But the reality is a little more mundane. After tens of thousands of years of dog domestication and probably not more than 5,000 years of cat domestication, these wonderful animals have bonded to humans in mysterious and unknowable ways. Part of it is certainly their unreal ability to manipulate our feelings to their advantage. Those animals with this innate ability were able to survive and pass on their genes to the next generation. After a thousand generations, the technique of being able to tug at the human heart has been perfected as much as the stalking ability of lions, or the speed of the cheetah.

And Masha? Perhaps some day she will settle down and become the companion of some loving little Russian girl, whom Masha will no doubt find to be a pushover when it comes to getting her way.

Please share on Facebook and Twitter

Read bullet | 33 Comments »

Dear Mitt: We Don’t Need a Prophet. We Need a Leader

Saturday, January 17th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Mitt Romney is making loud noises about running for president again, and some of us are wondering why.

What is his rationale? It appears that some Romney supporters are touting the notion that because Romney correctly analyzed a couple of foreign policy issues,  his “vision” is reason enough to run.

In other words, we should elect Mitt the Prophet because he guessed right a couple of times.

But only the deliberately self-deluded would not have seen Russian President Vladimir Putin as a growing threat to American interests. And how brain dead did you have to be not to see the continuing expansion of Islamism — especially when all through 2012 al-Qaeda was a growing presence in Syria?

Mitt’s third big prediction — that Iraq would be at risk unless American troops remained — was another no-brainer, although most of us saw a disintegration rather than a threat like ISIS.

Only President Obama and the liberals were stupid enough, naive enough, to believe otherwise on any of those three issues. So Mitt wants us to elect him based on the fact that he’s not as dumb as liberals and Obama?

Politico:

Back in 2012, President Barack Obama was less charitable. “You haven’t been in a position to actually execute foreign policy,” Obama told Romney in an October debate. “But every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong.”

More than two years later, however, hindsight suggests that’s not true. Romney offered warnings on several major issues that now appear prescient.

On Iraq, for instance, Romney told an audience in November 2011 that America’s withdrawal from the country the prior year was “an enormous mistake,” one that “puts at risk many of the victories that were hard-won by the men and women who have served there.” Obama later scoffed at his rival’s claim that the U.S. should have maintained a long-term troop presence in Iraq. Two years later, Obama has ordered thousands of troops back there to prevent the country’s collapse.

Putin’s annexation of Crimea and his intervention in eastern Ukraine dominated much of last year for Obama. But as early as December 2011 Romney called Putin ”a real threat to the stability and peace of the world,” noting that the Russian president’s rhetoric had been growing sharper.

After Romney later called Russia America’s top “geopolitical foe,” blocking U.S. interests at the United Nations and elsewhere, Obama openly ridiculed him: “The 1980s are calling to ask for their foreign policy back,” the president told Romney in an October 2012 debate. “You know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

Romney also cast repeated doubt on Obama’s claim that, after Osama bin Laden’s killing, al Qaeda was “on the run.” He warned about the spread of radical Islam in the Middle East and North Africa. “This is a group that is now involved in 10 or 12 countries, and it presents an enormous threat … and we must have a comprehensive strategy to help reject this kind of extremism,” Romney said. That characterization of the Islamist threat seems more apt as extremist violence surges around the world.

Obama supporters point out that the president hasn’t said the terrorist threat has been eliminated. This is true, but it’s also true he has consistently downplayed the notion that terrorism is a major threat. A Romney aide recently bragged that if Romney had been president, ISIS would not have become powerful. As with the rest of Mitt’s prophecies, you run into the problem of playing alternate history games by making that claim. “What if?” counterfactuals like this are impossible to quantify in electoral terms, unless you want to demagogue your so-called prescience.  To use it as a rationale to run for president simply won’t cut it.

In the end, America doesn’t need a prophet. We need a leader. And we’re still waiting for Mitt Romney to show us he’s up to that challenge.

Please share on Facebook and Twitter

 

Read bullet | 42 Comments »

Tony Blair Wows Republicans at Hershey Retreat

Saturday, January 17th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

House and Senate Republicans, who are meeting in Hershey, Pennsylvania, this weekend to plot strategy for the coming session of Congress, were treated to a rousing presentation by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on how to fight Islamic extremism.

Blair’s speech featured three standing ovations by lawmakers and selected staff. Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole called the speech “Churchillian.”

Although the speech was closed to the press and public, several lawmakers gave their impressions of Blair’s talk afterwards.

Roll Call:

Blair’s speech, which was closed to the public and the media, included a call for America to lead on the world stage rather than to try to be loved there, according to a person in attendance. Rep. Tom Cole said Blair focused on the importance of fighting against extremism around the world at an event said to be well attended by members and staffers alike.

“Tony Blair just gave one of the most masterful presentations on the spread of Islamic terrorism,” the Oklahoma Republican said, calling it “Churchillian.”

Another person in the room told CQ Roll Call a “handful” of questions from lawmakers followed the formal remarks about the Middle East, including about Blair’s views on President Barack Obama’s performance in world affairs and addressing threats from radicals.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said Blair gave an “excellent” presentation about fighting terrorism.

“He contends that … countries throughout the world, freedom-loving countries, are going to have to work together. There is going to have to be a sustained effort, it’s going to take time. There is both a military aspect to it, you have to stand up to Islamic extremism and terrorism where it occurs,” Hoeven said. “And you also have to have the aspect where you reach out and connect with people in the Middle East on the idea of freedom and liberty and human rights.”

Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn was live-tweeting snippets of Blair’s remarks, including a comment about the humanitarian crisis caused by the myriad challenges in Syria. According to Cornyn, Blair said half of the country’s population has left as Syria has been torn by torn by fighting between rebel groups; the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The speech came just hours before current British Prime Minister David Cameron held a meeting with President Obama and top U.S. officials about the terror threat and how to combat it. Unlike President Obama, Blair holds no illusions about whom and what we are fighting.

According to the witness, Blair said radical Islam was a perverted ideology that justified the use of force against those of other religions or Muslims who interpreted their faith differently. It was hostile to “us and our values”, he claimed, and though some want to negotiate with it or ignore it, neither of those approaches would work and it had to be confronted.

The former prime minister also talked about the lessons of the post-9/11 era. He reportedly argued that the US and UK had learned that if you topple dictators, you release other forces that have to be dealt with. However, the Arab Spring demonstrated that many of those dictatorships would be swept away in any event.

It was hard to be successful “unless you had allies within Islam itself”, he reportedly said, adding that the Middle East would continue to evolve away from what it is and that unless extremism was fought it would continue to grow. He was said to be “extremely concerned” about the emergence of the Islamic State (Isis) in Syria and Iraq.
Nonetheless, the former prime minister was said be hopeful about the prospect of building further alliances in the Middle East, arguing that many Islamic leaders in recent years had come to understand that they too were the targets of radical Islam. He even thought that over time there could be an alliance of sorts between Israel and the Arab states against radical Islam.

But he concluded that America would have to play a leading role in what he thought would be a “generational” struggle and urged the Republicans present not to disengage and to rise to the task and recognise it was “our problem as well as theirs”.

Like the rest of us, lawmakers yearn for clarity from our leaders regarding the threat we face. It is telling that after his talk with Prime Minister Cameron, the British leader said that we were at war with Islamist extremists” while the president insisted that we fight “violent extremism.”

It’s too bad President Obama can’t follow the examples of Cameron and Blair in identifying the enemy. His failure in this regard only serves to highlight his stubborn adherence to political correctness when everyone else on the planet knows the truth.

He makes the United States look ridiculous.

Please share on Facebook and Twitter

Read bullet | 25 Comments »

NASA/NOAA Say 2014 Warmest on Record…Unless it Isn’t…Until it is

Friday, January 16th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Fun with global temperatures. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration issued a statement saying that 2014 will go down in the history of record keeping (1850) as the warmest ever.

Sort of. They’re kind of vague on the details, like how much warmer and is the difference between last year and other years statistically significant.

And then there’s the question of the temperature in the lower atmosphere vs. the upper atmosphere and how those numbers rank compared to previous years.

In short, there are a lot of ways to measure temperatures on a global scale. Climate etc. points us to this rather technical discussion of the matter.

Climate etc. gives us the bottom line from that well known bastion of climate denialism…Berkeley Earth:

Berkeley Earth sums it up well with this statement:

That is, of course, an indication that the Earth’s average temperature for the last decade has changed very little.

The key issue remains the growing discrepancy between the climate model projections and the observations: 2014 just made the discrepancy larger.

Speculation about ‘warmest year’ and end of ‘pause’ implies a near term prediction of surface temperatures – that they will be warmer. I’ve made my projection – global surface temperatures will remain mostly flat for at least another decade. However, I’m not willing to place much $$ on that bet, since I suspect that Mother Nature will manage to surprise us. (I will be particularly surprised if the rate of warming in the next decade is at the levels expected by the IPCC.)

Here’s a summary of Berkeley Earth’s main findings of the NASA report:

1. The global surface temperature average for 2014 was nominally the warmest since the global instrumental record began in 1850; however, within the margin of’error, it’s tied with 2005 and 2010 and so we can’t be certain it set a new record.

2. For the land, 2014 was nominally the 4th warmest year since 1753

3. For the sea, 2014 was the warmest year on record since 1850

4. For the contiguous United States, 2014 ranked nominally as the 38th warmest year on record since 1850.

A little something for both sides of the debate. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that figures like these are going to be manipulated, twisted, folded, spindled, and mutilated to have them say exactly what one side or the other intends them to say. It is the price we pay for politicizing science.

What NASA and other global warming advocates never talk about is the huge difference between what the climate models relied on by the IPCC and governments to formulate policy are saying about the rise in temperatures and the actual temperature readings reported every year. The massive disconnect between prediction and reality should make a powerful argument for prudent leaders and scientists to slow down the rush to destroy industrialized civilization in the name of saving the planet.

But prudence left the building 2 decades ago and shows no sign of returning. Meanwhile, the president and his EPA will forge ahead with wrong headed policies that won’t lower the temperature of planet earth by even a smidgeon but will cripple the US economy and destroy jobs.

Read bullet | 6 Comments »

‘Anti-Charlie’ Violence Erupts Across the Muslim World

Friday, January 16th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

A reporter for Agence France-Presse was shot and three people were injured in a riot against the Charlie Hebdo cartoons in Karachi.

Protests also erupted in Algeria and Jordan, with thousands flocking into the streets following Friday prayers. In Niger, anti-Charlie protestors attacked the French consulate and several churches. Four people were killed, including one policeman.

BBC:

“Some of the protesters were armed with bows and arrows as well as clubs. The clashes were very violent in some places,” the source added.

Agence France-Presse quoted a minister as saying dozens of people had been injured.

Local residents told Reuters that demonstrators had set fire to churches and raided shops that were run by Christians.

“The protesters are crying out in local Hausa language: Charlie is Satan – let hell engulf those supporting Charlie,” a local shopkeeper said by telephone.

The French cultural centre there also came under attack.

The centre’s director, Kaoumi Bawa, said an angry crowd of around 50 people had smashed the building’s door and set fire to the cafeteria, library and offices.

It was Pakistan were the most intense protests took place:

Clashes erupted in Karachi when protesters started heading toward the French consulate, throwing stones at police, who pushed them back with water cannons and tear gas.

Photographer Asif Hassan was shot and wounded, said AFP news director Michele Leridon, although “his life does not seem in danger.” AFP said it was trying to find out whether Hassan was targeted or shot accidentally.

Police officer Naseer Tanoly said some of the protesters were armed and opened fire on the police, who shot into the air to disperse the crowd. The protesters were mostly students affiliated with the Jamaat-e-Islami political party.

Umair Saeed, an official with the party’s student wing in Karachi, denied the students had weapons and said the police had opened fire.

Three other people, including two journalists and one police officer, were treated for minor injuries and released from Jinnah Hospital, said Dr. Seemi Jamali.

About 1,000 people gathered in Islamabad to condemn the French publication. The demonstrators carried signs that read “Shame on Charlie Hebdo,” and “If you are Charlie, then I am Kouachi” — referring to the brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, who were killed after carrying out the attack on the newspaper office. They had claimed to be sent by al-Qaida in Yemen.

A second day of protests in Lahore drew about 800 people.

On Thursday, Pakistani lawmakers passed a resolution against cartoons of the prophet and marched outside parliament to protest Charlie Hebdo’s latest cover.

The demonstrations overshadowed smaller rallies in Islamabad and elsewhere to commemorate the Peshawar school attack one month ago by Taliban gunmen that killed 150 people, many of them children. Those attending the rallies urged the government to do more to curb support for militancy and extremism, which many say have flourished at mosques and religious schools.

Not much of a chance of that happening — especially since the extremists were largely created by the government and do the government’s bidding.

We’ve seen this pattern many times before. The clerics of the Religion of Perpetual Outrage find something to become outraged about, whip their flocks into a frothing frenzy at Friday prayers, and then let them loose in the streets to create murder and mayhem.

It’s hard to imagine these holy men preaching peace and tolerance from the pulpit, and then 10 minutes later the crowd is in the streets screaming bloody murder. This blatant incitement to riot happens all across the Muslim world. Whether it be Mohammed cartoons or a nearly invisible film about the life of the prophet, it hardly matters.

And then the western press absolves the imams of fomenting the violence by failing to mention their major role in influencing their worshipers, and blames the riots on the victims.

As long as Muslim mobs prove useful to those in power, these “spontaneous” riots will continue.

Read bullet | 9 Comments »

Was the Drunken Melee Following Ohio State’s Win a ‘White Riot’?

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

If you don’t think very hard — or intelligently — about the alcohol-fueled “celebration” in the streets of Columbus, Ohio, last night following the Buckeyes’ national championship victory, you might conclude that there was no difference between white people starting dumpster fires and running around aimlessly and the Ferguson protestors.

Freak Out Nation blog is referring to the disturbance as a white riot.

Police did not deploy military tanks, or open fire on a bunch of white people began rioting last night after Ohio State’s national title win over the Oregon Ducks. Property was destroyed, fires were started all over town.

Columbus Police Department spokeswoman Denise Alex-Bouzounis told NBC that about 8,000 students forced their way into The Horseshoe stadium and tore down a goal post.

She described the crowds as being “intense” after the game.

She did not call them vandals, thugs or rioters. Arrests were made apparently without beating the white rioters to a bloody pulp.

It’s a good thing they weren’t holding a sign reading ‘Black Lives Matter’ because then, they could have been in danger. But the brave white rioters stood up for a noble cause while tearing the town to pieces: football.

We totally understand why they were ‘celebrating’ that town to death. Because something about Ducks.

Time magazine called the crowd ‘rowdy’ after a dozen fires were started and 8,000 people descended on the goal post.

Just noting the hypocrisy here. I’m fairly certain that these ‘rowdy’ white people are probably some of the same people that called Ferguson protesters ‘thugs’. It’s not that I’m profiling them or anything. That would be wrong.

The brain-dead writer of this article — aptly called “anomaly” — relies on massive exaggeration of what went on last night in Columbus and massive minimization of what happened in Ferguson.

“Celebrating the town to death”? “Tearing the town to pieces”? Are you kidding? According to police reports, the “rioters” set fires to dumpsters, trash cans, and, in three cases, couches (a college tradition at many universities going back to the 1920s after a big football victory.). The local TV station reported:

The 89 fires reported to the Columbus Fire Department involved trash bins, Dumpsters and couches, according to spokeswoman Battalion Chief Tracy Smith. The agency also said it responded to five reports of people with injuries.

That’s exactly the same as “Burn this bitch down,” right?

Sheesh.

Setting fire to dumpsters and trash bins is not the same as setting fire to businesses and buildings. There were no reports of looting by the white “rioters,” and police were not threatened. There is light years of difference between the bloodthirsty mood of protestors in Ferguson and the happy, drunken college kids in Columbus.

Contrast the moods of the crowds in the two videos on the next page.

Read bullet | 8 Comments »

Golf Clap for this Illinois Obamacare Commercial

Sunday, January 11th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Sometimes, the opposition bests your side and all you can do is put a forced smile on your face and give them a reluctant golf clap.

And in the case of this commercial for Get Covered Illinois, the Obamacare website run by the state, you’re allowed to laugh out loud too.

The ad features a fictitious health care plan: “The Luck Plan” — with the tag line “You’ll be OK…probably.”

It’s been out a couple of months but they just updated the copy and released a new version of the commercial.

The ads, which show young people cavorting around Chicago in cardboard splints and other homemade remedies, promote a fictitious “Luck Plan.” The 30-second spots aired on network television in Illinois this week, the first week of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. The campaign targets millennials, whose participation in insurance is important to the health law’s success but who have been more reluctant than others to sign up.

The ads, developed by Downtown Partners Chicago, are based on recent research, said Jose Munoz, chief marketing officer for Get Covered Illinois, the state’s enrollment arm.

“To get people’s attention you have to do one of two things — you have to be extremely funny or extremely offensive,” Munoz said. “We went with funny.”

The campaign is part of a $12 million advertising budget to spread the “get covered” message through television, print, radio and social media outlets, along with ads on public transportation and billboards, state spokesman Mike Claffey said in an email. The $12 million, funded through a federal grant, also covers ads targeting African-Americans and Hispanics, two other groups that proved hard to reach last year.

State officials have said Illinois was successful reaching young adults last year, signing up 72,696 people under age 35. Young adults are important for the law because they generally use fewer health care services than older members, which helps keeps rates lower. Last year’s outreach to young adults included humorous commercials and a partnership with The Onion, a Chicago-based online satirical news source that produced creative content for the state. The partnership with The Onion will continue this year, Munoz said.

In keeping with the idea that the campaign targets millenials, they created a spoof website. They even list the various Luck Plans that are available:

Select your plan!

LUCK Plan
LUCK Plan Plus
LUCK Plan Plus Minus
LUCK Plan Divided
LUCK Plan Carry The One

0000000.0

000000

Conservatives can take some heart by remembering that it will take a lot more than a couple of funny ads to get millenials to sign up for health insurance. But for sheer creativity, this particular ad campaign is a winner.

Read bullet | Comments »

GOP’s De-Funding Gambit for DHS in Jeopardy Due to Paris Attacks

Sunday, January 11th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The attacks in Paris last week have Republican leaders rethinking their strategy to shut down the Department of Homeland Security if they can’t defund the president’s immigration executive orders.

In reality, the attacks make it impossible.

The Hill:

While Republicans are unified in their desire to reverse the executive order Obama issued after Election Day shielding an estimated 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation, some are warning Tea Party colleagues such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) not to take the fight too far.

“Defunding that part of the bill that deals with enforcing the executive order makes sense but we can’t go too far here because look what happened in Paris. The Department of Homeland Security needs to be up and running,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Former Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) on Friday called it “absolutely essential” that counterterrorism be funded given the spate of attacks around the world.

A Senate GOP aide warned that Democrats would pounce on a departmental shutdown to accuse Republicans of prioritizing the desires of their conservative base over national security.

“There’s no question that if the DHS shuts down in some way, Democrats will do everything to take full advantage of the situation,” the aide said.

A senior Senate Democratic aide said Republicans would lose the public relations battle over homeland security, especially after the deadly attacks on the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

“Republican efforts to play politics with Department of Homeland Security, which is actively engaged against the threat posed by ISIS, is a dangerous and risky move that can backfire,” the aide said, making reference to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

“The House proposal is an attempt to throw a hunk of red meat to the right at a time when the nation is at risk for attack,” the aide added.

House Republicans held a closed-door meeting Friday to discuss using the Homeland Security funding bill to fight Obama’s immigration policies, just as authorities in Paris were in two separate standoffs with suspected terrorists.

Leaders “kept emphasizing” the House package would be narrowly tailored toward stopping Obama’s executive actions and would not jeopardize funding for things like border security and counterterrorism measures, said Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.).

They plan to move legislation next week that would fund the department through the end of the fiscal year along with amendments to block Obama’s unilateral action on immigration, fulfilling a promise many Republicans campaigned on in the fall.

Even if DHS goes dark, the president’s executive orders would probably continue to be implemented. National Journal looked at the scenario of a Homeland Security Department shutdown:

It’s likely that the majority of DHS employees would still go to work. And the main agency tasked with overseeing the program in question, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is funded through fees rather than appropriations legislation.

It’s not clear that GOP leaders will have much leverage. Aside from the potential political fallout if the department runs out of cash, it turns out that a DHS “shutdown” might be one in name only, and Obama’s executive order might well proceed as planned.

No matter how carefully tailored the amendments to defund the executive orders are, the fact is, the Senate won’t even consider it. Republicans need 5 votes in the upper chamber to avoid a filibuster and they’re coming up short. So, in order for the DHS funding bill to reach the floor, Senate Republicans are going to have to agree to remove the defunding amendments.

Democrats will demagogue the issue for all it’s worth, accusing the Republicans of putting the country at risk to satisfy their conservative base. That’s a very hard narrative to counter with the Paris terrorist attacks fresh in everyone’s mind.

There’s a chance that with the clock ticking toward the end of February when the shortterm DHS funding runs out, that another continuing resolution funding the department for a few weeks longer could be passed. But this would be delaying the inevitable. Eventually, Mitch McConnell and a majority of Republican senators will relent and allow the DHS funding bill to come to the floor minus the defunding amendments. Practically speaking, they won’t have a choice.

And the House? Speaker Boehner will make sure the full funding bill without the defunding amendments makes it through and is sent to the president’s desk.

Some conservatives will scream bloody murder. But even without the Paris attacks occurring, the defunding gambit was a risky endeavor. From what we’ve seen of this administration, the discretionary decisions to shut down some programs and fund others will no doubt be maximized for PR value. And the administration will make sure the country knows who has put America at risk.

Read bullet | 8 Comments »

40 World Leaders — Including PLO Chair Abbas — Attend Anti-Terror Rally in Paris

Sunday, January 11th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Forty world leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, marched with more than 700,000 Frenchman to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks on the newspaper Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish grocery store and “rise up” against Islamic extremism.

Incredibly, included in this list of august personages is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who serves as chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization — one of the most notorious terrorist groups in the world.

I thought it was a sick joke until I watched coverage of the march and there he was, grinning like a cat, marching in the first row.

Chanting “Charlie! Charlie!” in memory of the journalists gunned down at Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine on Wednesday, the crowd was was expected to exceed a million people.

British prime minister David Cameron, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu are among more than 40 world leaders who linked arms as they led the march to loud applause from the massive crowd.

Speaking at the march, Mr Cameron said extremist violence would remain a threat for many years to come.

“We in Britain face a very similar threat, a threat of fanatical extremism,” he said.

“It’s a threat that has been with us for many years.”

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi vowed that Europe would “win the challenge against terrorism”, as he left the French presidents residence in Paris to join the march.

“We are all French today,” he said.

In a statement, French president Francois Hollande said: “Paris is today the capital of the world. Our entire country will rise up and show its best side.”

Seventeen people, including journalists and policemen, lost their lives in three days of violence that began with a shooting attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday and ended with a hostage-taking at a kosher supermarket on Friday. The three gunmen were also killed.

The silent march through the centre of Paris, in honour of the victims of the worst terror attacks in the city for 50 years, was arranged shortly after the attacks. Senate president Stephen Parry will represent Australia at the march.

“Paris will be the world capital of resistance against terrorism and of the defence of freedom, it will really be the world march for freedom,” French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said on television on Sunday.

French prime minister Manuel Valls encouraged Parisians to attend the march.

“It will be an unprecedented manifestation that will be written in the history books,” he said.

“It must show the power and dignity of the French people, who will cry out their love of liberty and tolerance.”

Those who cry out for “liberty and tolerance” in times like these are probably going to end up with neither. Harder measures than feel-good rallies will be necessary to defeat the terrorists and protect civilians from their outrages.

The presence of Abbas, as well as other heads of state from repressive governments who marched while the crowd chanted “Charlie! Charlie!” in support of free speech, showed a massive hypocrisy. An anti-terror rally with Abbas an invited guest? An anti-Islamic extremist rally with the Qatari Sheikh Mohamed Ben Hamad Ben Khalifa Al Thani, whose government funds terrorists in Syria? A march to support free speech that included Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, whose government cracked down on the media following a 2013 coup?

And specifically, what measures are these governments going to take? At least the French aren’t shy about calling the terrorism, that must be fought, by its name: Islamic extremism. It would be a good start if all western leaders would adopt a similar posture — including our president, who found himself too busy to attend the rally.

It does no good to condemn terrorism and in the same breath hastily add that not all Muslims are terrorists. We know that. It’s a superfluous utterance that only serves to soften the rhetoric. Those who hate Islam are not going to be convinced otherwise by using weasel words when describing the war we are fighting. Far better to accurately identify and call out the terrorists and other radicals who support them.

Read bullet | 10 Comments »

Are You Ready for Y2K Part Deux?

Saturday, January 10th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

It’s time to panic again. Not about terrorism, or global warming, or Katy Perry performing during halftime of the Super Bowl.

Panic will grip America on June 30 when we add an extra second to our clocks. This will no doubt confuse our computers, shut down the electrical grid, cause planes to drop from the sky, and all that other stuff that happened when the calendar rolled over on January 1, 2000.

Oh, wait…

Actually, the concerns — some of them — are justified. This isn’t the first time we’ve added a second so that atomic clocks can be in sync with the earth’s rotation. When it happened in 2012, parts of the internet crashed and several prominent websites went down.

Are we any better prepared this time?

Gizmodo explains the computer problems: “It mostly has to do with NTP, or the Network Time Protocol computers use to sync with atomic clocks. If a computer sees the same second twice in a row, it logically thinks something went very wrong. There are fixes to this, but they’ve obviously not been implemented across the board.”

There are fears it might happen again this year.

That’s part of the reason why there’s been lobbying, especially from officials in the U.S., to do away with the extra second. The New York Times reports: “Britain, along with Canada and China, would like to keep the current keeping system, arguing that, in the 40 years that leap seconds have been gracefully inserted in our midst … there have been no problems to speak of, and the worriers have greatly exaggerated the potential for havoc. Remember Y2K?”

The Times article, though, was written in January of 2012, when delegates were meeting that year to decide whether to keep the extra second. This was months before it caused parts of the Internet to crash.

So yeah, we have to deal with Earth’s rotation slowing down – but that’s better than having the Earth stop rotating entirely for a second.

“Yeah, that would be disastrous. … If you stopped Earth and you weren’t seat belt-buckled to the Earth, you would fall over and roll 800 mph due east. It would kill everyone on Earth,” astrophysicist and science commentator Neil deGrasse Tyson said on CNN.

The computer problem with the leap second is actually getting worse. USA Today explains:

The reset has happened 25 times since they were introduced in 1972, but the computer problems are getting more serious as increasing numbers of computers sync up with atomic clocks. Those computers and servers are then shown the same second twice in a row — throwing them into a panic.

If a computer is told to do an operation at the time that is repeated, for instance, the computer is unsure what to do. Or if an e-mail is received in that moment, it could find its way in the wrong bit of the server.

Last time, Google anticipated the problem and built a smart update, which it called “leap smear”. It modified its servers so that they would add a little bit of extra time every time they were updated, so that by the time of the leap second they were already caught up with the new time. It said when it laid out the plan in 2011 that it would use the same technique in the future, when new leap seconds are announced.

Leap seconds were initially added at least once a year, but have slowed since 1979. The U.S. wants to get rid of them entirely, arguing that they cause too much disruption, but others have opposed the change.

So, no, planes won’t be crashing all over the world, nor will the electrical grid melt down. At worse, you may lose an email or two. With my luck, my Word program will go haywire and I’ll lose an article I would be working on.

Everyone has their own computer hell to avoid. Here’s hoping you ride through the Leap Second with minimal damage.

Read bullet | 5 Comments »

Will the Last Jew Leaving France Please Turn Out the Lights?

Saturday, January 10th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

A tipping point for French Jews appears to have been reached with the attack on a Jewish grocery store and subsequent taking of hostages by al-Qaeda terrorists. Already feeling alone and under siege, Jews in France have been leaving the country for several years by the thousands. But the attacks, the murders, the kidnappings, the bombing of synagogues, and the threats have convinced French Jews that they can no longer be safe in their own country due to the rise of antisemitism.

France is the most antisemitic country in Europe. Jews were the target of 40% of racist crimes in 2013 despite making up only 1% of the population. This has precipitated a mass exodus of Jews that has accelerated this year.

It’s believed that more than 100,000 French Jews have left the country in the last few years. At the start of the decade, there were 500,000 Jews in France — the most in the EU. How many will be in France by the end of the decade?

Stephen Pollard writes:

From being the largest Jewish community in the EU at the start of this decade, with a population of around 500,000, it is expected by Jewish community leaders to have fallen to 400,000 within a few years. That figure is thought by some to be too optimistic. Anecdotally, every French Jew I know has either already left or is working out how to leave.

Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet refusenik who is now chair of the Jewish Agency Chairman, said last year that 2,254 French Jews moved to Israel during the first five months of 2014, against only 580 in all of 2013. That is a staggering 289 per cent increase, but in recent months the figure is thought to have increased exponentially.

The number expected to leave this year for Israel was estimated at over 10,000 – and that was before today’s events. And that is just to Israel. Many are coming to Britain as part of the wider French exodus under President Hollande.

David Tibi, the then leader of Paris’s main Jewish umbrella group, left last July. As he told the Jewish Chronicle: “There is an atmosphere of anti-Semitism in the streets. My daughter was attacked in the tramway, so was my son. The aggressors made anti-semitic comments and pushed them around. We no longer have a place in France.”

The Jewish school shooting in Toulouse in 2012, in which four people were murdered at point blank range by a French-born jihadist trained in the Middle East; the growing support for Marine Le Pen’s National Front; and the mass popularity of anti-Semitic public figures such as comedian Dieudonné, are all part of the undercurrent of anti-Semitism that frames French life. And more recently synagogues have firebombed and Jewish areas attacked by mobs.

Almost of all these attacks have been carried out by Muslims.

Pollard, publisher of The Jewish Chronicle,, also said, “It is the largest emigration of Jews anywhere since the war. That’s a simple fact.”

Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia confirmed the mass exodus to Israel, Britain, and North America:

Mr Korsia said this was a ‘warning signal’ for France.

He said: ‘Jews have been killed and there were the shootings in Toulouse and in Brussels. In general, Jews feel vulnerable in our society.

‘The Jews who were murdered were targeted specifically because they were Jewish.

‘This means France hasn’t found the words and actions necessary to reassure them.’

Joel Mergui, lay chairman of the National Union of French Synagogues, added: ‘At some synagogues, whole benches are suddenly empty.’

Strasbourg-born banker Myriam Amsellem left France for London because the UK is ‘safer and freer’ than her home country, where she claims Jewish traditions were stopped.

She told the Jewish Chronicle last year: ‘We feel a lot more comfortable here. I look at France now and I know I would not want to be there.’

Today police across Britain were stepping up security in Jewish areas after the terror outrage in France, a community body said.

The Community Security Trust (CST), which provides security advice to Britain’s estimated 260,000 Jews, said police in London and Manchester in northern England had agreed to increase patrols at synagogues and other venues over the next days.

‘There is currently no known link to the UK, but CST is in continuing contact with police and government, and there will be increased policing in Jewish neighbourhoods for this weekend’s Sabbath,’ the trust said on its website.

How did things get so bad in France compared to Great Britain and other European countries?

Read bullet | 27 Comments »

Cuban Government Releases 38 Dissidents While Threatening to Re-Arrest Them

Saturday, January 10th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

After three weeks of delay, the Cuban government has released 38 dissidents from prison as part of a deal reached with the US to restore relations.

An activist group in Havana confirmed the release of 29 of their members to Reuters. But the question remains how many of the released prisoners of conscience were on a list given to the Cuban government by the Obama administration.

And the release may be only temporary. The Cuban government told the former prisoners that they must report on a regular basis to authorities and warned them that they would be subject to re-arrest if they protested against the government.

“Our freed prisoners are committed to continue fighting for the democratic Cuba which we all want,” UNPACU’s leader Jose Daniel Ferrer said in a statement.

“The UNPACU activists have left prison with more energy, force and motivation than they had when they were jailed.”

Cuba’s commitment to free 53 prisoners was a key part of the historic deal announced on Dec. 17 under which the Cuban and U.S. governments agreed to renew diplomatic relations after more than 50 years of hostilities.

Almost all of those freed so far appear on an informal list of more than 100 political prisoners drawn up several months ago by dissidents, but it is not known if they were all on the list of 53 that the United States negotiated with Cuba.

Details about who will be freed have been withheld by both governments, providing ammunition for U.S. opponents of the detente, who have complained that President Barack Obama has not pushed Cuba hard enough on human rights and that the government in Havana was not living up to its side of the bargain.

The White House hailed the “substantial and ongoing” releases. “So good to see people reunited with their families,” senior White House official Ben Rhodes said on Twitter.

Elizardo Sanchez, founder of the dissident Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which monitors detentions, said the releases to date were “very good news,” but that activists remained concerned about those still behind bars.

“We don’t know what the future holds for those former Cuban government officials and senior ex-military people, as well the Cuban-Americans who are still in prison,” Sanchez told Reuters.

Several Cuban exiles from Miami are also in Cuban prisons serving sentences of up to 30 years on terrorism-related charges after they attempted to infiltrate the island with weapons.

It is not clear if Washington argued for their release, or for the freedom of Cubans jailed for passing secrets to the United States.

If any Cuban-Americans are released, they will probably be kicked out of the country. But it’s clear the releases so far have been of non-violent passive resisters with few prominent names among them.

Senator Marco Rubio is not impressed:

Opposition groups say most of those released over the last couple of days were set free on the condition that they report regularly to the authorities.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a leading critic of Obama’s new Cuba policy, said those terms did not amount to freedom.

“The administration must answer if these conditional, potentially short-lived releases are, in fact, what it agreed to with the regime and why it took so long for them to be released,” Rubio said in a statement.

It seems possible that by the time the Castro regime gets around to releasing all 53 prisoners they agreed to, at least some of them will be re-arrested and thrown in jail. Again, the administration negotiating strategy in this matter should be criticized for its shortsightedness. Previous US policy in holding normalization talks with Cuba hinged on the regime releasing all political prisoners and promising to allow free and fair elections.

These events make the strong point that abandoning that policy was foolhardy.

Read bullet | Comments »

Iowahawk: ‘Another Reminder that Sonny Was the Smart One’

Friday, January 9th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

“Sonny and Cher’ were a big success in the mid to late 1960s. Alas, for all their comity on stage, they were at each other’s throats in the wings. The couple divorced in 1974. Cher went on to even bigger things in a solo career that’s still going, while Sonny took a step down and won a seat in Congress.

Sonny Bono died in 1998 following a skiing accident. By that time, Cher had established herself as a first-class entertainer — and a monumental putz when it came to politics.

Has everyone lost their f—ing minds? Doesn’t anybody remember the illustrious Reagan-Bush years when people had no money and no jobs? What has happened to people’s memories? It’s like they have Alzheimer’s or something.

All the drugs she did in the 1970s must have affected her memory if she forgets the Carter years.

Here she is commenting on the 2000 election:

“I don’t like Bush,” she said of George W. “I don’t trust him. I don’t like his record. He’s stupid. He’s lazy. Some woman said to me she was voting for him because she liked his dad, and I said, ‘Good, because that’s what you’re getting.’ If somebody’s claim to fame is that they signed a law so that you can carry a gun to church — oh, give me a break.”…

“If you’re black in this country, if you’re a woman in this country, if you are any minority in this country at all, what could possibly possess you to vote Republican? If you think the president is an ass, fine — after four years you can vote him out. But the Supreme Court — that’s 30 years! The Jerry Falwells of this world will be right in your back pocket. You won’t have one f—ing right left.”

She confessed her ignorance in a 2009 interview:

“I try to be charitable and there are some really good Republicans, but I just don’t understand how anyone would want to be a Republican. I just can’t figure it. I don’t understand,” the Oscar-, Grammy- and Emmy-award winning entertainer told a reporter. “If you’re poor, if you’re any kind of minority –- gay, black, Latino, anything. If you’re not a rich –- I don’t know. If you’re not a rich, born-again Christian, I don’t get it.”

Poor perplexed child. She doesn’t understand politics. Maybe she’s smart about international affairs — specifically terrorism.

Uh…guess not:

 

I guess the French police were fresh out of darts — at least the armor-piercing variety. The terrorists were wearing bulletproof vests.

There have been a lot of stupid tweets and comments during the terror crisis that gripped France for three days. This one by Cher has to rank near the top of the list.

Read bullet | 48 Comments »

Ex VA Governor McDonnell Gets Two Year Prison Sentence

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was sentenced to two years in federal prison following his conviction in September on 11 counts of corruption.

McDonnell thanked the judge for showing “mercy.”

USA Today:

“I want to thank the court and Judge Spencer for the mercy he dispensed to me today,” McDonnell said shortly after the sentencing. “I am a fallen human being. I have made mistakes in my life. … But I have never, ever betrayed my sacred oath of office in any way while I served this great commonwealth.”

He will have to report to prison by Feb. 9.

Spencer, who presided over a six-week trial in late summer, earlier determined that federal sentencing guidelines called for a sentence of 78 to 97 months — 6½ to a little more than 8 years — saying an obstruction-of-justice enhancement shouldn’t count if McDonnell gave testimony that the jury did not believe. The judge listened to almost four hours of testimony asking for leniency for McDonnell.

“It breaks my heart, but I have a duty I can’t avoid,” Spencer said in handing down the prison term. Spencer did not have to adhere to federal guidelines in determining McDonnell’s sentence, but federal judges use them most of the time.

Outside of court, McDonnell said he would appeal immediately.

On Monday, the day before the sentencing, McDonnell’s lawyers filed a motion asking Spencer to allow the former governor to remain out of prison on bond pending the outcome of his appeal. Instead, Spencer told McDonnell the date he should report to prison, but the judge can reconsider or the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can decide to delay McDonnell’s incarceration.

“Any time an elected official is sent to prison, it sends a message,” said the FBI’s lead agent in the investigation, Adam Lee. “There’s no victory lap. There’s no celebration.”

McDonnell is the first Virginia governor, and the 12th nationally, convicted of corruption, federal officials said.

During the trial, McDonnell’s defense sought to shift blame to his wife Maureen for the gifts and thinly disguised bribes for which he was convicted. Apparently, this was partly true, but there was enough documentation to prove McDonnell had his own schemes to enrich himself.

One juror thought the sentence inappropriate:

“Good people can do bad things,” Robin Trujillo said. “We talked, we went through documents about the testimony and looked at all the evidence.

“It was just overwhelming. It was also just staring us in the face,” Trujillo said.

She has been disturbed by all the letters seeking leniency.

“It was not just some small little thing. It was major, and it went on for a very long time,” Trujillo said. “It’s never been about how nice you are. It’s what you did, what you allowed to happen.”

McDonnell threw away a promising career because of his greed and avarice. He may not deserve the lenient sentence, but the orchestrated effort to have the judge go easy on him worked to perfection.

In that sense, the former governor succeeded in his last campaign.

Read bullet | Comments »

Where in the World are the 53 Cuban Dissidents the Regime Promised to Release?

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Next time I buy a car, I’m going to ask President Obama to sell it to me. If he negotiates with me the way he apparently negotiated with Cuba, I will probably end up getting the car for free.

Incredibly, nearly 3 weeks after it was announced that the Castro regime would release 53 political prisoners as part of a deal for the return of 3 of their spies, no one knows for sure if any have been released, or who they are. Meanwhile, the three spies released from an American prison have returned home to a hero’s welcome.

Yesterday, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki couldn’t state publicly how many, or if any, Cuban dissidents had been released. Today, Psaki said that “some” had been released but refused to supply a number or reveal their identities.

This lack of transparency (what new?) from the administration has Cuban human rights leaders worried:

“We are very concerned,” Francisco Hernandez, co-founder and president of the Cuban American National Foundation, told FoxNews.com. “The problem with the agreement [between Cuba and the U.S.] is that there is no agreement. There are no guarantees. This has been a tremendous victory for the Cuban government.”

Hernandez’s Miami-based organization has contacted the White House and pressed officials to publicly identify the dissidents scheduled for release. He hasn’t had much luck and says the push for transparency has been widely ignored and in turn is fueling suspicion over Cuba’s intentions. He and others question whether the Cubans supposedly set for release are even political prisoners.

“We wonder why there has not been any indication – especially on the part of the White House – who is on the list,” Hernandez said. “We want to confirm that those on the list are political prisoners and not common criminals, but we have not been able to.”

Good point. Mary O’Grady, writing in the Wall Street Journal, gave the White House explanation:

I asked the State Department this last week. State referred me to the White House. White House officials declined to provide the list of names citing “concern that publicizing it would make it more difficult to ensure that Cuba follows through, and continues with further steps in the future.”

Bottom line: The U.S. government cannot confirm that they have been released and is not certain they’re going to be released, even though the three Cuban spies have already been returned.

A government official told me that keeping the names of the 53 quiet will give Cuba the opportunity to release them as a sovereign measure, rather than at the behest of the U.S., and that this could allow for additional releases.

In other words, the Castros are sensitive boys who throw despotic tantrums when their absolute power is questioned. Asking them to keep their word is apparently a trigger.

Again, incredible. And bizarre, inexcusable, and extraordinarily naive. Why in the name of all that is good and holy would the Cuban government go beyond the release of 53 dissidents when they haven’t honored their original promise?

O’Grady points to 3 different concessions we made to Cuba:

The U.S. president hasn’t gone to Havana, not yet anyway. But he did use the prisoner swap to announce that he plans to unconditionally open diplomatic relations with the military dictatorship, something that the Castros have long demanded. Count that as concession one.

He said he would ease restrictions on American travel to the island and make it legal to use U.S. credit cards and debit cards in Cuba, thereby boosting revenues for the military-owned tourism industry. That’s concession two.

His promise to review Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terror sounded like he had already made up his mind. “At a time when we are focused on threats from al Qaeda to ISIL, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces the use of terrorism should not face this sanction,” Mr. Obama said.

That would complete the concession trifecta. Cuba still supports the FARC, the Colombian terrorist group, it got caught in 2013 trying to smuggle weapons through the Panama Canal to North Korea, and credible intelligence analysts say Cuba has provided Venezuela the technology it needs to falsify identities for Middle East terrorists.

While it’s true that US AID worker Alan Gross was released at the same time the spies were let go, the fact is, Gross should have been considered a hostage, not a prisoner. He was an innocent American, arrested in 2009 at the Havana airport and a year later, charged with “Acts against the Independence and Territorial Integrity of the State — trumped up charges, to be sure. In truth, Cuba held him as a bargaining chip to get their spies back. He should have been released long ago, with no strings.

I am beginning to suspect that the White House did not give the Castro government a list of names of Cuban dissidents to be released, which is why they’re stonewalling now. The unilateral concessions we gave Cuba might have convinced Castro that he could put one over on us by releasing prisoners in jail for petty crimes. That’s the fear in the dissident community and it seems well placed to me.

Senator Marco Rubio wants the US to cancel a planned high level meeting scheduled for later this month unless the Cuban government tells us which dissidents have been released:

Rubio said Roberta Jacobson, the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, should cancel a trip to Havana later this month to discuss normalizing relations at least until the 53 are released.

“Almost three weeks after your Cuba announcement, there is absolutely no reason why any of these individuals should be in prison or the targets of repression – or for their identities, conditions and whereabouts to remain such closely held secrets,” Rubio said in a letter to Obama dated Jan. 6.

As poorly as this deal was negotiated, can you imagine what a final agreement on Iran’s nuclear program might look like?

Read bullet | Comments »

Former PJ Media Editor Bryan Preston Takes Post with Texas General Land Office

Monday, January 5th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Former Editor-at-Large and Tatler Editor for PJ Media Bryan Preston has accepted the position of digital media director for George P. Bush and the Texas General Land Office.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush today announced Bryan Preston will serve as the Digital Media Director for the Texas General Land Office. Preston’s varied professional experience includes radio news production, the U.S. Armed Forces and blogging for major news commentary websites. Preston’s extensive career in a variety of media including Web development and online publishing will be instrumental in leading the agency’s digital outreach efforts.

“Bryan Preston’s professional experience is broad and far reaching, from serving in the military to innovation in news media,” said Commissioner Bush. “I am honored Bryan is bringing his passion for policy promotion and talent for innovative digital strategies to help me serve the people of Texas.”

“I am honored to be asked by George P. Bush to execute his vision for digital strategies at the GLO,” Preston said. “As a fellow veteran, I understand his passion for helping those who served in our nation’s military to transition to life following active duty. We are also both fathers and as such I share his dedication to leveraging responsible energy development to increase the Permanent School Fund for our children’s education. I am excited to join him in serving the people of Texas.”

Bryan spent four productive years at PJ Media, not only launching the Tatler but also ramrodding PJ Media’s election portal, The Grid. He was a prolific writer while here whose output was astonishing.

We, his friends and former colleagues, wish him all the best in his new job.

Read bullet | 8 Comments »

Attkisson Sues Justice Department for Hacking Her Computers

Monday, January 5th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Former CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson is suing the Department of Justice for illegal surveillance. Attkissons computers were hacked while she was investigating several of the Obama administration scandals.

Fox News:

In a series of legal filings that seek $35 million in damages, Attkisson alleges that three separate computer forensic exams showed that hackers used sophisticated methods to surreptitiously monitor her work between 2011 and 2013.

“I just think it’s important to send a message that people shouldn’t be victimized and throw up their hands and think there’s nothing they can do and they’re powerless,” Attkisson said in an interview.

The department has steadfastly denied any involvement in the hacking, saying in a 2013 statement: “To our knowledge, the Justice Department has never compromised Ms. Attkisson’s computers, or otherwise sought any information from or concerning any telephone, computer, or other media device she may own or use.”

In the lawsuit and related claims against the Postal Service, filed in Washington, Attkisson says the intruders installed and periodically refreshed software to steal data and obtain passwords on her home and work computers. She also charges that the hackers monitored her audio using a Skype account.

The award-winning reporter says she and her attorneys have “pretty good evidence” that these efforts were “connected” to the Justice Department. She said she was caught in a “Catch-22,” forcing her to use the lawsuit and an administrative complaint to discover more about the surveillance through the discovery process and to learn the identities of the “John Does” named in the complaints.

“The Justice Department has not been very forthcoming with questions,” she said. “The question is, will anybody ever be held responsible?”

The multimillion-dollar damage figure relates to her loss of privacy and that of her husband and family, she said.

Attkisson learned through a Freedom of Information request that the FBI opened an investigation of the hacking case in May 2013, but says the bureau never interviewed her or even notified her of the probe.

The reporter detailed some of the hacking in her book, Stonewalled:

In her book, Stonewalled, Attkisson alleged that a “government-related entity” had planted classified documents on her computer in order to go after her for her reporting that was critical of the Obama Administration. To back up that accusation, in October, she released a disturbing video showing an unknown entity scrolling through her documents and deleting large segments of it. And in emails released last November, a DoJ press aide called Attkisson “out of control.”

There is a surreal quality to the hacking that makes your skin crawl. Double checking a map…yes, this is the United States of America and although getting worn and tattered, the First Amendment hasn’t been repealed that I’ve heard.

But then, it is apparent that, for this administration, the First Amendment only applies to those who are not “out of control” and not freely reporting the facts no matter where they lead. Such rebels should be intimidated and punished for not toeing the line.

Trying to wrest information from this crew during discovery is going to be difficult, if not impossible. The possibility that the FBI itself initiated the hacks cannot be dismissed, which means that any information about the hacks will be behind a national security firewall. Attkisson better hope she gets a bulldog of a judge who won’t stop until the truth is revealed. Otherwise, the probability is whoever violated her First Amendment rights will get away with it.

Read bullet | Comments »

Anti-Cop Protestors Disrupt Senator Wyden Townhall

Sunday, January 4th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

About a hundred protestors shouting “hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe” disrupted a townhall meeting in Portland of Senator Ron Wyden, where 100 year old Dario Raschio was to receive medals he earned during World War II.

Raschio — who looks about 70, not 100 — was chagrined by the interruption, but recovered quickly.

The Oregonian:

Shortly after Wyden began speaking, though, protesters erupted in the back of the room, shouting “hands-up, don’t shoot!” More than 100 pushed through the doors, banged on the windows from outside and hoisted signs.

Raschio and his daughter, Pam Brown of Portland, had a front-row seat to the spectacle. Raschio’s smile faded.

Demonstrators across the country have used “don’t shoot” and “hands up” as rallying cries following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, last fall. “I can’t breathe” references the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in July following a chokehold by a New York City police officer.

The medal presentation was to be the first event at a Wyden town hall, one of several the senator, D-Oregon, is holding around the state this week. After 15 minutes of shouting, Wyden persuaded the group to stop and let him proceed with the medal presentation.

Raschio’s smile returned as Wyden presented him with a frame filled with medals. He was awarded the U.S. Naval Aviator Badge, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the “Ruptured Duck” award and the U.S. Navy Honorable discharge pin.

He was also given a flag flown over the U.S Capitol.

“It is never too later for Oregon and America to remember one of our heroes,” Wyden said.

Indeed, Raschio joined the Navy at age 27 and piloted observational planes. He was once shot down in the Pacific and rescued by the timely arrival of a destroyer.

But Raschio had a message for the protestors:

As he grabbed the mic to speak, more shouts came from the back of the room, demanding the military exit from Iraq.

The feisty centenarian quickly responded, “Give me a chance” which brought chuckles from the audience. He further chastised the shouters, saying “Let’s show a little respect for this occasion,” to which the crowd applauded.

He accepted the medals on behalf of those who died in WWII and ended his short speech by saying, “God bless America. And you people that are here for a cause, whatever it might be—show respect to Sen. Wyden.”

Wyden took back the mic, and followed up, “One of the reasons that we can come here today and be heard and express our views is because of veterans like Dario.”

But before Raschio could even sit down the unrest resumed. A protester at the front of the room announced that “for 4.5 minutes we are going to take time to pay respect to everybody who has been killed by police in this nation.”

With that, the chanting began again. At 3:15, after waiting 45 minutes for the meeting to begin, organizers called it off.

I could go on a rant and chastise the protestors for ruining the special day of a 100 year old veteran, but the anti-cop agitator’s actions speak louder and clearer than any commentary I could add.

I will say this: If the protestors don’t realize that, with their actions in Portland, they damaged their cause with the ordinary people they should be counting on to support them to reform the police and the criminal justice system, then they prove themselves to be little better than ignorant hot heads — ill-mannered and boorish.

A few more incidents like this and the public will be demanding that the protestors leave the stage and never come back.

Read bullet | 6 Comments »

Al Sharpton’s Shakedown Operation

Sunday, January 4th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

You have to ask what’s more nauseating? Al Sharpton’s threats to cry “racism” at corporations who don’t ante up or the corporations themselves who meekly acquiesce to the Reverend’s bullying tactics?

Sharpton has a lot of pull with New York state and local government officials and he has traded that influence for large sums of cash from companies who seek to avoid being labeled “racist.”

The mafia couldn’t run a shakedown operation this efficiently.

New York Post:

Want to influence a casino bid? Polish your corporate image? Not be labeled a racist?

Then you need to pay Al Sharpton.

For more than a decade, corporations have shelled out thousands of dollars in donations and consulting fees to Sharpton’s National Action Network. What they get in return is the reverend’s supposed sway in the black community or, more often, his silence.

Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal met with the activist preacher after leaked e-mails showed her making racially charged comments about President Obama. Pascal was under siege after a suspected North Korean cyber attack pressured the studio to cancel its release of “The Interview,” which depicts the assassination of dictator Kim Jong-un.

Pascal and her team were said to be “shaking in their boots” and “afraid of the Rev,” The Post reported.

No payments to NAN have been announced, but Sharpton and Pascal agreed to form a “working group” to focus on racial bias in Hollywood.

The National Action Network can organize boycotts or protests that present a PR nightmare for any corporation. It’s an extremely efficient method of extracting protection money. Like the mafia guy who tells a store owner it would be a shame if his business went up in flames, NAN’s threats of “community action” against companies keeps them paying for Sharpton’s restraint.

Tell me this doesn’t sound like a criminal enterprise:

“Al Sharpton has enriched himself and NAN for years by threatening companies with bad publicity if they didn’t come to terms with him. Put simply, Sharpton specializes in shakedowns,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal & Policy Center, a Virginia-based watchdog group that has produced a book on Sharpton.

And Sharpton, who now boasts a close relationship with Obama and Mayor de Blasio, is in a stronger negotiating position than ever.

“Once Sharpton’s on board, he plays the race card all the way through,” said a source who has worked with the Harlem preacher. “He just keeps asking for more and more money.”

And the amount of money flowing into NAN and finding its way into his and nis crony’s pockets is staggering:

In 2008, Plainfield Asset Management, a Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund, made a $500,000 contribution to New York nonprofit Education Reform Now. That money was immediately funneled to the National Action Network.

The donation raised eyebrows. Although the money was ostensibly to support NAN’s efforts to bring “educational equality,” it also came at a time that Plainfield was trying to get a lucrative gambling deal in New York.

Plainfield had a $250 million stake in Capital Play, a group trying to secure a license to run the coming racino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Capital Play employed a lobbyist named Charlie King, who also was the acting executive director of NAN.

Sharpton has said that most of the Plainfield contribution went to pay King’s salary.

King’s company, the Movement Group, was paid $243,586 by NAN in 2008, tax records show.

NAN itself is corrupt, being caught by the IRS for not paying more than a million dollars in payroll taxes, and being accused of keeping shoddy records.

With companies terrified of him and government officials in league with him, Sharpton is often called the most powerful African American in the country. A frequent White House visitor and with many friends in Washington, it’s not likely that any serious investigation into his or his organization’s activities will be forthcoming.

Read bullet | 8 Comments »

Longtime ESPN Sportscaster Stuart Scott Dead at 49

Sunday, January 4th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

ESPN personality Stuart Scott lost his courageous battle against cancer on Sunday, dying at the age of 49.

His was a distinct personality and voice in the often cliche-ridden world of sportscasting and many enjoyed his singular vocabulary when analyzing replays:

1. “Like gravy on a biscuit, it’s all good!”

Scott accompanies this quote with a player having a career day or when a player makes a smart play.

2. “And the Lord said you’ve got to rise up!”

Bryce Harper hits a homerun as a rookie, giving the Washington Nationals the lead after trailing the Atlanta Braves at home.

3. “See, what had happened was…”

This is amongst Stuart Scott’s popular references. During the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals between the Pistons and Pacers, he teased Rasheed Wallace after throwing up an air ball from the 3 point line.

4. “Vlade Daddi, he likes to party, he don’t cause trouble, he don’t bother nobody.”

From Slick Rick’s “Lodi Dodi” covered by Snoop Dogg from the Doggystyle album. Pertaining to any Vlade Divac play, it gave the Sacramento Kings Center some much needed respect as he was rearing towards the descent into basketball irrelevancy.

5. “You ain’t got to go home, but you got to get the heck up outta here.”

No shade, Stuart Scott just wants to let you know you either struck out, or you messed up for getting ejected from a game.

6. “He treats him like a dog. Sit. Stay.”

After Allen Iverson broke a defender’s ankles, Scott dropped this one on the poor guy.

7. “Just call him butter cuz he’s on a roll.”

My personal favorite Stuart Scottism: “He must be the bus driver cuz he was takin’ him to school.”

ESPN president John Skipper released an emotional statement on Scott’s death:

ESPN and everyone in the sports world have lost a true friend and a uniquely inspirational figure in Stuart Scott,” said ESPN president John Skipper. “Who engages in mixed martial arts training in the midst of chemotherapy treatments? Who leaves a hospital procedure to return to the set?

“His energetic and unwavering devotion to his family and to his work while fighting the battle of his life left us in awe, and he leaves a void that can never be replaced.”

ESPN hired Scott in 1993 for the launch of ESPN 2, hoping to attract a younger audience to the network. Scott didn’t disappoint his bosses as the 18-29 crowd flocked to his late-night SportsCenter show. The combination of a cool personality and his hip-hop lite references made him the most popular personality on the network.

Last July, he accepted the “Jimmy V Award,” for courage in sports, given in honor of former North Carolina State basketball coach Jimmy Valvano whose own battle with cancer was memorialized in an emotional speech given at the first ESPY Awards in 1993. Scott referenced Valvano’s fight in his acceptance speech:

During Scott’s acceptance speech, he thanked loved ones and colleagues for supporting his efforts, then showed his modest side, noting that he never thought he belonged in the same category as people who had received past Jimmy V awards.

“At my gut level, I really didn’t think that I belonged with those great people,” Scott said. “But I listened to what Jim Valvano said 21 years ago, the most poignant seven words ever uttered in any speech anywhere: ‘Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.’ Those great people didn’t. Coach Valvano didn’t. So to be honored with this, I now have a responsibility to also not ever give up. I’m not special. I just listened to what the man said.”

Scott also talked about how difficult it is to suffer with a disease like cancer. In fact, prior to the show, he underwent four surgeries in the span of seven days. Scott wasn’t even sure if he was going to survive. But with the help of his medical staff, his family, his friends and his fans, he made it to the awards ceremony. And that’s when he realized the whole battle is “not a solo venture.”

“When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you lived, why you lived and in the manner in which you lived,” Scott said. “So live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.”

After every chemotherapy session, Scott would head to the gym and train in mixed martial arts. His reasoning?

“I can take this,” he said at the time. “Deal with it easier than some people I see. So I think for the ones who can’t punch a heavy bag, can’t spar, who can’t do any of that. I’ll do it for you.”

Scott is survived by his two daughters, Taelor, 19,and Sydni, 14. Of fatherhood, Scott said, “The best thing I have ever done, the best thing I will ever do is be a dad to Taelor and Sydni.”

Stuart Scott — as cool as the other side of the pillow.

Read bullet | Comments »

Outrage! Sarah Palin Posts Facebook Photo of Her Son Standing on Dog

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Sarah Palin had to know before she posted this photo that the left would go ballistic. Her New Year’s Facebook post is lighting up Twitter and causing a collective clucking of tongues because, along with the sentiments, she posted a photo of her son Trig standing on top of the family dog to reach the counter.

000000

As you can imagine, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had a figurative and proverbial cow:

PETA assailed Palin Friday, calling her a “bizarrely callous woman.”

“It’s odd that anyone—let alone a mother—would find it appropriate to post such a thing, with no apparent sympathy for the dog in the photo,” PETA said in a statement on its website Friday.

“Then again, PETA, along with everyone else, is used to the hard-hearted, seeming obliviousness of this bizarrely callous woman, who actually thought it appropriate to be filmed while turkeys were being slaughtered right behind her in full view of the camera,” the activist group added referring to a 2008 interview at Triple D Farm in Palmer, Alaska.

Palin, who was at the farm to pardon a turkey in the week before Thanksgiving, did a lengthy TV interview while live turkeys were being fed head first into a machine behind her.

Palin’s New Year’s post was still up Friday night. Though some Facebook commenters supported Palin, calling the picutures “cute,” others expressed concern for Trig’s safety and the dog.

“Not only the dog, but is she not worried the boy will fall and bust his head on the counter???? Nope. Keep snapping pictures,” one commenter wrote.

Oh dear.

Read bullet | 41 Comments »

Iran Nuke Deal: U.S. Says the Two Sides Are Closer but Iran Denies It

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

How badly do you think the Obama administration wants an “historic” deal with Iran? So bad that they’re willing to see things that aren’t there.

Diplomats told the AP that the two sides have tentatively agreed to a formula that would send excess enriched uranium from Iran to Russia for disposal. This is a proposal that’s been floated for years and Iran has continually rejected it.

Also, the diplomats say that the two sides agreed on a framework to identify which issues there is general agreement on and outlining different approaches to the remaining issues.

The diplomats said differences still dominate ahead of the next round of Iran-six power talks on Jan. 15 in Geneva. But they suggested that even agreement to create a to-do list would have been difficult previously because of wide gaps between the sides.

Iran denies it wants nuclear arms, but it is negotiating with the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany on cuts to its atomic program in hope of ending crippling sanctions. The talks have been extended twice due to stubborn disagreements.

The main conflict is over uranium enrichment, which can create both reactor fuel and the fissile core of nuclear arms. In seeking to reduce Iran’s bomb-making ability, the U.S. has proposed that Tehran export much of its stockpile of enriched uranium — something the Islamic Republic has long said it would not do.

The diplomats said both sides in the talks are still arguing about how much of an enriched uranium stockpile to leave Iran. It now has enough for several bombs, and Washington wants substantial cuts below that level.

But the diplomats said the newly created catalog lists shipping out much of the material as tentatively agreed upon. The diplomats, who are familiar with the talks, spoke to the AP recently and demanded anonymity because they are not authorized to comment on the closed negotiations.

But Reuters is reporting that the Iranian foreign ministry says that there is no tentative agreement on transferring the enriched uranium:

“Such news is spread out of political motives and its goal is to tarnish the climate of the talks and make it more complicated to reach a settlement,” the state IRNA news agency quoted her as saying.

The semi-official ISNA agency, citing an “informed source”, also denied the report: “The topic of transferring (enriched) uranium abroad has been circulating for a while, but we haven’t had any agreement in this regard.”

The head of Iran’s atomic energy agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, told worshippers at Friday prayers that the long nuclear conflict was drawing to an end.

“Have no doubt that the nuclear issue will be resolved in Iran’s favour and we will soon celebrate Iran’s victory,” he was quoted as saying by Mehr News.

Iran and the six powers “P5+1″ — the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — are to resume low-level talks on Tehran’s nuclear activities in Geneva on Jan 15, but wide gaps remain in their positions.

At what cost Iran’s “victory”? To Israel? To the Gulf states? You can be sure that any agreement made will guarantee Iran’s ability to enrich uranium. That one aspect constitutes a victory for Iran, who has insisted for the last decade that they have that right while two administrations held the position that the U.S. would not negotiate until Iran agreed to abandon its enrichment program.

And they will doubtless be allowed to continue improving their enrichment infrastructure, including being able to build ever faster, more powerful centrifuges so that the time it takes to enrich uranium to bomb-grade levels shrinks to a matter of weeks rather than months. It’s also a near certainty that any inspection regime agreed to will not be as stringent or as intrusive as it needs to be to prevent Iran from constructing a nuclear weapon.

The next round of talks have been extended for several months. There is no sign that deadlines mean anything to either side and talks will continue until Iran wears us down and gets what it wants.

But as a consolation prize, President Obama will make some more history. Isn’t that comforting?

Read bullet | Comments »

Commissioner Bratton Warns Officers Not to Protest de Blasio Appearance at Wake

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Commissioner Bill Bratton, trying his best to narrow the rift between police and the mayor, told his officers not to disrespect the mayor at the wake of Officer Wenjian Liu, the officer assassinated 2 weeks ago, reminding them “that when you don the uniform of this department, you are bound by the tradition, honor and decency that go with it.”

Bratton believes that the show of defiance to the mayor takes attention away from honoring the service of the slain officers and the grieving families.

Fox News  reports:

The police killings ramped up emotions in the already tense national debate over police conduct. Since Ramos and Liu were killed, police in New York have investigated at least 70 threats made against officers, and more than a dozen people have been arrested.

At Ramos’ funeral, hundreds of officers turned their backs to TV monitors displaying Mayor Bill de Blasio’s remarks to show their frustration for what police union officials have said is the mayor’s role in creating an environment that allowed the killings.

In a message to be read to officers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said that act “stole the valor, honor, and attention that rightfully belonged to the memory of Detective Rafael Ramos’s life and sacrifice.”

“I issue no mandates, and I make no threats of discipline, but I remind you that when you don the uniform of this department, you are bound by the tradition, honor and decency that go with it,” Bratton said.

Liu, 32, had been on the police force seven years and had gotten married two months before he died. His widow, Pei Xia Chen, gave a tearful statement days after the shooting.

Bratton claims he understands where the officers are coming from:

Mr. Bratton, who has been serving as a peacemaker of sorts between the mayor and angry members of the NYPD, wrote that he understood “emotions are high.” But the focus of Sunday’s funeral should be on remembering a “life tragically cut short” and on the officer’s family, he wrote.

Mr. Bratton suggested the collective memory of Officer Ramos’s funeral is now fixated on what he described as an “act of disrespect” shown by a portion of the officers gathered. While every officer at the funeral didn’t do it, he said, “all the officers were painted by it.”

Bratton is right. As emotionally satisfying the show of defiance is for officers, the act of turning one’s back on the mayor deflects attention from where it belongs — on the slain officers and their families. In essence, turning your back on the boss is a political statement and not suitable for a wake or funeral.

Bratton’s fence-mending efforts between the police and the mayor will take a long time to bear fruit. There are other issues besides de Blasio’s statements about the Garner grand jury. The mayor ran an anti-police campaign for one, and some difficult negotiations coming up with the police unions are another source of tension.

In essence, de Blasio brought this problem on himself. And many observers believe only de Blasio can defuse the tension by apologizing for his comment implying that the NYPD is a racist organization.

Read bullet | 11 Comments »

Bush Resigns from Remaining Board Memberships

Thursday, January 1st, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Any doubts that Jeb Bush is going to run for president in 2016 are fast disppearing as the former Florida governor has now resigned from all of his memberships on the boards of corporations and non-profits.

With recent polls showing Bush with a 10 point lead over the field of likely GOP candidates, the candidate’s “exploration” of a run appears on track for a springtime announcement.

AP:

Jeb Bush has resigned all of his board memberships — both nonprofit and business — in a move that helps clear a path toward a 2016 presidential campaign.

The former Florida governor stepped down from his remaining board memberships on Wednesday, the last day of the year, an aide said Wednesday night. It’s a continuation of a process that began earlier in the month when Bush announced plans to actively explore a White House bid.

Spokesman Kristy Campbell called Bush’s review of his business interests “a natural next step as he turns his focus to gauging whether there is support for a potential candidacy.”

Bush, the son of one president and brother of another, is seen as an early favorite of the Republican establishment as the next presidential primary season begins. He launched a series of private business ventures after leaving the Florida governor’s mansion in 2007.

Potential foes in both parties have already begun to pour through Bush’s extensive private dealings in search of fodder for criticism.

The Wednesday moves, first reported by The Washington Post, do not affect other business interests in which he is a partner. Those include his business consulting company, Jeb Bush and Associates, and Britton Hill Holdings, a Florida-based private equity and business advisory group.

While some strategists have said Bush’s private-equity work could open him to some of the same criticisms that dogged Mitt Romney, the GOP’s last presidential nominee, Bush himself has said his business record would be an asset in a campaign.

He previously announced plans to step down from the board of Tenet Healthcare Corp. and leave his advisory role with British banking giant Barclays by Dec. 31. He severed ties to other business entities on Wednesday including the for-profit education company Academic Partnerships, Empower Software Solutions and CorMatrix Cardiovascular Inc.

Earlier in the week Bush resigned from the board of timber company Rayonier Inc.

So does Jeb have a “Mitt problem“? Perhaps not, but there’s plenty of ammunition for a decent oppo researcher to uncover.

In July, Lou Dubose reported on Bush’s role as spokesman for a Miami firm that bilked millions from investors, and whose founder, Claudio Osorio, is now serving time in federal prison. Osorio was a known fraud before Bush came on board, and Bush stayed on board even as Osorio was under investigation. As Dubose wrote in The Washington Spectator, the evidence suggests at least “an ethical blind spot that led Bush to ignore the fact that the book value and returns reported by InnoVida executives were impossible under any reasonable set of financial assumptions. … Bush endorsed a company that defrauded its shareholders and the government while failing to deliver its product to market.”

Romney’s problems were cumulative. Revelations about Bain Capital were spun to paint a dramatic picture of Romney as a robber baron capitalist who didn’t care about ordinary people.

Will the Democrats be as successful in drawing a caricature of Jeb Bush? Romney came off as a northeastern patrician even without the Bain baggage. But Bush’s southern charm and approachable personality might make him more electable. His name may be a detriment in some quarters and his positions on immigration and Common Core — to name just two issues — will cause him trouble with Republicans.

But he is going to have more money than anyone else, and a network of supporters from coast to coast. Jeb Bush is not guaranteed a victory. But he’s got a tremendous head start on the rest of the field.

What he does with that early advantage will be the key to a successful run.

Read bullet | 5 Comments »

Brandeis Student Under Attack for Calling Out Leftist Hate

Sunday, December 28th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

What is acceptable speech on campus these days?

Apparently, if you attend Brandeis University, you can express the most outrageous opinions about dead policemen, advocate violence, and countenance an attack on the student journalist who exposes it.

A petition on Change.org explains:

On December 20th, Brandeis student journalist Daniel Mael reported on inflammatory statements made by a Brandeis student leader on Twitter. Referring to the two NYPD policemen, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were recently assassinated, she wrote, “I have no sympathy for the nypd officers who were murdered today,” and “lmao [laughing my a—off] i just really dont have sympathy for the cops who were shot. i hate this racist f—ing country.” Most alarmingly, the student leader’s online messages included calls for violence in comments like, “burn this country down,” and, “i need to get my gun license. asap.”

Commenters, responding to Mael’s article, posted disparagements, curses and threats to the student who had insulted the dead policemen. Daniel Mael immediately and in no uncertain terms publicly condemned these reactions.

Soon however, Mael himself became the target of personal, sometimes violent threats to his safety and well-being made by his fellow students on the Brandeis campus and others. Instead of censuring the hatred expressed toward innocent murder victims, an array of student groups, including several students in student leadership positions at the university, launched a campaign of vilification and intimidation against Mael, demanding that the Brandeis administration punish him for doing nothing more than truthfully reporting hateful comments made in a public forum by a student in a position of authority at the university.

University officials have a legal and moral obligation to protect their students.  Since the crisis began on December 20th, University President, Fred Lawrence, has remained silent. This silence encourages the violent incitement against Daniel Mael, who did nothing wrong. At the same time, it implies official tolerance for community members using derogatory language to intimidate a student journalist — behavior that may be in violation of the school’s own code of conduct.

Brandeis officials must take immediate steps to ensure that no harm will come to any student. The climate of intimidation and hostility to free speech on the Brandeis campus must end immediately.

We call on Brandeis Trustees and Brandeis President Fred Lawrence to take the following steps:

  1. Declare that any Brandeis student who threatens or intimidates another student will be held accountable.
  2. Condemn any Brandeis student or faculty member who expresses support for the murder of policemen, or any human being, for that matter. Students have the right to their opinions; the University has the duty to judge some opinions as beneath contempt.

The incredible shape the criticism of Mael took was reported on the Daily Caller:

Brandeis senior Michael Piccione, a member of the 2014-15 student conduct board, sent an urgent email to the president of Brandeis, senior administrators, radical leftist professors and students.

The email — entitled “VERY IMPORTANT: Holding Daniel Mael accountable, and other threats to student safety!” — claimed that “Mael has exposed Khadijah to the largely white supremacist following of the website.” (The website to which Piccione refers is Truth Revolt.)

For reporting about Lynch’s vile tweets, Piccione declared, Mael “has potentially violated multiple parts” of a Brandeis code of student conduct including “stalking.”

“Khadijah specifically requested that her personal comments be removed from the website and the article in question taken down, but her wishes were ignored,” the student conduct board member also whined.

Piccione’s lament refers to Lynch telling Truth Revolt that her public tweets are her “own personal opinion.” Lynch had threatened that she does not want her tweets “publicized in any form and if you do not abide my wishes i constitute your disregard as slander.”

Lynch does not appear to understand the difference between slander, which is spoken, and libel, which is written. Her fellow students at Brandeis appear similarly unable to comprehend this distinction.

On the Brandeis Class of 2017 OFFICIAL page, a closed Facebook group, sophomore William Amara has written: “I am sorry that Khadijah has to put up with these fu**ing assh**es publishing (and likely distorting) her private opinions to further incite racial hatred and oppression. I hope the university will stand with you if these co**su**ers cause things to escalate further.”

Amara calls the quoting of Khadijah’s tweets “slander.”

Clifton Joseph Masdea also calls the publication of Khadijah’s tweets “slanderous.” In addition, after asserting that Truth Revolt is home to “racist a-holes,” Masdea calls Mael’s publication of Lynch’s tweets “a classic case of cyberbullying.”

Not a word of reproach for Khadijiah’s “private opinions” that included laughing her butt off at the death of policemen.  It’s amazing that directly quoting those “private opinions” constitutes “harassment,” “cyberbullying,” or “stalking.”

Positively unreal.

The Change.org page links to a petition you can sign in support of Mr. Mael.  If you want to get the goat of those utterly confused and ignorant lefties, makes sure you click through and sign it.

Read bullet | 52 Comments »

Quietly, US and NATO End the War in Afghanistan

Sunday, December 28th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

With zero fanfare, a small flag-lowering ceremony was conducted in Kabul that marked the end of the war in Afghanistan.

As the military and political leadership continues to assure us that the Afghanistan army is up to the challenge of defending the country, the Taliban has continued to advance in several provinces while attacking targets of opportunity all across the country.

New York Times:

In front of a small, hand-picked audience at the headquarters of the NATO mission, the green-and-white flag of the International Security Assistance Force was ceremonially rolled up and sheathed, and the flag of the new international mission called Resolute Support was hoisted.

U.S. Gen. John Campbell, commander of ISAF, commemorated the 3,500 international soldiers killed on Afghan battlefields and praised the country’s army for giving him confidence that they are able to take on the fight alone.

“Resolute Support will serve as the bedrock of an enduring partnership” between NATO and Afghanistan, Campbell told an audience of Afghan and international military officers and officials, as well as diplomats and journalists.

“The road before us remains challenging, but we will triumph,” he added.

Beginning Jan. 1, the new mission will provide training and support for Afghanistan’s military, with the U.S. accounting for almost 11,000 of the 13,500 members of the residual force.

“Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, our combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, and the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion,” U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement issued in Hawaii, where he is on vacation with his family.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who took office in September, signed bilateral security agreements with Washington and NATO allowing the ongoing military presence. The move has led to a spike in violence, with the Taliban claiming it as an excuse to step up operations aimed at destabilizing his government.

ISAF was set up after the U.S.-led invasion as an umbrella for the coalition of around 50 nations that provided troops and took responsibility for security across the country. It ends with 2,224 American soldiers killed, according to an Associated Press tally.

The mission, which was initially aimed at toppling the Taliban and rooting out al-Qaida following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, peaked at 140,000 troops in 2010. Obama ordered a surge to drive the insurgents out of strategically important regions, notably in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, where the Taliban had its capital from 1996 to 2001.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid called Sunday’s event a “defeat ceremony” and said the insurgents’ fight would continue.

No victory celebration, but that was inevitable once President Obama decided to withdraw. According to some experts, the Afghan army is hanging tough against the Taliban in many areas and the terrorists are finding it difficult to hang on to real estate:

“They are conducting attacks, but when it comes to holding territory they have not been able to [do] that successfully,” said Lisa Curtis, senior research fellow for Asian studies at the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation. “The Afghan forces have been hanging in and have remained in control of large swathes of territory, but the Taliban’s continual attacks are contributing to a sense of instability across many regions and resulting in a lot of deaths.”

That circumstance is evident in the casualty rates among Afghan security forces: They have suffered more than 4,600 deaths in 2014 alone, surpassing the number of deaths sustained by the coalition since the war began in 2001, according to the Economist. In context, it’s a huge increase in the overall death toll, accounting for about one-third of the 13,000 Afghan security personnel killed in 13 years of war, based on figures reported by the New York Times.

This high death toll helped convince U.S. President Barack Obama to commit 1,000 extra troops above the 9,800 due to remain in the country past the date that will signal the end of combat operations in Afghanistan: Dec. 31. That will leave about 13,000 NATO troops in the country overall.

The military situation is challenging enough, but it’s political problems that may doom the Afghan government to extinction. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government is plagued with factionalism and still lacks a cabinet months after the election. Ghani is forced to share power with Prime Minister Dr. Abdullah Abdullah who still appears to be scheming to take control. Of the power sharing agreement, one analyst says “It’s a recipe for disaster.” Otilie English, who worked in Kabul before the Taliban took over and after 9/11 also says, ““I really think the country is evolving back to conditions prior to the civil war in the 90’s in which Kabul was destroyed.”

Not words to cheer western allies who shed blood and spent treasure to try and prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists. The chances for a different outcome, where a free and independent Afghanistan heals itself and takes its place among the nations of the world unfortunately appear to be slim.

But America can be somewhat comforted with the idea that our military did everything that was asked of them and did it successfully. If anything untoward happens to the Afghanistan government — if the Taliban ends up in charge — the fault will lie with others, and not the men and women who sacrificed so much to get the job done.

Read bullet | Comments »

GQ Can’t Find Many Democrats to Put on Their ‘Craziest Politicians’ List

Sunday, December 28th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The magazine GQ is one of the most annoying publications in America. It is painfully and self-consciously liberal, embracing every leftist cause with a cheerleader’s enthusiasm while being unrelentingly hostile to the right.

That’s why it shouldn’t surprise us that when compiling a list of “America’s 20 Craziest Politicians” author Stephen Sherrill couldn’t find more than three Democrats.

To be sure, most of the Republicans on the list fully deserve to be there. A few examples:

  1. Rep. Michael Grimm [R-NY]
    Actual thing he said:

    “You ever do that to me again, I’ll throw you off this fu**ing balcony…. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”

    Fun fact:

    He said it on-camera, in the atrium of a congressional building, immediately following President Obama’s State of the Union address, to a reporter who had asked him about a federal investigation into his campaign-finance practices.

    In his defense:

    He represents Staten Island, so this incident was kind of like a free campaign ad. And sure enough, in November he was re-elected by thirteen points.

State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt [R-CO]

Just how crazy?

Has repeatedly bragged about performing a gay exorcism (he’s a former Navy chaplain) to rid a woman of “the foul spirit of lesbianism,” and also tried to perform a long-distance exorcism on President Obama because of something about the NSA. Believes that Obamacare “causes cancer” and that Obama’s former FCC chairman was driven by the Devil to “molest and visually rape your children.”

Actual thing he said:

“Father in Heaven, we pray against the domestic enemies of the Constitution, against this demon of tyranny who is using the White House occupant, and that demonic spirit is oppressing us.”

Fun fact:

Calls himself Dr. Chaps, which is not the least bit creepy.

Rep. Jody Hice [R-GA]

Just how crazy?

Claimed that “four blood moons” falling on “major Jewish holidays” could be a sign of “world-changing, -shaking type events.”

In his defense:

Blood moons are freaky.

ACTUAL THING HE WROTE:

Some ask the question ‘How does same-sex “marriage’ threaten your marriage?’ The answer is similar to asking, ‘How does a trashy neighborhood affect you?’ “

There are some on the list who probably don’t deserve to be there — Ted Cruz, for example. GQ uses McCain’s “wacko bird” epithet as proof that Cruz is crazy. Probably the only time in the mag’s recent history they agreed with anything a Republican said.

There are three Democrats on the list. They, too, deserve to be there.  Perhaps pre-empting criticism, Sherrill wrote this disclaimer at the end of the article:

Yes, this list is Republican-heavy, and while that may seem like standard liberal-media bias, the reality is that Democrats just aren’t keeping pace right now in the crazy department. But to even the score, here’s an incomplete list of crazy Dems from yesteryear: Rod Blagojevich, David Duke, at least one or two of the Kennedys, Anthony Weiner/Carlos Danger, and Jim McGreevey.

In the spirit of Christmas, the New York Post’s Kyle Smith decided to give GQ a hand and he came up with 16 Democrats that — somehow — the magazine overlooked…

Read bullet | 12 Comments »

North Korea Blames U.S. for Another Internet Outage, Hurling Racist Insults at Obama

Sunday, December 28th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Another DOS attack hit the North Korean internet on Saturday just hours after the official news agency referred to President Obama as a “monkey.” In addition to the internet, the 3G wireless network was also disabled.

It’s the third time this week that North Korea has lost its internet connectivity.

ABC News reports:

North Korea faced a five-hour Internet outage Saturday, the country’s third major outage in the past week.

The Internet went out in the nation around 10:42 p.m. local time and remained down for five hours, according to Dyn Research, an Internet management performance company that measures global Internet traffic.

The network had previously gone down twice in the past week, with the first outage lasting for more than nine hours on Dec. 22, and the second lasting for just over 30 minutes on Dec. 23.

After the third outage today, North Korean officials released a statement insulting the president.

“Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest,” an unidentified spokesman at the commission’s Policy Department said in a statement carried by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency, according to The Associated Press.

In recent days some internet commentators have discussed the possibility over social media that another entity besides North Korea was actually behind the Sony hack. The FBI completely dismissed those theories in a statement today

“The FBI has concluded the Government of North Korea is responsible for the theft and destruction of data on the network of Sony Pictures Entertainment,” read a portion of the statement given to ABC News. “Attribution to North Korea is based on intelligence from the FBI, the U.S. intelligence community, DHS, foreign partners and the private sector. There is no credible information to indicate that any other individual is responsible for this cyber incident.”

It’s not the first time that the NoKo’s have insulted President Obama with crude, racist insults:

In May, its official news agency called Obama a “crossbreed” and “a wicked black monkey,” while referring to South Korean President Park Geun-hye as “an old prostitute.”

In August, it called Secretary of State John F. Kerry a wolf with a “hideous lantern jaw.”

Yeah, well…OK Kerry does have a lantern jaw and it’s a matter of opinion whether it’s “hideous” or not.

Read bullet | 30 Comments »

Truly, John Paul II Is a Saint

Saturday, December 27th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Startling news out of the Vatican. Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981, visited the tomb of the saint. where he laid a bouquet of white roses.

Australian Broadcasting Company:

The Turkish man who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II has laid flowers at the late pontiff’s tomb in the Vatican.

Mehmet Ali Agca arrived back in Rome unexpectedly and presented himself to police to declare his intention to lay the flowers.

“I felt the need to make this gesture,” he told police, according to Italian media who had been tipped off in advance about his visit.

Agca’s visit came exactly 31 years after John Paul visited him in prison in Rome to forgive him for the 1981 shooting that nearly killed the leader of the world’s Catholics.

Then aged 23, Agca shot the Pope twice at close range in St Peter’s Square, with one bullet passing through John Paul’s abdomen and another narrowly missing his heart.

Granted authorisation to pay his respects under a discreet police escort, Agca was filmed by the ADNKronos news agency murmuring a prayer at the side of the tomb after he placed his bouquet of white roses.

“A thousand thanks holiness,” he said in Italian.

“This is a miracle that goes on. The mystery of Fatima goes on. Long live Jesus Christ!”

The former extremist requested a meeting with Pope Francis when the current pontiff visited Turkey last month.

That was declined as was a fresh request for an audience this weekend in Rome.

“He has put flowers on the tomb of John Paul II. I think that is enough,” Francis’s spokesman, Federico Lombardi, told La Republica.

A remarkable turn of events, although it should be said that Agca is not counted among the most balanced people on the planet. His continual and conflicting claims that he did not act alone in the assassination attempt — that Russians and Bulgarians assisted him — may make perfect sense but have never been proved in any way.

Still, the former pontiff must have touched his heart in some way. Agca’s gesture, no matter how staged, still proves the healing power of forgiveness.

Read bullet | Comments »

Slain NYPD Officer Laid to Rest: Cops Turn Their Backs on de Blasio Again

Saturday, December 27th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Officer Rafael Ramos received a hero’s funeral today, as an estimated 25,000 police officers from around the country looked on.

Several eulogists, including Governor Cuomo, Vice President Biden, and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, praised Ramos as an outstanding officer and a warm person. But when Mayor Bill de Blasio began to speak, several hundred NYPD officers watching on viewscreens outside the church turned their backs to the screen.

Fox News:

Thousands of police officers from across the country assembled in winter sunshine in New York City for the funeral of Rafael Ramos, a police officer shot to death with his partner in an ambush last week.

The officers in dress blue uniforms stood outside the Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens for the Saturday morning services. The sea of blue stretched more than six city blocks.

In his eulogy, Mayor Bill de Blasio offered the city’s condolences to the Ramos family.

“All of this city is grieving and grieving for so many reasons,” he said. “But the most personal is that we lost such a good man.”

Vice President Joe Biden expressed his condolences to Ramos’ two sons.

“You’ve shown tremendous courage these past days,” he said.

He said Ramos and his partner Wenjian Liu were officers who were committed, passionate and vigilant.

“Being a cop was not what they did, it was who they were like every man and woman in uniform today and they, like every one of you here and outside, all joined for the same reason,” Biden said.

The church applauded when Biden called the New York Police Department the finest in the world.

“When an assassin’s bullet targeted two officers, it targeted this city and it touched the soul of an entire nation,” the vice president said.

“I believe this police force will show the nation how to bridge any divide,” he said.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told the mourners they knew who officer Ramos was. “Father, son, brother and husband,” he said. “He was a New Yorker. He was a New York City police officer.

The church erupted in applause when Bratton ended by saying Ramos was a hero.

There were also cheers when Bratton said he had promoted Ramos to detective first grade and appointed him an honorary department chaplain.

Bratton said Ramos and his partner were assassinated because of who they were. “They were killed for their color,” the commissioner said. “They were blue.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the shooting of the two officer “an attack on all of us.”

De Blasio has been scrambling since the shootings to bury his remarks earlier this month when he told an audience after the Eric Garner grand jury refused to indict that he had warned his bi-racial son to be careful around police.

It is apparent that many in the New York City Police Department have long memories:

Dozens of police officers turned their backs in silent protest Saturday as Mayor de Blasio eulogized their slain colleague Officer Rafael Ramos.

The officers were part of the overflow crowd standing outside the Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens, watching the funeral on large video screens, when de Blasio stepped into the pulpit.

A mixture of NYPD members and officers from other departments then turned their backs toward the screen above Myrtle Ave. in Queens.

They stood mutely as the mayor’s words of praise for both Ramos and the NYPD echoed across the cool December morning, falling on deaf ears.

Officers had done the same thing one week earlier when de Blasio arrived at Woodhull Hospital after the double murder.

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association head Patrick Lynch said the mayor had “blood on his hands” after the killings last weekend in Brooklyn.

000000

De Blasio has taken great pains to praise the police department vociferously and often in the week since the shootings. It hasn’t taken. It appears that what the police officers want most from de Blasio — aside from his resignation — is an apology. This is something the mayor will probably not give them. It’s a sign of weakness de Blasio can’t afford at this juncture of his war with the department.

The wound is deep, but will almost certainly scab over. Neither side can afford a total break. But the cops have de Blasio on notice and it won’t take much for open warfare to break out again.

Read bullet | 20 Comments »

Obama Thinks Race Relations Have Gotten Better Since He Took Office

Saturday, December 27th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

You have to wonder sometimes what planet the President of the United States is living on.

Earlier this month, the president told BET that race relations were better because we’ve made progress over the last 50 years.

“If you talk to your parents, grandparents, uncles, they’ll tell you that things are better — not good, in some cases, but better,” he continued. “And the reason it’s important for us to understand progress has been made is that then gives us hope that we can make even more progress.”

This is true, and it’s something we rarely hear from the Al Sharpton’s of the so-called civil rights movement.

But yesterday, President Obama told NPR that progress has actually been made since he took office — that the nation is less racially divided today than it was in 2008.

New York Post:

President Obama says the United States is less racially divided despite the tensions raging from deadly police shootings and emotional protests.

Compared to six years ago when he made history as the first black president, Obama says American race relations are on the upswing.

“I actually think that it’s probably in its day-to-day interactions less racially divided,” Obama told National Public Radio.

Americans, however, seem to disagree.

A Bloomberg Politics survey out this month found a majority of Americans – 53 percent – feel interactions between white and black communities have deteriorated since Obama took office.

The choke-hold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island and fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. sparked nationwide outrage when the white officers in both cases were not criminally charged. Obama has sought to channel the frustration into a national campaign for better police relations.

Americans have been divided by race over the outcome. The majority of white Americans agreed with the decision not to charge Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson in Brown’s death, while nearly all blacks disagreed.

A slight majority of whites, however, disagreed with a grand jury’s decision not to charge Office Daniel Pantaleo in New York, according to Bloomberg’s survey.

My own personal observation is that I haven’t seen the racial divide this bad since the early 1970′s. I don’t know what kind of metrics you can use to measure the racial divide, but polls are only a small part of the equation. Two recent Pew Polls — one following the grand jury decision in Ferguson not to indict Officer Wilson and another that measured the reaction following both the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand jury decisions, show a deep divide between blacks and whites.

Whites viewed the grand juries as acting correctly in the Ferguson and Staten Island cases by 64% and 47% respectively.

The numbers of black Americans who saw the grand juries come to incorrect decisions was 80% and 90%.

How much of this is President Obama to blame for?

Clearly, the president had nothing to do with the incidents that set off the latest round of protests. But his attorney general, Eric Holder, has federalized both cases, and is investigating both officers for violating the dead men’s civil rights. Also, statements made by both Obama and Holder leaves no doubt that they have taken sides in both cases and that their sympathies lie with the protestors.

If both Obama and Holder would look behind the activist leaders of these protests and see the cadres of Communists, anarchists, and cop haters filling the ranks, they would see the damage their advocacy has caused.

The country is a tinderbox right now with another cop killing or shooting of an unarmed kid for whatever reason threatening to act as a catalyst for widespread unrest. The racial divide has not narrowed in the president’s six years in office. In fact, Barack Obama’s legacy will be to hand a deeply embittered nation, cleaved in two by racial misunderstanding and mistrust, to his successor.

And he will leave office with the knowledge that he not only did nothing to heal the divide, but actually made it worse.

Read bullet | 8 Comments »

Happy…er…Merry…um…Whatever. It’s Kwanza

Saturday, December 27th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Making up holidays is a fine American tradition. Just ask Hallmark Cards and their invention of “Secretary’s Day” and “Boss’s Day.” “Mother’s Day” began as a celebration decreed by a few states in the early 20th century and morphed into a commercial bonanza during the 1920s.

But that’s American capitalism at work. To make a “black holiday,” the inventor of Kwanza, Dr. Maulana (Swahili for “master teacher”) Karenga, AKA Ron N. Everett, had to put one over on black Americans and have them buy into the notion that a holiday invented for American blacks actually originated in Africa.

Warren Beatty, writing in the American Thinker, gives us the definitely politically incorrect history of Kwanza — an account you probably won’t find in too many other places.

Here’s a fact about Kwanzaa that liberals won’t tell you. Most Afro-Americans are descendants of people who came from west Africa, primarily Ghana. But Kwanzaa is a holiday based upon the use of the Swahili language and traditions. Swahili is spoken by people in Southeast Africa. Where Swahili is spoken is about three thousand miles from Ghana. So when making up Kwanzaa, Karenga was either ignorant of African geography and languages, or he was contemptuous of Afro-Americans, or (most probably) both.

As William J. Bennett says, “Karenga has concocted some bits of lore, lingo, and mumbo-jumbo that are intended to make Kwanzaa look like something out of Africa instead of something from Los Angeles County, but his efforts have been feeble.”

Further, the “Official Kwanzaa Website” refers to a book by Karenga published by the University of Sankore Press. There is today no University of Sankore. In fact, the ancient University of Sankore was a group of Islamic schools in Timbuktu in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. In an effort to give itself some creditability, the website says:

The University of Sankore Press takes its name from the famous University of Sankore in Timbuktu, Mali which was founded in the fourteenth century…  Our mission is to continue this legacy of commitment to African scholarship and learning by publishing scholarly yet accessible books on Continental and diasporic African life, culture and history with due attention to issues of race, ethnicity, gender and cultural diversity.  [emphasis mine]

There is a link to the “Kwanzaa Shop” where you can buy, among other things, muhindi — corn.  But corn wasn’t known at all in ancient Africa.

The website says that Kwanzaa’s “… origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it takes its name,” and that “…celebrations are recorded in African history as far back as ancient Egypt and Nubia…[.]“  Yet there is no explanation of why ancient Egyptians or Nubians celebrated harvest festivals at a time fully two months after their harvest was complete. Or why ancient Egyptians or Nubians celebrated harvest festivals on a northern hemisphere schedule. Or even why Egyptians are included.

Also on the website is the statement “… Swahili, a Pan-African language which is the most widely spoken African language.” Swahili is spoken by about 7 percent of African people. Arabic is the language most spoken in Africa. As for “Pan-African,” Swahili is a Bantu language, with many words coming from Arabic, Persian, and Indian languages. Swahili was originally written in Arabic script.

Well, you get the picture.

Read bullet | 19 Comments »

Malaysian PM Criticized for Golfing with Obama While Homeland Suffers from Flooding

Thursday, December 25th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

It is to say, “bad optics” that’s plaguing Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak after news reached his homeland of his round of golf with President Obama.

Massive flooding has displaced tens of thousands of people and critics are calling on Razak to return home to deal with the crisis.

News24:

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak was under fire at home on Thursday for spending his holiday golfing with US President Barack Obama in Hawaii while the country faces one of its worst floods.

More than 91 000 people have been displaced, the official news agency Bernama reported.

Netizens bombarded Najib’s Facebook page with calls for him to return home and deal with the disaster after news reports surfaced about him playing golf with Obama.

Najib’s latest Facebook post Thursday, in which he mentioned that he has contacted his deputy, who is also the chairman of the National Disaster Management Committee, to step up efforts to assist the victims, received over 1 300 comments. Many commenters took issue with him playing golf during the floods.

Bernama reported that as of noon on Thursday, over 91 000 people have fled their homes and were staying in the hundreds of shelters set up in the six states most affected.

The east coast states that face the South China Sea such as Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang were the worst hit. Many roads were cut off and train services to the east coast states were cancelled.

Kelantan saw the highest number of displaced victims at over 32 000 people. Part of the main hospital in the capital, Kota Bharu, had to be evacuated on Wednesday involving about 200 patients, according to the Harian Metro daily. Four people have died in Kelantan due to the floods that started last week.

I know that if President Obama remained in Hawaii after a big natural disaster hit America, he would come in for similar criticism, so it’s not surprising that Malaysians would be upset at their prime minister’s seeming indifference to suffering. Recall the criticism directed at President Bush who chose to remain on his ranch after Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the gulf coast.

A national leader has to be aware of this sort of thing, even though in practical terms. there’s no difference between Razak being on a golf course in Hawaii or back in his office in Kuala Lampur. But no matter how often the truth is repeated, the opposition licks its chops at this sort of symbolic image. Ordinary people want to know that their leader feels their pain and stands in solidarity with them.

Razak currently as no plans to return early to Malaysia.

Read bullet | Comments »

JetBlue Offers Free Flights to Cops Attending Funeral of Slain NYC Officers

Thursday, December 25th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

In an extraordinary gesture of support for police across the country, JetBlue announced that it would fly police officers wanting to attend the funeral of the two murdered New York cops free of charge.

New York Post:

JetBlue airlines said Wednesday it will be offering free flights to police officers from around the country who wish to attend the funerals for the two slain NYPD cops killed over the weekend.

The airline said it will allow up to two cops from each department to fly at no charge from anywhere across its route network to New York City.

“We’re honored to do what we can to support the communities we serve, and our team has made flights available to law enforcement agencies … who wish to send representatives to New York to support their brethren,” said JetBlue spokeswoman Sharon Jones.

Officer Rafael Ramos’ funeral will be held Saturday at the Christ Tabernacle Church in Glendale, Queens, and is expected to be packed with cops from far and wide.

Funeral services for Officer Wenjian Liu have not been finalized, but JetBlue said it is working with a partner carrier to bring the cop’s relatives to New York from China at no charge.

Very heartening, and a generous gesture this Christmas season. I hope hundreds of police jurisdictions take advantage of JetBlue’s generosity and send officers to stand in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in New York and around the country.

Read bullet | Comments »