Friday, 13 March 2009

STRAIT-JACQUOTED

Ken Berwitz

I just read this truly fascinating legal maneuver at www.atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com.  Here it is - and I guarantee that, regardless of your personal politics, you will be as fascinated as I am:

GEITHNER & RANGEL TO BE SUBPOENAED IN TAX FRAUD CASE

Federal Case Alleges Political Elite Get Favorable Tax Treatment Over Ordinary Citizens

Why is it that political insiders get a pass on their tax problems when ordinary citizens get criminally prosecuted?

Tim Geithner, political insider: Back taxes owed, no prosecution

Charles Rangel, political insider: Back taxes owed, no prosecution

Tom Daschle, political insider: Back taxes owed, no prosecution

David Jacquot, ordinary citizen: NO taxes owed, PROSECUTION?!?

On 5 March 2009 a Motion was filed in U.S. v. David Jacquot, Case # CR 08-1171, in the Federal District Court, in San Diego, California seeking to dismiss a false tax return indictment on the grounds that the Defendant was not treated in the same manner as politically prominent individuals. A hearing on this matter is set for 30 March 2009 in San Diego and the Defendant in this case intends to subpoena Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, and others.

The Defendant in this case is David Jacquot, an attorney and retired Army Officer. He is a decorated disabled Desert Storm veteran living in rural Idaho with his family.

This Geithner Motion cites HR 735 titled the Rangel Rule Act of 2009, which if enacted, would eliminate penalties and interest for common citizens to allow them to be treated in the same manner as House Ways and Means Chairman Representative Charles Rangel. The Geithner Motion also quotes President Obama stressing the need to treat common citizens in the same manner as politically prominent individuals in regards to tax matters.

The Geithner Motion details how Mr. Jacquot was vindictively indicted in retaliation for his successful defense of his clients against the IRS. The tax returns of his corporate law firm for the four (4) years of 2001 to 2004 were investigated and the government alleges that the law firm declared almost $200,000 TOO MUCH income during this time period. The Geithner Motion contains descriptions of numerous actions by the government and Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Faith Devine that are the basis for the claim of retaliation against Mr. Jacquot for his zealous representation of his clients Constitutional and statutory rights. The improper actions of AUSA Devine have been reported to the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility for disciplinary action and are currently under review.

A copy of the Geithner Motion and the complaint against AUSA Faith Devine can be downloaded here.

Do you get the feeling they're picking on the wrong boy?  I sure do.

The hearing is set for March 30.  Count on me reporting what happened on that day or, at latest, on March 31.


THE INMATES RUNNING THE FINANCIAL ASYLUM

Ken Berwitz

Great thanks to Susanne Craig of the Wall St. Journal and Steve Gilbert of www.sweetness-light.com, for their insights on the incredible spectacle of Andrew Cuomo and Barney Fudd posturing as problem-solvers - for the problems they created in the first place:

Cuomo, Frank To Control Wall Street Pay

March 13th, 2009

From the Wall Street Journal:

 

Cuomo, Frank Seek to Link Executive Pay, Performance

By SUSANNE CRAIG

MARCH 13, 2009

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is in discussions with Rep. Barney Frank and other lawmakers on a plan to tie Wall Street pay to the long-term performance of the firms.

Mr. Frank (D., Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and other prominent Democrats appear to back such a plan, though no legislation has been introduced.

"We plan to put laws into effect, no question," said Mr. Frank. "We have to address this heads I win, tails I break even issue."

Mr. Cuomo is investigating the $3.62 billion in bonuses that were paid out at Merrill Lynch just before it was acquired by Bank of America Corp. at the end of last year. Hes trying to determine if the firm violated securities laws by failing to disclose information in the weeks leading up to the payouts

Mr. Cuomo is examining ways to further stagger both cash and stock compensation payments over several years, according to people familiar with the matter. This way, if a business built on short-term risk-taking blows up, firms will be able to claw back pay.

A person close to Mr. Cuomo said change is needed but the intent isnt to micromanage or interfere with the private sector

Is this not chutzpah on an Olympian scale?

Where does it state in the Constitution that Congress or the Executive Branch can control how much a sector of the economy can make, and how they should be paid?

Moreover, there are probably no two people on the planet who are more responsible for the current mortgage/banking crisis than Messrs Cuomo and Frank.

Hopefully by now Mr. Franks efforts should be well known to our regular readers.

But in case Mr. Cuomos contributions has been forgotten, here are some excerpts from an article we posted back in September 2008, from (of all places) the Village Voice:

Andrew Cuomo and Fannie and Freddie

How the youngest Housing and Urban Development secretary in history gave birth to the mortgage crisis

By Wayne Barrett
August 05, 2008

There are as many starting points for the mortgage meltdown as there are fears about how far it has yet to go, but one decisive point of departure is the final years of the Clinton administration, when a kid from Queens without any real banking or real-estate experience was the only man in Washington with the power to regulate the giants of home finance, the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), better known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Andrew Cuomo, the youngest Housing and Urban Development secretary in history, made a series of decisions between 1997 and 2001 that gave birth to the countrys current crisis. He took actions thatin combination with many other factorshelped plunge Fannie and Freddie into the subprime markets without putting in place the means to monitor their increasingly risky investments. He turned the Federal Housing Administration mortgage program into a sweetheart lender with sky-high loan ceilings and no money down, and he legalized what a federal judge has branded kickbacks to brokers that have fueled the sale of overpriced and unsupportable loans. Three to four million families are now facing foreclosure, and Cuomo is one of the reasons why

In 2000, Cuomo required a quantum leap in the number of affordable, low-to-moderate-income loans that the two mortgage banksknown collectively as Government Sponsored Enterpriseswould have to buy. The GSEs dont actually sell mortgages to borrowers. They buy them from banks and mortgage companies, allowing lenders to replenish their capital and make more loans. They also purchase mortgage-backed securities, which are pools of mortgages regularly acquired by the GSEs from investment firms. The government chartered these banks to pump money into the mortgage market and, while they did it, to make a strong enough profit to attract shareholders. That created a tug-of-war between their efforts to maximize shareholder value, which drove them toward high-end mortgages, and their congressionally mandated obligation to finance loans for those who needed help. The 1992 law required HUDs secretary to make sure housing goals were being met and, every four years, set new goals for Fannie and Freddie.

Cuomos predecessor, Henry Cisneros, did that for the first time in December 1995, taking a cautious approach and moving the GSEs toward a requirement that 42 percent of their mortgages serve low- and moderate-income families. Cuomo raised that number to 50 percent and dramatically hiked GSE mandates to buy mortgages in underserved neighborhoods and for the very-low-income. Part of the pitch was racial, with Cuomo contending that Fannie and Freddie werent granting mortgages to minorities at the same rate as the private market. William Apgar, Cuomos top aide, told The Washington Post: We believe that there are a lot of loans to black Americans that could be safely purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac if these companies were more flexible.

While many saw this demand for increasingly flexible loan terms and standards as a positive step for low-income and minority families, others warned that they could have potentially dangerous consequences. Franklin Raines, the Fannie chairman and first black CEO of a Fortune 500 company, warned that Cuomos rules were moving Fannie into risky territory: We have not been a major presence in the subprime market, he said, but you can bet that under these goals, we will be.

But raising the affordable-housing goals was only half the Cuomo story.

The HUD secretary is also required to produce voluminous rules that govern how the GSEs meet those goals, and the 187-page rules Cuomo issued opened the door to abuse.

The rules explicitly rejected the idea of imposing any new reporting requirements on the GSEs. In other words, HUD wanted Fannie and Freddie to buy risky loans, but the department didnt want to hear just how risky they were

The lengthy Village Voice article contains much more damming information about Mr. Cuomos machinations.

But now Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Frank now want to control the salaries of the executives on Wall Street?

They should be making big rocks into smaller rocks.

What unbelievable frauds.

And what unbelievable frauds we have in mainstream media (the WSJ obviously being a major exception here), who don't report the activities of people like Cuomo and Fudd so that people understand their culpability.

But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.


POLLING DATA FOR THE OBAMEDIA TO AVOID

Ken Berwitz

These excerpts are from an article co-written by Scott Rasmussen, and (Clinton pollster) Doug Schoen.  If you've recently heard one or another of the various Obama flaks telling you about his transcendentally high popularity in the polls, this will probably be of more than passing interest.  The bold print is mine:

Obama's Poll Numbers Are Falling to Earth

By DOUGLAS E. SCHOEN and SCOTT RASMUSSEN

It is simply wrong for commentators to continue to focus on President Barack Obama's high levels of popularity, and to conclude that these are indicative of high levels of public confidence in the work of his administration. Indeed, a detailed look at recent survey data shows that the opposite is most likely true. The American people are coming to express increasingly significant doubts about his initiatives, and most likely support a different agenda and different policies from those that the Obama administration has advanced.

Polling data show that Mr. Obama's approval rating is dropping and is below where George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001. Rasmussen Reports data shows that Mr. Obama's net presidential approval rating -- which is calculated by subtracting the number who strongly disapprove from the number who strongly approve -- is just six, his lowest rating to date.

[Obama's Poll Numbers Are Falling to Earth] M.E. Cohen

Overall, Rasmussen Reports shows a 56%-43% approval, with a third strongly disapproving of the president's performance. This is a substantial degree of polarization so early in the administration. Mr. Obama has lost virtually all of his Republican support and a good part of his Independent support, and the trend is decidedly negative.

A detailed examination of presidential popularity after 50 days on the job similarly demonstrates a substantial drop in presidential approval relative to other elected presidents in the 20th and 21st centuries. The reason for this decline most likely has to do with doubts about the administration's policies and their impact on peoples' lives.

There is also a clear sense in the polling that taxes will increase for all Americans because of the stimulus, notwithstanding what the president has said about taxes going down for 95% of Americans. Close to three-quarters expect that government spending will grow under this administration.

Recent Gallup data echo these concerns. *****That polling shows that there are deep-seated, underlying economic concerns. Eighty-three percent say they are worried that the steps Mr. Obama is taking to fix the economy may not work and the economy will get worse. Eighty-two percent say they are worried about the amount of money being added to the deficit. Seventy-eight percent are worried about inflation growing, and 69% say they are worried about the increasing role of the government in the U.S. economy.

When Gallup asked whether we should be spending more or less in the economic stimulus, by close to 3-to-1 margin voters said it is better to have spent less than to have spent more. When asked whether we are adding too much to the deficit or spending too little to improve the economy, by close to a 3-to-2 margin voters said that we are adding too much to the deficit.

Support for the stimulus package is dropping from narrow majority support to below that. There is no sense that the stimulus package itself will work quickly, and according to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, close to 60% said it would make only a marginal difference in the next two to four years. Rasmussen data shows that people now actually oppose Mr. Obama's budget, 46% to 41%. Three-quarters take this position because it will lead to too much spending. And by 2-to-1, voters reject House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's call for a second stimulus package.

Within the week I heard one of the Obama people say that the President had an approval rating of 75%.

Maybe he was into adding polls together.  Or...maybe he was just spewing a hot steamy load of what a bull produces after lunch.

-------------------------------------------------------

*****In fairness, Gallup's tracking data show Obama's overall approval at 62% - 27%.  But the other data that Schoen and Rasmussen put up are accurate, which suggests that Mr. Obama's approval level in Gallup's poll has not caught up with people's other attitudes, and are likely to take a tumble in the near future.  We'll keep and eye out to see.


ONEUNITED BANK: A STORY OF SELF-INTEREST AND RACISM

Ken Berwitz

How would you feel if your congressperson spoke up for a shoddily run disaster of a bank -- and both she and her husband stood to gain if the disaster-bank got millions and millions in federal bailout money? 

How would you feel if your congressperson justified this on racial grounds?

Well, if you live in Maxine Waters' congressional district, that is not an abstract question.  It's a reality.  Here are the specifics, from the beginning of an article in today's Los Angeles Times:

Maxine Waters under scrutiny for bank ties

The Los Angeles congresswoman's husband had ties to OneUnited Bank, which received bailout funds. She helped set up a meeting last fall with the bank and Treasury officials.
By Richard Simon and E. Scott Reckard
March 13, 2009
Reporting from Los Angeles and Washington -- Rep. Maxine Waters, one of Los Angeles' most enduring liberal politicians, has come under scrutiny because of bailout funds that went to a bank in which her husband had owned stock and served on the board.

Waters was a senior member of the congressional committee dealing with the financial crisis when OneUnited Bank -- one of the nation's largest minority-owned institutions -- received $12 million in bailout funds.

Her husband, Sidney Williams, served on the bank board until early last year and held at least $500,000 in investments in the bank in 2007, the most recent year for which public financial disclosure statements are available.

A month before Congress enacted the bailout program, Waters helped set up a meeting between the chief executive of the bank, representatives of other financial institutions and Treasury officials.

"When a member of the financial services committee calls, you pay special attention," said Jeb Mason, who was a high-ranking Treasury official last fall.

He said that the September meeting was billed as a broad discussion by minority-owned banks of the problems they faced but that it ended up a discussion of one bank's problems. He said he only recently learned of Waters' husband's ties to OneUnited and would have liked to have known about them. He added, however, that the connection didn't influence the department.

OneUnited did not receive any federal money at that time, but by mid-December, it had received $12 million in bailout funds.

Waters did not respond to requests for comment.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said in an interview Thursday that he advised Waters last fall to "stay out of it" because he knew her husband had served on the bank board.

Frank said Waters was concerned about the plight of minority-owned banks, as was he.

"She acknowledged that 'Sidney had been on the board. I could have a conflict here,' " Frank said. "I said, 'Fine, just stay out of it, I'll deal with it.' "

Noting that OneUnited is based in Boston, he said, "I wasn't, as chairman of the banking committee, not going to do all I could to keep the only black-owned bank in my area alive."

Frank said he was unaware of any contacts Waters may have had with Treasury.

OneUnited Chief Executive Kevin Cohee and Treasury officials said the bank was scrutinized before it received any bailout money.

In late October, the bank's regulator, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., chastised the bank for being undercapitalized and operating in an overly risky manner. The agency also criticized the bank's "payment of excessive compensation, fees and benefits" to senior executives.

Lovely. 

Maxine Waters, a member of the house financial services committee, sets up meetings for the disaster-bank her husband was deeply involved with and almost certainly  still owns a lot of stock in (Waters won't say).  Isn't that a little like when Barney Fudd  was getting parking tickets fixed for Steve Gobey, the male prostitute he welcomed into his home and allowed to run a male prostitition ring from?

And Barney Fudd intercedes on behalf of the disaster-bank because it is a "Black" bank.  Isn't that a little like Maxine Waters being a proud member of the congressional Black caucus - an overtly racist organization which will not allow any Whites to join based specifically on the color of their skin?

My compliments to the Los Angeles Times for printing this story.  And - equally uncharacteristically - my compliments to the New York Times, which is running it on page 1 (ok, below the fold; but you can't have everything).

Now let's see what the network news shows do with it.

-----------------------------------------------------------

FURTHER NOTE:  The Wall Street Journal has a terrific article on the budding Waters scandal.  I urge you to read it.  Just click here.


THE "JUSTICE" OF FREEING A CHILD RAPIST

Ken Berwitz

We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee;
We don't take our trips on LSD
We don't burn our draft cards down on Main Street;
We like livin' right, and bein' free.

I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee,
A place where even squares can have a ball
We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse,
And white lightnin's still the biggest thrill of all

From "Okie From Muskogee", by Merle Haggard

Based on those lyrics, I doubt that Mr. Haggard would recognize the Muskogee you'll be reading about below.  This story comes to us from ktul-TV:

Man Gets Suspended Sentence In Child Rape
 
posted 03/13/09 11:29 am
 
Muskogee - A child rapist has been sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to raping a six-year-old girl.

Forty-four-year-old Vincent Martin LeCompte was charged with felony first-degree rape. As part of a plea agreement, LeCompte was handed a 20-year suspended sentence.

"We feel that justice has been served," Adair County Assistant District Attorney Shannon Otteson told the Muskogee Phoenix. "The defendant admitted what he did and will serve under very, very stringent rules and restrictions of probation."

Otteson says the victim had testified previously three times and that it was like being raped all over again. She says under the terms of his probation, LeCompte will be required to undergo sex offender treatment and he will be restricted on where he can live and work for the next 20 years.

The girl's mother says her daughter is traumatized and is in counseling.

A 44 year old man rapes a 6 year old girl and gets probation?

And the assistant DA thinks that "justice has been served" by him walking free and undergoing "treatment" (whatever that means)?

Here's some justice.  Since Ms. Otteson thinks this is such a great solution, how's about lecompte being placed where she lives.  How about him being allowed to live near children that she cares about?

Given that Ms. Otteson is an Assistant DA, there's a good chance that she is relatively young.  Maybe she has children of her own.  If so, how about putting lecompte right next door.  Or near where her children go to school.

Hey, this subhuman is going to be near where SOMEONE lives.  It seems to me that the home of a person who thinks justice was served by letting him loose would be an ideal location. 

What's that you say?  What kind of lowlife am I to suggest that innocent young children be put in danger just because I disagree with Ms. Otteson's decision?  If that's what you think, you've got it all wrong.

What I want is for lecompte to be jailed for 20 years or more, maybe for the rest of his sorry-ass life.  If castration were legal I'd sign off on it in two seconds flat.

But if he isn't going to be jailed, it seems to me that the people who allowed him to go free are the ones whose families should be in jeopardy.  Maybe it will give them a different outlook on whether justice has been served if he's there.

What do you think?

BOBW YOU ENDED THIS BY ASKING WHAT I THINK? I THINK THE BASTARD SHOULD BE EXECUTED- PERIOD CASE CLOSED- IS THAT 6 YEAR OLD GIRL EVER GOING TO BE NORMAL? NO WAY- IS THIS WALKING ASSHOLE GOING TO BE RE-HABILITATED- NO WAY. WHY SHOULD HE SPEND ANY TIME IN JAIL AT THE EXPENSE OF THE TAX PAYERS? HELL NO- SHOOT THE PRICK -END OF MY CASE. IF I WAS THE PARENT OF THIS GIRL- I WOULD PUT A HIT ON THIS GUY (03/13/09)


THE BILLBOARD WAR

Ken Berwitz

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has decided to escalate the war against Rush Limbaugh, by putting up an intentionally unpleasant - and misleading - billboard in his home town. 

Here is what the DNC will be putting up, along with its message:

Make a Contribution and Help Send Rush the Message

 


 

That's our answer to Rush. And we'll put it on a billboard right in his home town, so he can't miss it.

Americans know that when President Obama succeeds, we all do. It's time to leave behind partisan attack politics and stand behind the policies that will strengthen and renew America's economy.

Very clever.   Use an especially unflattering image of Limbaugh smoking a cigar and imply (dishonestly) that he is in favor of the country failing - which he is not.

As to why they think that going to war against Rush Limbaugh is going to hurt Republicans, that's a a bit of a mystery to me. 

Limbaugh has the longest running #1 show in radio history, and Limbaugh himself is already either loved or hated by just about everybody out there.  So all this "war" is accomplishing is getting millions more people to listen to his show (which I'm sure Mr. Limbaugh is terribly unhappy about...). 

Ironically, this gives Mr. Limbaugh a chance to state his side of the story to that many more people who otherwise would never have heard it. 

Is that smart?  Nope.  But this is today's Democratic Party and this is what it does.

Ed Morrissey of www.hotair.com has a great billboard answer to the DNC's childishness.  I wonder if the RNC has the guts to put it up. (And, yes, that is a real picture.  Our wonderful "neutral" media hid Mr. Obama's smoking habit from you, just as they hid Al Gore's in 2000):

...But that's EXACTLY what we got!

.


ANN COULTER DISCUSSES DEMOCRATS & CHARITABLE DEDUCTIONS

Ken Berwitz

I'm a little reticent to put up Ann Coulter's column, because I have so many problems with so many of her attitudes. 

But, when she nails one she really nails it well.  And this week's column is a case in point.

Here, with no additional comment from me, is Ms. Coulter's take on Democrats and charitable deductions:

ARE 'HOPE' AND 'CHANGE' STILL TAX-DEDUCTIBLE?
March 11, 2009

Are you sitting down? Obama plans to pay for his $3.6 trillion-dollar spending bill by raising taxes on "the rich." I know, I know ... I was pretty shocked, too.

The bad news is, by hiking taxes in a recession, Obama will turn a disaster into a catastrophe. But there's good news, too. The "rich" include most of Obama's biggest supporters!

While liberals love being praised for their looks, their style, their brilliance and their courage, the one quality they don't want talked about is their money. To the contrary, Democrats are constantly boasting about how poor they are -- as if that's a virtue in a capitalist society with no class barriers.

No matter how much money they have, liberals will be damned if they're giving up the poor's mantle of angry self-righteousness. This is especially true if their wealth came by inheritance, marriage or the taxpayer, the preferred sources of income for Liberalus Americanus.

Democrats' claims of poverty merely serve to show how out of touch elected Democrats are with actual incomes in America.

At the Democratic National Convention, for example, there were heartfelt tributes to the daunting self-sacrifice of both Barack and Michelle Obama for passing up lucrative jobs to work in "public service" -- which apparently is now defined, such as in Michelle Obama's case, as "working as a 'diversity coordinator' at a big city hospital for $300,000 a year."

Seriously, even with a company car, full medical benefits and six weeks' paid vacation thrown in, how do people live on that?

Meanwhile, the average salary for a lawyer with 20 years or more experience in the U.S. is a little more than $100,000. If Michelle Obama doesn't lay off all this "giving back" stuff pretty soon, she's going to find herself in Warren Buffett's tax bracket.

During the campaign, Joe Biden was also praised by the Democrats for being the poorest U.S. senator -- as if that were a major accomplishment.

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, touted Biden as "a good example of a working-class kid," adding that, to this day, Biden was "one of the least wealthy members of the U.S. Senate." Only a Democrat would list "never really made anything of myself" on his resume.

On the Huffington Post, operated by a woman who acquired her wealth by marrying a rich gay guy connected to Big Oil, liberal blogger Steven Clemons gloated that, unlike John McCain, Biden wouldn't "forget the number of houses he owns," adding that, in 2006, Biden was ranked the poorest U.S. senator.

And at his high school reunion Biden was voted "most likely to try to bum a ride off of somebody." Vote Biden!

According to tax returns for Biden and his public schoolteacher wife, in 2006, their total income was $248,459; in 2007, it was $319,853 -- putting the couple in the top 1 percent of all earners in the U..S.

This, my friends, is the face of poverty in America. At least in the Democratic Party. It's located just below that row of hair plugs. The Bidens are yet another heart-rending example of America's "hidden poor" -- desperately needy families hidden behind annual incomes of a quarter million dollars or more paid by the taxpayer. My fellow Americans, we can do better.

The national median household income was $48,201 in 2006 and $50,233 in 2007. Working for the government pays well.

If liberals are going to show how in touch they are with normal Americans by demanding a Marxist revolution against the rich every time they control the government, how about taking a peek at the charitable giving of these champions of the little guy?

According to their tax returns, in 2006 and 2007, the Obamas gave 5.8 percent and 6.1 percent of their income to charity. I guess Michelle Obama has to draw the line someplace with all this "giving back" stuff. The Bidens gave 0.15 percent and 0.31 percent of the income to charity.

No wonder Obama doesn't see what the big fuss is over his decision to limit tax deductions for charitable giving. At least that part of Obama's tax plan won't affect his supporters.

Meanwhile, in 1991, 1992 and 1993, George W. Bush had incomes of $179,591, $212,313 and $610,772. His charitable contributions those years were $28,236, $31,914 and $31,292. During his presidency, Bush gave away more than 10 percent of his income each year.

For purposes of comparison, in 2005, Barack Obama made $1.7 million -- more than twice President Bush's 2005 income of $735,180 -- but they both gave about the same amount to charity.

That same year, the heartless Halliburton employee Vice President Dick Cheney gave 77 percent of his income to charity. The following year, in 2006, Bush gave more to charity than Obama on an income one-third smaller than Obama's. Maybe when Obama talks about "change" he's referring to his charitable contributions.

Liberals have no intention of actually parting with any of their own wealth or lifting a finger to help the poor. That's for other people to do with what's left of their incomes after the government has taken its increasingly large cut.

As the great liberal intellectual Bertrand Russell explained while scoffing at the idea that he would give his money to charity: "I'm afraid you've got it wrong. (We) are socialists. We don't pretend to be Christians."


CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER ON OBAMA & EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH

Ken Berwitz

Here is the brilliance of Charles Krauthammer, applied to President Obama's signing of embryonic stem cell legislation.  There will be no additional commentary from me, because he says it better than I ever could:

Obama's 'Science' Fiction

By Charles Krauthammer

Friday, March 13, 2009; Page A17

Last week, the White House invited me to a signing ceremony overturning the Bush (43) executive order on stem cell research. I assume this was because I have long argued in these columns and during my five years on the President's Council on Bioethics that, contrary to the Bush policy, federal funding should be extended to research on embryonic stem cell lines derived from discarded embryos in fertility clinics.

I declined to attend. Once you show your face at these things you become a tacit endorser of whatever they spring. My caution was vindicated.

President Bush had restricted federal funding for embryonic stem cell research to cells derived from embryos that had already been destroyed (as of his speech of Aug. 9, 2001). While I favor moving that moral line to additionally permit the use of spare fertility clinic embryos, President Obama replaced it with no line at all. He pointedly left open the creation of cloned -- and noncloned sperm-and-egg-derived -- human embryos solely for the purpose of dismemberment and use for parts.

I am not religious. I do not believe that personhood is conferred upon conception. But I also do not believe that a human embryo is the moral equivalent of a hangnail and deserves no more respect than an appendix. Moreover, given the protean power of embryonic manipulation, the temptation it presents to science and the well-recorded human propensity for evil even in the pursuit of good, lines must be drawn. I suggested the bright line prohibiting the deliberate creation of human embryos solely for the instrumental purpose of research -- a clear violation of the categorical imperative not to make a human life (even if only a potential human life) a means rather than an end.

On this, Obama has nothing to say. He leaves it entirely to the scientists. This is more than moral abdication. It is acquiescence to the mystique of "science" and its inherent moral benevolence. How anyone as sophisticated as Obama can believe this within living memory of Mengele and Tuskegee and the fake (and coercive) South Korean stem cell research is hard to fathom.

That part of the ceremony, watched from the safe distance of my office, made me uneasy. The other part -- the ostentatious issuance of a memorandum on "restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making" -- would have made me walk out.

Restoring? The implication, of course, is that while Obama is guided solely by science, Bush was driven by dogma, ideology and politics.

What an outrage. Bush's nationally televised stem cell speech was the most morally serious address on medical ethics ever given by an American president. It was so scrupulous in presenting the best case for both his view and the contrary view that until the last few minutes, the listener had no idea where Bush would come out.

Obama's address was morally unserious in the extreme. It was populated, as his didactic discourses always are, with a forest of straw men. Such as his admonition that we must resist the "false choice between sound science and moral values." Yet, exactly 2 minutes and 12 seconds later he went on to declare that he would never open the door to the "use of cloning for human reproduction."

Does he not think that a cloned human would be of extraordinary scientific interest? And yet he banned it.

Is he so obtuse as not to see that he had just made a choice of ethics over science? Yet, unlike Bush, who painstakingly explained the balance of ethical and scientific goods he was trying to achieve, Obama did not even pretend to make the case why some practices are morally permissible and others not.

This is not just intellectual laziness. It is the moral arrogance of a man who continuously dismisses his critics as ideological while he is guided exclusively by pragmatism (in economics, social policy, foreign policy) and science in medical ethics.

Science has everything to say about what is possible. Science has nothing to say about what is permissible. Obama's pretense that he will "restore science to its rightful place" and make science, not ideology, dispositive in moral debates is yet more rhetorical sleight of hand -- this time to abdicate decision-making and color his own ideological preferences as authentically "scientific."

Dr. James Thomson, the pioneer of embryonic stem cells, said "if human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough." Obama clearly has not.


TODAY'S UNITED KINGDOM

Ken Berwitz

This article, from www.israelnationalnews.com, is posted without comment.  Other than the passages I've put in bold print, it doesn't need any:

UK to Host Hizbullah Spokesman

by Maayana Miskin

(IsraelNN.com) British officials granted senior Hizbullah member Ibrahim Moussawi a visa to visit the country on Thursday. The visa will allow Moussawi to lecture at a conference on political Islam. Moussawi plans to speak at the University of London on March 25.

The British government granted Moussawi a permit to visit Britain in 2008 as well. During that visit he appeared at events sponsored by the British group Stop the War.

Moussawi, who has been quoted as calling Jews a lesion of the forehead of history and justifying attacks on Israeli civilians, insists that he is not an anti-Semite. I'm a bridge-builder and I've always been an advocate of dialog and discussion, he claimed in response to criticism of an earlier visit.

He is a spokesman for Hizbullah and also edits a weekly Hizbullah paper. In the past, he served as political editor of Hizbullah TV, which has been banned in the United States as well as some European Union nations due to its anti-Semitic content.

The scheduled visit has aroused heated opposition among anti-terrorist activists. The Centre for Social Cohesion think tank has threatened to seek an arrest warrant for Moussawi if he enters the country and has consulted attorneys regarding the likelihood of detaining the Hizbullah official during his stay.

CSC Director Douglas Murray said the government's decision to grant Moussawi a visa showed that British leaders clearly do not have a grip on this.

"Britain is still a place where terrorists and terrorist supporters can come to incite and recruit, he warned.

Another CSC member, researcher Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, noted that Hizbullah is devoted to the destruction of Israel and the extermination of Jews worldwide and in addition, murders its political opponents as a matter of policy and uses violence to intimidate Lebanese civilians.

Murray and the CSC were particularly angered by Moussawi's planned visit in light of Britain's decision to turn back anti-Islam activist Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician. Wilders was recently deported while attempting to hold a scheduled meeting with British leaders on the subject of Islam and terrorism.

"This is the deepest hypocrisy, in fact, it is worse than hypocrisy, Murray said.


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