Saturday, November 29, 2008

Will Mr. Post-Partisanship Rise to the Occasion?

“America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past.” (Barack Obama, Remarks, Denver, CO, 8/28/08)

Obama's Judges and the Senate
Mitch McConnell lays down some markers.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Bipartisan hope springs eternal, even among Washington lawyers. That was the message at the Federalist Society's annual convention last week. After years of obstruction by Senate Democrats, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered President-elect Obama a roadmap for ending the political war over judicial nominations. What Mr. Obama does in his early days in office will reveal a lot about the next four years.

The key, Mr. McConnell explained, is for the new President to govern as he campaigned -- with an eye toward moderation. In 2004, he reminded the audience, the Illinois Senator criticized President Bush's effort to "push a very aggressive agenda that wasn't the way he campaigned." Now we'll see if that was more than political posturing.

A good first gesture would be to renominate some of President Bush's highly qualified judicial picks who have been left to languish for years. Peter Keisler, now nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, is widely considered to have Supreme Court potential. Nominees Steve Matthews and Bob Conrad are strong choices for the Fourth Circuit, allowing the new President to send a signal that he won't play politics with the national security cases that frequently come before that court.

There's plenty of precedent: Mr. Bush made an effort early in his Administration by renominating Clinton judges Roger Gregory and Barrington Parker. Bill Clinton sent up Republican-appointed district judges for appeals court vacancies in the late 1990s, and they were quickly confirmed by the Senate.

Giving the nod to Bush nominees would also help allay the concern that Mr. Obama lacks a constitutional standard for judicial selection. On the campaign trail, the Illinois Senator suggested that one of his criteria for selecting judges would be their "empathy." That's a far cry from judges as impartial arbiters of the law -- and would be the most untethered standard any President has offered for judicial picks. Without a fealty to the Constitution, a judge is able to bend on the emotions of a case.

In picking judges, one test will be how Mr. Obama uses the American Bar Association, the lawyers' group hoping to reclaim a dominant role in judicial vetting. The group lost that privilege during the Bush Administration, when the President noted that the ABA's supposedly nonpartisan "professional" review had devolved into transparent politicking. The ABA has been a force in politicizing the selection of judges since it announced in the 1980s that ideology was a legitimate consideration. In 2001, New York Senator Chuck Schumer formally adopted that standard, which Senate Democrats then used to stymie numerous Bush nominees, all the way to unprecedented judicial filibusters.

Mr. Obama has his own skeletons in this regard, most notably in his 'no' vote on the confirmation of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Though Judge Roberts was broadly accepted by Democrats as possessing the qualifications and temperament to make a fine Justice, Mr. Obama explained that he had decided to oppose the nomination because of concerns over his "political" philosophy. He shouldn't be surprised if the GOP invokes the same standard.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

This will send a tingle up your leg...

Friday, November 28, 2008
Chris Matthews Staffing Up for Probable Senate Run in 2010

Chris Matthews, it appears, is in.

FiveThirtyEight has been hearing for some time that Matthews is serious about running for the United States Senate, but it took a trip to Georgia among the Georgia-runoff-congregated and well-connected Obama organizer throng to confirm.

According to multiple sources, who confirmed the Tip O'Neill staffer-cum-MSNBC host has negotiated with veteran Obama staffers to enlist in his campaign, Chris Matthews is likely to run for United States Senate in Pennsylvania in 2010. Matthews, 62, would run as a Democrat. Arlen Specter, the aging Republican incumbent, will be 80 if he chooses to run for re-election.

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Well, at Least Tehran Is Achieving Energy Independence...

Russia to complete Iran nuclear plant in 2009
Thu Nov 27, 2008
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will complete Iran's first nuclear power plant in 2009, Itar-Tass news agency quoted the head of Russia's state nuclear corporation as saying on Thursday.

The launch of the Bushehr plant's nuclear reactor has frequently been delayed. Russian and Iranian officials have given different dates for the start-up. Iran's foreign minister said last year the plant would launch in mid-2008.

Russia has already delivered nuclear fuel under a $1 billion contract to build the Bushehr plant on the Gulf coast in southwest Iran. Russia has blamed previous delays on problems with receiving payment from Iran.

"Work is ongoing and certain difficulties which arose, including those connected with timely financing, are being resolved due to joint efforts between the Iranian purchaser and the Russian contractor," Tass quoted Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russia's Rosatom nuclear corporation, as saying.

"Next year we should conclude all the work," Kiriyenko was quoted as saying. Kiriyenko was in Caracas, Venezuela, accompanying President Dmitry Medvedev on a visit.

The rest of the article can be found here.
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

More Change$ We Can Believe In

Cash flows to Rep. Jefferson despite bribery trial

by Jim McElhatton, Washington Times

Despite his looming trial on federal bribery charges, Louisiana Democratic Rep. William J. Jefferson hasn't had any trouble raising money from his allies in Congress.

Since his June 2007 indictment, Mr. Jefferson has raised more than a quarter-million dollars in political donations to retain the House seat he's held since 1990.

The money includes tens of thousands of dollars from political action committees controlled by other members of Congress. He's also gotten help from labor union PACs.

Mr. Jefferson handily beat his chief rival in the Democratic primary and a subsequent runoff, and is heavily favored to defeat his Republican challenger in the Dec. 6 general election, which was postponed after Hurricane Gustav.

His wins came despite pending felony charges that he took bribes for promoting business deals in Nigeria, Ghana and other nations. He denies any wrongdoing. When prosecutors announced the indictment last year, they said Mr. Jefferson faced a maximum sentence of 235 years in prison if convicted.

"He's been up there so long he's undoubtedly built up some friendships," said Edward Renwick, a specialist in Louisiana politics and professor at Loyola University in New Orleans.

Still, Mr. Jefferson's fundraising success contrasts with how politicians reacted after the indictment of Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens in August. Several Republican senators, including defeated presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, announced at the time that contributions received from Mr. Stevens would go to charity.

In October, Mr. Stevens was convicted of corruption charges, and a month later he narrowly lost his seat to Democratic challenger Mark Begich.

By contrast, members of Congress have been coming to Mr. Jefferson's aid. He has received at least $14,000 from Secure PAC, the leadership committee headed by Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson. Mr. Thompson also gave $2,300 through his separate re-election campaign fund.

"We're hopeful Congressman Jefferson is re-elected," said Lanier Avant, chief of staff to Mr. Thompson, who is chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. "He's been a great friend to the chairman over the past two decades, and throughout that time they've developed a great relationship."

As for Mr. Jefferson's indictment on bribery charges, Mr. Avant said people are innocent until proven guilty, and the issue is "in the court system."

Jefferson campaign manager Eugene Green said the contributions from colleagues were no surprise.

"The members of Congress are the best judge of who is an effective member of Congress," he said. "What we're seeing thus far is that he must be doing something that both voters and expert members of Congress feel is the right thing for his district and for the citizens of the nation."

In campaign ads, Mr. Jefferson has said he's helping Louisiana recover from Hurricane Katrina. In one ad, he said, "Now is not the time for an unproven person to go to Washington and try and fight for our recovery."

Mr. Thompson is hardly the only member of Congress providing Mr. Jefferson with campaign cash.

The Bridge PAC, South Carolina Democratic Rep. James E. Clyburn's leadership committee, gave Mr. Jefferson a pair of contributions in recent weeks totaling $10,000, according to FEC records. Others prominent donors, all Democrats, sending campaign cash to Mr. Jefferson in recent months include Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York, who gave $5,000; Rep. Diane Watson of California, $1,000; New Jersey Rep. Donald M. Payne, $2,000; and Florida Rep. Kendrick B. Meek, $2,000.

He also received $10,000 each from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Congressional Black Caucus PAC. The political arm of the Communication Workers of America has given Mr. Jefferson $5,000.

Mr. Jefferson faces a 16-count indictment accusing him of seeking bribes for himself and his family, racketeering, wire fraud and other felony charges.

During the investigation, the FBI raided Mr. Jefferson's home in Washington, finding $90,000 in cash in his freezer. His congressional office also was raided. Authorities say Mr. Jefferson was videotaped taking $100,000 from an FBI informant.

Charging documents also accuse Mr. Jefferson of soliciting bribes from Vernon Jackson, the president of Louisville-based iGate Inc., for his help brokering contracts for the company in Africa. Jackson has pleaded guilty to paying bribes and is serving more than seven years in prison.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals last week denied a request to throw out charges in the case. His trial isn't expected to begin until early next year in federal court in Alexandria.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Enough About Palin Not Being Sophisticated...

Hank Williams Jr. to Run for U.S. Senate

Just when you thought no worthwhile musician would ever support the Republican Party, Hank Williams Jr. comes a courtin’.

After consulting with Tennessee political veterans ex-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the award-winning country singer famous for the hits “Family Tradition” and “There’s a Tear in My Beer” is positioning himself for a Senate run in 2012, according to

Mr. Williams, born Randall Hank Williams in 1949 to mother Audrey and father Hank–who nicknamed his son Bocephus for some reason–has long been a supporter of Republican causes, igniting controversy at a Colorado rally earlier this month with his statement that President-elect Barack Obama is “not real crazy about” the national anthem.
The Voice reports on Wed., November 26...

[Note: Mr. Williams re-wrote one of his hits, "Family Tradition," this past fall to sing at campaign appearances for the GOP Ticket. Click here to watch and hear "The McCain Palin Tradition."]
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Since Rep. Frank Will Be Helping Us Get to the Bottom of the Financial Crisis . . .

12 Fascinating Facts that Didn’t Make our Barney Frank Profile

by Maureen Tkacik, Boston Magazine
Upon being surrounded by news cameras and microphones outside Nancy Pelosi’s office the week the bailout package was being ironed out, Rep. Barney Frank (D. Mass) said, "“I have nothing to say except I know how Britney Spears feels.”

In the December issue of Boston magazine, Maureen Tkacik profiled Barney Frank for her story, “A Crash Course in Crisis Economics.” The constraints of a 3,500-word piece against the backdrop of an economic meltdown left some of her material on the cutting-room floor. But that’s why we have the Internet. Take it away, Moe:

Barney Frank is a politician of many years, many thoughts, many achievements and many, many words. I would have liked to have done justice to this man in the space allotted; alas, the art department didn’t appreciate my proposal to shrink the text down to 8 point font in a subtle tribute to the “fine print” on the subprime mortgages that begot the credit crisis.

So here are some of our favorite quotes, footnotes and outtakes:

1. Frank started his political career trying to find things to do, rather than complete his Harvard doctoral dissertation. So he went to work on the first of legendary Boston mayor Kevin White’s four mayoral elections. When Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in White’s first few months in office, Frank was one of the biggest forces behind the city’s successful bid to save a James Brown concert that had been canceled in the city—a move widely credited with saving Boston from the sort of riots that devastated so many other cities.

It was up to the late then-solicitor Thomas Adkins to explain to Frank who James Brown was. (Frank had thought he was a football player.)

Click here for the remaining sections of the article.

Also of interest on Congressman Frank:
Barney's Frank's Gay Lover Was Fannie May Executive...

And for those unfamiliar with Barney's "history," click here.

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Big Lies that Poison Thanksgiving and Subvert Our Sense of Honor

By Michael Medved
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

For some of Barack Obama's most ardent supporters, his resounding victory represented the first sign of redemption for a wretched, guilty nation with a 400-year history of oppression.

Filmmaker Michael Moore, for instance, considered election night "a stunning, whopping landslide of hope in a time of deep despair. In a nation that was founded on genocide and then built on the backs of slaves, it was an unexpected moment, shocking in its simplicity."

Actually, Mr. Moore's summary of America's origins is a wholly expected distortion, shocking in its mendacity.

Like so many other revered figures in the worlds of entertainment and academia, the portly provocateur thoughtlessly recycles the darkest assumptions about the generous nation that provides his privileged, prosperous life.

My new book, "The 10 Big Lies About America," represents an aggressive effort to correct the ugly smears that play an increasingly prominent (and often unchallenged) role in our public discourse.

Big Lie No. 1, for instance, concerns the ubiquitous notion that the nation's founders and builders followed a policy of "genocide" toward Native Americans.

In truth, disease caused 95% of the deaths that ravaged native populations of North America following European contact. Despite lurid (but historically baseless) claims of massive infection brought about by "smallpox blankets," even the deadliest germs displayed no consciously hostile agenda.

In fact, intermarriage (including frequent intermarriage with African-Americans, slaves and free) and assimilation caused more Indian "losses" than all occasional massacres by governmental and irregular forces — incidents invariably condemned by federal authorities, never sponsored by them.

My book's Lie No. 2 precisely anticipates Moore's claim that America was "built on the backs of slaves," suggesting that our wealth and prosperity came chiefly through the stolen labor of kidnapped Africans.

While slavery represented an undeniable horror in our nation's early history, the slave population never exceeded 20% of the national total (amounting to 12% at the time of the Civil War). This means that at least 80% of the work force remained free laborers.

The claim that our forefathers built America "on the backs of slaves" rests on the idiotic idea that involuntary servitude proved vastly more productive than free labor. In fact, the states dominated by the slave economy counted as the poorest, least developed in the union — providing the North with crushing economic superiority that brought victory in the War Between the States.

Of more than 20 million Africans taken from their homes in chains, at most 3% ever made their way to the territory of the United States (or the British colonies preceding our nation). Americans played no part in establishing the once-universal institution of slavery but played a leading, outsize role in bringing about its abolition.
. . .
The full article can be found at Town Hall.

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New Budget Director: What's with the Hair???

Nominee for Budget Director Favors Practical Approach

WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama's choice of budget director, Peter Orszag, will have to reconcile his boss's ambitious agenda with a badly strained federal budget.

"In these challenging times, when we are facing both rising deficits and a sinking economy, budget reform is not an option. It is an imperative," Mr. Obama said Tuesday.

Mr. Orszag, currently the director of the Congressional Budget Office, is an economist with a fondness for cowboy boots and common-sense solutions. He received degrees from Princeton University and the London School of Economics and served as an economic policy adviser in the Clinton administration.

But I like the cowboy boot thing -- a little "W" culture may yet persevere...

Click here for the remainder of the profile at the Wall Street Journal.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Can we now agree that "change" was just a campaign slogan?

Fiscal moderates express satisfaction with Barack Obama's economics team, which is made up of several insiders despite the president-elect's claims he will not participate in Washington "business as usual."

Despite campaigning against business as usual, President-elect Obama's addition of Peter Orszag to his economic team brings that groups' combined Washington experience to nearly a century -- or more than a decade more insider experience than President Bush's first economic team had.

That's welcome news to Blue Dog Democrats, the House lawmakers who are considered the fiscal conservatives of the Democratic Party. They said Tuesday they are happy with Obama's choice of Orszag to be his director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Orszag is well suited to the task of running the next administration's budget numbers, several Blue Dogs said, since he has been serving as the congressional counterpart to the OMB job.

"The president-elect could not have chosen a more uniquely qualified individual to lead his administration's efforts to implement critical budget reforms and put the federal government back on a path to fiscal responsibility," said Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-La., Blue Dog co-chairman for communications.

"President-elect Obama has demonstrated that he is serious about tackling the fiscal and economic challenges facing us today," added Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ind., who heads up the group's policy committee. "The Blue Dogs look forward to working together with Peter Orszag, and other members of his budget and economic teams, to develop a realistic strategy to pay down the national debt over the long term and to restore the economic health of the country for generations to come."

Orszag is well-known to lawmakers, having served as director of the Congressional Budget Office since January 2007. But he also may have been well known before taking over the top budget job on Capitol Hill. Orszag served as a special assistant to President Clinton for economic policy and was a staff economist and then senior adviser and senior economist at the President's Council of Economic Advisers. Orszag also once headed a department at the Brookings Institution, one of Washington's elite think tanks.

That gives him about 10 years of experience in Washington. Rob Nabors, who will be appointed as Orszag's deputy, has served since 2001 as the clerk for the House Appropriations Committee, and before that was in former President Clinton's OMB for five years.

Obama's other designations for his economic team include Tim Geithner as Treasury secretary, who has served 23 years in Washington in varying private and public sector capacities; Council of Economic Advisers head Larry Summers, who has collected 12 years in Washington at Treasury, the White House and World Bank; National Economic Council head Christina Romer, who has spent 22 years on the National Bureau of Economic Research; and Domestic Policy Council chief Melody Barnes, who has been in Washington for 18 years on Capitol Hill and at the liberal Center for American Progress.

Combined, the Obama team has 97 years of Washington experience.

That's more than a decade more experience than President Bush's original economic policy team, which in 2001 was made up of Paul O'Neill as Treasury secretary, who had spent 16 years in Washington at Veterans Affairs and OMB; National Economic Council chairman Larry Lindsey, who'd been in Washington for 18 years in various positions; and Council of Economic Advisers chief R. Glenn Hubbard, who for 10 years had served in varying capacities at the American Enterprise Institute, the National Bureau of Economic Research and at the Treasury Department.

Bush also hired John Bridgeland as his first Domestic Policy Council chief. Bridgeland spent five years as Rep. Rob Portman's chief of staff before joining the White House transition team and eventually ending up in the administration.

Add to that Mitch Daniels, who was in Washington for 19 years before becoming Bush's OMB director; and Sean O'Keefe, Daniels' deputy director at OMB, who had been in and out of Washington for 13 years prior to joining Bush's team ,and the total amount of Washington experience for Bush's economic bunch was 81 years.

Fox News
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Office of The President Elect

As we know from the campaign, Mr. Obama has long been a fan of a Presidential looking seal.

Despite Bells and Whistles, 'Office of President-Elect' Holds No Authority

The props that decorate the stage for the Office of the President-elect serve as just that, since Barack Obama will hold no actual authority in the Executive Branch until Jan. 20.

President-elect Barack Obama is looking very presidential these days. When he makes an announcement, he is ringed by American flags and stands behind a lectern that has a very presidential-looking placard announcing "The Office of the President-Elect."

But the props are merely that. Under the Constitution, there is no such thing as the Office of the President-elect. Technically, Obama will not even become the president-elect until the Electoral College convenes after the second Wednesday in December and elects him based on the results of the Nov. 4 general election, as stated in the Constitution.

So what is Obama's executive authority in the weeks leading to Jan. 20?

In the 11 weeks between Election Day and Inauguration Day, the next president must ensure a smooth transition by selecting political appointees to manage key agencies and offices within the Executive Branch, and by creating the policies that will define the new administration -- all while respecting the authority held by the current president.

The Presidential Transition Act -- created in 1963 and amended in 2000 -- establishes formal provisions for the transition period by outlining training and other assistance that the president-elect and his team of advisers can receive as they prepare to assume office.

The amended bill -- co-sponsored by lawmakers including former Sen. Fred Thompson, Sen. Joe Lieberman, and Sen. Dick Durbin -- calls for the "training and orientation of high-level presidential appointees," among other things, as well as more efficient background checks to ensure individuals are properly vetted and confirmed for office.

"New administrations face a series of hurdles they must overcome to accomplish this essential task before they can begin to govern," Lieberman told Congress in 1999 while arguing in favor of the amended legislation.

The original bill also allowed the president-elect and vice president-elect certain "services and facilities," like suitable office space to conduct transition operations, public funds to pay their staff's salaries and money to transport workers to and from Washington.

Obama has employed over 500 staffers to assist in his transition operations -- working from a nondescript office building in downtown Washington and from locations in his hometown of Chicago.

His transition team has received a budget of $12 million -- $5.2 million of which was allocated by Congress, and the rest from private donations of under $5,000.

As president-elect, Obama is also given the same highly classified intelligence briefings that President Bush receives on a daily basis. And Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden get full Secret Service protection, which Obama also received during the Democratic primaries and general election campaign.

But the "Office of the President-Elect," while critical in building the future government, has no official power -- which Obama himself acknowledged during his victory speech in Chicago on Election Night.

"It is an office -- it's just a quasi-government office for planning the takeover of the government," said Stephen J. Wayne, a professor at Georgetown University's department of government.

"Obama has no formal power as far as the existing government is concerned, but he has a lot of informal influence, which President Bush has encouraged," he added.

Wayne compared the function of the "Office of the President-Elect" to spring training in baseball.
"It doesn't count in the standings, but it does contribute to a team's ability to do well from day one," he said.

The extensive operations and considerable funding for Obama's transition office are not unique. President Bush received $8.5 million to fund his transition team -- a sum that was "unprecedented at the time," according to Georgetown University government professor Chris Hull.

"The Bush administration built their transition team a month before the election was over to make sure it would be a fully-functioning office on November 5," he said.

Despite its lack of formal power, some argue that the "Office of the President-Elect" must maintain an official and authoritative front -- even if just for show. This transition comes at a particularly vulnerable time for the U.S. government in protecting against terrorism -- as evidenced in 1993 when terrorists bombed the World Trade Center as former President Bill Clinton prepared to take office.

"President Bush and President-Elect Obama have stressed together that the times of transition are particularly perilous in terms of terrorist strikes," said Hull. "The President-Elect and his team must appear to maintain confidence."

From Fox News.

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Socialism Made the Pilgrims Starve

The Great Thanksgiving Hoax by Richard J. Maybury (from The Ludwig von Mises Institute)

Each year at this time school children all over America are taught the official Thanksgiving story, and newspapers, radio, TV, and magazines devote vast amounts of time and space to it. It is all very colorful and fascinating.

It is also very deceiving.

This official story is nothing like what really happened. It is a fairy tale, a whitewashed and sanitized collection of half-truths which divert attention away from Thanksgiving's real meaning.

The official story has the pilgrims boarding the Mayflower, coming to America and establishing the Plymouth colony in the winter of 1620-21. This first winter is hard, and half the colonists die. But the survivors are hard working and tenacious, and they learn new farming techniques from the Indians. The harvest of 1621 is bountiful. The Pilgrims hold a celebration, and give thanks to God. They are grateful for the wonderful new abundant land He has given them.

The official story then has the Pilgrims living more or less happily ever after, each year repeating the first Thanksgiving. Other early colonies also have hard times at first, but they soon prosper and adopt the annual tradition of giving thanks for this prosperous new land called America.

The problem with this official story is that the harvest of 1621 was not bountiful, nor were the colonists hardworking or tenacious. 1621 was a famine year and many of the colonists were lazy thieves.

In his 'History of Plymouth Plantation,' the governor of the colony, William Bradford, reported that the colonists went hungry for years, because they refused to work in the fields. They preferred instead to steal food. He says the colony was riddled with "corruption," and with "confusion and discontent." The crops were small because "much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable."

In the harvest feasts of 1621 and 1622, "all had their hungry bellies filled," but only briefly. The prevailing condition during those years was not the abundance the official story claims, it was famine and death. The first "Thanksgiving" was not so much a celebration as it was the last meal of condemned men.

But in subsequent years something changes. The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, "instead of famine now God gave them plenty," Bradford wrote, "and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God." Thereafter, he wrote, "any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day." In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.

What happened?

After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, "they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop." They began to question their form of economic organization.

This had required that "all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means" were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, "all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock." A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed.

This "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that "young men that are most able and fit for labor and service" complained about being forced to "spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children." Also, "the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak." So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.

To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.

Many early groups of colonists set up socialist states, all with the same terrible results. At Jamestown, established in 1607, out of every shipload of settlers that arrived, less than half would survive their first twelve months in America. Most of the work was being done by only one-fifth of the men, the other four-fifths choosing to be parasites. In the winter of 1609-10, called "The Starving Time," the population fell from five-hundred to sixty.

Then the Jamestown colony was converted to a free market, and the results were every bit as dramatic as those at Plymouth. In 1614, Colony Secretary Ralph Hamor wrote that after the switch there was "plenty of food, which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure." He said that when the socialist system had prevailed, "we reaped not so much corn from the labors of thirty men as three men have done for themselves now."

Before these free markets were established, the colonists had nothing for which to be thankful. They were in the same situation as Ethiopians are today, and for the same reasons. But after free markets were established, the resulting abundance was so dramatic that the annual Thanksgiving celebrations became common throughout the colonies, and in 1863, Thanksgiving became a national holiday.

Thus the real reason for Thanksgiving, deleted from the official story, is: Socialism does not work; the one and only source of abundance is free markets, and we thank God we live in a country where we can have them.

This article originally appeared in The Free Market, November 1985.
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An Annual Tradition: Ann Coulter's Caring Analysis of the History of Kwanzaa

"The seven principles of Kwanzaa are the very same seven principles of the Symbionese Liberation Army."

To read more of Ann's politically incorrect history, click HERE.

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Just Mulling...

Should environmentalists wear disposable contact lenses?

I.e., Where should it reasonably end for the average Joe who wants to "go green"?

[oops--after Joe the Plumber, is it politically incorrect to use "Joe" for the average person?]

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Why Don't We Hang Pirates Anymore?

Bret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal raises this question today. He makes the argument that we should, and do so with swift efficiency:

It's a safe bet, dear reader, that the title of this column has caused you to either (a) roll your eyes and wonder, What century do you think we're living in? or (b) scratch your head and ask, Yes, why don't we? Wherever you come down, the question defines a fault line in the civilized world's view about the latest encroachment of barbarism.

Year-to-date, Somalia-based pirates have attacked more than 90 ships, seized more than 35, and currently hold 17. Some 280 crew members are being held hostage, and two have been killed. Billions of dollars worth of cargo have been seized; millions have been paid in ransom. A multinational naval force has attempted to secure a corridor in the Gulf of Aden, through which 12% of the total volume of seaborne oil passes, and U.S., British and Indian naval ships have engaged the pirates by force. Yet the number of attacks keeps rising.

Why? The view of senior U.S. military officials seems to be, in effect, that there is no controlling legal authority. Title 18, Chapter 81 of the United States Code establishes a sentence of life in prison for foreigners captured in the act of piracy. But, crucially, the law is only enforceable against pirates who attack U.S.-flagged vessels, of which today there are few.

What about international law? Article 110 of the U.N.'s Law of the Sea Convention -- ratified by most nations, but not by the U.S. -- enjoins naval ships from simply firing on suspected pirates. Instead, they are required first to send over a boarding party to inquire of the pirates whether they are, in fact, pirates. A recent U.N. Security Council resolution allows foreign navies to pursue pirates into Somali waters -- provided Somalia's tottering government agrees -- but the resolution expires next week. As for the idea of laying waste, Stephen Decatur-like, to the pirate's prospering capital port city of Eyl, this too would require U.N. authorization. Yesterday, a shippers' organization asked NATO to blockade the Somali coast. NATO promptly declined.

Then there is the problem of what to do with captured pirates. No international body similar to the old Admiralty Courts is currently empowered to try pirates and imprison them. The British foreign office recently produced a legal opinion warning Royal Navy ships not to take pirates captive, lest they seek asylum in the U.K. or otherwise face repatriation in jurisdictions where they might be dealt with harshly, in violation of the British Human Rights Act.

In March 2006, the U.S. Navy took 11 pirates prisoner, six of whom were injured. Not wanting to set a precedent for trying pirates in U.S. courts, the State Department turned to Kenya to do the job. The injured spent weeks aboard the USS Nassau, enjoying First World medical care.

All this legal exquisiteness stands in contrast to what was once a more robust attitude. Pirates, said Cicero, were hostis humani generis -- enemies of the human race -- to be dealt with accordingly by their captors. Tellingly, Cicero's notion of piracy vanished in the Middle Ages; its recovery traces the recovery of the West itself.

By the 18th century, pirates knew exactly where they stood in relation to the law. A legal dictionary of the day spelled it out: "A piracy attempted on the Ocean, if the Pirates are overcome, the Takers may immediately inflict a Punishment by hanging them up at the Main-yard End; though this is understood where no legal judgment may be obtained."

Severe as the penalty may now seem (albeit necessary, since captured pirates were too dangerous to keep aboard on lengthy sea voyages), it succeeded in mostly eliminating piracy by the late 19th century -- a civilizational achievement no less great than the elimination of smallpox a century later.

Today, by contrast, a Navy captain who takes captured pirates aboard his state-of-the-art warship will have a brig in which to keep them securely detained, and instantaneous communications through which he can obtain higher guidance and observe the rule of law.

Yet what ought to be a triumph for both justice and security has turned out closer to the opposite. Instead of greater security, we get the deteriorating situation described above. And in pursuit of a better form of justice -- chiefly defined nowadays as keeping a clear conscience -- we get (at best) a Kenyan jail. "We're humane warriors," says one U.S. Navy officer. "When the pirates put down their RPGs and raise their hands, we take them alive. And that's a lot tougher than taking bodies."

Piracy, of course, is hardly the only form of barbarism at work today: There are the suicide bombers on Israeli buses, the stonings of Iranian women, and so on. But piracy is certainly the most primordial of them, and our collective inability to deal with it says much about how far we've regressed in the pursuit of what is mistakenly thought of as a more humane policy. A society that erases the memory of how it overcame barbarism in the past inevitably loses sight of the meaning of civilization, and the means of sustaining it.

The original article is located HERE.

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Why are Robert Rubin and other Citi directors still employed?

Robert Rubin: "The greatest Secretary of the Treasury Since Alexander Hamilton." Bill Clinton

Citi's Taxpayer Parachute
Wall Street Journal

Another Sunday night, another ad hoc bank rescue rooted in no discernible principle. U.S. taxpayers, who invested $25 billion in Citigroup last month, will now pour in another $20 billion in exchange for preferred shares paying an 8% dividend.

Taxpayers will also help insure $306 billion of Citi's mortgage-backed securities. Citi will cover the first $29 billion in losses on these toxic assets, and then taxpayers will cover 90% of the rest, in exchange for another $7 billion in preferred. Dilution for Citigroup investors? Yesterday's 58% pop in the bank's share price suggests the bailout is a good deal for equity holders. For taxpayers, it is another large exposure for uncertain benefits.

More than a year into the financial crisis and decades into the perception that Citi is too big to fail, we once again have three tired guys making it up as they go. We wish Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, New York Federal Reserve President Tim Geithner and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke cared as much about their obligations to U.S. taxpayers as they do about the expectations of Asian investors. Few would argue that a bank with Citi's size and scope wasn't too big to fail, but is it too much to ask Washington to develop a policy that isn't crafted in a scramble of private phone calls?

The rull article can be viewed HERE.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Nothing to Be Bitter About, So No More Clinging to Religion...

Obama skips church, heads to gym
By: Jonathan Martin and Carol E. Lee (
November 24, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama has yet to attend church services since winning the White House earlier this month, a departure from the example of his two immediate predecessors.

On the three Sundays since his election, Obama has instead used his free time to get in workouts at a Chicago gym.

Asked about the president-elect's decision to not attend church, a transition aide noted that the Obamas valued their faith experience in Chicago but were concerned about the impact their large retinue may have on other parishioners.

"Because they have a great deal of respect for places of worship, they do not want to draw unwelcome or inappropriate attention to a church not used to the attention their attendance would draw," said the aide.

Both President-elect George W. Bush and President-elect Bill Clinton managed to attend church in the weeks after they were elected.

In November of 1992, Clinton went to services in Little Rock, Ark., on the three weekends following his election, taking pre-church jogs on the first two and attending on the third weekend a Catholic Mass with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, with whom he was trying to smooth over lingering campaign tensions.

In the weeks after the contested 2000 election, Bush regularly attended services at Tarrytown United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas, and Al Gore was frequently photographed arriving at and leaving church in Virginia.

On his first day as president-elect, following weeks of Florida recounts and court hearings, Bush went to church with his wife, Laura. They attended an invite-only prayer service on Thursday, Dec. 14, at Tarrytown United Methodist Church. About 300 people attended, including top campaign staff and visiting clergy. During the service, the Rev. Mark Craig, senior pastor at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, told Bush, "You have been chosen by God to lead the people."

Obama was an infrequent churchgoer on the campaign trail, though he did make a series of appearances in the pews and pulpits of South Carolina churches ahead of that heavily religious state's primary.

The issue of where he worships is, of course, fraught. For about two decades, Obama and his family attended Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ. But, with the public disclosure earlier this year of incendiary sermons at Trinity by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama and his wife, Michelle, in June resigned their membership in the large South Side congregation.

At the time, the then-Illinois senator said that he didn't want his "church experience to be a political circus" and expressed regret for the unwanted attention members of the congregation had received, noting that some reporters had taken church bulletins only to call sick members and shut-ins.

During the campaign, Obama returned to Chicago to attend the South Side's Apostolic Church of God on Father's Day Sunday to give a speech aimed at the black community on the importance of fatherhood and family.

A number of Washington, D.C., churches of different denominations and traditions are now competing to become the spiritual home of the new first family.

The Obama aide said the family "look[s] forward to finding a church community in Washington, D.C."

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When You Betray Your Principles

Christopher Buckley illustrates the future of his writing after caving to political correctness in his election nod.

The article can be found here.

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Funny, I didn't realize there WAS a second host on that show...

Alan Colmes Leaving "Hannity & Colmes" on Fox News at end of 2008

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But it wasn't the first time Michelle was proud...

We really shouldn't forget:

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."
Joe Biden on Barack Obama, CNN, Feb. 9, 2007

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Newt's Sis Bashes Bro Over Gay Marriage

"You should be more afraid of the new political climate in America, because there is no place for you in it."

Wonder if they'll be together for Thanksgiving?

Candace Gingrich's Open Letter to the former Speaker and adulterer is on the HuffPo. Read it HERE.

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Governor Jindal Tackles Medicaid

The WSJ praises Bobby Jindal's reforms of Medicaid in Louisiana.

The article is located here.

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Tennessee's Health Care Reform: Discuss Among Yourselves...

The Wall Street Journal has a column today by Tennessee Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen in which he offers a candid description of the plusses and minuses of CoverTN, the recently enacted health insurance plan for the state.
Gov. Bredesen's article can be found here.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Al Franken Is Challenging THIS Ballot

The bubble beside Norm Coleman’s name appeared to have both an X and a squiggle in it, but the Al Franken campaign wants the state Canvassing Board to rule on whether it should count. That’s the only challenge in the special envelope in Plymouth so far, according to Sandy Engdahl, the city clerk and the official running the city recount.

The Canada geese milling on the grounds and parking lot of Plymouth City Hall were oblivious to the gaggle of election officials and observers inside. The drone of “Franken” and “Coleman” was accompanied by the swishing of paper in Medicine Lake Room A. Early on, Engdahl had to admonish some candidate representatives from trying to tell her counters how to count. Clearly, she said, the recount watchers are “very passionate,” but she has to remind them of everyone’s roles in this civic drama.

Eight of the 24 precincts had been counted by 1:45 p.m., and the only challenged ballot, in Engdahl’s view, was clearly a vote for Coleman. Nevertheless, the Franken campaign was allowed to seek a second opinion.

(From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

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Blog Founder's Manifesto

The creators of this blog, well, they have a few opinions (reasonable right-wing ones). Just give you a sense of what they are, we have composed the following. We believe not only that these views are correct, but that politicians, if they would adopt them, would get elected. However, we're open to reasoned disagreement:

I. Rights Generally.

A. You have a right to be able to try. That's it. You do not have a right to obtain any specific result. That's as fair as life will be, and government policy cannot change this.

B. We believe generally in a libertarian social culture, except for certain limited issues that have proven over very long periods of time to help maintain stability and health of the culture.

1. So: We would allow banning of certain drug use, but mostly in a decriminalized/fine/regulatory manner vs. expending crime-fighting resources on the problem

2. We do not have the right to prevent your being a nonbeliever, a hippie, or a pervert with other consenting adults. But you do not have a right to be so damned flagrant about your deviance, because a hundred plus years of common mores have proven to provide healthy social glue.

3. The government has no obligation to save you from yourself, your ignorance, or your idiocy.
a. Milton Friedman was correct, however, in noting that government information and labeling (i.e., reminding you that something is idiotic) is a wise use of government power to promote perfect information in the capitalistic marketplace.

C. We believe there is no federal constitutional right to life to death, or, for that matter, to "choose." Having said that, neither the states nor the federal government has any business telling adults when Dr. Jones can pull the plug on us or when you can decide to have a D&C with a non-viable unborn child inside you. But hey, let's not kid each other: you're killing something in such circumstances. Life is hard.

D. You do not have right to health care, or to food, or to a place to live.

1. Though government should promote private and charitable efforts to ameliorate your suffering when you are without these things.

E. You do not have a right to a job. You also do not have a federal right to a safe job, though the States should police the workplace where individuals cannot easily find information themselves on which to base employment decisions. But someone needs to mine that coal, and no, farm workers are not entitled to Port-a-Johns.

F. In order to protect our citizenry and our borders, the federal government shall have plenary authority to perform domestic and international intelligence activities so long as such are performed in a manner that does not discriminate based on a citizen's race (racial discrimination being expressly prohibited by the Constitution – and no, other categories are intentionally not listed and don't even get us started on the equal protection clause) – so long as there is confidential congressional oversight over such activities.

G. The death penalty is cruel, but it takes defective members of society out of the equation without taxpayers having to feed them in perpetuity. Consequently, there shall be a death penalty as Congress and the several States shall deem fit. You get one run of appeals up the state and federal ladder, but one run only, and judges must put your case to the front of the line.

1. You do not have the right to have your punishment devoid of pain.

F. You do not have a federal right to an education of any type or quality. The federal government should not subsidize education, K-12 or college, in any way. Except that the government may contract with soldiers to pay for their college tuition if they are shot are for a suffiently long period of time.

G. You have an absolute right to own firearms, including automatic weapons, so long as you are not convicted felon. The government, however, has the right to impose the death penalty against you if you leave the trigger lock off your weapon and some kid picks it up and gets hurt.

II. Foreign Policy and National Defense.

We believe in a foreign and national defense policy that is:

A. Only rarely interventionist,

B. One that will intervene to stop "genocide" and the like only when treatied allies in the geographic region at issue request assistance to stop the action in question and cannot stop the action themselves. Otherwise, we must sit back and pray about it and/or join the Red Cross, but the U.S. government stays the heck out of the situation,

C. One that generally respects the internal political integrity of other nations, even when we disagree with those governments (and if we do not follow this rule, we do so in secret and no, we do not even tell our own citizenry about it),

D. One that does not use interference with free-market economics as a weapon of foreign policy, but one that will use free-market economics to induce peaceful and democratic change around the world (i.e., we do not tie free trade to "human rights," but we also can promise to buy more cheap flags from your factories if you allow the six-year old employees to have lunch),

E. One that will react fiercely, decisively, and permit only outright and overwhelming military victory in response to direct attacks on U.S. citizens, U.S. lands or troops, or the citizenry, lands, or troops of treaty-bound U.S. allies,

F. One that will not use military action to enforce alleged "rights" for those in other nations that are acknowledged above not to be rights for our own people,

G. One that will provide rights to actual or suspected non-citizen combatants that are no greater than those we want provided to our own combatants in enemy hands,

1. The Geneva Conventions only apply to recognized nations that can and do sign such treaties.

H. One that will use federal budget dollars for any given year to maintain a preparedness to meet the worst military threat (i) that is reasonably foreseeable, or (ii) equivalent to the worst surprise threat that occurred to our country's interests in the past 50 years, whichever is greater,

I. Convicted traitors shall be shot or hanged, at the election of their captors.

III. Proper Function of Government.
A. We believe that the federal government should not fund art. It may build federal museums where private parties may donate funds to display art, but it should not fund art creation or content. If it does, then the federal government has the right to dictate content, since it paid for such content. But in no circumstance is the government required to permit the display in public spaces of deviant items as described in Item I(B) above.

1. No government should fund television and radio programming, except for CSPAN and state and local equivalents (though we are in fact ashamed to acknowledge the propriety of even funding CSPAN).

B. We believe that the federal government should fund medical and scientific research only when there is a "market failure" (i.e., no single private entity has an economic incentive or ability to capitalize the venture). And only when such failure is demonstrated over an extended period of time, e.g. a decade, sudden plagues excepted.

C. We believe that the federal government should not provide pensions, health care, or payments for living expenses to any individuals except:

i. for those military veterans with whom the government has a social compact.

ii. for those for whom there is a wide cultural consensus that neither they nor their families are financially or physically able to care for themselves (such as those born with severe physical or mental disabilities), though these responsibilities should primarily be borne by the States. No, being raised by a single mom in the 'Hood or in a Trailer Park does not qualify you. Being born with a parasitic twin attached to you does.

D. We believe the current Social Security System should never be expanded. Current retirees and those persons actuarially in the second half of their careers can play out the game as it is presently constituted, and we must pay them what is promised, indexed no more than for inflation, but as for the rest of the nation, you have been forewarned.

A. We recognize that as a result of this policy, in the future, there will be a rare few who will starve. But we also believe that, in the future, no matter what, there will always be a rare few who will starve.

IV. Energy Policy and the Environment.

A. We believe that the federal government should lease all its natural resources to the marketplace for use by the citizens (excepting only those national lands current designated as parks and also physically occupiable and habitable by humans). Otherwise, the federal government should stay out of the subject, except to say "yes" to new attempts to create energy sources.

B. The federal government should have the right to regulate emissions and the like that cross state borders, but not because of global warming fears, but because a country that looks like China during a workday commute is a public nuisance and should be abated for aethestic if no other reason. The standard for such regulation is not elimination of pollution, but to maintain emissions consistent with presently implemented state of the art technologies prevailing at any given time in the industrialized world.

1. This means, e.g., yes to mufflers, maybe to catalytic converters, but don't go requiring hybrids or ethanol until folks want Toyota to build them without government incentives.

V. Space.

A. Because it is cool and makes our enemies in the world fearful of us, yes, go there at taxpayer expense until there is sufficient market capitalization to make private market exploration feasible.

VI. Immigration.

A. A free flow of labor being necessary to the well being of a free state, immigration policies shall be tremendously liberalized to allow the honest, hardworking nanny or landscaper as much access to the American dream as the honest, hardworking robotics engineer. But the States should use the power to tax in order to insure that public resource use by such persons is compensated by the employers or consumers who benefit from these immigrants (i.e., the government may act to prevent what economists call a "free rider" problem).

B. Persons entering or leaving the country, be they citizen or alien, shall consent to the most invasive background check and security investigations imaginable in consideration of their privilege to cross the borders.

1. Violators will be shot on sight.

VII. Taxes, Spending, and Economic Policy.

A. The 16th Amendment providing for taxes on incomes should be repealed and replaced by a consumption tax.

B. There shall be no tax on corporations, partnerships, or other non-human entities.

C. There shall be no tax on savings, investment, estates, inheritance, and/or capital gains.

D. All economic policies should be geared toward support and encouragement of the engines of growth rather than on distribution of wealth or the fruits of labors.

Respectfully submitted.

Copyright© 2008 AuH2O All Rights Reserved

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