December 31, 2012

Phineas Fahrquar:

Sorry, Charlie. The Internet is forever.

Originally posted on Twitchy:

twitchys 2012 v2

When politicians, celebrities, and public figures get called out on controversial tweets, their first instinct is often to reach for the social media whitewash. But as we like to remind those who try to hide from sunlight, Twitchy is forevah.

Without further ado, here are our picks for the top 20 deleted tweets of the year — preserved for posterity, hilarity, and transparency.

20. Civility, anyone? Top Democratic National Committee new media director Greg Greene tweeted a foul-mouthed, gloating reaction to the Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare. He then deleted the message. Silly “new media director.” You can’t send your profane bloviations down the rabbit hole!

19 – 17. Nickelodeon star Jason Biggs and his vulgar wife polluted their public Twitter timelines with sexual jokes, taunts, and misogynist rants aimed at Republican women. After conservative parents…

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Demand a Plan! (To end celebrity hypocrisy)

December 31, 2012

Actually, I don’t know if they’re hypocritical so much as clueless, but the result is the same: yet another deep, meaningful campaign in which a bunch of vapid airheads go in front of a camera and repeat slogans over and over, hoping to brainwash you into submission, like a bunch of zombies.

This time, however, someone took that video and remixed it with interesting results:

So, celebs, does your plan include your own movies? Shouldn’t we be talking about the 1st amendment, as well as the second? Don’t your films promote the dread “gun culture” and glorify violence? If we’re going to restrict Americans’ rights to self-defense in the name of public safety, shouldn’t your films be subject to censorship for the same reason?

Or maybe, just maybe, the problem lies with the person, not the tool or the medium.

But that’s probably too difficult for for a bunch of zombies to understand.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Don’t bother Senator Feinstein with facts; she wants her gun ban, and she wants it now!

December 31, 2012

Never let reality get in the way of a good fantasy, eh? (1) In the wake of a series of mass-murders this year, Diane Feinstein (D-CA) wants to ban the traffic and manufacture of vaguely defined military-style weapons. And yet the facts from her own state seem to show that increased gun ownership is one factor in a decline in crime:

Gun sales up, injuries down

The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which records each time someone buys a gun, showed that background checks hit a record high of 16.5 million in 2011. Gun sales have been steadily on the rise.

A recent report (PDF) from the California Attorney General found that the more guns that have been sold in California, the fewer gun deaths and injuries there have been. According to the office of the Attorney General, gun dealers sold nearly 600,000 guns last year, almost double the 350,000 sold in 2002, according to figures compiled by department officials.

And gun-related injuries and deaths have gone down.

According to hospital records collected by the California Department of Public Health, the number of California hospitalizations due to gun injuries fell by nearly 4,000 a year to approximately 2,900, a drop of about 25 percent, the Sacramento Bee reported.

The attorney general’s office reported that the number of deaths from firearms fell from 3,200 a year to about 2,800, an 11 percent decline (PDF), according to California health department figures.

“Most of the drop in firearm-related injuries and deaths can be explained by a well-documented, nationwide drop in violent crime,” the Bee reported.

Despite this data, Feinstein still plans to introduce stricter gun ownership legislation.

While correlation doesn’t prove causation, this is yet another piece in a mountain of data indicating that gun ownership (including concealed and open-carry) leads to lower crime. The logic is straightforward: criminals are less likely to attack a target they think can defend itself. But Feinstein doesn’t care or even want to hear. (2) Don’t bother her with facts: she knows as an article of faith guns are bad and is determined to ban them, even if it leads to leaving good people defenseless.

For our own good, of course.

PS: If you’re interested in following a good Center-Right reporter and news site in California (we do have a few left), Katy Grimes in particular and Cal Watchdog in general should be on your list.

Footnotes:
(1) Kind of like progressives and economics, when you think about it.
(2) Kind of like the global-warming crowd and carbon dioxide, too.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Egyptian Muslim cleric threatens Copts with genocide

December 28, 2012

It’s that Religion of Peace-thing, you know:

Islamic leaders continue to portray the popular protests against President Morsi and his recently passed Sharia-heavy constitution as products of Egypt’s Christians. Recently, Muslim Brotherhood leader Safwat Hegazy said in an open rally, as captured on video:

“A message to the church of Egypt, from an Egyptian Muslim: I tell the church — by Allah, and again, by Allah — if you conspire and unite with the remnants [opposition] to bring Morsi down, that will be another matter…. our red line is the legitimacy of Dr. Muhammad Morsi. Whoever splashes water on it, we will splash blood on him.”

More recently, Dr. Wagdi Ghoneim — who earlier praised Allah for the death of the late Coptic Pope Shenouda, cursing him to hell and damnation on video — made another video, entitled, “A Notice and Warning to the Crusaders in Egypt,” a reference to the nation’s Copts, which he began by saying, “You are playing with fire in Egypt, I swear, the first people to be burned by the fire are you [Copts].” The video was made in the context of the Tahrir protests against Morsi: Islamic leaders, such as Hegazy and Ghoneim, seek to portray the Copts as dominant elements in those protests; according to them, no real Muslim would participate. Ghoneim even went on to say that most of the people at the protests were Copts, “and we know you hid your [wrist] crosses by lowering your sleeves.”

The heart of Ghoneim’s message was genocidal: “The day Egyptians — and I don’t even mean the Muslim Brotherhood or Salafis, regular Egyptians — feel that you are against them, you will be wiped off the face of the earth. I’m warning you now: do not play with fire!”

And to make that genocide even easier to carry out, he dehumanized them by comparing them to animals:

“Respect yourselves and live with us and we will protect you… Why?… because Allah has forbidden me to be cruel to animals. I’m not trying to compare you to animals … but if I am not cruel to animals or plants, shall I be cruel to a soul created by Allah? You are an infidel in Allah’s sight — and it is for him to judge you. However, when you live in my country, it is forbidden for me to be unjust to you — but that doesn’t mean we are equal. No, oh no.”

Ghoneim can weasel all he wants, but the idea is clearly planted. Copts are inferior, maybe even animals, and if they don’t act like good little dhimmis… If you noticed a resemblance to Germany in the 1930s, your mind wasn’t playing tricks on you.

The Coptic Christmas falls on January 7th this year. You can imagine what a merry season it is for them.

And speaking of Christmas, Islam’s birthplace (maybe…) demonstrated its dedication to tolerance for all by arresting 44 people who were engaged in a hideous plot.

They were planning to celebrate Christmas:

In the latest kingdom-wide crackdown on those who would violate the national religious policy of Islam only, Saudi Vice and Virtue Police arrested 44 on charges of plotting to celebrate Christmas, as reported on Dec. 27, 2012 by the Beirut-based Al-Akhbar news portal.

The raid took place in the northwest province of al-Jawf, at the private residence of an individual identified only as “an Asian diplomat.”

The fiends… It’s a good thing the watchful officers of the Vice and Virtue police were on the job. Who knows what might have happened? They might have sung carols, exchanged good wishes and presents, said a prayer or two — someone might have had a good time!!

Is it any wonder, in the kind of society that develops under Sharia law, that people can speak of another of the world’s major religions, Christianity, as being the most persecuted on the planet and even in danger of extinction in the lands of its birth?

A merry Christmas season and a happy New Year, indeed.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


This is why we need strict gun control, now!

December 28, 2012
Guys like me love gun control!

Guys like me love gun control!

So we can be just like gun-banning Chicago:

Chicago has logged its 500th homicide of 2012.

The last time the city reached the 500-homicide mark was in 2008, when the year ended with 512 killings. Last year, city records show Chicago had 435 homicides.

On Thursday, officials with the Chicago Police Department said the city was one homicide away from the 500 mark. Hours later, a 40-year-old man was fatally shot in the Austin neighborhood on the city’s West Side. Police say Nathaniel Jackson was found on the sidewalk outside a convenience store with a gunshot wound to the head late Thursday.

See how much good gun control does?

Meanwhile, college drop-out Jesse Jackson (1) tried desperately to defend Chicago’s gun ban:

Jackson was asked to defend Chicago’s gun ban, given the staggering rates of gun violence in America’s cities compared to other areas that do not have such strict gun laws and experience less gun violence.

“I think about Newtown, for example, they have three or four gun ranges. There are no gun ranges in Chicago,” Jackson replied. “Newtown is so different than the complexity of the urban crisis.”

“40 percent unemployment does matter,” Jackson continued. “Lack of education does matter.” He said that gun crime and joblessness are inextricably linked.

Jackson was asked again, given Chicago’s gun violence in spite of its strict gun laws, how even stricter gun laws can be justified.

“The guns are not coming from Chicago,” Jackson replied. “Chicago is in a bubble as the manufacturer — we’re a target market for gun flow. And they exploit the poverty and the pain.”

“It’s not gun violence. It’s also poverty and lack of education and lack of dreams, where people think killing is the only way out,” Jackson concluded. “This is the need for an urban policy of reconstruction.”

That’s pure Grade-A Great Society syrup there, ladled on thick. Trouble is, it deftly ignores some salient questions, such as that asked by Internet satirist Dave Burge, aka Iowahawk:

And a further observation about civilized, urbane, liberal gun-banning Chicago versus knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, gun-fetishist Texas:

Hmmm… Maybe the answer to Jackson’s “lack of dreams” isn’t to ban guns and set up a national “urban policy” (because the last one worked so well), but to allow people to defend those dreams and their lives. Failing that, perhaps the good people of Chicago should consider moving to Texas and leaving that gun-free paradise to its fate.

The simple fact is that strict gun-control does not work, nor do gun buy-backs (PDF). Chicago isn’t the only example. Great Britain in 1997 instituted a nearly total ban on handguns after the Dunblane school massacre, and the results have been awful:

The results have not been what proponents of the act wanted. Within a decade of the handgun ban and the confiscation of handguns from registered owners, crime with handguns had doubled according to British government crime reports. Gun crime, not a serious problem in the past, now is. Armed street gangs have some British police carrying guns for the first time. Moreover, another massacre occurred in June 2010. Derrick Bird, a taxi driver in Cumbria, shot his brother and a colleague then drove off through rural villages killing 12 people and injuring 11 more before killing himself.

Gun control in the UK was first instituted under the 1920 Firearms Act, not, as one might think, to control “gun violence,” but out of fear of Bolshevik revolution. In spite of successively more restrictive measures, culminating in the 1997 confiscation of handguns, crime in Britain has gotten worse since 1954. (And it hasn’t stopped.)

While many gun-control advocates are barely concealed statist gun-grabbers who spit on our natural right to self-defense, I’ve no doubt that many others are sincerely moved by the horror such incidents as Sandy Hook, Dunblane, or Port Arthur and want to do something, anything to never let it happen again. But legislating based on emotion rarely leads to good results, as the history of gun control shows.

As Dan Mitchell likes to say, “Bad government policy leads to more bad government policy.” If the previous gun-control law didn’t work the answer must be even-tighter regulations meant to discourage ownership, the inevitable destination of which is outright confiscation or its equivalent — “the Obamacare of gun control.”

And then we can all be just like Chicago.

Footnote:
(1) I have too much respect for genuinely good priests and ministers to grant that snake-oil salesman the title of “Reverend;” I don’t care what box of Cracker Jacks he found it in.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Benghazi Consulate Massacre: the deaths are real, the punishments were fake.

December 27, 2012
US Consulate, Benghazi

They didn’t escape so  lightly.

This is just outrageous. Four Americans died in Benghazi and the people held accountable for it in the official review whitewash, who supposedly were forced to resign, were instead just given a timeout:

The four officials supposedly out of jobs because of their blunders in the run-up to the deadly Benghazi terror attack remain on the State Department payroll — and will all be back to work soon, The Post has learned.

The highest-ranking official caught up in the scandal, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Boswell, has not “resigned” from government service, as officials said last week. He is just switching desks. And the other three are simply on administrative leave and are expected back.

The four were made out to be sacrificial lambs in the wake of a scathing report issued last week that found that the US compound in Benghazi, Libya, was left vulnerable to attack because of “grossly inadequate” security.

State Department leaders “didn’t come clean about Benghazi and now they’re not coming clean about these staff changes,” a source close to the situation told The Post., adding, the “public would be outraged over this.”

What a miserable farce. The entire Libya misadventure, from the initial, off-the-cuff decision of the president to loan out our Armed Forces in the service of a European agenda like some 18th-century monarch contracting out mercenaries to a royal cousin, down to the post-war security arrangement and rules of engagement — signed off on by Secretary Clinton herself! — was a pathetic, deadly joke.

And now, heaping insult upon injury, the people we were told were punished for the massacre at Benghazi turn out to not to have even received a slap on the wrist. No dismissals, no resignations, no demotions, no loss of pay — nothing but a “Wait a bit until the smoke clears, and then it’s back to normal.”

DiploPundit was right back on the 19th: this was a smokescreen to cover for political appointees. And you can bet it included Madame Secretary, herself.

The Diplomad, a now-retired Foreign Service Officer, thinks he has a pretty good idea what happened:

I will go out further on the limb. Once even the little dust created by the scandal has dissipated, the four bureaucrats asked to take the mini-spear for Chicago will–mark my words–get monetary awards. They will be written up for showing courage and fortitude under difficult circumstances. The senior people will evade all responsibility; ol’ whats-her-name will slip out of the building and leave her desk to John “Xmas in Cambodia” Kerry, the dead will be forgotten, the Islamist Morlocks will lick their fingers and get ready for another helping of Eloi.

Move along, there’s nothing to see here.

Nothing except a nauseatingly cynical game in which the real losers are the truth and the dead at Benghazi.

via Michelle Malkin

Postscript: In a related editorial, the Post closes with a truly brutal line:

“…the only State Department official who lost his job due to Benghazi was Ambassador Stevens.”

Indeed.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


December 27, 2012

Phineas Fahrquar:

I’m staying to laugh at the idiots in Sacramento when their revenue projections crash — again.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

Like most people, I’m a sucker for a heartwarming story around the holidays.

Sometimes, you get that nice feeling when good things happen to good people, like you find at the end of a classic movie like “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

But since I’m a bit of a curmudgeon, I also feel all warm and fuzzy when bad things happen to bad people.

That’s why I always smile when I read stories about taxpayers moving across borders, thus preventing greedy tax-hiking politicians from collecting more revenue.

“Where’s our tax revenue?!?”

I’m glad when that happens to French politicians. I’m glad when it happens to Italian politicians. I’m glad when it happens to Illinois politicians. And British politicians. And Spanish politicians. And Maryland politicians. I could continue, but I think you get the point.

I’m even glad when it happens to the…

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As in Brussels, so in D.C.?

December 26, 2012

Call it the EU-USA:

What Mr. Hannan accuses the EU of –spending more to buy the votes of client groups regardless of the harm it does to the economy– is a charge that could be laid just as easily against the statists in Washington.

Or Sacramento, for that matter.


California’s high-speed train wreck potentially not a metaphor. Update: about those profitable EU rails

December 26, 2012
Boondoggle

Boondoggle

Or, “Science kills another liberal dream.”

California voters were sold a worthless bill of goods when the voted for Prop 1A, authorizing the construction of a high-speed rail to run (eventually) from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The project is already far above projected costs: the initial 65-mile stretch from Madera to Corcoran (1) is estimated to cost $4.15 billion – so far. And there are serious doubts about the ridership projections, meaning the system would face even greater difficulty recovering its costs and paying the debt incurred to build it. Just what a cash-strapped, economically wheezing state needs.

Now, on top of all that comes news that the system may be unsafe at the speeds promised in 1A:

Professor Peter Woodward, one of the world’s leading experts on the geo-engineering of railways, said that high-speed running created “new problems” in track which “may threaten the stability and safety of the train”.

In papers lodged with the Government’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Prof Woodward warned that speeds as high as those proposed by HS2 could trigger “significant amplification of train-track vibrations” causing “rapid deterioration of the track, ballast and sub-ballast, including possible derailment and ground failure”.

High-speed rail in the West has a fairly good safety record, but experts are worried that HS2 plans to run trains faster than any other line in the world. Trains will travel at 225mph, rising to 250mph within a few years.

Most high-speed lines, including Britain’s existing Eurostar, run no faster than 186mph and the world’s current fastest rail-based trains, France’s TGV Est, travel at 200mph.

Some trains on the new Chinese high-speed network used to run at 220mph, but were reduced to 186mph last year on safety grounds.

Now, the professor’s estimate for the danger zone is 225mph, but that’s a not a firm limit. Much depends on the ground over which the track runs: trains in Sweden running as “slow” as 110mph were observe to create a dangerous increase in track vibrations that could amplify suddenly as the train crossed a speed barrier, with an effect similar to a sonic boom.

Of course, the problem can be mitigated by running the trains slower, as the Chinese did, but that then means fewer trains running, which lowers ridership, which lowers revenue, which means more money spent on debt interest and maintenance on a system that can’t pay for itself…

Such is Jerry Brown’s great legacy to California.

Gomez Addams, eat your heart out.

via Cal Watchdog

Footnote:
(1) And from whom do they expect to draw their riders on this route? Prisoners and their guards?

UPDATE: One of the questions surrounding HSR is its economic viability: Can it support itself without subsidies from the taxpayer? Backers claim that, with enough riders and fast enough trains (enabling more trips), HSR can support itself. They often point to Europe, especially France’s TGV, as proof of this.

Not so fast. In 2008, Amtrak’s Inspector General looked into this and found that HSRs in the EU were profitable thanks mainly to creative bookkeeping (PDF).

Overall Conclusions

After examining a representative sample of European Passenger Train
Operations over a multi-year period, we found that:

a) When all revenues and expenses for the entire passenger train system are
taken into consideration, European Passenger Train Operations operate at a
financial loss and consequently require significant Public Subsidies, and

b) The average annual subsidies for European Passenger Train Operations are
much higher than those for comparable Amtrak services.

Individual Findings

The review of Public Funding for European Passenger Train Operations
provided the following findings.

1. European Passenger Train Operations are typically organized into two separate
business entities (operating companies and infrastructure managers) whose financial
performance and public funding are closely intertwined with each other.

2. In addition to direct funding, some of the Passenger Train Operations receive public
funding that did not show up on the company’s balance sheet and therefore does not
show up in the company’s financial statements.

3. Although some Train Operating Companies may report a “profit”, this profit is
generated through a large amount of public funding provide by the European
countries.

I suspect similar financial shenanigans will be necessary to make Governor Brown’s High-Speed White Elephant appear profitable, too.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Merry Christmas, one and all

December 25, 2012

Santa and I wish you a very happy day.

(Normal service resumes tomorrow.)


December 24, 2012

Phineas Fahrquar:

We have met the enemy, and it is the DC bureaucrat.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

In large part because of an excessive burden of government, the American economy is suffering European-style stagnation, with even the Washington Post now confessing that growth far below the long-run trend.

This helps explain why job creation has been so dismal in recent years, with more than twenty million Americans out of work, underemployed, or dropped out of the workforce.

But there is one pocket of enormous prosperity in America. It will warm your heart to know that our overlords in Washington are living the life of Riley.

Here are some of the highlights of a remarkable Reuters expose about the fat cats of big government, starting with the huge gap between the insider elite and the poor.

In the town that launched the War on Poverty 48 years ago, the poor are getting poorer despite the government’s help. And the rich are getting richer because of…

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Okay, I’m impressed. This is how you demolish the Democrats’ fiscal cliff narrative

December 24, 2012

I mean, it’s an all too rare occurrence when a news anchor actually challenges the Democrat script, but when it’s done before a cheering audience, that makes it extra special:

“That’s all you want to do. That’s it. It’s your way or the highway. Raise the rates on the rich. No other way. Your way or the highway. That’s it. That’s where we are. Thank you, Senator.”

That’s how CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo finished her interview with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) last week as the two went back and forth over the fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington DC. It was the first time a Democrat has really been challenged over their lack of leadership in the negotiations.

Conventional wisdom (and therefore the dominant narrative in the media) focuses on Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans being intransigent and not meeting President Obama and the Democrats for a “balanced approach.” Bartiromo exploded that narrative by challenging Cardin on ANY alternative type of revenue stream that doesn’t include raising tax rates. Cardin would not agree to any of them, thus destroying the idea that Democrats are embracing the “balanced approach.”

“So how come you’re not moving forward? What’s the problem? Because the American people are so tired of this, and they are really tired of the lawmakers thinking that the American people are stupid. You can’t keep coming on the show every week saying the same thing: ‘It’s not a balanced approach.’”

“You’re talking about $1.2 trillion in revenue, but you’re not prepared to put anything on the table. People are not stupid!”

You can read the rest and watch the video at Breitbart. In the background you’ll see floor traders cheering Bartiromo on as she dismantles Cardin. Too bad the rest of the MSM won’t take her lead when confronting Reid, Durbin, Schumer, and the rest of that rapacious crew.

By the way, can someone explain to me how this time-serving tool, Cardin, beat Dan Bongino last month?

via RBPundit

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Merry Christmas, global warming skeptics. Now, die!!

December 24, 2012
Question not. The science is settled. Amen.

Accept the consensus or burn, heretic!

Well, there’s the Christmas spirit for you: A music professor in Austria (musicology professors being known experts in science) has decided that skeptics of anthropogenic global warming (1) are so endangering the planet that, if they do not recant, they should all be executed:

Prof Richard Parncutt says:

“I have always been opposed to the death penalty in all cases…”

“Even mass murderers [like Breivik] should not be executed, in my opinion.”

“GW deniers fall into a completely different category from Behring Breivik. They are already causing the deaths of hundreds of millions of future people. We could be speaking of billions, but I am making a conservative estimate.”

Consequences

If a jury of suitably qualified scientists estimated that a given GW denier had already, with high probability (say 95%), caused the deaths of over one million future people, then s/he would be sentenced to death. The sentence would then be commuted to life imprisonment if the accused admitted their mistake, demonstrated genuine regret, AND participated significantly and positively over a long period in programs to reduce the effects of GW (from jail) – using much the same means that were previously used to spread the message of denial. At the end of that process, some GW deniers would never admit their mistake and as a result they would be executed. Perhaps that would be the only way to stop the rest of them. The death penalty would have been justified in terms of the enormous numbers of saved future lives.

Take note: the killer of 77 adults and children in Norway does not deserve death, but skeptics who question the existence of a phenomenon about which there is serious doubt must die, because they are responsible for the deaths of millions who do not even exist yet.

And they call us “loony.”

But at least you get a fair trial before a jury of qualified scientists! “Qualified,” of course, means “accepts the orthodoxy of the Church of Climate Change.”

Galileo would recognize this in an instant.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, the professor (or his bosses) have already taken that page down. You can read all about it, however, at JoNova.

via WUWT

Footnote:
(1) Guess I’d better report myself…

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Sunday Book Review: “The Communist,” a biography of Barack Obama’s mentor

December 23, 2012

book cover kengor communist

Mentors matter. For better or worse, there are people who, in our formative years, influence the way we see the world and how we act to shape it in our adult life. And if the mentored individual becomes a powerful person –President of the United States, for example– then the mentor’s influence affects our lives, too, making it worth our while to know something about this person.

This is the thesis behind Paul Kengor’s “The Communist,” a political biography of Frank Marshall Davis, who Kengor contends was a hugely influential mentor to President Barack Obama. That Davis was also, as Kengor shows, a card-carrying member of the Communist Party – USA (CPUSA), a doctrinaire Stalinist and defender of all things Soviet, and a hater of the Western world, should make us curious about what influence, if any, he had on young Barack Obama.

Kengor traces Davis’ life from his birth in Arkansas City, Kansas, in 1905 to his death in Hawaii in 1987. Along the way, we see the incidents that lead Frank to reject “the American Way.” Living under Jim Crow and in fear of White racist violence (at age five he was nearly lynched by White school children), it’s not hard to see what lead Frank to reject what he saw as fake democracy and exploitative capitalism in favor of an ideology that promised, however falsely, fairness, justice, and and racial equality. Indeed, Kengor admits that he, a conservative Catholic historian, can’t help but feel sympathy for his subject, even while rejecting and condemning Davis’ devotion to a murderous ideology.

The lion’s share is devoted to Frank’s work as an columnist for various newspapers in Atlanta, Chicago, and Honolulu. With extensive quotes from Frank’s own writings, many of which had lain forgotten in archives until recent years, he demonstrates Frank’s devotion to the Soviet Union, his adoration of Stalin, and his propaganda spinning in service of Moscow’s ends.

He also chronicles Davis’ hatred for the colonial powers, Britain and Churchill especially, and for the Democratic Party in the United States. This makes sense when one recalls Frank’s devotion to Soviet communism and the firm stance taken against that menace by Truman and other leading Democrats of the day. Kengor shows that charges of “McCarthyism,” made when Frank came under investigation by the Democrat-controlled Congress and repeated by his liberal and progressive defenders until his death, were ludicrous: not only had he spent his professional career defending and praising the Soviet Union (and Mao’s China and communist Viet Nam), but his CPUSA membership number was part of his FBI file, and the Senator who lead his questioning before Congress was the same man who ended Joe McCarthy’s red-baiting. “McCarthyism” was a smoke-screen, a distraction thrown in the faces of critics for one purpose: to deflect from the fact that Davis (and others) really were Communists.

Davis moved to Hawaii from Chicago, where he had known and worked with relatives of both Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod, close advisers to Obama. (These relatives were also either Communists or highly sympathetic to Stalin’s USSR.) In Hawaii, he edited and wrote for the Honolulu Record, a paper funded by the Soviet-aligned International Longshore and Warehouse Union. It was after this, in retirement, that Frank was introduced to young Barack Obama, who had been brought to Frank by Obama’s White grandfather, who wanted a Black mentor or father figure for the future president, whose own father had run out on him.

It is here that Kengor reaches the question that most interests the reader: How much influence did CPUSA-member Frank Marshall Davis have over Barack Obama, the teen who would grow up to be President of the United States?

The answer Kengor gives is “quite a bit,” but the exact influence of Davis’ mentorship on President Obama’s career and policies is left for the reader to decide. Through an examination of Obama’s writings –his memoir “Dreams from my Father” and some poetry he wrote in college– Kengor concludes that Davis was very important influence on Obama’s youth, perhaps the most significant. As for his policies as president, Kengor shows parallels between policies Frank demanded, such as universal health care, first proposed by Senator Claude Pepper in the 1940s (Pepper’s top aide was, it turned out, a paid Soviet agent), and those programs Obama has pursued. Even in targets for disdain, Obama shows Frank’s influence. For example, Frank despised Winston Churchill, and one of Obama’s first acts in office was to remove a bust of the Prime Minister, a gift from Britain, from the Oval Office. While Kengor never says outright that Obama is pursuing Frank’s goals, the parallels, at least in domestic affairs, are striking. And given that Obama, as Kengor points out, has never shown a moment of “conversion,” of rejecting the Far Left and moving toward the Center, it’s fair to assume that whatever Frank taught Obama, he still at least finds much of it agreeable.

Stylistically, “The Communist” is written in a casual, almost chatty manner that does not detract from the seriousness of its subject. The book is well-documented (it has to be, given the rabid reaction one could expect from the Left), and Kengor is fair to his subject. There is nothing sensationalistic or scandal-mongering about the book, and it avoids the lurid rumors about Frank’s sex-life to concentrate on his politics.

Paul Kengor’s “The Communist” fills an important gap in our knowledge of the education of Barack Obama, of the early, important influences on his life and thought. Taken in combination with Kurtz’s “Radical in Chief” (reviewed here) which covers Obama’s career and involvement with Socialism and Socialists from college to the presidency, we have a good, two-volume political biography of the man who would come to lead (and take over much of) the largest economy in human history.

Highly recommended.

AFTERTHOUGHT: Reading this book has reminded me yet again of what a miserable job the mainstream media did vetting Obama prior to the 2008 election. None of the material Kengor cites would have been all that difficult to find for a dedicated researcher. Sadly, they chose to devote their time to shielding him from scrutiny, instead, while covering the things that mattered to them the most, such as Sarah Palin’s tanning bed and wardrobe. Their dereliction is inexcusable.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


About that armed deputy at Columbine

December 21, 2012

In the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school, some have suggested that perhaps, since “gun-free zones” have been shown to be ineffective at best and an invitation to disaster at worst, it might be a good idea to have people qualified to carry firearms at schools.  Whether it’s faculty and staff, or police officers, or paid armed security, the idea is the same: take down the shooter as fast as possible, because every second counts.

In reply, some gun-control advocates have pointed out that there was an armed deputy at Columbine High School in 1999 when two teens went on their rampage. Fair enough, but that’s not the whole story. NRO’s Dan Foster supplies important information the anti-Second Amendment forces don’t mention:

…but it isn’t like the deputy was sitting around eating doughnuts during the Columbine massacre. He traded fire (that is, he drew fire) with Harris for an extended period of time, during which Harris’s gun jammed. The deputy and the backup he immediately called for exchanged fire with the shooters a second time and helped begin the evacuation of students, all before the SWAT teams and the rest of the cavalry arrived, and before Harris and Klebold killed themselves in the library. Harris and Klebold had an assault plan — a sloppy plan, but a plan nonetheless. They had dozens of IEDs, some of which detonated, others of which did not. And there were two of them. In this highly chaotic tactical environment, the deputy acted both bravely and prudently, and who knows how many lives he saved by engaging Harris.

This illustrates an important point liberty-advocates have been trying to make in this “debate:” the point of an armed defender isn’t just that he can (we hope) kill or otherwise neutralize the shooter. The armed defender also distracts the gunman, drawing his attention away from his intended targets, giving them time to escape. While 13 students were killed by Harris and Klebold, untold others were saved precisely because there was someone armed on campus. Far from being an example of the uselessness of armed, trained defenders (1) in schools, Columbine illustrates why we should want them on the scene.

It does not make one a drooling, mouth-breathing gun nut to wish someone at Sandy Hook had been similarly armed.

One other point. As David Kopel argues in the WSJ Online, mass shooters are often easily stopped by armed civilians, sometimes even taking themselves out:

Finally, it must be acknowledged that many of these attacks today unfortunately take place in pretend “gun-free zones,” such as schools, movie theaters and shopping malls. According to Ron Borsch’s study for the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato, active shooters are different from the gangsters and other street toughs whom a police officer might engage in a gunfight. They are predominantly weaklings and cowards who crumble easily as soon as an armed person shows up.

The problem is that by the time the police arrive, lots of people are already dead. So when armed citizens are on the scene, many lives are saved. The media rarely mention the mass murders that were thwarted by armed citizens at the Shoney’s Restaurant in Anniston, Ala. (1991), the high school in Pearl, Miss. (1997), the middle-school dance in Edinboro, Penn. (1998), and the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo. (2007), among others.

At the Clackamas Mall in Oregon last week, an active shooter murdered two people and then saw that a shopper, who had a handgun carry permit, had drawn a gun and was aiming at him. The murderer’s next shot was to kill himself.

(via Dan Mitchell)

The same thing occurred at Sandy Hook: as first responders closed in, the killer killed himself. But that was after several minutes had gone by, giving him plenty of time to kill and kill and kill even more.

Again, wouldn’t it have been better if someone trained in the use of firearms and in how to respond had been on the scene from the start? How many might have been saved?

Footnote:
(1) If one is uncomfortable with teachers or other staff being armed, school districts could also look at hiring private security that uses former military or off-duty police.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


December 20, 2012

Phineas Fahrquar:

Many on the liberal left wish we were more like Europe. In one sense, I agree: As Mitchell shows in the linked post, if we had the spending cap Switzerland employs, we wouldn’t be stuck in this fiscal morass.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

I greatly admire Switzerland’s “debt brake” because it’s really a spending cap.

Politicians are not allowed to increase spending faster than average revenue growth over a multi-year period, which basically means spending can only grow at the rate of inflation plus population.

Theoretically, taxes could be hiked to allow more spending, but that hasn’t happened. The Swiss are very good about voting against tax increases, so the politicians don’t have much ability to boost the revenue trendline.

Since the debt brake first took effect in 2003, the burden of government spending has dropped from 36 percent of GDP to 34 percent of economic output – a rather remarkable achievement since most other European nations have moved in the wrong direction.

As part of my self-serving efforts to promote Mitchell’s Golden Rule, I’ve been advocating for spending caps in the United States, and I’ve favorably cited legislation proposed by…

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#FastAndFurious Oh my. ATF agent’s personal firearm found at site of beauty queen’s killing

December 19, 2012

Updating this item. Two guns linked to the Obama administration’s gunwalking operation were found at the site of a gun battle in Mexico that took the life of model and beauty queen Susana Flores Maria Gamez. Only one of the weapons was purchased by a federal agent:

Mexican beauty queen Susana Flores Maria Gamez and four others died in the brutal gun battle between Sinaloa cartel members and the Mexican military in November. CBS News has learned that an FN Herstal pistol recovered near the crime scene in November was originally purchased by an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) manager who was faulted by the Inspector General in Operation Fast and Furious: George Gillett. Gillett was the Asst. Special Agent in Charge of ATF Phoenix when Fast and Furious began.

The Herstal pistol is nicknamed a “cop-killer” because of its designation as a “weapon of choice” for Mexican drug cartels. CBS News has learned the Inspector General planned to question Gillett today after a hastily-opened inquiry to determine how this agent’s personal weapon got into the hands of suspected cartel members.

CBS News spoke to Gillett, who is still employed at ATF. Gillett acknowledged he once owned the weapon in question, but says he sold it in Phoenix sometime last year after advertising it on the Internet. He declined to provide the name of the man who bought it, but says he went “above and beyond” what was required by law to complete the firearms transaction. That included asking the purchaser to fill out a form giving personal information and stating that he was in the U.S. legally; and checking his driver’s license, which Gillett said was issued in the U.S.

According to Senator Grassley, however, the aforementioned Form 4473s contained multiple errors and falsifications, which, if true, may cost Agent Gillett up to five years in the penitentiary. And –irony alert– these are the same forms straw buyers for the cartels had to fill out and lie on.

So, in at least this case and with at least this weapon, was an ATF agent himself acting as a straw buyer? Or is he just dumber than a box of rocks? How many other transactions was Agent Gillett involved in, and how many straw purchases did he oversee as part of his work on Fast and Furious?

It seems Senator Grassley and Congressman Issa’s work isn’t done yet.

via Instapundit

RELATED: Earlier posts on Fast and Furious.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


December 19, 2012

Phineas Fahrquar:

No wonder my tax accountant makes so much money….

(And the picture in question is below the video. Dan is most certainly nor part of the problem. :) )

Originally posted on International Liberty:

I used to think this image was a damning indictment of the internal revenue code. Or here’s another chart showing how the tax system has become more convoluted over time.

But this new image may be the most effective of all of them. We don’t know what’s in the other 72,000 pages of tax code, but we’re all familiar with the basic 1040 tax form. Look at what the politicians have done to it over the past several decades.

1040 Instruction graph

The only answer, needless to say, is to throw the entire mess in the trash can and replace it with a simple and fair flat tax.

Here’s my brief explanation of how the flat tax would work and why it’s a good idea.

Tax reform would give us more growth, but it also would reduce one of the major source of corruption in Washington.

It’s also based on the…

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The gun scandal the left doesn’t care about

December 19, 2012
Fast and Furious got results, all right.

What about these children, Mr. President?

That would be Operation Fast and Furious, the “felony stupid” investigation during which the BATF, with DoJ approval, knowingly allowed thousands of heavy firearms to be purchased by straw buyers, after which they were walked across the border into the waiting, murderous arms of Mexican drug cartels. And, so far, over 300 Mexican civilians, police, and military –as well as two US federal agents– have died from this fiasco.

To this count we should perhaps add another:

Another weapon from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agency’s controversial Operation Fast and Furious was recently recovered at a Mexican crime scene, CBS News has learned. Congressional investigators say the crime scene was likely where a recent shootout took place between reported Sinaloa drug cartel members and the Mexican military, in which Sinaloa beauty queen Maria Susana Flores Gamez and four others were killed.

According to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the Justice Department did not notify Congress of the Fast and Furious firearm recovery in November, even though Grassley has requested an accounting of weapons that surface from the case. During Fast and Furious, ATF allowed more than 2,000 weapons, including giant .50-caliber guns, to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels and other criminals. Other so-called “gunwalking” operations by ATF let hundreds more guns hit the street. Most of them have never been recovered.

The latest known recovery is a Romanian AK-47-type WASR-10 rifle. It was picked up at a crime scene Nov. 23 in Ciudad Guamuchil, Sinaloa, Mexico. That’s the same area and weekend of the shootout involving Flores Gamez’s death. A trace report shows the rifle was purchased by Uriel Patino, the Fast and Furious suspect who allegedly bought more than 700 weapons while under ATF’s watch. (1) Records show Patino bought the rifle and nine other semi-automatic rifles at an Arizona gun shop March 16, 2010.

Well of course DoJ didn’t inform Congress of this weapon’s recovery: Obama won reelection, Holder’s probably leaving soon, and they’ve found scapegoats to cover their own culpability. Why bother answering questions from a member of the Senate minority? Constitutional accountability? Are you kidding??

To her credit, CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson has given regular and serious coverage to Fast and Furious. To the MSM’s shame, she’s been one of the very few. And the rest of the liberal-left? The only thing they’ve done, when they couldn’t ignore the scandal altogether, is to blow smoke by crying “racism” and “witch hunt” in order to defend Obama and Holder. Truth hasn’t even been an afterthought.

Compare that to the recent horror at Sandy Hook elementary school. The initial shock had barely passed when the left began screaming for a ban on certain types of weapons, new, more restrictive laws, and even confiscation. Many, rightfully outraged over what happened to those children and teachers, wrongfully wished savage violence and death on defenders of Second Amendment rights. We saw outrage, anger, shock, demands for action.

But after Univision reported on a massacre in Juarez, Mexico, in which 14 teens were killed and another dozen wounded, and in which some of the guns had been supplied by the US government?

Crickets.

So, why shouldn’t we conclude that the left, the Democrats, and most of the MSM (but I repeat myself) don’t give a damn about Brown children?

Footnote:
(1) Not just under “ATF’s watch.” That agency, and through them the Department of Justice, actively colluded in supplying heavy armaments, including .50-caliber rifles, to Mexican cartels. For a good summary, see Katie Pavlich’s “Fast and Furious.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Truths about the police and gun control

December 18, 2012

Mike McDaniel is a former police officer who writes at PJ Media to burst some misconceptions and point out some uncomfortable truths to readers about the realities of policing and and why you should have little faith in gun control. As always, read the whole thing, but there is one point I want to especially emphasize:

Time Is Not On The Side Of The Good Guys

Response times for emergencies vary enormously from place to place. In some rural or semi-rural areas, emergency response is measured in hours. Even in towns or cities, a five-minute response — from the moment an officer receives the radio call until he arrives in a school parking lot — would be amazingly fast.

Consider, however, that a radio call likely would not have been made until someone at the school realized what was happening and made a call, a call that will take precious seconds — even minutes — to make and to be understood. By the time a radio signal flashes out, a shooter could easily have been shooting for five minutes or more.

And even when that first officer arrives in the parking lot, he will likely not have clear directions. Few police officers have so much as been inside every school in their jurisdiction; fewer know them well. Even if that first officer can hear continuing gunfire, unless by chance he happens to enter the school near the shooter it will take additional minutes to find and stop the shooter. Unless the shooter stops him first.

Every minute is an eternity in a school attack. Every minute costs lives. All competent police officers know this; it’s one of their greatest frustrations. They know that in virtually every imaginable scenario, the real issue is how many will die before they are in a position to do anything.

They also know that if the modern history of school shootings is any guide, the shooter will virtually always have killed himself long before they arrive.

In virtually every American school shooting, the police have had no role in stopping the shooter.

As a friend once told me, “When every second counts, help via 911 is minutes away.”

And anyone who believes any different, who puts their faith in restrictive gun laws and “gun-free zones,” is just a deluded fool.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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