The Traitor Anwar al Awlaki is dead. This is war, not a police matter.

September 30, 2011

"I say again, the infidels will never find me! Wait. What's that noise?"

And, we sincerely hope, he is in a place decorated in fire and brimstone.

I’ve waited most of the day to post the good news, because it’s happened many times over the years since 9/11 that we’ve announced a major kill, only to have the target show up in another video thumbing his nose at us. But now it’s confirmed: we nailed the traitor Anwar al Awlaki:

Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Islamic militant cleric who became a prominent figure in al-Qaida’s most active branch, using his fluent English and Internet savvy to draw recruits to carry out attacks in the United States, was killed Friday in the mountains of Yemen, American and Yemeni officials said.

The Yemeni government and Defense Ministry announced al-Awlaki’s death, but gave no details. A senior U.S. official said American intelligence supports the claim that he had been killed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

Yemeni security officials and local tribal leaders said the was killed in an airstrike on his convoy that they believed was carried out by the Americans. They said pilotless drones had been seen over the area in previous days.

And we didn’t just get Awlaki; this same strike also took out another traitorous dirtbag, Samir Khan, the editor of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) online magazine, “Inspire.” Khan also had regularly threatened the lives Dr. Rusty Shackleford and  his family. Shackleford is the main Jawa at The Jawa Report, an important counter-jihad blog that’s done invaluable work against Al Qaeda’s online presence,  so this news is doubly sweet.  Replacing these two won’t be easy for Al Qaeda; as men born in America, they had a unique ability to communicate jihadist thinking to radicalized Muslims in the West who might not speak Arabic well enough to understand the garbage spewed by the likes of Zawahiri and bin Laden.

Naturally, this set off caterwauling among Leftists and hardcore libertarians (and jihadist sympathizers) about the targeted killing of American citizens, denying them due process in a court of law. I can understand the argument and I have a reasoned, thoughtful reply:

Boo-freaking-hoo! Cry me a river!

Forget the whining from CAIR, they’re nothing but tools of the Muslim Brotherhood. But leftists like the ACLU and Ron Paul-worshipping libertarians need to pull their heads out of their collective rears and realize one thing: this is war, not a police matter. Traitors like Awlaki, Khan, and al Qaeda mouthpiece Adam Gadahn chose to side with those who make war on their (former) country. Awlaki in particular was described as having operational control over AQAP’s foreign strikes. He was involved in the attempted bombing of a Northwest flight over Detroit; he was at least the spiritual mentor to Major Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter; and he may have had an operational role in 9-11, itself. And who knows what else he was planning?

To quote what I’ve been told is the First Rule of Texas Common Law:

“He needed killing.”

And so did Samir Khan, and so does Gadahn, and so does everyone who takes up arms for Al Qaeda. I’m very much a Jacksonian about this: they are traitors and they are trying to destroy my country. They want to kill my people. They need killing.

Again: this is war, not a police matter.

If traitors who join the jihad against us want to surrender, fine: we’ll give them a fair trial, hopefully followed by a hanging. But, if we spot them going about their merry jihadi way, then…

“Gentlemen, you may fire when ready.”

And, to the group that tracked Anwar al-Awlaki and took him and Khan out, good work!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Gunwalker about to break wide open?

September 29, 2011

This might be the final crack before the dam surrounding Operation Fast and Furious collapses altogether. We already knew that a BATF operation, with the cooperation of other federal agencies including the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office in Arizona, knowingly allowed regulated heavy firearms to be sold by US gun dealers to “straw buyers” who were acting on behalf of the Mexican drug cartels. We also know that those guns were knowingly  allowed to “walk” over the border to the waiting hands of the cartels , where we promptly lost track of them. And finally, we know that up to two US federal officers and over 200 Mexican soldiers, federal agents, and civilians have died because of “walked” guns.

That’s bad enough.

But today’s revelation in the New York Post is even worse: the BATF may have bought some of the guns themselves and resold them to the cartels:

Let that sink in: After months of pretending that “Fast and Furious” was a botched surveillance operation of illegal gun-running spearheaded by the ATF and the US attorney’s office in Phoenix, it turns out that the government itself was selling guns to the bad guys.

Agent John Dodson was ordered to buy four Draco pistols for cash and even got a letter from his supervisor, David Voth, authorizing a federally licensed gun dealer to sell him the guns without bothering about the necessary paperwork.

“Please accept this letter in lieu of completing an ATF Form 4473 for the purchase of four (4) CAI, Model Draco, 7.62×39 mm pistols, by Special Agent John Dodson,” read the June 1, 2010, letter. “These aforementioned pistols will be used by Special Agent Dodson in furtherance of performance of his official duties.”

On orders, Dodson then sold the guns to known criminals, who first stashed them away and then — deliberately unhindered by the ATF or any other agency — whisked them off to Mexico.

People were killed with Fast and Furious weapons, including at least two American agents and hundreds of Mexicans. And the taxpayers picked up the bill.

So where’s the outrage?

(Emphasis added)

Darned good question. While I think Michael Walsh’s speculations on the motives behind Gunwalker (1) are premature in the absence of more facts, I agree one-hundred percent with his conclusion: it’s time for a special prosecutor.

With the DOJ stonewalling House and Senate investigators, it’s the only way we’re going to get to the bottom of this fiasco.

RELATED: Prior Gunwalker posts.

Footnote:
(1) That it was either (or both) an effort to create a crisis that would lead to a call for strict gun-control in the US, or a CIA operation to arm other cartels against the Zetas, out of fear the Zetas might overthrow the Mexican government.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The anti-democratic Democrats

September 28, 2011

Governor Bev Perdue (D-NC) said the most amazing thing yesterday:

Speaking to a Cary Rotary Club today, N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue suggested suspending Congressional elections for two years so that Congress can focus on economic recovery and not the next election.

I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover. I really hope that someone can agree with me on that,” Perdue said. “You want people who don’t worry about the next election.”

The comment — which came during a discussion of the economy — perked more than a few ears. It’s unclear whether Perdue, a Democrat, is serious — but her tone was level and she asked others to support her on the idea.

(via Big Government)

Forget for a moment the odd spectacle of a state’s chief executive suggesting that elections be called off at all –something that’s never been done, even during the Civil War and World War II, the two greatest threats to our national existence, ever– the terms of the House and Senate are specified in Article I, Sections 2 and 3 of the the Constitution; before those terms expire, elections must be held. By suggesting elections for Congress be suspended and the term of Congress be extended in defiance of Article I, Governor Perdue was suggesting suspending the United States Constitution, itself.

Naturally, Governor Perdue’s people tried to pull her foot out of her mouth by claiming she was joking and engaging in hyperbole, as reported by my blog-buddy, ST.

Whatever. Whether she meant it as a joke or a serious suggestion, it is a sentiment that should never, ever be uttered by any elected official, because elections are the sole source of legitimacy for a democratic government. To call off elections and extend the term of Congress in defiance of the Constitution would be to destroy utterly that legitimacy. Perdue’s suggestion, joking or not, was madness; I wouldn’t at all blame the North Carolina legislature if it voted to censure her or even consider impeachment. A governor who can so cavalierly suggest doing away with elections is unworthy to hold office.

But Governor Perdue’s Kinsleyan gaffe is really representative of a larger problem within the Democratic Party, a problem with democracy, itself. In this case, I’m not talking about contempt for free speech shown by the 2008 Obama campaign or by the president after taking office, part of what Michael Barone has dubbed the “thugocracy.”

No, the problem is more fundamental and it dominates the thinking of those who are its leaders — they are Democrats who don’t like democracy. It’s messy and it keeps them from doing the things they want to do that they know are best for us. Consider, for example, President Obama’s first Budget Director, Peter Orszag:

To solve the serious problems facing our country, we need to minimize the harm from legislative inertia by relying more on automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions. In other words, radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.

(…)

Virtually all responsible economists agree that we should be aiming to reduce the deficit in the long-term but not in the short-term. We need an even larger deficit in 2011 and 2012, to support a weak economy—but a much smaller deficit in 2020 and 2050, to put the nation back on a sustainable fiscal course. Yet our polarized political system has proved incapable of reaching a consensus on this common-sense approach.

What we need, then, are ways around our politicians. The first would be to expand automatic stabilizers—those tax and spending provisions that automatically expand when the economy weakens, thereby cushioning the blow, and automatically contract as the economy recovers, thereby helping to reduce the deficit.

Or how about President Obama, who lamented having to deal with Congress and a political process and wished he could go around it:

“As I mentioned when I was at La Raza a few weeks back, I wish I had a magic wand and could make [immigration reform and the DREAM Act] all happen on my own,” Obama told a meeting of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “There are times where — until Nancy Pelosi is speaker again — I’d like to work my way around Congress.”

Maybe Governor Perdue was auditioning to replace Biden on the ticket in 2012?

These aren’t the only instances where we’ve seen impatience, frustration, and even contempt for the democratic process coming from Democratic Party leaders. We’ve encountered it in the reaction to the rise of the Tea Party — a loose populist coalition calling for less power for the federal government, more fiscal responsibility, and adherence to the Constitution as written — implying that they’re fascists (1) and un-American, simply for exercising their right to free speech to peacefully oppose a policy proposal. Here in California, where Democratic Party dominance is nearly total, then-Assembly Speaker and now Congresswoman Karen Bass referred to people making their opinions known to their legislators and promising to hold them accountable for their votes as “terrorists.”

This isn’t a new phenomenon by any means. It’s old, going back to the roots of American progressivism in the 19th century, what we now call, incorrectly, “liberalism.” It’s fundamental thesis is that the modern world is too complex for a governing system designed in the 18th century for a rural, isolated republic; that legislatures were too fractious and trapped by partisan interest to do what was best; and that these complexities were best handed off to boards of experts and technocrats who could make the correct decisions with scientific dispassion — Orszag’s “depoliticized commissions.” Woodrow Wilson crystallized this contempt for democratic governance when, before becoming president, he argued in essence that the Constitution was obsolete. (See also Goldberg’s excellent “Liberal Fascism.”)

While initially a bipartisan fad (I’m sorry to say TR, one of my favorite presidents, was a progressive), progressivism and its preference for bureaucratic technocracy over constitutional democracy has become the bailiwick of the Democratic Party. Sometimes it was muted, as under Truman or Carter, sometimes it roared loud and proud, as under FDR, LBJ, and Obama. And the impatience with democracy, usually hidden behind the standard vocabulary of American politics, becomes open when progressives encounter opposition and don’t get what they want. Then we hear the cries of “Washington is broken” and how the nation is “ungovernable.” No longer given their way as the natural governing party (unlike from 1933-1981), Democrats look more and more to activist courts or to bureaucratic fiat — “working my way around Congress” — to get what they cannot achieve through an uncooperative electorate.

To put it bluntly, the elite core of the Democratic Party –its leadership, not the rank and file average voter– is anti-democratic.

Which is why we must defeat them in every election we can, until they either reform or go the way of the Whigs.

LINKS: Ed Morrissey calls Governor Perdue’s comedy act a total bust.

Footnote:
(1) An almost Orwellian misuse of the word on their part.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


OMG! Racist cupcakes invade Berkeley!!

September 28, 2011

Credit the College Republicans of UC Berkeley (1) for coming up with a brilliant way to make their point — and to recruit UCB’s humorless Left help in making it.

The background is that, many years ago, the people of California voted to end Affirmative Action ethnic and gender discrimination in the admissions process of the UC system. (2) The Left, however, has never given up trying to reinstate Affirmative Action re-legalize ethnic and gender discrimination. Their latest effort comes in the form of Senate Bill 185, passed by the legislature progressive oligarchy in Sacramento on September 9th and currently awaiting Governor Brown’s signature or veto.

The College Republicans decide to protest the bill by engaging in satire: they set up a table selling cupcakes, the price of which was determined by the customer’s ethnicity and gender — Whites were charged $2, while Blacks, Hispanics, Asians,woman, and almost any other minority one could think of were charged varying lesser amounts. The result was a predictable howl from the perpetually outraged Left, screaming that this was discrimination, to which the College Republicans would agree and ask “then doesn’t this make SB 185, which does exactly the same thing, also wrong and discriminatory?”

As you can guess, this went right over the heads of the enlightened, educated progressives there.

Be sure to click through to PJM for Zombie’s photo-essay (language warning) of the cupcake sale and protest, and hats off to the UCB College Republicans.

Footnotes:
(1) They still exist at Berkeley? I thought they would have been hunted to extinction by the Progressive Tolerance Police. They must have secret hiding places in the steam tunnels…
(2) See? We’re not all a bunch of loopy Lefties out here.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee: conservative bloggers should “shut up” and “buy American” should be “buy African-American”

September 27, 2011

I’m glad to see she’s against playing racial politics:

While speaking with Tavis Smiley of PBS, Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee said conservative bloggers should “shut up” and “stop playing racial politics.”

This from a member of the caucus that does little else but play the race card.

Seconds later, Jackson Lee went on to say that buy American should be “buy African American.”

She also said that if Obama’s jobs bill is passed, that contractors who “do not look like” her need to make sure that if they get federal money, their workforce “better be reflective of those suffering double-digit unemployment.”

“I don’t consider it discrimination, I don’t consider it affirmative action,” she added.

No, it’s just a bit of ethnic strong-arming. “Nice business you have there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it.”

Roger L. Simon is right: the Congressional Black Caucus should be disbanded. Far from fighting racism, they exploit it for personal gain and in the process harm the very constituency they claim to serve. (Although in Jackson-Lee’s case, I doubt she’s smart enough to know what she’s doing.)

By the way, Sheila, this conservative blogger does not plan to shut up. But you can take your racial grievance pandering and shove it.

via Clarice Feldman

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


How our tax system punishes saving and rewards consumption

September 27, 2011

Economists and financial writers regularly bemoan our low savings rate in the US. But one big reason why our savings are so minimal is our tax system, which encourages spending and discourages savings and investment by the double taxation of income. This chart from Dan Mitchell illustrates the problem:

(Click the image for a larger version)

In short, if you spend your after-tax earnings, no problem. You’re only taxed the one time. But, if you invest that income in productive activities that help expand the economy and provide for your future security, the government takes more and more and more, even after you’re dead.

In other words, the tax system is biased toward giving government money and away from real prosperity.

Have a look at Mitchell’s post for a fuller explanation.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Forget “Where’s Waldo.” Where’s Muhammad?

September 27, 2011

I bet this news from PJM’s Patrick Poole will make you all feel safe and secure:

Two Bangladeshis who were caught by Customs and Border Protection illegally crossing the border in June 2010 admitted under questioning that they were members of a designated terrorist organization that signed on to a fatwa by Osama bin Laden pledging to wage war against Americans.

But amazingly, after one of the men requested asylum, he was released on bond. And now one Homeland Security official tells me, concerning the released terror operative, “We don’t have the slightest idea where he is now.”

The two men, Muhammad Nazmul Hasan and Mirza Muhammad Saifuddin, were intercepted near Naco, Arizona, not long after they had crossed the border on June 25, 2010. During their interrogation, one of the men admitted that they were members of Harakat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B), which was designated a terrorist organization by the United States in February 2008. Earlier this month the group claimed responsibility for a bombing a courthouse in New Delhi. That attack killed 11 and wounded at least 45 others.

(Emphasis added.)

Reading this, one’s first reaction is probably a hearty “WTF?” and some choice words about the competence of the Border Patrol and the courts for allowing an admitted terrorist to walk on bail, something that defies common sense.

But it’s not the agencies’ actions that run contrary to wisdom, but the law itself. While Poole doesn’t go into detail about the relevant laws, I’m willing to bet existing statutes, reflecting a pre-September 11th mentality that treats terrorism as a law-enforcement problem, left the CBP and the court with little choice — once the Bangladeshi jihadist invoked the laws of asylum, the relevant officials were obliged to obey them. And because no one is mandated to keep track of asylum-seekers out on bail, this Al Qaeda ally walked out the door and vanished into an Arizona sunset, never to be heard from again, until… ?

More than ten years after 9/11, it’s way past the time that our laws were updated to reflect a time of war and potentially catastrophic terrorism. At a minimum, people who admit to belonging to organizations allied to our deadly enemy should be held without bail; more properly, since we’re dealing with terrorist operatives, they should be transferred to military custody and their cases decided by a military commission. We’re not talking about people sneaking into America looking for a better life; these are people sneaking into America to take lives.

As Poole points out, the southern border is the preferred route for people seeking illegal entry into the United States, and, regardless of what President Obama claims, that border is not secure. It’s clear Obama and the Democrats won’t do a thing to genuinely control it, in spite of the obvious threat to national security (1), so it will be up to the next, hopefully adult, administration.

Meanwhile, don’t worry. I’m sure we’ll find the missing Bangladeshi jihadi… right after the car-bomb goes off.

Footnote:
(1) You know, that thing that really is one of the assigned duties of the federal government. But they have more important things to do, like regulating which light bulbs you can buy.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama cracks jokes about devastating Texas wildfires

September 26, 2011

You know, beneath the cool exterior of the basketball-playing hipster president, behind the facade of the partisan class warrior, there lurks a core truth — Barack Obama is a jackass:

While at a highdollar fundraiser San Jose, California, President Obama ridiculed Rick Perry.

“You’ve got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change.” Obama said to  laughter and applause, and added, “No, no, it’s true!”

Perry was understandably angered: Obama repeatedly refused to issue a disaster declaration for last spring’s wildfires, in which thousands of homes were destroyed. I bet the families whose houses have been reduced to cinders thought it was really funny. Just as Texan Bryan Preston:

Once again, Barack Obama has shown that he is unworthy of the office he holds. Droughts are just part of nature. They happen, no matter what mankind does. This year Texans have had 1,500 homes burn, thousands of acres torched, livestock and crops and even lives lost, and Obama turns that into a craven partisan hit on the state’s governor. What an idiot. What a partisan jacksnipe.

Leave aside Obama’s scientific ignorance (1) that ascribes all bad weather to the demon “Climate Change,” this need to use the genuine suffering of fellow Americans to mock a political foe is more than just callous or insensitive; it show a basic lack of empathy (2). In fact, referring to a recent foot-in-mouth moment the President had in front of the Congressional Black Caucus, PJM’s Spengler wondered, perhaps only half-satirically, if Barack Obama isn’t a sociopath, one of the marks of which is an inability to empathize with others.

I’ll leave that to people with psychology degrees; for me, this is just further proof that Obama not only is incompetent, he’s not even a likeable person.

Our president is a jerk.

Footnotes:
(1) As Preston says, drought happens. Far from being the fault of “greenhouse gases” and Man’s sins against Gaea, droughts in Texas are a normal part of the La Nina phase of the recurring El Nino/La Nina cycle in the Pacific.
(2) Ironic, for a guy who made a big thing about appointing judges with empathy.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama: a billionaire should pay the same tax rate as a Jew?

September 26, 2011

Don’t look at me like that. That’s what the man said:

In fairness, he meant to say “janitor,” not “Jew,” and immediately corrected himself. Still, it’s an interesting mistake to make, given that he spent 20 years in the church of a racist, antisemitic pastor.

Perhaps his Freudian slip was showing?

via Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Sunday Book Review: FDR’s Folly

September 25, 2011

Many years ago, when I was doing my undergraduate degree in History, I read “The Historian’s Craft,” by the great French historian Marc Bloch. One lesson he taught that’s stuck with me all these years is that “objective” history is a myth; the historian, by declaring what is significant through his choice of what facts to include in his work, inevitably suffuse the work with a subjective viewpoint — his opinion.

Careful historians take this inevitable bias into account and look for facts that contradict their thesis, evaluating them against those that support the historian’s point of view and thus reaching a reasoned synthesis. But, again almost inevitably, certain perspectives gain wide enough acceptance that they go from being opinion and argument to unquestioned “received wisdom.”

The history of the New Deal is an example of this. According to the standard telling, the era of vast government intervention in the economy under Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt saved the nation from economic collapse after the reckless laissez-faire economics of the 1920s and a series of “do nothing” Republican presidents. People found jobs, the hungry were fed, and labor gained their just rights. This was the orthodoxy pushed by liberal historians such as Arthur Schlesinger and Frank Friedel, whose works influence the teaching of history in high schools and colleges down to today.

In recent years, however, works by conservative and libertarian authors have challenged this orthodoxy to argue that the New Deal was not nearly as effective as proclaimed, perhaps even a total failure. Actually analyzing the application and results of New Deal policies, rather than just concentrating on the politics, a few years ago two UCLA economists published a study arguing that FDR’s policies lengthened the Depression by seven years. Journalist Amity Shlaes authored “The Forgotten Man,” an important revisionist history of the Great Depression that questions many of the standard assumptions.

Into this latter, revisionist literature in 2003 came Jim Powell’s “FDR’s Folly: how Roosevelt and his New Deal prolonged the Great Depression.” Powell is a scholar with the libertarian Cato Institute, and he approaches the New Deal with a very skeptical eye. His thesis is that the New Deal was a failure because its diagnosis of the problem, that the economic collapse was caused by prices (both of goods and labor) being too low and that the way to fix the problem was to regulate the economy to maintain prices at a higher-than-market value. He shows instead that this contributed to the problem by making labor too expensive, thus pricing less-skilled workers out of the market and thus keeping unemployment high. (By some estimates, unemployment never went below 13-15% during the Depression. If a program is to be judged by its results…)

Powell also criticizes the vast expansion of federal power under FDR, an expansion made necessary because of the administration’s belief that free markets had failed, that unrestrained competition had brought about the crisis, and that the only way out was to highly regulate all aspects of the economy. This had the effect, Powell argues (I think correctly), of severely weakening economic liberty, for example the freedom of two or more parties to agree to a contract, and the rights a property owner, such as  a factory owner, has over his own property. What had previously been the inherent rights of the individual guarded under the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments were gutted by a succession of Supreme Court rulings, particularly after FDR was able to appoint several sympathetic Justices, who argued that “economic rights” were less important than political rights, such as free speech.

Powell organizes his book in a series of questions, which are then explored to attack one aspect or another of the New Deal orthodoxy. Here are some samples:

  • “What did FDR borrow from Hoover?” (1)
  • “Why did FDR triple taxes during the Great Depression?”
  • “Why did the New Dealers destroy all that food when people were hungry?”
  • “How did New Deal labor laws throw people out of work?”
  • “How did FDR’s Supreme Court subvert individual liberty?”
  • “How did New Deal policies cause the Depression of 1938?”

It’s become a cliché to describe a book as “eye-opening,” but that’s the effect Powell’s book had for me, clearing the scales of liberal orthodoxy away from my eyes by stepping outside the accepted history and daring to ask questions and hold the New Dealers accountable for the results of their policies. And, with the full-throated resurgence of statism under Obama and the progressives, this eight-year old book has a new relevance. Believe me, just change a few of the names and dates, and you’d swear Jim Powell was writing about Barack Obama.

Maybe Time was right to say Obama is the new FDR.

Summary: FDR’s Folly (2003, Three Rivers Press) — recommended.

Footnote:
(1) Yes, the orthodox view of a laissez-faire Hoover is all wrong.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Fleecing the taxpayers: it’s not just the Chicago Way

September 23, 2011

Yesterday I linked to a John Kass column about how some union bosses are legally ripping off the taxpayers of Illinois. (ST covered it in much more detail here.) But lest one think this kind of “authorized corruption” is limited to Blue states like Illinois, California, or New York, consider how the public sheep are being sheered in deep-Red Arizona:

Phoenix taxpayers spend millions of dollars to pay full salary and benefits for city employees to work exclusively for labor unions, a Goldwater Institute investigation found.

Collective bargaining agreements with seven labor organizations require the city to pay union officers and provide members with thousands of additional hours to conduct union business instead of doing their government jobs.

The total cost to Phoenix taxpayers is about $3.7 million per year, based on payroll records supplied by the city. In all, more than 73,000 hours of annual release time for city workers to conduct union business at taxpayers’ expense are permitted in the agreements.

The top officials in all of the unions have regular jobs with the city. But buried in the labor agreements are a series of provisions for those employees to be released from their regular duties to perform union work.

For top officers, the typical amount of annual release time is 2,080 hours, a full year of work based on 52 weeks at 40 hours each. They continue to draw full pay and benefits, just as if they were showing up for their regular jobs. But they are released from their regular duties to conduct undefined union business.

Union officials say the time is a good investment that leads to a more productive workforce. Critics say it amounts to an illegal gift of taxpayer money.

Be sure to read the whole thing. I’m not surprised the union officials think this is a good investment. While no mention is made of union political donations,  it wouldn’t surprise me to learn they “invest” a little cash (drawn from member dues) in the campaigns of pliant councilmen, which then leads to the sweetheart clauses that allow them to collect a public salary while never doing a bit of the work they’re being paid for. Or they threaten to use their members’ dues to campaign against uncooperative officials, giving them an incentive to play along to the detriment of the public interest.

This is what happens in general when labor unions are allowed to become a labor cartel, to have a monopoly over the supply of labor: with no fear of competition, union bosses can concentrate on feathering their own nests. (I wonder how long it’s been since Trumka actually got his hands dirty in a mine?) With public employee unions, the situation is even worse, since political leaders are negotiating with the public’s money, not their own, and thus have less incentive to worry about the economic consequences, which may not come about until years later. (I posted a good video explaining this last March.) Combine a labor cartel with control over other people’s money, and you have a recipe for what we see so often at the local, state, and federal levels: a kickback scheme.

It may not be illegal, but it surely is corrupt.

via Jazz Shaw

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


It’s not illegal, it’s Chicago!

September 22, 2011

Today’s Chicago Tribune column from John Kass is a must-read:

What if lawmakers passed a bill that allowed two dozen hand-picked political insiders to fan out across the state and walk up to you and demand your cash?

Not ask but demand.

Got a problem?

There is no passion in the demand, no anger, no urgency. Just a flat look, impassive, the way a hungry hyena on the savanna looks at a herd of meek chumbolones and says, “That one.”

Or the way a butcher sizes up some hanging beef before going to work on it. Except, you’re the beef.

And after you give up the money, the guy smiles to himself and slides into a nice black Escalade. He doesn’t thank you. But he sure thanks the politicians who made it happen. He helps re-elect them, so they or their families make fortunes.

But you? You don’t get thanks. He’d no more thank you than he’d thank a dog.

Now, do you have a problem with that?

Pardon me? I didn’t hear you. So let me ask you again.

No?

Then you must be in Illinois.

Go read the whole thing, and then remember that we elected a president who cut his political teeth in that swamp.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Things you don’t expect to see on your commute

September 22, 2011

Such as a drug gang dumping 35 bodies on the highway:

Suspected drug traffickers dumped 35 bodies at rush hour beneath a busy overpass in the heart of a major Gulf coast city as gunmen pointed weapons at frightened drivers. Mexican authorities said Wednesday they are examining surveillance video for clues to who committed the crime.

Horrified motorists grabbed cell phones and sent Twitter messages warning others to avoid the area near the biggest shopping mall in Boca del Rio, part of the metropolitan area of Veracruz city.

The gruesome gesture marked a sharp escalation in cartel violence in Veracruz state, which sits on an important route for drugs and Central American migrants heading north.

The Zetas drug cartel has been battling other gangs for control of the state.

Prosecutors said it’s too soon to draw conclusions from the surveillance video.

“We’re not going to confirm or deny anything,” Veracruz state Attorney General Reynaldo Escobar Perez told the Televisa network Wednesday. “We’re looking at it in different ways, we’re seeing different numbers, that’s why we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”

Escobar said the bodies were left piled in two trucks and on the ground under the overpass near the statue of the Voladores de Papantla, ritual dancers from Veracruz state. He said some of the victims had their heads covered with blackplastic bags and showed signs of torture.

Authorities said each of the victims (including apparently a cop who had gone missing) had criminal ties, so this looks like one gang, maybe the Zetas, taking out the soldiers of another gang and throwing it in their rivals’ faces.

But it’s also a slap in the face to the Mexican federal and state governments, mocking their authority and denying their sovereignty. Doing this while the city hosts a major judicial conference says, in no uncertain terms, “We rule here, not you. Fear us.” And that’s exactly what the people do, as they lose faith with each atrocity in Mexico’s ability to protect them and render justice.

These aren’t just bodies; these are thirty-five more milestones on the road to a failed state.

RELATED: Was this a message to Los Zetas from a new cartel? (Graphic pic warning.)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


President Zero

September 21, 2011

Here’s Rick Perry’s new campaign ad:

Good one, isn’t it? I’d say it’s up there with recent videos from Sarah Palin, which have also been excellent.

I love the contrast between the images of a rundown America and the president’s words — the crumbling Obama poster is a nice touch. And while most commenters I’ve seen have focused on the “President Zero” voice-over, to me the most effective moments come at a couple of points where one can just hear what sounds like an air-raid siren in the background, signalling “we’re in trouble.” And then comes a very effective transition to the images and words of Governor Perry, strongly projecting his own message of hope and change, something Obama can no longer run on… unless as a self-satire.

Well done!

RELATED: Perry 2012

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Gunwalker: Rep. Issa calls for a special prosecutor

September 21, 2011

I knew this would happen eventually:

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., on Tuesday called for a special prosecutor to investigate the growing “Fast and Furious” scandal, in which the Obama administration allowed guns to walk to Mexico, where they fell into the hands of drug lords and were found at the murder scene of at least one U.S. border agent.

Issa complained in a conference call that, “there is ongoing cover up of a pattern of wrongdoing that can’t be explained by any ordinary people (who tried) to do the right thing but made a mistake.”

The Obama administration has been slow to hand over documents to Issa’s committee, and when they have, they’ve been heavily redacted.

“Even though I have subpoena ability, I don’t have the ability to lock people up for contempt until they fess up and give us what we want,” Issa said.

A special prosecutor would have such powers, and would be independent of the government agencies that were responsible for creating and attempting to cover up details of the program.

That last is key: the scandal embraces or at least touches on several government departments involved with law enforcement — Justice, the FBI, one or more US Attorney offices, and the BATF at least. To leave the investigation of what is looking more and more like a criminal matter to the very agencies under investigation would lack any credibility; while special prosecutors (1) have in the past abused their power, it is the only tool we have that is both independent and can compel testimony under threat of punishment. (2)

Expect the calls for a special prosecutor to grow louder as we learn more about Operation Fast and Furious.

Footnotes:
(1) Some question the constitutionality of the special prosecutor (or “independent counsel”), but it was upheld in both Morrison v. Olson (1988) and later in US v. “Scooter” Libby. (PDF)
(2) Issa does have the option of seeking a citation for Contempt of Congress against Holder and other relevant officials, but that would require either referral to the US Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia, an Obama appointee and hence conflicted, or a trial before the House, which would turn into a circus that would probably work against the Republicans.

via Vermontaigne

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Bill Whittle: Debunking the Palestinian lie

September 20, 2011

One of the currents in the news lately has been the unilateral Palestinian push for a UN declaration of a Palestinian state, a move largely brought about by dangerously incompetent Obama administration diplomacy (1). This declaration is founded on two Big Lies: the first is that Palestinians are an ethically and historically distinct people, deserving of their own state — not true. (via Legal Insurrection)

The second is that Jews have been the unreasonable aggressors and Palestinians the long-suffering victims (2) who’ve never had a chance at a home of their own.

Again, as Bill Whittle demonstrates in this video essay on a whiteboard, this is a lie.

The fact is, the Arabs of Palestine have been offered their own state several times over the past century and, each time, they’ve slapped away the proffered hand of peace and responded with violence. Wallowing in the Jew-hatred that’s hard-wired into Islam, their leaders sought out allies from, among all people, the Nazis. Even after the Nazi defeat and repeated failures to destroy Israel since world War II, the Palestinians have rejected generous offers, one after the other.

The US will likely veto the statehood declaration in the Security Council, but it is sure to pass the General Assembly. Though it will be legally meaningless, it will be a moral defeat for Israel and Western values. As any objective analysis of the historical record shows, the “Palestinians” in no way deserve their own state — not until they grow up and can act like civilized adults.

via Hot Air.

RELATED: The book shown at the beginning of the video, Sol Stern’s “A Century of Palestinian Rejectionism and Jew Hatred,” which served as the basis for Bill’s essay, is the latest in the Broadsides series from Encounter Books. Each is a short pamphlet laying out a conservative argument on a particular issue, written by an expert in the field. They’re inexpensive and quick-reading; I find them invaluable. Regarding the forthcoming vote on declaring a Palestinian state, the editors at National Review urge us to “just say no.”

Footnotes:
(1) You know, that “Smart Power(tm)” that’s made the world such a nice place.
(2) Unless one means, of course, “suffering at the hands of their fellow Arabs, who’ve used the Palestinians like a cheap date,” which would be accurate.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Gunwalker: more evidence of a third gun at the Terry murder — Updated

September 20, 2011

Let’s call it the “tale of the tape.” CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson obtained access to a recorded conversation between an ATF agent and a legal gun dealer in Arizona, who apparently was the source of the two “walked” firearms found at the crime scene. But during the conversation, mention is made of a third assault rifle:

Agent: Well there was two.

Dealer: There’s three weapons.

Agent: There’s three weapons.

Dealer: I know that.

Agent: And yes, there’s serial numbers for all three.

Dealer: That’s correct.

Agent: Two of them came from this store.

Dealer: I understand that.

Agent: There’s an SKS that I don’t think came from…. Dallas or Texas or something like that.

Dealer: I know. talking about the AK’s

Agent: The two AK’s came from this store.

Dealer: I know that.

Agent: Ok.

Dealer: I did the Goddamned trace

Agent: Third weapon is the SKS has nothing to do with it.

Dealer: That didn’t come from me.

Agent: No and there is that’s my knowledge. and I spoke to someone who would know those are the only ones they have. So this is the agent who’s working the case, all I can go by is what she told me.

(Emphases added.)

The agent’s last statement is a little unclear as to whether it means the SKS had “nothing to do” with the Terry killing or with the dealer’s store. What this exchange does in spades, however, is add weight to earlier email revelations about the existence of a third gun that “somehow” has gone missing from the evidence.

Earlier speculation was that the gun was “disappeared” to protect a high-level informant planted in the cartels, who would be exposed were the gun to become part of the public record.

However, Allahpundit at Hot Air raises another possibility: what if this missing SKS was the gun that fired the shot that killed Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry? Neither of the two AKs has been identified as the fatal weapon, implying that Terry might not have been killed with a “walked” firearm. If this putative third weapon fired the killing shot, however, then you have a direct connection between Operation Fast and Furious and the murder of a US federal agent.

The incentive some people might have to make this gun vanish seems pretty clear.

Eventually, the truth is going to come out about this; there are too many cracks in this story, already. I remember Watergate: the continual drip of questions and answers that lead to more questions, each round slowly eroding the wall around the truth until, one day, someone talked. And then it all came tumbling down around the Nixon administration.

Remember one thing, though: in Watergate, no one died.

In Operation Fast and Furious, however, one, perhaps two, US federal agents may have been killed with guns provided by the US government to Mexican drug cartels. Over 150 Mexican soldiers, federal agents, and civilians have been killed with “walked” weapons — and that number is growing. There is even evidence of other Gunwalker-style operations elsewhere in the US, with the weapons from which playing a part in who-knows-what-or-how-many crimes.

This isn’t going away.

RELATED: At Pajamas Media, Bob Owens suspect a Cloward-Piven strategy in play. I’m not yet ready to assume conspiracy when “felony stupid” will do, however.

UPDATE: The number of Gunwalker-related killings is indeed growing: the Attorney General of Mexico has listed 200 deaths related to the Obama-administration scandal, in addition to at least eleven crimes within the United States.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Unions: there’s dumb, and then there’s malevolent

September 19, 2011

Yesterday, I posted an example from Southern California of unions threatening a strike against the interests of their own members. This morning there comes another example of labor-union perversity, this time crossing the line from stupidity to maliciousness. Per “Bookworm” at Pajamas Media, we learn that nurses in northern and central California are planning to walk out on the hospitals that employ them not because of unfair working conditions, but in sympathy with another union’s strike:

Thousands of registered nurses plan to walk off the job at 34 hospitals in northern and central California on Thursday in one of the largest such labor actions here in years.

Up to 23,000 nurses could be involved in strikes at Children’s Hospital Oakland and the large Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente systems, union leaders said.

The hospitals plan to bring in replacement workers and remain open, though many are postponing elective surgeries.

[…]

The walkout has been organized by California Nurses Association/ National Nurses United.

In addition to Children’s Hospital Oakland and Alta Bates Summit, affected institutions include Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, Mills-Peninsula hospitals in Burlingame and San Mateo, Sutter Delta in Antioch and Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo.

Kaiser nurses signed a contract earlier this year, but they plan a sympathy strike Thursday to support members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, who will walk off the job at Kaiser facilities in a separate contract dispute.

So, even though the Kaiser nurses have a signed agreement, they don’t feel bound to it. Nice to know just what their word is worth. I’ll point out that the CNA is known for being politically active and aggressive; they lean well to the Left, are closely tied to the Democratic Party, and are not above a bit of thuggery, including putting patients at risk. Bookworm explains:

Things are even more complicated than simply finding replacement nurses at incredible expense. Most of the hospitals involved now have very complicated computer systems that are custom designed for each hospital chain. These computer systems control everything: nurse’s notes, doctor’s notes, pharmacy, lab tests, treatments, billing — you name it, it’s all computerized. What these means is that hospitals are no longer fungible. In the old days, a chart was a chart, and that was true whether you were in a hospital in Schenectady or San Francisco. Nowadays, though, nurses have to understand computer systems that are unique to a given hospital. That nurse who’s been flown in from out-of-state doesn’t know Kaiser’s or Sutter’s computer system. For those nurses, it’s like having to fly a 747 when you’ve only flown a Piper before.

In other words, the chance for potentially harmful, even life-threatening error goes up measurably because nurses who already have a signed contract are going to strike anyway. And even if there are no computer-related snafus, many hospitals will be working at less than peak efficiency, being staffed with replacement workers, and patients may have to travel further to find the care they need. As the PJM post points out, this strike will leave Marin county with just one fully-functional hospital.

All because of a strike by nurses who have no grievance. This isn’t about wages or working conditions — this is a an act of intimidation, plain and simple.

“Angels of mercy,” indeed.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Next time someone tells you CO2 causes global warming…

September 18, 2011

Show them this chart:

(Click on the diagram to enlarge.)

The blue line represents estimates of average global temperature, while the black records the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If there’s a correlation (1) here between rising temperate and rising CO2, I sure don’t see it.

The authors at Geocraft point out that only twice in the Earth’s history have CO2 levels been as low as they are now. In fact, if it were to go much lower, photosynthesis would shut off and plant life would die. (2)

Talk about “unintended consequences” should the “Save Gaea” crowd succeed at geo-engineering!

via Power Line.

Footnotes:
(1) In fact, there’s some evidence that a rise in CO2 lags a temperature rise, not precedes it.
(2) Of course, light and heat play major roles, too, but the point is that we are much closer to the minimum than any dangerously high levels.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


You want to know how dumb unions can be?

September 18, 2011

This dumb. Southern California grocery workers are set to walk out as soon as tomorrow and shut down hundreds of stores over, at most, $23 a week:

Now, as in 2003, one key sticking point is healthcare. What’s at issue is a painfully common refrain in corporate America: medical costs are rising.

Under the latest offer from the employers, grocery workers would pay $9 a week for individual coverage and $23 a week for a family, company and union officials said.

The grocers say these premiums are necessary to help offset rising healthcare costs and augment the amount Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons are agreeing to pay into a trust fund that purchases healthcare for workers. But union officials say that what the employers have proposed to pay during negotiations on the complex deal is far short of what is necessary and would ultimately gut the trust fund. Instead, union officials say, the employers need to pay more in order for the fund to be viable long term.

Consider that California has unemployment of at least 12% and that many, many people are experiencing tight wallets these days. And the union bosses think it’s a good idea to put their own people out of work? Do the unions really expect sympathy from the public when all they’re being asked to pay for healthcare is $36 per month for a single person and $92 for a family? Do they really expect people facing far more onerous financial conditions to say “Oh yeah, man. You’ve got a real grievance here. I’m totally willing to drive 20 miles to find a non-union store while you fight to save 36 bucks a month!”

Really? I expect instead you’ll see a lot of people crossing the lines as the strike goes on, and plenty of “scab” workers — people who need jobs.

I supported the strikers back in 2003, because I felt they had a real grievance. Contrary to the article, the real issue then was management at Safeway trying to forcing workers to pay for management’s poor business decisions.

But this… this is dumb.

via Pirate’s Cove

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)