Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Texas US Senate Run-Off: UPDATE: Ted Cruz Wins!

The polls have closed in Texas but no one is reporting the results on tv. To view the Texas Secratary of State info about the results, click here. This page is updated every three minutes. - Reggie

Special thanks to Hot Air for the link!

UPDATE: AP has declared Ted Cruz the winner in the Republican run-off. To see the results, click here.

UPDATE 2: here are the final numbers:

Cruz, Ted. 631,114     57%
Dewhurst, David. 480,010      43%

Cruz's victory speech is below.

Book bombshell: Obama canceled Bin Laden ‘kill’ raid three times at Jarrett’s urging

At the urging of Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama canceled the operation to kill Osama bin Laden on three separate occasions before finally approving the May 2, 2011 Navy SEAL mission, according to an explosive new book scheduled for release August 21. The Daily Caller has seen a portion of the chapter in which the stunning revelation appears.

In ”Leading From Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him,“ Richard Miniter writes that Obama canceled the “kill” mission in January 2011, again in February, and a third time in March. Obama’s close adviser Valerie Jarrett persuaded him to hold off each time, according to the book.

Miniter, a two-time New York Times best-selling author, cites an unnamed source with Joint Special Operations Command who had direct knowledge of the operation and its planning.

Obama administration officials also said after the raid that the president had delayed giving the order to kill the arch-terrorist the day before the operation was carried out, in what turned out to be his fourth moment of indecision. At the time, the White House blamed the delay on unfavorable weather conditions near bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

But when Miniter obtained that day’s weather reports from the U.S. Air Force Combat Meteorological Center, he said, they showed ideal conditions for the SEALs to carry out their orders.

And there is this...

Can it be un-American to be a Christian?

Star Parker
The current hate campaign being waged by homosexual activists against fast food chain Chick-fil-A, because of the firm’s Christian values, may well turn out to be a bridge too far. The effort may prove to be a setback for homosexual activism.

The vile attacks on the firm and its owners, the Cathy family, should make clear, finally, that the “gay rights” movement is not about refining and advancing American freedom, but about rewriting American values and advancing, not freedom, but the homosexual political agenda.

Recently Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at a flag raising ceremony in Alexandria, Egypt, noting the re-opening of the American consulate there. Given the current political climate in Egypt, the Secretary of State felt behooved in her remarks to highlight principles of freedom as understood by Americans.

“….to us, real democracy means that every citizen has the right to live, work, and worship as they choose, whether they are man or woman, Muslim or Christian, or from any other background.”

Perhaps Secretary Clinton should be lecturing Americans instead of Egyptians.

Can it really be that in America today a businessman can be labeled a bigot, boycotted, and cut off by suppliers because of the crime of being a Christian?

When Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy made his now famous incendiary admission that “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit,” he was not pontificating. He was responding to a question in an interview done in a paper I expect not read by many homosexuals – the Baptist Press.

Never mind. It was sufficient provocation that Cathy publicly admitted that the Bible defines his understanding of marriage – the unique bond of man and woman – which also happens to be the standard definition in dictionaries on the shelves of every American home and library.

“Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago’s values,” said Chicago Mayor, and former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, Rahm Emmanuel. Emmanuel defended Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno’s threat to deny Chick-fil-A permitting in Chicago because its owner supports traditional marriage and family.

But UCLA law professor and constitutional scholar Eugene Volokh points out in his blog that “denying a private business permits because of such speech by its owner is a blatant First Amendment violation.”

The Constitution? The First Amendment? Religious liberty? Do these apply to Christians?

Read the rest of the column

Sarah & Todd Palin at Chick-fil-a

History of America

The video below is the opening video for Glenn Beck's Restoring Love event this past Saturday night. During the video, Beck talks about September 11, 2001 and how we all remember where we were when we first heard about the attacks.

At the time, I was working as a Network Administrator in the IT department of my church. I had just gotten to work when my roommate called to tell me the World Trade Center had been attacked. I unlocked the Assistant Pastor's office, turned on the television and as the staff arrived, we all watched the news until all of us were there and the Chief of Staff gathered us into our meeting room to pray for our nation. As we were praying, my cell phone vibrated so I left the room to take another call from my roommate who told me the Pentagon had been attacked.

As everyone knows, words can never describe the feelings I, and all Americans, experienced that day. In my lifetime, this was the first time we had ever been attacked on American soil and unfortunately, I do not believe it will be the last time. - Reggie

Lech Walesa all but endorses Mitt Romney during meeting in Poland

It is very telling that former Polish President, Lech Walesa, refused to meet with Obama in May 2011. Walesa has lived under communism and rejects it. He must view Obama as an oppressive tyrant as I do. There is very little room for any other explanation. - Reggie

Polish human rights icon and former President Lech Walesa all but endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday, urging him to “be successful.”

“I wish you to be successful because this success is needed to the United States, of course, but to Europe and the rest of the world, too,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate was heard telling Romney when the press was allowed in on the tail end of their meeting. “Gov. Romney, get your success – be successful!"

Walesa made the remarks at the start of Romney's two-day trip to Poland, where he is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Monday and visit memorials to the Poles who fought in World War II and the Solidarnosc — or Solidarity — anti-communist trade-union movement that Walesa led in the 1980s. Romney has sought to portray himself as a stronger ally than President Obama when it comes to defending central and eastern Europe against Russia.

Walesa's remarks follow a series of tiffs with Obama. Walesa skipped a meeting of national leaders with Obama organized by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski during the president's trip to Poland in May 2011.

“I won't meet him,” Walesa told reporters at the time. “It doesn't suit me.”

One year later, the White House refused to allow Walesa to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously honored to Jan Karski, a member of the Polish underground during World War II, deeming Walesa “too political.” While awarding the medal, Obama compounded Polish anger by referring to a “Polish death camp” instead of a Nazi death camp in Poland.

Doctor Shortage Likely to Worsen With Health Law

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — In the Inland Empire, an economically depressed region in Southern California, President Obama’s health care law is expected to extend insurance coverage to more than 300,000 people by 2014. But coverage will not necessarily translate into care: Local health experts doubt there will be enough doctors to meet the area’s needs. There are not enough now.

Other places around the country, including the Mississippi Delta, Detroit and suburban Phoenix, face similar problems. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed. And that number will more than double by 2025, as the expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of baby boomers drive up demand for care. Even without the health care law, the shortfall of doctors in 2025 would still exceed 100,000.

Health experts, including many who support the law, say there is little that the government or the medical profession will be able to do to close the gap by 2014, when the law begins extending coverage to about 30 million Americans. It typically takes a decade to train a doctor.

“We have a shortage of every kind of doctor, except for plastic surgeons and dermatologists,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, the dean of the new medical school at the University of California, Riverside, founded in part to address the region’s doctor shortage. “We’ll have a 5,000-physician shortage in 10 years, no matter what anybody does.”

Experts describe a doctor shortage as an “invisible problem.” Patients still get care, but the process is often slow and difficult. In Riverside, it has left residents driving long distances to doctors, languishing on waiting lists, overusing emergency rooms and even forgoing care.

Road to White House Will Decide Senate

Democrat control of the U.S. Senate is in serious jeopardy this November. Of the 33 seats up for election this Fall, Democrats are defending 22. The GOP needs a net-gain of 4 seats to take control of the chamber (3 if Romney is elected, as the GOP VP would provide a tie-breaking vote.) Of the 8 seats considered "toss up" by RealClearPolitics, Democrats are defending six. Moreover, though, Democrats are defending 8 seats in Presidential battleground states, linking their fates to the Obama/Romney contest.

In recent years, contested Senate races have tended to "break" in favor of one party. In 2006, Democrats picked up 6 seats and didn't lose any. In 2008, Dems picked up 8 and again successfully defended every seat. Same too for the GOP in 2010, who picked up 6 seats without losing any they had held. If the election contest breaks discernibly for either Obama or Romney, the Senate races in the 8 battleground states will likely break towards the candidate's party, delivering the Senate to the party of the Presidential victor.

Battleground states

Senate races will be hotly contested in the following battleground states: Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, Virginia, Michigan, Nevada and Florida. The GOP hasn't settled on a candidate yet in 4 of these states: WI, MO, MI and FL. Recent polling has shown MO incumbent Senate Claire McCaskill trailing all of her main rivals, but the outcome of primaries there and in the other states will determine how credible the GOP challenge will be for those seats. In 2010, Senate GOP primary winners who ran flawed general election campaigns prevented the GOP from further gains in the chamber.

Nevada is the only battleground state the GOP is defending in the Senate. That match-up pits appointed Sen. Dean Heller against Dem Rep. Shelley Berkley. That race, however, has moved recently in favor of the GOP amidst questions surrounding Rep. Berkley's ethics. Because of the serious allegations against Berkley, this race will provide move independently of the Presidential contest.

Current polling gives the edge to Democrats in PA, NM, OH and MI, but I expect this will narrow considerably as the campaign heats up. The GOP has very compelling candidates in PA, NM and OH and Dem incumbents or candidates whose views may be out-of-step with the electorate this November. If PA and NM are competitive in the Fall, as certainly seems possible now, it will signal that Romney is running a strong general campaign and boost the GOP's chances there.

There will probably be some talk about voters "splitting their ticket" in an exercise in "strategic voting". In other words, they'll vote for one party for President and another for Senate or House to act as a "check" on the Presidential victor. Its a compelling theory and may be true for a small number of voters, but evidence of it actually happening is scarce. In 2004, when then-President Bush won a very close reelection, the GOP picked up an additional four seats in the Senate. It is possible that if Obama looks likely to win reelection, voters would lean towards the GOP candidates, as voters two years ago loudly delivered a legislative "check" on him. Still, I think past elections suggest a "wave" breaking for the party of the victorious Presidential candidate the most likely outcome. If Romney wins the election, I expect the GOP will reclaim control of the Senate by a comfortable margin.

Non-Battleground States

FBI Informants Speak Out: Eric Holder's DOJ Is Ignoring Child Sex-Trafficking Victims

Brandon Darby, previously an FBI informant, is speaking out on the DOJ's hesitancy to help human trafficking victims, particularly minors. Read more of his shocking account.

From Townhall Magazine's August report, "FBI Informants Speak Out: Eric Holder's DOJ Is Ignoring Child Sex-Trafficking Victims," by Brandon Darby:

Why Speaking Out Is Necessary

My experiences of working undercover with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force have been well-documented by the media, as has my conversion from a prominent left-of-center activist to a tea party activist who advocates for law enforcement and for our nation.

I was an operational human source, commonly referred to by the public as a type of informant, for the FBI. The FBI has had special agents testify under oath that I was trustworthy and reliable and that my information was always accurate and never deceptive. They also testified under oath that my motivations were deemed to be moral and ideological, not financial. These factors categorized me as a “trusted source,” meaning my words were capable of initiating the FBI to assign resources to request warrants be issued. I have refrained from speaking on issues surrounding my experiences with the FBI, except in matters they have chosen to make public or otherwise ensured me would not have an effect on an ongoing investigation. I have also refrained from discussing any involvement with the FBI since the much-publicized 2009 trial of far Left would-be bombers in which I was the star witness for the FBI and the United States Attorneys’ Office.

It’s no secret that I have retained relationships within the FBI and that I have utilized these relationships for the purposes of helping citizens report crimes or terroristic activity. I have not discussed the fact that I was reactivated as an operational human source for the purpose of aiding the FBI’s efforts to stop human trafficking. In other words, I went back undercover. I am now speaking out without the approval or consent of the FBI due to the gross lack of concern or action from the Justice Department overall to stop known cases of children being trafficked by criminals for the purposes of sex and profits. Another former FBI human source, Dottie Laster, joins me in an effort to hold the DOJ accountable for neglecting the children we know to be sex slaves. Defending the men and women who serve in the FBI and other agencies under the United States Department of Justice has been a central effort in my life since my identity was revealed in connection with the aforementioned trial. I have, however, refrained from defending the politically appointed leadership and their executive managers within the organizations. It is unfortunate that my conscience now mandates I speak out about the leadership’s decisions and priorities. It is unfortunate that I must break from keeping with the culture of silence so prevalent in federal law enforcement agencies under the DOJ.

Untangling the Knots

The East Asia Pivot

Pentagon-sponsored report to Congress calls for buildup of forces in Asia

A Pentagon-sponsored report to Congress outlines the U.S. military’s new pivot to Asia and calls for adding attack submarines and Marines based throughout the Pacific to head off a future war with China.

The report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies presents three options based on impending cuts in defense spending. They include keeping the current status quo forces, mainly in Japan and South Korea, or modestly increasing military forces by adding attack submarines, Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, more warships and bombers, another aircraft carrier strike group, and more intelligence aircraft. A third option looks at sharply cutting forces throughout Asia, which the report said risks undermining stability.

The report is “consistent with the major elements of the [Defense] Department’s strategy for the region,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a cover letter accompanying the report.

Panetta said in comments on the assessment that it supports the Pentagon’s efforts to “enhance [the] U.S. defense posture” and strengthen alliances and partnerships in the region. He also noted that the report is the independent assessment required by Congress last year and does not outline the official position of the Pentagon.

“The department is investing in the defense activities, presence and posture necessary to reassure allies and partners in the region, and shape the security environment, while also providing forward capabilities appropriate to deter and defeat aggression,” Panetta stated in summing up defense policy under the new pivot to Asia.

Panetta announced earlier this year that the balance of forces between the Atlantic and Pacific theaters would shift from 50-50 to 60-40, with the majority forces in Asia. He also announced that a small Marine Corps contingent would be based in northern Australia, near the contentious South China Sea where China is increasingly asserting maritime rights over the resource-rich waters in disputes with Vietnam and Philippines.

Panetta also said recently that four new Littoral Combat Ships would be deployed to Singapore as part of the Asia shift.

China’s large-scale military buildup and aggressive activities throughout the region have alarmed most states in Asia and are an understated reason behind U.S. plans to shift forces.

The 114-page report was required under the fiscal 2012 defense authorization act.

Congressional hearings on the report are scheduled for this week.

Monday, July 30, 2012

FreePAC Speeches

As part of the Restoring Love event, FreedomWorks held FreePAC on Thursday, July 26th at American Airlines Center in Dallas. Not only were Americans in attendance but there were people from twenty different countries there to learn about starting a Tea Party in their land so they can live free. Yes, America is in real trouble but we have never faced the depth of oppression and tyranny some of these people face daily. A few of the FreePAC speeches are below.

Special thanks to The Daily Beck for getting these individual speeches online. To see Dana Loesch, click here and to see Richard Mourdock, click here. In my opinion, Deneen Borelli & C.L. Bryant are the best but I haven't watched them all, yet. - Reggie

Baptist church in Mississippi refuses to marry black couple

To say I am stunned about this is an understatement. I am astonished! I am also ashamed that a church filled with people claiming to be Christians (Christ-like!) would do this! - Reggie

A predominantly white church in Mississippi has refused to marry a couple because they are black.

Update at 9:50 a.m. ET: The Rev. Stan Weatherford was asked why he gave into the wishes of the members who didn't want the wedding held at the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs.

"I was just trying to think about a win-win," he said Sunday to the Clarion-Ledger. "The thing is, I'm a peacemaker, and sometimes because I'm a peacemaker it gets me in trouble. The thing about it is this: I love the people of our church and that's the bottom line."

Original post: Just two days before their scheduled wedding, Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson were forced to change venues after the Rev. Stan Weatherford told them that some church members were uncomfortable with the black couple getting married in the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs.

"The church congregation had decided no black could be married at that church, and that if he went on to marry her, then they would vote him out the church," said Charles Wilson, WLBT-TV in Jackson reports.

Insiders say five or six members went to Weatherford after seeing the couple's wedding rehearsal the Thursday night before their Saturday wedding, the Clarion-Ledger reports.

Read the full story

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Fox News Sunday

In my opinion, Justice Scalia is among the two best Justices on the Supreme Court today. The interview, below, was conducted last Friday and broadcast yesterday. Scalia was fascinating, as always, but it's obvious Chris Wallace no longer wants Scalia on the court as you watch him harass the Justice to retire. - Reggie

Busted: Mr. Pfeiffer and the White House blog

Charles Krauthammer
Yes, Obama returned the Churchill bust—it’s now in the British ambassador’s residence.

Shortly after 9/11, President George W. Bush received from Prime Minister Tony Blair a bust of Winston Churchill as an expression of British-American solidarity. Bush gave it pride of place in the Oval Office.

In my Friday column about Mitt Romney’s trip abroad and U.S. foreign policy [“Why he’s going where he’s going,” op-ed], I wrote that Barack Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.”

Within hours, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer had created something of a bonfire. Citing my statement, he posted a furious blog on the White House Web site, saying, “normally, we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column . . . This is 100% false. The bust [is] still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.”

Except that it isn’t. As the British Embassy said in a statement issued just a few hours later, “the bust now resides in the British ambassador’s residence in Washington D.C.”

As the British Embassy explained in 2009, the bust “was lent for the first term of office of President Bush. When the President was elected for his second and final term, the loan was extended until January 2009. The new President has decided not to continue this loan and the bust has now been returned.”

QED. At which point, one would expect Pfeiffer to say: Sorry, I made a mistake. End of story.

But Pfeiffer had an additional problem. In his original post, he had provided photographic proof of his claim that the Oval Office Churchill had never been returned, indeed had never left the White House at all, but had simply been moved from the Oval Office to the residence.

It's About Control, Not Guns

This article is so true! The Progressives (left and right) have two objectives: power over and control of "the masses." Power and Control. This is where each and every one of their policies lead. We must break free from their tyranny. - Reggie

American Thinker
Don't for one minute think that the Left's core motive for demanding ever increasing amounts of gun control is the reduction of crime rates in any meaningful fashion. When the Left exploits a tragedy such as the one in Aurora Colorado and then calls for even stricter gun control, it has little to do with removing guns from criminals' hands or saving lives, and everything to do with the control of law abiding citizens. The Constitution, especially the Second Amendment, is nothing but an obstacle to the Left's desire for such control. This is why you rarely hear about the countless incidents in which guns are used to prevent crimes or save lives. It simply doesn't further the Left's agenda and is therefore ignored.

There is plenty of evidence showing that increased gun control does nothing to lower crime rates.  John Lott's book More Guns Less Crime is one of the best books out there on the subject and provides solid statistics to back up what many consider to be nothing more than common sense. And that's without even delving into our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. For more on that I recommend The Second Amendment primer.

The truth is that Gun control "works" to reduce crime just like Obama's economic policies have "worked" (and not in the way Obama claims) to fix the nation's economy. In the case of Aurora, law abiding citizens appear to have followed the theater's strict "gun-free" zone rule but predictably, the criminal just ignored the rule (as if those willing to commit mass-murder worry about violating any gun laws). So with the help of gun control, the shooter was given a theater full of easy targets to pick-off at will.

Imagine what one citizen with a concealed carry permit could have done to possibly save lives if allowed to carry a gun inside the theater. Those who blame guns over the individual never stop to think about what a determined insane person would be able to do to a large group of people with a car, can of gasoline or any number of other readily available potentially destructive items. The fact is that crazy will always find a way, so it's best to be prepared.

The Sad Truth About Bad Bulbs

STUDY: CFLs are bad for you. Daily Caller reports:

Scientists concluded that CFL light bulbs can be harmful to healthy skin cells.

“Our study revealed that the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFL bulbs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation,” said lead researcher Miriam Rafailovich, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Stony Brook University, in New York, in a statement. “Skin cell damage was further enhanced when low dosages of TiO2 nanoparticles were introduced to the skin cells prior to exposure.”

According to Rafailovich, with or without TiO2 (a chemical found in sunblock), incandescent bulbs of the same light intensity had zero effects on healthy skin.

The scientists found that cracks in the CFL bulbs phosphor coatings yielded significant levels of UVC and UVA in all of the bulbs — purchased in different locations across two counties — they examined.

I was an early adopter of CFLs, but have since removed almost all of them from our house. Not because of reports like this one, or because of the potential for expensive cleanups after a broken one, or any of the other many problems the screwy little bulbs create.

No, I took them out because the light sucks. And also because they’re too expensive, don’t last as long as advertised, and therefore aren’t any cheaper to run.

I still keep a few installed, mostly outside. The sconces around our house have frosted covers, which masks just how damn ugly the light is. Besides, we’re trying to make it possible to see the sidewalk at night — not to put on makeup in the bathroom mirror or prepare tasty-looking food in the kitchen. It’s also nice to run the equivalent of ten 100-watt fixtures on just a fraction of the apparent wattage.

We keep two in the garage, also — but that’s out of three ceiling fixtures. I’ll explain in a moment.

CFLs broke a lot of promises.

GM Ramps Up Risky Subprime Auto Loans To Drive Sales

President Obama has touted General Motors (GM) as a successful example of his administration's policies. Yet GM's recovery is built, at least in part, on the increasing use of subprime loans.

The Obama administration in 2009 bailed out GM to the tune of $50 billion as it went into a managed bankruptcy.

Near the end of 2010, GM acquired a new captive lending arm, subprime specialist AmeriCredit. Renamed GM Financial, it has played a significant role in GM's growth.

The automaker is relying increasingly on subprime loans, 10-Q financial reports shows.

Potential borrowers of car loans are rated on FICO scores that range from 300 to 850. Anything under 660 is generally deemed subprime.

Subprime Key Driver

GM Financial auto loans to customers with FICO scores below 660 rose from 87% of total loans in Q4 2010 to 93% in Q1 2012.

The worse the FICO score, the bigger the increase. From Q4 2010 to Q1 2012, GM Financial loans to customers with the worst FICO scores — below 540 — shot up 79% to more than $2.3 billion. The second worst category, 540-599, rose 28% from about $3.4 billion to $4.3 billion.

Prime loans, those above 660, dropped 42% to $676 million.

GM Financial provides just over 8% of GM's financing. Prior to 2006, GM's captive lending arm was GMAC, but GM sold a controlling stake in 2006. GMAC later renamed itself Ally Financial and continues to provide the bulk of GM's financing.

At the peak of the credit crisis and recession in late 2008, Ally announced that it would move away from subprime lending.

By spring 2010 GM's new management, led by North American executive Mark Reuss, wanted to move back into subprime, fearing that GM couldn't compete.

Subprime lending in cars is not as risky as in housing. Car loans are cheaper, so customers have an easier time making payments. When they do go into default, the cars can be repossessed and sold to recover some of the loss.

"The subprime market grew as a result of the recession," said GM spokesman Jim Cain. "Our experience, however, is that with proper management they are very good risks."

He points to GM's credit losses which have not risen above 5.5% since late 2010.

Nevertheless, since it acquired GM Financial, GM has seen its subprime loans grow from about 4.8% of sales in Q4 2010 to 8.2% in Q1 2012. The industry average is about 6%.

The Obamacare Decision and Its Electoral Consequences

How Congress will put its new taxing powers to good Democratic use.

How would you like our federal government to tell you to install new energy-efficient windows or make your next new car a Volt?

The Obamacare opinion gives Congress a roadmap to do precisely that. As most of us know, Chief Justice Roberts wrote an opinion that the four liberal Justices joined in which he held that the Obamacare mandate was a constitutional exercise of Congress's tax powers. Not that the mandate, and its penalty for non-compliance, are taxes like other taxes within the meaning of the Anti-Injunction Act, which we would have to pay then sue to recover, mind you, but "taxes" of some other kind.

Chief Justice Roberts said that the penalty was a tax because it (1) wasn't more than the cost of insurance, and, in many cases, would be less; (2) didn't require an intent or state of mind; and (3) even though collected by the IRS, couldn't be enforced by criminal prosecution or other means "suggestive of a punitive sanction." This suggests that a $50 penalty, collectible by the IRS, for failing to install energy-efficient windows would find 5 votes for its constitutionality in the Supreme Court.

Significantly, it was Chief Justice Roberts who tossed that $50 figure out. What if the penalty were greater, say the cost of installing an energy-efficient window on each window in your house or structure? What about a penalty of the difference between the price of the electric car you didn't buy and the price of the car you did? We don't know.

Chief Justice Roberts tells us not to get too excited. The new power has limits, even though the Court hasn't looked closely at "the regulatory motive or effect of revenue-raising measures" lately. Nonetheless, as he says, "We do not suggest that any exaction lacking a scienter requirement and enforced by the IRS is within the taxing power." Whew! That's sure a bullet dodged!

We'll just have to wait for the next time Congress uses this power and a challenge winds its way to the Supreme Court to see how far Congress can go. All we know is that some "exaction[s] lacking a scienter requirement and enforced by the IRS" will be OK, and others won't.

White House Leaks: What Does Axelrod Know, and How Does He Know It?

So is David Axelrod now in charge of the investigation into the May-June leaks that have jeopardized our troops and undermined our national security in what is arguably the single greatest breach of sensitive national security information in the modern era? Or has Axelrod, the top adviser at Obama’s re-election campaign, merely been briefed on the status of that investigation--ahead of the proper authorities, and ahead of the general public?

In any case, how could it be that a political operative is now speaking out on perhaps the most sensitive national security matters that the nation confronts? These questions come to mind in the wake of Axelrod’s Wednesday appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Host Joe Scarborough said to Axelrod--in a statement, not a question--“It is very obvious that the White House is leaking classified information.” And how, exactly, did Axelrod respond?

Axelrod answered, “I can tell you that the president of the United States did not leak classified information, as Mitt Romney suggested yesterday, and he didn’t authorize the leak of information, as Mitt Romney suggested yesterday.”

Romney had, indeed, delivered a stinging attack on the leaks, declaring in a speech to the VFW on Tuesday, “This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest.” Clearly, those words from the Republican challenger had rattled both the White House and the Obama re-election campaign. Thus, Axelrod was on TV the very next day, battling back. Axelrod’s message was intended to be political pacification: in effect, he was saying, Hey, folks, don’t worry about the leak issue; these are just partisan attacks from Barack Obama’s Republican opponent. So there’s nothing to see here, other than the usual political bickering.

But in fact, Axelrod’s words on “Morning Joe” represented a significant backpedaling for Axelrod, who on June 10 had told ABC News that the White House, as a whole--beyond just the President specifically--was not involved in the leaks. Interestingly, in that appearance, we can see that Axelrod continuously used the word “we” in referring to the White House. For a man who left the White House staff in February 2011--giving up his security clearance and thus all access to classified materials--Axelrod certainly sounded as if he were still working in the building. Let’s pause here. Eighteen months after leaving the White House, Axelrod is still able to give precise and informed commentary on a serious legal investigation. The new position, of as July 25, is that Axelrod can attest only to the President’s personal non-involvement in the leaks, as distinct from the rest of the White House.

Amazingly, the next day, Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney echoed Axelrod’s new line, assuring reporters that the President himself was not involved, while not offering the same assurance about the rest of the White House. So there we have it. Axelrod, from his Chicago political cockpit, calls the tune, and the White House press secretary, a federal employee, get up and dances to it.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on C-SPAN's Q & A

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia appeared on C-SPAN's Q & A with Brian Lamb last night to discuss his newest book, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts co-authored with Bryan Garner.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mitt Romney Policy Speech in Jerusalem

Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, gave a policy speech in Jerusalem, Israel earlier today.

Sarah Palin Speaks at Ted Cruz Campaign Event

Ted Cruz is a conservative Republican running for the US Senate in Texas. There is a run-off election this Tuesday between Cruz and progressive Republican, David Dewhurst. Texas Governor, Rick Perry has thrown his support behind Dewhurst and Palin supports Cruz. We'll see the results Tuesday night. Go Cruz!! - Reggie

Thanks to The Right Scoop for the video.

Restoring Love: Glenn Beck's Keynote Speech

Once again, Glenn Beck gathered thousands of people to a "restoring" event. First, it was Restoring Honor on the Mall in Washington, D.C. where hundreds of thousands gathered on August 28, 2010. Next, was Restoring Courage on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel on August 24, 2011. Last night was the final in this series of events called Restoring Love held in Arlington, Texas at Cowboys Stadium. Beck's keynote speech is below. - Reggie

The Mask Falls on Obama’s Disdain for Work

Newt Gingrich
When I visited Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government last winter as a presidential candidate, I mentioned how the Left — big bureaucracy and big unions — helps entrap the poorest Americans in permanent poverty.

I suggested that poor teenagers could be employed part-time in the safety of their schools to do light janitorial work or assist in the cafeteria or offices.

My belief was and still is that work would benefit young people — especially poor young people — by helping them earn money and develop a strong work ethic at an early age. In the following weeks, hundreds of people approached me to tell me the stories of their first jobs and how they personally had learned the value of hard work.

For the media elites, however, my suggestion was too much to handle. Liberal commentators mocked the idea, infused it with a racial subtext, and posited in the middle of a presidential debate that I was “seeking to belittle people.”

After all the media-generated uproar that followed my discussion of work as a core American value, I was fascinated in June to see on CNN the story of a high school senior named Dawn Loggins. Dawn was a straight A student in Lawndale, North Carolina. She was also poor and homeless — having been abandoned by her parents earlier in the year. Every morning, Dawn arrived at school hours before her classmates for her paid job as a janitor. Through her work, Dawn earned a modest amount of money and managed to finish high school. In fact, she even earned a full scholarship and will be going to college this fall. At Harvard.

Dawn is a living tribute to one of the highest American virtues: hard work. Our heroes here are hard workers. We think of the early colonists, who toiled through long winters merely to survive. Of Abraham Lincoln, who was so poor he taught himself to read and write with the aid of just a few borrowed books. Of Andrew Carnegie, who like millions of other immigrants arrived in America with nothing and became one of the most successful businessmen in history. Of Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers, whose designs failed hundreds of times before finally succeeding, and of Henry Ford, who rose from humble beginnings to manufacture mass produced, affordable automobiles.

We’re inspired by stories like Dawn’s or like Henry Ford’s not merely because they achieved great things, but because they achieved these things through hard work.

In America, we believe that work is an indispensable good, that it is crucial to independence and self-reliance, that even menial work offers its own dignity. After all, for many of us, to support ourselves and our families, to better the lives of our children, is an achievement equal to those of Edison or Carnegie. Without work, our lives are incomplete.

When Barack Obama was a candidate for president in 2008, he seemed to indicate support for this belief. He told Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church that he had misjudged the welfare reform we passed in the 1990s, and that he now realized, “We have to have work as a centerpiece of any social policy, not only because ultimately people who work are going to get more income, but because [of] the intrinsic dignity of work, the sense of purpose … .”

But in a recent one week period and two revealing statements, President Obama shredded any last hope we may have had that he truly believes in this quintessential American value.

‘Military-Style Weapons’

Function, not cosmetics, should govern gun policy.

‘AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not on the streets of our cities,” President Obama told the National Urban League on Wednesday. After the deadly attack in Colorado last Friday, the president’s concern is understandable. However, even — or perhaps especially — at such a time, distinctions need to be made.

The police in Aurora, Colo., reported that the killer used a Smith & Wesson M&P 15. This weapon bears a cosmetic resemblance to the M-16, which has been used by the U.S. military since the Vietnam War. The call has frequently been made that there is “no reason” for such “military-style weapons” to be available to civilians.

Yes, the M&P 15 and the AK-47 are “military-style weapons.” But the key word is “style” — they are similar to military guns in their aesthetics, not in the way they actually operate. The guns covered by the federal assault-weapons ban (which was enacted in 1994 and expired ten year later) were not the fully automatic machine guns used by the military but semi-automatic versions of those guns.

The civilian version of the AK-47 uses essentially the same sorts of bullets as deer-hunting rifles, fires at the same rapidity (one bullet per pull of the trigger), and does the same damage. The M&P 15 is similar, though it fires a much smaller bullet — .223 inches in diameter, as opposed to the .30-inch rounds used by the AK-47.

The Aurora killer’s large-capacity ammunition magazines are also misunderstood. The common perception that so-called “assault weapons” can hold larger magazines than hunting rifles is simply wrong. Any gun that can hold a magazine can hold one of any size. That is true for handguns as well as rifles. A magazine, which is basically a metal box with a spring, is also trivially easy to make and virtually impossible to stop criminals from obtaining.

Further, the guns in a couple of recent mass shootings (including the one in Aurora) have jammed because of the large magazines that were used. The reason is simple physics. Large magazines require very strong springs, but the springs cannot be too strong, or it becomes impossible to load the magazines. Over time, the springs wear out, and when a spring loses its ability to push bullets into the chamber properly, the gun jams. With large springs, even a small amount of fatigue can cause jams.

If Obama wants to campaign against semi-automatic guns based on their function, he should go after all semi-automatic guns. After all, in 1998, as an Illinois state senator, he supported just such a ban – a ban that would eliminate most of the guns in the United States.

The Empire Strikes Back

One of American's foremost strategists says the era of liberal democracy is in jeopardy, and the historical norm of dominance by great powers will return if the U.S. fails to lead.

Yale Prof. Charles Hill is often called a "conservative." But he is one of the foremost students and advocates of what he calls the "liberal" ("in the finest sense of the word") world order. And he is worried that Americans increasingly don't understand how special the modern era has been or their own crucial role in developing and securing it.

To some, the Obama's administration's desire to "lead from behind" and seek United Nations approval for actions abroad represents an appropriate retreat to a more humble American posture. Mr. Hill, by contrast, sees the possible end of a great era of human rights and democracy promotion the likes of which the planet has never seen.

Our world has "been increasingly tolerant and increasingly trying to eradicate racism and increasingly trying to expand freedom. And it can come to an end," he says.

What might replace it? "Spheres of influence." Or to use a more archaic term, "empire."

Mr. Hill is the all-too-rare professor with an extensive background outside of academia. He made his career in the U.S. foreign service working on China and the Middle East, among other issues. He has advised secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz and served as a policy consultant to U.N. Secretary-General Boutros-Boutros Ghali. His ability to combine real-world experience with appreciation of the intellectual currents animating history—Dickens comes up during our discussion of the anti-slavery movement in 19th-century Britain—has made his courses some of the most popular at Yale.

So what makes our era unique and valuable? And how did we get here? To understand the road we've travelled, we have to go back—a long way.

"The way the world through almost all of history has been ordered is through empires. The empire was the normal unit of rule. So it was the Chinese empire, the Mughal empire, the Persian empire, and the Roman empire, the Mayan empire."

What changed this was the Thirty Years War in Europe in the 17th century. "That was a war between the Holy Roman Empire and states, and states were new. They had come forward in northern Italy in the Renaissance and now they were taking hold in what we think of as a state-sized entity. The Netherlands and Sweden and France were among these. . . . France was both an empire and a state—and the key was when [Cardinal] Richelieu took France to the side of the states, which was shocking because France was Catholic and the empire was Catholic and the states were Protestant."

Our modern concept that war should be governed by law dates from the era. "It was so awful that it produced Grotius," the Dutch philosopher of international law.

It also produced the Treaty of Westphalia. "What they did in creating something to prevent another Thirty Years War, they put in place what would develop into the international state system. . . . This is a work of genius, probably inadvertent in some sense," Mr. Hill says. "To be a good member of the international club you had to follow minimal procedures. . . . You could be Catholic or Protestant, but you had to be a state. So the state then replaces the empire as the fundamental unit of world affairs."

The next major event is the Congress of Vienna in 1814, when the powers that defeated Napoleon Bonaparte put their own stamp on the system. Meanwhile, the procedural norms for membership in the international club—such as hosting and protecting ambassadors—are being supplemented by more substantive and moral-sounding requirements.

"The Ottomans are an empire and there's kind of a back and forth across the 19th century—it's kind of a precursor to the Turkish thing of the 20th century—of European statesmen saying, well, yeah, you can come in to it but you have polygamy, you have slavery, so you can't be all the way in," the 76-year-old Mr. Hill says.

"My view is that every major modern war has been waged against this international system. That is, the empire strikes back. World War I is a war of empires which comes to its culmination point when a state gets into it. That's the United States." And then we get something very interesting added: "That's Woodrow Wilson and [the promotion of] democracy."

"World War II, and I think this is uncomprehended although it's perfectly clear, . . . World War II is a war of empires against the state system. It's Hitler's Third Reich. It's Imperial Japan." The Axis goal "is to establish an empire. The Nazi empire would be Europe going eastward into the Slavic lands. The Japanese empire in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, as they called it."

Is the story uncomplicated? Of course not. One of the most important developments was the rise of the British navy—the "empire" on which "the sun never set"—in the mid-19th century. But that so-called empire arguably was the global rules-based system, committed to abolishing slavery and to free trade and free movement on the seas.

So too for the United States, as it assumed responsibility for protecting the air and sea lanes while the British pulled back after World War II. "The grand strategy of the U.S. since Harry Truman," says Mr. Hill, has been the establishment of a rules-based system built on institutions like the U.N. and NATO. It's a system designed to protect the rights of states to Wilsonian "self determination," not to subject them to the will of the strongest.

The Tolerance Enforcers

Mark Steyn
They’re ever more intolerant of anything less than total ideological homogeneity.

To modify Lord Acton, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, but aldermanic power corrupts all der more manically. Proco “Joe” Moreno is alderman of the First Ward of Chicago, and last week, in a city with an Aurora-sized body count every weekend, his priority was to take the municipal tire-iron to the owners of a chain of fast-food restaurants. “Because of this man’s ignorance,” said Alderman Moreno, “I will now be denying Chick-fil-A’s permit to open a restaurant in the First Ward.”

“This man’s ignorance”? You mean, of the City of Chicago permit process? Zoning regulations? Health and safety ordinances? No, Alderman Moreno means “this man’s ignorance” of the approved position on same-sex marriage. “This man” is Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, and a few days earlier he had remarked that “we are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives” — which last part suggests he is as antipathetic to no-fault divorce and other heterosexual assaults on matrimony as he is to more recent novelties such as gay marriage. But no matter. Alderman Moreno does not allege that Chick-fil-A discriminates in its hiring practices or in its customer service. Nor does he argue that business owners should not be entitled to hold opinions: The Muppets, for example, have reacted to Mr. Cathy’s observations by announcing that they’re severing all ties with Chick-fil-A. Did you know that the Muppet Corporation has a position on gay marriage? Well, they do. But Miss Piggy and the Swedish Chef would be permitted to open a business in the First Ward of Chicago because their opinion on gay marriage happens to coincide with Alderman Moreno’s. It’s his ward, you just live in it. When it comes to lunch options, he’s the chicken supremo and don’t you forget it.

The city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, agrees with the alderman: Chick-fil-A does not represent “Chicago values” — which is true if by “Chicago values” you mean machine politics, AIDS-conspiracy-peddling pastors, and industrial-scale black youth homicide rates. But, before he was mayor, Rahm Emanuel was President Obama’s chief of staff. Until the president’s recent “evolution,” the Obama administration held the same position on gay marriage as Chick-fil-A. Would Alderman Moreno have denied Barack Obama the right to open a chicken restaurant in the First Ward? Did Rahm Emanuel quit the Obama administration on principle? Don’t be ridiculous. Mayor Emanuel is a former ballet dancer, and when it’s politically necessary he can twirl on a dime.

Meanwhile, fellow mayor Tom Menino announced that Chick-fil-A would not be opening in his burg anytime soon. “If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult,” said His Honor. If you’ve just wandered in in the middle of the column, this guy Menino isn’t the mayor of Soviet Novosibirsk or Kampong Cham under the Khmer Rouge, but of Boston, Massachusetts. Nevertheless, he shares the commissars’ view that in order to operate even a modest and politically inconsequential business it is necessary to demonstrate that one is in full ideological compliance with party orthodoxy. “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail,” Mayor Menino thundered in his letter to Mr. Cathy, “and no place for your company alongside it.” No, sir. On Boston’s Freedom Trail, you’re free to march in ideological lockstep with the city authorities — or else. Hard as it is to believe, there was a time when Massachusetts was a beacon of liberty: the shot heard round the world, and all that. Now it fires Bureau of Compliance permit-rejection letters round the world.

Mayor Menino subsequently backed down and claimed the severed rooster’s head left in Mr. Cathy’s bed was all just a misunderstanding. Yet, when it comes to fighting homophobia on Boston’s Freedom Trail, His Honor is highly selective. As the Boston Herald’s Michael Graham pointed out, Menino is happy to hand out municipal licenses to groups whose most prominent figures call for gays to be put to death. The mayor couldn’t have been more accommodating (including giving them $1.8 million of municipal land) of the new mosque of the Islamic Society of Boston, whose IRS returns listed as one of their seven trustees Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Like President Obama, Imam Qaradawi’s position on gays is in a state of “evolution”: He can’t decide whether to burn them or toss ’em off a cliff. “Some say we should throw them from a high place,” he told Al Jazeera. “Some say we should burn them, and so on. There is disagreement. . . . The important thing is to treat this act as a crime.” Unlike the deplorable Mr. Cathy, Imam Qaradawi is admirably open-minded: There are so many ways to kill homosexuals, why restrict yourself to just one? In Mayor Menino’s Boston, if you take the same view of marriage as President Obama did from 2009 to 2012, he’ll run your homophobic ass out of town. But, if you want to toss those godless sodomites off the John Hancock Tower, he’ll officiate at your ribbon-cutting ceremony.