Friday, December 11, 2009

Obama does not even have good manners

Barack Obama's trip to Oslo to pick up his Nobel peace award is in danger of being overshadowed by a row over the cancellation of a series of events normally attended by the prizewinner. Norwegians are incensed over what they view as his shabby response to the prize by cutting short his visit.

The White House has cancelled many of the events peace prize laureates traditionally submit to, including a dinner with the Norwegian Nobel committee, a press conference, a television interview, appearances at a children's event promoting peace and a music concert, as well as a visit to an exhibition in his honour at the Nobel peace centre. He has also turned down a lunch invitation from the King of Norway.

According to a poll published by the daily tabloid VG, 44% of Norwegians believe it was rude of Obama to cancel his scheduled lunch with King Harald, with only 34% saying they believe it was acceptable. "Of all the things he is cancelling, I think the worst is cancelling the lunch with the king," said Siv Jensen, the leader of the largest party in opposition, the populist Progress party. "This is a central part of our government system. He should respect the monarchy," she told VG.



Clarity Over Compromise

Whenever liberals start declaring that ideological sides don’t matter, that the best leaders govern from the center, it probably means their side is losing. The president’s approval numbers continue to plummet, support for health-care reform is tepid at best, the opposition is energized, and the 2009 elections don’t bode well for 2010.

In an effort to buy time and regroup (and marginalize such conservatives as Sarah Palin), talking heads have decided that the GOP’s attempts at ideological purity are poisonous to the political process and that one of our most successful presidents was really a centrist.

In Newsweek’s Palin-bashing extravaganza, Evan Thomas writes (and editor Jon Meacham concurs) that Ronald Reagan, like Eisenhower, governed by “deftly uniting center and right.” He continues that Reagan “piously gave lip service to the right-wing social agenda while doing nothing to further it.” Meacham writes that Reagan picked centrist George H.W. Bush for vice-president in 1980 because he realized the conservative movement needed moderates to win and ultimately govern — a move unlikely today because there are “so few moderates left in the GOP.”

Even conceding that all great leaders must occasionally reach across the aisle, Ronald Reagan did not yield to the center, the center bowed to him. Through congeniality and appeals to common sense and goodwill, he forged a coalition, known as Reagan Democrats, that kept the presidency in Republican hands for twelve years.

In 1981, sixty-three Democrats defied pressure from House Speaker Tip O’Neill and passed Reagan’s budget. Despite all the caterwauling in the 80s about rampant homelessness, and a shaky economy early in his term, Reagan stood his ground. Geniality with toughness ruled foreign policy, as well, though Thomas writes that while Reagan “talked tough about the Russians, he did more than any president to foster detente.”

Back on Planet Earth, it was because Reagan talked not about peaceful co-existence but about actually defeating the Soviet Union that nuclear annihilation was liberals’ other cause celebre of the 80s. By the time he made minor concessions to Gorbachev late in his presidency, he had already walked away from the table at Reykjavik (in lieu of abandoning the Strategic Defense Initiative) and the Communist Empire was crumbling. Much to the dismay of liberals who were seeking a negotiated peace, Reagan’s was one of the few voices making the moral case for freedom over containment.

Ultimately, his moral certainty that freedom is a God-given right that can and must prevail proved more powerful that any weapons system on either side of the Iron Curtain. Reagan’s spectacular success was due not to doling out pork or straddling the center but by instilling hope. Any interim compromises he made were to forward his two over-riding goals: reviving America’s broken economy and defeating the Soviet Union.

Though unable to tackle Washington’s entrenched bureaucracy or all the issues dear to the religious right, any conservative will attest to his towering presence over the movement even today. Conservatism to Reagan was less a matter of ideology than common sense and fair play. He writes in his autobiography that he selected George H.W. Bush for VP out of admiration, respect for his experience and because his second place finish made him the logical choice.

Besides, at the time, most potential running mates were, in fact, centrists, hence Reagan’s immense popularity then and now. Painting him a mere pragmatist renders conservatism alien and abstract. It is neither — its compatibility with human nature’s highest aspirations enabled him to render the opposition party impotent for the better part of a decade. That took clarity, not compromise, and the American left is terrified of seeing his like again.



US Supreme Court questions ‘honesty’ law used to convict Conrad Black

The judges of the US Supreme Court are examining a controversial law that was used to convict Lord Black of Crossharbour of fraud. The jailed press baron, whose empire included The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph newspapers is challenging the “honest services” law before America’s highest court. Miguel Estrada, his lawyer, told the court on Tuesday that the law — which makes it a crime to deny “honest services” — was “vague, amorphous, and open-ended”.

Most judges appeared disposed to rule part or all of the law unconstitutional. Justice Stephen Breyer asked whether the law could be applied to an employee who spent time at work reading the Daily Racing Form. “There are 150 million workers in the United States,” Justice Breyer told Michael Dreeben, the Deputy US Solicitor-General. “I think possibly 140 million would flunk your test.”

Lord Black was sentenced in December 2007 to six and a half years for obstruction of justice and five years for fraud. As he is serving both sentences concurrently, he is unlikely to be released early even if the conviction is overturned. However, his legal team could then argue that there was no obstruction of justice because there was no underlying crime. The decision could affect hundreds of cases including the conviction of Jeffrey Skilling, the former chief executive of Enron.



Martha Coakley: Too Immoral even for Teddy Kennedy's Seat

In Tuesday's primary election, Massachusetts Democrats chose as their Senate nominee a woman who kept a clearly innocent man in prison in order to advance her political career. Martha Coakley isn't even fit for the late Teddy Kennedy's old seat. (What is it about this particular Senate seat?)

During the daycare/child molestation hysteria of the '80s, Gerald Amirault, his mother, Violet, and sister, Cheryl, were accused of raping children at the family's preschool in Malden, Mass., in what came to be known as the second-most notorious witch trial in Massachusetts history.

The allegations against the Amiraults were preposterous on their face. Children made claims of robots abusing them, a "bad clown" who took the children to a "magic room" for sex play, rape with a 2-foot butcher knife, other acts of sodomy with a "magic wand," naked children tied to trees within view of a highway, and -- standard fare in the child abuse hysteria era -- animal sacrifices.

There was not one shred of physical evidence to support the allegations -- no mutilated animals, no magic rooms, no butcher knives, no photographs, no physical signs of any abuse on the children. Not one parent noticed so much as unusual behavior in their children -- until after the molestation hysteria began. There were no witnesses to the alleged acts of abuse, despite the continuous and unannounced presence of staff members, teachers, parents and other visitors at the school. Not one student ever spontaneously claimed to have been abused. Indeed, the allegations of abuse didn't arise until the child therapists arrived.

Nor was there anything in the backgrounds of the Amiraults that fit the profile of sadistic, child-abusing monsters. Violet Amirault had started the Fells Acre Day School 18 years before the child molestation hysteria erupted. Thousands of happy and well-adjusted students had passed through Fells Acres. Many returned to visit the school; some even attended Cheryl's wedding a few years before the inquisition began.

It's one thing to put a person in prison for a crime he didn't commit. It's another to put an entire family in prison for a crime that didn't take place. In the most outrageous miscarriage of justice since the Salem witch trials, in July 1986, Gerald Amirault was convicted of raping and assaulting six girls and three boys and sentenced to 30 to 40 years in prison. The following year, Violet and Cheryl Amirault were convicted of raping and assaulting three girls and a boy and were sentenced to 8 to 20 years.

The motto of the witch-hunters was "Believe the Children!" But the therapists resolutely refused to believe the children as long as they denied being abused. As the police advised the parents: In cases of child abuse, "no" can mean "yes."

To the children's credit, they held firm to their denials for heroic amounts of time in the face of relentless questioning. But as copious research in the wake of the child abuse cases has demonstrated, small children are highly suggestible. It's surprisingly easy to implant false memories into young minds by simply asking the same questions over and over again. Indeed, the interviewing techniques in the Amirault case were so successful that the children also made accusations against three other teachers, two imaginary people named "Mr. Gatt" and "Al" and even against the child therapist herself -- the one claim of abuse that was provably true. But only the Amiraults were put on trial for any alleged acts of abuse.

Coakley wasn't the prosecutor on the original trial. What she did was worse. At least the original prosecutors, craven and ambition-driven though they were, could claim to have been caught up in the child abuse panic of the '80s. There had not yet been extensive psychological studies on the suggestibility of small children. A dozen similar cases from around the country had not already been discredited and the innocent freed. Of all the men and women falsely convicted during the child molestation hysteria of the '80s, by 2001, only Gerald Amirault still sat in prison. Even his sister and mother had been released after serving eight years in prison for crimes that never occurred.

In July 2001, the notoriously tough Massachusetts parole board voted unanimously to grant Gerald Amirault clemency. Although the parole board is not permitted to consider guilt or innocence, its recommendation said: "(I)t is clearly a matter of public knowledge that, at the minimum, real and substantial doubt exists concerning petitioner's conviction." Immediately after the board's recommendation, The Boston Globe reported that Gov. Jane Swift was leaning toward accepting the board's recommendation and freeing Amirault.

Enter Martha Coakley, Middlesex district attorney. Gerald Amirault had already spent 15 years in prison for crimes he no more committed than anyone reading this column did. But Coakley put on a full court press to keep Amirault in prison simply to further her political ambitions. By then, every sentient person knew that Amirault was innocent. But instead of saying nothing, Coakley frantically lobbied Gov. Jane Swift to keep him in prison to show that she was a take-no-prisoners prosecutor, who stood up for "the children." As a result of Coakley's efforts -- and her contagious ambition -- Gov. Swift denied Amirault's clemency. Thanks to Martha Coakley, Gerald Amirault sat in prison for another three years.

Remember all that talk about President Bush shredding constitutional rights? Overzealous liberal prosecutors and feminist do-gooders allowed Gerald Amirault to sit in prison for 18 years for crimes that didn't exist -- except in the imaginations of small children under the influence of incompetent child "therapists." Martha Coakley allowed her ambition to trump basic human decency as she campaigned to keep a patently innocent man in prison.




Poll: Palin Within 1% of Obama: "Riding a wave of positive publicity from her book tour, Sarah Palin's favorable rating has crept within just 1 percent of President Barack Obama's job approval rating, according to the latest polls by CNN and USA Today/Gallup. The results suggest Palin has fixed the dent in her popularity ratings created this summer when she announced she was stepping down as governor of Alaska. According to a CNN poll released Monday, 46 percent of voters now say they like Palin. That's the same level of popularity she enjoyed before she resigned the Alaska governorship. The same percentage of likely voters – 46 percent – say they don't like the former Alaska governor, a clear indication that she continues to be a polarizing figure. Not surprisingly, the breakdown is sharply along party lines: 80 percent of Republicans like Palin, while 70 percent of Democrats don't. Although popularity polls and job approval polls differ, the results suggest that Palin is closing the gap on Obama. On Monday, a USA Today/Gallup poll reported that only 47 percent of likely voters approve of the president's job performance."

Did deregulation cause the Great Recession? "In a December 3 article in Politico (’J-O-Bs should come before GDP’), Rep. Phil Hare argues that ‘reckless deregulation’ is one of the causes of the current economic crisis. That isn’t actually true. This year’s edition of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Ten Thousand Commandments report found that 3,830 new regulations came into effect in 2008 alone. Over 30,000 total new rules passed during the Bush years. Hardly any were repealed. Businesses currently dole out the equivalent of Canada’s entire 2006 GDP - about $1.2 trillion - just to comply with federal regulations. Where is the deregulation?”

The pee-nal code and sex crimes: "Over two decades ago Juan Matamoros got a ticket in Massachusetts for taking a pee. Twenty-one years later he was happily living in Florida with his wife and two kids. The state government forced him to pack up his family and move since that one full bladder, years earlier, meant he was considered a sex offender and he had to comply with the sex offender zoning laws. These laws are intended to make all sex offenders miserable for the rest of their lives — a sort of perpetual, never-ending punishment for all the serious sex offenses that the politicians have criminalized — such as peeing outside, streaking, consenting sex between teens, sexting, etc. A little more information on Mr. Matamoros shows how out of control sex offender laws have become. In 1986 Matamoros was a bit tipsy and took a pee next to a car. Three people saw this and he was fined for the act. Local sex laws say he is not allowed to live near a school, bus stop, park, playground or day-care center.”

Spendaholics: "The reaction of Congress and the president to the good news on TARP has been revealing. Here we face a decade of unprecedented red ink, yet they think they're still not spending enough. Let's get this straight: The economy is on the mend, the recession is technically over, budget deficits still run well over $1 trillion a year, and unemployment actually ticked down in the latest report. Yet here's our President Obama declaring on Tuesday the nation must 'spend our way out of this recession.' And congressional leaders are hatching plans to declare a surprise $200 billion 'savings' in the government's bank bailout program. Hint: Given their druthers, the $200 billion will be gone before you know it"

NYT Gift Guide Includes A Separate Section For "People Of Color.": "We don't like to throw around words like "racist" in the same sentence as the NYT's name, but there's no other word we can think of to describe this page in the NYT's annual Holiday Gift Guide -- called "Of Color/Stylish Gifts" and aimed exclusively at the paper's non-white readers. Or, as the NYT describes it, "gifts created for and by people of color." Found in the "Style & Travel" section of the Gift Guide, it stands alongside sections called "Frugal Travel," "Chic and Cheerful," and "Cosmetic Enhancements." But this page is the only one aimed squarely at readers whose skin isn't white in color -- and it's the first time we can remember a gift guide, anywhere, openly defining its offerings by their appeal to a specific racial group. Can you imagine the NYT designating a section of its Holiday Gift Guide to presents made "for and by white people"? Or Jews? Or Chinese?"

Mystery behind 'Beast of Kandahar' revealed: "It's been dubbed "The Beast of Kandahar"and - until now - has been the closest thing Afghanistan has to a Loch Ness Monster. Over the last two weeks, an increasingly steady stream of grainy images have appeared on the internet of a strange, sleek new aircraft spotted in the skies above the war-torn country. Now the US Army has confirmed it - the RQ Sentinel stealth drone is real. Shaped like a B-2 stealth bomber and created by Lockheed Martin, the Sentinel has no metal parts outside its engine and can fly completely unnoticed through areas "thick with radar". The aircraft is also coated with a special paint, or "secret sauce", as it was described to FOX News by Oklahoma State University's associate professor of Aerospace engineering Dr Jamie D. Jacob. The Sentinel is reportedly set up as a "troop support sensor platform", meaning it's unlikely to carry Hellfire missiles such as that fired by the current fleet of Predator aircraft."


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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