Thursday, September 29, 2011

Well done, President Obama

By Donald Sensing

I just received an email from the White House's Office of the Press Secretary, of which I made a screen grab and post below:

Click on the image for full size. The text is:

Statement by the Press Secretary on Conviction of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

The United States condemns the conviction of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Pastor Nadarkhani has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for all people. That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency, and breaches Iran’s own international obligations. A decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian authorities' utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran's continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens. We call upon the Iranian authorities to release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion.
This is as strong a statement as I could have hoped for and states the right position in clear, unambiguous terms. For all the justified criticisms I have made about this administration, this is one issue that they got exactly right. Well done, Mr. President. People of faith under oppression around the world thank you.

The back story is that Pastor Nadarkhani has been holding house-church worship of Christians in Iran, for which he was accused and today convicted of apostasy under Islamic law. Apostasy is punishable by death under the terms of sharia law. That Pastor Nadarkhani was never Muslim (having never uttered the shahada, or Islamic confession, in the manner required by the Quran) is held by Iran's murder government as beside the point. Even though the court held that Nadarkhani was never a practicing Muslim, it did not matter because his ancestry was Muslim.

Pastor Nadarkhani was given four opportunities by the court to (a) renounce Christianity and then (b) utter the shahada. He refused and for that he may be sentenced to be executed judicially murdered. Nadarkhani has been imprisoned in Rasht since October 2009. In June of last year he wrote a letter to his parishioners which reached the West and was translated from Farsi into English. A translation is below the fold of this post. Compare the Spirit of holiness that pervades his words with the satanic hatred that fills the sermons of most any Muslim imam.

Google News page is here. God be with you, brother. Post continues after the jump

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Obama urges revival of the CCC

By Donald Sensing

Obama’s Bridge Collapse:

President Obama made a swing through the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area today to stand near a bridge and call out Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader McConnell (whose states, by “pure coincidence,” the bridge just happens to connect) for not passing his ‘jobs bill’ already.
Jay Carney set the stage last week, saying, “It’s pretty clear that this bridge could benefit from a little repair and renovation.” Saying the bridge is “in such poor condition that it has been labeled functionally obsolete,” the President today demanded immediate passage of his ‘jobs bill’ to put people to work right now. But this kabuki dance is less about bridges than those dastardly Republicans:
“It desperately needs rebuilding, as do substandard roads and bridges all across America,” White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said. As the two most powerful Republicans in Washington, Speaker Boehner and Senator (Mitch) McConnell can either kill this jobs bill or help the president pass it right away.”
“Instead of looking for every excuse to justify doing nothing about the damaged infrastructure in their states, we believe it’s in their interest and the country’s interest to act as soon as possible and put people back to work.”
In the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt founded the Civilian Conservation Corps, CCC, as a make-work organization for men 18-25 whose families were on relief. Wikipedia:
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families, ages 18–25. A part of the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, it provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments. The CCC was designed to provide employment for young men in relief families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression while at the same time implementing a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory. Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000; in nine years 2.5 million young men participated. Reserve officers from the U.S. Army were in charge of the camps, but there was no military training or uniforms.
But even FDR had to deal with the unions.
To end the opposition from labor unions (which wanted no training programs started when so many of their men were unemployed)[9] Roosevelt picked a union official, Fechner, and took William Green, head of the American Federation of Labor, to the first camp to demonstrate that there would be no job training involved beyond simple manual labor.
Now, bridge repair or construction involves not much unskilled labor and you can bet that the unions are solidly behind such work. But Obama's "jobs" bills is essentially an updated version of FDR's CCC: federal spending to funnel federal dollars to private pockets. Only Obama is being far more careful about who would get the money. But Obama's appearance before the bridge today was just Potemkin theater: his "jobs" bill has nothing to do with the bridge in the background.
For one thing, the river crossing in question is already slated for a new bridge. It’s been in the planning stages for years; the project is currently barely into the public comment phase. In fact, Obama’s own FHWA doesn’t expect it to start construction in 2015 or be completed until 2022. 
The President did not explain how his ‘jobs bill’ will alter time so that the project can start creating jobs “right now.” Worse, Obama, Carney, and Brudnage are flat-out wrong. The I-75 corridor is indeed outdated, but the bridge itself doesn’t actually need repairs:
It’s got decades of good life left in its steel spans. It’s just overloaded. The bridge was built to handle 85,000 cars and trucks a day, which seemed like a lot back during construction in the Nixon era. [Ed. - the bridge opened five years before Nixon was elected President.] Today, the bridge sort of handles more than 150,000 vehicles a day with frequent jam-ups. So, plans are not to repair or replace the Brent Spence Bridge. But to build another bridge nearby to ease the loads.
But when there are unions to appeased and political demons to be made, why let the facts get in the way?

Update: Although terminated as a federal program after American entered World War II, there is a modern CCC operating today - the California Conservation Corps, motto, "Hard work, low pay, miserable conditions ... and more!"

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Afghanistan is Vietnam redux

By Donald Sensing

Afghanistan is the Vietnam war all over again. How? Michael Yon explains: "Afghanistan Update: Taliban Losing on Battlefield, But Making Progress in Media War."

The more things change, etc.

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Buffett can just pony up

By Donald Sensing

I posted earlier that it's "Time to audit Buffett's books," because if it's true that "Warren Buffett paid less tax than his secretary, either his secretary's salary is higher than Buffett's or he's cooked his reported income somehow."

In response, reader, Joel W. emailed:

I believe that Warren Buffet said that he paid a lower percentage of his total income than his secretary, rather than that he paid less. He mentioned somewhere that he paid $6,000,000 in taxes.

Of course, he probably was talking about his total income, before deductions.

He could certainly pay more in taxes if he wanted to by not taking any deductions and not putting his money into a tax-exempt trust.

Full disclosure: I work for GEICO Insurance, which is owned by Berkshire-Hathaway, Mr. Buffett's company. Other than that, I have no connection with him; all I know is what I read in the blogs.
Joel, if all you know is what you read in the blogs, and assuming that you read a fair number and cross section of blogs, then you are probably unusually well informed. And you are right that if Mr. Buffett did not claim some deductions, then he would pay more money in taxes.

But it's easier even than that for Warren Buffett - or anyone else who think s/he is paying too little in federal taxes. I am hardly the first to point out that the US Treasury will accept direct donations. For example, anyone can send money designated to pay down the federal debt:
How do you make a contribution to reduce the debt?

There are two ways for you to make a contribution to reduce the debt:
  • You can make a contribution online either by credit card, checking or savings account at  
  • You can write a check payable to the Bureau of the Public Debt, and in the memo section, notate that it's a Gift to reduce the Debt Held by the Public. Mail your check to:
Attn Dept G
Bureau of the Public Debt
P. O. Box 2188
Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188
So if Warren Buffett - or anyone else - thinks they pay too little to the federal government, all they have to do is pony up more.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gays who want to blow stuff up

By Donald Sensing

Marine Recruiters Visit Gay Center in Oklahoma -

Gays who want to blow stuff up - there's now a place for you in the US Marine Corps!

But looking back at the USMC's recruiting posters, one wonders whether they haven't subconsciously been recruiting those folks all along:

Ya know, I always thought that this guy looked a little light in the loafers.

BTW, news media covering the Marine recruiters at the "Gay Center" in Oklahoma actually outnumbered the (presumed) gays who came in to ask about joining the Marines. Don't really expect a flood of recruits into the military with the end of DADT.

Well, except, you know, the Navy.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Time to audit Buffett's books

By Donald Sensing

The “Buffett Rule” Isn’t Supported By The Evidence:

Because Warren Buffett paid less tax than his secretary, either his secretary's salary is higher than Buffett's or he's cooked his reported income somehow.

2. For federal income taxes, most secretaries would probably be paying an average federal tax rate of 9-12%, and most of the “super-rich” bosses with incomes of $200,000 or more would be paying average federal income tax rates about three times higher than their secretarial staff members, i.e. 25% or higher.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Pavlov's pedestrians

By Donald Sensing

The guy on the escalator just killed me.

HT: 22 Words

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Obama's Jobs for Lawyers Bill

By Donald Sensing

President Obama’s Jobs Bill Would Make It Illegal To Refuse To Hire The Unemployed

Yes, the headline means exactly what it says. It will officially be made illegal to refuse to hire someone because s/he is unemployed. Businesses may not state in any way that unemployed persons will not be considered for hiring. And as the post's author, Doug Mataconis, points out,

It’s not hard to see how employers might respond to something like this. They’ll be more selective in setting forth job critera in an effort to discourage people from applying. They’ll be rethink how much they’re willing to pay employees given the possibility of increased legal expenses down the road. And, in some cases, they’ll be less willing to hire new employees if it isn’t worth the risk of exposing themselves to harassment by attorneys with dollars signs in their eyes. The only profession that this part of the bill is a “jobs bill” for, then, is the legal profession, which also happens to be one of the Obama campaigns biggest supporters.
Doug is a lawyer, by the way. He continues:
Employers who aren’t hiring the long-term unemployed right now are doing so because they can afford to by choosy in a glutted labor market, and because there are often legitimate concerns about whether someone’s skill set has deteriorated over the course of their unemployment. Who are we to say that employers are wrong to think this way and that they should be forbidden from making this decision?
Well, Doug, "we" are not the ones saying it. It is the statist Imperium saying it. It is the self-anointed elitist, political class that long ago decided it knows what's best for us lumpen proles. After all, this president is of the very same party that thinks what this US Representative said aloud: Dem Congresswoman: "You Don't Deserve To Keep All" Of Your Money:

But wait! Perhaps there is good news: Harry Reid: No Rush On President Obama’s Jobs Bill
That doesn’t exactly sound like the fierce urgency of now:
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, has said he will put the bill on the legislative calendar but has declined to say when. He almost certainly will push the bill — which Mr. Obama urged Congress to pass “right now!” — until after his chamber’s recess at the end of the month; Mr. Reid has set votes on disaster aid, extensions for the Federal Aviation Administration and a short-term spending plan ahead of the jobs bill.
Okay, so Reid doesn't want this monkey on his back. But wait: just yesterday the president said, "I'd like to work my way around Congress."

I have to wonder, though: if Obama wants to make it illegal to refuse to hire the unemployed, would he also agree to make it illegal for any unemployed person to refuse to accept the first job s/he is offered? If not, why not? (And I am not suggesting that be done, just wondering whether the president would agree to both sides of a coin. I'm guessing no.)

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NFL wants to get in on the TSA's action

By Donald Sensing

Maybe off-duty TSA agents can moonlight at NFL stadiums on Sundays and Mondays. NFL wants pat-downs from ankles up at all stadiums:

The NFL wants all fans patted down from the ankles up this season to improve fan safety.

Under the new "enhanced" pat-down procedures, the NFL wants all 32 clubs to search fans from the ankles to the knees as well as the waist up. Previously, security guards only patted down fans from the waist up while looking for booze, weapons or other banned items.

The stricter physical screening policy impacts the 16.6 million fans expected to attend live regular season NFL games this season. The more thorough searches will spell longer lines for ticket-holding fans seeking entry to games. It's sure to raise the ire of some fans who consider it an invasion of privacy.

The NFL recommended the new guidelines before Week 1 of the season, says spokesman Brian McCarthy. The league hopes fans will be "patient" -- and arrive earlier to games to avoid long, punishing lines.

You knew in your heart that this was inevitable. As I pointed out in 2008, football stadiums would make a dream killing field for terrorists. And at the same time, as I explained in that post, patdowns of fans would be entirely ineffectual in preventing it -- Link.

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The downside of safe driving

By Donald Sensing

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Conformicrat journalism

By Donald Sensing

Mangan's: Journalistic Priority: Pro-Diversity Spin:

The Society of Professional Journalists, an organization that dates back to 1909, handed down a ukase that decrees how any journalist with any conscience whatsoever should cover the news, namely by spinning it. Following are some excerpts from the Guidelines for Countering Racial, Ethnic and Religious Profiling.

— Portray Muslims, Arabs and Middle Eastern and South Asian Americans in the richness of their diverse experiences;

— Seek out people from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds when photographing Americans mourning those lost in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

— Seek out people from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds when photographing rescue and other public service workers and military personnel.

— Do not represent Arab Americans and Muslims as monolithic groups. Avoid conveying the impression that all Arab Americans and Muslims wear traditional clothing.

— Use photos and features to demystify veils, turbans and other cultural articles and customs.

— Make an extra effort to include olive-complexioned and darker men and women, Sikhs, Muslims and devout religious people of all types in arts, business, society columns and all other news and feature coverage, not just stories about the crisis.

— Seek out experts on military strategies, public safety, diplomacy, economics and other pertinent topics who run the spectrum of race, class, gender and geography.

— When writing about terrorism, remember to include white supremacist, radical anti-abortionists and other groups with a history of such activity.

— Do not imply that kneeling on the floor praying, listening to Arabic music or reciting from the Quran are peculiar activities.

And this is why if you watched the special coverage of the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01, you would never have learned that it was Muslims who killed almost 3,000 people on that Tuesday morning.

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God is calling you - just not on your cell phone

By Donald Sensing

And what cleric does not harbor this thought in the recesses of his heart?

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hurry while supplies last!

By Donald Sensing

Only six left!

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Prohibition - The Movie

By M. Simon

It has been a long time since I posted here, but I thought I should say something since there is a movie coming out that could change the whole dynamic of the 2012 election.

I have an article up at American Thinker The Democrat's 2012 Victory Plan. It is about the upcoming Ken Burns PBS movie on Alcohol Prohibition. It will air on 2 Oct.

The movie is designed to bring up the the subject of Drug Prohibition. You might find my American Thinker article of interest because it covers possible Democrat attack points.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The paranoid president

By Donald Sensing

Via Drudge, a screen grab of President Obama's latest means of adding to his enemies list:

A closer look at the drop-down menu, "Attack Type:"

This is the third crude attempt of this president to identify his enemies. This was the first and this the second.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Groundhog War | Foreign Affairs

By Donald Sensing

Groundhog War | Foreign Affairs:

Bing West assesses the Afghanistan problem to the heart of the matter:

The platoons in Restrepo and Armadillo act as their own tribes, confident in their warrior skills and psychologically distant from their senior leaderships. Since 2001, not one person among the past nine successive U.S. commanding generals in Afghanistan and past two U.S. secretaries of defense has changed the war's five key premises: total domestic control for Afghan officials, billions of dollars for projects to woo the local tribes, a war of attrition to drive back the Taliban, toleration of Pakistan as a sanctuary for the enemy, and a slow buildup of Afghan forces to fight their own war. In essence, politicians and policymakers in Washington have handed the war over to those generals who have embraced nation building as a military mission.

U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to steadily withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and end the U.S. combat mission by 2014. Regardless of how the war turns out, the military lessons learned will be negative; the conflict has dragged on far too long to be considered a strategic success. Unlike in the years after World War II, the generals of this day will not gain in historical stature. The popularity of the idea of counterinsurgency as nation building reached its zenith when Iraq was stabilized in 2008. At the time, the U.S. military's counterinsurgency warriorintellectuals were in vogue. As happened to their predecessors after the Vietnam War, however, their concepts of war fighting will come to be rejected by the younger generation of company-grade officers who had to execute a flawed doctrine. No matter their skills and good intentions, foreign troops cannot persuade the people of another nation to reject insurgents in their midst. The people must convince themselves -- and be willing to sacrifice for that conviction.

After the United States and the United Nations handed full sovereignty to Karzai and his top officials in 2002, the U.S. military could only coax them to pursue, rather than directly institute itself, competent military and civilian leadership in Afghan institutions. Meanwhile, a strategy that rested on persuading the people to turn against the insurgents failed to win the commitment of the tribes. U.S. and NATO soldiers went on patrols until they were shot at and then returned fire discriminately. With Pakistan as their sanctuary, the Taliban controlled the tempo of the war.
Read the whole thing.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

RealClearMarkets - Obama: The Obsolete 'Post Office President'

By Donald Sensing

RealClearMarkets - Obama: The Obsolete 'Post Office President':

Why this president is stuck in the 60s - except it's the 1860s.

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Homily for Sept. 11, 2011

By Donald Sensing

My homily this morning was entitled, "Where is the cross in violence?" You may read it on Scribd here.

The photo above was taken by James Nachtwey. Another frame of this scene plus many other never-before-published photos he took on that day, are well worth clicking to.

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A Responsive Litany of Prayer for the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

By Donald Sensing

This is a Christian responsive prayer for a remembrance of the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01. I am leading it this morning at the service of commemoration at my church.

Lord, we come to pray to you as a humble people. We seek your grace and your presence to be powerfully among us this day. Holy Spirit, pray for us with moans too deep for words.

Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy, Holy Spirit, be here with us. 

We pray for your mercies for the people stricken in New York and Washington by acts of terrorism. We earnestly plead for your healing power for those injured and shocked by violence.

Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy, Holy Spirit, be there with them.

We pray for the families and friends of those whose lives were snuffed out in numbers beyond comprehension. Holy God, be present among those who mourn. Be loving toward those who suffer loss.

Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy, Holy Spirit, be there with them.

We pray for people of Iraq and Afghanistan who continue to endure and suffer from the violence of war and miseries of religious oppression. Bring these lands to justice, peace and prosperity.

Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy, Holy Spirit, be there with them.

We lift up to you the men and women of our armed forces and their families especially those who have died and suffered to defend our country. Watch over them in faraway places, Lord.  We pray for their safe return. While we earnestly seek peace, we are now in war. May you shield our service members from consuming hatred and guide them to fight as honorably and justly as possible. Prevent their hearts from scarring, Lord, and let them live to see the day when no one shall prepare for war any more, and there shall be none to make them afraid.

Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy, Holy Spirit, be there with them. 

We pray for the leaders of our nation. In this time of difficult decisions, we beg your wisdom and guidance for President Obama, Secretaries Panetta and Clinton, Admiral Mullen, and all figures of the administration. Let the course they chart accord with your holy will.

Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy, Holy Spirit, be there with them.

For members of our Congress, we also ask your guidance. Lead them to rightness in deliberations and fill their resolutions with your wisdom.

Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy, Holy Spirit, be there with them.

We ask you to guide the policies of nations allied with our country in Europe and elsewhere. Be present in the hearts and minds of their leaders.

Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy, Holy Spirit, be there with them.

Holy Lord, by your command we pray for our enemies, those who have raised the sword of war against us. We pray that your grace overcome their violence, and that you fill them with every good thing of your Spirit. Give them the knowledge of your Son, Jesus Christ, as Savior of the world and lay upon them the Spirit of your peace.

Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy, Holy Spirit, be there with them.

Holy, holy, holy Lord, you have created us in your own image.  Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil, and to make no peace with oppression. And, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice to the glory of your holy name; Through Jesus Christ our Savior.

Holy God, Merciful Christ, hear our prayer and send us your Spirit.

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What happened 10 years ago

By Donald Sensing

HT: American Power

Some links:

Esquire's amazing article on "The Falling Man."

Also their stunning pice of two days ago, "What We Saw: 9/11 Remembered," which is nuggets of relevant articles the magazine has published over the last 10 years about the attacks and their aftermath. This struck me:

One of the lead insurgents flicked on a flashlight. Picking up the path, he switched the light off and continued toward the kill zone. Man by man, each fighter emerged as a green silhouette in the soldiers' keyholes, each to be marked and panned by the vivid line of an infrared laser sight.
The scouts counted twenty-six men walk by their post. Sergeant Reese could not pass this information. The insurgents were too close. 
Lieutenant Smith watched. Closer they came, closer, and closer still, until the first man was perhaps six feet away from the nearest American prone on the ground, who switched the selector lever on his rifle from safe to semiautomatic, readying it to fire. The lever made a tiny metal-on-metal noise, a click. 
The lead insurgent stopped. 
He lowered his head. The American was directly in front of him, a private first class, Troy Pacini-Harvey, a wiry nineteen-year-old with quick dark eyes and a small black carbine, pointed up. Pacini-Harvey's laser had been darting from the slot between the man's eyes to the center of the man's forehead. Now it stopped there. Other lasers, from other soldiers, were locked on each man visible in the column behind. The point man seemed undecided, unaware of the green dot above his brow. He had heard something, but what? 
"Fire," Lieutenant Smith said. "Fire, fire, fire, fire." 
—The Long Walk: With Viper Company in Korangal Valley, Afghanistan, by C. J. Chivers, August 2009

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Friday, September 9, 2011

A 9/11 Memorial Video Reflection

By Donald Sensing

Best viewed full screen.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Pinocchio President

By Donald Sensing

I wrote the other day about "Pinocchio Jay Carney," so naming the president's primary spokesman because Carney knowingly lied to the White House press corps (hence, to you and me) about the "coincidental" timing of Obama's request to address Congress tonight.

Now the Washington Post (!) uses the analogy to describe "Obama’s whopper of a claim on tax cuts."

So there seems to be a lot Pinocchioism gojng around the White House these days.

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Pinocchio Jay Carney

By Donald Sensing

The drama over the president's speech to a joint session of Congress has not abated. When asked earlier this week why the President had set the date for Sept. 7 when that was also the eveing of a nationally-televised debate between the Republican presidential candidates, the president's chief spokesman, Jay Carney, said it was "coincidental."

But now Politico says that White House sources say the choice of Sept. 7 was not coincidental at all.

The White House was well aware the president’s speech would conflict with a planned Republican debate sponsored by POLITICO and NBC to be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. The debate would be broadcast live by MSNBC and live-streamed by POLITICO. CNBC and Telemundo will re-air the broadcast.

Yet the White House did not see this as an obstacle.
Since Politico is generally friendly toward the administration, this is a solid sourcing that Obama & Co. were entirely aware of the conflicting events. Which means that, to put it clearly, Jay Carney simply lied through his teeth to the White House press corps and to the country. And so the trust level between White House correspondents and Carney, never very high to begin with, drops yet again.

Doug Mataconis gets to the nub of the matter: "White House Officials Upset That Republicans Playing Politics Interfered With Their Attempt To Play Politics."

James Joyner chimes in, "We Have a President, Not a King," and therefore Speaker Boehner was well within his rights to deny the Sept. 7 request.
Nor is the Speaker in any way obligated to jump through hoops to accommodate the president’s political schedule. An address to a Joint Session of Congress is a rare event, usually reserved for the annual State of the Union address and the occasional breaking emergency. Given a week’s notice and an obviously-politically-motivated ploy to hold the speech precisely when the Republican debate was long scheduled–not to mention only a few hours after Congress returns from a scheduled recess– it’s hardly unreasonable to insist the president push off a day.

Frankly, given that the incredible likelihood that there will be nothing new here, with the president using the Congress as a background prop for what amounts to a political stump speech, Boehner would have been well within his rights to decline the request altogether. The television networks have quite often made that decision in recent years.

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Rare corner kick for a goal

By Donald Sensing

Ronaldinho Did The Impossible And Scored A Corner Kick From A Zero-Degree Angle Last Night

Ronaldinho bent a corner kick into the back of the net for a goal in his Brazillian team's 3-2 defeat last night.

At first glance, it looks like his teammate heads in his pass. But no, Ronaldinho actually scored a goal from a 0-degree angle. It was his ninth goal in 10 games this year.

My son did this same thing in high school. In the video, it appears that the goalie blocked the ball with his hands, but the ball bounced into the net rather than out of it. So Ronaldinho is credited with the goal because no one else on his team touched the ball after he kicked it.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

White House's "We the People" doesn't pass smell test

By Donald Sensing

I am inexplicably still on the White House's email list for press releases. Here is what came today.

The text:

White House Announces We the People

 New Online Engagement Feature Invites Public To Petition The White House
  Today, the White House announced We the People, a new online engagement feature.  On this innovative platform, individuals will be able to create and sign petitions seeking action from the federal government on a range of issues. If a petition gathers enough signatures, White House staff will review it, ensure it is sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.   Visitors to can begin submitting petitions later this month.  To sign up for an alert when it launches and preview the feature, visit “When I ran for this office, I pledged to make government more open and accountable to its citizens.  That’s what the new We the People feature on is all about – giving Americans a direct line to the White House on the issues and concerns that matter most to them,” said President Obama.
To create and build support for a petition, visitors will simply need to create an account and gather signatures by reaching out to friends, family and coworkers. If a petition reaches a certain threshold – the initial level will be 5,000 signatures within 30 days – it will be sent to the appropriate policy makers throughout the Administration, reviewed, and an official response will be published to and emailed to all signers of the petition.
As the Immortal Bard once wrote, "It passeth not the smell test." This might be all well and fine and innocent as a newborn lamb. But this is also from a White House occupied by a man who said that he endorses punishing political enemies and rewarding friends. I don't think I'm wearing a tin hat when it sounds the petition system sounds like an attempt  to gather the names of his political enemies.

Or make that, "sounds like another attempt." After all, we've seen this before from Barack "Richard M." Obama when he asked people to rat out dissidents from the then-proposed Obamacare bill.
There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to
To which I observed,
Needless to say, had GW Bush's White House announced such an electronic name-hoovering scheme as Obama is doing, the Dems would have been out in the streets with torches and pitchforks and Congress would already be holding hearing even if the Reps were still in majority there. But from Congressional Dems? Only this. ...

John Hinderaker observes, "A secret and more or less permanent dissident database--in America! That's quite an accomplishment for an administration still in its seventh month. It seems longer, somehow." ...

Camille Paglia writes, "I, for one, voted for Obama and continue to support him." Then,
The ethical collapse of the left was nowhere more evident than in the near total silence of liberal media and Web sites at the Obama administration's outrageous solicitation to private citizens to report unacceptable "casual conversations" to the White House. If Republicans had done this, there would have been an angry explosion by Democrats from coast to coast. I was stunned at the failure of liberals to see the blatant totalitarianism in this incident, which the president should have immediately denounced. His failure to do so implicates him in it.
Will other voices be raised in protest against this "initiative" now? Because for sure no one is going to petition the White House to keep on doing what's it already doing. Only dissidents will.

OTOH, this also smacks of just a PR stunt. How likely is it that 5,000 people will come together online within 30 days to sign the electronic petition? And when they don't, the White House will crow about how "transparent" it is and how much "we the people" just love its policies, because after all, we could have petitioned them to change!

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"The shocking truth about electric cars"

By Donald Sensing

The shocking truth about electric cars - The Globe and Mail:

Electric cars aren’t necessarily green at all. Electric vehicles require large amounts of electricity – so much that Toronto Hydro chief Anthony Haines says he doesn’t know how he’d get it. “If you connect about 10 per cent of the homes on any given street with an electric car, the electricity system fails,” he said recently.

You cannot repeal the second law of thermodynamics.

Remember the electric-only Honda Clarity, that was advertised to use no gasoline at all?

The problem is that hydrogen is a fuel but not a resource. Hydrogen gas, H2, has to be made. It just can't be sucked out the air or water or earth. As I explained in "Buy a Honda, Kill a Polar Bear,"
where does the driver get the hydrogen to begin with? Hydrogen gas, H2, is not found free in nature. There are two ways to separate hydrogen from its compounds: hydrolysis and reforming. The former, most commonly and easily done with water, uses electricity and a catalyst to break H2O into H2 and O2. Reforming uses heat instead of electricity.

More than 90 percent of the hydrogen produced in the world is obtained by steam reforming of natural gas. It's not energy efficient since the energy gained from the hydrogen gas is less than the energy required to produce it. H2 produced in this manner is not used for fuel (except rocket fuel and some others exotics), but for industrial and chemical purposes. ...

That's the problem with fuel-cell or any other electrically-powered vehicle. There is no free way to produce the electricity. Since most electricity in the United States is produced by coal-fired plants, all that electric cars do is shift the environmental effects from the tailpipe to the power plant. This is not a good shift, since today's auto burn extremely cleanly already.
If the H2 is produced using electricity somewhere, then odds are that coal produces that electricity. So the CO2 production has been merely moved off the auto to another emitter. Also, does it take more energy to produce the H2, whatever the source, than the H2 supplies? If so, exactly what is the benefit of the Clarity?

The Globe and Mail makes the same point:
And if the extra electricity [needed to recharge electric cars] isn’t generated by renewable energy, then overall carbon dioxide emissions will go up, not down, Prof. Smil says. “The only way electric cars could reduce global carbon emissions would be if all the additional electricity needed to power them came from carbon-free energies.” He also makes the essential point that the world’s energy infrastructure is based on fossil fuels. Changing that will take decades.

Electric cars are not ready for mass market and never will be.

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