Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why Shouldn’t We Be “Pro-Choice” on Interrogation Techniques? – This “Torture” Concern Just the Latest Democrat Excuse to Hammer Bush & Republicans

Some Democrats continue to wail about alleged “torture” by the CIA under the Bush Administration, treatment consisting of supposedly “harsh” interrogation techniques on captured Islamist terrorists that many current and former intelligence officials say resulted in valuable information that helped foil planned terrorist attacks. Never mind that many, and probably most, do not consider waterboarding and rough treatment to be harsh enough to constitute torture, and never mind that plenty of liberal politicians, we are now finding out, consented to such techniques (and indeed, may have worried that the CIA wasn’t “doing enough” to gather information).

Perhaps we can all agree to be “pro-choice” and allow each individual interrogator to be guided by his or her individual conscience as to when interrogation techniques cross the line and become “torture.”

I don’t think this uproar is so much about possible torture as it is another Democrat avenue of attack at George Bush in particular and Republicans in general. Here’s a parallel. Critics lashed out at Bush for years about the wars in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Afghanistan (at times justified). But now that Obama is keeping troops in Iraq in furtherance of the Bush policy and has actually directed and implemented a troop surge in Afghanistan (little reported on by the liberal media), where are all the Democrat anti-war critics and protesters? Where are all the screaming headlines in the liberal media? They’re gone. So how much of the vehemence was really anti-war and how much was in fact simply anti-Bush? Now the very same question can be asked of this “torture” controversy.

Ann Coulter always uses her brilliant, biting wit to great effect, and her just published weekly column does not disappoint. On this topic of “torture,” drawing from recently released Bush Justice Department memos, she writes (link; link):
…. Finally, the most savage interrogation technique at Guantanamo was "waterboarding" …. Thousands of our troops are waterboarded every year as part of their training, but not until it was done to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- mastermind of the 9/11 attack on America -- were liberal consciences shocked…. As non-uniformed combatants, all of the detainees at Guantanamo could have been summarily shot on the battlefield under the Laws of War. Instead, we gave them comfy chairs, free lawyers, better food than is served in Afghani caves, prayer rugs, recreational activities and top-flight medical care -- including one terrorist who was released, whereupon he rejoined the jihad against America, after being fitted for an expensive artificial leg at Guantanamo, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer.
Only three terrorists -- who could have been shot -- were waterboarded. This is not nearly as bad as "snowboarding," which is known to cause massive buttocks pain and results in approximately 10 deaths per year.
Normal human beings -- especially those who grew up with my older brother, Jimmy -- can't read the interrogation memos without laughing. At Al-Jazeera, they don't believe these interrogation memos are for real. Muslims look at them and say: THIS IS ALL THEY'RE DOING? We do that for practice. We do that to our friends.

John M Greco

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On Obama, Show Trials Over Waterboarding, and "Moral Bearings"

The radicalism of Obama and his administration continues to astound. Today Obama said (link) that the Bush Administration’s use of certain interrogation techniques, harsh but effective to some, torture to others, resulted from “losing our moral bearings.” He suggested today that his Administration might look into prosecuting those Bush Administration officials who espoused such techniques, this despite the CIA’s assertion, reiterated today (link), that use of such techniques, for one example, resulted in information that prevented a significant terrorist attack on American soil.

Thus Obama now plans to criminalize good-faith policy differences. Charles Krauthammer, commenting yesterday evening on Fox News, thinks the ultimate objective is not prosecution, which would not likely be successful, but prolonged “show” hearings that provide a platform for radical Democrats to continually lambast Bush and Republicans. Obama has been very successful politically “running against Bush,” and he doesn’t want to say goodbye to W just yet. But -- to hold political show “trials” of Republicans and of policies which have kept this country safer will sow the wind and from it the Democrats will reap a whirlwind.

“Losing our moral bearings.” This is rich, but part and parcel of the Orwellian double speak of which Obama is so fond. He knows very well he fools the huge number of Americans who are inattentive and gullible. For it is Obama of course who needs to find moral bearings. This the Obama who just this past week now notoriously warmly embraced the brutal, fascist, vociferously anti-American dictator Hugo Chavez. This the Obama who was the great defender of infanticide and late-term partial birth abortions while in the Illinois state senate not long ago. This the Obama who long associated with the infamous anti-American domestic terrorist William Ayers. This the Obama whose most important mentor as a young man was a card carrying member of the communist party that seeks to destroy American liberty. This the Obama who as the American president bows deeply before a repressive, illiberal Muslim potentate.

It is a developing American tragedy that this Obama, with his deceptively thoughtful and calm demeanor, fools so many of the people all of the time. Obama and his wife project a fa├žade, an illusion of moderation, but we have seen in the occasional slip up what’s really behind the curtain. We know that he and his wife believe America is a morally stained, deeply flawed nation, whose past sins outweigh all the good and justify the enmity of its enemies. And for that they are comfortable around Latin American fascist dictators and repressive Muslim leaders in ways they have never been around Americans like Dick Cheney, George Bush, and millions more whose world view is not dominated and distorted by either white liberal guilt or envy of American accomplishment.

John M Greco

Monday, April 20, 2009

On the Democrats’ Federal Spending as a Percent of GDP, and Other Metrics

The breathtaking profligacy of the recent Democrat spending frenzy has been well commented on (including at this site here, here, here, and here). But despite all of that, I heard some numbers on the Kudlow CNBC show last week that have left me shaking my head. Kudlow’s guest was Jim Grant, editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer newsletter (link) and author of the book Mr. Market Miscalculates (The Bubble Years and Beyond). Grant commented on the current recession:

By the numbers, this is a garden variety recession – statistically, by the GDP numbers, it is ordinary. What is extraordinary, of course, are Wall Street’s self-inflicted wounds in credit. However, what is truly momentous is the [federal] government’s response – [there has been] nothing like it.

There have been 11 recessions/depression since 1929. On average, the sum of the fiscal and monetary response, as we index them, has been 2.9% of GDP. What is shaping up now is [a response of] 29% of GDP, 10 times the average response. This 29% response is three times the [federal government] response to the Great Depression for this current recession that is 1/15th the magnitude of the Great Depression. And they [the federal government politicians] may not be done yet [with their spending]. The sheer caprice and scale of government intervention must be frightening money under the bed.
This level of deficit spending is indeed frightening. And all the more so because the real motivation for it in the minds of the ultra-liberal Democrat vanguard has little to do with fighting the recession. As Tim Reid wrote recently (link) in the Times U.K.:

What was most striking about the budget [spending level] - including that it will explode the federal deficit to $1.75 trillion this year, its highest since the Second World War - was that it was a ruthless declaration of how Mr Obama intends fundamentally to change the American social contract, from Right to Left. Its goal is not just to rescue the economy. It is to crush conservatism, end the age of anti-tax, anti-regulation policies that have been the guiding philosophies of US governance for a generation, and usher in a fresh “epoch”, as his aides call it, of New Deal-Great Society wealth redistribution and central intervention that were repudiated by Ronald Reagan 30 years ago.

John M Greco

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Chicago "Tea Party" Tax Protest

I attended the Chicago Tea Party today, held amidst the complex of federal buildings in the central Loop, and it appeared to be a big success. My unschooled guess at turnout was about 2,500 to 3,000, but later I heard John Tillman of the Illinois Policy Institute (one of the speakers at the rally) state that the Chicago Police Dept. estimate is 4,000. At least one other area rally that I know of was scheduled for the suburbs. The enthusiastic crowd was very orderly with a fair sprinkling of kids, senior citizens, and eclectic characters. There were a few costumes of one sort or another. Signs, flags, and banners were plentiful, mostly homemade looking. I especially enjoyed the pirate theme – very topical. I walked around the entire perimeter and saw no counter-protesters. There were about 25-30 police present, looking relaxed and friendly – a high-risk crowd this was not. One criticism I have is that the speakers could not be seen by most of the crowd (I later saw that speakers had a very low platform on which to stand) and as such there was not a clear focal point for many people. Another is that most speakers did not use the microphone properly and were not heard well. The rally really could have used a community organizer to help with these technical matters, which is no doubt a part of their training – I think it’s Rallies, Protests, and Crowd Incitement 101.

John M Greco

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Texas Protects Its Successful State Economic Policy; Illinois Says No Thanks, Who Needs Job Growth?

Texas Governor Rick Perry was on the Kudlow show on CNBC last night. He said that "somewhere between 70% to 80% of all jobs created last year in America were created in Texas." Reasons: Texas has no personal income tax, has no corporate income tax, and, according to Perry, recently enacted the most sweeping tort reform in America. Trial attorneys are in check in Texas -- Perry says "we export trial attorneys along with manufactured goods." He did express disappointment in persistently high property tax rates, and said that the fight to lower them continues.

Not too long ago I read a post in which the writer mentioned attending a speech of Perry's in Texas. He reported Perry saying that in Texas they recognize that companies create and maintain jobs, and that when companies prosper, Texans prosper. As such, Perry said that when a business anywhere in the US thinks about opening a new plant or relocating its business, Texans want that business to think of Texas first. They want Texas to have the best climate for business in the US.

Other states, usually those solidly controlled by Democrats, follow a different path. Illinois, my home state, has an incalculably high "corruption" tax, ranks 48th among the states in economic performance according to the ALEC-Laffer Analysis (link), and ranks 47th in non-farm employment growth 1996-2006. So what does new Democrat Gov. Quinn want to do? He wants to raise taxes, and raise them dramatically (link). It will be hard for Illinois to get to 50th place, however, as long as states like Michigan and New York are in the Union, or at least as long as they are controlled by Democrats.

Texans, alert people that they are, are now sending a shot across the bow of the socialist federal ship of state run by Obama and his band of spend and tax and spend Democrats (link) by reaffirming their 10th Amendment rights in our federal system. They have worked hard for their prosperity and they don't want Obama and the Democrats to damage it any more than they already have. In the ALEC-Laffer State Performance Index, Texas is first, by design, among the 50 states.

John M Greco

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Notre Dame Betrays Its Principles in Honoring Obama

The University of Notre Dame is now enmeshed in well-deserved controversy because of its decision to “honor President Barack Obama by inviting him to deliver this year's Commencement address and by conferring on him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree” (link).

Honoring Obama is controversial primarily because of his extreme views on abortion. To some, honoring anyone in the least pro-choice is an outrage. I do not agree with this, for I think moral people can view abortion very early in pregnancy as not immoral. However, abortion later in pregnancy is all together another thing, especially when the fetus would be viable outside the womb. And as for so-called partial-birth abortions, where babies are killed while partially born, and so-called botched induced labor abortions, where infants born alive despite the attempt at abortion are denied all care and left to die – these practices are barbaric and disgraceful.

No moral person, even one “pro-choice,” could countenance such despicable acts. But Obama does. And Notre Dame chooses to honor him.

Of special importance in this story is Obama’s leading role, when he was in the Illinois legislature, in blocking adoption of an Illinois law that would require treating infants born alive, despite a failed attempt to abort, as any other infants requiring medical care and comfort. Obama led the fight to preserve the practice of denying infants born alive after failed abortion attempts any medical care and of simply putting them in a closet to die – in short, he fought to preserve infanticide.

Here is Peter Kirsanow writing at The Corner blog at National Review Online last August in a series of posts:
Obama's 2002 vote against the Induced Birth Infant Liability Act ("IBILA") [occurred] while he was in the Illinois state legislature. IBILA would have extended the same medical care to babies born after surviving an abortion attempt as is enjoyed by all babies born alive. When a similar measure, the Born Alive Infant Protection Act ("BAIPA") was introduced in the U.S. senate not one senator voted against it. Even NARAL didn't oppose it….
Obama sits through testimony that babies born alive after an unsuccessful abortion are left to die alone in a utility closet. The babies are provided neither comfort, care, nor sustenance during their brief lives. When this practice was brought to public attention horrified citizens petitioned their legislators to address the matter. Proposed legislation is drafted, [but Obama votes against it]….
Obama supposedly questioned the constitutionality of IBILA… Obama's rationale for voting against IBILA is questionable at best. What isn't questionable is that Obama, the constitutional law lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, offered no amendments to cure IBILA's purported defect…. Rather, after voting against IBILA, the bill was referred to a committee he chaired where he killed it by never bringing it up again for a vote. (It's also worth noting that while Obama voted "present" 100+ times in the Illinois state legislature, in this particular case he bestirred himself to vote "no".)
Another revealing aspect of the issue is Obama's mendacity in claiming that his vote reflected the purported absence of "neutrality language" in the Illinois state version of the Born Alive Act. It's been six years since his vote, there's irrefutable evidence that the state version was the same as the federal version, yet Obama persists in peddling his false explanation. He's probably judged correctly that the media won't call him on it…. Obama insists on calling living, breathing babies no longer in the womb fetuses; he refuses to call them persons.
David Freddoso has also covered this story in detail in an excellent National Review piece (link). And of course the media did cover for Obama (link).

This is the man Notre Dame chooses to honor this spring. A man so radical in his support for abortion, and so fearful that any restriction would threaten it, that he took a leadership role with fellow Democrats in the Illinois legislature to defeat a bill that would have outlawed the killing of babies born alive. He worked to protect infanticide.

Ten priests of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the order that founded and runs Notre Dame, wrote (link) in a letter just published in the Notre Dame student newspaper:
Notre Dame's decision has caused moral confusion and given many reason to believe that the University's stance against the terrible evil of abortion is weak and easily trumped by other considerations…. We prayerfully request that Fr. Jenkins and the Fellows of the University, who are entrusted with responsibility for maintaining its essential character as a Catholic institution of higher learning, revisit this matter immediately. Failure to do so will damage the integrity of the institution and detract from all the good work that occurs at Notre Dame and from the impressive labors of its many faithful students and professors.
Dennis Byre has captured the nub of the matter in his commentary the other day published in the Chicago Tribune and at his blog (link):
You can argue that the purpose of any university is discourse and disputation, so Notre Dame should invite whomever it pleases…. [But] If disputation is the reason for Obama's appearance, then let it be in a classroom or confrontational format, where the antagonists can fence. Honoring Obama is not the same as disputing him.
Disputation in the academic sense is not the reason for Obama's appearance. Notre Dame assuredly knew that the Obama honors would cause a massive controversy, one that would catch the nation's attention and divide the church. It was a cynical move by an institution captivated by its own "pre-eminence" to draw attention to itself. At the expense of its (now-dead) principles.

John M Greco

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Obama Bows Before Muslim King But Not Before Christian Queen (with links)

Obama bowing before the Muslim Saudi king. He did not bow (appropriately so) before Christian Queen Elizabeth when meeting her. Stunning.

Gateway Pundit (link): !
Mark Steyn (link): Prostrates himself. This is a very weird presidency.
Scott Johnson at Power Line Blog (link): A disgrace.
Michelle Malkin (link): Bleccch.
Sweetness & Light (link): [Can't be denied --] Yes, he did bow.
Debbie Schlussel (link): Officially acknowledging our oil slavery to the Islamic Kingdom.
Atlas Shrugs (link): Submission. Startling.
The Radio Patriot (link): He is a sickening spectacle.
Just One Minute (link): Must be a muslim thing.
Clarice Feldman at The American Thinker (link): Not the protocol, and most unbecoming.

John M Greco

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Obama – Just Fooling People About Bankruptcy Option for GM

At this point, given Obama’s long, successful history of talking like a moderate and acting like a radical, thus proving you can fool lots of the people all of the time, only a fool would believe Obama’s threat the other day of bankruptcy for General Motors if more concessions are not forthcoming from unions, among others. Just as with his comment the other day that he was not a big government guy, Obama can lie and he can lie boldly. Obama is the ultimate big government ultra-liberal. When he lies he knows that his core supporters will not care (many of whom indeed rationalize the “noble” lie that furthers their causes), and he won’t care that his opponents will not believe it, but he knows that the middle of the electorate that is uninformed, inattentive, and gullible will swallow it.

The Associated Press reported (link) the other day that:

President Barack Obama refused further long-term federal bailouts for General Motors and Chrysler, saying more concessions were needed from unions, creditors and others before they could be approved. He raised the possibility of controlled bankruptcy for one or both of the beleaguered auto giants.
Tough talk about the unions, but talk is all it is. The unions are of course a core constituency of the Democrat party, so nothing bad will happen to them. Bankruptcy would wipe out their uncompetitive wages, benefits, and work rules. So what’s really going on? Francis Cianfrocca writes (link) at Contentions:
As a condition of that hurriedly-arranged bridge loan [in the waning days of the Bush Administration], GM was required to come up with a viable business plan, or else be forced to return the TARP money…. And the plans were due on… March 31…. [However,] there was no way on earth for GM to present a viable, stand-alone operating plan. Why not? Because the GM menagerie includes one stakeholder that enjoys near-complete political protection: the United Auto Workers…. GM has many problems, and all of them need to be solved together for this company to have a chance. But if labor costs are protected, there’s simply no chance…. There’s no way that [now former] GM CEO Rick Wagoner could bring all the parties (bondholders, dealers, vendors, and labor) together to agree on major cost cutting, as long as the union held the trump card.

What should happen, given the circumstances? GM should be taken into government conservatorship (the rough equivalent of an 11 [bankruptcy] filing, but with taxpayers funding their losses). But that’s not going to happen. Given that [the Democrat-controlled] Congress is thoroughly unwilling to force the union to suffer, it’s more likely that we’ll see an outcome analogous to the nationalization of British Leyland. That means an open-ended commitment of taxpayer funds to cover the losses of an entity that is insulated from competition, and does its marketing in order to appeal to its government overseers rather than to its customers.

In today's Wall Street Journal, Holman Jenkins cuts right to the chase (link):

President Obama rightly says "sacrifices" must be made if GM is to emerge as a viable company. But there's one sacrifice he won't make: his re-election chances, by leaving the fate of the UAW truly up to a bankruptcy judge…. Keep that in mind amid reports the administration favors a "quick and surgical" bankruptcy. It's a bluff…. Even a "prepackaged" filing runs too much risk of a judge imposing more "sacrifice" on the UAW than the administration is prepared to tolerate.

Mr. Obama will be content with incoherent policies that poll well -- which means GM, Chrysler and perhaps Ford eventually will need taxpayer subsidies as far as the eye can see -- or until a real bankruptcy sometime after November 2012 [i.e., after Obama’s hoped-for re-election, when he would no longer need union votes].

Obama is a master at head fakes that dupe the star-struck and the gullible as he moves the ball down the field. We just all need to watch where he’s running, not what he’s saying.

John M Greco