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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Larry Elder

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Larry Elder

Last Build Date: Thu, 09 Apr 2009 00:20:00 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2009

Obama: The Charming Menace to Peace and Prosperity

Thu, 09 Apr 2009 00:20:00 -0600

Did the traditional media, in full praise over Obama's "successful" European tour, note that he failed to secure anything of substance? After all, getting more buy-in from the Europeans for the war in Afghanistan was the President's most important objective. And our allies agreed to send 5,000 more personnel to Afghanistan. But wait. The promised deployment consists of police and trainers to be sent on a temporary basis and kept out of harm's way. The United States, Canada and Great Britain, therefore, continue the heavy lifting. And since 9/11, most NATO countries spend less on defense as percentages of their GDPs than before. Didn't the president fire the CEO of General Motors? With polls showing opposition to bailing out the automakers, the President dumped CEO Rick Wagoner, the 30-plus-year General Motors lifer. Wagoner's long GM career means that he walked the halls while GM continually made decisions that lost money and market share. His replacement checks in with 25 years' experience at General Motors. So the President, praised by the media for his "get-tough" approach with the automakers, swapped a GM lifer with a GM lifer. And where are the connect-the-dots conspiracy nuts when you need them? During the Bush administration, critics spoke of the "unholy alliance" between Bush and "Big Oil." They attacked Vice President Dick Cheney for an alleged unholy alliance with Halliburton, the company Cheney once ran. Neither the oil companies nor Halliburton received taxpayer "bailout" money -- unlike the banks. What of the Wall Street bailout recipients' connections to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner? Until recently, former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin -- a mentor of Geithner's -- served for a decade as senior adviser and member of the board of directors at Citigroup. During that time, the company got deeply involved with those fancy derivatives now known as "toxic" assets. Rubin's former firm has received -- so far -- $50 billion from taxpayers. This brings us to Obama's top economic adviser, Lawrence Summers. Summers, in 2008, earned $5.2 million in compensation from hedge fund D.E. Shaw and more than $2.7 million in speaking fees -- a lot of that from financial institutions now receiving bailout money. Obama blames the financial meltdown on greed and the lack of regulations. But Summers, while secretary of Treasury under Clinton, publicly defended unregulated, free market derivatives. Didn't presidential adviser David Axelrod, following former Vice President Dick Cheney's criticism of Obama's changes to fighting the war on terror, call Cheney "unstatesmanlike"? Cheney, appearing on a news show, calmly explained why he feels that Obama's approach makes the country less safe. Cheney -- along with the majority of Americans -- objects to the closing of Guantanamo Bay. He opposes restricting interrogation techniques to the U.S. Army Field Manual and the closing of secret interrogation sites. Unstatesmanlike? Does Axelrod, to compare Veeps with Veeps, recall former Vice President Al Gore's angry, almost-unhinged attacks on President Bush? "He played on our fears!" screamed Gore during a speech -- as opposed to during an interview, when he might (as did Cheney) have rationally explained his differences and objections. Unstatesmanlike? Didn't the President, with a straight face, promise to reduce the deficit by half in five years? The Congressional Budget Office forecasts government spending over the next 10 years will quadruple the annual deficit of Bush's presidency. The CBO expects the nation's debt to double in five years and triple in 10. But according to The Heritage Foundation, Obama's claim of "$2 trillion in savings over the next decade" is "simply not true. His budget increases spending by $1 trillion over the next decade, which he attempts to offset by reclassifying as 'savings' $1.4 trillion in tax increases and $1.5 trillion in reduced spending in Iraq." First he describes tax increases as[...]

Political Courage -- British-Style

Thu, 02 Apr 2009 00:00:00 -0600

"Prime Minister," MEP Hannan said, "I see you've already mastered the essential craft of the European politician, namely the ability to say one thing in this chamber and a very different thing to your home electorate. You've spoken here about free trade, and amen to that. Who would have guessed, listening to you just now, that you were the author of the phrase 'British jobs for British workers' and that you have subsidized, where you have not nationalized outright, swathes of our economy, including the car industry and many of the banks? Perhaps you would have more moral authority in this house if your actions matched your words. Perhaps you would have more legitimacy in the councils of the world if the United Kingdom were not going into this recession in the worst condition of any G-20 country. "The truth, Prime Minister, is that you have run out of our money. The country as a whole is now in negative equity. Every British child is born owing around 20,000 pounds. Servicing the interest on that debt is going to cost more than educating the child. Now, once again today you try to spread the blame around; you spoke about an international recession, international crisis. Well, it is true that we are all sailing together into the squalls. But not every vessel in the convoy is in the same dilapidated condition. Other ships used the good years to caulk their hulls and clear their rigging -- in other words, to pay off debt. But you used the good years to raise borrowing yet further. As a consequence, under your captaincy, our hull is pressed deep into the waterline under the accumulated weight of your debt. We are now running a deficit that touches 10 percent of GDP, an almost unbelievable figure -- more than Pakistan, more than Hungary, countries where the IMF have already been called in. Now, it's not that you're not apologizing; like everyone else, I have long accepted that you're pathologically incapable of accepting responsibility for these things. It's that you're carrying on, willfully worsening our situation, wantonly spending what little we have left. ... In the last 12 months, 100,000 private-sector jobs have been lost, and yet you created 30,000 public-sector jobs. "Prime Minister, you cannot carry on forever squeezing the productive bit of the economy in order to fund an unprecedented engorgement of the unproductive bit. You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt. And when you repeat, in that wooden and perfunctory way, that our situation is better than others, that we're 'well-placed to weather the storm,' I have to tell you (that) you sound like a Brezhnev-era apparatchik giving the party line. You know and we know -- and you know that we know -- that it's nonsense!" The British prime minister's "solutions" resemble those of President Barack Obama, the Democrats and some Republicans -- solving a spending and borrowing crisis by spending and borrowing. Yet Obama brazenly calls his budget "A New Era of Responsibility." Obama believes that merely raising taxes on the so-called rich will be sufficient to fund all of his programs. He believes that the behavior of the so-called rich will be unaffected by the fact that they will keep a lot less than what they make. He believes that the same government of unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare -- the same government that runs the now-broke post office and "managed" disaster relief after Katrina -- can "create" and "invest" in health care, "green" jobs and education. He does not pay the slightest attention to the founding principles of this country -- a limited government and a maximum of responsibility by its citizens. On a recent cable newscast, a pundit actually said that "capitalism" no longer works. And he was a former top aide to then-Republican House Majority Leader Newt Gingrich! The future of this country, at least in my lifetime, has never seemed more frightening and uncertain. While President Obama b[...]

Imagine if 'President McCain' Joked About the Special Olympics

Thu, 26 Mar 2009 00:20:00 -0600

For that matter, imagine if a President McCain mistook a White House window for a door; his secretary of Treasury had not paid taxes; he granted two dozen waivers to his no-lobbyists-in-government rule; and he had promised bipartisanship but got only three across-the-aisle votes for his "stimulus" package. Imagine if President McCain, after promising a "clean break" from his predecessor, retained "extraordinary rendition," the FISA program, the option of wiretapping without warrants, and the option of using "enhanced interrogation techniques"; he promised to close Gitmo, then said it would take as long as a year, but then our European allies refused to take in "detainees" from their own countries; he reneged on/fudged his promise to have all combat troops out of Iraq within "16 months of his presidency"; he adopted for Afghanistan the same counterinsurgency strategy used in Iraq, which, as a candidate, he'd criticized for not "achieving its objectives"; and he used the same "state secrets" argument as did the Bush administration in the same court case, to avoid turning over certain national security documents in an ACLU-brought case on behalf of an alleged torture victim/detainee. Imagine if -- on the campaign trail -- a future President McCain had declared a nuclear-armed Iran "unacceptable" but agreed to engage in negotiations without preconditions; Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the new President he must apologize for 60 years of anti-Iranian activity; President McCain then reached out to the Iranians in a televised address; and in response, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- who holds ultimate authority in Iran -- told him to a) drop animosity and criticism, b) end sanctions, c) unfreeze assets, and d) end "unconditional support" for Israel. Imagine if President McCain acted "outraged" -- as though he, his secretary of Treasury, and a party leader (Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.) had not previously known about and approved the controversial AIG bonuses; executives at Freddie and Fannie, failed institutions now taken over by government, were getting bonuses, too; and during this recession, after criticizing taxpayer-funded corporate retreats, President McCain and First Lady Cindy McCain threw taxpayer-funded White House parties nearly every night, hiring entertainers such as Stevie Wonder and the Jonas Brothers. Imagine if, as sitting president, McCain appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno and cracked jokes, while -- as the media would have written -- "millions of Americans have lost their homes and their jobs with millions afraid they're next, yada, blah, etc."; he tripled the projected annual deficit and intended, within a short period, to double the national debt; and he promised to "create or save" an ever-changing number of jobs -- never offering a yardstick to define a "saved job." Imagine that McCain's vice president made a number of gaffes, including not knowing the "recovery" Web site despite going on national television to promote it and revealing on television -- through his wife -- that he'd had the option of a job as secretary of State or VP -- thus showing the administration's extreme disrespect toward the current secretary of State. Imagine if, of the 18 important sub-Cabinet positions in the Treasury Department, none were filled; after promising "transparency," McCain wouldn't say where the TARP money had gone and who had gotten it; after receiving bailout money, the largest 20 financial institution recipients actually reduced lending -- the opposite intent of the program; saying that he wasn't a "socialist," McCain defended himself by asserting that "it wasn't on my watch" that we'd bought shares of banks -- but omitted that, as senator, he'd supported and voted for it; and he constantly said he'd "inherited" the deficit despite -- as a senator -- voting for TARP and other programs that had wildly increased it. Imagine if President McCa[...]

A Front-Page Story: President McCain's First 50 Days

Thu, 19 Mar 2009 00:00:00 -0600

He plans to change the role of government in virtually every aspect of society -- from education to health care to job creation to research and development to fighting "climate change" -- all of which call for drastically higher taxes and spending. Since the President took office, the Dow Jones industrial average has plummeted, and unemployment keeps rising. Yet one of his top economic advisers recently said, "The fundamentals (of the economy) are sound" -- an assessment that drew sharp criticism during the campaign, when the economic picture looked better. The President expects his plans to "create or save" millions of jobs. But by saying "create or save," he virtually protects himself against failure. During a recent hearing, a senator asked the secretary of Treasury, "What's a saved job?" The secretary gave a vague, meandering response about a "rise in unemployment avoided." The President promised to end earmarks but signed a pork-laden stimulus bill that he proclaimed "free of earmarks." Then days later, the President signed a $410 billion continuing operations budget that contains almost 9,000 earmark projects. The President's stimulus package, the constantly changing bailout package and this year's budget threaten to triple the annual deficit. The President's new budget (ironically entitled "A New Era of Responsibility") shows a total federal debt swelling more than 50 percent from 2008 to 2011 -- almost equaling 2011's gross domestic product -- and continues rising through 2019, the last year in the budget. Yet the President insists that he crafted the recovery plan "not because I believe in bigger government. I don't." During then-President George W. Bush's final weeks in office, Congress authorized spending $700 billion to prop up banks, purportedly to buy these troubled or toxic assets. (As chairman of the New York Fed, the current Treasury secretary actually helped design that package.) But the banks receiving the most money actually reduced lending, the opposite of the intended purpose. More troubling, especially for an administration that promised transparency, the current White House cannot or will not definitively say how the money was spent and who received it. Not all bankers even wanted the Troubled Asset Relief Program, with some critics arguing that without government intervention, the financial system could have self-corrected. The CEO of Wells Fargo complained that the government forced his bank into the program and that its mandates restrict his bank's ability to raise private funding. "Is this America," said Chairman Richard Kovacevich, "when you do what your government asks you to do and then retroactively you also have additional conditions? If we were not forced to take the TARP money, we would have been able to raise private capital at that time." As for the President's plan to "stress test" banks in order to isolate those worthy of bailout money, Kovacevich called it "asinine." The President promised to rein in unreasonable executive compensation, but insurance giant AIG -- which received more than $170 billion in bailout money -- plans to pay out $165 million in "guaranteed" bonuses. An outraged public prompted the President to ask his Treasury secretary to again attempt to stop or reduce bonuses that AIG's CEO acknowledged as "distasteful" but defended as legal obligations. The President's Treasury secretary, who received bipartisan confirmation despite nonpayment of some taxes, seems confused, not unlike a deer caught in the headlights. To make matters worse, the new secretary works as a one-man band. Of the 18 important undersecretary positions, none has been filled, with only three nominations currently under consideration. Two highly regarded undersecretary nominees abruptly withdrew their names, including one who many felt possessed significant expertise necessary to help the Treasury secret[...]

Democrats Wanted Bush to Fail

Thu, 12 Mar 2009 00:00:00 -0600

"It's not easy for me," said Letterman, "because I'm thoughtful." The New York Times recently printed a piece about David Axelrod, the Chicago newspaperman turned political consultant turned senior adviser to President Barack Obama. According to the Times, "The recent back-and-forth with Rush Limbaugh ... was explicitly authorized by Mr. Axelrod, who told aides that it was not a moment to sit quietly after Mr. Limbaugh said he hoped that Mr. Obama would 'fail.'" Newsweek's Jonathan Alter wrote, "Republicans hope to break the new president's momentum -- make him 'fail,' as de facto GOP chairman Rush Limbaugh urged." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Reg Henry wrote: "When Rush Limbaugh said he wanted Barack Obama to fail, the clanging of the stupidity meter roused me to action. Usually, I have the stupidity meter set to mute when it comes to the Vesuvius of Vacuity because everything he says is bound to set off the alarm and the dog can't sleep with all the stupid racket. ... After all, it is the polar opposite of what some of us believed about the last president as he instituted one fool policy after another to please the right-wing crank community. Those were years when I had to buy extra batteries for the stupidity meter and the dog took to sleeping with his paws over his ears." Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., said: "It's easy if you're Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don't have to try to do what's best for your people and your party. ... You're just on these talk shows and you're living well, and plus you stir up a bit of controversy." One columnist considers rooting for failure an act of disloyalty. The Miami Herald's Leonard Pitts wrote: "Do you ever say that about your president if you are an American who loves your country? Would you say it about George W. Bush, who was disastrous? ... You may think he's going to fail, yes. You may warn he's going to fail, yes. But do you ever hope he fails? Knowing his failure is the country's failure? Isn't that, well ... disloyal?" But what of Democrats who rooted against the success of George W. Bush? "Would you say you want President Bush to succeed or not?" asked an August 2006 Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll. The result? Ninety percent of Republicans wanted Bush to succeed, versus 7 percent who did not. Among independents, 63 percent wanted the President to succeed, compared with 34 percent who did not. What about Democrats? Forty percent wanted him to succeed, but 51 percent did not. Did anybody care? One guy -- Rush Limbaugh -- publicly wishes for Obama's liberalism to fail, and it's call out the dogs. But when the majority of Democrats rooted for Bush's failure, where was the outrage? A Dow Jones Factiva search of all publications, Web news and multimedia reveals the mainstream media completely ignored the 2006 poll -- save for one Associated Press story (picked up by about five papers), which mentioned a (SET ITAL) different (END ITAL) question from that survey. As for Limbaugh, he clearly stated that he wants "liberalism" to fail. He believes that an intrusive government -- which, among other things, props up failing businesses -- results in less prosperity. Imagine. "Do you want (Obama) to succeed?" conservative host Sean Hannity asked Limbaugh. "I would hope he would succeed," said Limbaugh, "if he acts like Reagan. But if he is going to do FDR ... why would I want him to succeed? ... If he is going to implement a far-left agenda ... $2 trillion in stimulus, the growth of government ... nationalized health care, I mean, it's over. ... That's the end of America as we have known it because that's then going to set the stage for everything being government-owned, -operated or -provided. Why would I want that to succeed? I don't believe in that. I know [...]

It's Not the Economy, Stupid -- It's Limbaugh

Thu, 05 Mar 2009 00:00:00 -0600

As the tax-and-spend policies of the Obama administration extend and deepen the recession, the new administration's strategy to deal with the fallout becomes clearer and clearer. Blame Rush Limbaugh. The Democrats, according to, took a poll and discovered that Limbaugh polled higher "negatives" than those of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and radical "reform educator" William Ayers. Given the departure of their reliable piñatas -- former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney -- Democrats believe they've found a new Darth Vader. Blame Rush Limbaugh. In the waning, pre-TARP days of the Bush administration, the national deficit stood at about $500 billion. A panicked Bush and Congress then voted for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program to "bail out" the banks. Obama signed a $789 billion economic "stimulus" package, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced a $2.5 trillion "rescue plan" for the financial system. Even CNBC's Jim Cramer, a former Obama supporter, called the administration's approach the "greatest wealth destruction I've seen by a president." Blame Rush Limbaugh. Obama, as part of his $3.6 trillion budget, intends to spend -- strike that -- "invest" on things such as creating "green jobs," combating the effects of "climate change," health care and enabling "homeowners" to remain in their unaffordable homes. How does the President intend to pay for all these things? He wants to tax "the rich" -- those earning $250,000 or more. He also promises to close "tax loopholes" taken advantage of by the wealthy. What to do when this European-style redistribution of wealth fails to achieve its desired objectives? Blame Rush Limbaugh. The U.S. government already controls nearly 50 percent of health care spending. The Obama administration, through regulation and mandates, intends for government to control the rest. What happens when -- as in Canada, France and elsewhere -- this fails to achieve its stated goal of accessibility, affordability and accountability? Blame Rush Limbaugh. The 20 banks that received the most of the original TARP money actually reduced, not increased, their lending. And some used the money to buy other institutions. So how does the administration explain the failure of the "bailout" money to "unfreeze" lending? Blame Rush Limbaugh. The government now holds equity positions in several institutions, including, but not limited to, the giant insurer AIG. Since taking these positions, the government's market value has dropped, placing the taxpayers deeper and deeper in the hole. General Motors, one of the Small Three, received -- so far -- some $13.4 billion in federal loans. But its losses continue, and GM now says it needs an additional $16.6 billion. Blame Rush Limbaugh. The president promised to eliminate pork, earmarks and/or special projects designed to please constituents. The $789 billion spending spree plan he recently signed is larded with pork-barrel projects. How does he square this legislation with his promise to end pork spending? Blame Rush Limbaugh. Republicans deserve harsh criticism for failing to rein in non-defense, non-homeland security spending when they controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress. Republicans helped gut the Freedom to Farm Act (designed to wean farmers from subsidies); OK'd pork-riddled energy and highway bills; expanded the federal government's role in education through, among other things, the No Child Left Behind Act; passed -- with the prescription benefits bill for seniors -- the largest expansion of Medicare in decades; and increased government regulation as much as or more than under Democratic administrations. But the Obama administra[...]

Obama Shoots for Mars

Thu, 26 Feb 2009 00:00:00 -0600

But when the applause died down, the President took out a scattergun and attempted to hit everything in sight. He confidently asserted his and our intention to overcome the current economic downturn and march toward an even brighter future. How? Government/taxpayers will spend our way to the summit. He/Congress/we will "invest" in health care and education; "save or create" 3.5 million jobs; "cure cancer within our lifetime"; provide assistance to the states; "save our planet from the ravages of climate change"; save banks and other financial institutions while holding "accountable those responsible" for their problems; increase the size of the military; end torture (presumably he meant of our enemies); and cut the size of the deficit. What?! Nothing about crafting a college football playoff? After the President's speech, the political commentators fell over themselves in complimenting the President. Many said things like "he aimed high," "he set out an ambitious agenda," and "he outlined a vigorous list of expected accomplishments." Economist Thomas Sowell uses a three-pronged test to examine government's "new ideas." 1) How much will it cost? 2) Who pays? 3) Will it work? Few of the post-speech analysts seemed to care. One waited in vain for the political experts to point out that the President's spending spree must come from somewhere -- taxes or borrowing or printing. And, as an aside, how would the press have reacted had former President George W. Bush claimed -- as did Obama -- that America "invented the automobile"? Suppose Bush steered a shopping cart down the aisle, packed it with everything in sight that he could grab, pushed it to the cashier, and then said, "You mean I gotta pay?" The President, on Tuesday night, promised to both lower taxes and raise taxes. He promised to both reduce spending and increase it. He promised to expand education while simultaneously claiming that education begins in the home. He promised to bail out homeowners -- "responsible" ones -- while insisting that Americans take responsibility for living beyond our means and making bad choices. He promised to provide financial assistance to states while never mentioning the states' fiscal irresponsibility. He said, "There are 57 police officers who are still on the streets of Minneapolis tonight because this plan prevented the layoffs their department was about to make," yet said nothing about whether that state budgeted or spent responsibly. He unilaterally abolished the notion that "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch." Under his administration, the free lunch not only exists, but government bureaucrats provide takeout or delivery. The President, last night, mentioned no total price tag for all this largesse. He did say, however, that he intends to raise taxes on the 2 percent of Americans making more than $250,000. Somehow he expects to burden "the rich" still more and not affect their behavior. Already, the top 1 percent pays nearly 40 percent of all federal income taxes. The President, as he said during the campaign, promised to lower taxes on 95 percent of Americans. Of course, nearly 30 percent of working Americans pay zero in federal income taxes. But they, too, will get checks. And, Obama said to applause, the "checks are on the way." The President sketched out a federal government grab larger than any in the history of our nation. His administration intends to bail out and oversee everything from banks to car manufacturers to lemonade stands. Be not afraid about waste, mismanagement or politically directed spending. To ensure that our money is spent properly, the Obama administration intends to post the allocations on the Internet, ensuring wise and appropria[...]

Elgin Baylor: The Hero and the Race Card

Thu, 19 Feb 2009 00:00:00 -0600

Averaging 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds per game in your 14-year pro career, you helped lead the Lakers to the NBA finals eight times and played in 11 NBA All-Star games -- all while carrying yourself, on and off the court, with class and dignity. At one time, you had the record for the most points scored in a game, 71. And you also held the record for most points in a playoff game, 61. (See YouTube: "NBA 1962 Finals Game 5 -- Elgin Baylor 61 Points.") Years after your pro career, in 1986, you became general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers, under the ownership of the parsimonious Donald Sterling. Your team floundered under your 22-year tenure, as your owner refused or was unwilling to spend the money to attract and keep the kind of talent that wins championships. The Sports Illustrated cover of April 27, 2000, proclaimed the Clippers "The Worst Franchise in Sports History" and declared that "the Man Responsible" was the owner -- and your employer -- Donald Sterling. Yet you showed up every year, and every preseason you predicted good things this time, this season, for the Clippers. Then, as if on cue, the team crashed and burned. The following year, you would repeat this ritual of hope and success for the upcoming season -- almost always followed by failure. Sterling officially replaced you as GM last October. You filed suit, calling him a racist. Mr. Baylor, you know something about racism. When you grew up in the '30s and '40s in Washington, D.C., blacks couldn't use the public playgrounds. When you traveled with the Lakers for an exhibition game during your first preseason, a Charleston, W.Va., hotel denied you service. You took a stand. Even after the team moved to another hotel, you boycotted the scheduled game. "I'm a human being," you said at the time. "I'm not an animal put in a cage and let out for the show." Your act of defiance, along with those of some other black players, spurred the NBA to officially denounce segregation and adopt policies to protect its players. Your lawsuit, filed by an attorney formerly with Johnnie Cochran's law firm, accuses Sterling of offering, in 1988, a lowball contract to black, then-NBA player Danny Manning. Sterling allegedly said, "I'm offering a lot of money for a poor black kid." Your complaint also claimed that NBA commissioner David Stern, present in the room, heard the comment. When Stern denied being present, your attorney amended the complaint -- calling the allegation of Stern's presence "a typographical error." Not a good start. Your legal team also alleges that Sterling, who made his money in real estate, refuses to lease apartments to blacks and Hispanics. Sterling settled a 2003 lawsuit and currently faces another accusing him of just that. If true, this, of course, violates the law and does, indeed, make a statement about Sterling. But true or false, how does this explain the fact that you worked for him for 22 years? Your lawsuit also asserts that "the Caucasian head coach was given a four-year, $22-million contract" but your own salary had "been frozen at a comparatively paltry $350,000 since 2003." Yet year after year, you showed up, cashed the checks, and failed to exercise (SET ITAL) your (END ITAL) option -- quitting. And your former boss, in recent years, appeared to change his modus operandi. Sterling actually paid players -- not just white players -- serious money. Sterling retained black ballplayer Elton Brand by agreeing to pay $82 million over six years. This season, Sterling brought in Baron Davis, a black veteran player, with a five-year, $65 million deal. Accusing an employer of racism -- especially one for whom you worked for more than two decades -- is serious business. At 74 years of age, after surviving and thrivin[...]

Obama in Prime Time: 7 Questions Left on Cutting Room Floor

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 00:00:00 -0600

What, no Rush Limbaugh? Obama even took a question from a "reporter" for the hyper-liberal Web site The Huffington Post. And, unlike Bush, the Obama administration preselected the reporters to be called upon and notified them in advance. Why did the others even bother showing up? If Bush pulled something like this, they'd call it "the discredited doctrine of pre-emption." We offer seven questions left on the cutting room floor: 1) Mr. President, tonight you criticized those who argue that FDR's policies failed. I'd like to read a passage from the diary of Henry Morgenthau, FDR's Treasury secretary: "We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. ... I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started ... and an enormous debt to boot!" Please comment. 2) Mr. President, this is a two-part question. In your opening statement, you called today's economic situation "the most profound economic emergency since the Great Depression" and later "the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression." But in the 1981-82 recession, unemployment reached 10.8 percent in 1982 versus 7.6 today. Reagan inherited an annual inflation rate of 13.5 percent, while you, sir, came in with a 0.1 percent inflation rate. Prime interest rates reached 21.5 percent at the end of 1980, compared with 3.25 percent at the end of 2008. Reagan did not ask for a "rescue" or "bailout" package. He cut taxes and slowed the rate of domestic spending. Unemployment, inflation and interest rates went down. The Treasury collected more revenue than ever. First, how then -- at least so far -- is this the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression? And second, given Reagan's success, why not cut taxes, reduce domestic spending, and leave taxpayers and consumers with more money to save, spend and invest? 3) Mr. President, you say your administration will not torture. You've directed our military to apply the Army Field Manual, which relies on 19 psychological methods of interrogation and excludes waterboarding. Yet you are setting up an interagency panel to decide whether to use interrogation methods not included in the Army Field Manual. Aren't you having it both ways -- saying you won't torture or use enhanced interrogation techniques, while retaining the option to do so? 4) As a candidate, you called raising taxes a matter of "neighborliness." Your Vice President called paying taxes a matter of "patriotism." Yet your secretary of Treasury, Timothy Geithner, who oversees the IRS, failed to pay some taxes. The International Monetary Fund, where he worked, informed him in writing of his obligation to pay payroll taxes and increased his compensation to offset the payment. He accepted the compensation but failed to pay taxes. Can the head of the department that runs the IRS credibly expect others to pay their taxes, when he failed to pay his own? 5) In one of your first acts as President, you signed an executive order that many call the toughest-ever ethical guidelines. It bans former lobbyists joining your administration from being involved with any matters or agencies that might be related to their former lobbying efforts. It also prohibits anyone from working in an agency he or she lobbied during the past two years. Given that, please comment on why you have granted a dozen personnel waivers to your own ethical guidelines. 6) The respected nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office studies the effects of the various proposed stimulus plans. The Washington Times said, "CBO, the offic[...]

The 'Stimulus' Package -- All Economists Agree?

Thu, 05 Feb 2009 00:00:00 -0600

Reisman: That is a view held by a large school of economists, perhaps the majority school, for the last 60 years or so. That's the Keynesian school, but there are other economists, like the Austrian school, which holds a very different position. In their view, an essential requirement to a sound economy is balanced budgets with small government. We want government limited to protecting life and property. The government should be attacking terrorists, providing police protection against common criminals, and that should be essentially it, and the people in an environment free from terror will proceed to provide for themselves economically. That has been the basic philosophy on which the United States was built. Elder: I know you're not a journalist, but isn't it unfair to make (the "recession cure") statement . as if it's a fact? Reisman: No, it is definitely not a fact, and it displays considerable ignorance which leaves out of account any alternative point of view, and in fact, it's easy to argue that deficits can pretty well worsen recessions with depression, because one of the main characteristics of any severe recession is widespread bankruptcies. Deficits contribute to that by withdrawing capital from availability for business. The deficits absorb savings, and those savings are then not available to be lent to business firms in need of credit, so more firms go under than would otherwise have gone under, and that worsens the depression or recession. Elder: Is it too strong to say that this guy is simply wrong? Reisman: . He's definitely wrong. . It's not deficits in and of themselves that promote spending, although he . seems to think that a dollar spent by the government is somehow more beneficial than a dollar spent by you or me, which is ridiculous. What people really have in mind, to advocate this position, is that the government will run at a deficit and not borrow from the general public . but will manufacture the money -- print it. So they'll enlarge total spending. So it's this mentality I would think more than anything else that's been responsible for our problems with inflation for the last 65 years or so. Every year, there is more and more money out there. . The rise in spending just outstrips the increase in production and the supply of goods, and so prices continually rise. . Elder: (This article asserts) you can spend government money to get us out of a recession. Reisman: That's definitely the idea that someone would come away with, and one would have no idea that one would have an alternative way to get out of the recession or depression or what one got us into in the first place. What put us into this recession and what causes every recession is precisely a preceding policy of inflation . the tremendous stock market boom fed by the Federal Reserve's rapid expansion of money. There was additional money poured into the stock market, and that . raised prices, and when they decided not to continue that . then the market fell. It would not have had that terrible fall if it had not had this artificial rise first, engineered by the Fed . a major aspect of inflation itself. Elder: The (article) quotes an economist from the so-called "non-partisan" Brookings Institution: "Tax hikes do less damage to the economy during a downturn than an equivalent amount of spending cuts." What does that mean? Reisman: . Keynesians argue that if you increase government spending by a dollar and increase taxes by a dollar, that serves to increase national income by a dollar. And that's what's being argued here. The joke of this argument is that the Keynesians are really very ignorant of aggregate economic accounting. . It's actually possible that by raising taxes a dollar [...]

Obama: The Endless Honeymoon?

Thu, 29 Jan 2009 00:00:00 -0600

During the Bush administration, we saw many "Big Stories" of "Bad Actions." Let's liken these stories to crimes. If Bush committed no crime, they reported an infraction. If he committed an infraction, they reported a misdemeanor. If he committed a misdemeanor, they reported a felony. If he committed a felony, they reported a capital offense. With Obama, the media reverse the procedure. Any future capital offense will get reported as a regular felony, a felony as a misdemeanor and so forth. Obama's inauguration showed the double standard on full display. The final tally for all the expenses won't be out for a few months, but clearly the cost of Obama's inauguration meets or exceeds Bush's four years ago, even adjusted for inflation. And expect a higher price for security, in large part because about 400,000 people attended Bush's last inauguration versus Obama's 1.5 million to 1.8 million. Obama's inaugural committee budgeted about $45 million for the fun stuff -- such as balls and concerts and parades -- with taxpayers putting up $49 million more, and local jurisdictions are asking federal taxpayers for another $75 million to cover their costs. But back in 2005, when Bush's second inaugural costs (excluding security) reached $42 million, the media attacked. Unseemly! Exorbitant! Extravagant! How can Bush justify the spending during wartime? Not only does the country remain at war, but our country now suffers a serious recession. So what do the mainstream media say about Obama's inaugural "extravagance"? Virtually nothing. One Associated Press article, headlined "For inaugural balls, go for glitz, forget economy," opened with this lead: "So you're attending an inaugural ball saluting the historic election of Barack Obama in the worst economic climate in three generations. Can you get away with glitzing it up and still be appropriate, not to mention comfortable and financially viable? To quote the man of the hour: Yes, you can. Veteran ballgoers say you should. And fashionistas insist that you must." Four years ago, an Associated Press article that attacked Bush's "extravagant" inauguration listed things $40 million could buy -- from Humvees to vaccinations. Here are just a few examples -- from the new president's first few days -- that caught little flak from the media: --Obama's nominee for Treasury secretary. When now-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner worked for the International Monetary Fund, the IMF informed all employees -- in writing -- that they owed payroll tax. They actually increase their compensation with an allowance to offset the taxes. Geithner took the money but failed to pay the $34,000 in taxes. He called it an honest "mistake." --Obama restricts lobbyists. Obama announced "tough" new ethics rules to restrict lobbyists from jobs in his administration. The President then granted a "waiver" for deputy secretary of defense nominee William Lynn, a former Raytheon lobbyist. So the anti-lobbyist ethics rules apply -- until they don't. Oh. --Obama ends "torture." Obama announced the end to "torture" and restricts the methods of questioning terrorist detainees to the 19 psychological techniques set out in the Army Field Manual. The manual prohibits threats, force and physical contact, including waterboarding. But wait. Obama intends to set up a special task force to determine the adequacy of the Army manual and to recommend "additional or different guidance for other departments or agencies." So Obama intends to restrict the methods of interrogation, unless and until he doesn't want to restrict them. And Obama's choice for national intelligence director, retired Adm. Dennis Blair, refused to say during his confirmation hearings whether he c[...]

Obama Begins -- and So Does the Resurrection of Bush

Thu, 22 Jan 2009 00:00:00 -0600

Candidate Obama claimed George W. Bush "shredded" the Constitution. But as president-elect, Obama nominated former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder to serve as attorney general. Holder, in a 2002 CNN interview, agreed with the Bush administration's position that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to terrorist detainees! "One of the things we clearly want to do with these prisoners," said Holder, "is to have an ability to interrogate them and find out what their future plans might be, where other cells are located. ... It seems to me that given the way in which they have conducted themselves, however, that they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention. They are not prisoners of war." Holder also supported the Patriot Act, first passed in the Senate 98-1. The Senate renewed it in 2006 with support from then-Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Both versions included the much-condemned "library provisions," which allow federal agents -- after authorization from a "secret" court -- to obtain suspects' records from businesses, libraries and bookstores during terrorism probes. Two months ago, the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled unanimously in support of legal warrantless searches of Americans overseas. "The Fourth Amendment's requirement of reasonableness -- but not the Warrant Clause -- applies to extraterritorial searches and seizures of U.S. citizens," wrote the judges. The panel of judges justified "sustained and intense monitoring" as reasonable, given the "self-evident need to investigate threats to national security." Candidate Obama promised to shut down Guantanamo Bay immediately, and the new President recently reiterated his intention. But the closure may take some time -- possibly a year -- as the administration faces the reality of what to do with the estimated 245 detainees, many of whom represent serious threats. Countries claiming "abuses" at Gitmo refuse to take any of the detainees, including those from their own countries. Between 30 and 60 of Gitmo's detainees, according to the Bush administration, returned to the battlefield upon their release. When Obama closes Gitmo, what about the "rights" of detainees held in prisons in Afghanistan? As the new administration works through these issues, Bush's choices won't seem so arbitrary, for they were good-faith decisions made in gray areas -- with the goal of keeping the country safe. Candidate Obama criticized the Bush administration for "neglecting" the "peace process" between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The world now condemns Israel for its "disproportionate" military action in Gaza. But back during the 2006 parliamentary election in Gaza, one of Hamas' candidates was a woman named Miriam Farahat. Palestinians call her Umm Nidal, Mother of the Struggle, for she lost three sons in campaigns to murder Israelis. A Hamas recruitment video features Farahat showing her 17-year-old son how to kill Israelis and telling him not to come back. He murdered five Jewish students. Another son was killed when the Israeli air force blew up his vehicle, which was carrying Qassam rockets. Farahat celebrated his death: "I am so proud. I wish I had more sons to offer." The Palestinians elected her. President Obama will soon arrive at the same position as did Bush -- that would-be "peace partner" Hamas seeks, above all, Israel's "obliteration." Obama promised -- before larding it up with conditions -- to sit down without preconditions with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Last year, the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran's military and most of its banks for continued nuclear activity. Ahmadinejad c[...]

Does Iraq Make Bush a Failed President?

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 00:00:00 -0600

His "crime"? For most of these historians, Bush led the country into an "unnecessary war." Return to the bad old days immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, when terror attacks killed 3,000 on American soil. Eighty to 90 percent of Americans expected another attack -- on American soil -- within six months to a year. Critics called Bush asleep at the wheel, that he failed to "connect the dots." Never mind that the 9/11 Commission said that former President Bill Clinton blew several opportunities to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. Let us recall Saddam Hussein, the "Butcher of Baghdad." Under President Clinton, Congress voted for -- and he signed -- the Iraq Liberation Act, calling for "regime change." Saddam Hussein stood in defiance of several United Nations resolutions calling for him to fully account for his weapons of mass destruction. He certainly possessed WMD, having used them against his enemies and his own people. He continually fired at the American and British planes patrolling the southern and northern "no-fly zones" set up to prevent genocide against fellow Iraqis. In addition to stealing billions from the "oil-for-food" program (to what end?), he sent $25,000 apiece to families of homicide bombers who attacked Israelis. Following Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the U.S.-led coalition's subsequent expulsion of him, we found Saddam much closer to developing a nuclear weapon than our intelligence community assumed. He later attempted to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush. Estimates vary, but Saddam killed, during his 25-year reign, between 300,000 and 1 million Iraqis. In the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, all 16 U.S. intelligence departments concluded -- with the highest possible level of certainty -- that Saddam still possessed stockpiles of chemical and biological WMD. British intel reached the same conclusion. According to former CENTCOM commander Gen. Tommy Franks, officials in Egypt and Jordan told him that they believed the dictator still possessed WMD. Bush retained the same CIA director, George Tenet, who served under Clinton. Tenet described the case for assuming the dictator possessed WMD a "slam-dunk." After the invasion of Iraq, Clinton publicly said he thought Saddam still had the weapons. A few months after the Iraq invasion, the former president visited Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, who later said, "When Clinton was here recently, he told me he was absolutely convinced, given his years in the White House and the access to privileged information which he had, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction until the end of the Saddam regime." True, "weapons hunter" David Kay, sent to Iraq to find the stockpiles, found no WMD. But Kay said that Saddam retained the capacity and the intent to restart his program. Now let's play suppose. Bush ignores the nearly unanimous intelligence community. He takes no action against Saddam. The dictator remains in power. The sanctions end. He restarts his WMD program. We experience another 9/11 or worse on American soil. Our intel traces the attack back to Saddam. Congress demands investigations for Bush's "failure to heed the clear consensus of the intelligence community and to take appropriate action." Democrats and many Republicans push for impeachment, based on negligence and malfeasance. Angry members of Congress quote the February 1998 words of the secretary of State under Clinton, Madeleine Albright: "Iraq is a long way from (here), but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical [...]

Israelis and Palestinians: Who's David, Who's Goliath?

Thu, 08 Jan 2009 00:00:00 -0600

But why the "disproportionate" response by Israel? Reportedly, more than 600 Palestinians have been killed, some civilians. Set aside for the moment that Hamas' charter specifically calls for the "obliteration" of the state of Israel. And set aside the fact that the Palestinian "militants" fight in heavily populated areas, assuring, indeed encouraging (for PR purposes) civilian casualties. We turn our attention to the "stolen" allegation. Israel lies in the ancient Fertile Crescent's southwest corner, with some of the oldest archeological evidence of primitive towns and agriculture. Historians and archeologists believe the Hebrews probably arrived in the area in the second millennium B.C. The nation itself was formed as the Israelites left Egypt during the Exodus, believed to be in the late 13th century B.C. The 12 tribes of Israel united in about 1050 B.C., forming the Kingdom of Israel. David, the second king of Israel, established Jerusalem as Israel's national capital 3,000 years ago. Jewish kingdoms and states existed intermittently in the region for a millennium. After conquests by Babylonians, Persians and Greeks, an independent Jewish kingdom was briefly revived in 168 B.C., but Rome took control in the next century, renaming the land of Judea "Palestine" after the Philistines, historical enemies of the Israelites'. Invading Arabs conquered the land from the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantines) in A.D. 638 and attracted Arab settlers. Within a few centuries, the Arab language and Islam prevailed, but a Jewish minority remained. After a brief period of prosperity, waves of invasions and changes of control followed, including rule by the non-Arab empires of the Seljuks, Mamelukes and European crusaders, before becoming part of the Ottoman Empire from 1517 until 1918. The crusaders massacred thousands of Jews, along with Muslims, in the 11th century. But soon thereafter, European Jews established centers of Jewish learning and commerce. By the time the Ottoman Turks occupied Palestine in the 16th century, according to British reports, as many as 15,000 Jews lived in Safed, which was a center of rabbinical learning. Many more Jews lived in Jerusalem, Hebron, Acre and other locations. By the middle of the 19th century, Jews constituted a significant presence -- often a majority -- in many towns. Still, in the 19th century, the Holy Land looked mostly like a vast wasteland. When Jews began to return to their "promised land" early in the 20th century, the desert literally began to bloom under their industry. Arabs followed, coming in large numbers for the jobs and prosperity. After four centuries of Ottoman rule, Britain took the land in 1917 and pledged in the Balfour Declaration to support a Jewish national homeland there. In 1920, the British Palestine Mandate was recognized. A declaration passed by the League of Nations in 1922 effectively divided the mandated territory into two parts. The eastern portion, called Transjordan, would later become the Arab Kingdom of Jordan in 1946. The other portion, comprising the territory west of the Jordan River, was administered as Palestine under provisions that called for the establishment of a Jewish homeland. The United Nations, in 1947, partitioned the area into separate Jewish and Arab states along meandering and indefensible boundaries. The Arab world, insisting that any Jewish claim to Palestine was invalid, staunchly refused to compromise or even discuss the subject. When Israel's independence was declared in 1948, Arab forces from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq combined to[...]

Obama the Magic Negro-Gate

Thu, 01 Jan 2009 00:00:00 -0600

The article insults a) Obama, by virtually ignoring his effectiveness as a candidate, b) whites, by accusing them of voting for Obama merely to assuage their own guilt, and c) Sidney Poitier, the brilliant, groundbreaking actor, for ascribing his success to whites who find him safe and non-threatening. The article produced virtually no outcry. Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh then aired a song parody --set to the music of "Puff the Magic Dragon" -- called "Barack the Magic Negro." Referring to the L.A. Times article, an Al Sharpton-like "singer" called Obama inauthentically black. Why, complained the singer, should white folks vote for Obama rather than a true black man "from the hood" like -- me. Chip Saltsman, a candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee, sent the song on a CD with 40 other songs, in a Christmas mailer to committee members. Doesn't the mailer, asked several cable news programs, expose the Republicans -- yet again -- for their tone deafness on the issue of race? CNN host Anderson Cooper asked about the term "Negro." Isn't it pejorative? Never mind the parody actually satirized Al Sharpton. The song implies that Sharpton hoped against an Obama victory, for it crushes Sharpton's argument about America's alleged institutional racism, a force so potent in a country so racist that Obama could not win. An Obama win threatens to reduce the significance of Sharpton-like black leaders. And never mind a black liberal -- who started the whole thing -- called Obama a "Negro." When will the GOP -- on the issue of race -- go on the offense? After all, for 100 years, the Democratic Party showed its tone deafness to the rights of blacks. Democrats opposed the 13th Amendment (freeing the slaves), the 14th Amendment (making ex-slaves citizens) and the 15th Amendment (that, on paper at least, gave blacks the right to vote). Democrats founded the Ku Klux Klan -- some even call it the "terrorist wing of the Democratic Party." And a greater percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Alabama Gov. George "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" Wallace was a Democrat. Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox, who as a restaurateur, left pick handles hanging on the walls to provide customers recourse in the event an uppity black tried to enter his restaurant. He was a Democrat. Arkansas Gov. Orville Faubus attempted, in 1957, to prevent the integration of Little Rock High School. He was a Democrat. Bull Connor, the commissioner of public safety for Birmingham, Ala., turned water hoses and dogs on civil rights activists. He was a Democrat. But what about the infamous Republican Southern strategy? The co-author of the strategy, Pat Buchanan, wrote in 2002: "Richard Nixon kicked off his historic comeback in 1966 with a column on the South (by this writer) that declared we would build our Republican Party on a foundation of states rights, human rights, small government and a strong national defense, and leave it to the [Democratic] 'party of Maddox ... and Wallace to squeeze the last ounces of political juice out of the rotting fruit of racial injustice.'" Today it's Democrats who blatantly use the race card to malign Republicans as a collection of bigots. Yet it's Republicans who support school choice and private Social Security savings accounts -- both of which disproportionately help blacks. Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Democrat Charlie Rangel, said of Republicans, "It's not 'spic' or 'nigger' anymore. They say 'l[...]