Archive for February, 2009
28 Feb 2009

Thought Crime at Central Conn

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A student at Central Connecticut State University who had the temerity to argue that allowing concealed carry of firearms on campus might save lives in cases of violent episodes like the murders at Virginia Tech soon found himself asked to come down to the campus police station to identify what firearms he owned and where he kept them.

Questioning a fundamental article of liberal faith at many Northeastern colleges today is sufficient to brand a student as an outlaw and potential threat to society.

CCSU Recorder:

For student John Wahlberg, a class presentation on campus violence turned into a confrontation with the campus police due to a complaint by the professor.

On October 3, 2008, Wahlberg and two other classmates prepared to give an oral presentation for a Communication 140 class that was required to discuss a “relevant issue in the media”. Wahlberg and his group chose to discuss school violence due to recent events such as the Virginia Tech shootings that occurred in 2007.

Shortly after his professor, Paula Anderson, filed a complaint with the CCSU Police against her student. During the presentation Wahlberg made the point that if students were permitted to conceal carry guns on campus, the violence could have been stopped earlier in many of these cases. He also touched on the controversial idea of free gun zones on college campuses.

That night at work, Wahlberg received a message stating that the campus police “requested his presence”. Upon entering the police station, the officers began to list off firearms that were registered under his name, and questioned him about where he kept them.

They told Wahlberg that they had received a complaint from his professor that his presentation was making students feel “scared and uncomfortable”. …

Professor Anderson refused to comment directly on the situation and deferred further comment.

“It is also my responsibility as a teacher to protect the well being of our students, and the campus community at all times,” she wrote in a statement submitted to The Recorder. “As such, when deemed necessary because of any perceived risks, I seek guidance and consultation from the Chair of my Department, the Dean and any relevant University officials.”

28 Feb 2009

Major Clovis Cache Found Last Spring in Boulder

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Douglas Bamford and Patrick Mahaffy with artifacts

LA Times:

Landscapers excavating for a koi pond in Boulder, Colo., found a cache of blood-spattered weapons and tools, but instead of calling the police, they summoned an archaeologist from the University of Colorado, six blocks from the site.

Douglas B. Bamforth initially thought the stone implements might have been a few hundred years old, but further studies showed that they were left behind about 13,000 years ago, making them one of only two caches of tools from that period known to exist, the university announced Wednesday. The other cache was found in Washington state.

An analysis by anthropologist Robert Yohe of Cal State Bakersfield showed that the blood came from horses, sheep, bears and a now-extinct camel — the first time a camel’s blood has been found on such a tool.

Workers building the pond for Pharmion Corp. founder Patrick Mahaffy discovered 83 items packed into an area about the size of a shoe box.

The find was made in May, but was not announced until the blood was analyzed. …

Among the flint implements were a salad-plate-size bifacial knife; a tool resembling a double-bitted ax; small blades; and flint scrapers.

Bamforth initially suspected that the tools were ceremonial, but the blood indicates that they were used for more practical purposes.

“It looks like someone gathered together some of their most spectacular tools and other scraps of potentially useful material and stuck them into a small hole in the ground by a stream, fully expecting to come back at a later date and retrieve them,” Bamforth said.

University of Colorado press release

Hat tip to Reid Farmer.

27 Feb 2009

Obama is the Economy’s Main Problem

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Obama’s election was a self-fueling political-cum-economic catastrophe. Markets began plummeting in early Fall from fear of an Obama victory, and that market decline made investors’ fears an inevitable reality. But, as Dick Morris explain, even after the election, economic turmoil and public panic is still an essential factor in promoting Obama’s radical agenda.

Why does Obama preach gloom and doom? Because he is so anxious to cram through every last spending bill, tax increase on the so-called rich, new government regulation, and expansion of healthcare entitlement that he must preserve the atmosphere of crisis as a political necessity. Only by keeping us in a state of panic can he induce us to vote for trillion-dollar deficits and spending packages that send our national debt soaring.

And then there is the matter of blame. The deeper the mess goes — and the further down his rhetoric drives it — the more imperative it becomes to lay off the blame on Bush. He must perpetually “discover” — to his shock — how deep the crisis that he inherited runs, stoking global fears in the process.

So, having inherited a recession, his words are creating a depression. He entered office amid a disaster and he is transforming it into a catastrophe, all to pass every last bit of government spending and move us a bit further to the left before his political capital dwindles.

But the jig will be up soon. The crash of the stock market in the days since he took power (indeed, from the moment he won the election) can increasingly be attributed to his own failure to lead us in the right direction, his failed policies in addressing the recession and his own spreading of panic and fear. The market collapse makes it evident that it is Obama who is the problem, where he should, instead, be the solution.

Hat tip to the News Junkie.

27 Feb 2009

How Not to Handle an Economic Crisis

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What should a president do when the economy is in the tank and investor confidence has collapsed? Why, wage class warfare and soak the rich, of course! It worked so well for FDR, after all.

The New York Times rejoices that Obama and the democrat Congress are “sweeping away” the ideas of Ronald Reagan and breaking with policies that led to three decades of growth and prosperity.

After all, Socialism has worked out so well everywhere it’s been tried.

The budget that President Obama proposed on Thursday is nothing less than an attempt to end a three-decade era of economic policy dominated by the ideas of Ronald Reagan and his supporters.

The Obama budget — a bold, even radical departure from recent history, wrapped in bureaucratic formality and statistical tables — would sharply raise taxes on the rich, beyond where Bill Clinton had raised them. It would reduce taxes for everyone else, to a lower point than they were under either Mr. Clinton or George W. Bush. And it would lay the groundwork for sweeping changes in health care and education, among other areas.

More than anything else, the proposals seek to reverse the rapid increase in economic inequality over the last 30 years. They do so first by rewriting the tax code and, over the longer term, by trying to solve some big causes of the middle-class income slowdown, like high medical costs and slowing educational gains.

Bob Krum remarks sardonically:

Barack Obama’s plans to hyper-inflate the government bubble while he taxes the rich at confiscatory levels, is so certain to collapse the economy that I can only conclude that he is a brilliant Rovian plant whose purpose is to finally drive a stake into the heart of the era of big government.

I only hope the nation survives that long.

27 Feb 2009

Gen Y Schadenfreude

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As we Baby Boomers start canceling our vacations at Gstaad and lining up to apply for jobs at supermarket checkout counters, Colby Cosh (the insolent little twit) consoles himself for the damage to his own portfolio with a little gloating at our expense.

For the children of the Baby Boomers, there is a special delight in watching the world economy shake itself to pieces like a two-dollar pram at this particular moment. Our elders, who bought prosperity and nice pensions at our expense and pulled the ripcords on their “Freedom 55” parachutes without leaving any behind in the passenger cabin, are getting it in the neck just when they thought a secure old age, with money for travel and expensive pastimes, was a safe bet. I’m willing to watch my meagre savings suffer from market turmoil in exchange for contemplating the dilemma of those who are now between 55 and 65.

These are people who started their working lives at a time when labour unions were strong, taxpayers outnumbered retirees nearly 10 to one, housing was as cheap as borscht and the basic personal exemption covered most of a living wage. They congratulated themselves on building an elaborate “social safety net” at the expense of their children. Their great numbers have allowed their preferences and superstitions to dominate culture and media. They’re the ones who burned through tonnes of pot and then launched a War on Drugs when they grew bored with it; they drove mighty-bowelled Mustangs and Thunderbirds in their youth, and only started worrying about the environment when they no longer needed a capacious backseat to fornicate in; they espoused and took full advantage of sexual liberation, but were safely hors de combat by the time AIDS reared its head. The first time I see one shopping for dog food, I doubt I’ll be able to suppress a laugh.

As for the younger crowd, it is a quite distinct pleasure to watch their panic and uncertainty. The actually existing danger is not too great, but no one born after about 1980 has much practical experience of severe recession. …

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

26 Feb 2009

Another Really Dubious Intel Appointment

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Charles Wellman Freeman, Jr.

Barack Obama’s choice to lead the National Intelligence Council, the body which advises policy makers on global strategy and which produces the National Intelligence Estimate, is reported to be former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Charles W. Freeman, Jr.

The radical left is rejoicing over what even the AntiWar.com Blog describes as an “amazing appointment.”

Freeman’s position on the political map can be identified by the fact that he succeeded George McGovern as head of the Middle East Policy Council.

He is renowned for anti-War-on-Terror and anti-Israel public pronouncements, as well as for statements sympathetic to the viewpoint of despotic regimes like those of Saudi Arabia and China.

Marty Peretz, at New Republic, expresses profound indignation at this appointment.

Here is the most stunning prospective appointment of the Obama administration as yet. Not stunning as in “spectacular” or “distinguished” but stunning as in bigoted and completely out of synch with the deepest convictions of the American people. What’s more, Charles “Chas” Freeman is a bought man, having been ambassador to Saudi Arabia and then having supped at its tables for almost two decades. …

That Chas, as he is so artfully called, also made himself a client of China and China a client of himself, is evidence that he has no humane or humanitarian scruples that underlay well, his unscrupulous political views, viz, his remonstrance to Beijing that it should have smashed the democracy protests as soon as they emerged on the streets. …

Chas Freeman is actually a new psychological type for a Democratic administration. He has never displayed a liberal instinct and wants the United States to kow-tow to authoritarians and tyrants, in some measure just because they may seem able to keep the streets quiet. And frankly, Chas brings a bitter rancor to how he looks at Israel. No Arab country and no Arab movement–basically including Hezbollah and Hamas–poses a challenge to the kind of world order we Americans want to see. He is now very big on Hamas as the key to bringing peace to Gaza, when in fact it is the key to uproar and bloodletting, not just against Israel but against the Palestinian Authority that is the only group of Palestinians that has even given lip-service (and, to be fair, a bit more) to a settlement with Israel.

That Freeman would be chosen as the president’s gatekeeper to national intelligence is an absurdity.

The appointment of head of the NIC does not require Senatorial confirmation, so, outrageous as it is, this one is probably a done deal.

26 Feb 2009

Diagramming the Obamakreig

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Obama’s primary campaign left Hillary feeling like Poland, and Obama’s presidential campaign left John McCain feeling like France. The political blitzkreig combining media support, misdirection, and image continued on, right over the Congressional Republican minority, with the passage of the unread Stimulus bill.

Paul Schlichta, at American Thinker, suggests Republicans need to go back to staff college and start studying the Campaign of 2008 in order to figure out how to defeat his next offensive.

The audacity and speed with which Obama railroaded the stimulus bill through Congress took Republicans by surprise. It shouldn’t have; it was a logical extension of his campaign tactics.

Like the spear-carrying soldiers of Ethiopia, overwhelmed by Mussolini’s tanks and poison gas in 1936, the Republicans simply don’t know what hit them in last year’s election. Some felt that they had conducted an old-fashioned 20th century campaign while Obama mounted the first truly information-age 21st century political blitzkrieg. Others blame the blatant media bias, the race issue, or the unprecedented scale of fund raising and spending.

The first month of Obama’s regime has provoked a similar bewilderment. A dazed Congress hastily authorized a huge document, filled with hidden booby traps like RAT, that none of them had actually read, let alone comprehended. Republicans are now cowering in corners, wondering what atrocity will come next

Anyone hoping to launch a successful counterattack must first analyze Obama’s campaign and assess the factors that contributed to its success.

Mr. Schlichta fails to remark that General Recession has played a major role in panicking the civilian population into supporting “liberation” by Mr. Obama. Unreasoning fear caused voters to plump for an alternative, any alternative to Republicans who were inevitably tarred with responsibility for alarming economic developments during the final months of the lame duck Bush regime.

Personally, I think General Recession is already mightily indignant over the socialist measures recently adopted, and I believe that he and Marshall Inflation will before long turn on Mr. Obama, waging scorched earth war on his economy. The suffering public will inevitably assign responsibility where it belongs: to democrats, and the Emperor Obama’s Army of supporters will begin getting a whole lot smaller.

26 Feb 2009

Some People Bought Houses They Could Never Hope to Afford

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President Obama comes down hard on people who purchased large houses they couldn’t really afford.

It’s a plan that won’t help speculators or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford but it will help millions of Americans who are struggling with declining home values.”

0:11 video

26 Feb 2009

Ambushed on the Potomac

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George W. Bush confronting the bureaucracies

In the National Interest, Richard Perle describes the fatal disconnect between George W. Bush’s professed policies and the entrenched State Department and National Security bureaucracies’ failure to implement them. Not only were Bush’s policies not faithfully pursued, in many cases, they were openly attacked and covertly undermined by leaks and disinformation operations.

Perle additionally debunks the left’s favorite bogey: the sinister imperialist “neocon” conpiracy. In recent years, neocon came to be used as a leftwing pejorative for someone supposedly guilty of responsibility for a new, more virulent and objectionable form of conservatism, inclined to unilateral militarism overseas and supportive of hypersecurity measures at homes. The left entirely managed to forget that a neocon is really a (typically Jewish intellectual) former liberal who has been “mugged by reality” and become a foreign policy and law enforcement hawk in response to the excesses of the radical left post the late 1960s. Dick Cheney, who has always been a conservative, for instance, cannot possibly be classified as a neocon.

For eight years George W. Bush pulled the levers of government—sometimes frantically—never realizing that they were disconnected from the machinery and the exertion was largely futile. As a result, the foreign and security policies declared by the president in speeches, in public and private meetings, in backgrounders and memoranda often had little or no effect on the activities of the sprawling bureaucracies charged with carrying out the president’s policies. They didn’t need his directives: they had their own. …

The responsibility for an ill-advised occupation and an inadequate regional strategy ultimately lies with President Bush himself. He failed to oversee the post-Saddam strategy, intervening only sporadically when things had deteriorated to the point where confidence in cabinet-level management could no longer be sustained. He did finally assert presidential authority when he rejected the defeatist advice of the Baker-Hamilton commission and Condi Rice’s State Department, ordering instead the “surge,” a decision that he surely hopes will eclipse the dismal period from 2004 to January 2007. But that is but one victory for the White House among many failures at Langley, at the Pentagon and in Foggy Bottom. …

Understanding Bush’s foreign and defense policy requires clarity about its origins and the thinking behind the administration’s key decisions. That means rejecting the false claim that the decision to remove Saddam, and Bush policies generally, were made or significantly influenced by a few neoconservative “ideologues” who are most often described as having hidden their agenda of imperial ambition or the imposition of democracy by force or the promotion of Israeli interests at the expense of American ones or the reshaping of the Middle East for oil—or all of the above. Despite its seemingly endless repetition by politicians, academics, journalists and bloggers, that is not a serious argument. …

I believe that Bush went to war for the reasons—and only the reasons—he gave at the time: because he believed Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States that was far greater than the likely cost of removing him from power. …

[T]he salient issue was not whether Saddam had stockpiles of WMD but whether he could produce them and place them in the hands of terrorists. The administration’s appalling inability to explain that this is what it was thinking and doing allowed the unearthing of stockpiles to become the test of whether it had correctly assessed the risk that Saddam might provide WMD to terrorists. When none were found, the administration appeared to have failed the test even though considerable evidence of Saddam’s capability to produce WMD was found in postwar inspections by the Iraq Survey Group chaired by Charles Duelfer.

I am not alone in having been asked, “If you knew that Saddam did not have WMD, would you still have supported invading Iraq?” But what appears to some to be a “gotcha” question actually misses the point. The decision to remove Saddam stands or falls on one’s judgment at the time the decision was made, and with the information then available, about how to manage the risk that he would facilitate a catastrophic attack on the United States. To say the decision to remove him was mistaken because stockpiles of WMD were never found is akin to saying that it was a mistake to buy fire insurance last year because your house didn’t burn down or health insurance because you didn’t become ill. …

I believe the cost of removing Saddam and achieving a stable future for Iraq has turned out to be very much higher than it should have been, and certainly higher than it was reasonable to expect.

But about the many mistakes made in Iraq, one thing is certain: they had nothing to do with ideology. They did not draw inspiration from or reflect neoconservative ideas and they were not the product of philosophical or ideological influences outside the government. …

If ever there were a security policy that lacked philosophical underpinnings, it was that of the Bush administration. Whenever the president attempted to lay out a philosophy, as in his argument for encouraging the freedom of expression and dissent that might advance democratic institutions abroad, it was throttled in its infancy by opponents within and outside the administration.

I believe Bush ultimately failed to grasp the demands of the American presidency. He saw himself (MBA that he was) as a chief executive whose job was to give broad direction that would then be automatically translated into specific policies and faithfully implemented by the departments of the executive branch. I doubt that such an approach could be made to work. But without a team that shared his ideas and a determination to see them realized, there was no chance he could succeed. His carefully drafted, often eloquent speeches, intended as marching orders, were seldom developed into concrete policies. And when his ideas ran counter to the conventional wisdom of the executive departments, as they often did, debilitating compromise was the result: the president spoke the words and the departments pronounced the policies.

Read the whole thing.

25 Feb 2009

Raptor on the Chopping Block

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F-22 Raptors

One might think that if one believed it appropriate to spend federal money just to create jobs that jobs for Lockheed Martin workers would be at least as worthy of creation as jobs for community organizers and social workers. It could be argued as well that investing in long-term American Air Supremacy is far more likely to contribute to the welfare of the nation than funding uneconomic energy projects or pouring more dollars into Amtrak. Of course, as decisions on spending priorities are made, it isn’t very likely that Barack Obama is going to look at it that way.

In the Atlantic, Mark Bowden discusses the meaning and consequences of the probable termination of F-22 purchases.

[US] complete dominance is eroding. Some foreign-built fighters can now match or best the F‑15 in aerial combat, and given the changing nature of the threats our country is facing and the dizzying costs of maintaining our advantage, America is choosing to give up some of the edge we’ve long enjoyed, rather than pay the price to preserve it. The next great fighter, the F‑22 Raptor, is every bit as much a marvel today as the F‑15 was 25 years ago, and if we produced the F-22 in sufficient numbers we could move the goalposts out of reach again. But we are building fewer than a third of the number needed to replace the older fighters in service. After losing hope of upgrading the whole F‑15 fleet, the Air Force requested 381 F‑22s, the minimum number that independent analysts said it needs to retain its current edge. Congress is buying 183, and has authorized the manufacture of parts for 20 more at the front end of the production line, enough to at least keep it working until President Obama decides whether or not to continue building F-22s. Like so many presidential dilemmas, it’s a Scylla-and-Charybdis choice: a decision to save money and not build more would deliver a severe blow to a sprawling and vital U.S. industry at a time when the nation is mired in recession. And once the production line for the F-22 begins to shut down, restarting it will not be easy or cheap, even in reaction to a new threat. Each plane consists of about 1,000 parts, manufactured in 44 states, and because of the elaborate network of highly specialized subcontractors needed to fashion its unique airframe and avionics, assembling one F-22 can take as long as three years. Modern aerial wars are usually over in days, if not hours. Once those 183 to 203 new Raptors are built, they will have to do. Our end of the fight will still be borne primarily by the current fleet of aged F‑15s.

When Obama unveiled his national-security team in December, he remarked that he intended “to maintain the strongest military on the planet.” That goal will continue to require the biggest bill in the world, but the portion that bought aerial dominance for so long may have become too dear. …

The Air Force fears that the dominance of U.S. airpower has been so complete for so long that it is taken for granted. The ability of the United States to own the skies over any battlefield has transformed the way we fight. The last American soldier killed on the ground by an enemy air attack died in Korea, on April 15, 1953.

Russia, China, Iran, India, North Korea, Pakistan, and others are now flying fourth-generation fighters with avionics that match or exceed the F‑15’s. Ideally, from the standpoint of the U.S. Air Force, the F‑22 would gradually replace most of the F‑15s in the U.S. fleet over the next 15 years, and two or three more generations of American pilots, soldiers, and marines would fight without worrying about attacks from the sky. But that isn’t going to happen.

“It means a step down from air dominance,” Richard Aboulafia, an air-warfare analyst for the Teal Group, which conducts assessments for the defense industry, told me. “The decision not to replace the F‑15 fleet with the F‑22 ultimately means that we will accept air casualties. We will lose more pilots. We will still achieve air superiority, but we will get hurt achieving it.”

25 Feb 2009

Amusing Bumper Sticker

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Seen by Karen on her morning commute:

24 Feb 2009

Tired of You, Barack Hu

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John Hawkins gives 15 reasons he’s already tired of Barack Obama.

24 Feb 2009

“Made in Montana”

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More gun makers and gun owners ought to be hanging “For Sale” signs on their current properties and getting ready to move West. Why would Auto Ordinance want to stay in the Catskills or Smith & Wesson in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, when there’s Montana?

Great Falls Tribune:

Montana lawmakers fired another shot in battles for states’ rights as they supported letting some Montana gun owners and dealers skip reporting their transactions to the federal government.

Under House Bill 246, firearms made in Montana and used in Montana would be exempt from federal regulation. The same would be true for firearm accessories and ammunition made and sold in the state.

“What we need here is for Montana to be able to handle Montana’s business and affairs,” Republican Rep. Joel Boniek told fellow lawmakers Saturday. The wilderness guide from Livingston defeated Republican incumbent Bruce Malcolm in last spring’s election.

Boniek’s measure aims to circumvent federal authority over interstate commerce, which is the legal basis for most gun regulation in the United States. The bill potentially could release Montanans from both federal gun registration requirements and dealership licensing rules. Since the state has no background-check laws on its own books, the legislation also could free gun purchasers from that requirement.

“Firearms are inextricably linked to the history and culture of Montana, and I’d like to support that,” Boniek said. “But I want to point out that the issue here is not about firearms. It’s about state rights.”

The House voted 64-36 for the bill on Saturday. If it clears a final vote, the measure will go to the Senate.

House Republicans were joined by 14 Democrats in passing the measure.

Hat tip to Bryan DiSalvatore.

24 Feb 2009

9000 Earmarks

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And the spending just keeps going. Having just passed the $787 billion so-called Stimulus Package, democrat commissars on Capitol Hill are next turning their attention to an Omnibus Spending Bill, which as Newsmax reports, will contain more earmarks than ever before. The Saturnalia of Spending continues.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, candidates Barack Obama and John McCain fought vigorously over who would be toughest on congressional earmarks.

“We need earmark reform,” Obama said in September during a presidential debate in Oxford, Miss. “And when I’m president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.”

President Barack Obama should prepare to carve out a lot of free time and keep the coffee hot this week as Congress prepares to unveil a $410 billion omnibus spending bill that’s riddled with thousands of earmarks, despite his calls for restraint and efforts on Capitol Hill to curtail the practice.

The bill will contain about 9,000 earmarks totaling $5 billion, congressional officials say. Many of the earmarks — loosely defined as local projects inserted by members of Congress — were inserted last year as the spending bills worked their way through various committees.

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