Archive for May, 2011
25 May 2011

Governing the Chicago Way

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Michael Barone cites 1,372 waivers from Obamacare, the NLRB’s intervention to prevent Boeing building an assembly plant in South Carolina, and an innovative attempt by the IRS to apply gift taxes to certain 501(c)(4) organizations guilty of supporting Republican candidates.

Punishing enemies and rewarding friends — politics Chicago style — seems to be the unifying principle that helps explain the Obamacare waivers, the NLRB action against Boeing and the IRS’ gift-tax assault on 501(c)(4) donors.

They look like examples of crony capitalism, bailout favoritism and gangster government.

One thing they don’t look like is the rule of law.

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Warner Todd Huston finds the same “Chicago Way” of doing things applies also to White House press pool access.

The Boston Herald recently found itself excluded from the press pool covering presidential visits. The Herald angrily reported finding out the reason for the ban.

The White House Press Office yesterday refused to address its policy on choosing local reporters for pool coverage, after the Herald was denied full access to the president’s Boston visit this week in part because the administration didn’t like the newspaper’s coverage. A press staffer’s e-mails cited a Mitt Romney op-ed that ran March 8 on the front page, challenging Obama’s policies the same day the president came to town for a fund-raiser.

24 May 2011

Le Mot Juste

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The Daily Mail reports that the British police have chosen a bit of Punjabi slang from the Imperial attic to be used as the code word for the American president during his state visit.

More than one person has wanted to call Barack Obama a ‘smart alec’, and now British police will get the chance to do so without getting reprimanded.

That’s because Scotland Yard has tapped the codename ‘Chalaque’ to refer to the U.S. president for security reasons during his upcoming state visit to the United Kingdom May 24-26.

Indarjit Singh, a Punjabi speaker in the UK who is director of the Network of Sikh Organisations, told the Sunday Times the word ‘is sometimes used when we want to denigrate someone who we think is too clever for their own good’.

Another Punjabi speaker told the paper the word Chalaque is ‘not considered rude’, but could be ‘mildly offensive’.

It is also said to mean ‘cheeky, crafty and cunning’.

24 May 2011

The Truth At Last

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Hat tip to Bruce Kessler.

23 May 2011

The GOP Needs a Dream Candidate

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Alex Pappas, at the Daily Caller, quotes Bill Kristol on the unfinished GOP presidential race field.

Mitch Daniels’ announcement that he’s not running for president means Republicans may turn up the pressure on dream candidates like Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan and Chris Christie.

“It would be unfair to call the current field a vacuum,” said William Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, in a blog post. “But it doesn’t exactly represent an overflowing of political talent.”

He predicted that “the odds are better than 50-50 that both Rick Perry and Paul Ryan run,” referencing the Republican governor of Texas and Wisconsin congressman, respectively.

Kristol also speculated that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton “may not feel they have to decide until after Labor Day—or maybe even until October or even November.”

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Michael Barone sums up where we at at present:

In, in alphabetical order: Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum.

Probably in: Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman.

Probably not in: John Bolton, Sarah Palin.

Out: Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee, Mike Pence, John Thune.

Declared out but still being wooed: Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Paul Ryan.

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Hugh Hewitt is taking the bizarre position that everything is hunkydory. By his lights, the GOP has a strong field of candidates, and besides “the top two contenders –Romney and Pawlenty– have essentially locked up the campaign talent and the money commitments necessary to mount a traditional campaign.”

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Barack Obama clearly doesn’t agree with Hewitt about the GOP field. As the New York Post reports:

President Obama’s re-election campaign is trying to dig up dirt in the Garden State.

Despite New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s repeated pronouncements that he will not seek the GOP presidential nomination, Obama operatives are compiling a dossier of what they call “opposition research” — material that could be used to damage Christie if he changes his mind, The Post has learned.

The Obama campaign is trying to keep its efforts from public view, concerned they would only elevate Christie’s already impressive standing within the Republican Party, sources said.

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I think Bill Kristol is dead on and Hugh Hewitt is dead wrong.

No member of a field consisting of Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Jon Huntsman obviously represents a serious challenge to a polished and articulate incumbent democrat.

Of the actually known candidates in that list, Newt Gingrich is demonstrably unreliable on policy and in performance, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum are too socially conservative, Ron Paul is a pacifist isolationist, Mitt Romney is a liberal from Massachusetts, and Tim Pawlenty (from liberal Minnesota) has a very mixed record as well.

To win in 2012, the Republican nominee is going to have to offer a serious alternative to Obamanomics. We can hardly defeat Obamacare with the record of a governor who created a similar system in his own state. Americans want prosperity restored. They do not, in general, desire to elect a president primarily devoted to a counterrevolution in public morals.

Paul Ryan is the best possible choice, it seems to me. The Ryan budget proposal represents the only serious alternative that anyone has proposed to the current out-of-control entitlement system. The choice between balancing the federal budget and national bankruptcy and decline is what the election needs to be about, and Paul Ryan is the best qualified Republican to argue our case to the American people.

23 May 2011

O’Bama Visiting Ireland

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President Obama is stopping in Ireland in the course of four-country European jaunt to visit his maternal roots.

CNN:

In Ireland, Obama plans to visit the Irish village of Moneygall, population 300, which claims to be the birthplace of one of his great-great-great grandfathers.

Henry Healy, one of Moneygall’s many residents claiming to be a distant relative of America’s first African-American president, hopes to hoist a beer with the town’s favorite son.

“We knew that the president had interest in his Irish roots,” Healy said. “He expressed while he was seeking the Democratic nomination that he did want to visit the little village in Ireland and have a pint.”

Situated in central Ireland between Dublin and Limerick, Moneygall has undergone a patriotic facelift. With American flags hanging in front of homes and stores, Obama might feel like he’s visiting a small town in the U.S. on the Fourth of July.

Genealogists at Ancestry.com first shed light on Obama’s Irish roots when he was campaigning for the presidency. They traced his Irish ancestry several generations to a fellow by the name of Fulmoth Kearney, the president’s great-great-great grandfather on his mother’s side, who immigrated from Moneygall to Ohio in 1850.

Maybe it was that “luck o’ the Irish” — or perhaps support from some of the 40 million Irish-Americans — that helped Obama win the presidential nomination.

“It never hurts to be a little Irish when you’re running for the presidency of the United States of America,” Obama joked during a campaign stop in 2008.

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James Delingpole is derisive on the identity antics of this kind. Tony Blair evidently used to do it, too.

Ah Bejaysus and Begorrah! Oi’ll be swearin’ boi the auld shrine to the Vorgin with the shamrocks growin’ round it next to the hill where Cuchullain slew the Great Leprechaun of Kildare on St Patrick’s Day that Barack Seamus O’Toole Flaherty Joyce O’Bama is the most Irish US president that ever set foot on the Emerald Oisle, so he is, so he is.

Except, when he’s in Africa, of course, when he disappears into the dry ice and re-emerges with a grass skirt and a bone through his nose and declares himself to be Mandingo, Prince of the Bloodline of the Bonga People, Drinker of Cattle Urine, Father of A Thousand Warrior Sons, Keeper of King Solomon’s Mines, Barehanded Slayer of Lions, Undaunted Victim of the Evil Colonial British Empire.

And in the Middle East, where he is Al-Barak Hussein Obama, Protector of the Holy Shrine, Smiter of the Kuffar, Lion of the Desert, Tent-Loving-Aficionado-of-the-Oversweetened-Coffee, Chomper of Sheeps’ Eyeballs, Restorer of the Caliphate.

Etc.

Tony Blair used to do this trick too, his accent mutating from broad Glaswegian to genteel Edinburgh to Mummerset to Estuary to Richard E Grant to Sarf London Grime – often in the course of one Downing Street reception – the better to persuade his target audience that he was their kind of guy. And it is, of course, the hallmark of an unutterable charlatan

23 May 2011

Old, Unhappy, Far-off Things, and Battles Long Ago

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Human remains of Bronze Age began turning up along the banks of the Tollense River, near Neubrandenburg on the Mecklenburg plain north of Berlin, in 1997.

More than 2000 bones representing the skeletal remains of 90 individuals, along with war clubs and the remains of horses, have been found, providing evidence of a battle fought here around 1250 B.C.

An article appearing in this month’s Antiquity (behind subscription screen) reports:

Chance discoveries of weapons, horse bones and human skeletal remains along the banks of the River Tollense led to a campaign of research which has identified them as the debris from a Bronze Age battle. The resources of war included horses, arrowheads and wooden clubs, and the dead had suffered blows indicating face-to-face combat. This surprisingly modern and decidedly vicious struggle took place over the swampy braided streams of the river in an area of settled, possibly coveted, territory. Washed along by the current, the bodies and weapons came to rest on a single alluvial surface.

The archaeological investigation does not seem to have turned up any metal weapons. Perhaps, metal swords and spear points were so valuable in the region in that period that they would have been carefully recovered at the time of the battle. The wooden weapons found, some examples described as resembling a baseball bat and a polo mallet, must have been used by common tribesmen, insufficiently wealthy to arm themselves with swords. History records pagan Baltic tribesmen from Samogitia going into battle against the Teutonic knights as late as the time of the battle of Grunwald in 1410 A.D. armed with knotted oaken war clubs in which flints had been embedded.

Who was fighting and what the conflict was all about are completely unknown, but the German researchers estimate that at least 200 men must have been killed in the course of a single action.

BBC story

Spiegel German-language article

Spiegel photo slide-show

3:42 German-language video

22 May 2011

Two Young Men in Their Twenties

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Bibi Netanyahu and Barry Soetero.

22 May 2011

Mark Steyn: The Unzippered Princeling and the Serving Wench

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Mark Steyn puts the former head of the IMF’s little hotel indiscretion into its proper cultural (and sociological) context.

Whatever the head of the IMF did or didn’t do, the reaction of the French elites is most instructive. “We and the Americans do not belong to the same civilization,” sniffed Jean Daniel, editor of Le Nouvel Observateur, insisting that the police should have known that Strauss-Kahn was “not like other men” and wondering why “this chambermaid was regarded as worthy and beyond any suspicion.” Bernard-Henri Lévy, the open-shirted, hairy-chested Gallic intellectual who talked Sarkozy into talking Obama into launching the Libyan war, is furious at the lèse-majesté of this impertinent serving girl and the jackanapes of America’s “absurd” justice system, not to mention this ghastly “American judge who, by delivering him to the crowd of photo hounds, pretended to take him for a subject of justice like any other.”

Well, OK. Why shouldn’t DSK (as he’s known in France) be treated as “a subject of justice like any other”? Because, says BHL (as he’s known in France), of everything that Strauss-Kahn has done at the IMF to help the world “avoid the worst.” In particular, he has made the IMF “more favorable to proletarian nations and, among the latter, to the most fragile and vulnerable.” What is one fragile and vulnerable West African maid when weighed in the scales of history against entire fragile and vulnerable proletarian nations? Yes, he Kahn!

Before you scoff at Euro-lefties willing to argue for 21st century droit de seigneur, recall the grisly eulogies for the late Edward Kennedy. “At the end of the day,” said Sen. Evan Bayh, “he cared most about the things that matter to ordinary people.” The standard line of his obituarists was that this was Ted’s penance for Chappaquiddick and Mary Jo Kopechne – or, as the Aussie columnist Tim Blair put it, “She died so that the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act might live.” Great men who are prone to Big Government invariably have Big Appetites, and you comely serving wenches who catch the benign sovereign’s eye or anything else he’s shooting your way should keep in mind the Big Picture. Yes, Ted Ken.

Nor are such dispensations confined to Great Men’s trousers. Timothy Geithner failed to pay the taxes he owed the United States Treasury but that’s no reason not to make him head of the United States Treasury. His official explanation for this lapse was that, unlike losers like you, he was unable to follow the simple yes/no prompts of Turbo Tax: In that sense, unlike the Frenchman and the maid, Geithner’s defense is that she wasn’t asking for it – or, if she was, he couldn’t understand the question. Nevertheless, just as only Dominique could save the European economy, so only Timmy could save the U.S. economy. Yes, they Kahn! …

The arrest of a mediocre international civil servant in the first-class cabin of his jet isn’t just a sex story: It’s a glimpse of the widening gulf between the government class and their subjects in a post-prosperity West. Neither Geithner nor Strauss-Kahn have ever created a dime of wealth in their lives. They have devoted their careers to “public service,” and thus are in the happy position of rarely if ever having to write a personal check. At the Sofitel in New York, DSK was in a $3,000-per-night suite. Was the IMF picking up the tab? If so, you the plucky U.S. taxpayer paid around 550 bucks of that, whereas Strauss-Kahn’s fellow Frenchmen put up less than $150. So if, as Le Nouvel Observateur suggests, France and America really do belong in entirely different civilizations, the French one ought to start looking for a new patron for the heroic DSK’s lifestyle.

21 May 2011

Are You Leaving Today?

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The Rapture is apparently scheduled to begin at 6:00 PM this evening.

Will you be raptured out of here? This handy flowchart is intended to help you predict your fate.

20 May 2011

The Vanished Wild Bobwhite

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William Herman Schmedtgen, Quail Shooting in Louisiana, 1897

A couple of generations ago, coveys of wild bobwhite quail could be found by hunters from Florida as far north as Southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Today, quail hunting exists only for pen-raised, released birds on pay-for-shooting preserves and plantations.

What happened to wild quail? Where did they all go?

The New York Times discusses the problem and advances a theory.

Quail hunting has been both aristocratic and egalitarian. It is a sport of Southern plantation gentry who ride walking horses with bespoke double guns in their scabbards and have pedigreed pointing dogs racing across the fields before them. It is also the sport of the farm kid armed with a dad’s old shotgun and a rangy mutt for a hunting companion. Both types of hunters have equally satisfying hunts, but these days social standing does not matter. Everyone is quail-poor. Bobwhite quail are one of the most studied wildlife species in the United States, yet conservationists have yet to halt the declining populations.

Biologists agree that overhunting is not the issue. Quail are prolific breeders but have a short lifespan. Hunting seasons could be eliminated and still approximately 90 percent of the quail would be dead within the year. Other predators, like raptors, coyotes or raccoons, are also not the reason for their decline, although many hunters point the finger at them.

Don McKenzie is in charge of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, a team of 25 state fish and wildlife agencies and conservation groups. The goal of the group, formed in 2002, is to get wild quail populations to what they were in 1980.

It is one of the most difficult large-scale wildlife restoration projects. Canada geese, whitetail deer and wild turkeys — all at one time low in numbers — have become so populous that they spill into the suburbs, but bringing back bobwhite populations is a struggling enterprise.

“One of the difficult parts of quail restoration is we have to restore suitable habitat at a landscape scale,” McKenzie said. “When you compare that with deer and turkey restoration, the habitat was already suitable. It was a matter of catching remaining wild animals in places where they were and moving them to places where they weren’t and protecting them until they took care of themselves. It’s still a challenge, but nothing compared to what we face now with bobwhites.”

The reason restoring bobwhite quail is so difficult is because it involves changing the nation’s manipulated rural landscape. According to McKenzie, exotic fescue, Bahia grass and Bermuda grass took hold across the United States in the 1940s. These carpetlike grasses were planted to promote better cattle grazing and edged out the native warm-season grasses that are conducive to good quail habitat. The native grasses grow in clumps, which allow the quail to hide, move and forage and are essential to their survival.

With pastures covered with invasive exotic grasses, the quail found cover along brushy fencerows and field edges, but by the 1970s modern agricultural practices that maximized every inch of soil devoured these small sanctuaries and left quail with few hideouts.

Wildlife biologists have known about this connection between warm-season grasses and quail habitat, and many landowners have tried to create an oasis for quail on their property by planting a paradise of native plants. Yet the quail population never reached the old numbers.

“Resident game bird conservation professionals have been telling landowners this for 50 years: all you need to do is some small-scale stuff on your place and you’ll have birds and everything will be fine,” McKenzie said. “Well, after 50 years of doing that, it certainly doesn’t work.”

The problem is that the islands of prime quail habitat — restored or naturally occurring — are not connected to one another to create larger plots of good habitat where quail have greater odds of survival.

“We have to come up with bigger pieces of landscape that are managed in common, and have connections with other pieces of well-managed landscape where there are sustainable populations of birds,” McKenzie said. “We must make it happen by the millions of acres instead of by the tens of acres.”

The problem is not restricted to bobwhite quail. The Times overlooks the fact that same thing has happened to the ringnecked pheasant in the Eastern United States.

Up to the 1960s, the Asiatic pheasant had been successfully naturalized for many decades, and wild pheasant populations existed from Maryland and Virginia all the way up to Southern New England.

As with the bobwhite quail, one finds today everywhere in the East, the wild pheasant population has been completely eliminated. The State of Pennsylvania stocks thousands of pen-raised pheasants annually, and it makes no difference. Within weeks, the birds are gone.

I think the Time’s authorities are correct that edge-to-edge farming, encouraged by the Department of Agriculture’s experts, had something to do with all of this, and the altered system of grasses theory has some plausibility, but I think there may be more to it than that. I don’t see how the complete protection of raptors cannot be playing a role. And, beyond that, experience shows that populations of wild birds and animals do change dramatically and unpredictably.

Back before WWII, Canada geese were becoming very scarce and some subspecies were even believed to be nearing extinction. The wood duck was rare, and had been removed from the bag list of huntable species. In those days, the prime hunting ducks were black ducks in the Northeast, and canvasbacks in the Chesapeake.

Today, Canada geese are a public nuisance. They’ve stopped migrating. Their population has exploded, and the once less common larger subspecies is a standard inhabitant of malls, office complexes, and parks. Wood ducks are now common and have the largest bag limit, and it is unusual to ever get a shot at a black duck or a canvasback.

I don’t think the experts have a good explanation for all the wildlife population changes which occur over time.

19 May 2011

Tom Coburn Puts Newt Gingrich In His Place

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19 May 2011

Serious Addict

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Russian says: “How do you wean a cat away from smoking?”

Hat tip to Tristyn Bloom.

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