Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My dogs would do this going out, not in.

You're Welcome 

 Two hours of The Voice again tonight. Hamburgers for dinner, I think.

30 Day Reading Challenge
Day 4 - Favorite book of your favorite series

One of my favorite series is written by Alan Gordon. I've mentioned him before regarding his historical mysteries: a guild of jesters/fools as medieval CIA. The fifth book in the series is called AN ANTIC DISPOSITION. Here is a description:

In 1204 A.D., the Fools' Guild is on the run from an enraged Pope Innocent III and the Papal troops he's dispatched to destroy them. Now, hidden in their secret enclave deep within the Black Forest, the fools, troubadours and novitiates, including the jester couple Theophilos and Claudia, come together for their evening gathering to hear Father Gerald, their ancient leader, tell one of the greatest stories from the history of the Guild. It begins in Denmark, during a time of civil war when three men laid claim to the throne while a fourth watched and bided his time. Into the strategically crucial town of Slesvig, the Guild sends Terence of York, who is promptly dubbed Yorick by the Duke's young son, Amleth. What unfolds is a tale of treachery, tragedy and bloodshed that is the true story behind one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies. But Father Gerald's history contains secrets never known to anyone outside the Guild, and as he recounts it, Theophilos feels a chill steal over his heart. For not even Father Gerald knows the ending of this story. But Theophilos does.

This was a wow book because it combined Hamlet and this series; it is done so well and had such emotional impact if you followed the series from the beginning.

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Current Events - April 30, 2013

President Obama: Working Hard or Hardly Working?

Leisure and luxury over hard work -- it's been a problem for this president ever since he first took office. President Obama spends a lot of time golfing; he even famously went golfing with Tiger Woods in Florida, while his family took a ski vacation (thus doubling the financial costs to taxpayers of their vacation). On the opposite side of the coin, the president, who presides over record levels of government dependency and debt, seems very cavalier about actually attending to the economy ... other than giving the occasional high-sounding speech that by now hardly anyone believes.

In a detailed report, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Institute (GAI) estimated that the president has spent over twice as many hours on vacation and golf (976 hours) as he has in economic meetings of any kind (474.4 hours).  And those calculations were figured in ways that gave a very distinct advantage to the president. There is general agreement that GAI seriously underestimated the president's leisure time and overestimated his time working on the economy. For instance, GAI used very broad interpretations of what constitutes "economic meetings" by including any cabinet meeting or time spent with businessmen.  Likewise, the president was given "benefit of the doubt" regarding the time he spent vacationing and golfing.  For instance, the president once said on record that playing golf takes six hours, but the GAI only counted four hours for each golf round.

But even when given credit for many more hours of economic meetings and counting far fewer hours of vacation and golf time, President Obama still ended up playing twice as much as working on the economy since he was elected in 2008.

The report from GAI, "Presidential Calendar: A Time-Based Analysis," parallels findings by the GAI last July, adding to the documented evidence that this president spends very little time working on the economy, even though unemployment remains high and the fiscal debt and deficit remain in crisis.

Based on a variety of sources covering 1,532 days in office (through March 31, 2013) - the official White House calendar, the comprehensive presidential calendar from Politico, and media reports - the GAI report is both comprehensive and thorough.

Some Key GAI Findings regarding the President's lack of diligence on the economy:

  • Assuming a 10-hour workday, six days a week, Mr. Obama has spent only 3.6% of his time on economic matters.
  • Throughout his whole presidency, Mr. Obama has spent less than 50 workdays on any kind of economic meeting or briefing.
  • Thus far this year, the president has spent a total of six hours in economic meetings of any kind.
  • As his term has gone on, the president has spent "significantly" less and less time on the economy (almost 80% decline).
  • President Obama has attended less than half of the daily intelligence briefings (42.1% of the 1,532 days reviewed by GAI).

Some Key GAI Findings regarding the president's enjoyment of vacations and golfing:

  • The president has played 115 rounds of golf.
  • The president has spent 86 days on vacation.

Breitbart reported that Peter Schweizer, GAI President, said, "We really went out of our way to fairly and accurately reflect how the president spends his time."

The president was roundly criticized in 2012 when he played his 100th round of golf.  At the time, numerous media contrasted Mr. Obama with President Bush, who played just 24 rounds of golf in two years and the fact that he quit playing golf during the war in Iraq, telling Politico that "playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."  President Obama defended his golfing by telling Harry Smith of CBS News that "It's the only time that for six hours, I'm outside." Numerous media outlets came to his defense; the Washington Post wrote that the president's time playing golf didn't matter.

Obviously, other media agree that it doesn't matter; only a handful of media -- for instance, Breitbart, Washington Times, Frontpage and London's Telegraph -- have covered the GAI report.  Apparently, it is not news when a U.S. president spends twice the amount of time on recreation than he does working on the economy.

If he had grown up the way I did, he would have learned the grubby reality that hard work is rewarding in and of itself, as well as being a necessary ingredient for success.  Being the intellectual that he is reputed to be, perhaps someone could urge President Obama to read Ghandi, who included in his list of seven deadly sins the following: "wealth without work" and "pleasure without conscience."

Police remove infant boy from home after parents seek second medical opinion

For many patients, getting a second medical opinion is a common and often recommended endeavor; it helps people to get the most accurate diagnosis possible.

But for one couple, the decision to get a second opinion for their baby boy’s illness ultimately resulted in police forcibly removing the infant from their California home, RT.com reported.

Anna and Alex Nikolayev, a young Russian couple living in Sacramento, took their 5-month-old son Sammy to Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento when he started to exhibit flu-like symptoms.  The Nikolayevs had been taking Sammy to Sutter Memorial since his birth, when had been diagnosed with a heart murmur.
When they arrived at the hospital, Sammy was taken to the Intensive Care Unit.  But soon, the couple became concerned about their son’s treatment, after Anna witnessed a nurse giving Sammy antibiotics – something a doctor had not instructed her to do.

“I asked her, ‘For what is that?’ And she’s like ‘I don’t know.’ And then I said ‘You’re working as a nurse, and you don’t know what you’re giving my baby?’” Anna Nikolayev told News 10, a Sacramento ABC affiliate.

A doctor confirmed to the worried mother that her child should not have been given antibiotics; however, doctors told Anna they wanted to perform open heart surgery on Sammy as soon as possible.  At that point, Anna thought she may need a second opinion for her son – a decision her doctors were adamantly against.
“If [they made] one mistake after another, I don’t want to let my baby have surgery in the hospital where I don’t feel safe,” Anna told News 10.

The couple took Sammy out of the hospital without a proper discharge and rushed him to rival hospital Kaiser Parmanente Medical Center in Sacremento .

While the Nikolayevs were at Kaiser, police arrived, presumably called by doctors at Sutter Memorial.  Anna was forced to show the police a note from a Kaiser doctor, which read: “I do not have concern for the safety of the child at home with his parents.”

“[The police] saw the baby was fine,” Anna told News 10. “They told us that Sutter was telling them so much bad stuff that they thought this baby was dying in our arms. So police saw the report from doctors and said, ‘Okay, you guys have a good day,’ then walked away.”

But just one day after taking Sammy home, the Nikolayevs received another visit from police, along with representatives from Child Protective Services (CPS).  Without a warrant, police let themselves inside the Nikolayevs’ home, grabbed Sammy from Anna’s arms and walked out.  A camera that Anna set up in the living room recorded the entire event.

When asked for comment, Sutter Memorial did not make any statements and referred to CPS and law enforcement. CPS said it cannot comment on the case due to privacy laws, but a representative for CPS said, "We conduct a risk assessment of the child's safety and rely heavily on the direction of health care providers."

Meanwhile, Sammy remains in protective custody at Sutter Memorial Hospital, and his parents were able to visit him for an hour last Thursday.  A court hearing for the case is scheduled for Monday, April 29.

Explosive Report Contradicts the Obama Administration’s Benghazi Story in a Big Way

The U.S. government had the ability to “react and respond” to the Benghazi terrorist attack and could have had forces on the ground before the second wave of the assault began, a special operator with knowledge of the response told Fox News in an exclusive interview. Due to the explosive nature of his allegations, the special ops member asked to remain anonymous.

“I know for a fact that C 110 the UComm CIF was doing a training exercise, not in the region of northern Africa, but in Europe. And they had the ability to react and respond,” he told Fox News.

The C 110 is a 40-man Special Ops force capable of rapid response and deployment, a group trained specifically for an event like the Benghazi attack, Fox News reports. The unit was training in Croatia on Sept. 11, 2012, just 3.5 hours away from Benghazi.

“They would have been there before the second attack,” the anonymous special operator said. “They would have been there at a minimum to provide a quick reaction force that could facilitate their exfil out of the problem situation.”

He continued: “Nobody knew how it was going to develop, and you hear a whole bunch of people and a whole bunch of advisors say, ‘Hey, we wouldn’t have sent them there because the security was unknown situation.’ If it’s an unknown situation, at a minimum you send forces there to facilitate the exfil or medical injuries. We could have sent a C 130 to Benghazi to provide medical evacuation for the injured.”

The special operator said there are members of special ops and other officials who are still active and involved in the situation. “They would be decapitated if they came forward with information that could affect high-level commanders,” he added.

While he says he doesn’t “blame them for not coming forward,” the special operator said members of the community feel betrayed and believe the betrayal goes all the way to the top. Further, the Special Ops community feels like the Americans in Benghazi were left to fend for themselves.

The White House has said from the beginning that there were no forces available to assist Americans in Benghazi on Sept. 11. Four Americans were killed in the attack on the U.S. compound, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, State Department worker Sean Smith and former U.S. Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.


BENGHAZIGATE: Obama’s Secret Gun-Running Program

Liberals don’t want honest Americans like you to have guns. Liberals just want to arm foreign rebels in crapshoot attempts to “end global violence.” But liberals feign ignorance when the rebels they arm end up being criminals who kill innocent Americans like the late U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.

Why did Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans die in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012? We now know that President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA Director David Petraeus were likely behind a mishandled gun-trafficking program that ended up arming the radical jihadist rebels who stormed the U.S. consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya on that fateful day.

Our CIA is still playing the role of vetting which Syrian rebel groups will obtain arms including machine guns, ammunition, and rocket-propelled grenades. While Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are directly purchasing the weaponry, the Obama administration is aiding the Arab governments in shopping for these arms and transferring them from Libya, to Turkey, and finally into Syria.

Unfortunately the CIA has “vetted” shady intermediaries (including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood) and shady recipients of thousands of tons worth of military equipment and millions of rounds of ammo. Consequently, weapons have fallen into the wrong hands. In the case of Benghazi, anti-tank weapons appear to have landed in the hands of terrorists.

Now, Clinton is denying even knowing about the program, although the evidence indicates it was largely her idea. Of course everything happened under Obama’s watch and the buck stops with him. The story of Obama’s gun-running program in Benghazi is long and multifarious, so I will break down the timeline for you:

May 26, 2012: Stevens arrives in Tripoli, the capitol city of Libya and sets up camp at the U.S. embassy.

Last summer, Clinton first proposed a plan to then-CIA Director David Petraeus to partner on a gun-trafficking program to arm the Syrian resistance and “vet the rebel groups, and train fighters who would be supplied with weapons,” according to The New York Times.

June of 2012: The New York Times reports that the CIA is operating a secret arms transfer program that sounds exactly like the plan Clinton developed with Petraeus. Suddenly, there is: “…an influx of weapons and ammunition to the rebels.”

September 5, 2012: A Libyan ship called Al Entisar (“The Victory”) docks in the Turkish port of Iskenderun, carrying 400 tons of cargo including many weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS) destined for Syrian rebels 35 miles away from Iskenderun. The ship’s captain told the Times of London that the Muslim Brotherhood and the free Syrian Army broke into a fight over the arms.

September 10, 2012: Stevens arrives in Benghazi, Libya, the location of the U.S. consulate. About a mile away from the consulate, is the CIA annex. Stevens planned to stay at the consulate for five days. His visit was supposed to be secret, but Libya-based extremists somehow learned of his arrival.

September 11, 2012: Stevens has an unusual meeting with Turkish diplomat Consul General Ali Sait Akin. Fox News reported that the meeting was “…to negotiate a weapons transfer, an effort to get SA-7 missiles out of the hands of Libya-based extremists.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham confirmed on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report with Bret Baier” that Stevens was in Libya to specifically control a situation: “…where the action was regarding the rising Islamic extremists who were trying to get their hands on weapons that were flowing freely in Libya…”

9:40 p.m. (Libya time): Libyan rebels launched and organized an armed attack against the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

10:04 p.m. CIA base chief at the nearby CIA annex calls for help including 50-caliber machine guns and vehicles from the Libyan intelligence, the 17 February Brigade and other Libyan militias. After 24 minutes of calls and no response, the CIA base chief takes a small team of seven people to the consulate. They were too late to save Stevens, but were able to save some State Department personnel.

11:56 p.m. CIA officers and the State Department members are seeking safety back at the CIA annex. There, rebels attack them with rocket-propelled grenades. Fighting continues on until 5:26 a.m.

6:00 a.m. Libyan forces suddenly arrive to “aid” the American team with 50 vehicles.

It is odd that the annex was attacked with same sort of weapons on the Libyan ship and that Stevens was reportedly in Benghazi to manage some sort of arms transfer.

Sen. Rand Paul said on Aaron Klein Radio: “First of all with regard to Benghazi, I think it’s important [to determine more about the apparent gun-running program] because it may have something to do with why the compound was attacked. If we were involved with shipping guns to Turkey, there was a report that a ship left from Libya towards Turkey and that there were arms on it in the week preceding this [attack]; there were reports that our ambassador was meeting with the Turkish attaché, so I think with regards to figuring out what happened at Benghazi, it’s very important to know whether or not the CIA annex had anything to do with facilitating guns being sent to Turkey and ultimately to Syria. With regard to arming the rebels, just this week in the armed services committee, General Dempsey, the [Chairman of the] Joint Chiefs of Staff said that we were no longer able to distinguish who the good guys were from the bad guys and that sounds pretty worrisome if we are actually arming people who in the end may be enemies of America…enemies of Israel… enemies maybe of the Christians who live within Syria...sending arms to a rebel force to that may include Al-Nusra and other radical jihadists.”

Here’s my concern: Obama’s gun-running program failed to properly vet the rebels. Clinton most likely launched the gun program, expected Stevens to oversee it and then her weapons likely landed in the hands of al-Qaida affiliates who killed Stevens and three other Americans. This is a tragic failure of foreign policy and diplomacy under Obama’s watch.


Sessions: Immigration Bill Gives Amnestied Residents 'Immediate' Access to Welfare

 The immigration bill introduced to the Senate a week and a half ago would, if passed, allow illegal immigrants to access state and local welfare benefits immediately, Breitbart News has learned. The financial impact of allowing potentially millions of immigrants onto state and local public assistance could overwhelm these programs' budgets.

Senate Budget Committee ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) uncovered this loophole in the bill and many others, and he will circulate a memo detailing the gaps in the bill on Tuesday. Breitbart News exclusively obtained a copy of the memo before its public release.

“The Gang of Eight made a promise that illegal immigrants will not be able to access public benefits,” Sessions said in a statement to Breitbart News. “We already know that, once granted green cards and ultimately citizenship, illegal immigrants will be able to access all public benefit programs at a great cost to taxpayers. We have, however, identified a number of loopholes that would allow illegal immigrants to draw public benefits even sooner than advertised.”

If the bill were signed into law, America’s 11 million illegal immigrants would be legalized within six months, when Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano submits her border security plan to Congress. Illegal immigrants would immediately be eligible for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status, making them legal to live and work in the country.

As Sessions’ staff points out in the memo, “state laws frequently extend benefits to anyone ‘lawfully present’ in the U.S.” The Sessions team points to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) brief that details how the only requirement many state and local governments have with regard to immigrant access to public benefits is that they are “lawfully present.” The term “lawfully present” is a legal definition.

According to page 91 of the bill, all illegal immigrants granted legalized RPI status would legally be considered “lawfully present.” That section reads as follows:
‘‘(4) TREATMENT OF REGISTERED PROVISIONAL IMMIGRANTS.—A noncitizen granted registered provisional immigrant status under this section shall be considered lawfully present in the United States for all purposes while such noncitizen remains in such status, except that the noncitizen—
‘‘(A) is not entitled to the premium assistance tax credit authorized under section 36B of            the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
‘‘(B) shall be subject to the rules applicable to individuals not lawfully present that are set forth in subsection (e) of such section; and           
‘‘(C) shall be subject to the rules applicable to individuals not lawfully present that are set forth in section 1402(e) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (42 U.S.C. 18071).”
In evaluating whether an illegal immigrant qualifies for RPI status, Sessions’ staff points out, the legislation “explicitly forbids” the Department of Homeland Security from using current law, which blocks entry to those who could become "public charges," i.e. dependent on government welfare programs.
“Therefore, when those here illegally who are unable to support themselves are legalized, much of the immediate fiscal burden will fall on state and local governments,” Sessions’ staff wrote in the memo.

In addition to that loophole, Sessions and his staff found several more loopholes that allow current illegal immigrants access to public benefits even on the federal level before the promised wait time of 13 years from the bill’s passage.

In the memo, Sessions’ staff notes that current illegal immigrants who are “granted RPI status will immediately become eligible for federal benefits through citizen and permanent resident dependents, with no requirement that they support their household as a condition of receiving or maintaining legal status.” That means any current illegal immigrant who subsequently has dependent children, who are, by right of birth, U.S. citizens would qualify for federal welfare benefits through them.


Immigration bill grants amnesty to employers of illegals; no prosecution for bogus IDs

The debate is raging over whether the latest immigration bill is an amnesty for illegal immigrants, but one part is clear: The legislation would forgive businesses that have employed those immigrants illegally.

Employers who have allowed illegal immigrants to work off the books can come forward safely and provide their work history without fear of prosecution, and businesses that knowingly employed someone using a bogus or stolen Social Security number likewise would get a pass, according to an analysis of the bill by the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that wants a crackdown on immigration.

“The illegal workers at least have to pay a token fine. The employers of illegal immigrants who violated a whole list of laws themselves don’t even have to pay,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the center. “It’s the business side of the amnesty that doesn’t get a lot of focus.”

Business groups’ support is considered critical to getting a bill passed this year, but attention has been focused mostly on a guest worker program and requirements that all employers would have to meet, such as using an electronic verification system to check potential hires.

Indeed, it wasn’t until business groups, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, struck a deal with the AFL-CIO on a guest worker program that the final Senate bill came together.

The chamber said the provisions exempting businesses from penalties “had nothing to do” with earning their support. "Our focus in assessing the bill was looking to the good faith compliance and safe harbor provisions and other terms of the E-Verify mandate, the revisions to the high-skilled worker program, and the creation of a workable low-skilled worker program,” said Blair Holmes, a chamber spokeswoman.

The crux of the Senate bill, negotiated by four Republican senators and four Democrats, would legalize most of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., but withhold a full pathway to citizenship for most of them until after the Homeland Security Department takes more steps to secure the border and implements the electronic verification system for employers.

All sides are still combing through the 844-page bill, trying to figure out what it would do. One major fight is over how many foreigners would be let into the country as a result of higher caps on legal immigration.

The Center for Immigration Studies says more attention should be given to the free pass for businesses.It counts four different ways businesses get a break: Employers who have illegal immigrants on their payroll can keep them there with no penalty; there is no assessment of back taxes for their employees who worked off the books; those who paid unfair wages will not be prosecuted; and those who aided fraud by accepting bogus Social Security numbers won’t face a penalty.

“It lets businesses that knowingly violated the law off the hook,” Mr. Krikorian said. “If they were not withholding payroll taxes, they’re held harmless. If they were violating labor laws, they’re held harmless. So this is a boon for crooked business.”

The word “amnesty” itself is loaded. The bill’s backers argue that it isn’t an amnesty for illegal immigrants because it imposes a penalty of a long wait for citizenship and a nominal fine. Opponents say illegal immigrants are almost immediately safe from deportation, which amounts to an amnesty.

The backers appear to be winning the public relations battle. A poll by MWR Strategies, released last week, found that 38 percent of voters labeled the Senate bill as “immigration reform,” compared with 30 percent who labeled it “amnesty.”

What to do about businesses that hire illegal immigrants has long been a sticking point in the debate.

The last time Congress granted an amnesty, in 1986, lawmakers legalized millions of immigrants but vowed to secure the borders and crack down on businesses that were magnets for the flow of people.

Knowingly hiring illegal immigrants became illegal and is punishable by fines ranging from $250 per employee for a first offense up to $10,000 per employee for a third offense. If prosecutors can demonstrate a pattern, employers can face up to six months in jail.

The current bill again promises to crack down on employers with fines and the potential for jail time.
Numbers are difficult to come by, but the Center for Immigration Studies estimates that 55 percent to 60 percent of illegal immigrants are working on the books, which means their taxes are being paid — though they are credited to bogus or stolen Social Security numbers.

The Obama administration has stepped up enforcement against employers compared with its predecessor, conducting far more reviews of businesses’ immigration records.

In 2006, for example, George W. Bush’s administration didn’t issue any final orders imposing penalties on businesses. But the Obama administration in 2011 issued 385 final orders, for a total of $10.5 million in fines.Mr. Krikorian said one question is whether it would be worth the cost to the government to try to go after business scofflaws for back taxes or other penalties. He said that would be difficult given the short time frames written into the Senate bill. If Congress writes a longer-term bill that requires Internal Revenue Service audits of illegal immigrants and businesses, he said, it might be possible.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin voting on amendments to the bill next week, once lawmakers return from a weeklong vacation.

The business amnesty could prove tricky to navigate when the bill comes to the Senate floor. Amendments imposing penalties on businesses that broke the law could be attractive for many lawmakers but could upset the delicate balance of the bill. 

Is Al Qaeda Our New Peace Partner in Syria?

Would you help Al Qaeda fighters attempt take over a chemical weapons plant?

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry essentially just did. Fortunately, the armed insurgents were stopped just a mile from the compound after vicious fighting.

It would have been unthinkable in the months and years after Sept. 11 that our leadership in Washington would be actively helping al Qaeda and other radical Islamic fighting forces secure oil fields in Syria, conquer chemical weapons plants and eventually the country.

But that's exactly what we are doing. The New York Times couldn't have been plainer this weekend about exactly whom we are helping in Syria.

"Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of," the paper reported. It went on to explain that the so-called rebels or freedom fighters seeking to overthrow the brutal but secular Assad regime are all radical Islamists. All of them. These would be the same rebels we're giving hundreds of millions of dollars in nonmilitary aid to.

The lead group, Al Nusra Front, is considered a terrorist group by the US and is directly affiliated with al Qaeda, to whose leaders it has pledged loyalty. The rest are radical Islamists of various stripes who have pushed aside secular fighting forces. They have already seized the government's oil fields. They are beginning to repress wary secular activists with Islamic courts. And had they gotten control of the chemical weapons compound this weekend, there's no telling what horrors they could visit upon the Syrian people -- or upon us.

This desperate situation called for the kind of adult intervention the U.S. no longer provides, and thankfully Israel stepped up to the plate. Israeli jets breached Syria's airspace at around 6 a.m Saturday, flew over Assad's palace in Damascus,  bypassed other government security facilities and struck the chemical weapons compound.

The message was clear. Israel could have just as easily struck Syrian military and government installations, but it didn't. It could have helped the Islamist rebels decimate the Syrian army, but it didn't. Instead it destroyed the chemical weapons compound to keep those weapons out of the hands of the radical Syrian Islamist rebels to whom the US is sending hundreds of millions of dollars of nonmilitary aid.

Israel, like the US, has repeatedly condemned the brutal Assad regime that the Syrian rebels are fighting and denounced the regime's alleged use of chemical weapons against its people. But decades of dealing with Islamic brutality have made Israel realistic. It understands what Washington refuses to. Allowing and assisting a radical Islamic takeover of Syria will imperil the people of Syria -- and Americans and Israelis as well. It cannot be allowed to happen, no matter how bloody the Assad regime may be.

Meanwhile, US leaders like Obama and Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham continued to push for an overthrow of the Assad regime with increasing US assistance to the rebels.  Sen. John McCain wants to arm the rebels despite their direct affiliation with Al Qaeda. Sen. Graham wants to takes things a step further by bombing the Assad regime into submission ... to al Qaeda apparently.

 Sen. Claire McCaskill over the weekend even floated the idea of putting American boots on the ground to assist the "rebels."  Exactly who are these people we would arm and assist? Again, the New York Times couldn't have been clearer.

"Among the most extreme groups is the notorious Al Nusra Front, the al Qaeda-aligned force declared a terrorist organization by the United States," the paper reported, "but other groups share aspects of its Islamist ideology in varying degrees."

Israel Today explained it this way:

Many of the groups making up the Syrian rebel forces are either affiliated with or part of organizations like Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. The kinds of groups Israel will do almost anything to prevent from possessing weapons of mass destruction.

Had Israel not intervened in the fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, al Qaeda may well have gained a chemical weapons manufacturing base this weekend while US leaders sat back, twiddled their thumbs and considered even more assistance to rebel Islamists whose affiliates would think nothing of eventually using those weapons in Times Square.

Someone should ask Washington's leaders exactly what US troops or firepower would have accomplished on the ground in Syria this weekend. Would we have helped a designated terror group battle the Syrian government for control of that chemical weapons base? Or perhaps they would have assisted the terror group Al Nusra Front in maintaining control of Syria's oil fields, which will make a fine source of terror funding in the future. Or maybe they could have helped the Islamic courts set up by these groups to enforce Sharia law, including lashings, on the secular population.

The situation in Syria isn't as simple as the media or our leaders have painted it. This isn't about helping a band of democracy loving rebels who just want freedom fight a government that has repressed them. It is about whether we want to put the same Islamic fighters US troops battled in Iraq in charge of Syria. There are adult decisions to be made here, and no one in Washington seems capable of making them.

Their War, Not Ours

"The worst mistake of my presidency," said Ronald Reagan of his decision to put Marines into the middle of Lebanon's civil war, where 241 died in a suicide bombing of their barracks.

And if Barack Obama plunges into Syria's civil war, it could consume his presidency, even as Iraq consumed the presidency of George W. Bush.

Why would Obama even consider this?

Because he blundered badly. Foolishly, he put his credibility on the line by warning that any Syrian use of chemical weapons would cross a "red line" and be a "game changer" with "enormous consequences."

Not only was this ultimatum unwise, Obama had no authority to issue it. If Syria does not threaten or attack us, Obama would need congressional authorization before he could constitutionally engage in acts of war against Syria. When did he ever receive such authorization?

Moreover, there is no proof Syrian President Bashar Assad ever ordered the use of chemical weapons.

U.S. intelligence agencies maintain that small amounts of the deadly toxin sarin gas were likely used. But if it did happen, we do not know who ordered it.

Syrians officials deny that they ever used chemicals. And before we dismiss Damascus' denials, recall that an innocent man in Tupelo, Miss., was lately charged with mailing deadly ricin to Sen. Roger Wicker and President Obama. This weekend, we learned he may have been framed.

It is well within the capacity of Assad's enemies to use or fake the use of poison gas to suck us into fighting their war.

Even if elements of Assad's army did use sarin, we ought not plunge in. And, fortunately, that seems to be Obama's thinking.

Why stay out? Because it is not our war. There is no vital U.S. interest in who rules Syria. Hafez Assad and Bashar have ruled Syria for 40 years. How has that ever threatened us?

Moreover, U.S. intervention would signal to Assad that the end is near, making his use of every weapon in his arsenal, including chemical weapons, more — not less — likely.

U.S. intervention would also make us de facto allies of Assad's principal enemies, the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Nusra Front, Syria's al-Qaida. As The New York Times reported Sunday, "Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of."

Do we really wish to expend American blood and treasure to bring about a victory of Islamists and jihadists in Syria?

If Assad's chemical weapons threaten any nation, it is Israel.

But Israel knows where they are stored and has an air force superior to our own in the Med. Israeli troops on the Golan are as close to Damascus as Dulles Airport is to Washington, D.C. Yet Israel has not attacked Syria's chemical weapons.

Why not? Israel is well aware that Syria's air defense system is, as The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, "one of the most advanced and concentrated barriers on the planet."

And if Israel does not feel sufficiently threatened by Syria's chemical weapons to go after them, why should we, 4,000 miles away?

Then there is Turkey, with three times Syria's population, NATO's second-largest army and a 600-mile border. Why is ridding the Middle East of Assad our assignment and not Ankara's?

Surely the heirs of the Ottomans have a larger stake here.

And if we get into this war, how do we get out?

For the war is metastasizing. Hezbollah is sending in fighters to help the Alawite Shia. Other Lebanese are assisting the Sunni rebels. The war could spread into Iraq, where the latest clashes between Sunni and Shia are pulling the country apart. Young Muslims are coming in from Europe.

Iran and Russia are aiding Damascus. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are aiding the Islamists. The United States, Jordan and Turkey are aiding the secularists. Syria could come apart, and a sectarian and ethnic war of all against all erupt across the region.

Do we really want the U.S. military in the middle of this?

Because his "red line" appears to have been crossed, Obama is being told he must attack Syria to maintain his credibility with Iran and North Korea.

Nonsense. To attack Syria would compound Obama's folly in drawing the red line. Better to have egg on Obama's face than for America to be dragged into another unnecessary war.

Obama would not be alone in having his bluff called. George Bush proclaimed that no "axis of evil" nation would be allowed to acquire the "world's worst weapons." North Korea now has those weapons.

Congressional war hawks, led by Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are cawing for air strikes and no-fly zones, which would mean dead and captured Americans and many more dead Syrians.

Time for Congress to either authorize Obama to lead us into a new Middle East war, or direct him, in the absence of an attack upon us, to keep America out of what is Syria's civil war.

Before we slide into another war, let the country be consulted first. 

10 Reasons Not To Confirm Thomas Perez as Next Labor Secretary

It is not every week that the Senate confronts a cabinet nominee who does not believe in the equal application of the law and intends to micromanage your life, except for this week.  On Thursday the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a vote on the nomination of Thomas Perez, the current Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, to be the next Secretary of Labor.  That vote will likely send Perez’s nomination to the Senate floor.  Before that occurs, here’s a list of 10 examples of why Thomas Perez should not be confirmed as the next Secretary of Labor.

Perez has pushed bad labor policy while running the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.

1. Perez filed an anti-religious liberty brief in the Supreme Court in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC that involved the firing of a teacher at the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church.  The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Establishment Clause prevented the government from involving itself in the appointment of church ministers.  Thomas Perez argued, quite extraordinarily, that the First Amendment had no bearing on the government’s ability to regulate who churches can and cannot hire to teach religion at its religious schools.  Is this the type of leadership we want expanded to all of our nation’s labor practices?

2. Perez took the Fire Department of New York to court to throw out their written test because he felt there was not the right racial mix among those that were successful on the test.  Instead, he argued, those who had outright failed the fire academy’s admissions test should be admitted anyway solely on the basis of their race.  This action even prevented minority applicants who had passed the test from being admitted.  He similarly forced the Dayton, Ohio Police Department to accept recruits who scored an ‘F’ on the recruitment exam – even the local chapter of the NAACP criticized his actions, saying it did “not support individuals failing a test” and then getting hired.  Is a man who is willing to throw out vital performance metrics for hiring that ensure public safety really someone who should be managing labor policy?

Perez has consistently used his position to push radically liberal policies.

3. Perez overturned the recommendation of career lawyers in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division to preclear the State of South Carolina’s new voter ID law in the run up to the 2012 election, forcing South Carolina to spend $3.5 million to sue the Justice Department.  Perez lost the law suit in federal court.

4. Perez initiated a baseless prosecution under the Free Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act against a woman who offered sidewalk counseling in front of an abortion clinic.  The FACE Act has an explicit exemption for “expressive conduct,” and as Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky wrote, “The judge in the Florida case noted the shocking absence of any evidentiary grounds for the prosecution, or even the applicability of the FACE Act, exposing the bald partisanship of this Justice Department.”  Are these types of frivolous prosecutions going to help the American work force?

5. Perez engaged in an ethically questionable quid pro quo with two cases involving the St. Paul, Minnesota.  The City of St. Paul was sued by the landlords of low income housing, arguing that the city’s attempt to enforce its building codes and improve the horrendous living conditions for those low income tenants had a “disparate impact” on minorities.  At the same time, the federal government had two potential claims under the False Claims Act against St. Paul and stood to recoup up to $200 million in taxpayer money.  Perez agreed to drop the False Claims Act claims (involving the return of millions in taxpayer money) in exchange for the city abandoning their effort to have the Supreme Court throw out the disparate impact suit even though the government was not even a party in the suit.  Perez feared that the Supreme Court would have blown apart the dubious “disparate impact” legal theory he has used to extort large settlements from banks and mortgage companies using questionable statistics, not evidence of any intentional discrimination.

6. Perez misled the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in sworn testimony when he claimed that political appointees at the Justice Department had no involvement in the dismissal of the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party members who were videoed in front of a polling place, during the 2008 election in Pennsylvania.  A recent report from the Inspector General (IG) on the Voting Section also reveals that Perez misled the Commission when he said he believes in the race-neutral enforcement of federal voting laws.  Two former Voting Section lawyers have confirmed that Perez testified inaccurately based on briefings they gave Perez.   Perez even told the IG that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act does not protect white voters from discrimination, a view of the law that seriously draws into question his ability to enforce the nation’s labor laws judiciously.

7. According to the IG report, employees in the Division who harassed, intimidated, and bullied other employees who were perceived as conservatives or Republicans or who believed in the race-neutral enforcement of the Voting Rights Act have been neither disciplined or terminated, including one current employee who admitted to lying to the IG about her behavior.  Perez’s tolerance for such misbehavior brings into question his ability to be a nonpartisan, fair, and impartial head of a major government agency.

Perez sought to have the federal government micromanage the most mundane aspects of business and daily life.

8. Perez actually engaged in legal action against several universities to prevent them from purchasing or promoting the Amazon Kindle DX because the device did not come with a speech-to-text function for the menu that would have aided blind users.

9. Because of Mr. Perez’s actions, local public pools were threatened with hefty fines from the Justice Department if they did not have a mechanical chair lift, meeting strict federal specifications, for those who require it to get in and out of the pool.

10. Perez and the Obama Justice Department are opposed to a key provision of the National Voter Registration Act that requires states to periodically clear their rolls of ineligible voters.  These checks are meant to reduce voter fraud in the states by ensuring individuals such as felons and the deceased do not remain listed as registered voters.  Instead of defending the integrity of elections and the votes of eligible voters the Justice Department is again pushing a partisan agenda.


Just don't call it an 'Obama phone'

 Jillian Rayfield writes over at Salon that the "Right wing's latest bogus obsession" is the "Obama phone":

Why are Republicans looking to scale back Lifeline, a Reagan-era policy that provides discounts to low-income phone users? Because the policy, referred to as "Obama phones" by conservatives, has had the bad luck of being distorted as the Obama administration's policy of handing out free phones to welfare recipients -- a claim that was boosted by a racially charged video that went viral.

This month, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the policy. "The program has nearly tripled in size from $800 million in 2009 to $2.2 billion per year in 2012," Republicans on the committee wrote in March. "American taxpayers -- and we as their elected representatives -- need to know how much of this growth is because of waste, fraud and abuse."

Lifeline began during the Reagan administration, and was expanded during George W. Bush's presidency to include cellphone service. It's funded by phone bill fees that most people pay -- not, as some conspiracy theorists believe, by taxes.

While it's true this program didn't begin under the Obama Administration, perhaps we "Right-wingers" are comfortable with the term "Obamaphone" because the program has nearly tripled in size during Obama's watch and like most government programs, it is riddled with fraud, waste and abuse.  In a similar way, we tend to think of Obama as the food stamp President due to the fact that SNAP usage has exploded under his watch, yet we would never claim that he started the program.  

Most of us "Right-wingers" (those who favor liberty and limited government) oppose unsustainable big government whether it comes from a Democrat or a Republican.  And we certainly don't care if you call a tax a tax; a fee; a mandate or even quantitative easing.  They are all a means to the same end and result in less buying power for the person or entity that earned the money.

I grudgingly got up and went to work this past Monday and finished wiring a project in Sacramento.  I really didn't feel like getting out of bed but I did it.  After completing my work in the early afternoon I decided to go and check progress on the rehab of a rental property my wife and I own since I was just a few miles away.  By the time we had evicted the previous tenants from the home, the damage to be repaired totaled more than $10,000.  Ah, the life of the Bourgeoisie.  But first I stopped for some lunch and found that others had found a motivating reason to get out of bed on that Monday as well:


As the total value of all these "free" benefits increase, at some point people will decide that it's no longer worth it to get out of bed and go to work -- especially on a Monday.  That's the point when our society as we know it will collapse and President Obama is only helping to accelerate our pace toward that day. 

So, Ms. Rayfield, what we "Right-wingers" are really trying to say, is that big government just doesn't work, no matter how someone decides to label it.  
Surprise: Stimulus Money Misspent

A grant of $10 million in Wyoming produced zero jobs, no results, and plush salaries.

What kind of project pays a couple of politically connected people hundreds of thousands of dollars for producing next to nothing? An Obama stimulus project, of course.

More than four years after President Barack Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus package into law, troubling details continue to emerge. Earlier this month, for example, the nonprofit news site WyoFile reported that a $10 million stimulus project in Wyoming has been suspended and referred to the U.S. Attorney’s office for an investigation into possible fraud.

Between 2009 and 2010, the federal government awarded two stimulus grants totaling more than $9.9 million to Colorado-based North American Power Group (NAPG). The funding was designated for a “characterization” study to determine whether a river basin near the Two Elk Energy Park in northeast Wyoming had potential as an underground site for carbon storage. However, as WyoFile has extensively documented, the project appears, at best, to have been a questionable use of taxpayer dollars. The project created zero jobs, according to Recovery.gov, and many of the study’s primary components, including the drilling of a deep “characterization well,” were never completed — or even formally initiated. Records show nearly $3 million in dubious invoices from North American Land & Livestock, a company managed by NAPG CEO Michael Ruffatto. 

Federal records also reveal that at least $1.1 million in stimulus funding went toward paying the salaries and benefits of two NAPG employees: Ruffatto and Wyoming representative Brad Enzi, the son of U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R., Wyo.). Ruffatto was reportedly compensated with taxpayer funds at a rate exceeding $500,000 a year, while Enzi earned nearly $130,000 for his work on the project between September 2009 and July 2011, at a rate of about $80 per hour. Ruffatto received more than $73,000 in salary and benefits in October 2010 alone, after he reported working 76 hours per week on the project, in addition to his other responsibilities as NAPG chief executive. Enzi earned as much as $17,363 in one month. Enzi told WyoFile he was unaware of the accounting details of his work on the project, and he denied receiving any special treatment owing to his father, a stimulus opponent.

In contrast, a similar stimulus-funded characterization study conducted by the University of Wyoming has made considerable progress and avoided exorbitant salary and benefit costs. The highest-paid worker on the project was a research scientist who earned $110,000 in salary and benefits.

Ruffatto, a millionaire philanthropist and socialite with homes in Colorado and California, has not contributed extensively to federal politicians, but his donations have been mostly to Democrats. He gave $4,800 to the successful campaign of Senator Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) in 2010 and contributed $2,300 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid in 2007. Ruffatto also donated to Senator Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.) in 2005.

The Department of Energy (DOE) ultimately suspended the NAPG project in January 2012, and the project is currently under review by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh. The attorney in charge of the case, Paul Skirtich, specializes in fraud and public-asset recovery.

The central focus of the Two Elk project — carbon-capture technology — was an important aspect of President Obama’s green-energy agenda. The stimulus package provided nearly $1.5 billion in funding for the DOE’s Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage Program, and in 2010 the president established an interagency task force to promote the “rapid commercial development and deployment of clean coal technologies, particularly carbon capture and storage.”

A March 2013 audit by the DOE’s inspector general (IG) found that the department had “not always effectively managed” the carbon-capture program and appears to cite the Two Elk project as an example. The IG report notes that the DOE reimbursed one grant recipient (working on a project that was suspended in January 2012) about $3.7 million, or nearly 75 percent of the total award, “even though documentation submitted to the Department lacked evidence that the costs claimed corresponded to the items in the approved project budget.” 

The audit reviewed 15 out of 46 stimulus-funded “cooperative agreements” such as the Two Elk project, which had received a combined $1.1 billion in taxpayer funding. The reported identified up to $18.3 million in “questionable reimbursement claims.” Three particular recipients were awarded a combined $90 million despite “significant financial and/or technical issues” identified during DOE’s merit-review process, the report found, including $48 million in funding given to a recipient “whose financial condition precluded it from obtaining a satisfactory merit review.” And the DOE had failed to review millions of dollars’ worth of contracting arrangements to ensure they did not involve conflicts of interest; the audit identified more than $1.4 million in transactions between one grant recipient and an affiliated company that had representatives on the board of directors at the recipient’s firm.

These figures pale in comparison with some of the more high-profile stimulus failures such as Solyndra, the California solar-panel firm that went bankrupt after receiving more than half a billion dollars in taxpayer-guaranteed loans. But the numbers add up, and all in all they do not inspire confidence in the government’s ability to spend taxpayer dollars wisely. Agency inspectors’ general audits routinely shed light on this sort of fiscal mismanagement.

Perhaps the only upside is that the federal government is even inefficient when it comes to wasting money. The DOE IG’s report found that as of February 2013, four years after the stimulus was signed, and more than two years after the funding for the carbon program was fully obligated, less than 42 percent ($623 million) had actually been spent.


Obama White House hails gay NBA player

North Korea is holding an American captive.

Authorities are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding a terrorist attack on domestic soil.

But stop the presses — an NBA player is gay.

The president and first lady Michelle Obama marked the occasion with jubilation at the White House (via CBS News, emphasis mine):
President Obama called NBA player Jason Collins Monday to offer his support after Collins announced he’s gay, becoming the first openly gay major league professional athlete, CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett has learned.
The president offered congratulations and support on Collins’ courage and willingness to be the first in the four dominant pro sports to make this announcement.
First lady Michelle Obama also showed her support for Collins on Twitter Monday.
“So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back!” she tweeted, signing it “-mo,” which indicates she – not an aide – sent the message.
NRO’s Jim Geraghty opines on the administration’s dysfunctional priorities:
This president can’t get squat done about North Korea or Syria, and so he doesn’t want us to focus on those far-off lands. His policies have done diddlysquat for most of the long-term unemployed. He’s not interested in throwing people off public assistance, even when they don’t deserve it, and he wants to insist that every terror attack is a one-time occurrence, instead of connected bits of an international ideological movement dedicated to killing Americans. Obamacare’s a mess, and he’s hoping you don’t notice. The national debt continues to increase, even with the alleged horrors of sequestration.
“God, gays, and guns.” That’s what he’s got left. And that’s what he hopes stays on your mind, for as many days between now and November 2014 as possible.
Update: The Washington Examiner‘s Philip Klein makes another excellent point — Why is Collins’ coming-out newsworthy?
I find myself in both camps. I recognize the significance of Collins’ decision and admire the courage required to make it. But I also hope that his announcement will help pave the way for a time when it isn’t a major news story when a professional athlete reveals his sexual orientation, because it doesn’t really matter.
Though the decision of an aging NBA center to come out as gay is a big deal now, ideally, it shouldn’t be.

Warning: Dems predict global warming will increase prostitution

Unable to sway the public opinion with facts, Democrats are naturally turning to rhetoric to make their case on the dangers of global warming.

While climate change may not be considered racist (yet), Democrats in the House of Representatives are making the case that it is sexist.  Because, obviously:
Several House Democrats are calling on Congress to recognize that climate change is hurting women more than men, and could even drive poor women to “transactional sex” for survival.
The resolution, from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and a dozen other Democrats, says the results of climate change include drought and reduced agricultural output. It says these changes can be particularly harmful for women.
“[F]ood insecure women with limited socioeconomic resources may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex, and early marriage that put them at risk for HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancy, and poor reproductive health,” it says.
Climate change could also add “workload and stresses” on female farmers, which the resolution says produce 60 to 80 percent of the food in developing countries.
First of all, can we just take a moment to reflect on the absurd new PC term for prostitution — “transactional sex”?  That lingo has got some real Frank Luntz mojo.  Are pimps now considered “street traders”?  Johns are now, what, “students of physical therapy”?

Second of all, it says a lot about our modern society that making the case for policy on gender lines is taken this seriously.  The report specifically cites Hurricane Katrina as “evidence” of how climate change can affect women because the storm displaced “over 83 percent of low-income, single mothers” in the Gulf region.  If you’re a married guy, fuggedaboutit.

“My resolution will affirm the commitment to include and empower women in economic development planning and international climate change policies and practices,” Rep. Lee says. “This will help communities adapt to climate impacts, and embark on a path towards clean and sustainable development.”

Well, fantastic.  Just don’t forget to include my free birth control.