April 12, 2012

Click on WORD or PDF for full content



We have been hearing about the “radical” Ryan budget. Would you believe it is 46% higher than Clinton’s last budget? Investors.com has the story. 

Even in a city known for hyperbole, the attacks by Democrats on Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan stand out.

It’s “bad news in every single direction,” said New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, and “extreme and divisive,” according to Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the budget is “not a statement of our national values,” and her second in command, Maryland’s Steny Hoyer, claimed the plan “represents a bleak future for America.”

President Obama went furthest, saying in a speech this week that Ryan’s “draconian cuts” would “impose a radical vision on our country” and that it was “antithetical to our entire history.” It is “so far to the right,” he said, “that it makes the Contract with America look like the New Deal.”

So does Ryan’s budget proposal live up to this radical billing?

Not at all. That is, not unless you’d call Obama’s Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton, an even more extreme radical.

Under Ryan’s plan, the federal government would be 46% bigger in real terms than it was in 2000, which was President Clinton’s last year in office.


Josh Kraushaar says the president’s trash talk could hurt him.

If President Obama loses reelection in November, the seeds of his defeat will have been planted in his fiery, populist campaign kickoff speech at the Associated Press luncheon last week. It was a negative, overly political address at sharp odds with his optimistic 2008 campaign message of hope and change. It seemed petty at times, mocking Mitt Romney for using the word “marvelous” and exaggerating proposed conservative entitlement reforms as “Social Darwinism.” All  of this while giving a supposedly nonpolitical, non-campaign address.

Ideologically, the speech was a throwback to the Democratic rhetoric of decades past. Despite sops to Ronald Reagan, Obama laid out his ideological argument at the outset, stating his “belief that, through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves.” That’s a far cry from “the era of big government is over” mantra that President Clinton advanced in his reelection campaign.

In one sense, the speech previewed how fiercely the president’s team will be fighting for another term and how nasty the expected contest between Obama and Romney is likely to be. As Obama’s advisers have indicated, the president’s campaign strategy is to portray the opposition as so extreme that voters will hold their noses and vote for the incumbent even if they’re dissatisfied with the country’s direction. To eke out a victory in a slow-growing economy, Obama needs to turn out his base and turn off independents to Romney.

But the president is seriously miscalculating if he believes that the key to winning the hearts and minds of independents is “us-against-them” rhetoric that hails back to a bygone Democratic era. He ably mounted a withering attack on the Republicans’ austerity proposals but offered no alternative vision to deal with the growing debt. When Clinton campaigned for a second term in 1996, he likewise castigated congressional Republicans for proposing entitlement cuts and shutting down the government, but he also championed a just-passed bipartisan welfare-reform law and a balanced budget that reduced the size of government. With Obama’s speech, there was no centrist recalibrating to reassure worried independents that he’s not too ideological; no sugar to sweeten the tough talk.

That’s no trivial concern, according to the results of a poll analyzing the sentiments of the swingiest independents from battleground states, commissioned by the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way. The survey showed those voters narrowly favoring Obama (44 percent) over Romney (38 percent), and showed the president with respectable overall favorability scores. But it also revealed some red flags that if the campaign continues driving home the “people-versus-the-powerful” message, it could cost the president down the road. While these swing voters still like Obama personally, they are closer to Romney ideologically.

The polling found that a message centered on income inequality was a flop with these swing voters, who said they were much more anxious about rising debt and with regulations and taxes on businesses. …


John Fund details the latest sting by James O’Keefe. This is the one where Eric Holder’s ballot was offered to a John Doe.

Attorney General Eric Holder is a staunch opponent of laws requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls to improve ballot security. He calls them “unnecessary” and has blocked their implementation in Texas and South Carolina, citing the fear they would discriminate against minorities.

I wonder what Holder will think when he learns just how easy it was for someone to be offered his ballot just by mentioning his name in a Washington, D.C., polling place in Tuesday’s primaries.

Holder’s opposition to ID laws comes in spite of the Supreme Court’s 6–3 decision in 2008, authored by liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, that upheld the constitutionality of Indiana’s tough ID requirement. When groups sue to block photo-ID laws in court, they can’t seem to produce real-world examples of people who have actually been denied the right to vote. According to opinion polls, over 75 percent of Americans — including majorities of Hispanics and African-Americans — routinely support such laws.

One reason is that people know you can’t function in the modern world without showing ID — you can’t cash a check, travel by plane or even train, or rent a video without being asked for one. In fact, PJ Media recently proved that you can’t even enter the Justice Department in Washington without showing a photo ID. Average voters understand that it’s only common sense to require ID because of how easy it is for people to pretend they are someone else

Filmmaker James O’Keefe demonstrated just how easy it is on Tuesday when he dispatched an assistant to the Nebraska Avenue polling place in Washington where Attorney General Holder has been registered for the last 29 years. O’Keefe specializes in the same use of hidden cameras that was pioneered by the recently deceased Mike Wallace, who used the technique to devastating effect in exposing fraud in Medicare claims and consumer products on 60 Minutes. O’Keefe’s efforts helped expose the fraud-prone voter-registration group ACORN with his video stings, and has had great success demonstrating this year in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Minnesota just how easy it is to obtain a ballot by giving the name of a dead person who is still on the rolls. Indeed, a new study by the Pew Research Center found at least 1.8 million dead people are still registered to vote. They aren’t likely to complain if someone votes in their place.

In Washington, it was child’s play for O’Keefe to beat the system. O’Keefe’s assistant used a hidden camera to document his encounter with the election worker at Holder’s polling place: …


As the public safety goobers become more and more adversarial, attempting to cooperate with them comes fraught with more and more risk. Perhaps the safer course is to say nothing. WSJ story on the perils of testifying.

When federal prosecutors can’t muster enough evidence to bring charges against a person suspected of a crime, they can still use a controversial law to get a conviction anyway: They charge the person with lying.

The law against lying—known in legal circles simply as “1001″—makes it a crime to knowingly make a material false statement in matters of federal jurisdiction. Critics across the political spectrum argue that 1001, a widely used statute in the federal criminal code, is open to abuse. It is charged hundreds of times a year, according to court records and interviews with lawyers and legal scholars.

Thanks to a far-reaching federal statute, marine biologist and orca expert Nancy Black is facing a potential 20-year prison sentence for her work. Clare Major reports from Monterey, Calif.

Nancy Black, a marine biologist and operator of whale-watching boats, recently became ensnared by 1001. When one of her boat captains whistled at a humpback whale that approached the boat a few years ago, regulators investigated whether the incident constituted harassment of a whale, which is illegal.

This past January, Ms. Black was charged in the case—not with whale harassment, but with lying about the incident. She also faces a charge of illegally altering a video of the whale encounter, as well as unrelated allegations involving whale blubber. Together, the charges carry up to 20 years in prison.

She denies all wrongdoing, including lying. “I wasn’t charged with anything about the dealings with the humpback,” says Ms. Black, 49 years old. “So why would they charge me with lying about it? It makes no sense.”

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

The law against lying, officially Title 18, section 1001 of the United States Code, is “a bread-and-butter” statute for Justice Department prosecutors, says Thomas O’Brien, the former U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles. The law’s breadth makes it useful for nabbing wrongdoers, particularly in cases where suspected crimes are complex and tough to prove, he says. …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>