Archive for November, 2010

The myth of Scooter Libby

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

UPDATE: Even the Washington Post complains about the lies and distortions in the movie. Given the Post’s history, that is severe criticism of the movie’s writers.

The Hollywood left has now released their version of the Valerie Plame affair. It is a movie called “Fair Game” and it perpetuates the myth that Vice-President Cheney’s chief of staff Scooter Libby told columnist Robert Novak that Joseph Wilson’s wife was a CIA agent. In fact, Novak got his information, and so testified before a grand jury, from Richard Armitage, a State Department assistant secretary and no ally of Bush and the White House. Armitage, typically, does not appear in the movie. This article in World Affairs Journal reviews the movie and provides a succinct account of the story.

Joe Wilson had gone to Niger in 2002 at the request of the CIA after Cheney had asked the agency about reports that Iraq bought yellowcake from Niger. According to a declassified CIA memo, Wilson found that Iraq had sent a commercial delegation to Niger to expand trade and that the only Niger export Iraq would care about was yellowcake. So there was an attempt, but it proved fruitless. In his 2003 State of Union address, Bush said the British had reported an effort by Iraq to buy “significant quantities of uranium” in Africa. In his July 6, 2003, Times op-ed, Wilson suggested that that statement was evidence the administration was manipulating intelligence to push the war. But Bush said only that the British reported that Iraq “sought” to purchase yellowcake, which was precisely what Wilson had found and reported, according to the CIA. Still, the op-ed caused a furor, and the White House quickly backed off the statements about Iraqi efforts.

My opinion is that the Bush White House made a catastrophic error in not defending the “sixteen words” in the State of the Union address. They were later shown to be correct as he did not assert that Saddam obtained the yellowcake but did make an unsuccessful attempt. The failure to defend those words began the myth that “Bush lied us into war.” It was a disastrous mistake.

Valerie Plame says in her memoir that she read the report that the CIA wrote immediately after debriefing Wilson on his trip and also read his column before it was published. She added that she thought the column was accurate. She said the report was only a few pages long. No one, let alone a professional intelligence officer, could have missed the part about Iraq trying to buy yellowcake. She had to know the column was wrong, but evidently said nothing. So she was anything but an innocent bystander as her husband created a political firestorm.

The book “Shaddow Warriors” makes the assertion that Wilson and Plame were actually working for French intelligence. France, of course, opposed the Iraq invasion and France, under Jacques Chirac, was deeply invested in Iraq and in the “oil for food” scam that corrupted the UN and a number of other organizations that helped Saddam evade the sanctions.

The other interesting story in the article concerns Libby’s attempt to obtain a pardon from Bush before he left office. It is to Bush’s discredit that he did not pardon Libby.

Even at the end of the long ordeal, poor memory — and irony — continued to played a role. Libby called White House counsel Fred Fielding as the clock was winding down on Bush’s term to ask if he could meet with the president to make his case for a pardon. Fielding mentioned he had received a call from a senator who had defended Libby. That surprised Libby, who knew the senator but had not considered him an ardent supporter. And Libby suggested it might have been another senator who Libby knew had spoken to Fielding.
Libby, who answered questions for this article, asked Fielding three times if he was sure it was the senator Fielding mentioned, and Fielding insisted that it was. But a little later, Fielding realized that he had made a mistake and that the senator Libby had mentioned was the one who had called. “Fred,” Libby said wryly, “you could be indicted.” The incident evidently didn’t convince Fielding that Libby may have made a similar memory error. Fielding didn’t return calls seeking comment.

Shame on Bush and Fielding for refusing to help an innocent man who had been wronged. The evidence against Libby was weak and the prosecutor knew throughout the entire process that Armitage had been the source for Novak.

Brave New World

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

UPDATE: More on TSA sexual molestation.

There is building resistance to the new body scanners being used at airports. The response of Janet Napolitano is typical of clueless progressives in power. More of her idiocy here.

when Janet Incompetano (as Mark Steyn calls her) was asked if Muslim women sporting hijabs would have to go through the same full-body pat downs, she equivocated and said, “adjustments will be made where they need to be made” and “With respect to that particular issue, I think there will be more to come.”

And more wisdom from Big Sis:

But, she said, “if there are adjustments we need to make to these procedures as we move forward, we have an open ear. We will listen.”
She added that “if people want to travel by some other means,” they have that right.

I’m sure the airlines will be pleased to hear that. In fact, there is an alternative.

The 2001 law creating the TSA gave airports the right to opt out of the TSA program in favor of private screeners after a two-year period. Now, with the TSA engulfed in controversy and hated by millions of weary and sometimes humiliated travelers, Rep. John Mica, the Republican who will soon be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, is reminding airports that they have a choice.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. There is growing resistance to the high handedness of the TSA.

There’s some really deep feeling brewing out there about the TSA’s newly intensified searches of airline passengers. I’m wondering what potential this very particular issue has for skewing politics more generally.

Think about why this issue has such a strong emotional impact: The government wants to see you naked or grope your genitals. It is conditioning an important aspect of personal freedom — flying in airplanes — on your resigning yourself — and your children — to sexual assault. I was chatting with someone the other day who seemed more angry about this than any other political issue.

This is more big government reaching into every aspect of life, even your underwear. The most ridiculous aspect of this is the searching of the pilots. Pilots are starting to rebel and I don’t blame them a bit. Why would a pilot need a bomb when he is in control of the airplane?

The delusions of the greens

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

There is still considerable debate about “renewable energy” and the subsidies necessary to make it even marginally competitive. In fact, the wind and solar energy industries are toys that are funded by the left in their delusional fixation on global warming. Spain learned just how expensive these subsidies can be but was the darling of the progressive left for a while.

UPDATE: There is now squabbling in the administration over these subsidies with General Electric, a big corporate welfare recipient, threatening to “go to the private market for funds.” Well, if they could do that, why are taxpayers paying for this ?

Spain has been at the forefront of producing clean energy, especially wind energy. By producing 11.5% of its overall energy through wind turbines Spain has become the 3rd largest producer of wind energy after Germany (2nd) and US (1st). Whereas many European countries like the UK are dragging their feet around the figure of 7300 MW, Spain has an ambitious target of achieving 20,000 MW by 2010.

Unfortunately, the bill came due.

Only two years ago, Spanish solar energy companies feasting on generous government subsidies expanded at a feverish pace, investing €18 billion (then worth roughly $28 billion) to blanket rooftops and fields with photovoltaic panels. They briefly turned the country into the top solar market in the world.

Spain’s subsidies for solar were four to six times higher than those for wind. Prices charged for solar power were 12 times higher than those for fossil fuel electricity. Germany and Spain received about 75 percent of the world’s photovoltaic panel installations that year.

Suddenly facing a deep recession, a collapsing housing market and a ballooning budget deficit, the Spanish government cut the rate paid for photovoltaic power by about 29 percent last year and put a limit on new solar installations at 500 megawatts per year. It is now considering additional tariff cuts that may reach as high as 40 percent and may even be applied retroactively, according to local newspaper reports.

The real future of power generation is coal. This is the future.

Fortunately, the US has the largest coal reserves in the world. There are cleaner ways to use coal for power. That is the way we will provide power for the future. It will be a struggle because the left is obsessed with the religion of global warming.

Eventually we will probably use nuclear power to generate electricity and the use of electricity for transportation will probably be part of the future. Maybe we (You. I won’t be around) will drive cars that draw power from embedded strips in the pavement. I am convinced that coal and nuclear is the future. Wind and solar have serious limitations that will always limit their use to small geographic areas. Arizona and California may be able to provide a lot of power from solar. I looked into it when I lived in Orange County. But for the needs of industry and the general population, the need will be filled by coal and nuclear.

Republicans and immigration.

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

The recent election said little about illegal immigration. Sharon Angle, according to this LA Times piece, may have come off too harsh on illegal immigration. Nevada has a large Hispanic population and elected a Republican governor who is Hispanic. Ken Buck may have gotten some backlash from a reputation as an enforcer of laws against employing illegals. However, the Republicans won Arizona where illegal immigration is an issue and Hispanics are a large sector of the population. What does this mean ?

Republicans are in favor of legal immigration. Democrats try to mix the legal and illegal sides of this issue to confuse voters. Many Hispanic voters oppose illegal immigration but may worry about harassment of legal residents. There is no question that California has been devastated by the demands of the illegal population. Texas has escaped some of the negative effects because its state government is funded by sales tax, not income tax which may be avoided by illegals.

What is the solution ?

One is to build the fence and control the border. So far, 600 miles have been constructed and the “virtual fence” advocated by George Bush has been shown to be useless.

The Obama administration is preparing to scrap plans to extend the high-tech “virtual” border fence along vast stretches of the 1,969-mile U.S.-Mexico border, ending a troubled and politically contentious security measure inaugurated in 2006 by then-President George W. Bush, the Houston Chronicle learned Friday.

The decision, expected to be announced shortly by the Department of Homeland Security, comes after federal authorities poured nearly $1 billion into a four-year, post-9/11 demonstration project to show that state-of-the-art remote cameras and ground sensors could help U.S. Border Patrol agents intercept undocumented immigrants, drug smugglers or potential terrorists surreptitiously crossing the border.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona keenly familiar with the technical problems afflicting the project, first signaled plans to scrub the “invisible fence” with a series of internal decisions in recent weeks that shifted the year-to-year contract with the prime contractor to a month-to-month contract due to expire on Nov. 21.

It was a waste of money and time. The real fence, however, has been effective where built. That is why most illegals are coming through Arizona now. There is a fence in California.

Once the fence is built, then what ?

Many of the workers compensation claims I review, about 70%, are for workers with Spanish surnames. Of these, about half are Spanish speaking only. When reviewing these cases, I note that the vast majority claim two years of education. Two years ! They are illiterate in Spanish, let alone English. They have no skills and can work at manual labor only. They tend to become injured and disabled by age 40. Then, they are a drag on the economy as they live on disability.

Legal immigrants bring education and skills. Canada requires that immigrants have assets and education. Very few countries permit illegal immigration as we do. Certainly Mexico does not permit immigration. There is no naturalized citizenship in Mexico.

What about illegals who have been here for years and have families who are citizens ? We can develop a policy toward these people once the border is secure. Right now, we have the significant possibility of a violent failed state on our southern border. That will accelerate migration and may well lead to violent confrontations between criminal gangs, who are learning tactics from Islamist groups, and US authorities.

Close the border and then worry about the illegals residing in the US with significant ties here.

How to stop Obamacare.

Friday, November 5th, 2010

There is considerable discussion about how the new Republican majority can “repeal” Obamacare. Surely, Obama would veto any legislation that did so. However, Obamacare supporters have given us a roadmap to the complete frustration of their plans. It tells us exactly what we must do.

ACA opponents could deliver on another pledge: to cut off funding for implementation. Here is how such a process could work.
Customarily, substantive legislation “authorizes” spending, but the funds to be spent must be separately “appropriated.” The ACA
contains 64 specific authorizations to spend up to $105.6 billion and 51 general authorizations to spend “such sums as are necessary”
over the period between 2010 and 2019. None of these funds will flow, however, unless Congress enacts specific appropriation
bills. In addition, section 1005 of the ACA appropriated $1 billion to support the cost of implementation in the Department of Health
and Human Services (DHHS). This sum is a small fraction of the $5 billion to $10 billion that the Congressional Budget Office estimates
the federal government will require between 2010 and 2019 to implement the ACA.4 The ACA appropriated nothing for the Internal
Revenue Service, which must collect the information needed to compute subsidies and pay them. The ACA also provides unlimited funding
for grants to states to support the creation of health insurance exchanges (section 1311). But states will also incur substantially increased
administrative costs to enroll millions of newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries. Without large additional appropriations, implementation will be
crippled. If ACA opponents gain a majority in either house of Congress, they could not only withhold needed appropriations but also bar the
use of whatever funds are appropriated for ACA implementation, including the implementation of the provisions requiring individual people to buy insurance or businesses to offer it. They could bar the use of staff time for designing rules for implementation or for paying
subsidies to support the purchase of insurance. They could even bar the DHHS from writing or issuing regulations or engaging in any other federal activity related to the creation of health insurance exchanges, even though the ACA provides funds for the DHHS to make grants to the states to set up those exchanges. That would set the stage for a high-stakes game of political “chicken.” The president could veto an appropriation bill containing such language. Congress could refuse to pass appropriation bills without such language. Failure to appropriate funds would lead to a partial government shutdown.

There it is folks. The road map to stopping Obamacare is right there, provided by its supporters. The key is that the bill passed is NOT a health plan. It is a wish list and a skeleton that needs to be completed. In their hubris, they never dreamed that they would be turned out of office with the plan unfinished.

If Obama vetoes an appropriations bill that doesn’t fund Obamacare, that does not fund it. The key is to write small bills that fund specific programs. Let’s say, we pass an appropriation bill that cuts public broadcasting by 50%. Obama vetoes it. What happens ? Public broadcasting is cut 100%. Everything else goes on undisturbed.

Newt Gingrich was too hubristic. Small is beautiful.

Nation chooses GOP; California chooses suicide.

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

There were huge Republican gains all across the nation yesterday. They took over the House of Representatives by the largest margin since 1948. John Boehner will be speaker with a clear mandate from the tea parties. Harry Reid hung on to his seat by some typical Nevada shenanigans with casinos getting their employees to vote, whether they wanted to or not. The Republicans failed to get a majority in the Senate which is a mixed blessing. Some of the tea party candidates had a hard time lacking experience.

California, on the other hand, turned back to the past and elected Jerry Brown governor. This is a disaster but he apparently won by a comfortable margin. I would imagine Gloria Allred has a big payday coming. The notorious housekeeper will, of course, be discarded. Barbara Boxer seems to have survived but this has little to do with the impending California catastrophe except as she is another indicator of the fatuous voters here. The only good news is that redistricting reform passed but it has to get past Brown. In addition to Brown, the the entire Democrat statewide slate won, which will make the coming collapse the clear responsibility of the party and its policies.

To add more weight on the scale, the voters passed measures to make tax increases easier, removing the 2/3 vote requirement from Prop 13 in 1978. They also rejected a suspension of the lunatic “cap and tax” law passed two years ago which was going to roll back global warming by killing even more California jobs.

I wonder if Jerry Brown thinks the Congress, with the House in Republican hands, is going to bail out his state when the pensions and state employee salaries and benefits break the budget. He was elected by the employee unions, which is only fair as he was the governor who made such unions legal by executive order. In 1983, the British Labour Party, in a last gasp of the old trade union Marxists, ran for election on a pure leftist, if not communist, manifesto. It was called “The longest suicide note in history.” Tony Blair followed as Labour Party leader. I wonder what will follow Jerry Brown?

It’s the spending, dammit !

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

The deficits are being blamed on the collapse in revenues by the Democrats. Certainly they are aggravated by the drop in revenue but is that all the reason ?


The spending line is in constant dollars. Had revenue not dropped (The dotted green line) the deficits would still be huge.

Why Sarah Palin resigned as governor of Alaska

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Sarah Palin has been harshly criticized for her inexplicable decision to resign half way through her term as governor. This has been used to allege she is unstable, that there were corruption charges coming against her and even that she and Todd were considering a divorce. This was all political spin and the lies have not stopped coming. Now we get another glimpse of Alaska politics and an explanation of what happened to force her out.

Joe Miller, a tea party candidate for Senator, won the Republican primary defeating Lisa Murkowski, daughter of the governor who appointed her and almost the last of the Republican machine that ran Alaska for 50 years until Sara Palin beat Frank Murkowski in the Republican primary for governor four years ago. Ted Stevens has died and Lisa is the last of the pork shippers. Her decision to run as a write-in candidate was partly due to her sense of entitlement and partly pressure from the corrupt machine in Alaska that was in a panic that clean politics was about to break out. An article in National Review today explains much of this. Hans von Spakovsky was a member of the Justice Department under George W Bush and has written a number of pieces in support of the two career DoJ lawyers who have attacked the political decision to dismiss the New Black Panther case after it was won. That case is part of a trend that began when Obama was elected and appointed Eric Holder as Attorney General.

The latest shenanigans by Alaskan election officials and the Voting Section of Justice’s Civil Rights Division show a dangerous willingness to bend regulations in furtherance of political objectives.

Here is the background: After Joe Miller defeated Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary, Murkowski decided to run as a write-in candidate — meaning that her name would not be on the ballot, and thus that ill-informed voters will not be reminded at the polling place that she is an option. But on October 15, the Alaska Division of Elections decided to provide polling places with posters listing write-in candidates and their party affiliations. The list would obviously help Murkowski.

The problem is that posting such a list violates the Election Division’s own regulations, which specifically state that “information regarding a write-in candidate may not be discussed, exhibited, or provided at the polling place, or within 200 feet of any entrance to the polling place, on election day.” That’s why the Election Division has never provided a list of write-in candidates in any election in the past.

Alaska politics has been corrupt since statehood. Republicans have dominated but Democrats are no less corrupt. The other scandal going on over the Miller election has concerned an accidental recording of the staff of a TV station in Anchorage planning a political “dirty trick” on MIller. Miller has been portrayed as a hick and a know-nothing in spite of the fact that he graduated from West Point in 1989 and Yale Law School in 1995. Why is this such a huge focus of the left ? Because he is the Senator who could give the Republicans, not only the majority, but the conservative majority. Lisa Murkowski is part of the corrupt machine of Alaska politics. That corrupt machine was defeated by Sarah Palin and is now facing another defeat by a tea party supported candidate who will not “go along to get along” as Lisa has. They will literally do anything to stop him as they did anything they could to stop Sarah, including filling hundreds of phony ethics complaints that would have bankrupted her family while they stopped the business of the state of Alaska. She has strong opinions about these people and is not shy about expressing them.

Hell hath no fury like a corrupt politician rejected by the voters. Murkowski is now saying she may not caucus with Republicans if elected. She sounds like Charlie Crist, doesn’t she ? How long before Bill Clinton is in Alaska talking to Scott McAdams? If he can remember his name.

Sarah Palin defeated the corrupt Frank Murkowski, renegotiated the gas pipeline contract to get a better deal for residents, and enraged the corrupt establishment in Alaska. When she returned to Alaska after the 2008 election, they made her life hell. Now they are trying to do the same to Joe Miller for daring to interrupt the gravy train and its last engineer, Lisa Murkowski.

In spite of all this, Miller is still winning.

More here. “Out of context” means they got caught red handed.