Archive for July, 2009

Friday evening porch

Friday, July 31st, 2009

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During a lull in the rain…

Lend a hand

Friday, July 31st, 2009

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Nice Deb has the photo that Thomas Lifson posted,

Sergeant Crowley, the sole class act in this trio, helps the handicapped Professor Gates down the stairs, while Barack Obama, heedless of the infirmities of his friend and fellow victim of self-defined racial profiling, strides ahead on his own. So who is compassionate? And who is so self-involved and arrogant that he is oblivious?

Lifson finds an analogy to government health care. Go read it.

Ambushed by Obi’s Sister: 7 things I love

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Obi’s Sister ambushed me on Wednesday, and it’s time to take a break from dismal politics, so here we are:

7 Things I Love:
As if you hadn’t guessed yet: 1. Tango. I took up tango last year and have become addicted to the point of obsession. Love the music, love the dance, love the skill necessary to do it well, love the tango dancers.

Here are Santiago Steele and Rachel Greenberg in NYC last year:

I must schedule a couple of lessons with Santiago in the future.

Of course, you can’t tango without 2. Tango shoes – even posted a photo of my favorite tango shoes a while ago.

How does one follow an afternoon of tango? By stopping at Thomas Sweet’s on Nassau Street and enjoying a 3. Thomas Sweet’s sugar free chocolate frozen yogurt topped with salted pecans. Yum. 4. Outdoors on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in July.

Summer foods are also big: 5. Fresh raspberries, alone or with heavy cream (poured on, not whipped), and corn and tomatoes fresh off the stalk and the vine.

I also love 6. going to conferences and meeting people. Just got back on Sunday from BlogHer09 in Chicago where I met with Jane, who also was in BlogHer08 in San Francisco, along with several other friends.

Of course, as soon as I got back to Princeton I went to the Sunday evening milonga.

7. While most people don’t like trains (particularly American trains), I like riding trains. Some people go on retreat, I go on Amtrak.

Tagging:
GM Roper
No Sheeples here
Lady Godiva
Was going to tag Jane and the Anchoress but Obi’s Sister beat me to it.

UPDATE
No Sheeples have spoken!

The FARC’s Swedish Rocket Launchers: 15 Minutes on Latin America

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern: The FARC’s Swedish Rocket Launchers.

Related links:
WaPo editorial

Venezuela: Chávez’s War Against Free Speech UPDATED

Friday, July 31st, 2009

My latest article, Venezuela: Chávez’s War Against Free Speech, is up at Real Clear World.

While the Venezuelan government tries to monopolize all media, here in the US Disgraced Dinosaur Dan Rather Urges, “Save The Press” through government intervention. Rather sees no contradiction between government-owned media and the concept of freedom of speech.

UPDATE:
Venezuela: ‘Freedom of expression must be limited’

Venezuela’s top prosecutor insisted Thursday that freedom of expression in Venezuela “must be limited” and proposed legislation that would slap additional restrictions on the country’s news media.

The new law would punish the owners of radio stations, television channels and newspapers that have attempted to “cause panic” and “disturb social peace,” Attorney General Luisa Ortega said.

It also would punish media owners who “manipulate the news with the purpose of transmitting a false perception of the facts.”

“Freedom of expression must be limited,” Ortega said.

Ortega urged lawmakers to consider her suggestions as they debate a bill that would punish as-yet-undefined “media crimes.” The National Assembly, which is controlled by allies of President Hugo Chavez, is expected to approve the measure in coming months.

The pressure increases, even before the law comes into effect:

Chavez’s administration is slowly tightening its grip over the news media, raising concerns among watchdog and human rights groups that accuse the government of trying to stifle dissent.

Venezuela’s telecommunications commission notified 50 radio stations earlier this week that their broadcast licenses could be revoked because they failed to update their registrations. Commission chief Diosdado Cabello said a final determination on the licenses will be made following investigations. He said authorities might also seize broadcasting equipment.

Nearly 200 other broadcasters that did not meet a June deadline to register also will be investigated, but have not yet been formally notified, Cabello said.

Soaked

Friday, July 31st, 2009

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Tax Burden of Top 1% Now Exceeds That of Bottom 95%

To put this in perspective, the top 1 percent is comprised of just 1.4 million taxpayers and they pay a larger share of the income tax burden now than the bottom 134 million taxpayers combined.

Additionally,

Some in Washington say the tax system is still not progressive enough. However, the recent IRS data bolsters the findings of an OECD study released last year showing that the U.S.—not France or Sweden—has the most progressive income tax system among OECD nations. We rely more heavily on the top 10 percent of taxpayers than does any nation and our poor people have the lowest tax burden of those in any nation.

And those numbers don’t even begin to include the upcoming healthcare taxes.

By the way, U.S. States Lead the World in High Corporate Taxes, among them New Jersey, which has a combined federal and state corporate tax rate of 41.1%.

Zelaya will continue to change the Constitution upon his return

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Via commenter Einar,

Zelaya dice que cambiará de estrategia pero que seguirá con proyecto para instalar Constituyente (Zelaya says he’ll change strategy but will continue project to install a Constitutent Assembly).

The brief article at Honduras’s Proceso Digital reports that Zelaya declared “in order not to contradict the Arias Plan, we will change strategy but the reform will go on.”

Not surprisingly, Honduran rulers insist Zelaya cannot be president.

Tax-Free Weekend Coming Up!

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

My latest post, Tax-Free Weekend Coming Up! is up at Right Pundits. Please read it and leave a comment if you please.

Shoe bomber’s rights

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Remember Richard Reid, the shoe bomber?

Jules rembers him, particularly this part:

The passengers on American Airlines Flight 63 had finished a quiet lunch and were settling in for the long Atlantic flight faced with nothing more exciting than a movie when a flight attendant cried out for help yesterday.

French TV journalist Thierry Dugeon, 36, was 10 rows behind the fracas in coach.

“Suddenly, I heard a female voice, `I need some help! I need some help!’ ” Dugeon said.

Instinctively, he ran up the narrow aisle to join the group of passengers in a desperate struggle with a man believed to have a bomb.

“It’s three months after September 11th. Of course the first thing you think is something like terrorism,” Dugeon said. “Ten rows in front of me it looked like a fight. I joined the fight . . . It’s pure instinct. It goes so fast. It was my ass as well as the others. You hear a stewardess screaming on an airplane, what do you do? You fight!”

Dugeon was one of 185 passengers aboard the Miami-bound Boeing 767 that landed safely, under fighter jet escort, at Logan International Airport. He spoke with the Herald after being questioned by police and before boarding another plane for Florida.

Dugeon described the melee that lasted long minutes. “Everybody was trying to hold whatever part of the body he could. He was a powerful man. You could feel him resisting,” he said.

The fight took place in a crowded, narrow economy class aisle. Shortly after a woman left her seat, the culprit by the window of Row 29 lit a match, drawing a reprimand from a flight attendant. Minutes later she caught him trying to light the tongue of his black, suede high-topped basketball shoe. When she tried to take the matches away, he bit her on the hand, other passengers said.

“The nearest passengers saw it and grabbed him and tried to put him in his seat, put him under control . . . He was struggling. He was real powerful. But we were like five or six,” Dugeon said.

The struggle, he said, was a blur as passengers tried to subdue the 6-foot-4 suspected terrorist in his seat. They finally had him immobilized.

“After that, we tied him up with everything we had,” Dugeon said. Passengers gave up their belts, strapped a seatbelt around the man, and someone else produced several plastic zip-ties, anything they could get to restrain the unruly man.

A member of the flight crew threatened to blast the man with a fire extinguisher if he moved.

Two doctors on board the Paris-to-Miami flight appeared with syringes and administered sedatives while a flight attendant began questioning him. Passengers rifled his pockets.

After that Reid ended up in maximum security prison in Colorado.

Well, a jihadi’s work is never done, so he sued the government. Deborah Burlingame, sister of Charles F. “Chic” Burlingame III, the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which was crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, writes in the WSJ that

Reid’s own SAMs on correspondence had been tightened in 2006 after the shocking discovery that three of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers at ADX, not subject to security directives, had sent 90 letters to overseas terrorist networks, including those associated with the Madrid train bombing. The letters, exhorting jihad and praising Osama bin Laden as “my hero of this generation,” were printed in Arabic newspapers and brandished like trophies to recruit new members.

So Reid sued for freedom of religion and went on hunger strike, and voila!

On July 6, Justice Department lawyers informed the court that Reid will be given a “new placement” in a “post-SAMs setting.” Whether that entails stepped down security in a different unit or transfer to a less secure facility, the Bureau of Prisons won’t say, and Justice refuses to comment.

Mr. Obama likes to observe that “no one has escaped from supermax,” but if Reid is moved from ADX Florence, he will be the first convicted terrorist to use the First Amendment to sue his way out.

And why escape when you can play the system? When you know that your “rights” supersede national security and common sense?

Andrew McCarthy, who prosecuted Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and others involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing (an immense task that took nearly a year’s work of preparation and cost millions of dollars), points out that

to have any chance of securely detaining terrorists in civilian prisons, the SAMs ["special administrative measures"] need to be imposed and aggressively enforced.

Yet, even as Holder is making the “securely detaining” argument out of one side of his mouth, he’s abandoning the SAMs out of the other. And all the while, Obama is pushing to close Gitmo and bring scores of these trained terrorists into the civilian prison system. It’s madness.

McCarthy also has an article on Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, who tried to kidnap his American lawyers to escape from prison

The effort was foiled, but not before Salim jammed a razor-sharpened comb, fashioned and concealed in his high-security cell, several inches through the eye and into the brain of Louis Pepe, a 42-year-old Bureau of Prisons guard. Officer Pepe survived, barely, but was left maimed and impaired.

For his efforts, Salim was dropped from the Africa embassy-bombing trial:

He later pleaded guilty to the assault on Officer Pepe, a conviction Holder fails to mention in his list of DOJ’s counterterrorism successes. Perhaps that’s because Judge Deborah Batts, the Clinton appointee assigned to the case, declined to sentence Salim to life imprisonment. Judge Batts was unmoved by the government’s contention that a terrorist’s maiming of a prison guard might possibly have had something to do with terrorism. It didn’t seem to matter that the attempted murder arose out of a plot designed to facilitate an al-Qaeda escape, or that Salim, who pled guilty to conspiracy, had admitted to planning the attack with another al-Qaeda member. Thus, the thoughtful jurist refused to apply the sentencing guideline that governs “federal crimes of terrorism.” Though Batts did impose a term of 32 years, a federal appellate court finally reversed her absurd ruling last year, sending the case back to her court.

The Obama administration is telegraphing a message to the jihadists.

We shall soon hear their response.

Chavez’s war against the media: 15 Minutes on Latin America

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

In today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern, Chavez hits at Venezuelan media with new laws, again.

Related links (in Spanish, from Venezuelan websites):
Presentará proyecto de Ley que penaría con cárcel a quienes cometan “delitos mediáticos”
Todos los “delitos mediáticos” se castigarán con cárcel
Cualquier persona que se exprese en un medio podrá ser objeto de sanción

El Universal: “Todos los delitos mediáticos se castigarán con cárcel”

You can read the proposed law here: Projecto especial de ley contra delitos mediáticos (pdf file in Spanish).