New piece at Fox News: Mexico's Calderon Knows Nothing About America's Gun Laws

My new piece starts off this way:

During his trip to the United States Mexico's President Felipe Calderón received a lot of attention for falsely claiming that Arizona's new immigration law uses "racial profiling." Calderon's attacks on U.S. policies continued during his address to Congress on Thursday. Immigration wasn’t his only topic. He spent over four minutes of his address lecturing Americans and calling them on to renew the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that sunset in September 2004.

Calderon's message was simple: the reason that Mexicans are losing the drug war is because the U.S. assault weapons ban expired. Yet, Calderon's understanding of what the Federal Assault Weapons Ban is no more accurate than it is about Arizona's new immigration law. Let's review the assertions he made to Congress:

-- Calderon claimed that these were "powerful weapons." It is a common misunderstanding as the "assault weapons" ban conjures up images of machine guns used by militaries. Yet the 1994 federal assault weapons ban had nothing to do with machine guns, . . .

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Mom shoots dog that was attacking her daughter

One reason for shooting this dog is that it could have been rabid and if it had gotten away after the attack, the child would have to endure a painful treatment. From the Orange County Register (please click through to read the piece on their website).

Terrified, 6-year-old Anna Cooper curled into a ball. Still, the brown and white boxer came at her.
He bit Anna's face, her shoulder and several areas on her left leg. The girl screamed. Watch video here.
Her brother Steven, 14, heard the screams and ran to help. He beat the dog over the head with closed fists. Anna's sister Grace, 3, ran to next-door neighbor Lisa Horner, who came out with Windex and rose clippers.
The dog biting, Anna screaming, siblings and neighbors rushing to save her; it upended this tranquil Lake Forest neighborhood near El Toro and Trabuco roads on Wednesday. And it brought Jennifer Cooper, Anna's mother, running from the family room.
Cooper, 43, home schools her children: in addition to Steven, Anna and Grace, there is Matthew, 12, Nathan, 8, and Gabriel, 14 months. Cooper and her son Steven were going over lesson plans for speech, debate and piano when the dog attacked. Anna's shrieking got everyone's attention.
"It was a mother's worst nightmare, seeing my child being harmed," Cooper said. "I kicked (the dog), but he kept coming back and attacking my daughter. Finally, I pulled Anna from the dog. I started yelling 'bad dog' and 'go home,' but he was so aggressive he wasn't leaving. The rest of my children were out, and I carried Anna back with blood running down her legs. He came at my baby, bit his pant leg and then stood over him."
Steven was the last one in. He walked backward to the front door – afraid to turn his back – as the dog continued to show aggression.
Once inside Cooper checked on Anna and Gabriel. They were crying but seemed stable otherwise. She said she thought about calling 911, but said she was worried about other children in the area.
Cooper ran to an upstairs bedroom, where she and her husband have a gun safe. Cooper pulled out a Glock 19 loaded with 9 mm Hornady hollow-point ammunition, cocked it while running down the stairs and went to the door.
"I looked out my peep hole, and the dog was still there, standing 20 feet from my door," said Cooper, who was raised on an Oregon farm around animals and guns. "I made sure there were no people out there in the cul-de-sac, I pulled the door open and aimed at the dog's chest and shot him.
"Dogs are so tough and vicious. I was afraid of it running down the street and attacking another person. I knew the only way to stop him was the gun. My only regret is that I wasn't able to kill the dog," she said.
The dog did die of its wounds Thursday, said Ryan Drabek, interim director of OC Animal Care.
He said the dog was not automatically euthanized because "it is somebody's animal. If it is deemed treatable, we have to provide the best care possible."
The animal – officials are considering it a stray dog; the owner has not been located – will be tested for rabies and a necropsy will be performed as part of an investigation into the incident by the Orange County Sheriff's Department, Drabek said.
The lesson Cooper wants for her children is that they know they are safe in their own home.
"I want them to know that Mom is just a step away, and I'll be there to protect them," she said.
No need to prove that to Anna, who was doing better Thursday, although she said she's afraid of all dogs now except puppies and Chihuahuas.
"My mom is really brave," she said.



32 states have borrowed from Federal Government for Unemployment Payments

EconomicPolicyJournal.com shows that states have borrowed $37.8 billion for unemployment benefits. $7 billion just borrowed by California.


Mayor Daley flips out on gun control question

OK, Chicago has more murders than any place else in the country and consistently one of the couple highest rates for large cities. Shouldn't Daley be exasperated? Just about the failure to reduce crime.

Irate with a reporter's question on the effectiveness of the city's handgun ban, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley offered to give a first-hand lesson following the shooting of an off-duty police officer.

"Oh, it's been very effective," Daley said, according to MyFoxChicago.com. "If I put this up your butt, you'll find out how effective it is. If I put a round up your … you'll know."

Daley, whose comments came at a news conference on Thursday previously scheduled to discuss the city's ban and a pending U.S. Supreme Court lawsuit challenging the law, became testy when a reporter questioned the ban's effectiveness as the mayor held a rifle confiscated from city streets.

Jacquelyn Heard, Daley's press secretary, later told the Chicago Sun-Times that Daley was somewhat exasperated because the individual asking the question -- a reporter from the Chicago Reader -- was "missing the point that unrestricted guns are a devastating issue" for the city.

"To illustrate the point, he offered what admittedly could be considered a less than ideal example, but it's one that is a stark reminder of how destructive gun violence has been," Heard told the paper. . . .

He later apologized for his comments.

Mayor Richard M. Daley said Friday that he regrets his choice of words when he suggested he'd stick a rifle with a bayonet up a reporter's "butt," but he said he was trying to "shock" the media into exposing gun manufacturers who flood the streets with firearms. . . .

Daley said without the gun ban, people would be in danger from people with weapons such as the one he picked up. But since such weapons can be confiscated, lives have been saved, he said. . . .

From the reporter, Mike Dumke, who asked Daley the question.

Daley also likes to highlight what he considers to be flagrant hypocrisy on the part of the defenders of gun rights. “Now you can’t walk into the Supreme Court—you have to walk in the side way. They’re going to barricade the doors or something now. I mean, they’re barricading the doors but they’re saying everyone else should have guns. That’s the thing that bothers me in Washington. As you know in Washington all things are being barricaded, all federal buildings. But they’re saying everybody else should be able to carry guns.” . . .

So is Daley being hypocritical when he uses armed body guards? Here is how the reporter involved described the event.

So I asked: since guns are readily available in Chicago even with a ban in place, do you really think it’s been effective?

I’m hardly the only guy who asks the mayor things he doesn’t want to answer, and I’ve been responsible for at least one of his huffing, puffing, ranting tangents, which generally get the press corps laughing, thus enabling him to move on to the next question without giving a real answer to the one at hand.

But even by those standards, this was a masterful and surreal performance.

“Oh!” Daley said. “It’s been very effective!”

He grabbed a rifle, held it up, and looked right at me. He was chuckling but there was no smile.

“If I put this up your—ha!—your butt—ha ha!—you’ll find out how effective this is!”

For a moment the room was very, very quiet. I took a good look at the weapon. It had a long bayonet. (Was it seized during the Civil War?)

“If I put a round up your—ha ha!”

The photographers snapped away. Suddenly everybody started cracking up. . . .

Of course, it is understandable why Daley tries to evade the question. See this discussion on Chicago's murder rates.

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Ethics complaint against Sestak

During the primary campaign Rep. Joe Sestak trotted out a few times the charge that the White House had tried to bribe him into not running for the Senate.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the top Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform committee, said Sestak needs to explain what job he was offered and who at the White House was involved. Sestak, who beat Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) in the Democratic Senate primary on Tuesday, said on a Philadelphia radio station in February that the White House offered him a job to drop out of the race. . . .

Either a bribe was offered or it wasn't. If it was true, Sestak will be in trouble for not properly reporting it to the right channels. If he made it up, well . . . .


Calderon's disasterous attempt to explain the differences between US and Mexican immigration enforcement

A transcript from CNN's Situation Room:

Wolf Blitzer says, "What's wrong with the folks in Arizona wanting to protect their border?"

CALDERON: In Arizona, there is some racial profiling criteria in order to enforce the law that it's against any sense of human rights; and, of course, is provoking very disappointing, uh, things -- or very disappointing opinion -- in Mexico and around the world, even here in America. So to introduce this kind of elements, especially racial profiling aspect that are attempting against what we consider human rights, it's the principle of discrimination which is against the values of this great nation.

Blitzer: "So if people want to come from Guatemala or Honduras or El Salvador or Nicaragua, they want to just come into Mexico, can they just walk in?"

CALDERON: No! They need to fulfill, uh, a form. They need to establish their right name. We analyze if they have not a criminal precedence.

BLITZER: Do Mexican police go around asking for papers of people they suspect are illegal immigrants?

CALDERON: Of course! Of course!

BLITZER: If somebody sneaks in from Nicaragua or some other country in Central America through the southern border of Mexico and they wind up in Mexico, they can going get a job?

CALDERON: No, no, no.

BLITZER: They can work?

CALDERON: If somebody do that without permissions, we send -- we send back them.

OK so how does that compare to Arizona? A final copy of the law is here. And what does Calderon say?

CALDERON: In Arizona, there is some racial profiling criteria in order to enforce the law that it's against any sense of human rights; and, of course, is provoking very disappointing, uh, things -- or very disappointing opinion -- in Mexico and around the world, even here in America. So to introduce this kind of elements, especially racial profiling aspect that are attempting against what we consider human rights, it's the principle of discrimination which is against the values of this great nation.

Blitzer says: So somebody outside your country wants to come into Mexico, can they just walk into your country?

CALDERON: No! They need to fulfill, uh, a form. They need to establish their right name. We analyze if they have not a criminal precedence.

BLITZER: Do Mexican police go around asking for papers of people they suspect are illegal immigrants?

CALDERON: Of course! Of course!

BLITZER: If somebody sneaks in from Nicaragua or some other country in Central America through the southern border of Mexico and they wind up in Mexico, they can going get a job?

CALDERON: No, no, no.

BLITZER: They can work?

CALDERON: If somebody do that without permissions, we send -- we send back them. . .

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"Calderón Calls for Restoring Assault Weapons Ban"

Calderon said this during his address:

CALDERON: However, there is one issue where Mexico needs your cooperation. And that is stopping the flow of assault weapon and other deadly arms across the border. Let me be clear on this, I fully respect, I admire, the American Constitution and I understand that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to guarantee good American citizens the ability to defend themselves and their nation. But believe me many of these guns are not going to honest American hands. Instead thousands are ending up in the hands of criminals. Just to give you an idea, we have seized 75,000 guns and assault weapons in Mexico in the past three years, and more than 80 percent of those we have been able to trace came from the United States. And if you look carefully you will notice that the violence in Mexico started to grow a couple of years before I took office in 2006. This coincides, at least, with the lifting of the assault weapons ban in 2004. One day Criminals in Mexico having gained an access to these weapons decided to challenge the authorities in my country. Today these weapons are aimed by the criminals not only at rival gangs but also at Mexican civilians and authorities. And with all due respect, if you do not regulate the sale of these weapons in the right way, nothing guarantees that criminals here in the United States with access to the same power of weapons will not decide to challenge American authorities and civilians. It is true that the US government is now carrying out operations against gun traffickers, but it is also true that there are more than 7,000 gun shops along the border with Mexico were almost anyone can purchase these powerful weapons. I also fully understand the political sensitivity of this issue. But I will ask Congress to help us, with respect, and to understand how important it is for us that you enforce current laws to stem the supply of these weapons to criminals and consider restating the assault weapons ban. Let us by any legal way end this lethal trade that threatens Mexico and your own people.

The LA Times indicates that his claims about murder rates aren't exactly accurate.

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Right to Discriminate?

If it were me, I would have emphasized that the reason that the Southern states had passed their laws mandating discrimination against blacks was because the businesses weren't doing it on their own.


Pat Caddell provides some straight talk about Tuesday's elections

Caddell as always is willing to speak his mind.


Transparency?: Clinton library unlikely to provide documents in time for Kagan's Confirmation hearing

Why the rush on Kagan? Can't they wait until Kagan's record is available before the confirmation hearing?

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday set June 28 as the start date for hearings on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, and asked the Clinton presidential library to turn over voluminous documents related to Kagan's time as a top presidential assistant in the 1990s.

But Terri Garner, director of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, said in an interview Wednesday that it would be "very difficult" for her facility to meet the deadline. She said the records request is overly broad and "too general in scope" and that, under the Presidential Records Act, attorneys for both Clinton and President Obama have the right to read and review each document before it is released to the committee.

"There are just too many things here," she said. "These are legal documents and they are presidential records, and they have to be read by an archivist and vetted for any legal restrictions. And they have to be read line by line."

Kagan, currently U.S. solicitor general, served in the Clinton White House as an associate counsel to the president in 1995 and 1996 and as deputy assistant for domestic policy from 1997 to 1999. . . .


So how much of the drop in stock prices are due to the politicians threatening more regulations

With all these politicians threatening more regulation, what do you expect to happen to financial markets?

Effective regulation is needed if financial markets are to be kept under control, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told the Financial Times in an interview published on Thursday.

"I'm convinced the markets are really out of control. That is why we need really effective regulation, in the sense of creating a properly functioning market mechanism," Schaeuble told the paper.

"A market does not function properly if the risks and rewards are completely unbalanced," he said.

"We need transparency. Given the complexity of modern technology, the individual needs a chance to judge what he is doing. That's why we need standardization of products. And we need transparency for all market participants."

Germany blames much of the euro zone's debt crisis on financial speculation and announced a ban on naked short-selling of German bank shares and the bonds of euro zone governments on Tuesday. . . .

From the Financial Times:

Fears of a disorderly regulatory crackdown on banks and financial markets triggered a crisis of confidence among investors on Thursday that sent share prices reeling in a global flight to safety.

US, European and Asian shares all tumbled in the wake of Germany’s partial ban on naked short selling and ahead of a crucial vote on the US financial regulation bill. The S&P 500 fell 3.9 per cent, bringing its losses since late April to 12 per cent and pushing it into “correction” territory.

“The lack of clarity from the politicians has shattered confidence,” said David Owen, chief European financial economist at Jefferies.

Disappointing US jobless data revived fears that the economic recovery could prove short-lived, helping push Treasuries higher and German bond prices to a record. And in Greece there were protests over wage cuts.

Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, fanned fears of further political intervention in the markets after Berlin’s unilateral ban on naked short selling – the practice of selling securities such as shares and bonds that are not owned or borrowed.

“We need the financial industry to be honest with us,” she told a conference in Berlin. “If we don’t get honesty, then we might not do the right thing technically but we will do the right thing politically.”

Wolfgang Schäuble, her finance minister, defended Germany’s sudden move. “If you want to drain a swamp, you don’t ask the frogs for an objective assessment of the situation,” he told reporters. . . .

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"49% Say Bush Chiefly To Blame for Big Deficit, 43% Blame Obama"?

With a $862 billion stimulus, the large supplemental spending bill last year, lots of additional spending that was supposed to be covered by "pay as you go," and new forthcoming spending such as the government health care bill, how can Obama not be blamed for the deficit? Americans are upset for Bush increasing government spending "too much," but what does that mean about Obama?

Americans overwhelmingly view the federal budget deficit as a major problem, and they blame President Bush and President Obama – and their respective parties - almost equally for the size of it. Most also believe the Bush Administration increased federal spending too much.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 49% of Adults say President George W. Bush and the Republicans are more responsible for the size of the current federal budget deficit. But 43% say President Obama and the Democrats are more responsible.
Predictably, 79% of Democrats see Bush and the GOP as more responsible, while 80% of Republicans point the finger at Obama and his party. Adults not affiliated with either party, by a 53% to 36% margin, say Bush and the Republicans are primarily to blame.
Eighty-one percent (81%) of all Americans view the size of the deficit as a major problem in terms of contributing to the country’s current economic situation. Only 16% say it’s a minor problem.
Most U.S. voters continue to believe that the nation’s current economic problems are due to the recession that began under the Bush administration rather than the policies Obama has put in place since taking office.
Fifty-six percent (56%) of Adults say the Bush administration increased government spending too much. Just 15% say Bush’s administration cut government spending too much, while 21% say it kept spending at about the right level. . . .

Obama's promises:

Second presidential debate:

And what I've proposed, you'll hear Sen. McCain say, well, he's proposing a whole bunch of new spending, but actually I'm cutting more than I'm spending so that it will be a net spending cut. . . .

Look how upset Obama was with the Bush deficit.

When George Bush came into office, we had surpluses. And now we have half-a-trillion-dollar deficit annually.

When George Bush came into office, our debt -- national debt was around $5 trillion. It's now over $10 trillion. We've almost doubled it.

And so while it's true that nobody's completely innocent here, we have had over the last eight years the biggest increases in deficit spending and national debt in our history. And Sen. McCain voted for four out of five of those George Bush budgets. . . .

From the third debate.

Well, first of all, I think it's important for the American public to understand that the $750 billion rescue package, if it's structured properly, and, as president, I will make sure it's structured properly, means that ultimately taxpayers get their money back, and that's important to understand.

But there is no doubt that we've been living beyond our means and we're going to have to make some adjustments.

Now, what I've done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut. I haven't made a promise about... . . .

OBAMA: And we are now looking at a deficit of well over half a trillion dollars.

So one of the things that I think we have to recognize is pursuing the same kinds of policies that we pursued over the last eight years is not going to bring down the deficit. And, frankly, Senator McCain voted for four out of five of President Bush's budgets.

We've got to take this in a new direction, that's what I propose as president. . . . .

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WSJ: "No, You Can't Keep Your Health Plan"

So much for Obama's frequently made promise that people could keep their policies.

President Obama guaranteed Americans that after health reform became law they could keep their insurance plans and their doctors. It's clear that this promise cannot be kept. Insurers and physicians are already reshaping their businesses as a result of Mr. Obama's plan.

The health-reform law caps how much insurers can spend on expenses and take for profits. Starting next year, health plans will have a regulated "floor" on their medical-loss ratios, which is the amount of revenue they spend on medical claims. Insurers can only spend 20% of their premiums on running their plans if they offer policies directly to consumers or to small employers. The spending cap is 15% for policies sold to large employers.

This regulation is going to have its biggest impact on insurance sold directly to consumers—what's referred to as the "individual market." These policies cost more to market. They also have higher medical costs, owing partly to selection by less healthy consumers.

Finally, individual policies have high start-up costs. If insurers cannot spend more of their revenue getting plans on track, fewer new policies will be offered.

This will hit Wellpoint, one of the biggest players in the individual market, particularly hard. The insurance company already has a strained relationship with the White House: Earlier this month Mr. Obama accused Wellpoint of systemically denying coverage to breast cancer patients, though the facts don't bear that out.

Restrictions on how insurers can spend money are compounded by simultaneous constraints on how they can manage their costs. Beginning in 2014, a new federal agency will standardize insurance benefits, placing minimum actuarial values on medical policies. There are also mandates forcing insurers to cover a lot of expensive primary-care services in full. At the same time, insurers are being blocked from raising premiums—for now by political jawboning, but the threat of legislative restrictions looms. . . .

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NY Times: "Obama Turns His Back On the Press"

When will Obama finally give a real evening press conference? So why isn't the media making more of an issue of this?

At a ceremony to sign a bill promoting press freedom around the world on Monday, President Obama refused to take questions from reporters. “I’m not doing a press conference today,” he told Chip Reid of CBS News, “but we’ll be seeing you guys during the course of the week.”

So when the president hosted a “news conference” in the Rose Garden with the president of Mexico on Wednesday, Mr. Reid thought maybe this time Mr. Obama would take questions. Instead, Mr. Obama allowed only a single question from the American news media, calling on a reporter from Univision, making it unlikely that he would be asked about Tuesday’s anti-incumbent election results.

Sure enough, Mr. Obama was asked about the Arizona law aimed at stopping illegal immigrants, a law he had already denounced in his opening remarks and was happy to denounce again in response to the question. He did not have to offer his thoughts on the loss of an ally, Senator Arlen Specter, in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary, or on any other topic. . . .

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New Fox News piece: Mr. Obama, Please Read Arizona's Immigration Law

My newest piece at Fox News starts this way:

Members of the Obama administration, who soundly condemned Arizona's new immigration law, are now admitted that they have never even read it. Could President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderón find themselves in the same boat based on comments they made today at their joint appearance on the White House lawn?

Let’s review. The first person who had to admit he had never read the Arizona law Attorney General Eric Holder made his admission last week. On Monday, it was Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's turn. On Tuesday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley revealed that he, too, had not read the bill, despite commenting on it. Given how inaccurate these officials have been in their descriptions of the law, maybe members of President Obama’s team simply had no option but to plead ignorance.

After all, how do you take a law that clearly states the following: "A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, or town or other political subdivision of this state may not consider race, color or national origin,” and then claim that it is racist or could lead to racial profiling? Not only that . . .

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Arizona Governor slams Obama for misrepresenting the Arizona Immigration Law

It would be nice if a few other politicians said this:

BREWER: While the president is making wisecracks and playing racial politics, some groups have suggested that Arizona be punished for enforcing laws that our federal government has failed to enforce. That is misguided at best. Our purpose today is to help the rest of the nation understand the crisis which confronts our state. Our nation's government is broken. Our border is being erased, and the president apparently considers it a wonderful opportunity to divide people along racial lines for his personal political convenience.

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Financial Regulation Bill filled with extraneous items

For a discussion see this:

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., wants the government to finish building the 700-mile fence between the U.S. and Mexico. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., wants to end the health insurance industry's antitrust protection. West Virginia's two senators want help with mine and oil rig safety.

They all want to add these things to the financial regulatory overhaul bill that's moving through the Senate, even though their ideas have little or nothing to do with oversight of financial markets.

Senators have proposed 326 amendments to the bill, whose chief purpose is to revamp the system that's regulated financial institutions since the Great Depression, but failed to prevent the current deep recession. . . .

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Now Napolitano admits that she hasn't read the Arizona law in "Detail"

The I didn't read it excuse.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano admitted Monday that she has not read the controversial Arizona immigration law even though she's gone on television to criticize it, and continued to assert that it was "bad law enforcement law."

The admission comes after Attorney General Eric Holder, who earlier warned the law could create a "slippery slope" toward racial profiling, told a House committee last week that he had not read the bill either. On Tuesday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said he too had not read the bill, even as he defended diplomatic official Michael Posner for comparing the law to Chinese human rights violations.

Napolitano discussed the policy under questioning by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on the BP oil spill response.

"I have not reviewed it in detail. I certainly know of it," the former Arizona governor said when asked by McCain whether she had a chance to give the language a close look. . . .

But McCain pressed Napolitano to provide more information later on about "what specific aspect of the law" would hurt law enforcement, "since the majority of law enforcement in Arizona strongly supports this legislation."

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, signed the immigration legislation last month -- Brewer, who was formerly Arizona's secretary of state, succeeded Napolitano when she left for Washington. . . .


Liberals apparently upset with new Robin Hood movie

This more accurate version of Robin Hood seems to be upsetting some liberals.

"[T]he idea of Robin Hood as an early socialist has had a lot of currency. . . Ayn Rand declared the fabled outlaw a symbol of evil -- taking from the productive and giving to the parasites -- in her novel 'Atlas Shrugged'; on the other side of the political spectrum, a coalition of international aid groups in England recently made him their mascot when they proposed a 'Robin Hood tax' on high-profit industries to help the poor in developing nations. But the original Robin Hood, while he has many different faces, is above all a fighter for freedom from tyranny -- and that's what made him a legend." -- columnist Cathy Young on the latest "Robin Hood" film, which is drawing some critics' political ire.


Vote Fraud in Britain

Well, at least the US isn't alone in absentee vote fraud. From John Fund at today's WSJ's Political Diary (May 18, 2010).

. . . election law, which since 2000 has given absentee ballots, or "postal votes," to anyone who asks. Designed to reverse falling turnout in inner cities and student towns, the new rules have instead created a loose system in which one out of five votes are now absentee and cheating may be rampant. Like many states in America, Britain requires no identification to register to vote. The police have launched 50 criminal investigations in Britain to address concerns that electoral rolls have been stuffed with ghost voters, people living overseas or duplicate names. In some areas, a full 8% of mailed-in ballots were found to be invalid.

Much of the vote rigging appears to be in Pakistani and Bangladeshi neighborhoods, where political correctness has discouraged careful attention to fraud. When a journalist from the Independent newspaper went to the town of Bow to investigate the local "biraderi," or brotherhood networks used to mobilize support for candidates, he was brutally beaten by street toughs. Salma Yaqoob, a candidate for the left-wing Respect Party in Birmingham, says the explosion in absentee voting has allowed male relatives of thousands of Asian women in Britain to dictate how they vote.

The Electoral Commission, which acts as a watchdog in British elections, raised the alarm back in 2003 about the fraud risk of increased reliance on mail-in voting. In 2005, a senior judge in Birmingham removed six local Labour Party officials after concluding they had forged 2,500 absentee votes using methods that "would disgrace a banana republic." The next British government will face calls to clean up the postal vote abuses, but there is a lesson for the U.S. here as well. An explosion in absentee voting in the U.S. has produced a growing list of elections tainted by fraud. If voters want the convenience of voting from home, governments must adopt proper safeguards. Otherwise, political hacks who currently have little reason to fear detection or prosecution will become even more brazen.

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Supreme Court Strikes Down Juvenile Sentencing Law

So much for the Supreme Court being considered "conservative." Here are some predictions. Juveniles will commit more crime. The younger gang members will be the ones who commit crimes because they will face the lower punishments.

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that juvenile criminals cannot be sentenced to life in prison with no chance at parole for crimes other than homicide because it violates their Eighth Amendment right against Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

Justice Anthony Kennedy has the opinion of the Court. In it he writes that "The inadequacy of penological theory to justify life without parole sentences for juvenile nonhomicide offenders, the limited culpability of such offenders, and the severity of these sentences all lead the Court to conclude that the sentencing practice at issue is cruel and unusual."

Florida is the state with the most juvenile offenders (77) with life/no parole sentences and that is where this case comes from.

Kennedy says a categorical rule making such a sentence unconstitutional is necessary because otherwise "a court or jury will erroneously conclude that a particular juvenile is sufficiently culpable to deserve life without parole for a nonhomicide. It also gives the juvenile offender a chance to demonstrate maturity and reform." . . .

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$1 trillion bailout "only buys euro zone time"

If people don't see the governments cutting deficits quickly, there will be a lot of bets being placed against the Euro. My guess is that this pressure will become overwhelming. From Fox News:

BERLIN (AP) — The €750 billion ($1 trillion) rescue loan package only bought euro-zone countries more time, but didn't resolve the continent's underlying debt problem, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a European Central Bank official said.

The market turmoil will only calm down if the 16 member states of the euro zone reform their economies and reduce their deficits, ECB chief economist Juergen Stark told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper on Sunday.

Stark was quoted as saying about the loan package that "We bought time, not more than that." The euro was not in danger "but in a critical situation," he added.

Merkel on Sunday defended the loan package as the right step to stabilize the currency, but she also acknowledged it only bought time.

"We didn't do more than buy time to get the differences in competitiveness and budget deficits of euro-zone countries in order," she said at a conference of the Confederation of German Trade Unions in Berlin.

The speculation against the euro was only possible because of the differing economic strength and debt level of the euro-zone countries, Merkel said. "If you just ignore this problem, you won't get things to calm down," the chancellor added. . .

Another top German top banker, meanwhile, expressed doubts about Greece's ability to repay its huge debts in an orderly fashion.

Dekabank's chief economist Ulrich Kater on Sunday told German news Web site Handelsblatt that he shares the doubts voiced by Deutsche Bank AG's chief executive Josef Ackermann. . . ..

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Is Blumenthal toast in his run for the Senate?

Has the NY Times ended Blumenthal's Senate Run? As a personal aside, it is kind of amusing that I have debated both Blumenthal and Blagojevich.

But what is striking about Mr. Blumenthal’s record is the contrast between the many steps he took that allowed him to avoid Vietnam, and the misleading way he often speaks about that period of his life now, especially when he is speaking at veterans’ ceremonies or other patriotic events. . . .

Mr. Blumenthal has made veterans’ issues a centerpiece of his public life and his Senate campaign, but even those who have worked closely with him have gotten the misimpression that he served in Vietnam.

In an interview, Jean Risley, the chairwoman of the Connecticut Vietnam Veterans Memorial Inc., recalled listening to an emotional Mr. Blumenthal offering remarks at the dedication of the memorial. She remembered him describing the indignities that he and other veterans faced when they returned from Vietnam.

“It was a sad moment,” she recalled. “He said, ‘When we came back, we were spat on; we couldn’t wear our uniforms.’ It looked like he was sad to me when he said it.”

Ms. Risley later telephoned the reporter to say she had checked into Mr. Blumenthal’s military background and learned that he had not, in fact, served in Vietnam.

The Vietnam chapter in Mr. Blumenthal’s biography has received little attention despite his nearly three decades in Connecticut politics.

But now, after repeatedly shunning opportunities for higher office, Mr. Blumenthal is the man Democrats nationally are depending on to retain the seat they controlled for 30 years under Mr. Dodd, and he is likely to face more intense scrutiny. . . .

Blumenthal ups the ante by saying that it is all a lie:

the paper's creating an 'outrageous distortion' of his comments.

Now the defense is one of he misspoke when he said that he served in Vietnam.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, faced with allegations that he misled voters about his military service during the Vietnam War, on Tuesday acknowledged that he has "misspoken" about his record but described those instances as few and far between.

The New York Times reported that Blumenthal, the front-running candidate for U.S. Senate in his state, has on several occasions suggested -- and in at least one instance, flat-out claimed -- that he served in Vietnam even though he did not.

"On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service and I regret that and I take full responsibility," Blumenthal said Tuesday. But he described those remarks as "absolutely unintentional," and said the mistake has only happened a few times out of "hundreds" of addresses he's given. . . .

UPDATE: Four more documented misstatements by Blumenthal on his military service.

Broader newspaper archival searches have continued to turn up claims by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut that he was a Vietnam War veteran, even though he did not serve in the war.

The most recent claim unearthed was in a report published in The Milford Mirror, a weekly, describing an appearance he made at a May 2007 Memorial Day parade in Milford, Conn., attended by local officials, military people and the relatives of a local man killed while serving in Iraq.

As people gathered around a bandstand to give praise to fallen veterans, the article said, Mr. Blumenthal recalled his days during the Vietnam War.

In Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said, according to the article, “we had to endure taunts and insults, and no one said, ‘Welcome home.’ I say welcome home.” . . .

In one instance, according to the report in The Times, Mr. Blumenthal told a Norwalk audience in 2008, “We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam.”

The article also described his attendance at a rally in Bridgeport, where about 100 military families gathered to express support for American troops overseas. “When we returned, we saw nothing like this,” he said. “Let us do better by this generation of men and women.”. . .

The report in The Times was followed by a report in The Advocate of Stamford that described Mr. Blumenthal’s speaking about his military service at the Stamford Veterans Day parade on Nov. 9, 2008.

I wore the uniform in Vietnam,” he said, “and many came back to all kinds of disrespect. Whatever we think of war, we owe the men and women of the armed forces our unconditional support.” . . .

The "misspoke explanation" is that Blumenthal meant to say the word "during" instead of "in." Yet, it isn't clear how that explanation applies to these other cases.

A comment from Jack Cafferty at CNN:

True to form Blumenthal surrounded himself with veterans during his non-apology yesterday at a VFW hall in West Hartford. Turns out Blumenthal isn't a member of the Veteran of Foreign Wars - and he's not eligible to be - you know, because he didn't go to Vietnam and he's not a Veteran of Foreign Wars. In fact, Blumenthal received five military deferments before finally joining the Marine Reserves. . . .

Other problems with Blumenthal.

When the collegiate Atlantic Coast Conference poached some schools from the rival Big East Conference, of which the University of Connecticut is a member, Mr. Blumenthal sued. When subprime mortgage shop Countrywide Financial was in trouble, the attorney general piled on with his own lawsuit. When AIG's bonuses became controversial, Mr. Blumenthal issued a wave of subpoenas. Most of these efforts went nowhere, but they did get Mr. Blumenthal in the news.

The attorney general has also used the power of the state to bully small businesses. In 2003, he sued Computers Plus Center for $1.75 million in damages for allegedly selling state government machines without specified parts. Mr. Blumenthal issued a press release accusing the business owner, Gina Malapanis, of fraud: "No supplier should be permitted to shortchange or overcharge the State without severe consequences," he said. "We will vigorously pursue this case to recover taxpayer money and send a strong message about zero tolerance for contractor misconduct." Ms. Malapanis was even arrested in her home on seven first-degree larceny charges.

In 2008 the charges against Ms. Malapanis were dismissed. As for the civil case, she refused to plead guilty and countersued the state for abusing its power and violating her constitutional rights. The jury, recoiling at the overly aggressive action that ruined her business, awarded her a whopping $18 million in January. In a handwritten note on court documents, the jury foreman said the state had engaged in a "pattern of conduct" that harmed Ms. Malapanis's reputation, and cited the state's press releases impugning her integrity, some of which came from Mr. Blumenthal. Mr. Blumenthal is appealing the decision. . . .


US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy Human Rights Apologizes to China for Arizona Immigration Law

Why is the Obama administration apologizing to the Chinese "early and often" for Arizona immigration policy?

During two days of talks about human rights with China last week, the US raised examples of problems on its own soil and cited Arizona's controversial new immigration law as an example of "racial discrimination."

We brought it up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session and as a troubling trend in our society, and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination. And these are issues very much being debated in our own society,” Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner, who led the US delegation to the talks, told reporters on Friday.

That the US mentioned the Arizona law during talks about human rights with China, consistently ranked among the worst human rights violators in the world, has raised the ire of some conservatives who see the US as apologizing for the law to a country that persecutes its own dissidents and minorities. . . .



Greg Craig on Kagan

ABC’s “This Week” interviewed Greg Craig, who served as White House Counsel and top lawyer in the Obama administration, on Sunday. Craig a close friend of Kagan promised that she "is largely a progressive in the mold of Obama himself." I don't think is particularly comforting.


"Crime-fighting citizens on rise in Brevard (Florida)"

Armed citizens fighting crime becoming common place.

Ruben Torres was approaching the front register at Winn-Dixie to pay for a pound of fresh shrimp when he noticed workers and customers lying on the floor sobbing.

Torres, a mailman, looked out toward the glass doors and saw a madman in the parking lot aiming a gun at him. A shot rang out, the glass from the front doors shattered and the package of shrimp went flying out of his hands.

Torres ran from the store to his car, ducking shots from William Cruse, who had gone on a shooting spree, killing six and wounding more than a dozen people more than 20 years ago. While most people would have gotten in their car and escaped to safety, Torres reached into his glove compartment and pulled out his nickel-plated, silver-handled .45-caliber pistol.

"We started a little shootout," Torres said. "I was shooting at him and he was shooting at me."

Originally criticized and briefly suspected of being in cahoots with Cruse, Torres since has been credited with distracting the killer long enough for many people to escape the supermarket. He still has the nickel-plated, silver-handled pistol he used that night.

"Nobody ever called me a hero. They called me a vigilante," he said.

Torres was back in the news again less than three weeks ago, when he left a branch of the Space Coast Credit Union in Palm Bay that was being robbed in order to retrieve the gun from his car, a 9mm pistol. He went back into the bank and ordered the suspect to the ground. Torres held him there until police arrived.

In the past 30 days, two bank robberies were thwarted when citizens pulled out legally registered firearms, a murderer was apprehended when bystanders wrote down the license plate of the vehicle he was in and a Titusville man gave chase to another man who had just stolen prescription drugs from a pharmacy. . . .

Thanks to Karl Krahmer for the link.

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Did Elena Kagan violate the law in forbidding military recruiters on campus?

At the least Kagan's actions show that she is very political and that politics comes first.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told ABC News' "This Week" that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan "violated the law" by not allowing military recruiting on the Harvard Law School campus when she was dean there, and added the issue is "no little-bitty matter."

But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., appearing on "This Week" with Sessions, dismissed the argument as "sound and fury signifying nothing."

The controversy revolves around Kagan's decision to prohibit military recruiting directly on the law school's campus because the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy prohibiting gays from openly serving in the armed forces violated Harvard Law School's anti-discrimination policy.

When the Supreme Court ruled that a law tying federal funding of schools to military recruiting was constitutional, Kagan allowed on-campus military recruiting to resume so the school wouldn't lose funding. Asked about the issue by host Jake Tapper, Sessions, R-Ala., said, "This is no little-bitty matter, Jake. She would not let them come to the area that does the recruiting on the campus. They had to meet with some student veterans, and this is not acceptable. It was a big error.

"That went on for a number of years," Sessions said. "It was a national issue. People still remember the debate about it. . . .