Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I was just reminded of this show as I was reading about appointments by the Obama administration for undersecretary positions. We tend to look at the appointments to the cabinet and assume that the administration is moderate based on who was selected to what position. The press concentrates on the Secretaries of the different departments, but tends to forget the appointments of those assistants, who in many cases have the real power to shape policy based on their views in their areas of expertise.
Some appointments however are so outrageous, that even the ever-dormant media, pushed by bloggers, has no choice but to investigate and report on some of these appointees. We saw this in the case of Charles W. Freeman and his appointment to be chairman of the National Intelligence despite his radical views on China and Saudi Arabia, and his contempt for human rights in these nations. I still cannot understand what Obama was trying to achieve by this appointment, except perhaps to send a message to Israel that things were about to change, and not for the better.
A new appointment has again left many of us scratching our heads and trying to understand the reason for the nomination. The latest controversy came with the nomination of Harold Koh, former deal of Yale Law School, to the position of State Department legal adviser. In this position Koh will deal with international agreements on issues from trade to arms control, and help represent our country in such places as the United Nations and the International Court of Justice. However, as reported by Meghan Clyne in the New York Post, and by Daniel Pipes in his blog, Koh is most controversial on the issue of "transnational legal process," or the idea of interpreting the U.S. Constitution according to the legal norms of other countries, and his accusing the U.S. government of constituting an "axis of disobedience" along with North Korea and Saddam-era Iraq.
Furthermore, Steven Stein, a New York lawyer, says that in addressing the Yale Club of Greenwich in 2007, Koh claimed, "in an appropriate case, he didn't see any reason why Sharia law would not be applied to govern a case in the United States."
By his own admission, Koh is an activist and what many would define as a radical who would have the power in the State Department to implement his radical agenda. His nomination gives an insight into the Obama agenda; the hearings at the senate will give us an insight into whether he will be allowed to implement it..
Let’s start with the Kindle. It has been several years since I read about this gadget. The bibliophile in me greeted the news of an electronic book with mixed emotion. I love books, their texture, smell, covers, pages, ink and just the feeling of opening a book for the first time. Of course this emotional attachment has led to four bookcases full with double rows of books, several piles on the floor, half a closet full of books, and an additional 20 volumes on my night table, just in case I wake up in the middle of the night and need to peruse. This doesn’t take into consideration the additional 200 books I have in my place in Florida.
Having established my credentials as a book lover; a couple of weeks ago I decided that the time has come to buy a Kindle, and on impulse I went to Amazon, clicked the purchase icon and three days later a box no larger than a book arrived at my home. I opened it with anticipation and sure enough, here was a white tablet with a screen. I looked at it with a guilty conscience. It almost felt as if I was cheating on my books. What had I done? Centuries of printing presses, ink manufacturing, converting trees into pulp, manufacturing ink, bookbinding, all gone and replaced by zeroes and ones in a binary code, and a bunch of computer chips. My lips moved in a silent apology to Guttenberg as I plugged my new toy into the electric outlet and charged it for the first time. I began reading the instruction on the screen.
An hour later the Kindle was fully charged and I went book shopping in the kitchen. I was greeted by 250,000 volumes that comprise the Amazon list of books available for Kindle. Thousand of those books are available for free, and the rest range in price from 30 cents to $ 14.95. NY Times bestsellers sell for $ 9.99.
I saw the title of a book that I was interested in reading, and I clicked on try a sample. Seconds later the first chapter of the book was in my Kindle. I sat down to read this sample. The letters were too small, so I selected a larger font and realized how comfortable it was to read with a font size determined by me. The format of the page had not changed. I read that chapter, but did not buy the book. I downloaded several other samples until I found a book that I wanted to purchase. I clicked buy, and in about thirty seconds my new book was downloaded. Since the book was On Human Bondage, by Somerset Maugham, and not a current bestseller the cost was 0.99 cents. Reading an old British novel allowed me to use another two wonderful features of the Kindle. The first was the built in dictionary. One clicks on a word and the complete definition appears on the screen. You need more information, and the Kindle takes you to Wikipedia. This is absolutely wonderful. It takes seconds to see definitions and information, eliminating the distraction of having to fetch a dictionary and look for a particular word.
The screen of the Kindle is different from a computer screen, and it requires light to read. This reproduces more the feeling of reading on paper and prevents the eye fatigue that one gets from spending hours reading on a computer screen. For music lovers, Kindle allows you to download mp.3 files so that you can listen to your favorite music while you read. If you are driving or feel like closing you eyes, then you can use the “text-to-speech” figure and have the kindle read to you with a male of female voice. This feature has managed to improve dramatically the quality of the sound, eliminating many of the mechanical sounds produced by text-to-voice on computers. No question that this will revolutionize reading for the blind.
I also enjoyed the fact that Kindle allows you to bookmark, add notes and highlight paragraphs. All this is then stored in the home menu, allowing the reader to find a page or a highlighted item in seconds.
Finally, Kindle allows subscriptions to magazines, blogs and newspapers from around the world. The NY Times sells for $ 13.95 a month and the Washington Post for $ 9.99. Others are cheaper. The papers and magazines are downloaded automatically and they arrive hours before the print edition hits the stand. I love the idea of sitting in a bus or the subway reading the paper without having to disturb my neighbors every time I change pages, and arriving at my destination without ink I my fingers.
As a former educator, I think that this machine should replace textbooks. A child could get all the required books for the school year on the first day of classes and not have to carry the heavy loads they are currently carrying. Furthermore, school districts could save millions buying electronic books. An average textbook cost today around $ 65.00, and an Advanced Placement book can go for as high as $ 120.00.
Do I recommend the Kindle? Definitely. Am I getting rid of my books? Definitely not.
If you have any questions about this gadget, put them in to comments and I will respond.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
1st Every law that makes an action done before the passing of the law, and which was innocent when done, criminal; and punishes such action. 2d. Every law that aggravates a crime, or makes it greater than it was, when committed. 3d. Every law that changes the punishment, and inflicts a greater punishment, than the law annexed to the crime, when committed. 4th. Every law that alters the legal rules of evidence, and receives less, or different, testimony, than the law required at the time of the commission of the offense, in order to convict the offender.
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each
The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
(No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.) (Section in parentheses clarified by the 16th Amendment.)
No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.
No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
It is a clear and concise argument for preserving the values that have made America great, and for rejecting the welfare state that in the name of security has taken away from individuals and the family the challenges that make life worth living. Definitely worth reading.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Like all good tales, this story has its basis on fact. The Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), together with the CIA's Special Activities Division has been involved in black operations in the course of searching for al-Qaeda and other terrorists. However, Hersh has weaved a tale where Chaney was the sole master of these operations. This is absolutely false.
JSOC was formed in 1980, as a result of the failed rescue operation of the hostages in Iran and has operated under the U.S. Special Operations Command, which reports to the secretary of defense, the president, and is under congressional oversight.
If Cheney was involved in ordering the assassination of al-Qaeda operatives, he did so within the law and with the full knowledge of Congress. Therefore, I must conclude with a heartfelt “Thank you, Mr. Cheney.”
Thank you, Weekly Standard.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Politico has a good report on the withdrawal of Charles W. Freeman from his appointment as chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia suffers from the same malady afflicting so many diplomats who have served in the merciful kingdom, namely, petrodollaritis. This disease is manifested by an intense desire to lobby for the Wahhabi version of the world. However, some reporters who are versed in Washington issues, have reminded us that Freeman was also an apologist for the Chinese communists, and justified the Chinese handling of Tienanmen Square. Of course, the Israeli lobby is blamed for derailing his nomination. What else is new? Read the article here and read another interesting article on the topic here.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Deshowitz asks to stop contributions to Hamshire college
Dershowitz on the Hampshire administration doing the right thing.
Friday, March 6, 2009
This an interesting article by Daniel Pipes on The Voice of America and Islamism. Click here to read the article.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
This last sentence was not inspired by the size of Obama's ears.
In the meantime, The Daily Mail reports that Obama gave Gordon Brown 25 DVD's of great American movies. As the newspaper reports:
The pathetic package included the following movies:
It was the equivalent of receiving a pair of socks from an unfamiliar
aunt at Christmas - and a less-than-glowing affirmation of the UK-US
1. Citizen Kane
2. The Godfather
4. Raging Bull
5. Singing In The Rain
6. Gone With The Wind
7. Lawrence Of Arabia
8. Schindler's List
10. The Wizard Of Oz
11. City Lights
12. The Searchers
13. Star Wars: Episode IV
15. 2001: A Space Odyssey
16. Sunset Boulevard
17. The Graduate
18. The General
19. On The waterfront
20. It's A Wonderful Life
21. China Town
22. Some Like It Hot
23. The Grapes Of Wrath
24. ET: The Extra Terrestrial
25. To Kill A Mocking Bird.
Yesterday the wizard of Wall Street testified before Congress that subsidies in the form of tax breaks to oil and natural gas producers should be abolished because they contribute to global warming. He also voiced the position of the messianic administration, which proposed levying an excise tax on oil and natural gas producers in the Gulf of Mexico that would help raise 5.3 billion dollars between 2011-2019. An additional proposed fee of $4 per acre on leases in the Gulf would generate an additional 1.2 billion dollars over said period of time.
Let us ponder this. We are in the midst of a recession that, according to Obama, might turn into a depression, and now the proposal is to add new taxes? I am not sure how many economics courses Obama took in college, but does he really believe that the oil companies will swallow the tax increases and the additional fees, and deduct it from their dividends? Of course not. Every additional dollar in the cost of exploration will be passed along to the consumer, and each dollar going to the coffers of the state, is a dollar less in the circular flow of currency of the free market.
As I watch members of the cabinet testifying, I came to realize that Obama has surrounded himself with two types of acolytes. Those who are radicals just like him, and this group includes Hilda Solis at Labor, Attorney General Eric Holder, HHS secretary Kathleen Sibelius, Janet Napolitano at Intelligence and Lisa Jackson at EPA. The other group includes characters that probably know better, but are too enthralled of being in this historic administration and have become yes men for Barack Obama. Geithner, who seems sick every time he testifies, heads this group with trade representative Ron Kirk, who is another tax evader, OMB director Peter Orszag, Hilary Clinton at State and Leon Panetta at the CIA. The rest seem to belong to the Tabula Rasa Club.
I remember hearing presidential candidate Obama interviewed by Maria Bartiromo on CNBC. He mentioned raising taxes on the wealthiest American, a group that in New York City would include a policeman married to a teacher. When presented with evidence that tax cuts lead to increase revenues he responded that increasing taxes on the wealthy was “a question of fairness.”
Just like Chris Matthews, I felt a tingling sensation crawling up my leg. In contrast to Matthews, I recognized the feeling. It was the hand of the IRS inside my pockets.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
China is greeting the new Obama administrations overtures and cuts in defense by increasing its defense budget by 15%.
Hillary again criticizes Israel. The next four years are going to by quite bumpy for Israel.
Obama rude to our closest ally. I guess he reserves his politeness for Ahmadinejad.
Michael Rubin argues that Obama shouldn't sacrifice allies to please Russia
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Some students of history also attribute the invasion of Afghanistan by the USSR to this corollary. Said invasion, in conjunction with the rise of the Iranian clergy led to the rise of Islamism, and al-Qaeda, events for which we are still paying the consequences. And now, once again we are facing this phenomenon that I propose should be renamed the Carter-Obama Corollary.
In another act of vision and diplomatic courage, the Obama administration will donate 900 million dollars that we will borrow from China, for rebuilding Gaza. In an insult to the diminishing intelligence of many Americans, Hillary explained that the money would not go to Hamas. I am not aware of anyone in the media asking how this will be prevented. If Hamas, which rules Gaza, has funds for rebuilding infrastructure and we give them money, would it not free said funds for the purchase of weapons and missiles?
I am not disappointed because I expected the worst from the new administration. My fears were confirmed when a bust of Winston Churchill was removed from the Oval Office and sent back to England.
Knowing Barack Obama, I have no doubt that he would be much more comfortable with a bust of Chamberlain.
Mark Steyn is back at the Canadian magazine MacLeans where he has published a great article on the dangers of not having children "to save the planet."
Daniel Pipes on The Gaza Reconstruction Conference in Egypt
A vintage Thomas Sowell article where he asks "Is Talk Cheap?"
Israpundit.com publishes an article by Joan Swirsky about Obama, full of inuendo, rumors and conspiracies. Still, fun to read.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Under the nanny government in this metropolis, schools have become institutions designed to replace parental responsibility, and as such they are open 12 months a year to ensure that children are provided food and shelter. Thus, the reluctance to close for snow days. So we know how bad the March 2 storm really is.
It is still snowing, and some records have been shattered, but the greenies are getting ready for a massive demonstration in Washington to protest global warming…oooops….I mean climate change.
In this society where the tyranny of words have metamorphosed tax increases into revenue enhancement or investments in our future, global warming has suddenly become climate change. I noticed this a few days ago. As I walked passed the Museum of Natural History I saw a gigantic banner announcing a new exhibit on climate change. What happened to global warming? Well, with a change in terminology we can now blame snowstorms, record cold days, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, monsoons and the use of growth hormones by athletes on climate change. Why limit ourselves to just warm weather?
It might be coincidence, but a couple of weeks ago, when Al Gore had to testify in Congress, Washington was also facing record cold weather and snow. I am not superstitious, but I am beginning to feel queasy every time the greenies announce an event to protect the planet.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
"One percent of the people that live in the city, the households that file in the city pay something like 50% of the taxes. In a city that's about 40,000 people so, you know, a handful left, any raise would make it revenue neutral. The question is, "What's fair?" If one percent are paying 50% of the taxes, you want to make it even more? A little over half the people, half the households who file tax returns don't pay any taxes. And about 30% of the households that file get a credit from the government. The government sends them a check. That's the Earned Income Tax Credit."
I was particularly incensed by a five minute film that explained the role of the White League and the end of Reconstruction that came with the election of Rutherford B. Hayes and the Compromise of 1877. The narrator of this film concludes with an admonition to the students who watch the film, and here I paraphrase: “Therefore, when your teachers tell you that we have a history of 200 years of democracy, no coup d'etat, and terrorism is something that occurs in other nations, remind them of the election of 1876.”
To take an isolated historical event and place it into an historically relativist context is not only poor scholarship, but also unfair. The end of Reconstruction has to be studied within the context of the times, and the fatigue with decades of conflict. Was it a moment to be proud of? I doubt it. But was this event something that we can compare with the lack of democracy and terrorism around the world? The answer is definitely no.
The end of Reconstruction in 1877 left in place forces that although dormant for decades, eventually allowed in 2008 the election of the first black president of the United States. Students, tell this to your teachers when they blast our great nation.