Film Review: 'Lawless'

Moonshiners, Shovin' and Lovin'

By Steven Rea
The Philadelphia Inquirer
August 29, 2012

Perhaps in 80 years they will be making beautifully crafted, beautifully acted movies - or iScreen optical implant apps - about hillbilly meth labs.

I know, cooking methamphetamine isn't the same thing as distilling whiskey in woodsheds - it's unlikely the government is ever going to legalize the stuff. And there has been a great film set in that world, although it hardly romanticizes the people living in it: Winter's Bone, which turned Jennifer Lawrence into a star.

But, in Lawless, a Prohibition saga based on the true exploits of the Bondurant brothers in Franklin County, Va., the life of mountain moonshiners looks mighty pretty, even when crime kings from the big city roll in, tommy guns a-blazin', demanding their cut.

If Bonnie and Clyde, likewise set in the hard times of the Depression, romanticized looting and shooting, then director John Hillcoat's grand but intimate adaptation of family chronicler Matt Bondurant's The Wettest County in the World can put an elegiac sheen on the task of producing and distributing grain alcohol. And then contending with corrupt cops and protection racketeers.

Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, and Jason Clarke are, respectively, Forrest, Jack, and Howard Bondurant, a close-knit band who grew up with pigs and chickens - and who grew into their legend of indestructibility. Survivors of the Spanish influenza epidemic, the Bondurants, it was said, could not be killed.

And they came to believe their own mythology. When special deputy Charlie Rakes (an enjoyably slicked-up, sinister Guy Pearce) rolls in with his badge-wearing goons - not to shut the Bondurants down, but to take control of their business - the boys don't blink. Forrest pummels a couple of the deputies with his fists, and Rakes' crew returns to exact revenge - by cutting his throat. But even with the blood gushing from his jugular, Forrest lives. (Hardy is more of a menacing physical presence in Lawless than he is, masked and maniacal, as Batman's nemesis in The Dark Knight Rises.)

Hillcoat, who turned Cormac McCarthy's The Road into a haunting apocalyptic nightmare, and also made the brilliant Australian western The Proposition, doesn't shy away from the violence and venom pushing this story along. But there is time for romance: LaBeouf's Jack, the youngest brother, woos the pretty Bertha (Mia Wasikowska), despite her father's disapproval, and Forrest lets his guard down when Maggie (Jessica Chastain), a woman with her own troubles, moves into town.

Lawless, which also stars Gary Oldman (a big-time gangster) and Dane DeHaan (Jack's boyhood friend), is a story of entrepreneurship, of family, of fighting for one's rights - the right to make white lightning, and money. It's as American as apple pie.

The Green War on the Poor

By Dr. Robert Zunrin
August 30, 2012

In a nearly full-page op-ed appearing in the business section of the August 25 New York Times, Cornell professor Robert H. Frank lays out the new green agenda for tax policy.

According to Professor Frank, stopping global warming may require carbon taxes of about $300 per ton of carbon dioxide emitted, and by implementing such taxes, we can also balance the federal budget. “If such a tax were phased in,” Frank says, “the prices of goods would rise gradually in proportion to the amount of carbon dioxide their production or use entailed. The price of gasoline, for example, would slowly rise by somewhat less than $3 per gallon. Motorists in many countries already pay that much more than Americans do, and they seem to have adapted by driving substantially more efficient vehicles. . . . many budget experts agree that federal budgets simply can’t be balanced with spending cuts alone. We’ll also need substantial additional revenue, most of which could be generated by a carbon tax.”
In addition to increasing the cost of American goods through carbon taxes, Frank recommends jacking up the price of imports through carbon tariffs, and he suggests that the U.S. government use such tariffs to force other nations to impose carbon taxes on their own citizens. “Some people argue that a carbon tax would do little good unless it were also adopted by China and other big polluters,” Frank says. “It’s a fair point. But access to the American market is a potent bargaining chip. The United States could seek approval to tax imported goods in proportion to their carbon dioxide emissions if exporting countries failed to enact carbon taxes at home.”

Let us consider the effects of this policy. A ton of carbon dioxide contains 248 kilograms of carbon, so a tax of $300 per ton of CO2 would be equivalent to taxing carbon at a rate of $1.21 per kg. Since there are about 2.5 kg of carbon in a gallon of gasoline, this would increase the cost of a gallon of gas by $3.02 per gallon, or just a little more than Frank says. The average American driver uses about 730 gallons of gasoline per year, so this tax would represent a cost of about $2,200 per driver. This would be a serious hit for the average American worker, whose before-tax income is about $45,000 per year, and devastating to those making less than this. But let us consider  the effects on the economy as a whole.

The United States economy currently uses about 2.3 trillion kilograms of carbon per year, comprising 1 trillion kg in its coal, 0.8 trillion kg in its oil, and 0.5 trillion kg in its natural gas. Taxing this at Frank’s recommended rate of $1.21 per kg would therefore raise $2.78 trillion, somewhat more than the $2.3 trillion that the federal government raises through the current tax system (assuming that the carbon tax did not crash the economy, which it probably would, but we’ll leave that aside for now).

But what would the effect on prices be? Currently, western bituminous low-sulfur coal has a cost of $0.01 per kg at the mine, or $0.03 delivered to most users. Coal is about 90 percent carbon by weight. The green tax would thus multiply the cost of coal by nearly a factor of 40. A thousand cubic feet of natural gas contains about 18 kg of carbon. Taxing its carbon at a rate of $1.21 per kg would thus increase the price of a thousand cubic feet of natural gas from its current level of $2.50 to about $24.30, a tenfold increase. A barrel of oil contains about 110 kg of carbon. The green tax would thus hike the price Americans pay for oil by $133 per barrel over the world price (i.e., to about $230 per barrel today). As coal and natural gas provide the energy to produce not only the bulk of the nation’s electric power, but also most of its steel, aluminum, fertilizer, pesticides, food, plastics, electronics, glass, and many other products, and as oil provides the fuel to transport them, the cost of all of these would soar as well.

So who ends up paying? Under America’s current tax system, the top 5 percent of income earners pay 59 percent of all federal income taxes, the next 45 percent pay 39 percent, and the bottom half pays next to nothing. But because basic commodities such as food, electricity, and fuel are bought in similar amounts per capita regardless of income (i.e., a working-class family living on $30,000 per year in Harlem uses about the same amount of electricity and food as the family of a money manager living on $30 million per year on Park Avenue; and rural Americans, of whatever class, spend much more on gasoline than either), the $2.78 trillion green tax would be spread nearly evenly on all Americans, not as a fixed “flat tax” percentage of income, but as a fixed cost regardless of income.
Divided evenly among 300 million Americans, the green tax works out to a burden of $9,270 imposed on every man, woman, and child. While this would be a pittance for the most affluent Americans, it would take away 40 percent of the total income of a family of four supported by twowage earners making the average U.S. salary of $45,000 each, and it would be a virtually fatal burden for the poor.

The Obama campaign is currently banging the class-warfare drum, demanding that taxes on those making over $250,000 a year be raised by about 4 percent. Assuming no ill effects on the economy, this measure would raise $80 billion in revenue for the federal government, which conceivably might use as much as half of it, or $40 billion, in various programs that transfer part of their funds to lower-income people. “He pays less. You pay more,” say the president’s ads, promising largesse to the masses from the pockets of the rich. At the same time, however, green ideologues on whose ideas Obama’s energy policies are based are putting forth a proposal that would double the tax burden on the lower-earning 95 percent of the American public, with the poorest 50 percent being hit for a full $1.3 trillion of the increase.

But that’s not all. Because the green tax targets carbon, rather than income, it would act as a dirigiste economic policy favoring businesses that make money trading in paper instruments over those that produce real value through industry, agriculture, transport, mining, and construction. This would impoverish society overall, once again hurting the vulnerable the most, and would destroy tens of millions of blue-collar jobs.

Was ever a more regressive tax policy proposed? And has anyone ever demanded that the United States launch a trade war to force other countries to impose such oppressive policies on their own people, most of whom can afford them even less? There was a time when the Democratic party concerned itself with the needs of poor and working people. Alas, those times are past.

The green tax plan is a declaration of war on the poor.

— Dr. Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Astronautics, a fellow with the Center for Security Policy, and the author of Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil. His latest book, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism, was recently published by Encounter Books.

Voters, are you bluffing?

By George Will
The Washington Post
August 30, 2012

Now begins the final phase of this cognitive dissonance campaign. America’s 57th presidential election is the first devoted to calling the nation’s bluff. When Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan, Republicans undertook the perilous but commendable project of forcing voters to face the fact that they fervently hold flatly incompatible beliefs.

Twice as many Americans identify themselves as conservative as opposed to liberal. On Nov. 6 we will know if they mean it. If they are ideologically conservative but operationally liberal. If they talk like Jeffersonians but want to be governed by Hamiltonians. If their commitment to limited government is rhetorical or actual. If it is, as Daniel Patrick Moynihansuspected, a “civic religion, avowed but not constraining.”

This is the problem for uneasy Republicans. The Democrats’ problem is worse because they are not uneasy about their dissonance, being blissfully unaware of it.

In Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic” — a book more measured and scholarly than its overwrought title — Jay Cost of the Weekly Standard says that the party has succumbed to “clientelism,” the process of purchasing cohorts of voters with federal favors. This has turned the party into the servant of the strong.

Before Franklin Roosevelt, “liberal” described policies emphasizing liberty and individual rights. He, however, pioneered the politics of collective rights — of group entitlements. And his liberalism systematically developed policies not just to buy the allegiance of existing groups but to create groups that henceforth would be dependent on government.

Under FDR, liberalism became the politics of creating an electoral majority from a mosaic of client groups. Labor unions got special legal standing, farmers got crop supports, business people got tariff protection and other subsidies, the elderly got pensions, and so on and on.

Government no longer existed to protect natural rights but to confer special rights on favored cohorts. As Irving Kristolsaid, the New Deal preached not equal rights for all but equal privileges for all — for all, that is, who banded together to become wards of the government.

In the 1960s, public-employee unions were expanded to feast from quantitative liberalism (favors measured in quantities of money). And qualitative liberalism was born as environmentalists, feminists and others got government to regulate behavior in the service of social “diversity,” “meaningful” work, etc. Cost notes that with the 1982 amendments to the Voting Rights Act, a few government-approved minorities were given an entitlement to public offices: About 40 “majority-minority” congressional districts would henceforth be guaranteed to elect minority members.
Walter Mondale, conceding to Ronald Reagan after the 1984 election, listed the groups he thought government should assist: “the poor, the unemployed, the elderly, the handicapped, the helpless and the sad.” Yes, the sad.

Republicans also practice clientelism, but with a (sometimes) uneasy conscience. Both parties have narrowed their appeals as they have broadened their search for clients to cosset. Today’s Democratic Party does not understand what one of its saints understood — that big government is generally a patron of the privileged, a partner of rent-seekers.

When vetoing the 1832 bill to recharter the Second Bank of the United States, Andrew Jackson said, “It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes.” When government goes beyond equal protection by law and undertakes to allocate wealth and opportunity, “the humble members of society — the farmers, mechanics and laborers — who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government.” As Cost rightly says, “With the exception of the tea party, there is no real faction out there making the Jacksonian case for an end to special privilege.”

Human beings, said one of the wisest of them — Aristotle — are political animals and language-using animals. Americans, as you do not need to be Aristotle to know, are complaining animals. They use language to complain about politics. Mitt Romney should remind them that one function of elections is to force most voters — the winning majorities — to forfeit the fun of complaining. For example, if the swing state of Nevada, which has the nation’s highest unemployment rate (12 percent), votes for four more years of current policies, it must henceforth suffer in silence. Actually, all those who vote to continue Barack Obama’s distinctive brand of clientelism — crony capitalism — must, if he wins, become political Trappists, taking a vow to keep quiet.

Yes, Romney's Welfare Ad is Accurate

By Ann Coulter
August 29, 2012

Poor Mickey Kaus. He’s the liberal intellectual (not an oxymoron — he’s the last known living “liberal intellectual”) lefties on TV are usually stealing from, but now that this welfare reform maven has concluded that Romney’s welfare ad is basically correct, liberals refuse to acknowledge his existence.

The non-Fox media have formed a solid front in denouncing Romney’s welfare ad for daring to point out that Obama has gutted the work requirements of the 1996 welfare reform bill.

The New York Times claims that Romney’s ad “falsely” charges Obama with eliminating work requirements. CNN rates the ad “false.” Underemployed hack Howard Fineman says Romney’s ad “is just flat out wrong on the facts” and “that every fair analyst, every fact checker” has said it’s “just factually wrong.”

When a campaign ad induces this much hysteria, you know Romney has struck gold. On closer examination, it turns out that by “every fair analyst,” Fineman means a bunch of liberals quoting one another.

This is how the media’s “fact checkers” operate when it comes to a Republican campaign ad. One not very well-informed person (or a heavily biased person) announces that Romney’s welfare ad is false, and the rest of the herd quote him, without anyone ever bothering to examine the facts, much less citing anyone who knows what he’s talking about.

It is striking that everyone who actually knows something about the 1996 welfare reform law says that Romney’s ad is accurate.

One of the principal authors of the 1996 welfare reform, Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, and Douglas Besharov, who advised Hillary Clinton on the 1996 welfare reform law, say Romney’s ad is accurate.

Andrew Grossman, also of Heritage, produced something the MSM “fact checkers” avoid: a specific and detailed explanation of how the new waivers will allow states to evade the work requirements.

Even Ron Haskins, one of the reform bill’s authors now at the liberal Brookings Institution — cited far and wide for “blasting” Romney’s ad — doesn’t deny the Obama administration plans to waive the work requirements. He just says he supports waivers for “job training.” That’s not disputing the accuracy of Romney’s ads.

A lot of Americans don’t support waiving the work requirements, even for “job training.” Mitt Romney thinks they should know that that’s what Obama is doing.

And liberal Kaus — whom liberal hacks are usually plagiarizing from — has written a series of blog posts explaining in detail why the Times is wrong and Romney’s ad is not incorrect. True, he says the ad is “oversimplified,” but I think most people grasp that a 30-second ad will not provide the lush analytical detail of a Kausfiles blog posting.

We know liberals are reading Kausfiles; why aren’t they stealing from him this time?

As Kaus explains, HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius has interpreted the welfare law to allow her to waive work requirements “subject only to her opinion” as to what will serve the purposes of the law.

By viewing the work requirements as optional, subject to her waiver, Kaus says, the law has been “altered dramatically”: “Old system: Congress writes the requirements, which are … requirements. New system: Sebelius does what she wants — but, hey, you can trust her!”

Sebelius is not a laid-back, third-way neoliberal who can be expected to interpret her waiver authority honestly. She’s the doctrinaire feminist loon who “interpreted” Obamacare to require every insurance policy in the country to provide full coverage for birth control.

Kaus points out that the HHS memo announcing that Sebelius could allow waivers from work for “job training,” “job search” or “pursuing a credential” unquestionably constitutes “a weakening of the work requirement.” He adds that it’s also “unfair to the poor suckers who just go to work without ever going on welfare — they don’t get subsidized while they’re ‘pursuing a credential.’”

In a follow-up post, Kaus pointed out that the Times’ own editorial denouncing the Romney ad inadvertently revealed that Sebelius was proposing a lot more than “job search” exemptions from the work requirement.

Both the Times and an HHS memo cheerfully propose allowing hard-to-employ “families” — which are never actual families, by the way — to be “exempted from the work requirements for six months.” Or more than six months. It’s up to Sebelius: “Exempted.”

The work requirements were one of two central features of the 1996 welfare reform law, along with time limits. They were heatedly opposed by the Democrats’ left-wing base at the time, and have been met with massive resistance in some of our more Greece-like states ever since.

A 2005 report by the Government Accountability Office found that some states were accepting such non-work substitutes from welfare recipients as “bed rest,” “personal journaling,” “motivational reading,” “exercise at home,” “smoking cessation,” “weight loss,” and “helping a friend or relative with household tasks and errands.”

(Under Sebelius, the work requirement will also be satisfied with “playing Xbox and eating Doritos.”)
Many liberals, such as those who write for The New York Times, agree that “bed rest” and “personal journaling” should count as a work substitute for welfare recipients. But that’s not what the law says. And it’s certainly not what liberals tell us when they proclaim Romney’s ad “false.”

What “every fair analyst” and “every fact checker” means when they call Romney’s ad “false” is: We, the media, don’t consider exempting welfare recipients from the requirement of having to work “gutting” the work requirements.

“Thoroughly debunked” is the new liberal code for “blindingly accurate.”

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If last night's GOP convention seemed to have a stunning lack of diversity...

**Written by Doug Powers were probably watching MSNBC:

When popular Tea Party candidate Ted Cruz, the GOP nominee for Senate, took the stage, MSNBC cut away from the Republican National Convention and the Hispanic Republican from Texas’ speech.

MSNBC stayed on commercial through former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis’ speech, as well. Davis, who recently became a Republican, is black.

Then, when Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuno’s wife Luce’ Vela Fortuño took the stage minutes later, MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews opted to talk over the First Lady’s speech.

And Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval? Noticeably missing from MSNBC, too.

Mia Love, a black candidate for Congress in Utah, was also ignored by MSNBC.

Hey, if it doesn't fit the talking points, just don't show it. Voilà!

If you happened to have been stuck in a place that only had MSNBC on, The Right Scoop has the speeches of Davis, Cruz, Love, etc. posted here.

While we ponder how MSNBC will manage to avoid showing tonight's speeches by Condoleezza Rice and Governor Luis Fortuño in order for Chris Matthews to have more time to discuss the GOP's dog whistle racism, enjoy this headline at the Washington Post.

Update: Via Instapundit, have a look at NBC's section featuring Tuesday night's RNC speeches. The people mentioned above have been erased from history.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

Fast and Furious: Prosecutions Coming?

By Bob Owens
PJ Media
August 29, 2012

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa indicated on August 23 that the five Department of Justice officials the committee held responsible for Operation Fast and Furious may face criminal charges.
Speaking with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News, Issa discussed allegations that Deputy Assistant ATF Director William McMahon was “double-dipping,” drawing both a full-time salary from the ATF and a second full-time, six-figure salary from J.P. Morgan. The arrangement is suspicious, considering the controversy over McMahon’s role in Fast and Furious and the ATF’s persecution of whistleblowers who sought similar arrangements. J.P. Morgan was one of the Obama administration’s top donors in 2008 and was shielded by President Obama when it lost two billion dollars through poor investments. The close relationship between the administration and the concurrent salary for McMahon is a significant ethical conflict: it presents the appearance of the Obama administration using a prominent donor to funnel “hush money” to a highly placed official involved in a scandal, one which threatens President Obama and several cabinet officials.
While speaking of the controversy, Issa indicated that McMahon and other Fast and Furious co-conspirators would be referred for criminal prosecution:
“This is somebody who our reports said perjured himself before the Congress,” Issa charged. “We don’t understand why J.P. Morgan would hire somebody who’s lied to Congress, that will probably be referred for criminal prosecution.”
That could be taken as a good indicator that four other officials identified along with McMahon as culpable in a July 31 Joint Congressional Staff Report are also being looked at with legal action in mind, and a better indicator that what they can exchange in terms of information about higher-ups could mitigate their risks.
In addition to McMahon: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix field division William Newell, Assistant Director for Field Operations Mark Chait, Deputy Director William Hoover, and Acting Director Kenneth E. Melson could face criminal charges for the operation, which sent more than 2,000 guns to violent Mexican drug cartels and has been blamed for the deaths of more than 300 Mexican citizens. U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and ICE Agent Jaime Zapata also were murdered with Fast and Furious guns. ICE Agent Victor Avila was seriously injured but survived the attack that killed Zapata.
The families of Terry and Zapata have filed wrongful death suits against the government because of the gunwalking operations, and Avila has joined the Zapata family’s suit.
Interestingly, the Zapata/Avila weapon was not technically a “Fast and Furious” weapon; it originated in one of two alleged Texas-based gunwalking plots. The two Texas gunwalking plots join other alleged gunwalking plots from across the country: the West and Southwest, Florida, the Carolinas, and the Midwest (where a plot dubbed “Gangwalker” based in Indiana may bear much of the blame for the out-of-control gun violence in Chicago) were all possible locations of other operations.
The goal of Fast and Furious and the other alleged plots was to manufacture evidence of gunrunning to justify more and stricter gun-control laws, which some Democrats called for during the Oversight Committee hearings.
If McMahon, Newell, Chait, and Hoover are charged, former Acting Director Ken Melson may also be charged, or perhaps his secret July 4, 2011, testimony without DOJ lawyers present could be used against the other ATF officials. Some have speculated that Melson’s testimony and documentation could be damning enough to catch his fellow ATF officials and Department of Justice higher-ups in lies that could result in additional charges against them. This could perhaps force them to plea bargain their knowledge of the details of the case in exchange for reduced charges or a reduced sentence.
The news of pending criminal charges and ethical violations comes at an interesting time. DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has completed his internal review of Operation Fast and Furious after taking over from acting Inspector General and former Eric Holder colleague Cynthia Schnedar. Horowitz has reportedly turned his findings over to Department of Justice “shot callers,” including Attorney General Holder.
Justice will reportedly “review” the report well into September, in what appears to be yet another instance of the Holder Department of Justice holding itself above the law.

Liberal Chickens

By Victor Davis Hanson
August 29, 2012

It could not last — the attendee of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s church sermonizing on tolerance; the practitioner of Chicago politics lecturing on civility; the most partisan voting record in the Senate as proof of a new promised bipartisanship; earlier books and speeches calling for hard-core progressivism as evidence of a no-more-red-state-blue-state conciliation. And in fact the disconnect did not last, and Barack Obama finds himself dealing with assorted chickens coming home to roost.

In the summer of 2004, Michael Moore released a crude propaganda film, Fahrenheit 9/11, full of distortions and half-truths, and yet passed off as a documentary — all designed to help swing the election to Democratic challenger John Kerry. Hollywood, the media, and the Left in general did not worry about the film’s inaccuracies or the mythology that the infomercial was a disinterested documentary. Instead, liberals deified Moore. Indeed, he was an honored guest at the Democratic Convention, and liberal luminaries paid him obeisance at various showings of the film.
The goddess Nemesis took note, and this year Dinesh D’Souza and John Sullivan followed Moore’s model. The result is a blockbuster “documentary,” 2016: Obama’s America, that does more to Barack Obama than Michael Moore once did to George W. Bush. The Left is perturbed, unappreciative that its own methods and objectives have been turned against itself, and in a more sophisticated and far more effective manner than Moore’s buffoonery.

The Left in the era of Barack Obama established other ends-justify-the-means precedents. In 2008, Obama surmised that no one else would ever raise the sorts of gigantic sums that he was then amassing (in toto nearly $800 million, more than twice the amount raised by John McCain), and so was the first candidate to renounce public financing of a presidential campaign in the general election since the law was passed. But, of course, Obama never imagined that four years later his approval ratings would be less than 50 percent, or that he would be running against a financier who could match his efforts dollar for dollar.
Nor did Obama think that a mesmerized Wall Street, from which he raised more cash than any prior candidate, would object all that much to his populist boilerplate against “1 percenters,” “fat-cat bankers,” and owners of “corporate jets.” So now what exactly will he do? Appeal to Romney to abide by public-financing rules? Blast Romney for raising too much money? Damn Romney for courting Wall Street?

Beneath the folksy veneer and the serial calls for “civility,” Obama proved vicious in his denunciations of George Bush, at one point calling him “unpatriotic” for adding $4 trillion to the national debt over eight years. Obama offered two general arguments: that the chief executive is solely responsible for economic hard times, and that four years is easily long enough to right the ship. Obama scoffed at the Bush defense that politically driven interventions by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae — hand in glove with congressional overseers — had distorted the real-estate market and contributed to the subprime-mortgage collapse, which destroyed an otherwise strong economy.

Obama boasted further that he would cut the deficit by half during his first term, and asserted that he would rather be a successful president than a two-term one. And he added that he should not be reelected if the economy was not restored to health. Apparently Obama assumed that after every recession (this one ended in June 2009) there is a natural recovery, the latter all the more robust when the former is severe. For all the right-wing scare talk about Obamacare, federal takeovers, more taxes, and too many regulations, Obama also took for granted that the cry-wolf private sector would bounce back — no matter how much his policies threatened it — and would almost magically continue to make so much money that an ever-growing government could redistribute ever more of it.

Yet now Romney is echoing Obama’s exact arguments: Yes, the chief executive is responsible for things like 43 months of 8 percent–plus unemployment, $5 trillion in new debt, and anemic GDP growth; and, yes, if things do not improve after four years, then it is time to change the president.

Obama established a wink-and-nod type of negative attack. As he called in sonorous tones for hope and change and a new civility, he negatively stereotyped a stunning cross-section of Americans: The white working class became “clingers,” the police “stereotype” minorities and act “stupidly,” small-business owners “didn’t build” their own businesses, doctors lop off limbs and yank out tonsils, bankers are “fat cats” — apparently on the premise that such groups would never take all this invective seriously. At various times Mitt Romney has been reduced to a dastardly financial pirate, a killer of innocent cancer victims, a veritable racist, and now a misogynist. After the class-warfare card and the race card, we await only Obama’s use of the Mormon card. Yet the polls remain roughly even, and Obama is about to be the target of a no-holds-barred assault fueled by hundreds of millions of dollars. Ethically speaking, what possible Romney sin might Obama object to? That super-PAC ads are unfair? That Romney has gone negative? That Romney stereotypes entire groups? That Romney’s inner staff are ethically compromised? This, after Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, was paid $100,000 for two speeches in Nigeria in December 2010, to a company that was eager for influence and whose affiliates did business with an embargoed Iran; Plouffe made the trip to Nigeria about a month before he joined the administration as a senior adviser. Just this month, deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter on national television asserted something demonstrably false — that she did not know the facts about the woman Mitt Romney supposedly caused to die of cancer.

During the Bush administration, the Left established another caricature: the gaffe-prone, golf-playing elitist George Bush. Did they ever imagine that they were ensuring like caricature for the leftist academic Barack Obama, who quite unexpectedly would play golf four times more often in four years than Bush did in eight years? Or that for every Bushism there would be a “corpse-man”? Or that the small ranch house in Crawford, Texas, would be trumped by First Family jaunts to Martha’s Vineyard, Costa del Sol, and Aspen? I would like to think a slip like “57 states” is just a slip, or that golf is valuable presidential relaxation, but I was taught by the Left that such garbled speech is a window into a confused mind, and that presidential golf is elite recreation that betrays class privilege.
In 2008, there was a lot of sloganeering on energy policy. Obama assured us that we could “not drill” our way out of a spike in gas prices. “Millions of new green jobs” was heard at almost every rally, along with shouts about wind and solar this and that. In less guarded moments, Obama assured us that he would pass cap-and-trade legislation, “bankrupt” coal companies, and allow coal-based energy prices to “skyrocket.” These were the heady days of “peak oil” and the liberal attack against “oil men in the White House” — on the eve of the Chevy Volt and breakthrough new companies with names like Solyndra.

At the very time when well-connected crony capitalists were squandering hundreds of millions of dollars in federal wind and solar subsidies, a quiet private-sector revolution in horizontal drilling and fracking vastly expanded America’s gas and oil reserves — despite, not because of, Obama’s energy policies. The paradox finally become so absurd that Obama was reduced to bragging that the United States was producing more gas and oil under his watch than ever before, apparently on the logic that oil men were so adept that they could find vast amounts of new sources of energy on private lands without worrying about the Obama administration’s efforts to virtually cut off all new leasing on federal lands. The result is that our first green president is facing $4-a-gallon gas while he brags that what he tried to stop proved unstoppable.

Nemesis, remember, is not just karma, but payback with an absurd twist.

 NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The End of Sparta, a novel about ancient freedom.

The Rich Don't Pay Enough?

By Walter Williams
The Washington Examiner
August 28, 2012

If you listen to America's political hacks, mainstream media talking heads and their socialist allies, you can't help but reach the conclusion that the nation's tax burden is borne by the poor and middle class while the rich get off scot-free.
Stephen Moore, senior economics writer for the Wall Street Journal (and, I'm proud to say, former George Mason University economics student) wrote "The U.S. Tax System: Who Really Pays?" in the Manhattan Institute's Issues 2012. Let's see whether the rich are paying their "fair" share.
According to 2007 Internal Revenue Service data, the richest 1 percent of Americans earned 22 percent of national personal income but paid 40 percent of all personal income taxes. The top 5 percent earned 37 percent and paid 61 percent of personal income tax. The top 10 percent earned 48 percent and paid 71 percent of all personal income taxes. The bottom 50 percent earned 12 percent of personal income but paid just 3 percent of income tax revenues.
Some argue that these observations are misleading. There are other federal taxes the bottom 50 percenters pay, such as Social Security and excise taxes. Moore presents data from the Tax Policy Center, run by the liberal Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, that takes into account payroll and income taxes paid by different income groups. Because of the earned income tax credit, most of America's poor pay little or nothing. What the Tax Policy Center calls working class pays 3 percent of all federal taxes. The middle class pays 11 percent. The upper middle class pays 19 percent, and the wealthy 67 percent.
President Obama and the Democratic Party harp about tax fairness. Here's my fairness question to you: What standard of fairness dictates that the top 10 percent of income earners pay 71 percent of the federal income tax burden while 47 percent of Americans pay absolutely nothing?
President Obama and his political allies are fully aware of IRS data that show who pays what. Their tax demagoguery knowingly exploits American ignorance about taxes. A complicit news media is only happy to assist.
Aside from the fairness issue, 47 percent of taxpayers having no federal income tax liability is dangerous for our nation. These people become natural constituents for big-spending, budget-wrecking, debt-creating politicians. After all, if you have no income tax liability, what do you care about either raising or lowering taxes? That might explain why the so-called Bush tax cuts were not more popular. If you're not paying income taxes, why should you be happy about an income tax cut? You might even view tax cuts as a threat to various handout programs that nearly 50 percent of Americans enjoy.
Tax demagoguery is useful for politicians who prey on the politics of envy to get re-elected, but is it good for Americans? We're witnessing the disastrous effects of massive spending in Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and other European countries where a greater number of people live off of government welfare programs than pay taxes. Government debt is 160 percent of gross domestic product in Greece, 120 percent in Italy, 104 in Ireland and 106 in Portugal.
Here's the question for us: Is the U.S. moving toward or away from the troubled EU nations? It turns out that our national debt-to-GDP ratio in the 1970s was 35 percent; now it's 106 percent. If you think we're immune from the economic chaos going on in some of the EU countries, you're whistling Dixie. And when economic chaos comes, whom do you think will be more affected by it: rich people or poor people?
Examiner Columnist Walter E. Williams is nationally syndicated byCreators Syndicate.

'Paterno' reveals more about author

By Jason Whitlock
Fox Sports
August 27, 2012

One thing is obvious after reading “Paterno,” the much-anticipated biography chronicling disgracedPenn State coach Joe Paterno: The biographer doesn’t know his subject.
This explains Joe Posnanski’s reluctance to express an opinion about the deceased football coach he allegedly spent nearly two years getting to know intimately. In the few interviews Posnanski, the book’s biographer, has consented to, the celebrated sportswriter has ducked characterizing his thoughts on Paterno by saying he wants readers to make up their own minds regarding Paterno and his legacy.
Posnanski’s fluffy, 400-plus-page opus provides sparse guidance. What it inadvertently does, for the highly careful reader, is expose how a coach and a writer can sacrifice their integrity over time, one compromised decision at a time.
It’s difficult to discern what is most shallow in Posnanski’s book — the reporting, the access or the insight.
A mere 26 pages in and the “journalist” who reportedly had unprecedented access to Paterno, the coach’s family, confidants and football program is reduced to retelling a story spoken by a female football intern at a Paterno memorial service recalling the coach walking into his office, catching her eyes and remarking: “It’s cold out there, heh?”
“He was a legend,” Kait Sawyer is quoted in the book. “And he was talking to me.”
That was the book’s first glimpse into Paterno’s soul. JoePa, an old man, made small talk with a young woman. Imagine that.
From there, the book attempted to create the appearance it delved deeper. But it offered little evidence of its descent. I read the book slowly, over four days. I took notes. I re-read. Simon & Schuster, the publisher, trumpeted the fact Posnanski embedded himself in Happy Valley for more than a year, researching Paterno, Penn State and The Grand Experiment.
With the exception of Posnanski’s interaction with former Penn State fullback Don Abbey, the book reads like a series of cleverly written blog postings buttressed by brief telephone interviews. Posnanski, the storyteller without ego according to his passionate band of sycophants, is center stage throughout “Paterno,” most often without good reason. He delights in explaining how inconsequential figures in the book acquired nicknames. He showboats, sharing nerdy, pointless and colorful background stories on Herschel Walker and Bear Bryant. Posnanski dances and distracts because he has little that is new or enlightening to share about his subject, Joe Paterno.


The NCAA actually did something right in hammering Penn State, Jason Whitlock says.
Based on the content of the book, Posnanski barely had any more access to Paterno and Penn State football than the typical Penn State beat writer. All the dialogue with Paterno reads as though it transpired during a couple of rushed interviews after Penn State dismissed Paterno and the coach’s family realized it needed a biographer/stenographer to record Paterno’s rationalizations.
There is virtually no scene-setting or description of the quoted sources’ emotions and body language when speaking about Paterno. Sources who say nothing of consequence are granted anonymity. There isn’t one piece of insight into what Paterno actually did as a coach in his latter years. Was Posnanski ever inside Penn State’s locker room? Did he ever see Paterno interact with current players or coaches on the practice field, in his office, at his home? Did Posnanski attend any Penn State games during Paterno’s final season? Insiders within the program surely knew the Sandusky cloud was hovering over the final season. As a journalist, did Posnanski ever ask to see the scene of Sandusky’s most infamous crime? Whatever insight about Happy Valley that Posnanski gleaned from allegedly living there isn’t in this book. And, most tragically, the book lacks a sophisticated, nuanced point of view and/or narrative.
The book relies heavily on the perspective of Guido D’Elia, a Paterno insider Posnanski describes as a “Penn State marketing guru.” Hats off to Guido. Job well done. He convinced Posnanski that perusing Paterno’s sanitized, Paterno-family-approved handwritten coaching notes and letters from his time in the military represented groundbreaking access.
The short chapter Posnanski wrote exploring Paterno and race is but one glaring example of the book’s shallowness. The chapter is built around the plight of Penn State’s first black quarterback, Mike Cooper. It was the 1970 season and Cooper lasted only a handful of games before getting benched. Penn State didn’t have another black starting QB until the 1990s. According to the book, Cooper lives in Harrisburg, Pa. Posnanski never talked to Cooper about his experience at Penn State. Posnanski wrote about Cooper as though he were dead.
“Cooper graduated from Penn State and moved back to Harrisburg, where he worked for the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. Teammates rarely heard from him,” the book stated.
On a whim Saturday morning while eating breakfast in a Las Vegas hotel, I tracked down Cooper’s ex-wife, his former boss, a cousin and finally Mike Cooper. He retired last March from the Housing Finance Agency. He returned my call — he said “accidently” — but declined to be interviewed about Paterno. Cooper isn’t dead. Give a motivated journalist a year in Pennsylvania, a research assistant and a $750,000 book advance, and I bet he/she could crack Mike Cooper.
As for a peek into Paterno’s thoughts on race, we’re left with the well-worn story about a northern coach who led his team out of a southern restaurant that refused to serve one of his black players in the 1960s.
Seriously, most puddles are deeper than “Paterno.”
It’s the antithesis of John Feinstein’s “A Season on the Brink” and Buzz Bissinger’s “Friday Night Lights.”
“Paterno” is “A Tuesday with JoePa (and Guido).”
Despite the Posnanski-friendly narrative that the Sandusky storm came from nowhere and unexpectedly ruined Posnanski’s plan to write a hagiography, the storm clouds and what they meant for Paterno were evident for more than a year before his firing. People in Pennsylvania — where Posnanski was allegedly embedded — were writing about and gossiping about Jerry Sandusky and the grand jury investigation for nearly a year before he was arrested and charged. There was no surprise. There was plenty of time to prepare and craft a narrative that neither vilified nor sanctified Paterno. There was time to explore Paterno’s humanity and the unique set of circumstances and conditions that grossly compromised Paterno’s integrity.
Paterno, like Tom Osborne, Bill McCartney and countless others, let the media define for him what was most important — finishing the season ranked No. 1 while appearing to adhere to the NCAA’s unethical rule book.
The Saint revealed he was a Sinner when he attacked President Nixon for declaring the 1969 Texas-Arkansas winner national champion over Paterno’s soft-schedule-undefeated Nittany Lions. Paterno professed there were more important pursuits than winning. After having two undefeated teams denied a mythical title, he became obsessed with finishing No. 1. For decades, he was the most vocal proponent for a playoff system. In the late 1970s, he started bending his self-imposed recruiting rules and taking players who didn’t fit his rigid profile.
Posnanski fails to connect the obvious dots, but he unwittingly tells the story anyway. Matt Millen was the type of player Paterno previously avoided. He was a wild hell-raiser who originally wanted to go to Colorado because the Buffs were going to pay him, according to Posnanski’s book. Millen wound up captain of the 1979 Penn State team. The team disappointed. Paterno kicked several players off the team, including Franco Harris’ younger brother. Paterno stripped Millen of his captaincy. The squad severely underachieved and Paterno considered retiring in the aftermath.
A self-righteous man doesn’t sacrifice integrity overnight. It happens methodically. It happens when his ambition concludes the calendar isn’t cooperating. A middle-aged sportswriter might still dream of being as famous as Mitch Albom. An aging coach might want to be as revered and beloved as John Wooden. Paterno, Sandusky and Mike McQueary were on a collision course for three decades. Paterno’s vanity and insecurity — the ingredients necessary to play deaf, dumb and blind to Sandusky’s heinous perversion — were on full display when he went after President Nixon, when Paterno first publicly exposed he cared too deeply what others thought of his team and its accomplishments.
“President Nixon knows more about college football than he does Watergate,” Paterno famously quipped.
President Nixon might retort that Joe Paterno knows more about Barry Switzer and Jackie Sherrill —coaches Paterno smugly accused of breaking NCAA rules —than Jerry Sandusky, a 30-year assistant.
As best I could tell, the book has one true motive —distancing Paterno from Sandusky.
The book spends a great deal of time crediting Paterno for every good thing that happened to Penn State football, especially on defense. Paterno, according to Posnanski, put his best players on defense, single-handedly invented a 4-4-3 defense in his second season and came up with the defensive strategies that stopped Walker and Georgia and Vinny Testaverde and Miami in PSU’s two most important games. The book alleges that Sandusky’s disinterest and lack of professionalism ruined what should’ve been Paterno’s third national championship team, the 1999 Nittany Lions. The team was loaded on both sides of the ball with future pros. The poorly coached defense ruined the season, the book claims. PSU lost its final three regular-season games in what turned out to be Sandusky’s final season as defensive coordinator. At the postseason banquet Paterno eschewed the tradition of speaking individually about each senior player. He claimed he did so because the coaching staff let the seniors down. A rational biographer, acknowledging Paterno’s massive ego and vanity, might suggest Paterno did it because he felt the seniors let him down.
The book also argues that Paterno hated Sandusky. I actually believe this. Sandusky connected with Penn State players in a way that surely pushed Paterno’s jealousy buttons.
The book had one other discernible goal — distancing Posnanski from his journalistic cowardice and fraudulence. Posnanski cut a financial deal with Simon & Schuster and Joe Paterno. An unspecified and unexplained portion of the reported $750,000 advance would be donated to the charity of Paterno’s choice, Posnanski admitted in a blog posting last November. This financial arrangement served as the self-imposed golden handcuffs that justified Posnanski hearing every implausible Paterno rationalization — “what is sodomy?” — as potential gospel. "Paterno" is a memoir, not a biography. This was a limited partnership from the outset, with the iconic, manipulative and narcissistic coach wielding all the power . . . even from his grave.
The private, JoePa-vs.-JoePo, “what do you make of all this?” anecdote — where Posnanski allegedly tells Paterno man to man that he didn’t do enough to stop Sandusky — printed at the end of the book was Posnanski’s weak way of cutting the strings from his dead puppeteer.
Posnanski writes that Paterno simply repeated his previously reported regret that he didn’t do more to stop Sandusky. The conversation was not shared to tell us anything new about Paterno. It was solely printed to put the biographer in a more favorable, tough-guy light.
Too late. “Paterno” reveals far more about the biographer than the subject.

The Left's Version of 'Legitimate Rape'

By Daniel Greenfield
August 27, 2012

The progressives have picked a spectacularly bad time to attack Republicans over insensitivity to rape. While the left continues its obsession with Todd Akin, its own hero, Julian Assange, is doing his best to avoid being extradited to Sweden to face rape charges.

The leading lights of the left have contributed to Assange’s defense fund and paid for his bail; which enabled him to flee prosecution and seek asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London. Assange’s escape was made possible by bail money from leftist director Ken Loach, leftist socialite Jemima Khan and Maxim publisher Felix Dennis.

With the Assange case, the left has shown that it has its own version of legitimate rape. Prominent progressives have ridiculed Assange’s victims and claimed that the assaults on them did not constitute legitimate rape. Or as Whoopi Goldberg once put it, “rape-rape.”

Michael Moore, discussing the case where Assange raped a sleeping woman, told the BBC that the assault was only a “so-called crime” and suggested that it “wouldn’t actually be a crime if it was committed in Britain.” Moore has shown his faith in Assange’s legitimate rape by donating $20,000 to Assange’s defense fund.

Recently Michael Moore teamed up with Oliver “Hitler was misunderstood” Stone to write a New York Times editorial that claimed Ecuador’s refusal to hand over a rape suspect was “in accordance with important principles of international human rights” and ladled on conspiracy theories to avoid dealing with the fact that the left had chosen to back a progressive rapist over his victims.

Keith Olbermann went even further than Moore, retweeting a link from Bianca Jagger to an article written by a neo-Nazi Holocaust denier that named Assange’s victims and accused them of working for the CIA. UK Left-wing activist Craig Murray named one of the victims, prefacing his statement by saying, “Let us look at the conduct of these women.”

Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, branded the rape charges false and slanderous. Naomi Wolf suggested that Assange’s accusers don’t deserve to have their anonymity protected by rape shield laws and accused them of “using feminist-inspired rhetoric and law to assuage what appears to be personal injured feelings.”

George Galloway, who became a hero to the American left for his defense of Saddam Hussein, said that even if the two women were telling the truth, the only thing that Assange was really guilty of was “bad sexual etiquette.” Galloway is currently a part-time Muslim and it is hard to say whether his notion that rape is just “bad sexual etiquette” is rooted in him being a bad human being or in the pages of the Koran.

Ecuador’s leftist leader Rafael Correa echoed Galloway, saying that “the case would not in his view constitute criminal behavior in Latin America.” That might explain why over half of Ecuador’s schoolgirls have reported experiencing sexual abuse in schools. It might also explain why Daniel Camargo Barbosa, one of the worst rapists and serial killers in history, chose, like Assange, to escape to Ecuador and was able to kill 71 girls there in two years.

Domestic abuse and sexual assault are commonplace in Ecuador and most rapes go unreported. That, along with its left-wing government, makes Ecuador a natural destination of choice for Julian Assange. And the horrors in Ecuador have not stopped the left from holding a vigil outside Ecuador’s embassy in support of Assange and Ecuador’s leftist regime.

The Occupy Wall Street movement sent out a message urging an occupation of the British consulate in solidarity with Assange. The Occupy movements had become notorious for their sexual assaults, including the abuse of a 14-year-old girl. Occupy Baltimore had put out a pamphlet urging members not to report sexual assaults to the police. When a19-year-old girl was raped at Occupy Cleveland, Occupiers accused her, like Assange’s victims, of being a plant, giving us another glimpse of progressive rape culture.

Assange’s case is not unique. The Democratic Party is deeply tainted by activists who support rapists.
Recently, Jesse Jackson led a rally in Oklahoma for convicted rapist Darrell Williams. Williams had dragged one woman through a backyard and sexually assaulted her and had also assaulted another woman at that same party. Williams was convicted of two counts of rape by instrumentation and one count of sexual battery. In his defense, Jesse Jackson said, “Jesus was innocent, but convicted.”
Al Sharpton, like Jesse Jackson, also has a history of defending rapists. One of Sharpton’s most infamous moments, in a career full of them, was his involvement in the Dunbar Village case.

The full details of the Dunbar Village case are too horrific to go into at any length, but the crimes perpetrated there included the gang rape of a mother and the torture of her 12-year-old son. Both the victims and perpetrators in the Dunbar Village case were black. But Al Sharpton and the NAACP still chose speak out on behalf of the rapists while standing with their family members.

Todd Akin has never spoken at a Republican National Convention. But Al Sharpton spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Jesse Jackson spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 1984, 1988 and 2000. The Democratic Party has yet to disavow either man.

Michael Moore was a high-profile guest at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. The Democratic Party has yet to disavow him. Two Democratic presidents have been accused of sexual assault, as have two Democratic senators who ran for president: Edward Kennedy and Chris Dodd.

Democratic Congressman David Wu was forced to resign just last year for forcing himself on a teenage girl. That same year Democratic Congressman Dale Kildee was accused of sexual abuse by a family member and Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings was sued for sexual harassment.

The Democratic Party has never addressed its rape culture. Instead its politicians constantly harp on the importance of keeping abortion in the case of rape legal. With their track record, it is not hard to figure out why. The alternative, as Mary Jo Kopechne found out, involves killing both the mother and her child.

The question that intelligent people should ask themselves is whether what Todd Akin said was worse than what Ted Kennedy did? Is what Todd Akin said worse than aiding actual rapists as Michael Moore, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have done? Is what Todd Akin said worse than trying to cover up actual rapes the way that Occupy Wall Street has done?

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