Thursday, June 28, 2012

King Robert's Court

Instead of issuing a ruling on Obamacare, the Robert's Supreme Court has rewritten the law. The Supreme Court, which is often referred by the name of the main justice, struck down the invocation of the Commerce Clause to justify Obamacare. During the oral arguments the five conservative justice correctly pointed out that such a broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause, intended to regulate interstate and foreign commerce only, would allow the government to mandate anything. It could promote healthy living by requiring people to buy broccoli, as Justice Scalia pointed out repeatedly.

The four dissenting justices: Scalia, Alito, Kennedy and Thomas were ready to strike down the entire law. The four liberal justices were willing to use the Commerce Clause, but settled for a radical re-interpretation of the law with justice Roberts in order to salvage Obamacare. There should be little doubt that these ideologues would have used any excuse to justify this expansion of government into private decisions, such as those involving healthcare choices.

The great irony is that in striking down the expansion of the Commerce Clause the court has itself greatly over-reached its authority. Roberts claimed he was showing deference to Congress. Congress, Obama, and all cases prior to this decision by the Supreme Court have been explicit that this law, as written, is not based on Congresses taxing power. For one justice, John Roberts, to "interpret" the law as based on tax, in contradiction to the intent of Congress is a travesty. It is stark judicial activism. It also begs the question whether there are any limits on the limits to judicial "interpretation".

So, while the Court has struck down government over-reach, it has legislated from the bench. Furthermore, the issue of taxes is strongly restricted by the Constitution -- any tax law is supposed to originate in the House of Representatives, and to be approved in exact form by the Senate. Democrats couldn't manage the votes, so they settle for the illegal application of "reconciliation" to average two different bills passed by the House and Senate. What Roberts has done is a kind of "reconciliation" by the Supreme Court to "fix" Obamacare.

This ruling is not a politically nuanced move by Justice Roberts as some would like to see it. It is mere replacement of Obama's hubris with Roberts' own. This shameful decision by Supreme justices is the kind of lawless action of a Kingly Court, which does as it pleases, not a branch of government with a narrow prerogative of interpreting the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress.

Supreme contempt for the US Constitution

Everybody who guess at the outcome of the impending decision of the US Supreme Court on ObamaCare today -- it's last day in session was wrong. The supreme's didn't rule on Obamacare. Instead justice Roberts joined the four liberal stalwarts on the court to rewrite the law.

Wow.

Obama has flaunted the Constitution on many occasions -- on the Defense of Marriage act (Congress passed the law Obama ignored it), on the illegal immigration (Congress failed to pass the law Obama wanted so he implemented it by executive fiat), among many other cases, so it is expected for his to ignore the Constitution. Democrats in Congress have also chosen to ignore the Constitution. Today the last bastion of the defense of the Constitution among the three branches of government fell.

It doesn't take long to grasp the enormity of what happened -- it was a blatant violation of Supreme Court's role. The Court's prerogative is to decide the constitutionality of the laws passed by Congress. It's a basic tenet of the balance of powers between the three branches of government.

Obama and democrats who pushed Obamacare using all kind of tricks, such as buying congressional votes, such as the Luisiana purchase, and the Nebraska kick-back, have always insisted that the individual mandate for purchasing health insurance is not a tax. That's ironic, because Congress has a constitutional right to tax, however, that would never have passed Congress -- it barely passed with all the trickery while both houses of Congress were controlled by the Democrats. Imagine the response of the public and Congress if Obama leveled with the American people by saying: "I want to tax everybody, in order to insure 30-45 million uninsured. It's the right thing to do, and it's good for the economy." That's why the administration went the other way and defended it's actions through the Commerce clause.

Administration lawyers argued before the court the constitutionality of the mandate. They invoked the Commerce clause, and never spoke about the tax. They couldn't answer the key question asked by the justices, including Kennedy, who often casts the deciding vote about the limitations of this interpretation of the law. Commerce clause gives the Federal government the right to regulate interstate commerce, as well as trade with other nations. If going to the doctor affects interstate commerce, so does everything else. If the government in its wisdom can pick products of services and deem them necessary for everyone, where is the limitation? Scalia mentioned several times that using the government's logic people could be compelled into any "healthy" or otherwise "beneficial" activity, such as purchasing and eating broccoli.

So, Obama and the Democrats in Congress made a run around the constitution to get their way. The court should have ruled on the blatant unconstitutionality of the resulting law. Using tortured logic it could have attempted to justify this unlimited application of the Commerce clause. That's not what the Court did, however. Today's ruling tops any prior blatant case of legislation from the bench. The court fixed the law in order to deem it constitutional, but invoking Congresses power to tax.

Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito wrote a scathing dissent: 'We cannot rewrite the statute to be what it is not".

What makes this ruling particularly egregious is that Congresses power to tax is highly regulated. The constitution requires that any tax originate in the House of Representatives, because that chamber is the most responsible towards the public. (Any law must be approved in exactly the same form by the Senate, which didn't happen with Obamacare either - the Democrats illegitimately used the so-called reconciliation process to find middle ground between two separate bills approved by the House and the Senate. There were not enough votes in both chambers of the house to agree on a single law -- another illegal move on the way to passing Obamacare). For the Supreme Court, which is least responsible to the public, to essentially create a new law, and especially a tax, is particularly illegitimate.

What does this mean for the Republic? To explain my view, I'm going to invoke the other significant event that happened today in the US government. For the first time in history the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General (AG) Eric Holder in contempt.

Today's contempt citation is a result of Holder's failure to provide documents regarding the cover-up of "Fast and Furious" operation. In February of 2010 the AG's office submitted a letter to the congressional oversight committee led by Darrel Issa, which claimed  ignorance of this operation, which resulted in gun walking and deaths of US border agents. That letter was retracted 10 months later as erroneous. If a citizen made this mistake, he would be in prison for lying to Congress, but AG managed to stonewall the oversight committee. When cornered, Holder received a life-line from Obama, who invoked executive privilege -- a very dubious call in itself that I believe will backfire. There are some who characterize this congressional investigation as a Republican "witch hunt" -- an attempt to take down Holder. It takes a willful suspension of disbelief to accept that a matter as serious as this was handled lightly by the Justice Department. So, are we to believe it made a simple mistake in a matter as serious as Congressional oversight? In essence Holder, as well as the entire Obama administration hold our Constitution in contempt.

Today's decision by the US Supreme Court says that it also holds the US constitution in contempt. Rather than playing its legitimate judicial role, it rewrote the law.

US can recover from contempt of the constitution by an AG, and to some extent even the subversion of our founding principles by a president. But how can US recover from the blow to its constitutional foundation by the Supreme Court? If we throw out the limits to our democracy, we're no better than the moribund European states.

I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think it's possible to reverse this trend in the long run. The US has been on a long slide towards European statism, where a popularity contest between politicians have lead them to over-promise and over-spend. Now they face fiscal bankruptcy, although it's the intellectual and philosophical bankruptcy that is more troubling for the Western Europe. The US under Obama has increased our external debt from 60% to over 100% of GDP, while tearing up the Constitution. Even election of a Republican president is likely to merely hold the line against further government encroachment on individual rights, but not to reverse it. We had the president and Democrat-controlled Congress ignore the constitution for several years, and now the Supreme Court has shown it has no regard for it either. The public is growing used or at least anesthetized to its leaders ignoring the Constitution. Meanwhile, almost half of the USA population is dependent on welfare, a number that has greatly increased under Obama administration. If that number tops 50% our unconstitutional democracy will surely slide towards the same abyss that Europe is looking into.

The trajectory USA is on is likely to be an irreversible slide into statism, bankruptcy and general lawlessness. The great experiment of a nation based on human liberty and empowerment of the individual began with a tax -- the Stamp tax of 1765 imposed by a distant king, and it might end with another tax imposed by equally distant and arrogant five people in black robes. The resolution of the impasse these frauds placed USA in may lie outside of the system. It would be much preferable to keep be able to resolve this problem without our current system, but it may no longer be possible. I mean that there were many people in the USA who considered themselves to be loyal subjects of the British crown, until the could no longer work within the system which did not represent them, and opted for revolution.

The historical parallel may appear extreme, but is fitting, even the main slogan: "taxation without representation" applies very well to the justices of the supreme court. After all, Supreme Court justices are not elected by the people and serve for life. It's ironic that President Obama, fearing the overturning of his signature legislative achievement by the court, has cautioned that "un-elected" officials should not overturn laws passed by Congress. It's alright to overturning the Constitution though. Nancy Pelosi said told her liberal cohorts they should take "yes for an answer" from the Supreme Court", apparently ignoring the blatant unconstitutionality of the Court's move. Obama was also pleased, declaring arrogance tearing up the Constitution by the Supremes a "victory".

The US was a Constitutional Republic, but is rapidly becoming a banana republic.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A liberal mind is impervious to responsibility

"Obama denies responsibility" is an accurate title for this article, but it is so trite! Saying Obama denies responsibility has about as much news content as "dog bites man"    both happen every day, and are not newsworthy.

The latest attempt by Obama to shift blame to Bush, however, takes this blame game up a notch.  Obama officials last week pointed to rising costs under the Bush administration to suggest that the $820,000 Vegas conference could have been avoided  if only the Bush-era  General Services Administration (GSA) had acted. In other words, out-of-control spending is still Bush's purview. 

Obama's creative adaptation of Truman's dictum.
Why do we need Obama occupying the oval office? I mean, we have teleprompters and Carey or another spokesperson can say "It's Bush's fault". Where's the news content? If the administration has nothing new to report, they could at least sell the airtime and pay down our crushing debt, which increased from about 60% GDP when Obama took office to over 100% GDP in a mere three years.

Blaming Bush for the Vegas bash was too much for the former head of the GSA, Lurita Doan, blasted the Obama administration Monday for blaming his predecessor over the lavish Las Vegas. Doan, headed the agency under then-President George W. Bush until her resignation in 2008, told Fox News that President Obama's team is trying to "divert attention" from its own scandal

Harry Truman had a famous dictum as a sign on his desk: "The buck stops here". What has Obama taken responsibility for? Whenever economy perks up a little, Obama takes credit for the "right direction", but when the news are bad, it's "we didn't realized how bad it was", which translates as "it's all Bush's fault" from Obama-speak. 

Who still believes this buffoon? There are some true believers. Van Jones, Obama's former "green czar", recently opined that "even if Obama came out as gay he would not lose the black vote". Not much concern with merit there. What about the white voters? They seem to be still enamored with Obama's race. How else do you explain the enthusiasm and the dominance of white twenty-somethings in Chicago, IL in the photo below? They still believe. Based in what? That's a wrong question. They believe in who, they have bough the personal story. I can understand how Obama's victory in 2008 was a result of  the help of mass media, which helped Obama to avoid difficult questions, and he was not properly vetted. I thought Obama's background as a socialist was enough to suggest his dreams were empty rhetoric about hope. Hope triumphed over historical experience. By 2012 Obama's agenda has failed all around, so what's the excuse of placing hope above experience now? 
Chicago office of Obama 2012 reelection campaign
 — young, white and clueless.
Here's how I feel about such gullible sheep: they are ignoramuses and hypocrites who are generous with other people's money. Obama's policies have fleeced our country  he has added more debt than ... anyone in the history of civilization. The ignorant youth do not know history, and do not even understand the contemporary politics. Who's going to pay for all these goodies? Other people who make money. That makes these supporters hypocrites. They are ignorant of the fact that a large portion of this debt will fall on their shoulders in the form of higher taxes and Social Security payments.
Have they read "Fleeced" by Dick Morris?
According to MSNBC, young “voters preferred Obama over John McCain by 68 percent to 30 percent — the highest share of the youth vote obtained by any candidate since exit polls began reporting results by age in 1976.” How's that "hopey, changey" thing working out for them?

Less than 50% of the people 16-24 years old are currently employed - a record low. The unemployment among the black youth is almost twice the rate of whites, so Obama has not even had a positive impact on his favorite demographic. The official unemployment, of course, underestimates the reality, but is useful as a relative measure. According to these official data below, the average rate of youth unemployment during Obama's term has been nearly double that of Bush's entire two terms.

Forgive them, oh Lord, for they know not for whom they vote.

It's ironic that Obama's young supporters are among the people who're doubly "fleeced" by his policies  — presently through the loss of employment opportunities and in the future through higher taxes to cover the debt Obama incurred on their behalf. 

There is a saying that "a liberal mind is impervious to experience". In my humble opinion to vote for Obama in 2008 could be excused by ignorance (a triumph of hope over experience), but to vote for him in 2012 is simply irresponsible. My upgrade of the above dictum is: "a liberal mind is impervious to responsibility" - that's why the seek to "spread it around".

Monday, April 9, 2012

Social justice, according to DOJ

Zimmerman family challenged the Attorney General Eric Holder on New Black Panther Party (NBPP).  One of the family members wrote in an open letter to the Holder:
I am writing you to ask you why, when the law of the land is crystal clear, is your office not arresting the New Black Panthers for hate crimes?
The Zimmerman family is in hiding because of the threats that have been made against us, yet the DOJ has maintained an eerie silence on this matter. These threats are very public. If you haven’t been paying attention just do a Google search and you will find plenty. Since when can a group of people in the United States put a bounty on someone’s head, circulate Wanted posters publicly, and still be walking the streets?
The letter concludes that the lack of interest in this matter Eric Holder and the DOJ is ‘based solely on your race’.

A black leader who actually has integrity, Allen West, has called this bounty a hate crime, and urged the Justice Department to prosecute the NBPP for the bountyThe Department of Justice, however, said it had "no comment" on the on  the bounty on George Zimmerman.

Spike Lee had originally tweeted an incorrect phone number for George Zimmerman, causing an elderly couple to flee their house in fear of their lives. Then, he apologizes for getting the old couple in trouble, and retweeted the correct address for Zimmerman. The couple is still fearing to go back to their house and is asking for Spike Lee to issue a formal apology to ensure their safety.

Why is Spike Lee not charged with reckless endangerment, and a hate crime?

The irony is that Zimmerman can justifiably claim claim that Spike Lee, Black Panthers, and the NBC, which admitted to putting a falsified audio tape on the 911 call on air, are all potentially responsible for any harm that could come to Zimmerman or his family. What about a fair trial? Considering the bias projected by mass media's representation of George Zimmerman, he would need to go to Mars to get a jury which is not biased one way or another in this case.

Holder has no shame and is unlikely to do the right thing -- to execute his duties as Attorney General without regard to race, by protecting the "due process", and ensuring the safety of Zimmerman's family. Hopefully, this case will show very clearly the the reality of the so-called "social justice" -- it is a euphemism used by a bunch of racists in power to justify their selective application of laws.

US economy: lies, damn lies and statistics

The unemployment report released last Friday showed a nominal decrease of unemployment from 8.3% to 8.2%. However, the mere 120,000 jobs created created broke the pattern of robust job creation during the last two months that was boosting Obama's reelection chances. The economists were expecting over 200,000 new jobs.  The real numbers reflect a worse reality - in March, the number of unemployed dropped by 133,000, but the overall labor force declined by 164,000. That means the economy shed a total of 31,000 jobs. Meanwhile, the government reports lower unemployment.

There's a saying about the malleability of statistics: there are "lies, damn lies and statistics". Only by discounting a large number of discouraged job-seekers can the government report a statistical reduction of unemployment, in stead of an actual reduction of employment.


The labor non-participation has reached a record 88 million. The issue of how this rate the unemployment rate is officially calculated is becoming a part of the political discourse. A Republican congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) intends to press GOP leaders to include the number of individuals who gave up looking for work in the percentage of jobless claims.

For example, the most recent unemployment rate released on Friday, at 8.2% unemployment, is the so-called U-3 rate calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It also calculates more inclusive measures U-5 and U-6. The more realistic U-5 rate of 9.6% it includes the “total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other persons marginally attached to the labor force, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force."

Thus, the measure proposed by Representative Hunter would not require any additional numbers to be calculated; it would simply elevate the statistic that the BLS already calculates each month. That would add a lot of realism to the discussion, and not allow the statistical unemployment rate to decrease, while the number of actual employed people is falling.

The lack of realism in official statistics is obscuring not clarifying the direction of the economy. The Dow ended below 13,000 and logged its fourth straight daily loss. One of the reasons may be that during the weekend the traders had a chance to  reevaluation the latest unemployment report, which was released last Friday. The stocks tumbled heavily at the open, clawed their way up to recover some ground, then finished near their lows by the end of the day.

Yes, you did, Barry.
The job gains of the last couple of months were helped by unseasonably warm weather, and may have cannibalized job gains of the spring. It has given an entirely unrealistic perception of an accelerating recovery.

Barack Obama has been the undertaker of this economy, but he refuses to accept any responsibility. It's time for him to ask: "Did I do that?" ask Steve Urkel from TV show Family Matters used to do after causing some mishap. He won't. So, I've asked and will now answer:

"Yes, he did."

Egalitarian fraud

The Democrats often complain that requiring IDs for voting is an intolerable burden, and disproportionately affects minorities.

The conservative activist James O’Keefe decided to demonstrate to the Attorney General Eric Holder, just why he should be concerned about lack of voter ID laws – by walking into Holder’s voting precinct and showing the world that anyone can obtain Eric Holder’s ballot. Literally.

In a shocking new video from Project Veritas a man (picture below) voted on Eric Holder's behalf.
Is that you, Eric?
Didn't recognize you with the sunglasses.
Holder has maintained that voter fraud is not a major problem in the United States, and that voter ID would not curb voter fraud in any case. When a white bearded dude came to vote in the primary on April 3rd and claimed to be Holder and used his address, the poll worker didn't hesitate and promptly offers the young man Holder’s ballot to vote.

Project Veritas has already shown how dead people can vote in New Hampshire, and they have registered celebrities like Tim Tebow and Tom Brady to vote in Minnesota. Now - Washington DC. The voting there lies in a federal jurisdictional area. Will the federal government take up the challenge?

Probably not. Looking incompetent doesn't seem to bother DOJ or the Obama administration enough to overcome their love for "social justice".

Social justice in the USA

There is a confluence of the arts with real events, which illuminates the some serious challenges for the society in the USA. The case of Trayvon Martin has captured the airwaves, and the mass media has rushed to judgement to label the man that shot him, George Zimmerman a bigot and a murderer, in contradiction to his claim to self defense and without deference to the several ongoing investigations, including one by the FBI.

NBC news had to apologize for editing George Zimmerman's 9-1-1 call that made him appear to be racially profiling Trayvon. ABC initially reported no injuries on the back of Zimmerman's head, until it stopped covering his head with its logo in the video, and reported that enhancement of the video of Zimmerman in police station did show injuries. In other words, ABC also tried to obfuscate the issue.

The main culprit in the mass media is the prime-time show host on MSNBC, Al Sharpton, who called for "occupation" of Sanford, FL. He demanded immediate arrest of Zimmerman and has led rallies, blurring the line between activism and journalism.
Jesse Jackson and Al Shaprton - the usual suspects.
President Obama has issued a call for "soul searching" in relation to Trayvon case. Why did he single out this case, and what effect did it have?

According to Obama the answer to the first questions is: "if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon". As for the effect of  a president getting involved, in addition to race-baiters like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson -- it has elevated the importance of an issue that was already national news, and being prejudged by the mass media.

A comedy, “Neighborhood Watch” by 20th Century Fox intended for release in early summer is in unexpected trouble, because of it's name. The Zimmerman has not even been charged, but the name "Neighborhood watch" is already seen as sullied!

Is that where we are as a society? Not only will we rush to judgement, we will destroy the legitimacy of neighborhood watchmen?! That would be bad enough, it it was not for the racial issue.

The only evidence of racial profiling in this case is the lie put forward by the NBC. Obama's outspoken concern with the possible racial profiling in the Trayvon case, flies in the face of his silence in the recent black-on-white hate crimes? Why did the mass media and the president not speak out against a the crime against a white kid who was dosed with gasoline and set on fire on his own porch, while his attackers yelled: "You get what you deserve, white boy"?

Why the silence on the recent attack of black teenagers on a white cabbie and his white passenger in Philladelphia? The coverage of the mob attack of seven black teens on a white teenager just blocks from Independence Hall, failed to mention the races. The white teenager went to the hospital, while Fox showed a a purposefully grainy video of the event, and other news organization failed to mention it at all.

Then there's an attack by a black an Atlanta street gang on a Hispanic "faggot" videotaped by the perpetrators themselves? Will this brutal attack be prosecuted as a hate crime?
Social justice is not blind.
That's social justice for you. There are favored groups, and less favored groups. If you're "white" or a "faggot" an assault on you is not as important an issue as an assault on blacks - a group favored by President Obama by default, as his previous jump to conclusion regarding professor Gates showed.

Obama is a racist, so his reaction is predictable, we just have to deal with it. That means not giving up, but the opposite. We need to fight the bigoted pre-judgement in Zimmerman's case, and not allow the concept of "Neighborhood watch" to be destroyed by race-baiters, even if they occupy the highest office. If the country falls prey to the siren song of "social justice" you can kiss regular justice good-bye.

Cynics in Syria

Even as Kofi Annan, the peace envoy from the Arab League and UN was meeting with President Assad in Damascus in late March, Syrian army shelled the northern town of Idlib, and continued its bloody siege of Homs.
Al, how many have you "pacified" today?
Last Thursday the U.N. statement raised the possibility of "further steps" if Syria doesn't implement the six-point peace plan outlined by Kofi Annan, who is also the previous UN Secretary General. Syria has agreed to accept Annan's peace plan on March 25th. It has promised to "immediately" start pulling troops out of protest cities on April 2nd. When the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan announced the latest Assad's promise, Western nations quickly expressed doubts that the new promises would be kept.

They were right. In recent days, instead of preparing for a withdrawal, troops of the Syrian dictator al Assad have stepped up shelling attacks on residential areas, killing dozens of civilians every day in what the opposition described as a frenzied rush to gain ground. With the deadline looming, Syrian troops on Sunday pounded restive regions in the north and center of the country a day after activists said more than 100 people were killed across Syria.

"Mortar rounds are falling like rain," said activist Tarek Badrakhan, describing an assault in the central city of Homs on Sunday. He spoke via Skype as explosions were heard in the background. The regime is exploiting the truce plan "to kill and commit massacres," he said.

The Syrian regime scuttled the peace process, once again opting for lies to gain time. What will the UN do? The lives of Syrian civilians are on the line, as well as the credibility of UN itself.

Annan said in a statement on Sunday that "the present escalation of violence is unacceptable." What is truly unacceptable is for a joker like Annan to be charged with such a serious mission. After the failure of Arab League's observers in Syria to halt regime's violence, it was clear that only a tough and credible negotiator stood any chance of getting Assad to follow through on his promises.

Annan confronts the price of his failure in Rwanda.
Recall that Kofi Annan was implicated in helping Saddam Hussein violated the oil embargo. "Oil for food" panel rebuked Annan and mentioned corruption. Lastly, the genocide in Rwanda that resulted in a million deaths, happened when Annan was the head of peacekeeping at the UN. Was Annan planning to tell Assad: "While I failed a civilian population from the continent of my own birth, I plan to redeem himself by doing everything possible to ensure the safety of Syrian civilians."

Annan had no business going to Syria as a UN envoy unless he was prepared to say the above. I don't see that type of humanity fueled by humility in Annan. More importantly, it would not sound plausible to Assad. So, this entire expedition was a charade. A tacit agreement between UN and Syria to buy time. The Syrian government has been buying time for over a year, while the UN needs to appear to be attempting to do its job by resolving a rebellion with a negotiated settlement.

The UN's behavior is, therefore, disgraceful. Businessweek just wrote that UN faces a day of reckoning with it's delaying tactics. The scuttling of the Annan's deal was just the latest promise not to be kept by the Assad regime, so why was the UN playing into the hands of a pathological liar?

Just as Annan complained Sunday that the escalation was "unacceptable," Syria said its acceptance of the Annan deal last week was misunderstood and suggested it would not be able to withdraw its troops under current conditions, while killing another hundred.

Assad regime delayed the arrival of observers from the Arab League, then denied their purpose, in a similar way he played Annan. Assad toyed with the Arab League's demands, in the end all they got were lies intended to stall the Arab and Western opposition to his dictatorial rule.

Another fine example of Syrian behavior occurred during a recent "referendum"Syrian artillery pounded rebel-held areas of Homs as President Bashar al-Assad's government announced that voters had overwhelmingly approved a new constitution in a referendum derided as a sham by his critics at home and abroad.

The verdict the some regions there was unanimous: the box "in favor" (of the government) was circled, the box "opposed" was not. 

Those who are opposed were getting their just deserts -- the Syrian artillery has pounded restive voters for almost three weeks in Homs, killing hundreds. The bombardment of Homs was almost as long as the bombardment of Hama 30 years ago, when his father killed over 10,000 to pacify that city.

Assad encourages voting in referendum...
With sad predictability, Annan's peacemaking in Syria failed. In never really had the chance. Assad's new demands of 'written guarantees' were refused by the rebels. Annan has failed again, the diversion is over -- what now? Russia is still supplying Syria with weapons, while the Iranians are helping to smuggle Syrian oil to Europe.

The civil war in Syria shows no signs of abating.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pussy Riot anathema

After the performance of the punk rock group Pussy Riot in Moscow's rebuilt cathedral of Christ the Savior, three of nine band members were arrested: Maria Alekhina and Nadejda Tolokonnikova on March 4th, and Catherine Samutzevich - on March 15th. They have been charged with "hooliganism". The Pussy Riot band performed in masks, but the uncertainty will not stop the authorities from making an example. The women - two of whom have small children at home face up to seven years in prison.
Russian protester in front of the Ministry of Justice.
After the arrest of three of the performers, I wrote about the political nature of this performance and its persecution: Putin is Puttin' an end to the Pussy Riot. Amnesty International has called them prisoners of conscience and demanded their release:
Amnesty International calls for the immediate and unconditional release of three young women arrested by the Russian authorities as members of the punk group ‘Pussy Riot’ who staged a protest song in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral on 21 February.
The phrase "immediate and unconditional" to the Russian ear evokes the calls for surrender of German armed forces at the end of WWII. In other words, Amnesty International (AI) is provocatively calling for Russian capitulation. Sadly, this call does not improve the chances of the jailed women.

The band members of Pussy Riot explained that the goal of "punk service" was not desecration of a church, but a protest against the position of Patriarch Kirill, who allowed the "Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) to become a tool in the dirty electoral intrigues".

Not surprisingly, Patriarch Kirill recently condemned calls for leniency for the "punk service" in Moscow's main cathedral. The Russian punk band was doing devil's work, said the saintly leader of the ROC.

In its call for release of jailed Pussy Riot members, AI noted that the band has left the church peacefully shortly after being asked, and caused no damage. Furthermore, the charges against the women mention the anti-Putin message of their performance.

Patriarch Kirill's calls for harshness in prosecution of Pussy Riot may appear justified by the anti-religious message of the "punk service". The band's message was actually anti-clerical. I was stunned to find that Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the ROC, has openly supported Putin's candidacy for the reelection! Apparently the only separation of church and state he has heard about happened during the Soviet times, and loss of state patronage was a real challenge for the Church. It's much better to be helping the rulers to control the masses, than to oppose the powerful, even if they are ex-KGB.

Patriarch Kirill has become embroiled in a series of scandals. At the end of the March a story broke in mass media in Russia around an apartment belonging to the Patriarch, where a relative of his lives. The charge is that this lady attempted to steal her neighbor's apartment through a lawsuit alleging damage to the Patriarch's library from the renovations in the neighbor's flat. The Patriarch faced such a firestorm that he could only promise, as he did to donate the money to charity. He has recently received 20 million rubles, from his neighbor whose son was forced to sell the apartment to pay these damages.

A number of members of Russian parliament have spoken about organized "hounding" of the Patriarch, which has "general-European character". Some called criticism of the Patriarch a part of Russo-phobic, and anti-christian campaign by the opposition and the "so-called libertarians".

It seems that the Patriarch is not hurting for money. Recently, another row was caused by a touch-up of a online photo, which showed Patriarch Kirill wearing a Breguet watch valued at 28-36 thousand dollars. The bloggers noticed the undoctored the reflection of this very expensive watch. The ROC has apologized for doctoring the photo

Watch this.
The reflection of the watch (green outline) from Patriarch's left hand
revealed when the pricey watch (red outline) was doctored away. 
Do you know what time it is Patriarch Kirill? Check your 30-grand watch, and remember Judah's 30 pieces of silver. Did you get some earthy benefits for siding with the latest czar - Putin - and insisting on jail time for a few young women, some some with small children for opposing your intervention in politics?

The wheel has come full circle. The Church which Communists despised and looted is back in favor with the government. The ironies are many, but the most cynical one is that the main Moscow cathedral  where the Pussy Riot performed its sacrilegious service is a rebuilt replica - the original was blown up by the Bolsheviks in 1931 - some ROC officials had the audacity to compare the Bolsheviks favorably with the unsanctioned show, which protested Patriarch's endorsement of reelection of ex-KGB colonel.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Obama's reelection magic

Obama's reelection chances rest on creating some straw men to deny responsibility for the status of the economy and the increased divisions in society his "post-racial" election was supposed to cure. Obama is using Houdini method of creating grand illusions with misdirection, but it's hard to deny responsibility on that scale.
Obama in wonderland (teleprompters included).
Myth: Congress is a "Do Nothing" Congress, because of the intransigence of the Republicans.
Reality: Congressman Paul Ryan's budget includes some common sense ideas for slowing the growth of government. These proposals are far from the caricature of it painted by the Obama administration, which is "so far to the right," said Obama , "that it makes the Contract with America look like the New Deal."

Under Ryan's plan, the federal government would be 46% bigger in real terms than it was in 2000, which was President Clinton's last year in office, according to analysis of budget data by Investors Business Daily.

Ryan's plan would  simplify the tax code and widen the base by replacing the current behemoth code with just two marginal tax brackets — 10% and 25%, while eliminating loopholes. Democrats' objections to Ryan's tax reform plan is that it "showers money on the rich" by lowering the top rate to 25%.

Myth The Supreme Justices nominated by Republicans are judicial activists who're going to overturn the wondrous Obamacare.
Reality: Obama administration lawyers failed to provide a constitutional basis for the law, in particular to show any limitation for the intended interpretation of the Commerce Clause -- that economic activity (or even inactivity) affects interstate commerce, and is therefore subject to Federal regulation. In fact, after Obama fired the preemptive strike at the justices of the Supreme Court, calling them "unelected" in a blatant effort to delegitimize their likely rule against his signature domestic reform.

What was Obama thinking? Surely he knew the blatant assault on judicial purview could now go unanswered. Joseph Curl of Washington Times is probably correct: Obama knows the consequence of picking a fight - he is betting that his key to victory is to get his base on engage in a confrontation. The fact that it is ultimately a lost cause does not trouble Obama or his minions. It reminds me of Napoleon's famous dictum: "The important thing is to engage the enemy -- the proper strategy will present itself".

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit directly responded to the president's comments about the Supreme Court's review of the health care law by asking the DOJ lawyer, Dana Lydia Kaersvang, about the judicial review. She said, of course, DOJ recognizes it's legitimacy and mentioned Marbury v. Madison, the landmark case that firmly established the principle of judicial review more than 200 years ago.

One of the tree appellate judges then demanded a "three page single spaced letter" directly from Eric Holder on this subject. Holder admitted his acceptance of judicial review the next day, and sent the letter to the appellate court on Thursday

Why would Obama administration want the embarrassment of being taken to task like this? The only logical answers is a calculation to engage on an emotionally charged subject. We will hear a lot about the poor and the uninsured who are driven to desperation by Republican defence of the rich men's greed.

Mr. Obama all but threw down the gauntlet with the justices, saying he was "confident" the Court would not "take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."

Myth: Economic difficulties are due to external factors according to Joe Biden, like the financial crisis in the Eurozone, or oil price increase due to the "Arab spring" and the tsunami in Japan.
Reality: The Obama administration has created more onerous regulations than any other. They have created a certainty of increased costs to hiring with Obamacare, and manufacture with cap-and-trade. They have shut down a lot of oil exploration in the Mexican gulf, and rejected the Keystone pipeline from Canada.    They invested recklessly in companies like Solyndra, while neglecting traditional resources. Increasing regulation, cost of hiring and cost of energy has lead to a slow economic recovery. If the Obama administration doesn't understand this basic reality they are either lying or utterly incompetent.

Myth: Republicans plan to poison the waters, and the kids. That's the essence much what Obama said.
Reality: The EPA regulations, which Obama administration recently enacted, are a way of enforcing tax-and-trade without Congressional approval. Rejection of such expensive, holier-than-thou hyper-environmentalism does not imply a desire to poison the environment or the kids. 

Myth: The economy is getting better. The unemployment rate dropped to 8.2% in March.
Reality: The rate dropped for one simple reason: the number of people not in the labor force is back to all time high: 87,897,000.
The economy added a mere 120,000 jobs according to one survey, well below the expectations of up to 200,000. So, why did the unemployment drop? Washington Post reveals the real numbers: in March, the number of unemployed dropped by 133,000, but so did the number of people employed — by 31,000. That indicates that those people didn’t necessarily find new jobs, since the overall labor force declined by 164,000. So, the economy is still bleeding jobs, and they cite meaningless and, therefore, bogus statistics about reduction in the unemployment!

Obama can only run on distortions and rhetoric, and you can't underestimate how low he is willing to go to create an illusion of competence that lasts long enough to get him reelected. The man has no shame. Rush Limbaugh correctly called him a thug.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Obama disses the Judicial branch

The U.S. Supreme Court has completed its hearings on Obamacare last week. "We the people" will find out about the results in June, but the judges already know which side is in the majority.

The hearing exposed Obamacare as an example of unlimited and unconstitutional power-grab by the executive branch of government. The swing vote --  justice Kennedy -- appears to have swung against that law, when the government lawyer failed to provide a limit to this interpretation of the Commerce clause in the Constitution. The clause, which allows the Fed to control trade between states and with other countries, has been used by the administration to justify this intrusion. Your heathcare impacts interstate commerce, get it? By that measure any human activity impacts interstate commerce, so where's the limit? The administration failed to provide one.

We the people are so over this ... Constitution.
Obama charged that the "unelected"Supreme Court could not and should not take the "extraordinary" and "unprecedented" step of overturning his landmark health reform law, saying:
Ultimately, I am confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.
Obama has taken an unprecedented step of warning the U.S. Supreme Court not to overturn his law. Not only that, he's charging the Justices with ... not being elected. That is the precisely the means for ensuring impartiality of justices chosen by the Founding Fathers and enshrined in the Constitution. Surely a constitutional lawyer like Obama is aware of this fact. Obama's bemoaning the Constitution as a potential impediment to his designs is understandable. It's one thing to think it, and another to actually say this foolishness.

My liberal friends used to tell me that "Obama is the smartest person in the room", regardless of other occupants. Really? He seems really obtuse to me. Does he not realize how consistent the narrative of the overreach of his administration has been?

Given Obama's ridiculous outburst, some believe that Obama has been tipped off on the decision by the Supreme Court on health law. It should not matter. It appears that some of Obama's advisers think that running against the U.S. Supreme Court is a winning strategy for reelection. After all he's already running against the unpopular Congress. What a great narrative for Obama's reelection: "Although last three and a half years have stunk, you should vote t o reelect me, because the problems were the fault of the other two branches of government."

According to Obama's revisionist history his signature healthcare law was passed by a strong majority in Congress?! This is news. I thought it was the reluctance of congress that required the Cornhusker kickback and the Alabama purchase for the passage of Obamacare. The same type of sweetener was required for other items on Obama's ideological agenda.
Obama's agenda required some incentives.
Obama also noted that for years, conservatives had been arguing that the "unelected" Supreme Court should not adopt an activist approach by making rather than interpreting law, and held up the health legislation as an example. Determination of Constitutionality is a form of "judicial activism". According to Obama's logic the Court should be a mere rubber stamp since its function of verifying the constitutionality of laws is merely perfunctory.

Obama desperately wants his presidency to be historically consequential. It is - as an example of everything that is wrong with liberal ideology, and the threat its autocratic approach poses to our Constitution.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

EPA revives cap-and-tax

Make it end. I'm talking about the insanity of the Obama administration in general and regarding energy policy and oil, in particular.

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions from new U.S. power plants, circumventing the Obama administration to push through cap-and-trade through Congress. Why would Obama use this strategy in an election year knowing it will be strongly contested by Republicans and the industry? To ask this question is to answer it. The Obama administration wants this fight.

There is a microcosm of Obama's philosophy within this decision -- ideology trumps realism. It's a desperate move to appeal to the the political left -- environmentalists who think the country should subject itself to great financial pains associated with extremely expensive energy and gasoline for an ephemeral benefit.

That's right. I give no credibility to the fear-mongering associated with CO2. The idea that CO2 has resulted in global warming is total baloney, as the Climate Research Unit effectively admitted recently. There's no uniform warming of the planet. The Earth temperatures have been completely in accord with the Sun cycle, for as long as accurate records have been kept.

Carbon dioxide happens to be essential for plant life, and unlike oxygen is not toxic. There's also the inconvenient fact that all of use exhale CO2, just like those evil power plants. So, what's to prevent the government for taxing you for you carbon footprint? How would you like to be taxed not just for oil and gas you use, but also the air breathe?

There's no fundamental justification for CO2 tax, beside tax revenue and increased government control.

The politics of this decision appear to be simply nuts. Consider, that a similar set of regulations - the so-called cap-and-trade, more accurately described as cap-and-tax, was rejected by Congress over a year ago. Then Obama has shut down the majority of exploration in the Gulf, sending dozens of off-shore pumping platforms to China, and costing many thousands of jobs. More recently Obama has rejected the Keystone pipeline. The gasoline has nearly doubled in price since Obama took office. External factors had a lot to do with this increase, but Obama administration's antagonism to oil development has not helped.

Yes, he can (and he did).
Democrats continue to use fallacious numbers. On March 7 Obama declared: “We've got 2% of the world oil reserves; we use 20%. What that means is, as much as we're doing to increase oil production, we're not going to be able to just drill our way out of the problem of high gas prices.”

The 2% number, in particular, is based on a very strict definition of proven reserves, which conveniently discounts more than half of the oil which could be economically extracted. The conclusion from Obama's description seems clear - the U.S. must be running out of oil. However, nothing is further from the truth. The known, financially lucrative reserves have actually grown -- due to improved technologies for detection that allowed identification of resources like shale oil that have become lucrative to develop consider given current prices. The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” columnist Glenn Kessler dismissed Obama’s figures as a “non sequitur”, which is exactly how I first thought of these figures, because the expected conclusion does not follow from these false statistics.

Even some Democrats from energy-intensive states have complained. "The overreaching that EPA continues to do is going to create a tremendous burden and hardship on the families and people of America," said Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia.
No, he can't (and he didn't).
Obama once said regarding cap-and-trade: "Under my plan the energy costs will necessarily skyrocket". Is the Obama administration so obtuse as to double down with a losing hand in the debate on carbon-based fuels? They must be desperate to energize their left-wing base, despite the fact this issue is a loser with the general public. The geniuses in the Obama administration have not considered that the vacation season is around the corner. When gas approaches $5 per gallon, they will rue this short-sighted strategy.

Five dollar gasoline will certain results in an "O'bummer" summer of discontent for travelers, although nobody should be bummed too much. The pain at the pump serves a greater good. The true believers in the pie-in-the-sky alternative energy can look forward to decreased use of pricey oil in the U.S., while the rest of us can look forward to Obama's early retirement.

An errand boy and an appeaser

An errand boy and an appeaser walk into the Oval office. The errand boy is under-dressed, "I'm sorry, you can't be here unless you are wearing a tie," the Secret Service tells him. The errand boy goes to his car to find anything he can use for a tie. All he finds is a set of jumper cables, so he ties them around his neck. "This works," says the appeaser, "but we can't start anything yet, but after my election I will have the flexibility to hook you up with some 'juice'".

Actually, the meeting between Demitri Medvev, the current Russian Prime Minister, and Obama occurred in South Korea, but otherwise the description is apt. A hot mike caught Obama saying to Medvedev: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space,” Obama said of incoming Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, who will replace Medvedev in May. “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.” Medvedev replies, "I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir," a reference to the next Russian President-elect Valdimir Putin.

The appeaser-in-chief meets an errand boy.
A few observations are in order. Medvedev's term as the Prime Minister won't run out until May 7th. He only served one term, and didn't even attempt to run again - it would interfere with Putin's ascendancy to the third (or fourth, if you count the last 4 years) term. Medvedev's response to Obama's comments is something that would be expected of a junior diplomat with no decision making power. Medvedev provided confirmation to the view that he's an impotent placeholder, an errand boy, in fact.

Obama bowing to Japanese emperor and
to Saudi Arabian King.
Medvedev is a joke - that's fine. Obama's comments are more significant, and disturbing. What does he mean by more "flexibility" after his potential reelection?

Consider Obama's record on missile defense. Obama's Start I treaty with Russia has betrayed US allies who wanted the defensive missiles house on their territory in Poland and the Czech republic. Even worse, this treaty amounted to a "unilateral disarmament", as John Bolton, the former ambassador to the U.N., has called this move.

What does "flexibility" mean in this context? Accommodation and appeasement. That has been Obama's strategy throughout his first term - appeasement of enemies, such as Iran, North Korea, Russia and Islamists in Egypt and elsewhere. What about friends? Obama has treated England and Israel with barely concealed contempt.

Charles Krauthammer's criticism of Obama's comments is so articulate, I'd like to quote a large part of his comments to RCP:
I think that the key word here in that exchange was Obama saying to the Russians, 'this is my last election.' It's not just that 'I have another election and I'll be occupied with other issues, let's talk about this. [...]
'This is my last election.' That's his way of saying with a nod and a wink, 'Look, you guys have a free hand because you run a dictatorship, your elections are rigged. Well, ours aren't rigged, but once I get passed my last election, I'm unleashed. I can do anything I want.
And what he's saying is, 'you know that reset I began three years ago where I completely undermined our allies in Eastern Europe. I cancelled the missile defense system and I began a process in which our supremacy in missile defenses is now negotiable, which the Republicans have never allowed to be negotiable.'
'Well, after election day, I can't speak about it now of course because it's my last election and Americans won't actually like that -- after election day, I'll be open.' 
This is a huge gaffe, if Etch-A-Sketch is a problem for Romney, this is the President himself saying, 'I'll be unleashed. I can govern hard left. I can do all this reset stuff in the future unmolested.' That's his way of telling people, 'you may have no idea what my agenda in the second term is going to be, but let me tell you, the Russians, it's going to be pretty hard left.'
Mitt Romney has jumped on the opportunity afforded by Obama's candor: "Russia is not a friendly character on the world stage. And for this president to be looking for greater flexibility, where he doesn't have to answer to the American people in his relations with Russia, is very, very troubling, very alarming," Romney said on CNN's "The Situation Room."

So, how did Obama try to diffuse this situation? He made light of the issue, and added: "Arms control is extraordinarily complex, very technical, and the only way it gets done is if you can consult and build a strong basis of understanding both between countries as well as within countries."

Oh. It's a good thing the "Reset" button for which the State Department originally used the wrong Russian word is working out so well. Think of the cooperation U.S. has gotten from Russia concerning nuclear non-proliferation in Iran and and civil war in Syria! Actually, think of something else. Happy thoughts. La, la, la. Forget the fact that Russia is not a democracy, and its elections are rigged. Forget the fact that Putin accused Hillary Clinton of instigating and sponsoring protests in Russia. Another "reset" will sure fix this.

According to Obama's own logic, his promise to continue to appease Russia rests on the sound foundation of understanding with Russia. He is right - Russia, in the face of Putin does understand Obama - he avoids standing up for American values preferring the easy route of appeasement.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Black House in DC

Would you like to know what "social justice" looks like? Regular justice has no color, "social justice" depends on the social status (e.g. skin color, homesexuality, etc.) of the victim and the perpetrator. According to social justice the aggressor may actually be the victim, depending on the "classes" involved.

Almost two years ago Obama has said in regard to Cambridge police detaining a black professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr., who appeared to be breaking into a house:
"I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played. But I think it's fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry; No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, No. 3 ... that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately."
To summarize Obama's points: specifics don't matter, race does. Cambridge police is stupid, most likely due to being racially bigoted.

Later it was revealed that the police were called by a concerned neighbor and when they realized the was no break-in, they attempted to leave the scene until professor Gates showed his real colors he screaming his lungs out about the white officers mother, so the neighbors could hear. He was warned that he was out of order, but he persisted and was eventually arrested. Where was this paragon of equanimity and justice employed? At Harvard. At an Institute for African and African American Research. Any chance he preaches his bigotry there?

So, the only person who acted rashly and stupidly was ... Obama. His jump to the conclusion that Cambridge police "acted stupidly" and his insinuation that this had to do with bigotry in law enforcement is beyond the pale. Obama had to invite the white office for a few beers to the White House to patch things up. Not that Obama apologized to the officer. He attempted to suggest his sublime thinking was simply misunderstood. Oh well, that's the danger of Obama going off the teleprompter - he's likely to say what he really believes, like "spearing the wealth around is good for everyone". Talk about a Manchurian candidate.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) under Eric Holder is notoriously unwilling to prosecute black on white crime. He even let go the two black panther racists, who were found guilty of voter intimidation.
DOJ is OK with reverse racism, too.
This brings me to the recent events with Tayvon Martin. The events are not yet clear - it could have been justifiable self-defense action by a Latino man, as police have judge the case, or maybe it was more sinister. Just like in the situation with Prof. Gates, Obama decided to weigh in on this situation before all the facts are in. "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," said Obama and urged "soul searching" among all of us. Apparently he forgot to take his own advice. Is Obama's statement about appearances? In other words, the logic is "he's black like me, must be a good kid". Or was it about the essence of this young man, his character? This connotation is likely to come back to bite Obama, if it is confirmed that Trayvon was the aggressor, because it would expose his apparent contentment with the rotting culture of violence and the sense of entitlement that undermine future of many minority children.

I think the president has much better things to concern himself with, but since it is a black man who has been shot Obama's first reaction is to go to the bat for him, without bothering with waiting for the evidence. As a lawyer, and a politician Obama should know better - a good lawyers knows not to ask a question he does not know an answer to. A good politician has the presence of mind to avoid needless controversy. Why is Obama raising racial issues so imprudently again? It seems unlikely that Obama feels the need to prove his credentials to the black community - they will vote for him anyway. The remaining explanation is that he instinctively favors a black person in an altercation with a person of any other color. That's racial bigotry, and the country knows it.

Obama's imprudence mirrors the rhetoric of two established racists - Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan, both of whom hurried to proclaim the Martin was a victim of racial prejudice. 'Blacks are under attack,' yelled Jesse Jackson. Farrakhan tweeted a warning: "Where there is no justice, there will be no peace... Law of retaliation may... be applied".

The black community meanwhile is following these "leaders" and coming out in strong support of Martin, including wearing "Hoodies" in a church during a service. These communities have prejudged the case, and have left themselves no room to retreat. If Trayvon turns out to be the attacker, they will look like a bunch of fools who champion delinquency.
Senior Pastor Rev. Raphael Warnock at Ebenezer Baptist
 Church  in Atlanta made the Trayvon Martin case
the focus  of his sermon on "Hoodie Sunday. 

Russians gave up on democracy

Russian opposition was utterly unsuccessful battling Putin's propaganda machine, and as I noted, it looked like an amateur battling a professional.

The polls of Russians indicate the their awareness of meetings in support of Putin was twice as outpaced those of the opposition fold. Russian polling agency VCIOM found that 60% of those questioned heard about meetings supporting Putin, while only about 30% were aware of demonstrations "For Fair Elections", 17% were not sure of the meetings political slant. 8% were not aware of these meetings.

According to the earlier polls, awareness of Russians about meetings favoring Putin or "United Russia" is rising - 20% in December, 38% in February and 60% in March. The awareness with the meetings organized by the opposition decreased - 54, 48 and 30%, respectively. These statistics are consistent with the view that the propaganda efforts of Putin's party was successful in displacing the awareness of meetings opposing Putin in the minds of most Russians.
Sign reads "My decisive vote - for Putin"
The poll found that the public support for the opposition is fairly broad, but waning. For example, in December 48% of Russians were for overturning the results of rigged Duma (Parliament) elections, with only 28% opposed.

In march polls taken after Putin's reelection 38% of Russians continued to support the main demand of the opposition - review of elections, however, a majority of 49% consider them baseless. Unfortunately, these numbers have moved in the wrong direction. The general discontentment with rigged elections has not translated into a proactive stance for majority of the Russians. 

The March poll found the majority Russians (42%) to be indifferent to the protests. A mere 17% of responders favored opposition protests, with 14% expressing unease about them. 10% of Russians are tired of meetings "For Fair Elections" or have become disappointed with them.

These poll numbers quantify what many have feared - Putin's propaganda successfully countered the opposition protests by parroting them, then driving the Russians towards their familiar state of resignation.
The opposition has run out of steam. The failure of opposition to provide a credible alternative to Putin, or to differentiate itself in the media in the eyes of an average Russian, may herald a few years of resigned acquiescence of the hopeless masses, and a weakening of the opposition.

What's the point of coming to a meeting now to stand for hours in the cold? All of opposition's demands were ignored, and they have no hope of effecting change in the foreseeable future.

French response to terrorism

Terror has come to the Toulouse. How did the French response to the massacre? In a way that reinforces the unfortunate stereotypes of French as great talkers.

A recap of the facts: a French national of Algerian descent, Mohamed Merah, murdered seven people in cold blood, including three Jewish children and a rabbi.

First of all, French have had many warnings of Merah's radicalism, as well as his criminal behavior. Merah has trained in al-Quada camps and was arrested in Afghanistan by the U.S. forces. The French authorities were aware that Merah distributed radical Islamist literature in Toulouse, after the mother of one of the teenagers Merah approached talked to the police. The police did nothing. Merah beat up the teenager and his younger sister, prompting the concerned mother to talk to the police again - to no avail.

As the mother of the teenager said, “All these people had to die before they finally arrest Mohamed Merah. What an enormous waste. The police knew this individual was dangerous and radicalized. I complained to the police twice about Mohamed Merah and tried to follow up several times.”

Melah's older brother Abdelkader told the police he was "proud" of his brother's actions, admitted helping him steal the scooter used in the murders, but claimed he was not aware of the deadly plot. The lawyer for Abdelkader girlfriend, Guy Debuissou, said that Abdelkader "celebrated" the death of his brother. The police have wised up and charged Abdelkader as an accomplice. Has justice been served? I wish the answer was "yes".

The French authorities are reluctant to admit the danger of rising antisemitism, and their attempts to whitewash the reality, reduce the likelihood any meaningful action is taken.

Consider the response of authorities in this case - they initially tried to pin the blame for the Toulouse massacre on Nazis, and when they reluctantly acknowledged Merah’s jihadist identity, they also provided his justification for murder. Speaking to reporters, French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said that Merah was associated with al-Qaida and he was upset about what he referred to as Israel’s “murder” of Palestinian children.

You can't help but be reminded of the fact that many Europeans view terrorism against Jews as justified by Israeli politics. After Anders Breivik's attack against his fellow Norwegians, including the government sponsored camp where young people terrorism role-played being Hamas, the Norwegian Ambassador Svein Sevje on Israel gave to an interview to Maariv, where he said "We Norwegians view the occupation as the reason for terror against Israel. Many Norwegians still see the occupation as the reason for attacks against Israel. Whoever thinks this way, will not change his mind as a result of the attack in Oslo."

Toulouse victims.
Imagine an ambassador to your country hypocritically tells it that terrorism against you is justified because you're bad (while terrorism against us makes no sense). How does he remain ambassador after that? As far as I'm concerned, Norway government is a sympathizer and an ally of Hamas. That's a damning statement, and by using ambassador's own logic the killing of Norway's children by Breivick is justified.

I've pointed out before that some parts of Europe are conducting a war by proxy against Israel. After the murders of Jewish children and a father of two of them, the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton's moral obtuseness and evidence of anything but upright impartiality. Ashton compared the murder of three Jewish children in Toulouse on March 19 to the incident involving a crashed bus full of children and the suffering in Syria and Gaza. “Such disgraceful equation reflects an incredibly twisted value system coupled with total blindness in the face of global and Mideastern reality”, writes Ygal Walt in conservative daily Yediot Aharonot:
It is no wonder that Hamas rushed to praise Ashton for her statements, thereby highlighting Europe’s moral confusion. […] The European Union’s embarrassing “clarification,” which did not deny Ashton’s remarks but merely claimed she did not mean to compare Toulouse to Gaza, made no difference. If anything, it further demonstrated Europe’s spinelessness and the tendency to shift positions and appease different groups, without adhering to a credible, enduring moral compass.
All that remains now is to watch the deterioration of the “old continent” into a new, murky horizon. On the one hand, Islamization trends are expected to grow, while on the other hand, radical nationalistic parties will continue to gain strength. Europe of the late 20th Century, which vowed to uphold the banner of tolerance and liberalism, will slowly turn into a chaotic, angry region where various groups are fighting each other while shunning genuine moral values. In any case, Ms. Ashton need not apologize for or clarify her remarks. After all, her words accurately reflected the mood of her decayed, dying continent.

Clearly, Ashton's speech is at a minimum a proof of “Europe’s spinelessness”, if not moral complicity, although some apologists for its behavior argue that Israel is "playing victim".

There are about 6 million Muslims living in France, or  about 10% of the population. This demographic reality has a lot to do with French impotence in dealing with Islamic terrorism. The other part, as I have argued before is a culturally-ingrained, reflexive antisemitism.

Consider the horrific case from 2006 when a Muslim gang in led by Youssef Fofana kidnapped and tortured Ilan Halimi to death. They also took pictures of their handiwork that were clearly imitations of the photos that Daniel Pearl’s killers took of him before they chopped his head off. In the case of Halimi’s murder Paris police refused to view his abduction as a hate crime, despite the fact that Fofana and his followers called Halimi’s family and recited Koranic verses while Ilan screamed out in agony in the background.

France 2 TV channel gave French this century’s first anti-Semitic blood libel with its October 2000 tale of Muhammad al-Dura’s alleged death at the hands of IDF soldier. When Philippe Karsenty wrote on his personal website that the al-Dura story was a hoax, he was charged with libel. An appellate court in Paris in overturned a lower court’s libel ruling against the Internet activist in 2008. Last month, France’s Supreme Court overturned the appellate court’s ruling and ordered it to retry the case.

As far as the Supreme Court of France is concerned, the appellate court had no right to ask France 2 to provide evidence that its story was true. According to the court, the unedited footage which proved the story was a blood libel should never have been admitted as evidence. The truth should never have been permitted to come to light.

Yes, it's that bad. So, I repeat my charge - these examples demonstrate nothing short of a propaganda and proxy war against Jews and Israel. Although I consider the continent to be a lost cause - it is largely bankrupt morally and economically - it is important to shame the EU for it's outrageous stance, and not merely let it slide.

Unfortunately, Europe is not alone in it's hatred of the Jews. Similar to Ashton and other moral equivocators, the U.S.President Barack Obama engaged in outrageous libels when during his speech to the Muslim world in June 2009 he compared the Holocaust with Israeli treatment of the Palestinians.

Barack Obama has called on the U.S. to do some "soul searching" when a punk teenager was gunned down. It is already emerging that the teenager was an aggressor, and the police have considered the shooting to be justified self-defense. Jesse Jackson opined that "blacks are under attack". The horrific race-based attack in Toulouse is cause for "soul searching" because "Jews are under attack" for being Jewish. Yet, Obama chose to defend a black teenager who may have been a perpetrator of an assault rather than innocent Jewish children.

The knee jerk defense of a black boy, and the relative indifference of the White House to the clear horror Toulouse shows that Obama is a racist-in-chief. So, in defense of French incompetence in fighting the rising antisemitism I can say that they are not alone - despite claims of egalitarianism in the West racial biases are still widespread.