Thursday, October 23, 2008

Goldman Trims Workforce

Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs will cut 10 percent of its workforce, or about 3,260 jobs, a source familiar with the investment bank's plans told CNN Thursday.
The bank was one of eight leading banks in the United States that signed up for a government plan that would invest up to $250 billion in ailing financial institutions.
Sources familiar with the bailout plan said in mid-October that Goldman Sachs stood to receive $10 billion of that money to help stabilize the former stand-alone investment bank.
Goldman and Morgan Stanley got approval in September from the Federal Reserve to function as bank holding companies due to the financial crisis.
The move allows both institutions to create commercial banking operations that can take deposits.

Author: CNN (New York)
The author of Stag's Leap makes no claim to the IP contained in this post that is outside of any separate commentary that may be added. This article is posted here on Stag's Leap strictly for discussion and education purposes.

Stag's Leap Commentary:
It seems that no one is immune to this current situation. I know, shocking analysis isn't it? That being said, this is not unexpected. Despite their strong reputation and knack for surviving in the roughest of times, the markets are not favorable to investment banking performance - internal hedge funds are liquidating positions, the equity capital markets are closed; vc exits are limited; the debt capital markets are closed; mez debt is struggling; sales and trading is suffering; and M&A valuations are coming back down to earth. These performance issues necessitate action if Goldman wants to preserve their EPS and their share price. Fortunately (I suppose), these cuts do not come as a complete shock as the rest of the industry has already (and continues) to struggle, downsizing staff across the board. For example - Cowen & Co. laid off half of their SF first year analysts, just two months into their service. Hard times call for hard measures. And, on another fortunate note, at least these layoffs did not come any closer to the holiday season than this.

The Left Has Zero Respect for the Military and Plays Games with Soldiers' Lives

Author: Robert F. Turner
About the Author: Mr. Turner is a constitutional scholar who served as acting assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs in 1984-85.
The author of Stag's Leap makes no claim to the IP contained in this post that is outside of any separate commentary that may be added. This article is posted here on Stag's Leap strictly for discussion and education purposes.

From the Beirut Bombing to 9/11
Liberal assaults on the executive branch have made us vulnerable.

Twenty-five years ago today a terrorist truck bomb in Beirut, Lebanon, killed 241 Marines, sailors and soldiers, and wounded more than 100 others. Had it not been for crass political partisanship, and efforts by Sen. Joe Biden and other congressional liberals to usurp the constitutional powers of the president, the loss of life in Beirut may have been avoided.

In part because it did, Osama bin Laden concluded that America could not accept casualties and ordered the 9/11 attacks. Similar congressional usurpation of presidential power over foreign intelligence played an important role in guaranteeing the success of those attacks.

This story goes back at least to November 1973, when congressional liberals pushed through the War Powers Resolution -- which claimed congressional control over all use of military force abroad -- overriding a presidential veto. (All seven American presidents since then have shared the view that that statute is unconstitutional.)

President Reagan sent the Marines to Beirut as part of a multinational peacekeeping operation that included forces from Great Britain, Italy and France. The purpose was to help maintain peace while the feuding factions tried to negotiate an end to years of strife. Nevertheless, Democrats -- particularly in the Senate -- decided to turn the deployment into a partisan issue in preparation for the 1984 elections. They demanded under the War Powers Resolution to know exactly when the troops would return home.

Gen. P.X. Kelley, the commandant of the Marine Corps, respectfully cautioned the Foreign Relations Committee that a partisan debate about placing time limits on the deployment would encourage hostile forces inimical to the "life and limb of the Marines." Senior Democrats denounced this warning as a "ludicrous argument" designed to "intimidate the Congress and to frighten the American people."

Referring to the assertion that the Senate debate would encourage attacks on Marines, Sen. Biden said, "My response to that is that may be true . . . but until we . . . invoke the War Powers Act," we are always going to be "beaten over the head by every administration that says 60 days is not enough time." In the end, only two Senate Democrats voted on Sept. 29, 1983, to "authorize" the continued deployment.

Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel Halim Khaddam announced during the congressional debate that America was "short of breath." And as reported in U.S. News & World Report, American intelligence intercepted a message between two radical Muslim militia groups that read: "If we kill 15 Marines, the rest will leave." At sunrise on the morning of Oct. 23, 1983, a terrorist truck bomb crashed into the Marine Headquarters in Beirut and exploded. Early the following year, the surviving Marines were withdrawn.

During a 1998 interview with an ABC News reporter in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden declared that this withdrawal proved Americans can't accept casualties. It was obviously a consideration in his decision to order the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But the conventional wisdom, that those deadly attacks resulted from "an intelligence failure," doesn't tell the full story.

A major reason we failed to detect the 9/11 attacks in advance was because, beginning in the 1970s, Congress launched a major public attack on the intelligence community. Mr. Biden, for example, was one of 17 senators to vote on Oct. 2, 1974, to make all covert operations (even espionage in some cases) unlawful. In 1986, he bragged in a New Republic interview that he'd personally blocked planned covert operations during the Reagan administration simply by threatening to leak them. (That statement calls to mind John Jay's observation, in Federalist No. 64, that because Congress could not be trusted to keep secrets, the Constitution left the president "able to manage the business of intelligence as prudence might suggest.")

In 1978, Congress continued its intrusion into presidential powers by enacting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), making it a felony for intelligence professionals to monitor communications between foreign terrorists abroad and individuals within the U.S. without first getting a special warrant. But in a unanimous opinion, the appellate court established by FISA observed that every court to decide the issue had held the president has "inherent authority" under the Constitution "to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information," adding: "We take for granted that the President does have that authority . . ."

Congress failed to anticipate in FISA the dangers posed by a terrorist like Zacarias Moussaoui -- which is why FBI agents were unable to examine the contents of Moussaoui's laptop computer and perhaps prevent the 9/11 attacks. Michael Hayden, then Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), later expressed his "professional judgment" that had these legal constraints (FISA) not existed "we would have detected some of the 9/11 al Qaeda operatives in the United States" prior to the attacks, and "we would have identified them as such."

As we pause today to honor the memory of the 241 brave young Marines who lost their lives in 1983, Americans should vow that political partisanship should never again be permitted to endanger our country and its armed forces.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Beauty Pagent Title Goes up in a Purple Haze

updated 8:59 a.m. PT, Wed., Oct. 22, 2008
Reigning Miss Louisiana Teen USA Lindsey Evans has been stripped of her crown after being arrested for marijuana possession and skipping out on a restaurant tab.
"Lindsey Evans has been part of an organization that believes in opportunities when earned and consequences when warranted,” Paula Miles, president of pageant sponsor RPM, said in a statement. “Due to recent circumstances, Lindsey has been relieved of her duties as Miss Louisiana Teen USA 2008 effective immediately.”
Evans, 18 and three of her friends walked out on a $46.07 bill at the Posados CafĂ© in Bossier City, La., on Saturday night. But Evans made a crucial misstep — she left her purse behind.
Police were called, and according to them, they found not only her driver’s license, but also a bag of marijuana in her purse.
Evans and her friends — Jordan James, 18, Jennifer Martin, 22, and Morgan Goleman, 18 — returned to the restaurant to retrieve the purse, just as officers were about to leave the scene.
“One of the officers recognized Evans from her identification, and they were subsequently arrested,” police spokesman Mark Natale told
Natale said that the women admitted that they purposely left without paying their bill, though at least one of the women blamed the restaurant.
“The service was so slow, we just said, ‘screw it’ and left,” Martin told the New York Post.
All four were booked on charges of theft and possession of marijuana. Martin and James were also booked for possession of drug paraphernalia.
The women were released after posting bond early Sunday morning, and Natale said they are expected to be arraigned in Bossier District Court in January.
Evans, of Blanchard, La., is a student at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La., and won the 2008 crown after being first runner-up in 2007.
Since the pageant’s 2008 first runner-up will be competing for the 2009 crown, there will be no one to fill Evans’ shoes. Michelle Berthelot, the current Miss Louisiana USA, will crown both the winners of the Miss Louisiana USA and Miss Louisiana Teen USA pageants.
Evans lost the crown 10 days shy of completing her reign, which would have ended November 1.

Source: ;Associated Press; MSNBC / Today
Author: Vidya Rao & Associated Press
The author of Stag's Leap makes no claim to the IP contained in this post that is outside of any separate commentary that may be added. This article is posted here on Stag's Leap strictly for discussion and education purposes.

Naive Obama Strikes Again

Author: Wall Street Journal
The author of Stag's Leap makes no claim to the IP contained in this post that is outside of any separate commentary that may be added. This article is posted here on Stag's Leap strictly for discussion and education purposes

Barack Obama's declaration that, if elected, he would be willing to sit down and talk to Iran "without preconditions" has been widely discussed in this country. It's a key policy difference between him and John McCain, who rejects unconditional talks with Tehran.

So what does the Islamic Republic think? The enterprising reporters at the state news agency recently asked a high-ranking official for his opinion on talks with the U.S. As it turns out, Iran has its own "preconditions" and they don't suggest a diplomatic breakthrough, or even a summit, anytime soon.

Mehdi Kalhor, Vice President for Media Affairs, said the U.S. must do two things before summit talks can take place. First, American military forces must leave the Middle East -- presumably including such countries as Iraq, Qatar, Turkey and anywhere else American soldiers are deployed in the region. Second, the U.S. must cease its support of Israel. Until Washington does both, talks are "off the agenda," the Islamic Republic News Agency reports. It quotes Mr. Kalhor as saying, "If they [the U.S.] take our advice, grounds for such talks would be well prepared.

Iran is one of the toughest and most urgent foreign policy problems the new U.S. Administration will face. If Mr. Obama ends up in the Oval Office on January 20, he may find that solving it will take more than walking into a room and talking to Iranians "without preconditions."

Cindy Sheehan = Insane Conspiracy Theorist / Left-Wing Kook

Source: ;
Author: Cindy Sheehan, et al
The author of Stag's Leap makes no claim to the IP contained in this post that is outside of any separate commentary that may be added. This article is posted here on Stag's Leap strictly for discussion and education purposes.

Sheehan Blog Entry:

The past few weeks have been a little strange at Cindy for Congress and, I guess the things that have been happening could just be coincidences, or a run of bad luck, but the climate for the possibility of campaign hanky-panky certainly exists.

Campaigns have been compromised since the beginning of campaign history, but these days with legal warrantless wiretapping and political party conventions sponsored by AT&T and the constant call of "all hail to my political party" and obeisance to the banksters above what's good for our nation, maybe what's been happening on my campaign isn't coincidental or "Mercury retrograde," or whatever.

Starting with the necessity of "changing a light bulb" (bugging my phone) in my hotel phone at the DNC (brought to you by AT&T) while I was out of the room, Cindy for Congress has had an increasing number of attacks. Two weeks ago, we were begged by organizers of a "radical" music festival called "We the People(Sheeple)" forbade me from speaking after having begged me to be there. An article in LA Beat said that the Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigoso was involved in the decision to silence my voice. Not only did we go down to L.A. at our own expense, but also we took an entire day of valuable campaign time to do so.

The past week, though, has been incredibly trying. First of all we had to file a restraining order against a former volunteer whom, with hindsight, we now know was probably spying on us for the Pelosi camp. After we let this person go, his emails to us became increasingly hostile and threatening. After that happened, the tail lights in our campaign-mobile were busted out (the campaign mobile that has Cindy for Congress signs all over it and pictures of it were in an AP story.

Towards the end of the week, four young men walked into our office and they were acting quite suspiciously as they pretended to be registering to vote. One of our interns was helping them when I heard her yell: "No! Stop!" I heard an awful noise and ran out of my office to see the young men run off. They had grabbed one of our computers (leaving a jar of donations on the front desk) and beat our intern over the head when she tried to stop them. Our front windows are almost totally covered with signs and posters and it would be hard to see what we have from the street…we did, thankfully, recover the computer which has sensitive material on it and we are even more thankful that Somer is okay. (She's tough like her boss).

After several days of harassment, I got home late one night to discover a jury summons in my mailbox. I have been summoned to jury duty the week of, you guessed it, the elections!

The final (and in my opinion worse) weird thing happened on Saturday night. We had scheduled a group of "robo" calls to go out today (Monday, Oct 13). At 10:30 Saturday night, we started getting phone calls and emails blasting us for sending out the calls at 10:30 on a Saturday night, which is not only illegal, but extremely annoying. The company had approached us to donate 10,000 calls to us and then was charging us a small fee for the rest of the calls. 38,000 early/absentee voters received this call and my office has been overwhelmed with angry voters who won't be voting for me now and some of the good will that we have been building here in San Francisco for the last year went down the drain in just a few minutes. Was it just a "glitch" in the system, as the owner of the robo-call company claims, or overt sabotage of the campaign? Isn't it sad that we have to be paranoid about all of this? To be sure, our office is in a rough part of town, but the frequency of the harassment is certainly intensifying.

The stakes are high and I have a feeling "they" won't stop at anything to assure that the tyranny of incumbency continues.

Selected Comments (ie her nutty followers):

I worked on Nader 2004. Everything you describe sounds very familiar to what happened to Ralph...very Democratic [big D]. Hey, Cindy, you're in the same league as Ralph Nader! CONGRATULATIONS!

AT&T and other telco giants have sworn before Congress to keep their distance from "deep packet inspection," or DPI, which allows network managers to inspect, track and target Internet content. But these execs aren't telling the public the whole truth about their Web-filtering plans. Timothy Karr,

That shows Nancy as pathetic. She is desparate to keep her job. Nancy knows she will lose. She knows more and more Americans are on your side and not her's.Nancy is a dishonest person. She does not care about Jesus or anything period. Nncy is only in this for the power of the job, not for public service aspect of it. Nancy wants the power and is desparate to keep it because she knows all of her taxes will be struck from the IRS taxcode. Nancy wants to continue her oppression of the American people. She is determined always to raid the Social Security trust fund and blow all of that money on pork projects. We are dealing with a thief here and that's exactly what Nancy is. She tells her Democrats to disregard the constitution. Nancy is helping them raid the Social Security trust fund as well.She is a criminal.

Our Rude treatment in LA. Invite a candidate to speak at a major rally, only to arrive and get ZERO help from anyone at the festival, only to find out you can't speak at the event! great! Waste the campaign funds for us with a BS stunt by the Democratic party, who donated THOUSANDS to the event we we're "asked" to attend. Pelosi and their lot are PATHETIC. We will bring them down, together.

Wish I still lived in there so I could be more involved. You are at the level of Kucinich, Wellstone and Nader now, as others have said. You know what it feels like to do the heavy lifting. We have infiltrators in our Quaker and environmental meetings all the time, and all our phones are bugged. As you know, many people who call themselves activists, such as the so-called activists at the LA rally, are really in this for themselves and to further their reputation and to perhaps run for office themselves, but they can't. They find it easier to hassle their own side than to actually do something risky. A common story if you have been active. I sincerely recommend your staffers get you some acupuncture while campaigning. It will help you through the stress, re-set your mind and protect your vital organs. There are many who many offer special treatment for you, based upon the good you do and who you are. Just ask. I also recommend it to all politicos. We are going to need our strength. Things are quickly changing. Halloween is here. Cindy-- You always have the best blogs, worth reading. You can take the worthless Democratic pundits and shove them.

Cindy you are a champion for all the common people. I have no respect for these democratic shills and as mentioned previously Pelosi is a plutocrat and traitor to all the people except for the superrich whom she serves. Thanks also to Mckinney and Nader who continue to fight for us despite the trashing and abuse they receive from the demorats and their allies. We must build a powerful movement that Cynthia Mckinney has proposed to counter the repulsive corporate mess and to gain a true democracy. WE CAN DO IT!

SF Keeps Walking the Line of Insanity

Source:; Associated Press
Author: Not Available
The author of Stag's Leap makes no claim to the IP contained in this post that is outside of any separate commentary that may be added. This article is posted here on Stag's Leap strictly for discussion and education purposes.

updated 3:03 p.m. PT, Tues., Oct. 21, 2008

In this live-and-let-live town, where medical marijuana clubs do business next to grocery stores and an annual fair celebrates sadomasochism, prostitutes could soon walk the streets without fear of arrest.

San Francisco would become the first major U.S. city to decriminalize prostitution if voters next month approve Proposition K — a measure that forbids local authorities from investigating, arresting or prosecuting anyone for selling sex.

The ballot question technically would not legalize prostitution since state law still prohibits it, but the measure would eliminate the power of local law enforcement officials to go after prostitutes.

Proponents say the measure will free up $11 million the police spend each year arresting prostitutes and allow them to form collectives.

"It will allow workers to organize for our rights and for our safety," said Patricia West, 22, who said she has been selling sex for about a year by placing ads on the Internet. She moved to San Francisco in May from Texas to work on Proposition K.

Measure faces an uphill battle
Even in tolerant San Francisco — where the sadomasochism fair draws more than 400,000 tourists and a pornographic video company is housed in a former armory — the measure faces an uphill battle, with much of the political establishment opposing it.

Some form of prostitution is already legal in two states. Brothels are allowed in rural counties in Nevada. And Rhode Island permits the sale of sex behind closed doors between consenting adults, but it prohibits street prostitution and brothels.

In 2004, almost two-thirds of voters in nearby Berkeley rejected decriminalization. But proponents of Proposition K say their proposal has a better shot in San Francisco, which they believe is more sexually liberal than the city across the bay.

After all, the world's oldest profession has long been established here. During the Gold Rush, the neighborhood closest to the piers was a seedy pleasure center of sex, gambling and drinking known as the Barbary Coast.
These days, on certain corners, prostitutes sell their bodies day and night, ducking into doorways and alleys when police pass by. One recent afternoon in the Mission District, six prostitutes were plying their trade on a single block.
Police made 1,583 prostitution arrests in 2007 and expect to make a similar number this year. But the district attorney's office says most defendants are fined, placed in diversion programs or both. Fewer than 5 percent get prosecuted for solicititation, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail.

A magnet for prostitution?
Proposition K has been endorsed by the local Democratic Party. But the mayor, district attorney, police department and much of the business community oppose the idea, contending it would increase street prostitution, allow pimps the run of neighborhoods and hamper the fight against sex trafficking, which would remain illegal because it involves forcing people into the sex trade.

The San Francisco Chronicle editorialized against the measure, saying it could make the city a magnet for prostitution.

If the proposal passes, "we wouldn't be able to investigate prostitution, and it's going to be pretty difficult for us to locate these folks who are victims of trafficking otherwise," said Capt. Al Pardini, head of the police department's vice unit. "It's pretty rare that we get a call that says: 'I'm a victim of human trafficking' or 'I suspect human trafficking in my neighborhood.'"

The proposition would also prohibit police from accepting federal or state funds for sex trafficking investigations that involve racial profiling. Such investigations often arise from raids on brothels that advertise as Asian massage parlors.
"We feel that repressive policies don't help trafficking victims, and that human rights-based approaches, including decriminalization, are actually more effective," said Carol Leigh, co-founder of the Bay Area Sex Workers Advocacy Network and a longtime advocate for prostitutes' rights.

A question of neighborhood safetyBut San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris said the ballot question mistakenly assumes prostitution is a victimless crime.

"The crime of prostitution does not exist by itself," Harris said. "Along with it come pimps, johns and other crimes that really impact the safety of neighborhoods."

If the measure passes, supporters say, prostitutes would not feel the need for pimps as protection. But opponents insist it would embolden pimps who trap drug addicts into prostitution by plying them with drugs.

"The proponents usually paint a fairly rosy picture of two consenting adults and a monetary exchange at the end," Pardini said. "They don't factor in the people that are being exploited and people that are being controlled, the ones manipulated both physically and chemically."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Senator Biden Points Out the Obvious

Source:; and the always quote-worthy Joe Biden.
Author: James Taranto
The author of Stag's Leap makes no claim to the IP contained in this post that is outside of any separate commentary that may be added. This article is posted here on Stag's Leap strictly for discussion and education purposes.
The author of Stag's Leap would also like to thank Senator Biden for stating the case against Obama more clearly and more succinctly than the GOP has been able to do for the entire campaign.

If the prospect of an Obama presidency doesn't make you nervous, Joe Biden's latest comments, reported by ABC News, may change the way you feel:

"Mark my words," the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."

"I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate," Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. "And he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you--not financially to help him--we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."

As Commentary's Jennifer Rubin
notes, this adds up to a pretty good argument for electing a president who is experienced and tough--i.e., John McCain. "This is material for an ad that's a lot more credible than Hillary Clinton's '3 a.m.' ad," observes Rubin. "That one came from his arguably frantic opponent–this one is from his running mate."

..... Biden's comments yesterday, by contrast, make one wonder why Obama chose as his running mate someone with a propensity for running off his mouth.

In an odd way, Biden's gaffe is reassuring, too. It suggests that the Democrats are not really naive enough to believe that if Obama is elected, everyone will like America again and the world will stop being dangerous.
(end Taranto)

SL: There is very little that I need to say in addition to Sen. Biden's statement. This might be the best case against Obama period. We know his economic policies will be bad. We know his social policies will be bad. We know his energy policies will be bad. We know his foreign policy will be bad. But, this points out the glaring weakness. Say what you want about Pres. George W. Bush. However, no one in their right mind believes that Al Gore was the right person to address 9/11. Whether we prosecuted Afghanistan and Iraq in the right way, there is no way that Gore could or would have answered that tragedy in an acceptable manner. He would have folded his tent and found a way to blame the United States for the attack. So to get back on track here - what Biden is saying is that if we elect Obama, we will face a serious international crisis. Why would we want to bring that on ourselves? Seriously, why?! There is no way this man has the internal strength or belief in America to stand up to a challange.

I am not going about using scare tactics and the politics of fear. No, I am just re-stating what Sen. Biden said about his runningmate. I do not wish America to be challanged if we are unfortuante enough to elect Obama as the next President. However, this has been a legitimate fear of mine and I do believe it will happen. Now a conspiracy theorist could say that an international incident could be generated by the Obama Administration just to prove he is worthy. Eh, as much as this is a thought that could cross my mind, I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories. But, as I said before, I do believe that the United States of America will be challanged if Obama is elected. And I know that this man does not have the courage nor the love of Country to stand, fight and win.

If his running mate is worried about this, then every person with common sense should think long and hard about whether America should and could endure an international challange, especially given our current economic issues. Obama would most likely give a decent if not good speech. But, I do not doubt he would find a way to place blame on the U.S. And, moreover he does not have the conviction, determination, courage or love of Country to do what is necessary to prevail against evil.

The Most Confused Prius in America

This just might be the most confused Prius in America. Found this on a US News and World Report blog this morning. I'll post the link to it for all:
As USNWR says, "bend your mind around that irony, won't you?"

Eating on $15 a Day

Better yet, I should title this something to the effect of "surviving the lower middle market on a pauper's pittance."

Title aside, I have decided that with my glorious $15 / day of dinner money, I should start commenting about what I eat and where. Unfortunately, with this tiny sum of expense money available to me, my options will be somewhat limited. That, and my new-found commitment to working out will also limit the time I can devote to this. Nevertheless, perhaps I can at least give my fellow Excel monkeys and cube compatriots some tips on finding a decent bite in the city / financial district.

This will actually be a separate blog, and I will put up the link when I have the opportunity to devote a site to this new endeavour.

Your faithful Analyst

Socialism is a'comin'. Say "goodbye" to your economic freedoms folks.

Author: Paul H. Rubin
About the Author: Mr. Rubin is a professor of economics and law at Emory University. He held several senior economic positions in the Reagan administration, and is an unpaid adviser to the McCain campaign.
The author of Stag's Leap makes no claim to the IP contained in this post that is outside of any separate commentary that may be added. This article is posted here on Stag's Leap strictly for discussion and education purposes.

Get Ready for the New New Deal
Obama is much more dangerous to economic freedom than FDR

In 1932, Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president as the nation was heading into a severe recession. The stock market had crashed in 1929, the world's economy was slowing down, and all economic indicators in the U.S. showed signs of trouble.

The new president's response was to restructure the economy with the New Deal -- an expansion of the role of government once unimaginable in America. We now know that FDR's policies likely prolonged the Great Depression because the economy never fully recovered in the 1930s, and actually got worse in the latter half of the decade. And we know that FDR got away with it (winning election four times) by blaming his predecessor, Herbert Hoover, for crashing the economy in the first place.

Today, the U.S. is in better shape than in 1932. But it faces similar circumstances. The stock market has been in a tail spin, credit markets have locked up, and a surging Democratic presidential candidate is running on expanding the role of government, laying the blame for the economic turmoil on the current occupant of the White House and his party's economic policies.

Barack Obama is one of the most liberal members of the Senate. His reaction to the financial crisis is to blame deregulation. He even leverages fear of deregulation onto other issues. For example, Sen. John McCain wants to allow consumers to buy health insurance across state lines. Mr. Obama likens this to the financial deregulation that he alleges got us into the current mess.

But a President Obama would also enjoy large Democratic majorities in Congress. His party might even win a 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, giving him more power than any president has had in decades to push a liberal agenda. And given the opportunity, Mr. Obama will likely radically increase government interference in the economy.

Until now, this election has been fought on the margins, over marginal issues. But it is important to understand how much a presidential candidate wants to move the needle on taxes, trade and other issues. Usually there isn't a chance for wholesale change. Now, however, it appears that this election will make more than a marginal difference. It might fundamentally change America.

Unlike FDR, Mr. Obama will not have to create the mechanisms government uses to interfere with the economy before imposing his policies. FDR had to get the Supreme Court to overturn a century's worth of precedents limiting the power of government before he could use the Constitution's commerce clause, among other things, to increase government control of the economy. Mr. Obama will have no such problem.

FDR also had to create agencies to implement regulations. Today, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Labor Relations Board (both created in the 1930s) as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and others created later are in place. Increasing their power will be easier than creating them from scratch.
Even before the current crisis, there was a great demand for increased government regulation to limit global warming. That gives the next president a ready-made box in which to place more regulation, and a legion of supports eager for it.

But if the coming wave of new regulation from an Obama administration is harmful to the economy, Mr. Obama will take a page from FDR's playbook. He'll blame Republicans for having caused the market crash in the first place, and so escape blame for the consequences of his policies. It worked for FDR and, so far in this campaign, blaming Republicans and George W. Bush has worked for Mr. Obama.

Democrats draw their political power from trial lawyers, unions, government bureaucrats, environmentalists, and, perhaps, my liberal colleagues in academia. All of these voting blocs seem to favor a larger, more intrusive government. If things proceed as they now appear likely to, we can expect major changes in policies that benefit these groups.

If those of us who favor free markets for the freedom and prosperity they bring are right, the political system may soon put our economy on track for a catastrophe.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Funny Thought of the Day

My readers* should know that I read daily (at least twice) and am a devoted reader of James Taranto and Best of the Web Today.

Here is his witty response to the issue of ballots being mailed out with 'Osama' instead of 'Obama':

Thanks to several readers, we think we've figured out how officials in Rensselaer County, N.Y., rendered Barack Obama's last name as "Osama." It's the same thing that tripped up Dan Rather: Microsoft Word. Some versions of this software--including the one we use, Word 2002--do not recognize "Obama" when doing a spell-check, and suggest "Osama" as a correction.
This almost certainly means the person responsible was a Democrat. After all, who else would see "Obama" and reflexively respond by clicking "Change"?

(end Taranto)

I mean really folks, how can this NOT be funny to you. "Who else would see 'Obama' and reflexively respond by clicking 'Change'?" That is just classic.. pure comedy. Of course, I wager that not a single liberal laughed when reading that line. Lighten up folks. And the shot on Dan Rather? Again, pure gold here folks. Taranto's witt strike again.

*Yes, I acknowledge all two of you.

Author: James Taranto
The author of Stag's Leap makes no claim to the IP contained in this post that is outside of any separate commentary that may be added. This article is posted here on Stag's Leap strictly for discussion and education purposes.

Playing the Blame Game

Author: Peggy Noonan
The author of Stag's Leap makes no claim to the IP contained in this post that is outside of any separate commentary that may be added. This article is posted here on Stag's Leap strictly for discussion and education purposes.

"But these were not the great causes. Neither party has clean hands. Or rather, both parties have dirty hands. Here is the truth, spoken by the increasingly impressive Sen. Tom Coburn: 'The root of the problem is political greed in Congress. Members . . . from both parties wanted short-term political credit for promoting homeownership even though they were putting our entire economy at risk by encouraging people to buy homes they couldn't afford. Then, instead of conducting thorough oversight and correcting obvious problems with unstable entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, members of Congress chose to . . . distract themselves with unprecedented amounts of pork-barrel spending.' That is the truth."
(end of Peggy Noonan)

Is it me, or is Coburn just about the best Senator and/or Congressman in general that there is? Yeah, that is what I thought!

Nothing more needs to be said my friends. There is plenty of dirt and blame go to all around. Granted, more of it falls on the left side of the aisle rather than on the right. But, if we choose to break it down:
Congress / Agencies / Fannie / Freddie / Washington - you are at fault
Wall Street - you are at fault
Mortgage Brokers - you are at fault
The American People - you are at fault

Oh... the American people are most at fault here. People, sit back, look in the mirror and please, please absorb the blame and point the finger at yourself.....

I shall leave it here for now and finish these thoughts later.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Out-dated, but nevertheless necessary, defense of Palin

Author: James P. Lucier
About the Author: former Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Relations Committee
The author of Stag's Leap makes no claim to the Intellectual IP contained in this post that is outside of any separate commentary that may be added. This article is posted here on Stag's Leap strictly for discussion and education purposes.

It's true that Alaskans look at foreign policy from a different perspective. They know the world is a globe. They look at their neighbors from the polar projection, while the lower 48 are still thinking east and west along the old Mercator projection maps, maps devised for the navigation of sailing vessels in the 16th century, and published by the Flat Earth Society. The Mercator projection is perfect for backward-looking pols such as Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Thus a governor of Alaska has to be more cosmopolitan in world outlook than her insular colleagues in the lower 48. Surrounded as Alaska is by the seven Arctic nations (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden) Alaska has a truly strategic location, unmatched by any other U.S. state. It has a contiguous boundary with Canada of 1,538 miles, but none with the lower 48.

It is also closer to the Russian Federation than any other U.S. state. There are no international waters between Russia and Alaska. The boundary in the Bering Strait splits the two-mile difference between Big Diomede and Little Diomede Islands, two bleak rocky islets that may have been part of the prehistoric landbridge crossed by Todd Palin's people eons ago. One hundred forty-six Inuit-Americans still live on a 3,000-year-old village site on Little Diomede, so if Sarah Palin lived there she sure could see Russia from her front porch.

If you are curled up that close to the Russian bear, you want to be sure that he is sleeping quietly. You are very attentive if he moves to make sure that he is not going to roll over on you. You have a sixth sense about Russian fighters and bombers intruding into your territory, or daring to come as close as possible. You are relieved when U.S. military planes scramble from Elmendorf Air Force Base to escort them back. Meanwhile, you make nice. You invite the Russians on trade missions, and you invite them to international conferences.

On August 12, Governor Sarah Palin addressed the 8th Annual Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region held in Fairbanks, hosted by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and sponsored by the University of Alaska. The Russian parliamentarians were included along with the Canadian, Danish, Finish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish legislators. They focused on human health in the region, particularly among the indigenous peoples common to all the nations. They talked about preserving renewable, non-renewable and alternative resources. Governor Palin reported on Alaska's progress with the new gas pipeline and with alternative energy.

Alaska is a busy place. Its international airport is on the great circle route, the shortest distance between Washington, D.C., and the Orient. It happens to be the last gas station open until midnight (figuratively speaking) before the long hop over the Pacific to Tokyo. This contrasts with, say Delaware, which is a drive-through patch on the road to Jersey.

Despite having a population of only 670,000, Alaska exports $3.9 billion a year, mostly to China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea and other Pacific Ocean nations, as well as to Canada Russia, Finland, Norway and a raft of other European nations. Investment comes from abroad too. Canada has invested over $3 billion, and that was before the contract agreement with TransCanada Alaska on the new gas pipeline. Governor Palin and Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie renewed the Alaska-Yukon Intergovernmental accord in March.

UNTIL JOE BIDEN was nominated by the Democratic National Convention to be Vice President of the United States, it had never occurred to anyone that the chief qualification of a vice president was to be an expert on foreign policy. It was a drastic step but necessary when the Democrats saw they had a problem. Clearly, Barack Obama's much-touted advisory board of 300 foreign policy experts was inadequate. They had to shore up a nominee whose only foreign policy experience to date had been to interfere in the elections in Kenya on behalf of his cousin, Raila Odinga. They realized he needed one more expert, the 301st, to give the nominee that gravitas necessary to wow the foreign policy establishment.

Thus the nomination of Joe Biden was inevitable. After all, how could you trump a man who was not only the third most liberal Senator in the world's greatest deliberative body, but also Chairman of the august Senate Foreign Relations Committee? Suddenly, it was a game-changer. The vice-presidency was all about foreign policy, and when Sarah Palin was nominated by the Republicans she was held to the new standard. With Palin's inexperience, how could she compete with Biden's 36 years of inexperience, of being wrong year after year on every issue? Of a man so used to reaching out to other nations that he plagiarized his speeches word for word from a British socialist, Neil Kinnock, the leader of the British Labour Party? Of a man who has been around so long that he remembers watching FDR go on television in 1929 and rally the nation when the Great Depression hit? (Those who were unaware that television existed in 1929 should recall that it was invented in 1928 by Al Gore, before he invented the Internet.)
Gone are the days when Teddy Roosevelt, annoyed in pre-air conditioning days by the constant tinkling of the crystal chandelier in his White House office sent it over to the Capitol office of his vice-president, Charles Fairbanks (surely you remember Charles Fairbanks, don't you?), with the statement, "Take that thing over to the vice-president's office. He has nothing to do. Maybe it will keep him awake." And the chandelier hangs there today, the somnolent Fairbanks long departed.

No one asked whether Harry Truman, the gutsy guy from the Prendergast gang, knew beans about foreign policy. Yet he ended World War II by bombing Hiroshima, set up the United Nations, formulated the Marshall Plan, and executed the Truman Doctrine that stopped Communist expansion in Europe dead in its tracks.

Nor were Alben Barkley, Lyndon Johnson, Spiro Agnew, Gerald Ford, Walter Mondale, Dan Quayle or Al Gore chosen to fill the foreign policy gap. The only exception was Dick Cheney. The critics said he knew too much about foreign policy.

So we find that Charles Gibson and Katie Couric have raised the bar. Their interviews with Governor Palin were all about foreign policy, at least the part they put on the air. It took a journalist from Montana, Frank Miele, to go to the transcripts of the whole interviews to show that 70 percent of what she said was left, metaphorically, on the cutting room floor. As Miele wrote, "You will see two Sarah Palins. The one sitting across from Charlie Gibson was nuanced, insistent and thoughtful, but the one that Gibson cut-and-pasted in the editing room was a cross between Ma Kettle and Dr. Strangelove." Gibson ridiculed her for suggesting that that the Russian invasion of Georgia was unprovoked (just as Obama had called upon both sides "to use restraint"-- both Georgia whose territory had been invaded and Russia whose ruthless assault had been long-planned). Gibson seemed incredulous when she suggested that Alaska's border with Russia gave her some understanding of Russia's actions.

Katie Couric also left the best parts of Palin's interview on the cutting room floor. With her beady eyes focused, she moved in to gimlet the governor on the question of proximity to Russia, "as part of your foreign policy experience," which Palin had never claimed. It's too bad that Palin got flustered at that moment, after having been burned so badly by Gibson's treachery on the issue. "As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska," she said without getting her syntax in gear. That made it a must-go sound-byte in the editing room.

Of course Senator McCain got the same treatment. In the McCain-Obama debate, six times the name "Ahmadinejad" rolled smoothly off McCain's tongue, but one time momentarily it seemed to get caught in his throat. Anyone want to guess which one of the seven Ahmadinejads got featured on the network reporting the next day?

A MORE COMPREHENSIVE answer from Palin might have pointed out that Russian fighters routinely violate U.S. air space over Alaskan waters, and U.S. military planes based in Alaska scramble to escort them out. She could also have pointed out that Russian submarines and icebreakers enter Canadian waters without a by-your-leave, and in the Arctic Ocean they have staked Russian claims to ownership of the North Pole, and the 8 billion tons of oil and gas that lie underneath. This is the kind of stuff on which Palin was briefed as commander of the Alaska National Guard. If Palin was a bit thrown off her stride, it may have been because she was unsure of the fuzzy line between classified and unclassified intelligence in her first incursions into network TV.

Amazingly, neither Biden as chairman of the full Senate Foreign Relations Committee, nor Obama as chairman of the subcommittee on Europe have ever held hearings on the matter of Putin rearing his head. In fact, Obama is already such an expert that he feels no need to hold any hearings at all in his subcommittee. With a revanchist Russia laying claim to Georgia, perhaps Putin is beginning to think of Alaska as part of what the Russians call the Near Abroad. Perhaps, in some of his revanchist moods, he covets Seward's Icebox as Russian territory which the Czar disposed of too quickly. Is it possible that he is seeking abrogation of the 1867 Seward-Stoeckl Treaty? Probably not; he is just acting that way. But it would be a good idea for Biden and Obama to take a day off from campaigning and hold a hearing on Russia's designs in the Arctic. They might learn something if they call as their first expert witness the Governor of Alaska.

Some of the hoity-toity conservatives in the National Review crowd were shocked and appalled at the Palin interviews. Wrinkling their noses at the smell of mooseburgers cooking on the grill, they could hardly eat their pheasant under glass, stuffed with pate de foie gras and truffles. They called for Palin to be thrown under the harpsichord.
Well, we shall see. At least the Palin-Biden debate will be broadcast in full and not be cut up by those who have knives out against her. Can the indomitable Palin hold her own once Biden fires up his gaffe-o-matic? There's just a chance, maybe a good chance that she can knock off the old geezer and field-dress him on the spot.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Society Failing Athletes


Author: Jason Whitlock – and Kansas City Star

About the Author: Columnist for the Kansas City Star, he has won the National Journalism Award for Commentary for "his ability to seamlessly integrate sports and social commentary and to challenge widely held assumptions along the racial divide."

The author of Stag's Leap makes no claim to the Intellectual IP contained in this post that is outside of any separate commentary that may be added. This article is posted here on Stag's Leap strictly for discussion and education purposes.

I'm going to do my best to avoid turning this into an I-told-you-so column.
But the truth is, I told you before the 2006 draft that Vince Young was primed for NFL failure. He entered the league with an attitude, mindset and supporting cast totally unprepared to survive the pressure, challenge and responsibility that goes along with the most prestigious and difficult job in all of sports.
When I explained all of this in 2006, my naive and misguided critics called me an Uncle Tom. Yeah, they ripped me for attempting to issue a young black kid a warning about what awaited him in The League and the attitude he would need to cope and excel.
Some people foolishly think it's every black media member's job to assist in the mental and emotional crippling of black youth. We're supposed to blow rainbows up the asses of every black athlete who "makes it" and assure him/her that anyone who utters a word of criticism is a jealous bigot or irrational sellout.
So, no, I'm not surprised Vince Young tried to quit in the middle of Sunday's game after throwing a second interception and hearing boos from Titans fans frustrated by his inability to read a defense or throw accurately. I'm not all that shocked that two days later Jeff Fisher called the police and asked them to hunt down his inconsistent quarterback. I'm not surprised the Titans team psychologist is apparently worried that Vince Young is suffering depression.
And I'm really not surprised that Vince Young's mother told The Tennessean that her baby boy needs a little space and a lot of love and support.
The question is, when Young rebounds from his emotional abyss and recovers from his knee injury, what kind of love and support are we going to give him? Are the people who already love Young going to replant their heads in Young's rear end and their hands in his wallet? Or will a few people within Team Vince do the right thing and level with him about what he needs to do to make it in the NFL as a quarterback?
Vince Young, like a lot of young African-American men, desperately needs to hear the truth from the people who love him. Too often we pave the road to failure for black boys by believing the cure for bigotry — and there is still plenty of bigotry in America — is the ability to recognize it in (and blame it for) everything. That cure has more negative side effects than most of the drugs trumpeted by the pharmaceutical companies in television commercials. That cure serves as a convenient crutch, and turns a talent such as Vince Young into a quitter the moment adversity strikes. That cure helped land Michael Vick in jail.
Everyone told Vince Young and Michael Vick the NFL would be easy. They'd revolutionize the QB position with their legs, and they could pop bottles, roll with a posse and pretend to be Jay-Z in their spare time.
It just doesn't work. Not for Young or Vick. Not for Matt Leinart. Not for anyone who wants to star at the position and avoid the boo-birds.
No one revolutionizes the starting quarterback position. The position revolutionizes the person playing it. Just ask Donovan McNabb. He figured it out and changed his game. Over the objection of idiots, McNabb developed his skills as a pocket passer. He concentrated on becoming a student of the game. If he can stay healthy over the next three or four years, McNabb will surpass Warren Moon as the best black quarterback ever to play the game.
Unfortunately, there are still people, especially black people, who don't appreciate McNabb. They think he let "us" down by de-emphasizing his athleticism, and they criticize him for being cozy with his organization the way Peyton Manning is with the Colts and Brady is with the Patriots.
McNabb doesn't get to enjoy the luxury of being a company man the way other franchise QBs in their prime do.
But McNabb has never threatened to quit or asked out of a game because the Philly fans were too rough. McNabb understands that in some instances the scrutiny of a black quarterback might be a tad more intense than that of a white one. He also understands that the best way to combat it isn't whining. It's performance. It's work ethic. It's professionalism.
It's not a coincidence that McNabb comes from a supportive, two-parent household.
I bring that up not to castigate Vince Young and his mother. I don't even know the story of Young's upbringing.
I raise the issue to point out that in modern professional sports — with the astronomical players' salaries — ownership and management examine the upbringing of the athletes and factor that into their decision-making.
Vick's failure, Young's potential failure and the guaranteed money they were given will make ownership more reluctant to anoint another kid from the 'hood a franchise quarterback straight out of college.
It's not about color. It's about fitting the profile of someone who can handle all that goes along with being an NFL quarterback. If I'm an owner, I spend my quarterback dollars on young men who were raised by strong fathers. It wouldn't be an infallible system, but on average I bet I'd hit more winners than if I turned over the leadership of my team to a kid who isn't used to having a strong male authority figure.
As black people, we need to ask ourselves whether we are doing a good job preparing our boys for positions of immense leadership, responsibility and scrutiny.
You are going to get criticized playing quarterback. If your instinct is to dismiss the criticism as racist, maybe you shouldn't play the position. If you are surrounded by people who spend every waking minute telling you that you can do no wrong and that everyone who criticizes you is a bigot, then maybe you shouldn't play quarterback.
The position requires thick skin and genuine self-confidence. If you need four or five male groupies with you at all times, a half million dollars of jewelry around your neck and wrists and a dozen tattoos to feel confident, then maybe you should play wide receiver or start rapping.
The average NFL fan has no idea how much time a franchise spends working on self-esteem issues with a typical player. You think these guys are self-assured. Many of them are not. They self-medicate with booze, drugs, steroids, bling, women and attention-getting stunts such as name changes.
Remember when Terrell Owens' assistant claimed he had 25 million reasons to live? It was an accidental moment of clarity and honesty. Too many players have their whole sense of self-worth tied up in their contracts.
It doesn't take much to crack a man with no real identity, especially if he's grown accustomed to having all of his shortcomings rationalized.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Biden Foreign Policy

Biden Was Wrong On the Cold War
Peter Wehner

September 4, 2008

The choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has electrified many conservatives and strengthened John McCain's claim that his administration would be far more reform-minded than Barack Obama's. At the same time, it has triggered accusations that Gov. Palin is far too inexperienced to be vice president, and has little knowledge of national security issues.

Mrs. Palin's lack of mastery of national security issues is often contrasted with Mr. Obama's vice presidential pick, Joseph Biden Jr. Mr. Biden has served in the Senate since 1973, is currently chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and is often described as a "statesman."

In fact, decade after decade and on important issue after important issue, Mr. Biden's judgment has been deeply flawed.

In the 1970s, Mr. Biden opposed giving aid to the South Vietnamese government in its war against the North. Congress's cut-off of funds contributed to the fall of an American ally, helped communism advance, and led to mass death throughout the region. Mr. Biden also advocated defense cuts so massive that both Edmund Muskie and Walter Mondale, both leading liberal Democrats at the time, opposed them.
In the early 1980s, the U.S. was engaged in a debate over funding the Contras, a group of Nicaraguan freedom fighters attempting to overthrow the Communist regime of Daniel Ortega. Mr. Biden was a leading opponent of President Ronald Reagan's efforts to fund the Contras. He also opposed Reagan's efforts to send military assistance to the pro-American government in El Salvador, which at the time was battling the FMLN, a Soviet-supported Marxist group.

Throughout his career, Mr. Biden has consistently opposed modernization of our strategic nuclear forces. He was a fierce opponent of Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative. Mr. Biden voted against funding SDI, saying, "The president's continued adherence to [SDI] constitutes one of the most reckless and irresponsible acts in the history of modern statecraft." Mr. Biden has remained a consistent critic of missile defense and even opposed the U.S. dropping out of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty after the collapse of the Soviet Union (which was the co-signatory to the ABM Treaty) and the end of the Cold War.

In 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and, we later learned, was much closer to attaining a nuclear weapon than we had believed. President George H.W. Bush sought war authorization from Congress. Mr. Biden voted against the first Gulf War, asking: "What vital interests of the United States justify sending Americans to their deaths in the sands of Saudi Arabia?"

In 2006, after having voted three years earlier to authorize President George W. Bush's war to liberate Iraq, Mr. Biden argued for the partition of Iraq, which would have led to its crack-up. Then in 2007, Mr. Biden opposed President Bush's troop surge in Iraq, calling it a "tragic mistake." It turned out to be quite the opposite. Without the surge, the Iraq war would have been lost, giving jihadists their most important victory ever.

On many of the most important and controversial issues of the last four decades, Mr. Biden has built a record based on bad assumptions, misguided analyses and flawed judgments. If he had his way, America would be significantly weaker, allies under siege would routinely be cut loose, and the enemies of the U.S. would be stronger.

There are few members of Congress whose record on national security matters can be judged, with the benefit of hindsight, to be as consistently bad as Joseph Biden's. It's true that Sarah Palin has precious little experience in national security affairs. But in this instance, no record beats a manifestly bad one.

Author: Peter Wehner - Wall Street Journal

About the Author: Mr. Wehner was a former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush; and is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

The author of Stag's Leap makes no claim to the Intellectual IP contained in this post that is outside of any separate commentary that may be added. This article is posted here on Stag's Leap strictly for discussion and education purposes.