THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† Living In These Mad, Mad, Madoff Times: A year into President Barack Hussein Obama's income redistributive socialist nirvana, more Americans became impoverished than during the greedy capitalism-run-amok Bush 43 era, reports The Associated Press:
The number of people living in poverty has climbed to 14.3 percent of Americans, with the ranks of working-age poor reaching the highest level since at least 1965.
The Census Bureau says that about 43.6 million people, or 1 in 7, were in poverty last year. That's up from 39.8 million, or 13.2 percent, in 2008.
Consequently, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development between 2007 and 2009 the number of families in homeless shelters skyrocketed nearly 30 percent, from 131K to 170K.
And, in a surprising development on the other end of the income scale, the latest annual Ipsos Mendelsohn Affluent Study finds that Americans living in households making $100,000 or more per year prefer to shop at budget-friendly big-box stores,” MarketingDaily reports:
The study found that on average, each household shopped at 12 stores from a long list of retailers for a total of 2.4 billion shopping experiences. The most frequently mentioned retailers among respondents who said they shopped there were Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Costco, JC Penney, Kohl's, Macy's, Lowe's, Home Depot, The Gap, Sears, Walmart, and Target.
Affluent Americans are also cutting back on discretionary expenditures by doing their own repairs and gardening (71 percent and 65 percent, respectively), cooking or baking for fun (53 percent) and spending leisure time at home doing sudoku and crossword puzzles and playing console video gaming (30 percent).
† Is Obama Already A Lame Duck?: Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel writes that President Barack Hussein Obama’s best days are already behind him – “the Obama heyday is officially over”:
Has it only been 20 months? Candidate Obama swelled into office with an ambitiously liberal plan. He promised his party that his legislative items would be more than policy triumphs; they'd be political triumphs. …
And now that the ambitious Obama experiment in liberal governance is going kaboom, his members - even those who voted with him - are running for cover. …
In this environment, running away from Mr. Obama certainly beats running to him. Then again, midterms are referendums on a president's agenda, and the country is in a mood to punish Democrats en masse. For those anti-Obama Democrats who do survive, the political lesson will be that there is mileage in telling Mr. Obama no.
This is where today's exodus will really be felt - after the election. The president still has a to-do list. Yet the more this election becomes about the toxicity of his "accomplishments," the less ability Mr. Obama has to command a caucus. Republicans will be hunting for votes to block and reverse, and some liberated Democrats may feel happy to help.
For his part Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen couldn’t get over how small Obama looked when he gave his Oval Office address last week (to The Stiletto, it looked as though the Oval Office background was Photoshopped behind him, and that the empty suit that is our president was really sitting in front of a blank screen):
One of the unintended results of the redecoration of the Oval Office was the downsizing of Barack Obama. In last week's prime-time address to the nation, the president sat behind a massive and capaciously empty desk, looking somehow smaller than he ever has - a man physically reduced by sinking polls, a lousy economy and the prospect that his party might lose control of Congress.
Behold something we never thought we'd see with Obama: The Incredible Shrinking Presidency. …
It was only his second [Oval Office speech] and so great importance was attached to it. He should have had something momentous to say. In fact, he had almost nothing to say - no news to make or report. …
The president needs better speechwriters. The president needs a staff to tell him not to give an Oval Office address unless he has something worthy of the Oval Office to say. The president needs someone to look into the camera so that, when the light goes on and he says, "Good evening," he looks commander in chiefish: big. In other words, the president needs to fire some key people. Either that, or the way things are going, the American people are going to fire him.
Unfortunately, Cohen has confused style with substance. Obama doesn’t need new speechwriters to make him “sound” presidential or a new set to make him “look” presidential. He needs to “be” presidential, and it’s clear to everyone by now - opponents and supporters alike - that he just doesn’t have the right stuff. The jig is up.
† Every Bubble Bursts Eventually: Back in February 2009, The Stiletto observed that it's only a matter of time before "Obama bursts the 'change' bubble by continuing to allow 'renditions,' which permit enemy combatants to be interrogated by foreign intelligence operatives who are not bound by the U.S. Army Field Manual; the 'quagmire' shifts from Iraq to Afghanistan; and the years drag on without a satisfactory answer to the quandary of what to do with detainees at Gitmo and other military prisons." And lo, it has come to pass, with a recent ACLU report glumly acknowledging that "[o]n a range of issues including accountability for torture, detention of terrorism suspects, and use of lethal force against civilians, there is a very real danger that the Obama administration will enshrine permanently within the law policies and practices that were widely considered extreme and unlawful during the Bush administration." The Washington Times reports:
[M]uch of President Obama's counterterrorism policies and his understanding of executive power closely hew to the last administration, which he criticized as a candidate for the White House.
On issues ranging from the government's detention authority to a program to kill al Qaeda terrorist suspects, even if they are American citizens, Mr. Obama has consolidated much of the power President George W. Bush asserted after Sept. 11 in the waging of the U.S. war against terror. …
"It can fairly be said that the Bush administration made torture the law of the land and the Obama administration is making impunity for torture the law of the land," said Ben Wizner, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney who represented the plaintiffs in the case. …
[T]he Obama administration has specifically said it differs from the Bush administration in that Mr. Obama has rejected the view that the executive branch has inherent wartime authorities that allow it overrule laws passed by Congress.
Nonetheless, the Obama administration has asserted that a congressional resolution authorizing force against al Qaeda gives the president the right to detain, kill and abduct suspected terrorists all over the world. …
"The continuities are far more prominent than the departures. One could make the same point incidentally not just with respect to 9/11 policies, but with respect to the whole Cold War security apparatus," said Steven Aftergood, director of the project on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. "National security classification policy continues to follow the pattern established by Truman and Eisenhower."
All this is just one reason for the 25-point "enthusiasm gap" between Dems and Rebubs leading up to the midterm elections, the largest that Gallup has ever measured. More Repubs than ever will be running to the polls to elect governors and Congressional lawmakers who will limit Obama's ability to do any more damage until he can be replaced in 2012, while more Dems than ever will stay home with the covers pulled over their heads.
† Jilted At The Bridal Show: Karen Tucker, who held herself out as bridal show promoter and allegedly defrauded vendors who ponied up for booths and advertising for a fake bridal show she said she was organizing in Boston, has agreed to voluntary detention on wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges, reports The Associated Press.
† Only The Little People Pay Taxes: Bad enough retired government workers are tax scofflaws, those currently on the Capitol Hill payroll are also stiffing the IRS, according to Internal Revenue Service data. The Washington Post reports:
Capitol Hill employees owed $9.3 million in overdue taxes at the end of last year, a sliver of the $1 billion owed by federal workers nationwide but one with potential political ramifications for members of Congress. …
The IRS information does not identify delinquent taxpayers by name, party affiliation or job title and does not indicate whether members of Congress are among the scofflaws. It shows that 638 employees, or about 4 percent, of the 18,000 Hill workers owe money.
The average unpaid tax bill is $12,787 among the Senate's delinquent taxpayers and $15,498 among those working in the House. …
Some tax experts and watchdog groups say that Capitol Hill employees have an added obligation to settle IRS debts.
"Congress and their staff - because they are the people who write the tax laws and because they work for the public - have to be held to a higher standard," Steve Ellis, vice president of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, said when told of the IRS numbers.
And they are also the folks who pass spending bills that must be funded with tax dollars taken from workaday Americans.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and eight of his Republican colleagues have co-sponsored a bill that would make if a firing offense for a federal worker to be delinquent in paying his or her taxes unless a payment plan has been worked out with the IRS.
† The Right To Bear Arms Belongs To Us All: Part II: Because the attorney defending Long Island hunter Robert Robar against charges of assault and reckless endangerment had issued peremptory challenges to six of 35 potential jurors who had identified themselves as hunters, Sullivan County Judge Frank LaBuda ordered a mistrial in the case, reports New York Law Journal:
LaBuda concluded that the challenges amounted to a "systematic exclusion" of hunters that ran afoul of the Supreme Court's 1988 ruling in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, to which he repeatedly referred in his oral ruling ordering a mistrial in the case.
"The prosecution clearly laid out that hunters have a right to sit on a jury," said LaBuda, according to a transcript of his remarks in People v. Robar, 61/10. The judge said that hunters were "a class of people recognized by law" who are licensed "to bear arms," as was their Second Amendment right. "Yet, in this case, they are being systematically excluded."
The judge observed that the New York Court of Appeals in People v. Luciano, 10 NY3d 499 (1988), had defined the scope of Batson as including "race, gender or any other status that implicates equal protection concerns." However, he noted that Luciano "clearly advised trial courts to be on the watch for other classes of people that ought to be protected."
The judge said he had found such a class in the case of Robert Robar. And he said that the exclusion of hunters, in addition to raising a "Batson-type" issue, had violated the right of Robar to be tried by a jury of his peers. …
In much the same way, Judge LaBuda commented that the exclusion of all licensed drivers from a reckless driving case also would "send up a red flag with respect to a class of people that are being withdrawn."
Robar (allegedly) shot hunter Terry Pelton, who was about 100 yards away, with a high-powered rifle after he had wandered onto lands that Robar's hunting club had reserved. The retrial is scheduled to begin in late October. 25. Robar faces up to 2½ years in prison, if convicted.
† Empire State Repubs Rise Again: In case you were wondering, Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. (D- Bronx) and Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens) - the two State Senators who threw Albany into turmoil last summer by switching parties, giving majority control to the Repubs – went down to ignominious defeat at the hands of NY voters on Tuesday, reports The Associated Press. If these miscreants thought their insurrection against the perennially dysfunctional State Legislature would cast them as anti-establishment heroes in an election cycle in which the state’s Repub voters scorned establishment gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio in favor Tea Party insurgent Carl Paladino, they found out otherwise.
† Why We Need Gitmo (second item): Five terror suspects claiming they were tortured by foreign intelligence operatives in overseas prisons at the behest of the C.I.A. had their case thrown out by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In a 6-5 en banc opinion that hinged on the scope and application of the state secrets doctrine, the federal appeals court found that if the suit filed under the Alien Tort Statute in 2007b goes forward, state secrets would be revealed. Writing for the majority, Judge Raymond Fisher noted the plaintiffs may still be able to seek nonjudicial relief via Congress or the executive branch, reports The Recorder.
† Updates To Previous Posts (fifth item, What Freedom Of Speech Means To Muslims (The U.S. Edition): Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris, who dreamed up “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day” to protest Comedy Central censoring references to Mohammad from an episode of “South Park,” says her life has turned into a nightmare after Islamofascist Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki put a contract out on her in July (she “should be taken as a prime target of assassination” because she and others in the U.S. and Europe “are expressing their hatred of the Messenger of Islam through ridicule”), reports The New York Times. In a letter to readers, Seattle Weekly editor Mark Fefer explains the steps the cartoonist has taken to protect her life:
You may have noticed that Molly Norris' comic is not in the paper this week. That's because there is no more Molly.
The gifted artist is alive and well, thankfully. But on the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is, as they put it, "going ghost": moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity. She will no longer be publishing cartoons in our paper or in City Arts magazine, where she has been a regular contributor. She is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program -except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab. …
She likens the situation to cancer - it might basically be nothing, it might be urgent and serious, it might go away and never return, or it might pop up again when she least expects it.
If imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and developer, Sharif el-Gamal, were sincere about Cordoba House/Park51 (Rauf still refers to the Ground Zero mosque by its original name) being built to foster healing and tolerance, they would rename it after Molly Norris. But they won’t, because within minutes of making announcement al-Awlaki or some other al Qaeda type will issue a fatwa calling for their heads. And that’s just one more reason the Ground Zero mosque makes a mockery of the progressive values it is supposed to enshrine.
† Updates To Previous Posts (fourth item, Obama Gets A “Makeover”): Remember when Barack Hussein Obama was a Vulcan? Well, apparently, he's now "just a little too human," according to New York magazine. Fascinating.
† Updates To Previous Posts (sixth item, Take The Veil Off, Or Go Home): The Wall Street Journal reports that France “risked the wrath of the Islamic world” by voting 246-1in favor of a ban on face-concealing garments - including burqas and niqabs - with most members of the opposition Socialist Party abstaining:
The legislation adopted Tuesday by the Senate, the upper house of the French Parliament, forbids people from concealing their faces in public. It makes no reference to Islam, and includes exceptions for people who need to cover up for work reasons, such as riot police and surgeons. …
At the Parliament's request, the law will be reviewed by France's Constitutional Council before it takes effect. The Council, which reviews the constitutionality of laws after they are passed by Parliament but before they are put into force, has rejected several bills in recent years. It can censor all or part of the law deemed to contradict the nation's bylaws.
The ban would apply to everyone in France, including visitors. Offenders face a maximum fine of €150 (about $190) and could be asked to attend courses on what the government calls "republican values." Individuals who encourage others to ignore the ban would face tougher penalties: up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of €30,000. …
Head-to-toe garments such as the niqab, thought to be worn by just 2,000 women in France, are seen by French critics as an affront to France's democratic values. Some politicians have said that active citizenship requires face-to-face communication. Others say full-body robes are a means of forcing women to be submissive. …
"Showing one's face is a question of dignity and equality in our republic," said Justice Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie during Tuesday's debate in the Senate.
Minutes after the vote, an anonymous caller phoned in a bomb threat that prompted police to evacuate The Eiffel Tower and surrounding area, as well as the Saint-Michel subway station near Notre Dame Cathedral. Nothing suspicious was found.
Editorial Note: Several years ago to reinforce the separation of church and state, France banned students from wearing headscarves, yarmulkes, crosses and other visible religious symbols in public schools.
Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Theodore McKee shot down the granddaddy of state and local efforts to control illegal immigration by ruling that ordinances enacted by Hazleton, PA in 2006 after two illegal immigrants were charged in a fatal shooting – since used as a template by dozens of municipalities nationwide - usurped the federal government’s exclusive power to regulate immigration:
“It is …not our job to sit in judgment of whether state and local frustration about federal immigration policy is warranted. We are, however, required to intervene when states and localities directly undermine the federal objectives embodied in statutes enacted by Congress.
Law professor Kris Kobach (R) - who is running for KS Secretary of State - helped Hazleton and AZ draft their immigration laws, and tells The Associated Press that the Third Circuit ignored Supreme Court precedent regarding pre-emption: “It's going to be difficult for this opinion to stand. The court really had to stretch to find a way to agree with the ACLU."
AP notes that appellate courts “are split on whether states and municipalities have the right to enforce laws dealing with immigration.”
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, Multiculturalism Vs. Animal Rights): In the wake of April’s Supreme Court decision voiding a 1999 federal law banning creation of “crush videos” and reversing the criminal conviction of Robert Stevens for making videos of dog fights, the Senate took the first step in devising its own version of a House bill meant to overcome the high court’s objections, reports The Blog of Legal Times:
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) presided over the [Senate Judiciary Committee] hearing and said it was his hope, after testimony and questioning, to help draft a Senate version of the July 21 House bill that would "narrowly tailor" the issue. The more specific the bill, the better chances it has of standing should it ever face scrutiny again, he explained. ,,,
Kyl said the likelihood of the new bill being signed into law before the end of this session is "a virtual certainty." Both he and [ACLU lobbyist Michael Macleod-Ball] said the challenge would be that the law is written narrowly enough to survive judicial scrutiny.
"If they don't get it right, it's just going to go back up and down again," Macleod-Ball said, referring to the possibility that someone could challenge a new ban and bring it to the Supreme Court once more.
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, Obama Creating Green Jobs That Americans Won’t Do): President Barack Hussein Obama is no longer touting "green" energy projects as a panacea for our economic woes, reports The Washington Times:
After months of hype about the potential for green energy to stimulate job growth and lead the economy out of a recession, the results turned out to be disappointing, if not dismal. About $92 billion - more than 11 percent - of Mr. Obama's original $814 billion of stimulus funds were targeted for renewable energy projects when the measure was pushed through Congress in early 2009. …
The Department of Energy estimated that 82,000 jobs have been created and has acknowledged that as much as 80 percent of some green programs, including $2.3 billion of manufacturing tax credits, went to foreign firms that employed workers primarily in countries including China, South Korea and Spain, rather than in the United States. …
In one of several embarrassing disclosures for the administration, a report last fall by American University's Investigative Reporting Workshop found that 11 U.S. wind farms used their grants to purchase 695 out of 982 wind turbines from overseas suppliers. …
Renewable-technology firms are under the gun to bring down costs so they can compete with cheaper traditional fuels, such as gas and coal, for electricity customers. …
With growing proof that green jobs are heading overseas, even administration sympathizers and environmental advocates have largely abandoned the idea of pushing green funding as a way to stimulate the economy. …
Even if the green-energy funding is viewed as a long-term investment to replace dwindling reserves of oil rather than as pure economic stimulus, advocates have greatly exaggerated the benefits, said Kerry Lynch, senior fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research.
"For all the hype over wind and solar, the reality is that they contribute very little to our energy supply," she said, saying that wind accounts for less than 1 percent of total U.S. energy production and solar power for just one-tenth of 1 percent. "Together, they could power the country for all of three days a year."
Just as the benefits of healthcare “reform” to bend the cost curve down, give more people access to routine medical care to relieve the burden on overcrowded ERs (last item) and to make healthcare insurance more affordable were greatly exaggerated. See a pattern, here?
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, 10 Reasons Michelle Obama Should Be Proud – Really Proud – Of America): This latest installment in The Stiletto Blog’s ongoing series meant to help instill the necessary pride of country in Michelle Obama’s consciousness to enable her to serve as an unofficial ambassador focuses on nurse Mary Regina Shane, 53, who survived both attacks on the World Trade Center yet still “returns to the site every morning as part of a medical team to mend the cuts and bruises and burns of construction workers rebuilding it,” reports The New York Times:
“I love this place; I really do,” said Ms. Shane, 63, a plug of an Irish-Italian mother of two and grandmother of four, who was wearing a hard hat as she stood in the middle of the site recently.
In 1993, Ms. Shane was working as a nurse in the employee health unit of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, on the 63rd floor of the South Tower. “I was very lucky,” she said, as if talking about landing such a job instead of surviving it on Feb. 26 that year. She was in the lobby when the bomb went off. It was lunchtime. A picture of her pushing a woman out of the building on a coffee cart ran later in USA Today. …
On Sept. 11, 2001, Ms. Shane heard an explosion and saw flaming debris streaming down from the North Tower. “The floor shook; the lights flickered,” she said. “Someone ran in and said this was a commercial airliner that hit the building.” …
In the lobby, someone told her group that it would be safe inside. Ignoring that, she and a co-worker ran toward Century 21. She did not look back when the buildings fell.
“I had terrible guilt about not trying to stay and rescue more people, but I honestly was in fear of my life,” she said. “Honest to God, I was going to jump in the river if one more thing blew up.” …
Ms. Shane treats about five workers on a busy day, for welding burns or turned ankles where the footing is unsure, or dust and dirt in the eye. She also takes every opportunity to check blood pressure and give little lectures about tetanus shots and how to prevent infection and eat better.