Thursday, April 09, 2009

Program melts boundaries between area schools by Elaine Durbach


November 13, 2008

Music educator Rina Maimon leads a combined group of hay students from area synagogues in a sing-along at a gathering organized by the Central federation.

Music educator Rina Maimon leads a combined group of hay students from area synagogues in a sing-along at a gathering organized by the Central federation.

Photos by Elaine Durbach

Teachers Rina Maimon, right, and Janet Maslow of Temple Emanu-El explain how to make Chagall-style paper “stained-glass” windows at the Hay Happenings event.

Teachers Rina Maimon, right, and Janet Maslow of Temple Emanu-El explain how to make Chagall-style paper “stained-glass” windows at the Hay Happenings event.

Rabbi Yitzchok Moully of the Basking Ridge Chabad Center shows youngsters how to dip cord in hot wax to make Havdala candles.

Rabbi Yitzchok Moully of the Basking Ridge Chabad Center shows youngsters how to dip cord in hot wax to make Havdala candles.

At first there was an atmosphere of cliquishness among the fifth-graders gathered at the Wilf Jewish Community Campus in Scotch Plains on Nov. 2, with the 80 or so youngsters gathering in clusters made up of friends. But shared goals lowered barriers, and as the afternoon progressed, more mingling occurred.

Linda Poleyeff, the Jewish education director at the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey, said that was the objective of Sunday’s Hay Happening program. “I convened a meeting of religious school directors from the different synagogues to discuss what we could do to bring the kids together, and this is what we decided on.”

She organized the event for hay — or fifth-grade — students, together with the religious school directors from Temple Har Shalom in Warren, Temple Sholom in Fanwood, Temple Emanu-El in Westfield, and Congregation Beth Israel in Scotch Plains. They also had help from the Union County Torah Center and the Chabad Jewish Center at Basking Ridge.

Staff members from all those institutions, together with music educator Rina Maimon, joined forces with Poleyeff to provide an afternoon of widely varied activities all revolving around Jewish themes.

The program started with singing and ended with eating; in between the kids each chose two from an array of workshops. Those included Jewish Jeopardy, baking rugelach, making Marc Chagall-style paper “stained-glass” windows, decorating hamsas (hands of good fortune), making Havdala candles, fashioning Jewish ritual items from plastic blocks, and exploring the lives and deeds of Jewish heroes.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Overtures From Despots Pose Test to Obama Administration


Human rights groups warn that talks between the U.S. and nations like Iran, Cuba and Syria still have a long way to go, despite recent overtures.

There's something about Barack.

Not three months into his term, President Obama has drawn overtures from top U.S. adversaries that would have been unthinkable under George W. Bush -- whose last official trip abroad was marred by an Iraqi journalist chucking his shoes at the outgoing president.

The gestures from Cuba, Syria and Iran appear a response to appeals from Obama himself. He's presented his presidency as the mark of a new era in which adversaries can approach the U.S. with a clean slate if they drop their hostile ways.

With the new administration striking an open-door policy with democratic leaders and despots alike, human rights groups warn that talks between the U.S. and these nations have a long way to go before they're simpatico.

Cuba's Fidel Castro, Syria's Bashar al-Assad and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may see a friendly face in Obama, but the sticking points between the U.S. and these countries are still many.

Neil Hicks, international policy adviser for Human Rights First, said repression continues to be a serious problem in these countries and should be a "primary concern" for the United States.

"It's short sighted ... to build these relations and try to sweep human rights under the rug," said Hicks. He urged the administration to use this opportunity to seek human rights reform, something the U.S. has not done with allies like Saudi Arabia.

Those concerns, of course, would be on top of those over Iran's nuclear program and anti-Israel threats, as well as Syria's suspected involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (Syria denies involvement) and other issues.

On top of that, the three countries compose three-quarters of the four nations listed by the State Department as state sponsors of terrorism (the other country is Sudan).

The prelude to potential high-level talks with Cuba and Iran took big steps this week. Openings for talks with Syria have been growing.

Three members of the Congressional Black Caucus met with Castro, the ailing former Cuban president Tuesday, as part of a seven-member trip to the communist nation. According to Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Calif., Castro told them, "How can we help President Obama?" The meetings come as Obama prepares to ease restrictions for Cuban-Americans who want to visit family and remit money to relatives.

Ahmadinejad reportedly gave a televised speech Wednesday in which he said his country "welcomes a hand extended to it should it really and truly be based on honesty, justice and respect."

He gave a more receptive message to the U.S. than Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who dismissed Obama's videotaped outreach message to Iranians last month. But Ahmadinejad still warned that Obama would "meet the same response the Iranian nation gave to Mr. Bush" if he is not honest.

The U.S. State Department announced Wednesday that it will reverse Bush policy and participate in groups talks with Iran over its nuclear program.

Al-Assad also has given indications he is open to U.S. engagement, as the U.S. renews low-level diplomatic talks with the country.

Iran's and Syria's support for, or at least tolerance toward, groups like Hamas and Hezbollah is a major factor in their icy relationship with the U.S. Changing that dynamic would be a key aim of U.S. talks with those countries.

But national security issues should just be one component of talks with these countries, human rights activists say.

Reporters Without Borders ranks all three nations at the very bottom of a list measuring press freedom in countries around the world. The group found in its latest assessment of Iran that more than 50 journalists were prosecuted in 2007 --- and that the government shut down at least four publications, in addition to dozens of Web sites.

The jailing of U.S. journalist Roxana Saberi, who was charged with espionage in Iran, is just the latest example. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is calling for her release.

Reporters Without Borders also noted that Syria has blocked access to 100 Web sites, including Hotmail, Facebook, YouTube and human rights sites.

Matt Easton, director of the Human Rights Defenders Program at Human Rights First, said more than 50 activists and journalists rounded up by Cuba in 2003 are still imprisoned.

"It's certainly a problematic country in human rights," Easton said. "There's ... widespread prohibition of freedom of expression and freedom of association."

Human Rights Watch wrote in a report in February that even though Castro has resigned, his "abusive machinery" remains in place with brother Raul's presidency. Abuses range from surveillance to house arrests to prosecutions to unjust court trials.

A report this year by the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation said Cuba still has 205 political prisoners, though that number is lower than in previous years.

Human Rights Watch also reported late last year that the human rights "crisis" in Iran has only escalated. According to the report Iran leads the world in executing juveniles -- with the country accounting for 26 of the 32 juvenile executions worldwide since 2005.

But potential pay-offs to restoring relations with these countries are significant, say analysts.

The U.S., for instance, may be poised to peel Syria away from Iran and other anti-Western Middle Eastern nations, reducing Iran's influence in the region. Such a move could also ease the road to peace for Israel and the rest of the region.

Repairing relations with Iran could ease the U.S. war effort in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan.

A number of U.S. officials simply see the half-century long embargo on Cuba as pointless.

Advocates for dropping the embargo say it would also mitigate Castro's ability to exploit tensions between the U.S. and Cuba in his country.

"We could talk about what happened 50 years ago or we could talk about what's happening today," Richardson told FOX News Wednesday. "Having a 50-year-old embargo is not helping America. Every other country is working with Cuba except us and that should change."
Richardson said she observed a "tremendous amount of freedom" during her five-day stay in Cuba.

"I experienced the freedom to travel. There were no police, you know, following us around," she said. "We had the freedom of speech. There were press conferences every single morning. There was no demonstration of force."

Castro wrote in a newspaper column after the congressional visit that Obama's intentions are "sincere" and he described the meeting as "excellent." But he questioned what initiative the U.S. expects Cuba to take.

"We have never been aggressors nor do we threaten the United States," he wrote.

A Cuban official in D.C. told FOX News the country's hope is the lifting of U.S. embargoes on Cuba.

"We have the same position, to talk with mutual respect," the official said. "Let's see what happens."

Tom Malinowski, Washington director for Human Rights Watch, said diplomacy with these three countries could mark a positive step toward the promotion of human rights, particularly in Iran, where he said the public desire for a more open society is widespread.

"It would actually be a very good thing for the Obama administration to speak with them from a human rights perspective," he said. "But it would be essential to raise issues that are of concern to the people of those countries."'s Judson Berger and FOX News' Nina Donaghy contributed to this report.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Democrats’ Top Five Budget Tricks and Gimmicks By Phil Kerpen


April 6th, 2009

Congressional Democrats reacted to the shocking scope of President Obama’s plan to spend $3.6 trillion next year in his budget (and a stunning $42.2 trillion over ten years) the way Washington insiders usually do — they turned to tricks and gimmicks.  They “trimmed” his budget and got it down to $3.0 trillion for next year and about $15 trillion over five years without actually cutting any spending.  Strip off the gimmicks, however, and the Congressional budgets still look almost exactly like the president’s budget.  Here are the top 5 tricks they used to do it:

5. Hiding Years 6 Through 10

President Obama criticized Bush for not following the practice of the Clinton years of doing 10-year budgeting, opting instead for shorter 5-year budgets.  The White House made the case that showing longer-term obligations was important given the enormity of the country’s fiscal challenges.  Congressional Democrats, however, decided that the quickest and easiest way to conceal a huge portion of the Obama budget from the public was to simply shorten it to 5 years, hiding some of the biggest big ticket items in the secret second 5 years.

4. A Hidden Wall Street Bailout

President Obama included $250 billion in additional Wall Street bailouts in his budget (a bit of a budget trick in itself — since it assumes that $750 billion in assets would be purchased that could later be sold for $500 billion).  Both the House and Senate budget resolutions failed to show any funding for the almost certain new rounds of Wall Street bailouts, despite the fact that Treasury Secretary Geithner has already announced an expanded plan, and the Washington-Wall Street bailout machine shows no signs of slowing down.  Future bailouts could cost hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars, making a budget that fails to include them an extreme low-ball.

3. Hidden Tax Hikes

The Senate and House both pretend that the Making Work Pay tax credit — Obama’s big campaign promise, originally a $500 per worker credit that’s since been trimmed to $400 — will expire after 2010 (House) or 2012 (Senate).  Obama would pay for those so-called tax cuts (more than 42 percent, according to the White House which would take the form of checks to non-income tax payers) through revenues from his cap-and-trade energy tax.

Cap-and-trade is included in the Congressional budgets but there is no word about how high the tax hike would be.  In fact, the Congressional budgets claim, unbelievably, that this tax would be “revenue-neutral.”  Congress also pretends that the Alternative Minimum Tax will be allowed to slam the middle class, providing only for a 1-year fix, despite the White House insistence that there be a permanent reform.  Even the 1-year cost, though, is hidden from the deficit total through a reserve fund.

2. Secret Reserve Funds

Speaking of reserve funds, lots of them are being used to hide a wide variety of tax hikes and policy changes that would substantially change the overall budget numbers — making them look like the original Obama budget — it they were properly accounted for.  The House has 17 reserve funds and the Senate 15, most of which claim to be deficit-neutral without any explanation of how substantial tax cuts and spending increases could be done in a deficit-neutral fashion without big tax hikes.  One reserve fund that does have an associated funding level is the Medicare reserve fund that would increase mandatory spending $285 billion over 10 years-on top of the reported total numbers for spending and deficits.  These reserve funds serve no purpose other than to avoid accountability and transparency, and make the budget look a lot smaller than it really is.

1. Using the Reconciliation Trick for Health Care

This is by far the worst and most dangerous trick in the budget.  Earlier this year I wrote here in the FOX Forum that the cap-and-trade energy tax could potentially be forced through Congress in budget reconciliation, a trick to avoid proper debate and the normal 60 vote requirement for important legislation.  Fortunately, last week Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska introduced a budget amendment to prohibit the use of reconciliation for cap-and-trade, and it passed on a solid 67-31 vote. Every Republican supported the amendment, as did 26 Democrats.  Unfortunately, Democrats are still poised to pull the same reconciliation trick for their plan to nationalize and ration health care.

While the Senate passed a budget resolution without reconciliation language, the House budget specifically includes a section authorizing the use of reconciliation for a national health care plan.  This is despite the fact that reconciliation only matters in the Senate, where it can short-circuit debate and pass legislation with only 50 votes instead of the regular sixty.  This sets up a conference committee where Senate reconciliation instructions can be inserted and railroaded through, despite the fact that the Senate already rejected this approach.

The country deserves an honest, public discussion of where we’re going on issues like health care, energy, taxes, and spending.  Unfortunately we have a Congress whose budget is a big bag of tricks and gimmicks to hide its true cost and to slip major policy changes in through the back door.

Phil Kerpen is director of policy for Americans for Prosperity.

Supreme Court asked to cooperate with FBI: Attorney investigating Obama's eligibility reports cyber attacks By Bob Unruh


Orly Taitz
Orly Taitz

A lawyer investigating the eligibility of Barack Obama to be president under the U.S. Constitution's requirement that the office be occupied only by a "natural born" citizen is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to cooperate with an FBI investigation into alleged cyber crimes connected to her work.

In a letter addressed yesterday to Chief Justice John Roberts, the associate justices, the Secret Service and others, California lawyer Orly Taitz, who is working on a number of eligibility cases through the Defend Our Freedoms Foundation, wrote, "I hope that the Supreme Court will show proper cooperation in investigation of such crimes by the FBI and other agencies and I request a letter of cooperation to that extent."

Taitz is just one of many attorneys across the country whose clients are raising questions about Obama's eligibility.

WND has reported on dozens of legal challenges to Obama's status as a "natural born citizen." The Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, states, "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President."

Some of the lawsuits question whether he was actually born in Hawaii, as he insists. If he was born out of the country, Obama's American mother, the suits contend, was too young at the time of his birth to confer American citizenship to her son under the law at the time.

Other challenges have focused on Obama's citizenship through his father, a Kenyan subject to the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom at the time of his birth, thus making him a dual citizen. The cases contend the framers of the Constitution excluded dual citizens from qualifying as natural born.

Adding fuel to the fire is Obama's persistent refusal to release documents that could provide answers. While his supporters cite an online version of a "Certification of Live Birth" from Hawaii, critics point out such documents actually were issued for children not born in the state.

Where's the proof Barack Obama was born in the U.S. or that he fulfills the "natural-born American" clause in the Constitution? If you still want to see it, join more than 345,000 others and sign up now!

Taitz is one of several lawyers who have brought emergency motions to the U.S. Supreme Court over the cases, only to have them dropped without a hearing.

While her effort was pending at the court, its references suddenly were scrubbed from the public website just two days before a conference among justices on the case was to be heard.

She filed a complaint with the FBI, which promised a review, but the investigative agency noted that in that situation, technically the Supreme Court was the "victim" of having its website hacked, and officials there would need to cooperate for the effort to move forward.

That circumstance generated Taitz' letter requesting cooperation.

"This is particularly important in light of the fact that there is a common denominator in a number of cyber crimes committed," Taitz wrote. She cited a hacking into her PayPal account where donations to her foundation allegedly could have been diverted, sabotage on her website and the creation of an "imposter site" for one of the plaintiffs in one of her cases.

"All of these cyber crimes, together with all the other crimes that are handled separately, have one common denominator – a concerted effort to put Obama in the White House and keep him there by virtue of fraud and concealment of all of his records," she wrote.

The president also has been named in an indictment turned in by a peoples' grand jury in Georgia, and one other man has sought a criminal complaint against the president.

Taitz also told WND she has forwarded to U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor in Washington, D.C., a request for the U.S. to relate Quo Warranto "on Barack Hussein Obama, II to test his title to president."

Named as plaintiffs in the action are nine military or legislative leaders, including Allen C. James, currently on active duty in the U.S. Army in Iraq. Others include several retired military leaders as well as elected state representatives.

"Relators request that as U.S. Attorney, you institute a Quo Warranto proceeding against Obama under DC Code § 16-3502, and demand that Obama show clear title, proving, with clear and convincing evidence, that he had qualified as president elect," Taitz told Taylor.

"By each relator's constitutional oath of office, and interest above other citizens and taxpayers, relators submit that they have standing," Taitz wrote.

"In arguendo of Respondent Obama's burden of proof, motions are submitted requesting mandamus on Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle for evidence, and on Sec. State Hillary Rodham Clinton for evidence and to request evidence from Britain and the Republics of Kenya, Indonesia and Pakistan," Taitz said.

"Quo Warranto" essentially means an explanation is being demanded for what authority Obama is using to act as president. An online constitutional resource says Quo Warranto "affords the only judicial remedy for violations of the Constitution by public officials and agents."

John Eidsmoe, an expert on the U.S. Constitution now working with the Foundation on Moral Law, said the demand is a legitimate course of action.

"She basically is asking, 'By what authority' is Obama president," he told WND. "In other words, 'I want you to tell me by what authority. I don't really think you should hold the office.'

Eidsmoe said it's clear that Obama has something in the documentation of his history, including his birth certificate, college records and other documents, "he does not want the public to know."

What else could be the reason for his hiring law firms across the nation to fight any request for information as basic as his Occidental College records from the early 1980s, he asked.

As Jerome Corsi, WND senior staff writer, explained, "The main reason doubts persist regarding Obama's birth certificate is this question: If an original Hawaii-doctor-generated and Hawaii-hospital-released Obama birth certificate exists, why wouldn't the senator and his campaign simply order the document released and end the controversy?

"That Obama has not ordered Hawaii officials to release the document," Corsi writes, "leaves doubts as to whether an authentic Hawaii birth certificate exists for Obama."

Obama officials repeatedly have declined comment, relenting only one time to call such allegations "garbage."

WND reported earlier on a proposal by U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., and the criticism he's taking for suggesting that the issue be avoided in the future by having presidential candidates supply their birth certificate.

Here is a partial listing and status update for some of the cases over Obama's eligibility:

  • New Jersey attorney Mario Apuzzo has filed a case on behalf of Charles Kerchner and others alleging Congress didn't properly ascertain that Obama is qualified to hold the office of president.

  • Pennsylvania Democrat Philip Berg has three cases pending, including Berg vs. Obama in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a separate Berg vs. Obama which is under seal at the U.S. District Court level and Hollister vs. Soetoro a/k/a Obama, (now dismissed) brought on behalf of a retired military member who could be facing recall to active duty by Obama.

  • Leo Donofrio of New Jersey filed a lawsuit claiming Obama's dual citizenship disqualified him from serving as president. His case was considered in conference by the U.S. Supreme Court but denied a full hearing.

  • Cort Wrotnowski filed suit against Connecticut's secretary of state, making a similar argument to Donofrio. His case was considered in conference by the U.S. Supreme Court, but was denied a full hearing.

  • Former presidential candidate Alan Keyes headlines a list of people filing a suit in California, in a case handled by the United States Justice Foundation, that asks the secretary of state to refuse to allow the state's 55 Electoral College votes to be cast in the 2008 presidential election until Obama verifies his eligibility to hold the office. The case is pending, and lawyers are seeking the public's support.

  • Chicago lawyer Andy Martin sought legal action requiring Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle to release Obama's vital statistics record. The case was dismissed by Hawaii Circuit Court Judge Bert Ayabe.

  • Lt. Col. Donald Sullivan sought a temporary restraining order to stop the Electoral College vote in North Carolina until Barack Obama's eligibility could be confirmed, alleging doubt about Obama's citizenship. His case was denied.

  • In Ohio, David M. Neal sued to force the secretary of state to request documents from the Federal Elections Commission, the Democratic National Committee, the Ohio Democratic Party and Obama to show the presidential candidate was born in Hawaii. The case was denied.

  • Also in Ohio, there was the Greenberg v. Brunner case which ended when the judge threatened to assess all case costs against the plaintiff.

  • In Washington state, Steven Marquis sued the secretary of state seeking a determination on Obama's citizenship. The case was denied.

  • In Georgia, Rev. Tom Terry asked the state Supreme Court to authenticate Obama's birth certificate. His request for an injunction against Georgia's secretary of state was denied by Georgia Superior Court Judge Jerry W. Baxter.

  • California attorney Orly Taitz has brought a case, Lightfoot vs. Bowen, on behalf of Gail Lightfoot, the vice presidential candidate on the ballot with Ron Paul, four electors and two registered voters.

In addition, other cases cited on the RightSideofLife blog as raising questions about Obama's eligibility include:

  • In Texas, Darrel Hunter vs. Obama later was dismissed.

  • In Ohio, Gordon Stamper vs. U.S. later was dismissed.

  • In Texas, Brockhausen vs. Andrade.

  • In Washington, L. Charles Cohen vs. Obama.

  • In Hawaii, Keyes vs. Lingle, dismissed.

Is Obama Hiding His Birth Certificate? By Barry Farber


John Dean, a President Nixon staffer as Watergate was about to unfold, told his boss, "There is a cancer on your presidency."

Would any member of President Obama's staff dare tell him any such thing today?

Watergate was Nixon's 800-pound gorilla everybody talked about, who sat there until he broke the sofa. The location of Obama's birth is an 800-pound gorilla that gets fatter every day and nobody — at least nobody in major media — likes to admit its existence. There's never been a coming-together of factors resembling this one in America's entire political history.

At no point until now has the birthplace of a president been anything more than a local chamber-of-commerce item of pride (where I come, from they're still arguing whether President James Polk was born in Tennessee or North Carolina!). All of a sudden the question of President Obama's birth place threatens to undermine his very eligibility to serve, and to toss America into a constitutional crisis of unfathomable proportions.

In-depth journalism here would instinctively immerse itself in the growing blizzard of lawsuits launched by activists seeking "standing" (Do you have the right to question the president's eligibility to serve?) and writs of certiorari (Hey, Court! Will you please hear this case?). In-depth journalism would detail how many and who in which states are making the pile of challenges zoom.

In-depth journalism would distinguish between the challenges to President Obama's legitimacy on grounds of his alleged birth in Kenya versus his alleged status as a British subject by virtue of his father's citizenship. That's what in-depth journalism would do.

This may sound strange, but I believe this is a time for simple — even superficial — journalism. Let's keep the flight deck as uncluttered as possible and stick to what we all know for sure.

The Constitution insists that the president be a natural-born American. We have the president's paternal grandmother claiming she was present at his birth in Kenya, and we have a TV talk host named Keith Olbermann who tells those who say things like that to put the Reynolds Wrap back on their heads. We have no proof that Grandma was there or that Obama doubters like to wear Reynolds Wrap on their heads.

We know a few facts for certain. And our knowledge is disturbing. We know that President Obama is either covering up the truth of his birthplace or, and this is an Olympic stretch, refusing to offer proof because of some unstated "principle." I recall many college post-midnight bull-sessions debating whether taking the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination was really anything but an admission of guilt bathed in a hoped-for constitutional respectability. The "admission of guilt" side won every time.

The "grandmother-was-there" story really began before the election. The scenario goes as follows: His mother wanted to fly from Kenya to Hawaii so she could give birth in Hawaii, but she was too pregnant to fly. She therefore gave birth in Kenya and later had Barack registered in Hawaii.

We've not been allowed to see the president's birth certificate. Instead we've been offered something nobody ever heard of called a "certificate of live birth" from the state of Hawaii. If all this culminates in the revelation that Barack Obama is not, in fact, eligible to serve as president of the USA, this will go down as his team's biggest mistake. The American people may not be all we used to be, but we're not yet ready to roll over and smile at the sight of a confection designed to masquerade as a birth certificate while we're being angrily denied a look at the real thing.

Do a little thought-experiment. Let's talk "probably." If the president were unjustly accused of being ineligible to serve and the chorus became nationally audible, what would he probably do?

Probably what would happen would be the press secretary would talk to a subordinate five layers down and instruct him to talk to a subordinate another five layers down (the coffee-fetching level) and instruct him to have copies of the president's birth certificate — nothing else, please — printed and made available at the next White House news conference. That's a mosquito swat too small to make anybody's memoirs.

That’s quite far from what's happening.

We're getting nothing but angry cries of "garbage" from the administration whenever anybody dares hint at a problem or even a question. And the entire press corps seems to be in an intimidation hammerlock. Look how successfully the administration has handled this. Not only is the birth certificate issue taboo but also we’re not allowed to see Obama's applications to Columbia and Harvard. Such forms may have inconvenient answers to questions like, "Citizenship?” "Place of birth?" etc. Yet none of the working reporters dares say anything about any of this. And if one ever did, he would be pounced upon and devoured, not by the administration piranhas, but by their own brother and sister journalists.

How can the White House press corps refrain from any such questioning and then look at their faces in a mirror while shaving or applying mascara?

Disclosure: I don't care where an American president was born. I do care about the Constitution. A businessman who keep two sets of books goes to jail. It's worse when a country lists which laws we must obey and which we're free to ignore.

In the fairy tale, a 6-year-old boy brought the regime down by saying, "The emperor has no clothes!"

Trouble is, they don't allow 6-year-olds in White House news conferences.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Obama Wants to Control the Banks: There's a reason he refuses to accept repayment of TARP money. By Stuart Varney


APRIL 4, 2009

I must be naive. I really thought the administration would welcome the return of bank bailout money. Some $340 million in TARP cash flowed back this week from four small banks in Louisiana, New York, Indiana and California. This isn't much when we routinely talk in trillions, but clearly that money has not been wasted or otherwise sunk down Wall Street's black hole. So why no cheering as the cash comes back?

My answer: The government wants to control the banks, just as it now controls GM and Chrysler, and will surely control the health industry in the not-too-distant future. Keeping them TARP-stuffed is the key to control. And for this intensely political president, mere influence is not enough. The White House wants to tell 'em what to do. Control. Direct. Command.

It is not for nothing that rage has been turned on those wicked financiers. The banks are at the core of the administration's thrust: By managing the money, government can steer the whole economy even more firmly down the left fork in the road.

If the banks are forced to keep TARP cash -- which was often forced on them in the first place -- the Obama team can work its will on the financial system to unprecedented degree. That's what's happening right now.

Here's a true story first reported by my Fox News colleague Andrew Napolitano (with the names and some details obscured to prevent retaliation). Under the Bush team a prominent and profitable bank, under threat of a damaging public audit, was forced to accept less than $1 billion of TARP money. The government insisted on buying a new class of preferred stock which gave it a tiny, minority position. The money flowed to the bank. Arguably, back then, the Bush administration was acting for purely economic reasons. It wanted to recapitalize the banks to halt a financial panic.

Fast forward to today, and that same bank is begging to give the money back. The chairman offers to write a check, now, with interest. He's been sitting on the cash for months and has felt the dead hand of government threatening to run his business and dictate pay scales. He sees the writing on the wall and he wants out. But the Obama team says no, since unlike the smaller banks that gave their TARP money back, this bank is far more prominent. The bank has also been threatened with "adverse" consequences if its chairman persists. That's politics talking, not economics.

Think about it: If Rick Wagoner can be fired and compact cars can be mandated, why can't a bank with a vault full of TARP money be told where to lend? And since politics drives this administration, why can't special loans and terms be offered to favored constituents, favored industries, or even favored regions? Our prosperity has never been based on the political allocation of credit -- until now.

Which brings me to the Pay for Performance Act, just passed by the House. This is an outstanding example of class warfare. I'm an Englishman. We invented class warfare, and I know it when I see it. This legislation allows the administration to dictate pay for anyone working in any company that takes a dime of TARP money. This is a whip with which to thrash the unpopular bankers, a tool to advance the Obama administration's goal of controlling the financial system.

After 35 years in America, I never thought I would see this. I still can't quite believe we will sit by as this crisis is used to hand control of our economy over to government. But here we are, on the brink. Clearly, I have been naive.

Mr. Varney is a host on the Fox Business Network.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Bristol Palin's ex-fiance cites tension with her


WASHINGTON (AP) — Levi Johnston says ex-fiance Bristol Palin, daughter of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, allows him to visit their 3-month-old son but won't let him take the baby out.

In an interview to air Monday with talk show host Tyra Banks, Johnston, 19, said he and 18-year-old Bristol don't always get along.

"Some days we can have regular conversations without fighting," Johnston said. "Most of the times, I don't know what's wrong with her. She's in a pretty bad mood, she's short, she doesn't want me around, I don't think. She says that I can come see the baby and that kind of thing, but won't let me take him anywhere."

The two are the parents of an infant son, Tripp, born on Dec. 27.

Palin family spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton said Bristol Palin was unaware Johnston would be appearing on "The Tyra Banks Show," along with his mother, Sherry, and sister, Mercede.

"We're disappointed that Levi and his family, in a quest for fame, attention and fortune, are engaging in flat-out lies, gross exaggeration, and even distortion of their relationship," Stapleton said in a statement Friday.

Stapleton has said Bristol Palin isn't preventing anyone from seeing the baby, and that Johnston sees his son "whenever he wants, the family sees the baby whenever they want."

Johnston told The Associated Press on March 11 that the couple had broken off their engagement. He has said they needed time to grow up before following through on marriage plans.

In the interview with Banks, Johnston said the Alaska governor probably knew he and Bristol were having sex. "Moms are pretty smart," he said.

Sarah Palin announced her daughter's pregnancy on Sept. 1, days after Sen. John McCain picked her to be his Republican vice presidential running mate. Johnston later appeared at the Republican National Convention with the Palins.

Johnston told Banks he went to the convention at Bristol's request, but he wasn't thrilled to attend it. "I felt out of place," he said.

Asked whom he'd vote for in 2012 if the choice were President Barack Obama or the Alaska governor, he said: "I still think I'm going to have to vote for Sarah Palin."

On the Net:
"The Tyra Banks Show":