Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Is Sarah Palin Too Dumb to Be President?

By on 11.30.10 @ 6:09AM

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting is not very bright.

In fact, dumb as a post is a more accurate if blunt assessment..

Does this describe Sarah Palin? Yes -- if you choose to listen to the Inside-the-Beltway elites. But just in case she doesn't run for or win the nomination, don't worry. Whoever the GOP nominates will quickly assume this "too dumb to be president" role -- bestowed by many of the same people.


Because this "too dumb to be president" argument is precisely the same-old, same-old argument from liberal elites about Republican presidents or prospective presidents for decades. The argument is particularly relished when it comes to describing conservatives like the former Alaska governor. But even GOP moderates can never escape this tag once they morph from unannounced candidate (and therefore not a political threat to liberalism) to actual frontrunner, nominee or, God forbid, the actual president.

Barry Goldwater, the first modern conservative to win a GOP presidential nomination in 1964, would have been lucky to be tagged as being merely too dumb to be president. He was also said to be, according to Time magazine, "psychologically unfit to be president," "emotionally unstable," "immature," "cowardly," "grossly psychotic," "paranoid," a "mass murderer," "amoral and immoral," a "chronic schizophrenic" and "dangerous lunatic." One psychiatrist breezily announced Goldwater had a "strong identification with the authoritarianism of Hitler, if not identification with Hitler himself."

Reagan, also pegged as a war-monger, was called an "extremist" at the beginning of his political career and an "amiable dunce" just after his election to the presidency. They were a mere blip in the cascade of insults about his intelligence hurled in Reagan's direction over almost a quarter century as a serious American politician. This particular man who was "too dumb to be president" won the Cold War without, as Margaret Thatcher said, firing a shot. Not to mention launching the American economy on a path to creating some 50 million jobs over the next three decades.

But I digress.

Perhaps the most instructive case of "too dumb to be president" is that of Gerald Ford. Elected to Congress in 1948, a man with a ready smile and outgoing personality, Ford had won rave reviews from the liberal press when he challenged the House Republican Old Guard following Goldwater's defeat, becoming Minority Leader. All the way through his House career, and on into his surprise accession-by-appointment to the vice presidency following the resignation of liberal bĂȘte noire Spiro Agnew, the moderate Republican Ford was pictured as good-ole smiling Jerry, the steady, smart House leader who had not an enemy in the world. He played golf with his old pal House Democratic leader Tip O'Neill. Just a nice, smart, swell guy, said the press.

Then a funny thing happened to good old Jerry Ford. In the wake of Watergate he became president with Nixon's resignation. Within a month he pardoned his predecessor, believing (correctly) that until the nation had rid itself of the Watergate/Nixon obsession he, Ford, would have an impossible time getting things done as president. Nothing dumb there. Ford had no sooner announced the pardon and disappeared from the television air waves than the re-positioning of Ford by the liberal media had begun. The man who had graduated from Yale Law School and been the epitome of openness and hard work was, in the blink of an eye, dumb as a post and a conniving liar to boot. Up from the mists came a Lyndon Johnson quote saying that Ford the college grid star had played too much football without a helmet. An on-camera tumble on the slippery steps leading down from the door of Air Force One led to the depiction of the most athletic president since Teddy Roosevelt as a bumbling fool. On a new program called Saturday Night Live, an unknown writer/actor named Chevy Chase rocketed to fame portraying Ford as dumbly prone to hilarious stumbles and dramatic falls over all manner of furniture. Chase anticipated the Tina Fey as empty-headed Sarah Palin routine by decades.

Then there's the Romney saga.

That would be George Romney, not Mitt, George's son.

George Romney was a liberal Republican, a spectacularly successful business executive as the chairman of American Motors. On the strength of his dazzling business career he was elected Governor of Michigan, where he became a popular political figure with both voters and the national press.

Then a funny thing happened to George Romney. In 1967 he began running for the 1968 GOP presidential nomination. The polls showed he was the man-to-beat for the nomination, the one man in the Republican Party who could take on and beat LBJ, the same LBJ who beat Goldwater in 1964 by a landslide. Then, returning from a fact-finding trip to Vietnam, Romney incautiously allowed as to how he had been "brain-washed" by the Johnson administration on Vietnam. And…. bam.

Within a media cycle the brilliant business executive and innovative Governor of Michigan had become -- you guessed it -- an idiot too dumb to be president. The dumb-as-a-post tag hung around his neck by a media concerned that old George was making just a little bit too much progress and that Tricky Dick, as they called Richard Nixon, would be easier to beat. Romney was finished. His last stint in government was not the White House but the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in Nixon days the equivalent of political Siberia.

What does any of this have to do with Sarah Palin? As the New York Times Magazine recently noted, there is a caricature now abroad in the land of the former Alaska governor "as a vapid, winking, press-averse clotheshorse." In other words, Sarah Palin is an idiot. Dumb as a post. Too dumb, but of course, to be president.

This mother of five with a successful marriage, the woman who, without benefit of a famous name or marriage, has been elected successively to positions as city council member, mayor, president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors, served as the appointed (by the then-governor) chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission before being elected governor herself -- this before becoming only the second woman to be tapped for a major party vice-presidential nomination, a successful author and bona fide TV star like Reagan -- this is the woman who is now presented by everybody from GOP Establishment types to liberal enemies as just a vacant Barbie-style version of other men who were too dumb to be president. Goldwater? Romney? Ford? Reagan? Kemp? Bush 43? Bush 41? Like them all, Sarah Palin is just too dumb to be president.

To ask why so many elites dismiss Sarah Palin as dumb is to ask not only the wrong question but to willfully ignore a by-now very, very distinct pattern. It is, yes, a pattern of modern media treatment with prominent Republicans that is discernible as far back as Dwight Eisenhower. But in fact what some call Palin Derangement Syndrome is merely the modern face of elitist arrogance that has been present since the evolution of America itself as just one more colonial outpost of the British Empire.

No less than George Washington was denied a commission in the British Regular Army as a young man because he was seen by British elites as a more spectacular example of what Washington biographer James Thomas Flexner called "the incompetent provincial soldier." It wasn't simply that American colonists couldn't cut it professionally, in this view, it was that those who ran and served in the British Regular Army were, don't you know, just so much smarter than their American-born subjects. In a word, the British elites of the day were snobs. And they looked at young George Washington, already a young man of considerable military experience, as just too dumb -- not to mention unworthy -- to be a commissioned officer in the British Regular Army.

The British, famously, learned the hard untruth of this some twenty-plus years after haughtily refusing to give Washington a commission he had manifestly earned as an officer of the colonial militia. Washington may have been too dumb to serve in the British Regular Army but he wasn't too dumb to be the winning general of the American Revolution.

But the arrogant attitude, the we-is-better/smarter/more plugged-than-thou approach to life remained in some sectors of American life even as the British retreated, humiliated at the hands of Washington.

In terms of the American presidency and those who wished to run for the job, the first American to seriously face this too-dumb-and unworthy attitude was the man now considered the co-founder of today's Democrats. 

That would be Andrew Jackson.

Facing John Quincy Adams for the presidency in 1824, the Jackson-Adams battle was infinitely more than a battle between two men of differing political views. Adams was American Establishment Royalty, a category already well come-to- life by the time this son of Founder and ex-president John Adams began his career. At an early age, freshly graduated from Harvard, Adams was set on a path well-salted by elitists of the day. He was elected to the Massachusetts State Legislature, served as a diplomat or Minister in the Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain. He was elected to the U.S. Senate, served as a Professor of Rhetoric at Harvard, where he was known for speaking fluent Latin and reading the Bible in Greek. By the time he faced Jackson he was James Monroe's Secretary of State.

Jackson was everything Adams was not. A rough-and-tumble frontiersman, spottily educated but enough to become a country lawyer, he was the embodiment of what was then seen as the American Western frontier. 

His fame came from his role in the American military, a brutal Indian fighter who emerged as the hero of the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. Briefly a U.S. Senator, Jackson was rough-hewn and plain-spoken, like Palin the very embodiment of everything the refined fledgling Eastern Establishment of the day simply could not abide.

After losing to Adams in a hotly controversial 1824 election settled in the House of Representatives (which Jacksonians dubbed "the corrupt bargain"), Jackson roared back in 1828 to serve two presidential terms as the bane of the American Establishment, launching among other things a successful war on the Bank of the United States, roughly speaking the Federal Reserve of its day. He was decidedly anything but too dumb to be president, and in fact well outranks Adams in those historian-generated "great presidents" ranking lists.

The point?

What began with the blistering fight between Jackson and Adams has in one fashion or another rooted itself in today's world as an ongoing battle between the American Liberal Establishment, its media acolytes (what Palin refers to as the "lamestream media") and American conservatives.

If Andrew Jackson was pilloried in the day as little short of a hot-tempered barbarian from the frontier who was not good enough or smart enough to wipe the soles of John Quincy Adams' fancy Boston boots, since at least 1952 the image of the dumb-conservative or dumb Republican has become the modern telling of this tale.

Successively Republicans as varied as Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater, George Romney, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Bob Dole, Jack Kemp, George W. Bush, John McCain and now Sarah Palin have been presented as some version of the following: bumbling and unimaginative (Eisenhower), a tricky, un-classy smear artist unworthy of being on the same stage as the polished liberal champion JFK (Nixon), a shockingly unstable dumb idiot with psychiatric problems (Goldwater), dumb as a post (Romney), dumb jocks (Ford and Kemp), a lightweight (Bush 41), a vapid pretty-boy (Quayle), a boring, clueless old man from Kansas (Dole) and run-of-the-mill dumb idiot with degrees from Yale and Harvard who was really dumb because he loved the Forbidden Culture of Texas (Bush 43). McCain, like Romney and Ike, was a media hero until he became a serious potential president -- at which point he suddenly morphed into a dumb mad-hatter with a lobbyist mistress, a Barbie-like vice-presidential nominee, and a thing for grilling steaks on a grill in the Arizona desert. The latter of which was so drearily middle-class.

Which is to say, the treatment that is now being prepared for Palin if she decides to make a run for the 2012 presidential nomination is nothing new if you are a Republican, much less a conservative. You are simply too dumb to be president.

What is particularly amusing is the GOP political-consulting complex circling the wagons to protect their fortress, as reported before Thanksgiving by Politico. Based on all this history, just who is it among the prospective 2012 candidates that they think will escape the "too dumb to be president" treatment Palin will undergo were she to run? George Romney's son Mitt, like his father a successful businessman turned governor? Mike Huckabee? Or a Pawlenty, Daniels, Barbour, Rubio, Perry, Jindal etc., etc., etc.?
Dwight D. Eisenhower was a hero-general of World War II, the man who organized D-Day, the successful invasion of Europe -- yet he was mocked from one end of the country to the other as nothing more than a bumbling, unimaginative fool. With the greatest of respect to all those under consideration for 2012, there is not an Eisenhower at the starting gate.

Whoever emerges as the winner of the 2012 GOP nomination is in reality in line to be Palinized. Painted as the next Republican too dumb to be president.

Is Sarah Palin dumb?

Of course not. What a dumb question. It's also the wrong question. Who's asking this question is a better question. And how dumb are they to be asking it? Or worse, dumber by simply asserting it as fact.
The only people who are dumb -- really dumb -- are those inside the Republican political-consultant complex who think that by nominating someone other than Governor Palin they will have a nominee capable of avoiding this particularly dumb fate.

The Republican nominee for president in 2012 is being prepared by the American liberal media to be presented as a woman -- or man -- who is too dumb to be president. It is a preposterous proposition on its face, all on the list being, like Palin, people of enormous accomplishment in life. It is even more preposterous in the face of the utterly laughable idea -- now validated by the actual results of the 2010 elections -- that the Harvard-trained President Obama has been some sort of a whiz-bang genius in the White House. With unemployment riding perpetually just shy of double digits, the nation's treasury massively in debt to the tune of trillions, with all this "outreach" to Islamic countries who still inspire would be bombers and terrorists -- the real question may be "is the someone too dumb to be president already president?"

But no one in the liberal media will ask this of any liberal president. Republicans and conservatives only need apply for the "too dumb to be president" title.

That's the game. It's an old game.

And the absolute last person who should pay any attention to this very old game -- and who is, one suspects, as repeatedly demonstrated by her seriously accomplished life and record, far too smart to play it -- is:
Sarah Palin.

Someone who is decidedly not too dumb to be president.

If she wants to be.

The American Spectator

Sarah Palin Gaining in Support from ‘Educated Jews’

Monday, November 29, 2010
Special to the Jewish Week

In recent weeks, a number of prominent Jewish intellectuals have been publicly praising Sarah Palin. This despite a recent poll, reported by veteran analyst James Besser (Nov. 26), that well-educated Jews appear to be overwhelmingly opposed to Palin. How do we explain this discrepancy?

Besser focuses on a recent poll showing Palin with stronger support among voters in general who are "less educated" and "less affluent." That poll made no reference to Jewish voters, but Besser argues that since Jews are "more educated than the population at large and more affluent," therefore one may safely assume they oppose Palin too.

Let’s recall that pundits made similar assumptions about Ronald Reagan when he was a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980. Reagan also had considerable appeal among the less educated and the less affluent; surely educated and affluent Jews would support President Jimmy Carter – or so the pundits reasoned. But on election day, the majority of American Jews repaid Carter's disdain for Israel, his impotence in rescuing the Americans held hostage in Iran, and his mismanagement of the American economy, by abandoning him for Ronald Reagan, the most conservative Presidential candidate of the post-Vietnam era. Reagan received the largest share of the Jewish vote of any Republican presidential nominee in U.S. history.

While it is certainly too early to assume that 1980 will repeat itself in 2012, there are signs of growing respect for Gov. Palin’s policies and positions – especially among some of the Jewish intellectuals whom Besser presumes now oppose her.

Just two days after the Nov. 2nd elections, Palin authored a 1500-word manifesto, published in the pages of National Review, detailing her strategy to "renew, revive, and restore" America according to free-market economics, energy independence, a strong national security policy and traditional moral values.

John Podhoretz, editor in chief of Commentary magazine, immediately hailed the Palin Plan as "brilliant." It is perhaps no coincidence that his father and predecessor at Commentary's helm, Norman Podhoretz, had endorsed Palin in the Wall Street Journal in March of this year, and was an early supporter of Ronald Reagan's presidential ambitions at a time when many of his colleagues also questioned Reagan's intellectual bonafides.

Then hear the views of Seth Lipsky, founder and editor emeritus of the English-language edition of The Forward, now editing at The New York Sun. For Lipsky, a serious student of the Constitution and author of the recent book The Citizen's Constitution: An Annotated Guide, the genius of Palin's platform is in her advocacy of “Constitutional conservatism.”

According to Lipsky, Palin insists on adhering "to the original intent [of the Constitution], the principles of the Founders," a determination "to wrestle with what they were actually talking about," not what contemporary policy wonks wish they had been saying. "This is an idea for our times, if there ever was one," Lipsky concludes, because unlike other contemporary conservative strains, “every American has a relationship to the Constitution.”
Palin’s Constitutional conservatism, in Lipsky’s view, "is unifying, uplifting, and inclusive."

Or consider William Kristol, a Fox News contributor, founding editor of one of America's most important journals, The Weekly Standard, and son of renowned Jewish intellectual Irving Kristol. Bill Kristol was one of Palin's earliest supporters, and remains so.

Even U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, I-CT, certainly no knee-jerk conservative, recognizes that Palin's effectively address wide-spread concerns: "Sarah Palin for a lot of people has become a spokesperson.

People worried that government has forgotten them, has grown too big, that the deficit is growing too large, and in some sense that we’re not being as strong as we should be in the world — Governor Palin has spoken to those concerns as much as anyone."

Lieberman, Kristol, Lipsky, and the Podhoretz’s are sophisticated, educated, thinking Jews who appreciate Palin's heartfelt support for Israel, her forceful and informed advocacy for energy independence, her strong stance on national security, and her fealty to traditional moral values (sometimes we forget these are Jewish values, too!). All are bellwethers of the increasing respect for Sarah Palin amongst us – the educated and affluent American Jews.

Benyamin Korn, former executive editor of the Jewish Exponent, is director of Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin and JewsForSarah.com. He hosts “Jewish Independent Talk” every Sunday from 5 to 6 PM on WNTP News-Talk 990 AM in Philadelphia.

The Jewish Week

Sharia Law Is Already Here

November 30, 2010
Sophisticated liberals have found humor in Oklahoma's recent ban on Sharia law. Along with humor, some have found offense in the bill. U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange granted a temporary restraining order blocking the bill. Critics, such as the culturally aware Clarence Page, say that the OK measure is "a solution in search of a problem." Sharia law is not a threat. Page's evidence: There are only 15,000 Muslims in Oklahoma. It doesn't get much more convincing than that.

The deep thinkers at OpenLeft.com are equally informed: As Paul Rosenberg emphatically says, "there is zero evidence of sharia law having any influence on American law." Rosenberg is factually wrong. On the crucial factual matter of whether Sharia has been applied in our courts, he is unaware of what has occurred.

Sharia law has been applied in U.S. courts. There are at least seventeen instances of Sharia law being applied in eleven states, as Daniel Pipes has noted. Most notably, a NJ court held that a man did not commit rape because according to his belief in Sharia law, a man cannot rape his wife, since the wife serves him. So Sharia law was applied to the mental state element of the crime of rape. An American court actually adopted this barbaric reasoning:

[The defendant] was operating under his belief that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something that was not prohibited.

The resulting ruling was that a man was held not responsible for rape, where he would have been convicted without Sharia.

It's no comfort to say that a court of appeals overturned the NJ ruling. Judges are open to these arguments, and that is the beginning of Sharia victory if it is not stopped. Liberal judges will become, in their social circles, standard-bearers of enlightenment and cultural sensitivity for embracing the diversity of Sharia law. That is all the incentive they need to continue to use foreign standards to decide what our rights will be. Look no farther than Justice Ginsburg's incredible willingness to latch on to foreign precedents that confirm her preconceived policy preferences. If there is one multicultural lemming in a robe willing to betray our freedoms, that's one too many -- and we can be sure that there are many more who want to.

Every day, the news is full of examples of just how far Muslims will push. Take the infamous hijab at the Connecticut roller rink. A Muslim woman named Marisol Rodriguez-Colon -- soak in that cultural enrichment -- was asked to remove her medieval hood at a skating rink. The rink had a policy of no headgear because hats and scarves could cause injury on the floor. She claims that she needed to wear her hijab for "religious reasons." The "religious reasons" argument is the tip of the iceberg. If Muslims get to impose their practices and norms for "religious reasons," then they will reshape Western societies in their own medieval image.

Consider what else Muslims could demand at a roller rink for "religious reasons": For "religious reasons," males and females are to be separated from each other in public much of the time. For religious reasons, there must be no modern music to offend traditional ears. For religious reasons, there should be no pork products at snack bars. For religious reasons, homosexual skaters should be killed in one of many colorful ways -- a belief being taught to British Muslims.

If Marisol Rodriguez-Colon can force the roller rink to change its policy on headgear based on religious reasons, then why can't she change every other policy inconsistent with her creed? There is no way to say that all they want to do is change policy on headgear. There is no limit to what Muslims would force non-Muslims to do for "religious reasons." They want more; the radical leaders will demand the most, and they will take as much as they can get. Those two propositions are obvious. Don't be fooled by cringing sensitivity mantras about how moderates don't want to impose their views. Moderates can't stop multicultural appeasement judges from ruling in favor of radicals. 

If radicals take as much as they can get, then headgear is one step on the path towards Sharia. There is nothing far-fetched about that prediction. It is the logical consequence of Muslim supremacy combined with Western cowardice.

Of course, this does not mean that each person who wants to wear their medieval headgear in public supports Sharia. What it means is that the headgear is the first step towards institutional acceptance and legal imposition of Sharia law. The same aggressive refusal to assimilate will carry out in other spheres of life. It will not be satisfied by wearing headgear. In fact, if the Muslim supremacists get their way with headgear, that will be a green light to them to make more demands -- demands that are more invasive, requiring even more fundamental changes to our society. That which gets rewarded gets repeated.

Most of us thought that we left the dark ages behind us, but a retrograde impulse is growing. We are far from the imposition of Sharia law, but not far enough. The habit of a liberty-loving people is to guard against any step, no matter how small, towards injustice. The first step toward injustice will guarantee a second step, and the zealots will take that step if they aren't stopped. The first step is never an accident or an exception; it's part of an established plan played out many times around the world. England is learning this tragic lesson as Sharia law makes women second-class citizens in divorce and child custody matters, according to a Guardian newspaper column. The only thing stopping Sharia will be the people willing to guard our liberty and culture. Things are best protected when they are jealously guarded. That is something that our founders knew very well.

Proactive defense of liberty and prevention of injustice are the reasons why Tennessee and Louisiana have already passed similar measures to Oklahoma's. At least twelve other states are considering such measures. Such policy is rank xenophobia, according to some, who contend that Islam is being unfairly singled out.

Sharia defenders should know that Islam is named specifically because Muslims single themselves out. Their leadership is uniquely comfortable forcing their religious practices and views onto other people. After a fitful two hundred years of protecting religious liberty in America, we have a sect seeking to impose its views in a way we haven't seen in a very long time. We should commend those who resist that imposition in advance.

John Bennett is a JD candidate, Emory University School of Law '11.

Sharia and Obama's Foreign Policy

November 30, 2010
By Wendy Wright
A Christian woman who gave water to Muslim fieldworkers was accused by the women of blaspheming Muhammed. The women refused the water, claiming it was unclean because a Christian carried it. Asia Bibi, a mother of five, merely explained her faith. For that, she has been in prison for over fifteen months and has been sentenced to be hanged, according to The Telegraph.

Ashiq Masih, her husband, said, "I haven't told two of my younger daughters about the court's decision. ... They asked me many times about their mother, but I can't get the courage to tell them that the judge has sentenced their mother to capital punishment for a crime she never committed."

Pakistan outlaws blasphemy against Islam. It is punishable by death. Religious minorities are targeted for accusations, and while most are acquitted, they are oftentimes killed by mobs.

Last week, the U.N. again voted for a resolution against "defamation of religions" or "vilification of religions" as a violation of human rights. It's been called a global anti-blasphemy law, and it changes the concept of human rights from protecting people from persecution to condemning criticism of (a particular) religion. This nonbinding resolution, altered slightly this year, has passed every year since 2005 against the objection of the U.S. While Christianity formed the basis of the Western world's embrace of freedom of speech, religion, and conscience, this resolution would legitimize the Islamic prohibition against non-Muslim beliefs.

The United States joins in all nations coming together to condemn hateful speech, but we do not support the banning of that speech," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  "Indeed, freedom of speech and freedom of religion emanate from the same fundamental belief that communities and individuals are enriched and strengthened by diversity of ideas, and attempts to stifle them or drive them underground, even when it is in the name and with the intention of protecting society, have the opposite effect.

In Iran, a Muslim widow accused of adultery is sentenced to be stoned to death. When international activists and government leaders condemned the sentence and questioned the legitimacy of the Islamic-based trial, Iran released a supposed confession from the woman.

Sakineh Ashtiani drew international attention when her son alerted the outside world to her plight. The son and Sakineh's lawyer have since been arrested, and two German men who sought to interview her son have been detained in Iran.

The Washington Times reports that Iranian state television broadcast an interview of Sakineh saying, "I am a sinner." Her face was blurred, and her words, spoken in a regional language, were translated into Farsi. Statements purportedly from her son, lawyer, and the German journalists were also broadcast.

In the tape, Sakineh's son retracted his previous statements that Sakineh was tortured and criticized Sakineh's lawyers, one of whom has fled the country and received asylum in Europe for publicizing the case. The journalists accused a female activist in Europe of hiring them, and one said he would file a complaint against her.

Sanctions against Iran for its nuclear ambitions are taking a toll, and Iran initially appeared to relent from the harsh stoning sentence as international moral criticism mounted on top of the economic punishment. But this latest round of arrests and public "confessions" shows Tehran ratcheting up the tension between itself and Western countries.

Ironically, the "confessions" came the same week that the U.S. Senate held hearings on the ineffective U.N. women's treaty called CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). Radical feminists and the Obama administration are pressuring the Senate to ratify CEDAW, calling it a priority in order for the U.S. to gain credibility in the international world on women's rights.

Melanie Verveer, Obama's ambassador on global women's issues, and other supporters stated that errant countries which have adopted CEDAW (like Iran) would be more likely to follow the treaty if the U.S. ratified it.

Concerned Women for America submitted testimony to the Senate pointing out that nations which are the worst abusers of women are also anti-American. They are not likely to change their ways because the U.S. adopts a treaty. And if the U.S. ratifies CEDAW, we would be subject to the U.N. committee that oversees its implementation. Representatives from countries that adopt CEDAW -- like Iran -- can sit on the committee.

To get an idea of how the CEDAW Committee has already operated, it has criticized countries for allowing Christian beliefs to influence policy and cultures. Christianity, the essential foundation for freedom of belief, speech, and religion, is frowned upon by both radical feminists and Islamists.

The Obama administration has great admiration for international law and believes that subjecting the U.S. to other countries' opinions will make us moral and accountable. Yet it seems unaware that its attempt to place America under the authority of international opinion and "law" jeopardizes our Christian-based liberties and freedom from Shariah-inspired tyranny. 

In a recent article, "Stonings and Nuclear Weapons," I wrote, "If we want to see what America's enemies -- Islamist radicals -- have in store for us if we don't stop them, look at Sakineh. Would we want shariah law allowed, in any form, in America?"

We can add Asia Bibi and the thousands, if not millions, of Christians and women who have suffered at the hands of Islamic radicals. President Obama and Secretary Clinton should think twice about subjecting America to international law and bodies where the U.S. is easily outvoted or unrepresented.

Wendy Wright is president of Concerned Women for America, the nation's largest public policy women's organization.

CableGate: Obama's Katrina Times Ten

November 30, 2010
By Vasko Kohlmayer
America's governing regime is trying to make us believe that the greatest threat to this country is a man by the name of Julian Assange. If you did not know, Julian Assange is not a spy or an agent of an enemy government. He is the founder of WikiLeaks, an internet outfit that has released a cache of confidential and secret cables from the State Department.
Our government officials tell us that Assange's act somehow poses a threat to our national security by undermining America's foreign policy. One may as well ask: What foreign policy?

The cables show something many have always known -- that most so-called leaders and politicians are liars, schemers, crooks, egomaniacs, and incompetents.

Unfortunately, the above characterization applies also to this country's government elites. The documents reveal these people's duplicity and the fact that they cannot protect even their own internal data. But what would you expect of Hillary Clinton's State Department? Would you expect it to be a well-oiled machine filled with people of high ability and integrity? But let's not be unfair to Hillary Clinton. Government rarely does anything right. One wonders only why so many people still believe in it.

The regime will try to deflect attention from itself by directing the anger of the American people at a little Australian programmer. They will claim that Julian Assange represents a mortal peril and that he must stopped and perhaps even killed. Do not fall for this. Such claims are absurd and preposterous.

Ask yourself this: Who is the greater threat to America? Is it an Australian programmer or Barack Obama? Assange is merely a website operator. He has no backing or powers to inflict harm on this country. Obama, on the other hand, has been using the powers of his office to systematically destroy the American economy, the dollar, our standard of living, and our standing in the world. He has been stoking racial tensions. He has been taking private property of American citizens and giving it to his friends. He and his people have been destroying the values and fabric of American society faster than you can say "bam."

In reality, it is this regime that is a menace to America. What Julian Assange is doing is merely helping to reveal the duplicity and incompetence. And it could not be more ironic that he is doing so with documents which have been forwarded to him by leakers who themselves are part of the Obama administration.

Let's not get suckered here. Rather than being angry at the straw man set up by the administration, let's turn our sight to the real culprits.

Hillary Clinton should resign immediately. The State Department is a mess and an embarrassment. She has been in charge of it, and she needs to go.

Congressman Peter King of New York, the incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, wants to have WikiLeaks designated as a terrorist organization along the lines of al-Qaeda. He made this request in a letter to -- of all people -- Hillary Clinton.

Here is a note to Peter King and other Republicans: CableGate is Obama's Katrina times ten.

Hillary Clinton is the Michael Brown in this affair. The buck has to stop with the big guy. George Bush accepted the responsibility for Katrina even though it really was not his responsibility (hint: think Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco). Let's see whether Barack Obama is half the man George Bush was. After all, the State Department is under his direct purview, since he deals with it on a constant basis. He should have a handle on what goes on in there. The American people need to hold his feet to the fire.

But above all, let us not get fooled this time around. The ruling elites will try to play on our patriotic feelings in order to save their skins. Contrary to what you will hear from this administration and its acolytes, WikiLeaks' disclosures are not a threat to America. But they are an immense threat to the current regime, because they represent a colossal indictment of its incompetence and doltishness.

Dem state lawmakers defecting to GOP post-election

ATLANTA (AP) - Staggering Election Day losses are not the Democratic Party's final indignity this year. At least 13 state lawmakers in five states have defected to Republican ranks since the Nov. 2 election, adding to already huge GOP gains in state legislatures. And that number could grow as next year's legislative sessions draw near.

The defections underscore dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party—particularly in the South—and will give Republicans a stronger hand in everything from pushing a conservative fiscal and social agenda to redrawing political maps.

In Alabama, four Democrats announced last week they were joining the GOP, giving Republicans a supermajority in the House that allows them to pass legislation without any support from the other party. The party switch of a Democratic lawmaker from New Orleans handed control of Louisiana's House to Republicans for the first time since Reconstruction.

In Georgia, six rural Democratic state legislators—five from the House and one in the Senate—have switched allegiance to the GOP since Nov. 2. In Maine, a House Democrat flipped; in South Dakota, a Democratic state senator.

Most of the party swaps are in the South, where GOP rule is becoming more entrenched and Democrats—many of them already more conservative than their counterparts elsewhere—are facing what looks like a long exile in the minority.

In Georgia, the GOP swept every statewide office this year and brought, in the words of state Rep. Alan Powell, "an effective end, at least for the foreseeable future, to the two-party system in state government."

Powell, who served in the House for two decades as a Democrat from a rural district in North Georgia, joined the Republican caucus this month after concluding it would allow him to get off the sidelines and again be a player on key issues. The 58-year-old real estate agent has been outspoken in his criticism of both Republicans and Democrats and expects to maintain an independent streak in the GOP.

Twenty-one state legislative chambers in 16 states moved into GOP hands this year, and for some Democrats keeping a seat at the table means trading a "D" for an "R." Others, like Mike Millican of Alabama, one of those who joined the GOP last week, say that as the national Democratic Party has moved to the left, they've found themselves more in line with the Republican Party's political ideology.

In most cases, those who've jumped ship said the Democratic Party abandoned them—not the other way around.

"The Maine Democratic agenda is too focused on the bidding of various special interests," said state Rep. Michael Willette, as he joined the GOP less than two weeks after being elected as a Democrat.

The changes in allegiance come after—and, in part, because of—big Republican statehouse wins across the country this election cycle.

"This was a wave election," said Tim Storey, an elections expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures. "So you will probably see that wave continue with even more Democrats moving over as the impact of the election settles in."

The GOP picked up a whopping 690 seats Nov. 2—the largest shift since 1966, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. In addition to the legislative chambers Republicans took from Democrats, an ongoing recount in New York will help determine which party controls the state Senate there.

Republicans now control both chambers of the state Legislature as well as the governorship in 21 states.

The shifts come as legislatures are set to begin the politically charged, once-a-decade process of redrawing congressional and legislative districts to reflect updated U.S. Census population estimates. Typically, the party in power gets the chance to preserve strongholds or change districts once considered safe for the other party, meaning Republicans can solidify their majorities.

Carolyn Fiddler, spokeswoman for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, acknowledged the process will be a challenge for Democrats.

"We know that in some cases folks are scrambling to keep their districts," she said.

But she noted those switching parties "should also remember they were elected with Democratic resources and Democratic volunteers."

How that will play the next time the former Democrats are up for election remains to be seen.

Voters have not been kind to some of the more prominent converts recently. U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter lost a
 Democratic primary battle in Pennsylvania after abandoning the Republican Party, losing to a more liberal congressman who was later defeated in the general election. U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama switched from Democrat to Republican this year only to lose in the GOP primary.

But since the civil rights era of the 1960s the South has been growing increasingly Republican, in part because of Democrats changing their party affiliations.

Georgia's Gov. Sonny Perdue and his soon-to-be-successor Nathan Deal are both former Democrats and have been embraced by voters after switching over.
Associated Press Writers Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, La; Bob Johnson in Montgomery, Ala.; and Clarke Canfield in Portland, Me.; contributed to this report.


The Plastic Follies: Presented by EPA Bureaucrats and Trial Lawyers

The first plastic was created in 1855 by British metallurgist Alexander Parkes.   As nobody knew quite what to do with it, plastic remained obscure until the 1890’s when another Brit developed polymers called “silicones.”

By 1910, plastic was a fully synthetic compound revolutionizing industry, consumer products and military supply.  It is still the world’s most utilized material.

When plastic became readily available in 1910, life expectancy in the U.S. was 50.  Today it is nearly 79 and there are about 80,000 American over 100 years old.  Clearly, plastic is not a serious health concern.

Nevertheless, the Obama Administration has just unleashed yet another attack on plastics, using an end-run by bureaucratic fiat, hoping we won’t notice.

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is a Carter-era law governing the Environmental Protection

Agency’s management of chemicals through collecting data and designing regulatory protections.  Although its original intent was to address toxic PCBs, bureaucrats found other chemicals needing management once that crisis passed.

Some of the agency’s regulations have been good, such as rulemaking on lead paint and asbestos abatement.

 But now EPA is abrogating the process by focusing on silicone.

Silicone polymers are so widely used that we can’t go through a waking hour without touching them.   They are chemically inert, and not even environmentalists claim they are harmful.

Fire-resistant silicones are used in electrical insulation to decrease hazard, and its anti-microbial properties make it ideal for medical devices and supplies.  We cook in it, we cook on it, and we rub it on our faces at the beach.  Bandages, airbags and cell phones.

It is used as caulk to prevent fish from falling out of aquariums and is so safe that one type is marketed by GreenEarth Cleaning as an environmentally-friendly alternative to other dry cleaning solvents.  On 9/11, silicone-treated windows in renovated areas of the Pentagon helped save lives.

To thank silicone for a century of faithful service, Obama’s EPA is using a program of its own creation and dubious legitimacy to restrict silicone’s manufacture and use.

The EPA plans to use a CAP (Chemical Action Plan) to attack a silicone called siloxane.  Under the CAP, EPA can restrict, label or ban a chemical it considers a danger to mankind – which siloxane isn’t.
CAP was started in September 2009 to “enhance the Agency’s current chemicals management program,” bureaucratic code for “we just gave ourselves authority we never had before.”  EPA admits overreaching the TSCA, noting “regulations allow EPA to deal with complex issues in greater detail than is possible in a statute.”  Statute; smatute – why bother with the law?

Any rulemaking going through an agency must have a statutory Public Comment Period.  Naturally, it should come before the new regulation is passed.  But in the case of silicone, the EPA will accept public comment only after the CAP is issued.   Horse, barn door; that sort of thing.

By adding CAP, the EPA can place a dark cloud over a chemical’s head without an investigative finding prior to legitimate study and rulemaking covered by the TSCA — causing considerable economic danger to industries and employees associated with CAP’d products.

This might seem random or out of context until reviewing EPA’s last two attacks on the plastics and their impact on one of Democrats’ closets allies – the trial bar.

The Obama EPA has already placed a CAP on plastic compounds containing phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA).  Environmentalists have been complaining about them for years, but there is no study finding they harm humans.

Using only CAP and not legitimate statute (and no legitimate complaint), EPA has not acted any further on CAPs, deliberately leaving manufacturers in economically destructive limbo.

Trial lawyers have already initiated class action lawsuits against plastics manufacturers and retailers.  In part, they base their claims on “government findings,” i.e., CAP.   Finding no victim who has sustained harm, they are suing based on “false” marketing:  companies should have used warning labels on products to advise consumers of dangers that don’t exist.

Silicone nonsense isn’t even limited to the U.S.

Approaching economic collapse, the European Union created a costly new bureaucracy, the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (ironically, REACH) to investigate silicones – and regulate them not because they currently present risk to health or environment, but because well, maybe, someday, who knows – they might.

This would be funny, except it isn’t.

We are all paying for bureaucrat-activists and lawyers gone amok; salaries, court costs, increased consumer prices — known collectively as the Trial Lawyer Tax.

Consumers continue to grow old pleased with plastics and the benefits that come from using silicone/siloxane products.  As for today’s bureaucrats and their misplaced priorities and questionable intent, let’s hope we are rid of them soon – before the cost of everything goes up and quality, safety and availability go down.

Big Government

Dems Block Amendment to Protect Taxpayers from Pigford II Fraud


The unaccountable lame duck Congress is preparing to put Americans on the hook for an additional $1.15 billion in spending on a Pigford II settlement program that is rife with fraud despite the fact that current law caps the amount to be spent on these claims at $100 million.

To make matters worse, the Democrats who temporarily control the Rules Committee will not even allow my amendment protecting taxpayers from this excessive and fraudulent spending to be presented on the House floor for a vote.

By cutting off consideration of my amendment, and by refusing to investigate serious allegations of Pigford fraud prior to voting on legislation allocating an additional $1.15 billion to the program, the lame duck Congress is, in effect, enabling Pigford fraud and this calls for an investigation by the 112th Congress.

Big Government

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Climate Conference Echo Chamber

Phelim McAleer is a journalist. In his capacity as a journalist, he is a skeptic. The role of skeptic - the one who asks the questions, the one who demands answers - is generally a lauded role in modern society. At least .. as long as there’s a Republican on the hot seat. But in climate circles, they have another word, a pejorative term, for skeptics: deniers. The church of global warming has no tolerance for heresy, and even less for probing questions or investigations. And so it is that the journalist Phelim McAleer was denied press credentials for the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in sunny Cancun, Mexico this week. (Certainly a better PR choice than frigid Copenhagen.)

Last year, McAleer and Ann McElhinney, with whom McAleer created the documentary Not Evil, Just Wrong, attended the Copenhagen conference. Their on-site reports resulted in over 2 million YouTube views, and a fair amount of press; which is likely the reason that McAleer was denied accreditation this year. Here’s an excerpt from the press release posted to the Not Evil, Just Wrong website:
McAleer says the refusal to allow him access to the Cancun Climate Change Conference is censorship.
“I sent them exactly the same documentation that was acceptable for Copenhagen last year, but it seems they did not like my coverage of Copenhagen and are now trying to silence me and the people who have questions about this process,” said McAleer.
“The message is clear—ask UN scientists and politicians difficult questions and you will be banned from any UN sponsored events. No difficult questions allowed,” he added.

As we saw with climategate, and see every day in the press and statements from vested interests, the global warming crowd can ill-afford doubt being cast or questions being raised. And why? Because the flawed IPCC reports and fudged data used to fuel Armageddon hysteria are necessary in order to accomplish their goals. Without “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!!!” they are going to have a much harder sell to the public when it comes to their proposed “solutions”.

Take, for example, this recommendation from Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, as reported by The Telegraph:
In one paper Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said the only way to reduce global emissions enough, while allowing the poor nations to continue to grow, is to halt economic growth in the rich world over the next twenty years.
This would mean a drastic change in lifestyles for many people in countries like Britain as everyone will have to buy less ‘carbon intensive’ goods and services such as long haul flights and fuel hungry cars.
Prof Anderson admitted it “would not be easy” to persuade people to reduce their consumption of goods.
He said politicians should consider a rationing system similar to the one introduced during the last “time of crisis” in the 1930s and 40s.
Rationing. Yeah that will go over big. Or how about this, from IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer, in an interview with German website NZZ Online, as reported by The Media Research Center:
(EDENHOFER): Basically it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization. The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War. Why? Because we have 11,000 gigatons of carbon in the coal reserves in the soil under our feet – and we must emit only 400 gigatons in the atmosphere if we want to keep the 2-degree target. 11 000 to 400 – there is no getting around the fact that most of the fossil reserves must remain in the soil.
(NZZ): De facto, this means an expropriation of the countries with natural resources. This leads to a very different development from that which has been triggered by development policy.
(EDENHOFER): First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole.
The drastic and potentially devastating prescriptions by would-be climate change policy writers are so onerous, so unbelievable, that they know only true believers will be willing to undertake them. And not even they are in many cases.

Phelim McAleer asks too many uncomfortable questions. He, like many of us, wants the folks demanding we turn off America’s lights for 20 years have a better reason than that a bunch of scientists signed a petition. He, like so many of us, wants to know why the “landmark” IPCC report declaring a state of global hysteria was riddled with so very many factual errors and bad data. And he, like we, want to know why we should just sit down and shut up and take our medicine when so many questions remain unanswered. No … unasked.

But he won’t get to ask. And neither will we. The climate doom-sayers, you see, are afraid of the light of day in many ways, indeed.

Below, please find the full text of the Not Evil, Just Wrong press release.
Monday, 29 November 2010 12:56
The UN has refused access to the Cancun Climate Change Conference to Phelim McAleer, who is well known for asking scientists and politicians difficult questions about Global Warming orthodoxy.
McAleer was notified of the UN’s refusal to accredit him just days before the international conference opening today.
McAleer produced and directed Not Evil Just Wrong, a documentary on Global Warming, and his reports from Copenhagen Climate Change Conference went viral on Youtube.
During one encounter an armed UN security guard prevented McAleer from asking a scientist difficult questions about the climategate e-mails and warned that if he did not stop filming he would confiscate his equipment and expel him from the conference.
McAleer was also assaulted by environmentalists during a live TV interview.
McAleer says the refusal to allow him access to the Cancun Climate Change Conference is censorship.
“I sent them exactly the same documentation that was acceptable for Copenhagen last year, but it seems they did not like my coverage of Copenhagen and are now trying to silence me and the people who have questions about this process,” said McAleer.
“The message is clear—ask UN scientists and politicians difficult questions and you will be banned from any UN sponsored events. No difficult questions allowed,” he added.
McAleer is a 20 year veteran journalist who covered the Northern Ireland troubles. He has also worked for the UK Sunday Times and as a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and The Economist. He has worked as a journalist and film maker in countries as diverse as Ireland, Romania, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Madagascar, Chile, Indonesia, Vietnam, and many other countries.


Serious Questions about the Obama Administration's Incompetence in the Wikileaks Fiasco

by Sarah Palin on Monday, November 29, 2010 at 1:17pm

We all applaud the successful thwarting of the Christmas-Tree Bomber and hope our government continues to do all it can to keep us safe. However, the latest round of publications of leaked classified U.S. documents through the shady organization called Wikileaks raises serious questions about the Obama administration’s incompetent handling of this whole fiasco.

First and foremost, what steps were taken to stop Wikileaks director Julian Assange from distributing this highly sensitive classified material especially after he had already published material not once but twice in the previous months? Assange is not a “journalist,” any more than the “editor” of al Qaeda’s new English-language magazine Inspire is a “journalist.” He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands. His past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?

What if any diplomatic pressure was brought to bear on NATO, EU, and other allies to disrupt Wikileaks’ technical infrastructure? Did we use all the cyber tools at our disposal to permanently dismantle Wikileaks? Were individuals working for Wikileaks on these document leaks investigated? Shouldn’t they at least have had their financial assets frozen just as we do to individuals who provide material support for terrorist organizations?

Most importantly, serious questions must also be asked of the U.S. intelligence system. How was it possible that a 22-year-old Private First Class could get unrestricted access to so much highly sensitive information? And how was it possible that he could copy and distribute these files without anyone noticing that security was compromised?

The White House has now issued orders to federal departments and agencies asking them to take immediate steps to ensure that no more leaks like this happen again. It’s of course important that we do all we can to prevent similar massive document leaks in the future. But why did the White House not publish these orders after the first leak back in July? What explains this strange lack of urgency on their part?

We are at war. American soldiers are in Afghanistan fighting to protect our freedoms. They are serious about keeping America safe. It would be great if they could count on their government being equally serious about that vital task.

- Sarah Palin

The Cancun Climate Capers

November 29, 2010
By S. Fred Singer
Today, Nov. 29, marks the beginning of the Cancun COP (Conference of the Parties [to the Kyoto Protocol]). This is the 16th meeting of the nearly two hundred national delegations, which have been convening annually since the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in 1997 at COP-3.

This conference promises to be another two-week extravaganza for some 20,000 delegates and hangers-on, who will be enjoying the sand, surf, and tequila-sours  -- mostly paid for by taxpayers from the U.S. and Western Europe. For most delegates, this annual vacation has become a lifetime career: it pays for their mortgages and their children's education. I suppose a few of them actually believe that they are saving the earth -- even though the Kyoto Protocol (to limit emission of greenhouse [GH] gases, like CO2, but never submitted for ratification to the U.S. Senate) will be defunct in 2012 and there is -- thankfully -- no sign of any successor treaty.

But never fear: the organizers may "pull a rabbit out of a hat" and spring a surprise on the world. They will likely announce that they have conquered the greenhouse gas hydrofluorocarbon (HFC). Now, HFCs are what replaced HCFCs, which in turn replaced CFCs, thanks to the Montreal Protocol of 1987. This succession of chemical refrigerants has reduced ozone-destroying potential; but unfortunately they are all GH gases. So now HFCs must be eradicated, because a single molecule of HFC produces many thousand times the greenhouse effect of a molecule of CO2. What they don't tell you, of course, is that the total forcing from the HFCs is less than one percent of that of CO2, according to the IPCC (see page 141). So "slaying the dragon" amounts to slaying a mouse -- or something even smaller. But you can bet that it will be trumpeted as a tremendous achievement and will likely invigorate the search for other mice that can be slain.

Of course, industry has no objection to this maneuver of invoking the Montreal Protocol as a means of reducing the claimed GH-gas effects of global warming. It means more profits from patents, new manufacturing facilities, and sales -- and it will eliminate the bothersome competition from factories in India, China, and Brazil that are still manufacturing HCFCs, and in some cases even CFCs. Very likely, these nations will oppose the maneuver. But so should consumers. It will mean replacing refrigerants in refrigerators, air conditioners, and automobiles -- at huge cost and to little effect. We don't even know yet what chemical will replace HFC and how well it will work in existing equipment.

But nobody is supposed to notice this, it is hoped, amid the clamor for an international agreement, or any kind of agreement, really -- even if it means misusing the Montreal Protocol. Remember that HFCs have no effect on ozone and therefore are not covered by the 1987 Montreal Protocol.

At this point, it is worth remembering how little has been accomplished by the Montreal Protocol -- that "signal achievement" of the global environmental community. As U.S. negotiator Richard Benedick brags (in his book Ozone Diplomacy), the Montreal agreement was achieved by skillful diplomacy rather than by relying on science.

When the Montreal Protocol was negotiated and signed in 1987, there was no evidence whatsoever that CFCs were actually destroying stratospheric ozone. At that time, there were no published observations (by leading Belgian researcher Zander or by others) of any increase in stratospheric chlorine, thereby indicating that natural sources, like salt from ocean spray and volcanoes, were dominating over the human contribution of chlorine from CFCs. The scientific evidence changed only in 1988 (thanks to NASA scientist Rinsland), a year after the Montreal Protocol was signed.

Nevertheless, the hype of the Antarctic Ozone Hole (AOH), which was discovered, only by chance, in 1985, was driving global fears of a coming disaster. In the U.S., there was talk about an Arctic ozone hole opening up. There was even a scare about a "hole over Kennebunkport," President Bush's summer home. And of course, the EPA, as usual, was hyping the whole matter to the White House. No wonder that poor George Bush (the elder) agreed to phase out CFCs immediately.

And who still remembers all the lurid tales of blind sheep in Patagonia and of ecological disasters in the Southern Ocean -- all the result, supposedly, of the AOH. It turned out later that the unfortunate sheep had pink-eye.

The Montreal Protocol prohibition on manufacturing CFCs has indeed led to the reduction of the atmospheric content of these long-lived CFC molecules. But what about stratospheric ozone itself? There has been little effect on the AOH -- just annual fluctuations. And according to the authoritative reports of the World Meteorological Organization, the depletion at mid-latitudes may have been only about 4% over a period ending in 1992. There seems to have been no further depletion since 1993, even while stratospheric chlorine levels were still rising. Something doesn't quite check out here.

Whatever the cause of the observed 4% ozone depletion may be, compare this piddling amount to the natural variability of total atmospheric ozone, as measured carefully by NOAA: on the order of 100% or more from day to day, seasonal change of 30% to 50%, and an eleven-year sunspot-correlated variation on the order of 3%.

And to top it off, there has been no documented increase at all in solar ultraviolet (UV-B), the radiation that produces sunburn and can lead to skin cancer. All of the monitoring so far has shown no rise over time -- and therefore no biological effects due to ozone depletion.

And in any case, theory tells us -- and measurements agree -- that a 4% depletion amounts to an increase in solar UV equivalent to moving 50 miles to the south, at mid-latitudes.  Measured UV-B values increase by 1,000% in going from the pole to equator, as the average solar zenith angle increases.

So look for a "breakthrough" announcement from Cancun, as once again our intrepid negotiators will have "saved the climate" -- maybe. In addition to timing and cost issues, some countries will insist that HFCs have no impact on the ozone layer and thus should be handled under the United Nations climate change talks rather than the Montreal Treaty.  

A State Department official dismissed that as a legalistic argument and said that the ozone treaty could and should be used to achieve broader environmental objectives. "What we've found is that the Montreal Protocol has been a very effective instrument for addressing global environmental problems," said Daniel A. Reifsnyder, the nation's chief Montreal Protocol negotiator, in an interview. "It was created to deal with the ozone layer, but it also has tremendous ability to solve the climate problem if people are willing to use it that way."

Mario Molina, the Mexican scientist who shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work in identifying the role of chlorofluorocarbons in depleting stratospheric ozone, said that extending the Montreal Protocol to include HFCs could reduce the threat of climate change by several times what the Kyoto Protocol proposes. (Evidently, he has not read the IPCC report in which he is listed as a lead author.) "We understand it's a stretch to use an international agreement designed for another purpose," he said. "But dealing with these chemicals and using this treaty to protect the planet makes a lot of sense." 

Maybe Dr. Molina should stick to chemistry.
Atmospheric physicists S. Fred Singer is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia and founding director of the US Weather Satellite Service (now NESDIS-NOAA). His book Unstoppable Global Warming - Every 1500 Years (Rowan & Littlefield, 2007) presents the evidence for natural climate cycles of warming and cooling and became a NY Times best-seller. He is the organizer of NIPCC (Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change) and editor of its 2008 report "Nature - Not Human Activity - Rules the Climate," and coauthor of "Climate Change Reconsidered," published in 2009, with conclusions contrary to those of the IPCC's. He pioneered upper-atmosphere ozone measurements with rockets and later devised the satellite instrument used to monitor ozone.

Federal Farming Power Grab Scheduled for Senate Vote Today

November 29, 2010
By Michael Geer

S.510, the Senate bill set to vastly expand federal power over agriculture, potentially choking off small local growers and hobby farmers, is set for a vote today.

Cloture, or a vote to end debate on S.150 took place on Wednesday November 17 with 74 votes for and 25 opposed. A final Manager's Amendment came into being after more than thirty hours of debate following Cloture.

A Manager's Amendment is, quoting C-SPAN Congressional Glossary, a package of numerous individual amendments agreed to by both sides in advance. The managers are the majority and the minority member who manage the debate on a bill for their side.

On Thursday November 18, Tom Coburn (R-OK) held up the Bill through design by asking for an Amendment meant to address the subject of Earmarks. A Motion to Proceed was voted on and passed.

Quoting Lee Bechtel, National Health Federation, "during the debate, Senator Harkin described some of the key points in the yet-to-be-voted-on Manager's Amendment.  Among other changes, the final Manager's Amendment included an exemption for dietary supplements from Codex [1] food guidelines, exemption language for dietary supplement manufacturers and retailers from the conventional food company and distributor registration fees, reporting and product traceability requirements. The final Manager's Amendment also included the Tester-Hagan [2] amendment exempting small farmers and retailers; organic farmers were already exempted from FDA registration fee, reporting, and product traceability requirements, for farms with less than $500,000 in gross receipts.  The compromise language was very close to the original Tester amendment, which is why Senators Tester and Hagan both voted in favor of moving the bill forward.

Friday, November 19th, Majority Leader Harry Reid announced agreement had been reached on the order of final amendments and votes on S.510, which are now scheduled for Monday, November 29, after the Thanksgiving recess.  There will be a second cloture vote on the motion to proceed, followed by debate and votes on two amendments to be offered by Senator Coburn.  These are to be followed by debate and a vote on the Manager's Amendment to the original S.510 bill. If successful, the vote on final bill passage follows.

As explained by Senator Harkin, he and Senators Reid and Durbin had worked out an agreement in advance of Senate passage with House Democratic leadership to accept the Senate-passed bill, hold it at the House desk, and then vote on passage of the Senate bill.  This procedural maneuvering eliminates the usual joint Senate-House conference committee to work out differences with the Waxman and House passed Food Safety bill, H.R. 2749.  If the House approves, the final version of the Senate Food Safety bill would then be sent to President Obama for signing into new law."

Here's the nut of it; S.510 as originally envisioned by Dick Durbin (D-IL) has been moderated but not eliminated in the sense of preventing more Big Government. While no one in his right mind would argue against food safety, valid arguments can and have been raised against more government layered on top of the Big Government we already have. Amendments have been offered and appear to be in the final Bill which seem to address the concerns of small businesses, small farmers, small ranchers, small food producers, farmers markets, hobbyists, home gardeners and seed enthusiasts and such.

The Bill, as it stands now, is going to be available to be voted on after reconciliation with the House version (HR 2749) with this proviso; no monies will be appropriated for this expanded authority in addition to the FDA's current $4 billion+ budget. The suggestion that new fees imposed by these changes by the FDA will not begin to cover expansive new bureaucracies that would be enacted into law are correct.  To carry out all of the new rules and FDA authorities, new spending will have to be approved, or current spending levels for other FDA programs or regulatory activities will have to be reduced.  The beast can be starved in the future even if not defeated outright the first time around.

Now, a multi-part discussion is necessary to even scratch the surface of our national food supply and the safeguarding of that food supply, including defining terms from the Bill, such as National Agriculture and Food Defense Strategy. Imported foods, overseas processed food plants, all sorts of possible breakdowns in food safety have to be discussed.

Let's look at arguments for S.510 and its cccopanion HR 2749. The two sides of debate concerning these proposed sweeping laws can be roughly divided up into traditional and big business practices on one side and natural and small operations on the other.

From the Florida Organic Growers website, we learn they've urged passage of S.510 - Florida Organic Growers Policy if, and I repeat if the Tester-Hagan Amendment is included in the final Bill. Quoting from their Statement,

"The bill takes important steps to improve corporate food safety rules but it is not appropriate for small farms and processors that sell to restaurants, food coops, groceries, schools, wholesalers and at farm stands and farmers markets.

"NSAC thinks that these farms should have food safety plans appropriate to their size and processing practices. But it is critical that as we ramp up food safety protections we don't inadvertently do harm to family farm value- added processing and the growing investments in local and regional food systems by imposing expensive, one-size-fits- all rules."

That's a provisional Yes from a substantial natural-market interest group.

From  Growing Produce there's a valuable discussion titled Two Sides To Food Safety: "Despite the recent foodborne illness outbreak, legislators need to make sure food safety regulations take both large and small growers into consideration." Which is not in favor of S.510 but explains that there's two sides to the debate. The depth of market difficulties that have to be navigated by the men and women who just bring you leafy greens is hardly known to the average consumer, and it would be good if you read up on the Home - National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement for start. Farming and ranching are tough businesses.

The industry trade group Food Marketing Institute urges swift passage of Food Safety Modernization Act - FMI NEWS RELEASE  Marion Nestle of Food Politics urges passage of the Bill reasoning that whether you're large or small, if you produce food for sale, you need to be accountable to food safety laws, and accountable to your buyers. No argument there. Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma argues that the Bill should be passed though it is not perfect, because we don't live in a perfect world (I don't think that puts words in his mouth) Read his interview with Ezra Klein of the Washington Post here

GRIST presents a well rounded version of Pros and Cons in their Food Fight debate and is worth your time.

And, from Bill Marler, an attorney specializing in food safety and food borne illneses at the MarlerBlog we read

"I am heading to DC early next week to attend with clients the House Energy and Commerce hearing on the latest in food safety theatre – the Egg Hearings (my bet is DeCoster “takes the 5th”). I also hope to be able to move forward the non-O157:H7 ball a bit more. However, I am still stunned that S. 510 will not move this session, and, given the likely results of the upcoming mid-term elections, will never see the light of day in my, or Linda's lifetime. As you might well recall, Linda Rivera is a Nevada woman who contracted E. coli from cookie dough and has been battling for her life for the past sixteen months, had been promised the Senate will move on the pending food safety bill, S. 510--the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. A constituent of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Rivera and her family had also become key advocates for the bill that has languished in the Senate for months.

Obama Foodorama (yes, there actually is a website dedicated to Obama food initiatives) has an interesting take on the Bill by referring to Senators Tester and Coburn as throwing monkey wrenches into this legislation. Read it for yourself.

Here's the curious thing: I've spent weeks scouring the internet for published reasons to support S.510. I suggest you do the same for five minutes. You won't find much. And you'd think for such a massive bill there'd be arguments for supporting it, but internet search engines won't be any help. There's almost no voice out there in support. That makes my nose itch.

One of the sources supporting the Food Safety and Modernization Act (S.510) is the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and their article National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition » Archive » Senate Food Safety Bill Includes Improvements That Support Farmers

What was all the shouting about in my first article, Wednesday November 17? With quotes from respected sources that with passage of S.510 we would lose our ability to grow our own gardens, save and trade seeds, make farmers markets into FDA police riots and food police with their noses in everything. What was that all about? Because, demonstrably, there's not a single thing in the Bill that says anything like that. Let us turn to an advocate of big government:

Do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.
 - Lyndon Johnson

Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) authored a comprehensive  description of what's wrong with S.510. I see no reason to add to his exposition and have his permission to use it in full, with my highest possible recommendation. He published Tuesday November 23 in USA Today.

Detailed Concerns with S.510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010

Growing an Already Disjointed and Duplicative Federal Government

In 2008, GAO testified before a House subcommittee that "FDA is one of 15 agencies that collectively administer at least 30 laws related to food safety. This fragmentation is the key reason GAO added the federal oversight of food safety to its High-Risk Series in January 2007 and called for a government wide reexamination of the food safety system. We have reported on problems with this system-including inconsistent oversight, ineffective coordination, and inefficient use of resources."

Specifically, GAO found that in 2003, FDA and USDA activities included overlapping and duplicative inspections of 1,451 domestic food-processing facilities that produce foods regulated by both agencies. This GAO testimony came on the heels of a 2005 GAO report that identified significant overlap in food safety activities conducted by USDA and the FDA, and to some extent the EPA and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), including "71 interagency agreements [to coordinate overlapping activities] that the agencies entered into... However, the agencies have weak mechanisms for tracking these agreements that...lead to ineffective implementation."

This overlap was evident in the egg salmonella scare. The Wall Street Journal reported (USDA Graders Saw Bugs and Trash at Egg Producer; Didn't Tell FDA) that U.S. Department of Agriculture experts knew about sanitary problems at one of the two Iowa farms at the center of a massive nationwide egg recall, but did not notify health authorities.) USDA inspects farms and gives eggs their "Grade A" label, while the FDA technically is tasked with the safety of the final egg product.

This discrepancy was the impetus behind an egg safety rule originally promulgated 10 years ago by the FDA. Unfortunately, three administrations sat on the proposed rule without finalizing and implementing it. FDA Commissioner Dr. Hamburg stated, "We believe that had these rules been in place at an earlier time, it would have very likely enabled us to identify the problems on this farm before this kind of outbreak occurred." A lack of regulatory bill isn't the problem.

Charging the Bill to our Children and Grandchildren

The legislation will cost $1.4 billion over 5 years. This cost does not include an additional $230 million in expenditures that are directly offset by fees collected for those activities (re-inspections, mandatory recalls, etc.). The total cost of the bill is over $1.6 billion over 5 years. Of these costs, $335 million are for non-FDA programs - the food allergy grant program, implementation grants to assist producers, assistance grants to states and Indian Tribes.

Many argue that this spending is just "discretionary." It is important to realize that the CBO score reflects the cost of the increase in FDA's scope. It is true that this bill only authorizes funding (though problematically, for the first time ever provides an authorization line for just food activities at FDA).

If future appropriations do not add up to the amount CBO is estimating, the likely result is that none of these provisions can be fully implemented, or worse, the FDA is forced to cut corners in other areas it regulates (drugs/devices/etc.) to fund this added regulatory burden on foods.

Without paying for this bill, at best we are just passing it for a press release, and at worst, we shackle the FDA with unfunded mandates.

New and Unnecessary Non-FDA Spending

CBO estimates that implementing other provisions of S. 510 would increase non-FDA discretionary spending by $335 million over the 2011-2015 period. The bill would authorize three grant programs outside the purview of the FDA:

  • School-based allergy and anaphylaxis management grants. Authorized at $30 million annually, CBO estimates that this program would cost $107 million over the 2011-2015 period. This program creates new federal standards for how local schools deal with food allergies and ties the "voluntary" standards to eligibility for federal grant funds. This is not a federal role, the standards are overly prescriptive, and it duplicates existing efforts. The CDC has already published extensive best practices for how local schools can implement sounder strategies for dealing with food allergens. The word "food" is the only relationship between legislation to dictate the food allergy policies of local schools and legislation to modernize how the FDA regulates the food industry.
  • Food safety training, education, extension, outreach and technical assistance grants. Enacting the bill would require the Secretary of HHS to enter into cooperative agreements with the Secretary of Agriculture to provide grants for food safety training, education, extension, outreach, and technical assistance to owners and operators of farms, small food processors, and small fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers. Based on spending patterns of similar programs, CBO estimates that implementing this provision would cost $21 million over the next five years
  • Food safety participation grants for states and Indian tribes. S. 510 would authorize the appropriation of $19.5 million for fiscal year 2010 and such sums in subsequent years to award grants to states and Indian tribes to expand participation in food safety efforts. CBO estimates that implementing this provision would cost $83 million over the 2011-2015 period.
Along with the grant programs, S. 510 also would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to participate in food safety activities and would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to enhance its participation in food safety activities. CBO estimates that EPA will incur costs of about $2 million annually. CDC is required to significantly increase its surveillance activities, which CBO estimates will cost $100 million over 5 years. CDC is also required to set up "Centers of Excellence" at selected state health departments to prepare for food outbreaks at a cost of $4 million annually.

Burdensome New Regulations

There are 225 pages of new regulations, many of which are problematic. While some regulations are potentially onerous, but perhaps reasonable - such as requiring every facility to have a scientifically-based, but very flexible, food safety plan-others give FDA sweeping authority with potentially significant consequences.

While it is hard to pull out just 1 or 2 regulations in the bill that make the entire thing unpalatable, on the whole this bill represents a weighty new regulatory structure on the food industry that will be particularly difficult for small producers and farms to comply with (with little evidence it will make food safer). The following regulations are perhaps the most troubling:

  • Performance standards. The bill gives the Secretary the authority to "issue contaminant-specific and science-based guidance documents, action levels, or regulations." The way the bill is written the authority is extremely broad and could be used by FDA to issue very specific and onerous regulations on food facilities, without even the normal rule-making and guidance process FDA food regulations normally go through.
  • Traceability. FDA is required to establish a "product tracing system within the FDA" based and develop additional record keeping requirements for foods determined to be "high risk." The House legislation includes "full pedigree" trace-back which puts FDA in charge of tracing the entire supply chain. The final bill requires the FDA to do this for high-risk foods, and while there are some limitations on FDA, anything further than the "one-up-one-back" requirement in the bioterrorism law will be very onerous on industry.
  • Standards for produce safety. For produce, this bill gives FDA the authority to create commodity-specific safety standards for produce. Instead of trusting industry and the free-market, this provision implies that complying with government standards is the best way to keep consumers safe. A lot of the produce industry lobbied for these standards to provide "consumer confidence" after the jalapeno and tomato scare, but federal regulations could particularly adversely impact small providers.
Other regulations in this bill are overly punitive and could set up an adverse relationship with industry. They include:

  • Administrative Detention of Food. The bill lowers the threshold for detaining articles of food to "adulterated or misbranded." The threshold is currently higher for a reason-administrative detention is an authority that should only be used when there is clear, imminent danger.
  • Suspension of Registration. Facility registration may be suspended if there is a reasonable probability that food from the responsible facility will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals. "Reasonable probability" isn't a difficult enough burden for FDA to prove when the consequence is closing down a private business.
  • Fees. Allows FDA to assess fees for compliance failures (recalls and re-inspections). These fees give FDA incentive to find reasons to re-inspect a facility or order a mandatory recall-the only ways they can collect money for their efforts. Furthermore, assessing industry to pay for a new regulatory structure will increase food costs for consumers during a recession.
  • Mandatory Recall Authority. Provides FDA with the authority to force a recall (and collect fees to pay for it). It is unclear why this authority is necessary - even in the worst food safety outbreaks, there do not appear to be any instances in which tainted products were on the shelves or with distributors that the company at fault did not work with FDA to conduct a voluntary recall. Allowing FDA to collect fees for forcing a mandatory recall could also push FDA to pull the trigger early on a mandatory recall - putting them at odds with the company responsible.

Taking off from Lyndon Johnson's observation, quoted above, the ambiguity of language in S.510 provides a giant opportunity for empowered authorities to make up both the intent and meaning of these proposed regulations and interpret this law as they see fit when they should be  constrained by specifics. Legislators can be amazingly specific when they want to be. But Law that is couched in terms and phrases that are ambiguously open to interpretation are exactly what leads to cascading unintended consequences. And many believe that's exactly why ambiguous language is used. Along the lines of better to ask forgiveness than permission. Or, more bluntly, we'll do as we please, see you in Court and we'll let a Judge sort it out.

This is exactly why so much distress and anger permeates the internet over S.510; the possibility of slowly eroding the natural rights of home gardeners and their valued seed stocks in the face of the sweeping changes genetically patented seed lines represent. Attorneys for multinational corporations making these GMO seeds are ruthless in pursuing lawsuits to enforce what they claim is patent infringement. Even when it is Nature spreading these seeds into fields and farms and not by consent or intent of farmers who find GMO patented seeds suddenly among their crops. The what if scenarios of ambiguous language coupled to a corporatist-Statist administration is frightening and the people raising an alarm about home gardens and seed stocks are probably not Chicken Littles. If recent history is any indication.

It's sophomorically easy and disingenuous to arm chair quarterback. The safety of our food supply and the responsibility for overseeing what that requires is a gargantuan undertaking. Hats off to every one in the chain of that command who is doing the job right, efficiently and without bureaucratic malice. But, arming that chain of command with both vastly enlarged responsibilities that are riddled with ambiguous, at best, powers of enforcement and guidelines is to ensure law that harms rather than protects. Man is a fickle animal capable of glory and honor but just as capable of chicanery and greed. Ambiguity invites disaster.

Lastly, S.510 is an inverted pyramid of power. Growing federal mandates on top of an already top heavy bureaucratic leviathan is neither efficient nor safe. Going to the well again, let's say it over and over Complexity Is The Enemy Of Security.

As sweeping a Bill as has ever been introduced regarding food safety, S.510 reaches too far, too wide, embraces too much with a one size fits all world-view and instead of the hard work of focusing on specific issues and making those work within the structure of Laws and Regulations and Departments already empowered the authors of S.510 chose to use the biggest brush on the biggest canvas.

Resulting in embodying the truism - Complexity Is The Enemy Of Security.

Dump S.510, go back to the drawing board, leverage the brilliance of the free market and reinstitute simplicity for the sake of security.

Michael Geer invites comments at geer.michael@gmail.com

 [1] Codex Alimentarius Codex Alimentarius - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - make sure you read the Controversy section; then do further research on why the United States Congress considers any legislation which advances United Nations' goals regarding our self-determined and independent preferences of foods, supplements, vitamins and other nutritional choices.

[2] Senator John Tester (D-MT) is a Certified organic farmer. T-Bones farm is 1,400 acres and a diverse organic operation.