Thursday, April 22, 2010

John Stossel and the Media's "Statist Syndrome"

By Howard Rich

When he first began his career as a crusading consumer journalist in the 1970s, John Stossel believed fervently that higher taxes and greater government involvement in the marketplace were integral checks against corporate greed and malfeasance. With an irreverent, intelligent and skeptical tone that riled corporations – but resonated with viewers – Stossel's career flourished, leading him to the pinnacle of his profession at ABC News.

But then Stossel experienced a metamorphosis in his thinking. After observing the chronic, costly failure of so many of the numerous big government solutions that he and his media colleagues repeatedly prescribed for society's ills, Stossel reexamined his fundamental beliefs.

"I started out by viewing the marketplace as a cruel place, where you need intervention by government and lawyers to protect people," Stossel explained shortly after undergoing his transformation. "But after watching the regulators work, I have come to believe that markets are magical and the best protectors of the consumer."

In fact, Stossel realized that in most cases regulators and bureaucrats only made matters worse, spending billions of tax dollars on so-called "solutions" that invariably wound up creating larger problems. Needless to say, Stossel's conversion to free market, libertarian principles – which he trumpeted every bit as loudly as he had previously trumpeted government interventionism – was not warmly received by his colleagues.

"Once I started applying the same skepticism to government, I stopped winning awards," the 19-time Emmy Award-winner said.

Today, Stossel is at the center of another media debate – only this time he's not just telling the story, he's a big part of the story.

In October of 2009 Stossel – who has also published two best-selling books – announced that he was leaving ABC News after 28 years to take a position with FOX News, which is widely regarded as the most "pro-free market" of America's major TV news networks. Ordinarily a reporter moving from one network to another isn't considered big news, but in Stossel's case it's significant.

While both Stossel and ABC describe their break-up in the most amicable of terms, the fact remains that ABC has been among the most vocal cheerleaders of the Obama administration and, in particular, his recently-passed socialized medicine plan. Stossel, meanwhile, watched as his reports on the perils of "Obamacare" struggled to find airtime. And while /20/20/ (to its credit) permitted Stossel's voice to be heard, his perspective was increasingly drowned out by a steady barrage of pro-Obama news coverage as well as a glorified "Prescription for America" infomercial from the White House.

In fact, during the first six months of 2009, an analysis by the Business and Media Institute found that ABC's health care stories featured Obama or supporters of his policies 55 times compared to just 18 times for critics of the administration's plan – a 3-to-1 advantage.

Speaking of 3-to-1 margins, though, the public clearly isn't overlooking this ongoing media bias.

In fact, in each year from 2001 through 2009, Gallup polling revealed that three times as many Americans viewed the media as being too liberal compared to those who believed it had a pro-conservative bias.

And more of those Americans than ever before now vote with their television remotes, as network ratings from the first quarter of 2010 were a bloodbath for CNN and MSNBC, arguably the nation's top two "pro-government" networks. Larry King's show – CNN's top-rated program – saw its numbers among the coveted 25-54 year-old demographic decline by 43 percent from last year, while Anderson Cooper's show experienced a 42 percent decline. At MSNBC, the network's top two primetime programs, "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" and "The Rachel Maddow Show," saw their ratings plunge by 43 percent and 38 percent.

Meanwhile, viewers continued flocking to Stossel's new home at FOX, which saw its top three shows expand their audiences by anywhere from 25-50 percent over the previous year – giving FOX more viewers than CNN, MSNBC and CNBC combined and extending its streak as the nation's number one network to 100 months. Also, Stossel's new TV show thrives on FOX Business Network.

Clearly, the free market is still alive and well in America – if only in our marketplace of ideas.

The author is Chairman of Americans for Limited Government.

The Naked Truth

By Rick Manning

Al Gore may have another cause to champion.

In the wake of some whacky climate "scientists" declaring that the "thawing" Icelandic ice cap could cause future serious volcanic eruptions due to the reduction of glacial mass that is keeping the earth's magma suppressed, the Daily Mail in the UK came up with an even crazier explanation of the seeming spate of earthquakes around the globe.

Scantily clad women. That's right. Bikinis make the earth move. I'm not talking Carole King lyrics here, but actual, real live shorts and halter tops.

Well known Iranian earthquake predictor, President and resident mad man Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has predicted that a quake is certain to hit the capital of Tehran, urging residents to relocate. Mahmoud may have misread the geological tea leaves when it comes to predicting what is likely to make the ground move in Tehran, but that is another topic.

Taking up President Madman's quake warning, Islamic cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi (HKS for short) proclaimed in a prayer sermon that, "Many women do not dress modestly…lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which leads to earthquakes."

Now, that explains the constant threat of earthquakes in California, but somehow I would guess that they were pretty bundled up during the Anchorage, Alaska quake on March 27, 1964.

It is suspected that Mahmoud and HKS have been taking lessons on the earth's geological foundations from noted intellectual Congressman Hank Johnson. Johnson, you will remember, last month worried that Guam might capsize in Congressional questioning of the Admiral in charge of the entire Pacific Fleet.

That brings us back to Iceland - an island, using Johnson's unique island flotation theory, even more in danger of suffering Guam's feared fate with Mt. Lotsarandomletters billowing tons of ash into the air. Clearly, as all that lava and ash flows upward, the bottom of the island gets lighter, exponentially increasing the chances of it tipping over.

All of which goes to show you that whether you are in Europe, Tehran, Washington, DC or even Tennessee, if you just turn in enough box tops, you too can get a hockey stick shaped diploma certifying your expertise on the weather and other natural phenomena. And it comes with a handy decoder ring too.

Rick Manning is the Director of Communications for Americans for Limited Government and the former Public Affairs Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Party of Jefferson, or the Party of Hamilton?

By David Nace

The Democratic Party has long portrayed itself as the party of Jefferson. This claim is largely the result of a speech made by Thomas Jefferson's grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, at the 1872 Democratic National Convention and not as the result of similarities in ideology between today's Democratic Party and the party Jefferson founded.

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison formed the Democratic – Republican Party in 1792 to oppose the policies of the Federalist Party formed by Andrew Hamilton several years earlier. Hamilton wanted to expand the power of the Federal government and to create a central bank. He proposed that the Federal government assume the debt that the individual states had incurred in fighting the Revolutionary War. To pay for his expansion of the Federal government, Hamilton proposed to issue government securities and institute taxes on farm products and whiskey.

These concepts appealed to the New York and New England merchants and bankers whose interests Hamilton represented. These wealthy merchants and bankers had provided much of the funding to the state governments during the Revolutionary War and provided supplies to the Continental Army. The continental script they had been paid in was now worth a mere fraction of its original value. The devaluation of the continental script made Hamilton's proposal very controversial since it would allow speculators and bankers to receive full value of the Continental Currency. The proposal was considered especially unfair to Virginia who had already fulfilled most of its Revolutionary War debts.

Hamilton's plan also called for promoting American manufacturing interests through protectionist economic policies. He proposed a program of direct government subsidies to manufacturers and tariffs on imported manufactured goods.

The final outrage to Jefferson and Madison was that Hamilton had expressed his belief that America should be a limited monarchy like England and not the republic that Jefferson, Madison and the other Founding Fathers had fought for.

As one of the leading philosophers and writers of the American Enlightenment Movement, it was Thomas Jefferson's vision that helped to transform the British colony of North America into the United States. Two of the fundamental principles of the Enlightenment Movement were the concept that individual citizens were capable of self governance and that the purpose of government was to protect the inalienable rights of the individual. He and Madison believed in the primacy of the rights of the states and that the Constitution was intended to limit the power of the newly created Federal government not to expand it.

Today's Democratic Party bears no ideological similarity to the principals of the Democratic – Republican party that Jefferson started. Its policies are far more like those proposed by Alexander Hamilton in 1790.

Since the election of FDR in 1932, the Democratic Party has expanded the scope of the Federal government far beyond the powers granted to it in the Constitution. Roosevelt and his cabinet used the economic crisis to allow the Federal government to regulate production and prices of all types of products under the National Industrial Recovery Act and Agricultural Adjustment Act. They began Federal control of electric power generation by establishing the Tennessee Valley Authority and began government involvement into the mortgage finance industry by establishing the Federal Housing Administration.

The Constitution clearly establishes the separation and balance between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the Federal government. Yet as the result of the Supreme Court overturning many pieces of New Deal legislation including the National Industrial Recovery Act and the Agricultural Adjustment Act, FDR instituted the Judicial Reorganization Act of 1937 to increase the number of justices and allow him to appoint justices more favorable to his policies. Ultimately, the act failed to pass, but its creation demonstrated that the Democratic Party did not even recognize the separation of powers essential to the Constitution.

Recent Democratic policies also demonstrate that it subscribes to the Hamiltonian concepts of industrial policy. It has proposed direct subsidies to favored industries. This has taken the form of direct investment in General Motors and Chrysler to prevent lawful bankruptcy procedures that would have reduced the United Auto Workers wages and benefits. It is proposing a Cap and Trade scheme that will subsidize alternative energy providers and politically connected energy companies at the taxpayer's expense. If enacted, this plan will greatly raise the energy costs for Americans of every income level. The tax revenues from this program are planned to fund drastically expanding Federal government programs proposed by the Obama administration.

The party of Hamilton is even promoting a plan to allow individual workers to face coercion and intimidation rather than secret balloting when deciding whether to join a union or not. While the Democratic Party portrays concern for individual workers, one of its largest fundraisers, SEIU wants to use the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act to deprive workers of the fundamental right to secret balloting.

While the remnants of Jefferson's Democratic – Republican Party were absorbed by the political parties that later formed the Democratic Party, their political philosophy of expansive Federal programs at the expense of individual rights, individual responsibilities and their lack of respect for the limitations of the Federal government imposed by the Constitution are far more aligned with the ideals of Andrew Hamilton than those of Thomas Jefferson.

David Nace, an Executive Vice President of a Pennsylvania construction and engineering company, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer for Americans for Limited Government.

Rubin: Environmentalism as Religion

Many observers have made the point that environmentalism is eerily close to a religious belief system, since it includes creation stories and ideas of original sin. But there is another sense in which environmentalism is becoming more and more like a religion: It provides its adherents with an identity.

Scientists are understandably uninterested in religious stories because they do not meet the basic criterion for science: They cannot be tested. God may or may not have created the world—there is no way of knowing, although we do know that the biblical creation story is scientifically incorrect. Since we cannot prove or disprove the existence of God, science can't help us answer questions about the truth of religion as a method of understanding the world.

But scientists, particularly evolutionary psychologists, have identified another function of religion in addition to its function of explaining the world. Religion often supplements or replaces the tribalism that is an innate part of our evolved nature.

Original religions were tribal rather than universal. Each tribe had its own god or gods, and the success of the tribe was evidence that their god was stronger than others.

But modern religions have largely replaced tribal gods with universal gods and allowed unrelated individuals from outside the tribe to join. Identification with a religion has replaced identification with a tribe. While many decry religious wars, modern religion has probably net reduced human conflict because there are fewer tribal wars. (Anthropologists have shown that tribal wars are even more lethal per capita than modern wars.)

It is this identity-creating function that environmentalism provides. As the world becomes less religious, people can define themselves as being Green rather than being Christian or Jewish.

Consider some of the ways in which environmental behaviors echo religious behaviors and thus provide meaningful rituals for Greens.

A Tale of Three N.J. School Budgets

by Eileen Norcross

Today, The Star Ledger profiles how three New Jersey school districts have responded to the Governor’s proposed five percent reduction of their total budgets.

Roselle Park stands to lose $1.4 million of its $30 million budget. They plan to cut middle school sports, clubs and 58 jobs. Property taxes will increase. There will be no wage freeze for teachers. The union told the school district,“Freezing salaries is not something that you can look at lightly. It has implications that affect people for many years. We’re considering everything.”

North Brunswick’s $4.1 million cut will mean the end of full-day Kindergarten, an increase class size by three students, and some job cuts. What about a pay freeze for teachers? At 4:30 on Friday the union agreed to a one-year pay freeze. As a result, full-day Kindergarten will be reinstated. Taxes will still increase.

Montclair is going half way. Only top earners and administrators will take a one-year pay freeze. In addition to cuts to some programs property taxes will increase.

Tomorrow, most New Jersey school districts will hold a vote on their budgets. The debate up to this point has been acrimonious and intense. The teachers’ unions are against the proposed state aid cut. And most districts have decided not to freeze teachers’ salaries.

President of the Garden State Coalition of School argues voters should look beyond teachers’ salaries before casting a vote. Gov. Christie advises residents reject budgets that don’t share in the sacrifice. He has accused the teachers’ unions of “using students like drug mules,”in their fight to stop budget cuts.

Montclair residents, unlike most New Jersey school districts, don’t get to vote on their school budget. They must accept the education board’s decision. And they don’t have much say about the board either. Montclair’s school board is appointed by the mayor.

Canada acknowledges inaction in Rwanda genocide

KIGALI (AFP) – Canada's governor general said on Wednesday Canada had failed to act in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, during her state visit to the country.

"Speaking on behalf of all Canadians," Michaelle Jean said at a press conference in Kigali after meeting Rwanda's president, "we too have a wounded memory by what you have experienced."

"Canada does not hesitate to recognise its part of responsibility," said Jean, the representative of head of state Queen Elizabeth II, quoted on Radio Canada's web site.

"I think we could have made a difference, I think we could have limited the extent of the horror," she added.

Jean, who arrived Tuesday evening in the capital for a three-day state visit, went to the Gisozi memorial in Kigali dedicated to the 1994 genocide, when over 800,000 mostly Tutsis were killed, according to United Nations data.

In 2008, Jean said at the press conference, "Canada restated that the genocide resulted from the indifference and inaction of the international community".

It "seriously failed in its responsibility to help a population in danger", the governor general said.

Video: Why can’t a successful Black woman find a man?

Blagojevich asks for President Obama to testify

Rod Blagojevich’s attorneys have asked for President Barack Obama to testify at the former Illinois governor’s corruption trial, saying he would be “a critical witness.”

Blagojevich has been charged with trying to sell Obama’s former Senate seat and trying to leverage official acts for money or jobs, including a position as a Cabinet Secretary in Obama’s administration.

“President Obama is a witness to the conduct alleged as well as an impeachment witness to at least two of the government’s critical witnesses,” defense lawyers said in a court filing in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

“The defense does not take lightly the overwhelming schedule the President has and the security constraints surrounding his testimony. A videotape deposition will remedy both of those legitimate concerns.”

Obama could shed light on potential witnesses Tony Rezko, the convicted fund-raiser for Obama and Blagojevich, and an unnamed union official who met with Blagojevich about the Senate seat.

Defense attorneys also said they have yet to receive notes from FBI interviews with Obama, who at the time was president-elect.

“The defense understands that the President of the United States of America is not a routine witness and would not request his appearance if it did not think he was critical to the liberty of Rod Blagojevich.”

UPDATE: A White House spokesman said: “The White House is not going to comment on an on-going criminal investigation.”

Search Continues for 11 Missing Workers in Gulf of Mexico Oil Rig Explosion

By Susie Madrak

We haven't seen one of these for a long time, but they do drill a lot deeper than they used to:

NEW ORLEANS—A massive fire on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico left 11 workers missing and cast a pall over an offshore drilling boom that stands to dramatically lift U.S. energy output.

Rescuers scoured the Gulf for the unaccounted workers late Wednesday as firefighters struggled to quench a towering fire that forced all aboard to flee.

The blaze on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which broke out around 10 p.m. central Tuesday night, thrust a geyser of flames and smoke into the sky about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Seventeen people were injured, three critically, rescue officials said.

The rig is operated for oil giant BP PLC by drilling contractor Transocean Ltd., which said the search for the cause of the fire would begin after the missing had been accounted for. But Transocean said one possibility that might explain the size and ferocity of the blaze is a blow-out, an uncontrolled burst of oil and natural gas from the well.

Some industry analysts said they feared the accident might temporarily damp the pace of oil development in the deepest reaches of the Gulf, which has become a significant exploration hotspot for international oil companies seeking new sources of petroleum. The industry is booming, and has been challenged by a tight supply of rigs and skilled workers.

The accident comes at a sensitive time politically for the industry. President Obama late last month proposed allowing drilling in new areas of the eastern Gulf of Mexico and off the southern Atlantic coast, where it was banned. Supporters argue the industry has become much safer. The Transocean fire could be an untimely reminder of risks.

"Is there a domino effect from this?" asked Arun Jayaram, a Credit Suisse analyst. "It seems like there would be some collateral damage."

TWO Expresses Solidarity With Creators of South Park After Muslim Extremist Group Makes Threats

NEW YORK – Truth Wins Out expressed strong support for Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of Comedy Central’s South Park, after they faced calls for violent reprisals following an episode that showed the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit. Such religious extremism and intolerance threatens all Americans, particularly the gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender community, says TWO.

“We stand in solidarity with the creators of South Park and strongly defend their freedom of speech,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. “Our liberty demands that we fight back against intolerant fanatics – no matter what the religion – who believe they can bully and intimidate to get their way. If zealots have a problem with South Park, they can turn the channel. If we cave into their demands, the LGBT community will be one of the first to feel the chilling effects and suffer the consequences.”

Following the controversial episode, a fringe Islamic website,, warned Parker and Stone that they could face retribution. The website included a graphic photo of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who was murdered in 2004 after making a documentary on violence against Muslim women.

“We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show,” the website reads. “This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them…They’re going to be basically on a list in the back of the minds of a large number of Muslims. It’s just the reality.”

“The goal of these extremists is to foment fear and create an atmosphere of self-censorship,” said TWO’s Besen. “This would essentially lead to an unwritten blasphemy law that would curtail creative freedom. We must not allow this to happen or other fringe religious organizations will view threats of violence as a legitimate strategy to meet their demands.”

Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that monitors religious extremism, fights anti-gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender misinformation campaigns, and educates about the lives of LGBT people.

Media Hypnotized by the Single Black Woman

By Zettler Clay
There is perhaps no greater talking point dominating the relationship circuit than the tale of the single black woman. And that tale isn’t received without venom from the black woman.

Black women are doomed to a life of singlehood because black men are jailbirds.

Black women are out-earning men and with that comes the demise of the black relationship.

Black women are outnumbering black men, so, yeah, there you have it.

For every 10 or so Tasha Macks, there is one good guy. So fight each other for that prize!

Rubbish. Hogwash. Balderdash. A few factors have to be considered long before diving into this discussion.

For one thing, debilitating stories about black people never had a problem catching anybody’s attention. Media outlets reporting the growth of the single black woman often report it on a macro-level, meaning that statistics are regurgitated, a known public figure is around to corroborate via a quote and the obligatory Oprah reference is made. This storytelling template renders context and nuance impossible.

Secondly, the demonization of black women is a lucrative field. That’s right. There are industries that are wholly dependent on the black woman’s insecurities. Prostitution, which is rooted in subterranean self-esteem, isn’t called the world’s oldest profession for nothing. This isn’t to say that these reports will make a drove of black women become prostitutes. It will, however, allow half-naked women and Nikki Minaj to persist on our television screens.

Do you think BET exists because it empowers black women? Yet, Viacom is pulling those strings because of, well, that profit thing. Black single woman woes sell magazines. Books. Make for fascinating reality television. Sends more women to the clubs. Women end up spending more money on clothes, nails and hair because there’s a man to be had. There are Indian and Korean industries that wouldn’t mind the continuance of single black women. In fact, I imagine they would welcome it.

Thirdly, there’s the subconscious element to consider. Our subconscious operate in absolutes. News, images, comments, readings, thoughts, noises, recantations and all that…is interpreted by the subconscious without discrimination in regards to the content matter. The subconscious is activated only by clarity of thought, repetition and emotions. If the same story is being told over and over with conviction, then that same story will come pouring out.

Input. Process. Output. That’s how the human hard drive works.

Combine these factors and there is every reason to be dubious about the reports and factoids surrounding the future of black women. The sky is not falling. Asteroids are dormant. And the sisters are not hopeless.

As a 24-year-old single black man, it is painful to see this deflating narrative sink into the psyche of my counterparts. One sister hit me up recently and told me the “ratio isn’t in my favor, so I’m giving up on true happiness.”

“True happiness” is mythic, so giving up on that is good. But that’s not what the sister meant. What she was really saying is that she is settling because she doesn’t deserve better. Or think she’ll get better. Or both.

In our society, being single is akin to being a leper. Perceptually, it is being a leper. Third-party perception and internal reality are rarely aligned, but the S.B.W. “dilemma” might be an exception. As my colleague wrote last week, the Economist saw fit to weigh in on this phenomenon. This piece made it unofficially official: The focus on a single dominant story is always the prerogative of media channels motivated by shareholders. As any freshman student majoring in finance will tell you, shareholders are beholden to only one thing.

There may be issues within the black male-female dynamic, issues which certainly can’t be wholly explained in a book, radio show or by Oprah. Incarceration hurts, sure. So does unemployment and poisonous cultural messages about who and what a man is. Cultural messages that affect women just as much (as evidenced by this and the number of black women who stay spouting the lyrics of their favorite hip-hop misogynist).

Throngs of unfit black men and women deserve to be single, as hordes of black men and women just don’t want to be in a relationship. That’s cool. In a perfect world, the issues of black women – or the black race – wouldn’t be ripe for pointing and lamenting and profit. But it is and perhaps always will be.

The gestation of this S.B.W. seed keeps black women fighting against other women. It keeps them fighting against black men. It keeps them fighting with themselves. As the world watches.

South Carolina’s Capital City Elects First Black Mayor

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s capital city has elected its first black mayor.

With just a few precincts remaining, results from the Richland County Election Commission show lawyer and lobbyist Steve Benjamin won Tuesday’s mayoral runoff election in Columbia with 10,784 votes, or 56 percent. City Councilman Kirkman Finlay III got 8,558 votes, or 44 percent. (Continue Reading…)

NY Feds Crackdown on Gambino Crime Family: Indict 14

NY FBI Agents Involved in the Mob Arrests/photo by Richard Kolko

The New York feds came crashing down on the Gambino crime family Tuesday, indicting 14 members and associates — including one of the top bosses — on charges ranging from murder, extortion and narcotics trafficking to tampering with the 1992 jury of then-boss John Gotti.

The 23-count indictment alleges certain defendants killed four people, two of whom were cooperating with the feds; extorted money from the building, home-heating oil and financial services industries; defrauded high-end New York restaurants; and used baseball bats to beat shakedown victims.

All but one of the 14 defendants — Steve Maiurro — are in custody. Among them is a woman, Suzanne Porcelli, who was charged with running a prostitution ring and the sex trafficking of a minor.

“As today’s case demonstrates, the Mafia is not dead — it is alive and kicking,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in statement. “Modern mobsters may be less colorful, less flamboyant and less glamorous than some of their predecessors, but they are still terrorizing businesses, using baseball bats and putting people in the hospital.

“Today the Gambino family has lost one of its leaders,” he added, “and many of its rising stars have now fallen.”

Central to the indictment is Daniel Marino, who authorities described as one of three bosses who run the Gambino crime family, which has more than 200 “made” members and hundreds of associates.

By Allan Lengel

Senior ICE Attorney Convicted of Taking Bribes: Caught in FBI Sting

A senior attorney with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was convicted Tuesday in Los Angeles federal court of taking a series of bribes from immigrants seeking documentation to remain in the U.S., the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

ICE Assistant Chief Counsel Constantine Peter Kallas, 39, of Alta Loma, Calif. was convicted following a three week trial, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

“Mr. Kallas was a corrupt government official who abused his position of trust to line his own pockets,” U.S. Attorney AndrĂ© Birotte Jr. said in a statement.

Authorities said Kallen has been in federal prison since August 2008, about two months after he was busted in an FBI sting and videotaped at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino in Highland, Calif. “where he and his wife accepted a bribe from an immigrant”, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

He accepted a series of bribes, some as high as $20,000, authorities said.
Authorities said court documents show that besides Kallas’ salary, the couple had deposited $950,000 in their bank accounts since 2000.
A search of their home turned up more than $177,0000 in cash, authorities said.

Feds Subpoena Sarah Palin in Hacker’s Trial in Tenn.

Republican star Sarah Palin may soon have a speaking engagement, but she won’t be able to collect a lucrative speaking fee as she as on different occasions.
The Huffington Post reports that federal prosecutors have subpoenaed her to testify in the trial of former college student David Kernell, 22, in Knoxville, Tenn. Trial began this week for Kernell who is charged with hacking into Palin’s email account during the 2008 presidential campaign.
A federal prosecutor said Palin’s husband Todd and daughter Bristol could also be subpoenaed, the Huffington Post reported.
“He definitely talked about how he didn’t believe in what she wanted to do,” David Omiecinski, Kernell’s former University of Tennessee roommate, testified, according to the Huffington Post.

By Allan Lengel

Pulitzer Prize Winners Who Brought Down Detroit Mayor Publish Book of His Famous and Infamous Quotes

By Allan Lengel
When former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who is the target of an FBI bribery investigation, was re-elected in 2005 in a miraculous comeback, he told his followers, “Some y’all just crazy.”
When he came to visit the Detroit Free Press years before his text-message scandal, he said to city hall reporter M.L. Elrick, “Boy, I’d really like to hit you.”
Well, Elrick, along with fellow reporter Jim Schaefer, ended up delivering the knockout punch to Kilpatrick. They got hold of thousands of his text messages on his pager — some worthy of Hustler magazine — that he had sent to his chief of staff and lover, Christine Beatty. The rest is history — including a Pulitzer Prize for Elrick and Schaefer and a book of Kilpatrick’s quotes that’s selling well enough to spark talk about a sequel.
The messages showed Kilpatrick had perjured himself in a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by two ex-cops.

Tor read full story click here.

Michael Steele Tells Blacks: You Don’t Have a Reason to Vote Republican

This is beyond mere incompetence. This shows Steele has no idea what it means to be a Republican:
Why should an African-American vote Republican?

“You really don’t have a reason to, to be honest — we haven’t done a very good job of really giving you one. True? True,” Republican National Chairman Michael Steele told 200 DePaul University students Tuesday night.

Steele — a former Maryland lieutenant governor and seminarian serving as the first African-American head of the Republican Party — offered a frank assessment of the American political system.

It’s not a “frank” assessment, it’s a monumentally clueless one that assumes people need to be courted by political parties — as if the only issue for black voters is whether a party sucks up to them sufficiently.

At least in theory, the Republican Party is supposed to be better because it stands for principles that help all people, including blacks. You want to see what Steele should say? Check out Larry Elder addressing the same issue to a skeptical black correspondent:

Do you know that inner-city parents want vouchers — the right to determine where their children go to school? Do you know most Democrats, including Barack Obama, oppose this? Republicans, for the most part, support vouchers. Where vouchers have been tried, kids appear to perform better, with higher parental satisfaction. You tell me, how many things are more important than a child’s education?

Do you know that 36 percent of babies aborted are black, while blacks make up 17 percent of live births? Do you know that polls show blacks are more pro-life than are whites? Yet the Democratic Party — to which over 90 percent of blacks belong — is the party of Roe v. Wade, requiring states to legalize abortion on demand. Do you know that Margaret Sanger, the founder of the organization that became Planned Parenthood, believed that poor blacks were inferior and that aborting their babies made our society better? Look it up.

Do you know that blacks stand to benefit more than whites through Social Security privatization, a position opposed by Obama but supported by McCain? Are you even familiar with the issue and what a powerful income-generating vehicle it would be for blacks? If not, take a look at the research done by the libertarian think tank Cato Institute and the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation.

Good, huh? He’s just getting warmed up.

You speak of policies that have “proven not to work.” What about the “war on poverty” that began in the ’60s, the policies that Obama and his party want to continue and expand? Do you know that today 70 percent of black children and over 50 percent of Hispanics are born outside of wedlock? The welfare state — which Democrats want to expand — has played a huge role in discouraging marriage and destabilizing families. . . . Compassion is not about making people dependent on government. Compassion is about encouraging personal responsibility, and getting people to understand that life is about making choices.

Read it all at the link.

If Michael Steele can’t think of a reason that blacks should vote Republican, get rid of him and install someone who can.

UPDATE: Dan Riehl disagrees:

By focusing on only one line from remarks RNC Chair Michael Steele made to a group, one has to wonder if some folks don’t have issues with blacks they actually do need to resolve. Slamming Steele for these remarks is not helpful to the GOP because Steele is correct. He isn’t calling for the GOP to change it’s [sic] positions, as many white so called RINOs regularly do. He’s speaking to the GOP’s inability to pierce barriers built up by the Left in his own effort to do that very thing. And for that, he should be criticized? I don’t get it. I really don’t.

I agree, Dan. You don’t get it. You really don’t.

Filed under: General — Patterico

Magic edge Bobcats 92-77, take 2-0 series lead

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Dwight Howard-Vince Carter combo again wasn’t perfect — just good enough to win.

Carter finished with 19 points, Howard scored 15 and the Orlando Magic took a 2-0 series lead with a 92-77 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.

The Magic’s star duo was less than stellar but took over when it counted most. They combined for 21 second-half points to help Orlando build a 20-point lead and hold on late.

Stephen Jackson showed no effects from his hyperextended left knee to score 27 points, and Gerald Wallace had 15 points for the Bobcats. But their 21 turnovers are a big reason why they’re heading home still searching for the franchise’s first playoff win.

Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Saturday in Charlotte.

This one wasn’t the prettiest playoff basketball.

The Bobcats went more than eight minutes to start the game with only three points, and had just one field goal with six turnovers during the stretch. The goods news for them: The Magic were almost as bad early.

The first half was a turnover fest for both teams, and nobody could consistently hit a shot. Things were so out of sorts that the normally sharpshooting J.J. Redick even badly missed the free throw from Charlotte coach Larry Brown’s technical foul in the second quarter.

The Magic put together the closest thing to a run, and they slowly went ahead 41-30 at the half on Ryan Anderson’s 3-pointer. With Charlotte’s 14 first-half turnovers, though, they could’ve been up more.

Eventually, they would. The Magic’s star pairing finally showed up.

Howard used a drop step, spun right and hammered home a rim-rocking dunk over Tyson Chandler that started a big Magic push. He had nine points in the first five-plus minutes of the third before picking up his fourth foul, again relegating him to the bench.

Then, Carter took the reigns.

Orlando’s biggest offseason acquisition, Carter sliced his way through the lane for several layups late in the third quarter. He anchored a run that put the Magic ahead 75-55 after three quarters with their entire bench standing, waving towels, shouting and smiling as they pulled ahead big.

After Charlotte trimmed the lead to eight with 3:16, Carter followed with a jumper. Then Jackson missed a layup, and Jameer Nelson raced down court to convert a three-point play that sealed Orlando’s win.

Jackson stood with his head band knocked sideways, pleading with official Bennett Salvatore for a whistle. It wouldn’t come.

The Magic now find themselves in a position that was unfamiliar in last year’s NBA finals run — a little series cushion.

They were down 2-1 to Philadelphia, trailed Boston 3-2 and went down 2-0 to the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals. Beating Cleveland in the conference finals in six games was the only series Orlando didn’t trail in last season.

NOTES: Magic coach Stan Van Gundy took exception that two voters left Howard, who won the NBA’s defensive player of the year award in a landslide, off their top-three in the ballot. “I don’t want to get into too much name-calling, but you have to be an absolute idiot,” Van Gundy said. … A day after Brown tried to motivate his players by saying the Magic weren’t taking the series seriously because they didn’t practice Monday, Van Gundy would only say he thought the remark was “humorous.” … Golfer Michelle Wie posted on her Twitter account that she was sitting courtside. Bobcats majority owner Michael Jordan was sitting on the baseline next to his team’s bench with his son, Marcus, a freshman guard for Central Florida.

NBA: San Antonio 102, Dallas 88

The Spurs produced just the third road victory in the 16 NBA post-season games played to date to even the series 1-1.

San Antonio jumped to an 11-3 lead and although Dallas closed to within one midway through the second period, the Spurs surged again and held a 58-46 halftime advantage. Dallas rallied to trail by only five in the fourth period, but San Antonio then scored eight straight to put the game away.

Duncan scored 25 points and Ginobili had 23. San Antonio shot 48 percent from the field and held Dallas to 36 percent.

Duncan and Ginobili combined to make 19-of-31 shots from the field and Richard Jefferson contributed 19 points.

Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 24, but made only 9-of-23. He also missed a free throw for the first time in nine games.

San Antonio, which lost to the Mavericks in five games in last year's conference quarterfinals, will host Game 3 Friday.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

Ariz. immigration debate pressures McCain

PHOENIX — Republican Sen. John McCain, who once championed a path to citizenship for the nation's roughly 12 million undocumented immigrants, is now pushing for a crackdown on illegals amid the toughest re-election fight of his career.

McCain's hardline stance on immigration comes in the face of a credible GOP primary challenger, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, and the possibility that the party's 2008 presidential nominee could lose his Senate seat because many conservatives don't consider him one of their own.

Engaged in a fierce contest with the tea party-backed Hayworth, McCain has moved to the right on numerous issues, including gay rights and climate change, and disavowed his long-standing maverick label.

The killing of an Arizona rancher last month stoked conservatives' emphasis on fighting illegal immigration. The state Legislature on Monday sent Republican Gov. Jan Brewer one of the toughest immigration laws in the country; Brewer hasn't said what she will do. The turn of events has moved immigration to the forefront for voters — and Hayworth has used the issue as a cudgel against McCain.

On March 27, rancher Rob Krentz, 58, was found dead on his all-terrain vehicle after making a garbled call about encountering someone apparently needing help. Authorities say they believe Krentz was shot by an illegal border-crosser, possibly someone working for a smuggling cartel, although they haven't made arrests in the case.

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Ahmadinejad departs on Africa tour

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has departed Tehran for Zimbabwe on the first leg of his trip which will also take him to Uganda.

Before his departure at the Mehrabad International Airport on Thursday, the president told reporters that the visit comes as part of his administration's plan to consolidate ties with African countries.

He said that he is to inaugurate a production line of tractors in Zimbabwe as well as attending the country's International Trade Fair in Bulawayo.

In Zimbabwe, President Ahmadinejad will also meet President Robert Mugabe to discuss political and economic cooperation as well as regional and international issues.

The Iranian president will then leave for Uganda, where he will meet with his counterpart Yoweri Museveni and other officials to discuss various issues including "joint economic ventures" and "mining activities".

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, senior aide Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi and the head of the presidential office Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei will also accompany the president on his African tour.