Conservative Political Commentary

...usually with an attempt at historical and economic context

Saturday, November 20, 2010

New TSA Procedures = Stupidity Itself

Seal of the United States Department of Homela...Image via WikipediaIt’s a good thing we have the Tea Party and citizens’ groups unafraid to take on our too-often ridiculous federal government over outrageous insults to our people. Look for more well-deserved protests over the Transportation Safety Administration’s nude body scans and “enhanced” pat-downs. I predict that these unreasonable procedures won’t hold up for long.

Things like this make it harder to have proper respect for government, particularly some of the more contemptible and pathetic features of the Obama Administration. It’s not enough to spend our country into financial oblivion and take over major industries, now they have crossed yet another line that should never be crossed, for reasons which, like the “climate change” nonsense, bear little resemblance to reality.

Under the phony guise of “safety” they treat people (as Ron Paul described) “like cattle,” and some people are willing to meekly accept it. Rep. Paul (R-TX) has introduced legislation to fix the problem. You may have seen this video before, but it’s worth another look:



If the authorities are really interested in protecting anyone, they should adopt Israel’s policy of putting people into a booth that will detonate any explosives they’re carrying. That would solve the problem.

But instead, the Porn and Pervert Department (TSA) is going to feel up passengers, child or adult, in ways that would constitute a sex crime if done by anyone else. An exception would possibly be Muslim women in burquas, since they are members of a special favored group these days. Or else, passengers must be run through a nude body scanner that will give the bureaucratic pervs something to chuckle over. What total nonsense. Americans simply can’t, and, I believe, won’t put up with this patently offensive and unconstitutional procedure.

Meanwhile George Soros and former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff stand to make a lot of money on the equipment used for this demeaning and sorry process. I predict they’ll be called to testify in a House investigation in 2011. Someone should be investigating the TSA and firing Janet Napolitano. She should demonstrate her approval of the TSA process by receiving a pat-down, joined by members of Congress, like Ron Paul suggested.

As for Chertoff, according to the Washington Examiner,

After the undie-bomber attempt on Christmas 2009, Chertoff went on a media tour promoting the use of these scanners, without disclosing that he was getting paid by Rapiscan, one of the two companies currently contracted by TSA to take a nude picture of you at the airport…

Chertoff was quickly reamed for not disclosing how he had monetized his public service.

The whole situation is depressing for two reasons:
1) It’s tawdry how much our “public servants” use their government jobs as meal tickets.2) It’s sad how much companies set up their businesses to depend on government, and thus lobbyists. [1]


George Soros?

As for the company’s other political connections, it also appears that none other than George Soros, the billionaire funder of the country’s liberal political infrastructure, owns 11,300 shares of OSI Systems Inc., the company that owns Rapiscan. Not surprisingly, OSI’s stock has appreciated considerably over the course of the year. Soros certainly is a savvy investor. [2]

Maybe not illegal, but bad form anyway. Whatever the means that led to the acquisition of these devices, the real offense is in their use.

Fortunately (I suppose), not every passenger is being subjected to this insufferable (I’m running out of adjectives here) treatment, which makes it look even more stupid. So Big Brother has yet another way to intrude into our private (and I mean private) lives. If this is allowed to continue, I hate to contemplate what the next step might be. Between this and Obamacare, your government appears to think that your body belongs to them.

The concerns over this outrageous procedure include possibly harmful radiation from the scans. TechNewsDaily reports that a lawsuit has been filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C., seeking suspension of the scanning process until health concerns are addressed:

Radiation acts as a multiplier of natural cancer rates, Brenner said. There are 800,000 cases of basal cell carcinoma diagnosed in the United States each year, which is one of the most common cancers associated with X-ray exposure…

“There is no good reason why [TSA] scans the head and neck, especially since you can’t hide explosives there,” [David] Brenner [of Columbia University] said. [3]

Back to privacy concerns, the article reports,

The EPIC lawsuit states that the program run by the DHS violates the Privacy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. It also alleges that the systems violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, referencing religious laws about modesty.

“It violates modesty for many religions,” McCall said. “We’ve seen Catholics, Orthodox Jews and Muslims all upset by the invasive scanning technologies. It’s a violation of their religious freedom.” [4]

Not simply stating the problem, the article discusses a better alternative that doesn’t have the most objectionable features of the Rapiscan process. [5]

TSA procedures have been duly objected to by George Will and Charles Krauthammer, brilliant and eloquent columnists I greatly respect. You’ve probably read several things about this, but I thought I needed to toss in my two cents.

Full disclosure: I haven’t flown in several years, and I probably won’t again. But these government attacks on human dignity and liberty threaten everyone and make me angry. I admire John Tyner for voicing his famous objection. He is facing a possible large fine for his trouble.


[1] Timothy P. Carney, “Bush’s Homeland Security Secretary flacking for nudie-scanners, too,” 11/14/10, The Washington Examiner.


[2] Mark Hemingway, “George Soros also profiting off controversial new TSA scanners,”
11/14/2010, The Washington Examiner.


[3] Samantha Murphy, “Lawsuit Filed Over Airport Scanner Privacy, Health Concerns,” 08/06/2010, TechNewsDaily.

[4] and [5] Ibid.



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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

QE2: Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

Official portrait of Federal Reserve Chairman ...Image via WikipediaWhat is QE2 and what is the Federal Reserve trying to accomplish?
The Fed decided to embark on a $600 billion plan to buy Treasury securities in order to balance out economic components to better fulfill their mandate for price stability and full employment.
Ben Bernanke’s statement:
“Measures of underlying inflation are currently at levels somewhat below those the [Federal Open Market] Committee judges most consistent, over the longer run, with its mandate to promote maximum employment and price stability. With substantial resource slack continuing to restrain cost pressures and longer-term inflation expectations stable, inflation is likely to remain subdued for some time before rising to levels the Committee considers consistent with its mandate …
“The Committee will continue to monitor the economic outlook and financial developments and is prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery and to return inflation, over time, to levels consistent with its mandate.” [1]
What happened with QE1?
Mike Larson at FXStreet.com writes,
[In the housing and mortgage arena], [t]he Fed bought $175 billion in debt sold by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It also bought $300 billion in U.S. Treasuries, and $1.25 TRILLION in mortgage backed securities — bonds made up of bundles of home loans. [2]
Larson notes that key housing indicators such as housing starts, sales of existing homes, etc. demonstrate the failure of the QE1 effort to help the economy. [3]
Another writer sees the effort as likely to fail:
Mr. Bernanke is making the same blunder that we made with the past bubbles busts – if we can create paper profits and convince consumers that they should spend those paper profits then we’ll be on our way to economic prosperity. The problems arise when asset prices readjust lower to meet their true fundamentals. It’s ponzi finance and nothing more.
As I have previously explained, the goal of QE is to increase aggregate demand by creating a fictitious wealth effect and by increasing bank loans. [4]
Fed Independence in Danger? Or Fed Independence Is a Danger?
The Federal Reserve’s massive involvement in the TARP bailouts and QE1 have led to criticism of the Fed for getting involved in fiscal (in addition to monetary) policy. Thus the Fed has been subjected to more than usual political criticism and calls for its abolishment, and a return to the gold standard.
When the Fed is arbitrarily inflating the money supply by trillions, there will eventually be much more inflation than they claim to want. Bernanke says QE2 is supposed to ramp up inflation a bit so as to balance out with increased employment, thus getting both the Fed’s mandates into line.

It is certain that the Fed has not succeeded in its full-employment mandate. There hasn’t been a great amount of inflation because much of the newly-created money has sat in banks’ Federal Reserve accounts drawing minimal interest because banks don’t see much demand for loans due to the Obama Administration’s promotion of threatening conditions, i.e. higher taxes, Obamacare, and general hostility toward business large and small.

Do We Know the Real Reason for This Project?
J. D. Foster at National Review Online thinks Bernanke is not forthcoming about his actual reasons for wanting this “stimulus,” because of possible political consequences, but apparently it is not wanted simply to stave off deflation:
… If the economy is expected to muddle through, let alone accelerate, then there is no reason to embark on a highly risky, highly controversial new round of quantitative easing [to prevent deflation].
Why won’t Bernanke be transparent in this? Because he also worries about the Fed’s independence. Imagine President Obama’s reaction if the chairman of the Federal Reserve were to point out the obvious truth that the economy dare not sustain a massive tax hike at this time. Or if he were to say that the prospect of such a tax hike is what forced the Fed’s hand on QE, despite the risks. Whatever Bernanke’s intentions, this would be interpreted as a blatantly partisan act by the non-partisan Fed. [5]
Turn Off the Bubble Machine!
According to some of the Fed’s critics, especially of the Austrian school, the central bank’s manipulation of the currency is what brings on the bubbles, booms, busts, and accumulating inflation that our economy experiences. They point out that the Fed was slow to recognize (publicly, anyway) the housing bubble, leading to a deep recession which Peter Schiff was ridiculed for correctly predicting.

Marvin Hutchinson of Money Morning sees the Fed’s move as creating a commodities bubble that must burst:
By encouraging higher inflation - a stance that was clear in the recent statement of the policymaking Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) - Bernanke is creating a commodities bubble that is already showing signs of distorting the global market. By keeping interest rates below inflation for years at a time, he is discouraging U.S. saving and encouraging leverage.
That leads to the creation of massive bubbles - such as are currently appearing in the junk bond market, and occurred in dot-com bubble of 1997-2000 and the housing bubble of 2003-06.
In the long run, the losses from those bubbles bursting - combined with the low savings rates - will destroy the U.S. capital base. Once the United States no longer has more available capital than its competitors, it will have less and less ability to create good-paying jobs and preserve U.S. living standards. Thus, unemployment will increase and real wages will decline. [6]
A satirical article at The Onion was headlined, “Recession-Plagued Nation Demands New Bubble To Invest In.”
But we’ve had enough of the bubble-and-burst cycles.
World financial leaders oppose it.
Reuters reports:
Resentment abroad stems from worry that Fed pump-priming will hasten the U.S. dollar's slide and cause their currencies to shoot up in value, setting the stage for asset bubbles and making a future burst of inflation more likely.
“With all due respect, U.S. policy is clueless,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told a conference.
“(The problem) is not a shortage of liquidity. It's not that the Americans haven't pumped enough liquidity into the market, and now to say let's pump more into the market is not going to solve their problems.” [7]
 Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at The Telegraph reports that the world views the Fed action as a move to devalue the dollar:
China's commerce ministry fired an irate broadside against Washington on Monday. "The continued and drastic US dollar depreciation recently has led countries including Japan, South Korea, and Thailand to intervene in the currency market, intensifying a 'currency war'. In the mid-term, the US dollar will continue to weaken and gaming between major currencies will escalate," it said. [8]
Further, Evans-Pritchard writes,
As this anti-dollar revolt gathers momentum worldwide, the US risks losing its "exorbitant privilege" of currency hegemony – to use the term of Charles de Gaulle. [9]
Evans-Pritchard expects the Fed’s policy to bring more food inflation to countries that can least afford it:
The innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire of Fed policy are poor countries such as India, where primary goods make up 60pc of the price index and food inflation is now running at 14pc. It is hard to gauge the impact of a falling dollar on commodities, but the pattern in mid-2008 was that it led to oil, metal, and grain price rises with multiple leverage. The core victims were the poorest food-importing countries in Africa and South Asia. Tell them that QE2 brings good news. [10]
Conclusion
The Fed’s decision to implement QE2 will lead to inflation, reducing the value of the dollar, and aggravate currency relationships with other countries. This will contribute to weakened purchasing power for Americans, who already are cheated of the ability to gain from saving, and will contribute little to nothing to economic recovery. It will do nothing to increase demand in America or elsewhere.

Loosening money and credit even more won’t help when interest rates are near zero already, and banks are lacking customers who want to borrow. QE2 exacerbates the problem by introducing more risk and uncertainly into the markets. It’s been correctly characterized as a back-door tax increase.

Also, the Fed subjects itself to even more scrutiny and criticism, and risks the independence it so wants to protect. Both the dollar and the economy would benefit greatly from less manipulation and “help” from the government and the Fed.

[1] Mike Larson, “Fed confirms: QE2 on tap … despite dismal failure of QE1! Have these guys gone nuts??” 09/24/2010, FXStreet.com.

[2] and [3] Ibid.

[4] Pragmatic Capitalism, “Northern Trust: QE1 Failed, Why Will QE2 Work?” 10/10/2010.

[5] J.D. Foster, “Why Bernanke’s QE Justifications Don’t Wash,” 11/15/2010, The Corner, National Review Online.

[6] Marvin Hutchinson, “As QE2 Looms, Is the Fed Focusing on the Wrong Things?” 10/08/2010, Money Morning. (Emphasis added)

[7] Glenn Somerville and Zhou Xin, “Global anger swells at Fed Actions.” 11/05/2010, Reuters, via Yahoo! News.

[8] Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, “QE2 risks currency wars and the end of dollar hegemony,” 11/18/2010, The Telegraph (U.K.).

[9] and [10] Ibid.

Photo: Portrait of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Public domain.
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Debt Commission Co-Chairs: Raise Taxes, Cut Spending, Including Social Security and Medicare

White House Photo, Erskine Bowles, US Govt. Ca...Image via WikipediaReport Gathers Negative Comments
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (“Debt Commission”) has issued a draft report by its Co-Chairmen Erskine Bowles and Former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY). As the co-chairmen said, it is not likely to be well-received by all.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [of California] called the targeting of Social Security and Medicare “simply unacceptable,” and Republican Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas expressed opposition to proposals to raise taxes. [1]
 Business and Media Institute, in an article, points out that of the three major broadcast evening news programs, only CBS reporter Chip Reid mentioned that the report calls for tax increases of $961 billion over 10 years as estimated by Americans for Tax Reform.

The BMI article noted that “ATR slammed the report saying, ‘It confirms what everyone has known – this commission is merely an excuse to raise net taxes on the American people.’” [2]
The plan is calculated to reduce the federal deficit by $3.8 billion over 10 years. It arguably falls well short of what is needed, since we would still have massive deficits and very high national debt. But the political will to reduce the deficit substantially seems to be lacking, because it would interfere with important benefits.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the chairmen had told “working Americans to ‘Drop Dead,’” while Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) faulted the report for cutting Social Security benefits while reducing corporate and upper-income taxes. [3]
Spending Cuts Are Necessary, Higher Taxes Are Not
What’s missing in Trumka’s and Grijalva’s analyses is the concept that “reducing corporate and upper-income taxes” is precisely the thing that would help more “working Americans” get back to work. Union members are going to find an increasingly difficult marketplace for the products and services they provide if more and more people are out of work because of the unfavorable and uncertain tax picture.

Also, it is not safe to assume that raising taxes and cutting out popular deductions will increase revenues. Increased revenues will result from policies that encourage business expansion and hiring, especially lower income tax rates that are not offset by tax and fee increases elsewhere. Increased net taxes don’t free up capital. Also, the proposal to tax capital gains at ordinary income tax rates will slow, not encourage investment. If you want less of something, tax it.

But significant spending cuts are essential to any improvement in the deficit picture. Deficits and debt in the range we’re seeing today cannot continue for many years. At current spending levels, debt service alone takes up a very large share of the budget. The spending cuts mentioned are good, but not enough. Defund NPR and PBS. Yes, fine.

Welfare can be cut extensively. It has been recently increased dramatically. We could get back to 2008 levels and further. The biggest sacred cows are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. These items represent unfunded liabilities in the tens of trillions of dollars, and the Social Security Trust Fund will never be adequate because it is basically worthless. My suggestion is to phase out these programs over a period of 25 to 30 years while grandfathering in current recipients and people who are scheduled to receive benefits fairly soon. Younger people should be advised to provide for their own retirements and health care.

The commission report calls for increasing the retirement age and trimming certain benefits over a long period of years.

Of course, the trouble with any plan, the Debt Commission’s or any other that covers a lot of years, is that there’s no assurance that it will be carried out beyond the current Congressional term if enacted into current law. Any future Congress can greatly change or scrap the program or any part of it. So for future officials, it’s simply a suggestion.

Steps That Will Definitely Help the Economy
The report seems to have been timed for, as Rush Limbaugh suggested, the lame-duck session of Congress. It is seen by some (including me) as an excuse to raise taxes, but it is also more than that, in that it seriously proposes substantial spending cuts. If America is to avoid a financial collapse certain things need to be done:
1. Significantly reduce spending, including entitlements.
2. Hold the line on taxes. If businesses were assured of a level tax burden, especially if the tax code could be simplified so that compliance costs would be lower, there would be much more incentive to hire people.
3. Pull back on intrusive regulations. These regulations are really just another kind of tax, considering the time and money required to comply.
4. Substantially cut the size of government, eliminating some Cabinet departments and large programs.
Remember:
To effectively reduce the deficit and national debt, we must improve the economy.

Conclusion
The Hill article reports,
The White House reserved judgment in a statement that said the president would not comment until a full commission report is released.
It’s unclear whether that will even happen. The commission report must be agreed by 14 of the 18 members to win approval, and some liberals on the panel criticized the chairman’s proposal. [4]
I think Bowles may be correct in characterizing the report as a “strong starting point.” [5]Congress and the Administration, sometime soon, must take responsibility for getting spending under control and stopping the lemming-like stampede to the edge of the cliff.

Otherwise, the laws of economics and finance will take over and we’ll see not only a bad economy, but a currency collapse and the degrading of our standard of living. There is time to avoid that and turn things around. Economic growth and job growth can happen fairly soon, but not with endless spending and new taxes.

The National Inflation Association said all Americans will be millionaires due to hyperinflation. Are they right? Remember Zimbabwe. The Fed is already monetizing the debt, i.e., beginning to pay it off with newly-printed money. That’s what their $600 billion “QE2” plan is about. Until some new collapse actually hits, it may seem like no action is needed. But things are not always what they seem to be.

[1] Heidi Przybyla and Brian Faler, “Deficit Plan Matches $3.8 Trillion Math With Tough Politics,” 11/11/2010, Bloomberg.

[2] Julia A. Seymour, “‘Explosive’ Debt Commission Recommendations Include $961 billion Tax Hikes,” 11/11/2010, Business and Media Institute.

[3] Alexander Bolton, “Pelosi, political left rip proposal from debt commission chairmen,” 11/10/2010, On the Money blog, The Hill.

[4] and [5] Ibid.

Photo: Portrait of Mr. Erskine Bowles. Public domain.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You: GOP Mainstreamers Attack Tea Party

Jim DeMint, Incumbent SenatorImage via WikipediaMaybe it’s just that some of their friends lost their GOP primary races to Tea Party candidates. Maybe some good-old-boy networks are feeling the heat. Could be it’s more the changing times that are uncomfortable to some established officials.

But the complaints about the Tea Party, coming from Republican establishment figures are off the mark.

For example: Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama) claimed that Sarah Palin prevented the GOP from taking control of the Senate because Tea Party candidates Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell, who won their primary races, failed to defeat their Democratic opponents in the general election, although it was believed that had they not challenged other GOP candidates, the Senate seats would have ended up in the GOP column. The Hill reported:

“The Senate would be Republican today except for states [in which Palin endorsed candidates] like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware,” Bachus said at a local Chamber of Commerce event last week, the Shelby County Reporter wrote Sunday. “Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate.” [1]
The Tea Party backed candidates on the basis of principle, which trumped some people’s idea of electability, thinking that electing a RINO (Republican in name only) is hardly better than electing a Democrat. The Tea Party is issues-oriented.

While it may be true that certain Tea Party candidates were less electable than their establishment primary opponents, the Tea Party should be given a lot of credit for the Republicans’ success in the general election. What they brought to the table was great energy and a focus on issues. Perceived RINO’s did not receive their support because they did not support the Tea Party’s issue positions, notably, small government, spending cuts, and repeal of Obamacare.
According to The Hill’s article, Bachus spoke for others in the GOP as well: “Some Republicans have privately groused that Tea Party-backed candidates who were not electable prevented the GOP from taking control of the upper chamber.” [2]
 Well, the GOP picked up enough seats to deny the Democrats anything near the 60-vote supermajority that they wanted, and now they are in a position to stop legislation they don’t want. That’s a substantial increase in power. Even though the Democrats may have lacked the full 60 votes before, they could sometimes get some Republicans to vote with them. Now (that is, starting in 2011), that will be much more difficult.

Some mainstreamers, especially those who were defeated in the primaries, will probably never have any love for the Tea Party, but the GOP is actually better off without the ones who are too timid to put up opposition to the Democrats, and are just as out of touch with voters as the Democrats are.

Senator Lindsey Graham has gone from wholesale dissing of the Tea Party movement in early July to “reaching out” to them by September.

A New York Times Magazine article of July 4, 2010, quotes Graham:

"Everything I’m doing now in terms of talking about climate, talking about immigration, talking about Gitmo is completely opposite of where the Tea Party movement’s at,” Graham said as Cato drove him to the city of Greenwood, where he was to give a commencement address at Lander University later that morning. On four occasions, Graham met with Tea Party groups. The first, in his Senate office, was “very, very contentious,” he recalled. During a later meeting, in Charleston, Graham said he challenged them: “ ‘What do you want to do? You take back your country — and do what with it?’ . . . Everybody went from being kind of hostile to just dead silent.” [3]
 He went on to predict the demise of the Tea Party movement: “The problem with the Tea Party, I think it’s just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out.” [4]

An angry reaction by the Tea Party was forthcoming, as one might expect, as reported by The Democrat Daily:

“Lindsey Graham’s repeated public attacks on the hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians like me who have participated in tea party events displays an arrogance and contempt for the views of his constituents that is beyond the pale,” says Allen Olson, chairman of the Columbia (S.C.) Tea Party. “It is among the reasons three South Carolina GOP committees from Charleston, Greenville and Lexington Counties have censured him in the past two years.” [5]
 However, Sen. Graham, while not changing his views on the issues and on working across the aisle, seemed more conciliatory in September. According to an article in The Hill, Graham met with a Tea Party group in Charleston, SC:

Graham defended himself as a mainstream conservative, and expressed worry that public officials like himself were being effectively prohibited from expressing disagreement with the party.
“If you can't accept me pushing back, then our party does have a problem. It's OK for you to push back against me, but it's OK for me to push back against you,” Graham said on WTMA radio in South Carolina, where he received a grilling over his record. “You may not like my political style of trying to find compromise on the big issues of our time, but I think it's the heart and soul of what makes America great.” [6]
 A Politico article states:
With tea party-backed candidates going down in Delaware, Colorado and Nevada, depriving Republicans of what would have been a 50-50 Senate, a bloc of prominent senators and operatives said party purists like Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) had foolishly pushed nominees too conservative to win in politically competitive states. [7]
 So, the GOP is involved in a needless and possibly destructive quarrel, when they need to be united in their election victories. Where would they be today without the Tea Party? Probably where they were before the election, with citizens deeply dissatisfied with Obama’s policies, yet finding inadequate response from the GOP in Congress, mainly because of low numbers. There would be public protests, but with a lot less organized action to change things.

The Tea Party led the way to the GOP victory. They understood and shared the dissatisfaction of most Americans with Washington and found ways to make changes. To me, this is the epitome of citizenship in action. The energy they contributed was indispensable. And it should serve notice that the people still have some power. Democrats and Republicans, take notice.

And to the complaining GOP members of Congress: You will have a House majority and a much-improved Senate-seat count largely because of the energy and determination of the Tea Party. They didn’t win all their races. But they were successful enough that there shouldn’t be a lot of whining from you. Count your blessings.


[1] Jordan Fabian, “Key Republican: Palin cost us the senate,” 11/08/2010, Blog Briefing Room, The Hill.



[2] Ibid.

[3] Robert Draper, “Lindsey Graham, This Year’s Maverick,” 07/04/2010, The New York Times Magazine.



[4] Ibid.

[5] Scott Nance, “Tea Party Groups Blast Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham For Criticism In Times Profile,” 07/06/2010, The Democrat Daily.



[6] Michael O’Brien, “Sen. Graham reaches out to Tea Party,” 09/03/2010, Blog Briefing Room, The Hill.

[7] Jonathan Martin and Manu Raju, “GOP senators fight over failure,” 11/03/2010, Politico.
Photo: Portrait of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina). Public domain.
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Friday, November 5, 2010

Obama’s Plan To Embarrass America in the UN: “Human Rights” To Be “Reviewed”

President Barack Obama, supposed champion of “diplomacy,” has arranged for America’s detractors to judge us on our human rights record. The U.S. is to be evaluated by countries whose own human rights records range from dismal to inhuman. Continuing President George W. Bush’s policy of non-participation in this farce would be a no-brainer to anyone except those of the radical-liberal-fascist-socialist persuasion. But not to Mr. Obama. It’s a diplomatic mistake rarely equaled short of war-or-peace negotiations.

The politicization of the process is obvious to all but the most ignorant of the situation. Here is an unusual opportunity for such regimes as Libya, Cuba, Iran, etc. to paint America as an international villain, when, in fact, America is a shining example of an excellent human rights record, one far better than those of her critics. One must conclude that our involvement in this charade is an example of extremely inept “diplomacy” on the part of the Obama Administration, or else a deliberate attempt to undermine America’s international standing.

As Patrick Goodenough of CNS News points out, countries under review get the speakers’ slots stacked with their allies, many of whom have terrible human rights records, and the process can become simply mutual praise of oppressive regimes, or, in the case of, say, the U.S., the opposite occurs:
In a bid to preempt anticipated criticism from liberal democracies, countries with poor records are reportedly ensuring that their allies sign up in large numbers so as to dominate proceedings with anodyne expressions of support.
Conversely, when a state under review (SuR) is a democracy that for some reason is viewed with antagonism by other countries, the speakers’ list is quickly filled by countries wishing to use the UPR as an opportunity to attack their chosen target. [1]
This has been the pattern. So look for dictatorial regimes to criticize America for every possible problem that can be blown out of proportion. Obama helped set the agenda for this with his criticism at the UN of Arizona’s immigration law (See my previous article here). While most Americans would rightly view America’s race relations as much improved and greatly better than in past decades, the professional race-baiting community is never going to accept anything, since doing so would be admitting that their activity is no longer needed. And opponents of capital punishment can’t resist another forum to criticize the U.S. on that score.

If it weren’t for the fact that this ridiculous process touches on serious international relations, it would certainly be laughable. Iran criticizing U.S. human rights? Venezuela? Cuba? Countries where there are no human rights?
Examples of the “violations” prevalent in the U.S., [Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast] said, were police brutality, discrimination toward minorities, and insults directed [at] religion under the pretext of freedom of speech.
A Tehran Times article quoting Mehmanparast’s remarks reported that there were 45 executions in the United States in 2009, up from 37 in of 2008. [2]
The U.S. has submitted a report listing some of America’s human rights shortcomings. No one claims that America is perfect but to invite the sort of dishonest and exaggerated criticism that will likely be leveled by nations who wish the U.S. no good is neither cathartic nor helpful in any other way, except to the truly vicious regimes that want to sit in judgment. The report “[l]ists achievements as a democracy guided by ‘simple but powerful principles,’ but admits to discrimination against blacks and Hispanics and a ‘broken’ immigration system.” [3]

So, Iranian, Cuban, and Venezuelan “spokespersons” are lining up to trash the U.S. when their own countries are filled with incidents of political murder and imprisonment, and whose own people are suffering oppression at the hands of their cruel and hypocritical regimes.


[1] Patrick Goodenough, “Cuba, Venezuela, Iran Top the List of Countries Lining Up to Scrutinize U.S. Human Rights Record During U.N. Review,” 11/04/2010, CNS News.

[2]  Ibid.

[3] Stephanie Nebehay, “Factbox: U.S. Report to U.N. Human Rights Council,” 11/03/2010, Reuters.
 Apparently this article is no longer available.

Photo: Dreamstime.com
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