Don't Count Palin Out Yet

Is Sarah Palin’s star fading? So saith CNN, which noted that the former Vice Presidential candidate was not invited to speak at this year’s Republican National Convention. What the article didn’t mention, however, is how many candidates Palin has endorsed and campaigned for this year have been winning elections. If Ted Cruz becomes the new Senator from Texas or Debbie Fisher wins in Nebraska (or several other candidates that I could name win), they will owe a big thank-you to the former Governor of Alaska. Don’t count the lady out yet.

Haters target Brad Pitt’s mom. When Jane Pitt, the movie star’s mom, read a letter to the editor in her local paper saying that Christians shouldn’t vote for a Mormon, she disagreed. So she wrote a letter to the editor herself, saying that if you care about traditional values, you should vote for the candidate who shares those values, even if he doesn’t share your faith. Then she added, “Any Christian who does not vote or writes in a name is casting a vote for Romney’s opponent, Barack Hussein Obama – a man who sat in Jeremiah Wright’s church for years, did not hold a public ceremony to mark the National Day of Prayer, and is a liberal who supports the killing of unborn babies and same-sex marriage.” For daring to speak out, she was promptly deluged with hateful emails, Twitter messages and even death threats.

Now here’s a really cushy job. In this space last week, I mentioned how meter maids in one California city were earning nearly $100,000 a year for collecting coins. But this is even crazier. The contract between the Detroit Water and Sewage Department and Local 207 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees requires the city to pay for a horseshoer — even though the department does not have any horses and hasn’t for years. Can you say “featherbedding?”

Another Marxist for Obama. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says that “real revolutionaries” should ignore any criticism of his regime by U.S. President Barack Obama. “Obama is campaigning. He’s a candidate,” Chavez said on Venezuelan TV. So you have to overlook when “a good guy” says such things.

–Chip Wood

The Republicans’ Pretty Good Party

Now that 20,000 soggy delegates, alternates, lobbyists and political hangers-on have left Tampa, Fla., what can we say about the just-concluded Republican convention?

Ron Paul fans weren’t given much to cheer about. Yes, there was a brief video tribute to the man himself. And his son, Rand Paul, the junior Senator from Kentucky, was given a second-tier speaking slot. But the convention rules were rigged so that Ron Paul’s name could not even be placed in nomination for President — with the result that none of his delegates had a chance to vote for him.

Oh, there was one other nod to the Paul camp: The Republican platform endorsed his longtime demand to audit the Federal Reserve. Granted, an audit is a long way from Paul’s far more meaningful campaign to abolish the Fed. But it’s a start.

We should also be cheered that a bill demanding such an audit actually passed the House of Representatives this year. It’s no surprise that Harry Reid made sure it never saw the light of day in the Senate. But I think it’s safe to say that Paul’s “End the Fed” campaign made more progress this year than in the past 20. And I was glad to see that it got at least a crumb or two from the Republican powers that be.

Conservative friends who were at the convention have told me, with considerable pride, that the Republican platform for 2012 is “the best one we’ve seen in the past 20 years.” Looking over the various provisions in it, they’re probably right. But so what?

Sorry, but how many minds do you think will be changed — or how many votes will be won (or lost) — by anything that is in either party’s platform? Party platforms are much ado about nothing. I liked the suggestion from House Speaker John Boehner, who suggested that the whole thing should be boiled down to one page. “Do you know anyone who’s ever read the platform?” he asked. Clearly, the question was meant to be rhetorical.

I don’t have anything to say now about Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech. Thanks to the deadline schedule for Personal Liberty, I have to turn this column in before he delivers it. But let me say a few words about some of the other tub-thumpers I heard leading up to it.

First, Paul Ryan did exactly what he was supposed to do. In his acceptance speech for the Vice Presidential nomination on Wednesday night, he lambasted Barack Obama for his failed policies and lack of leadership. He came across as smart and sincere, ready to argue the issues and passionate about helping change the country’s direction. He was interrupted by applause more than any other speaker in Tampa; let’s see if the head of the ticket does as well.

Let me also note something everyone agrees on: Ann Romney did a wonderful job in her prime-time speech Tuesday night. She was warm, personable, loving and sincere. Brit Hume, Fox News’ veteran analyst, said it was the best convention speech he had ever heard, bar none.

I thought she did a decent job trying to humanize her husband and an incredible job appealing to other women. No one could doubt the passion and the trust in her voice, when she declared: “This man will not fail. This man will not let us down. This man will lift up America.”

I wondered how the left would try to turn Romney’s smashing performance into a negative. On Wednesday morning, I got my answer. The New York Times began its coverage of her speech with this: “She may be too good. Ann Romney is so gifted at politics, she may actually make her husband look a little bad.”

How’s that for damning with faint praise? But wait, it gets even worse. Here’s the rest of the article’s opening:

Their personality gap — her ease, his discomfort — has been evident in most of the many joint interviews they have given television reporters.

But it really stood out during her bold, boisterous testimonial to him at the Republican convention on Tuesday night. She was electric — when Mitt Romney came to her side at the end, he somehow sapped the energy from the moment.

Gee, just think how nasty The Times would have been if she’d done a bad job! Still, I suspect the overwhelming majority of Americans — men and women — will prefer Ann Romney’s enthusiastic sweetness to Michelle Obama’s icy toughness. If the Mitt Romney campaign is smart, we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more from Ann Romney over the next two months, both in live appearances and in commercials.

I wasn’t blown away by Chris Christie’s tough-love keynote address. He may have had the best one-liner of the convention, though, with this remark: “Real leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls.”

The theme of his remarks was the need “to choose respect over love.” It seemed to me that it got a little stretched when he said that choosing respect over love meant telling the truth about entitlements to senior citizens and telling the truth about debt to working families. Somehow, I don’t see either of those becoming a popular bumper sticker.

Several reporters jumped all over the New Jersey Governor for talking a lot more about himself than he did about Mitt Romney. Although I didn’t have a stopwatch on him, it’s probably true that Christie didn’t mention the Republican nominee by name until he was 16 minutes into his peroration.

OK, so maybe he did go on about his Sicilian mother a little too long. But give the guy a break. His job was to put some juicy red meat in front of the assembled delegates. Overall, he performed that task very well.

By the way, so did someone who got very little coverage in the mainstream media. I’m referring to Artur Davis, the black former Congressman and longtime Democrat who actually seconded Obama’s nomination in Denver four years ago. Davis is now a Republican. His speech on Tuesday should help win over some independents and disenchanted Democrats. I hope a bunch of them saw it.

Now, forgive me as I sign off. I want to hear how Marco Rubio does introducing Mitt Romney — and how the candidate himself comes across. Forget sweet and cuddly; what America needs now is a strong and forceful leader. Let’s see if Romney can convince enough Americans that he’s the one.

Those two talks on Thursday night will go a long way to determining whether Romney or Obama carries Florida this November. Whoever wins the Sunshine State will probably win the White House, too.

So tell all your friends in Florida to vote early and vote often.

Just kidding. This isn’t Chicago, you know.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

California Passes Bill To Ban Therapy For Gays

A therapy intended to turn homosexuals and bisexuals into heterosexuals will not be allowed after a bill was passed by California’s Democrat-controlled Assembly on Tuesday. The bill, which prohibits children from undergoing conversion therapy, passed with a 51-21 vote. Gay-rights advocates who believe a person is born homosexual consider the passing of the bill a landmark victory.

Democrat Richardo Lara, an openly gay legislator, believes that “sissy boys” should be protected from such intervention.

“One of our number one priorities in this house is to protect the next generation of Californians,” said the legislator in a speech prior to the vote.

“And some of those are sissy boys. And some of those sissy boys grow up to be Assembly members. And some of those sissy boys need help. And we are here to stand with those sissy boys.”

John Perez, an openly gay speaker of California’s lower house, called the therapy a “dehumanizing activity.”

Those who voted against the bill believe that the bill imposes on personal liberty. They say that each individual should get to choose whether or not they get the therapy.

Internet Censorship Via Executive Order

There was a fight earlier this year about Internet freedom and privacy as Congress attempted to create legislation (SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, ACTA) that would give government more control over the Internet. When Internet companies and the public expressed disdain for such a measure, legislators backed down.

Now they have a different plan.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sent a letter earlier this week to President Barack Obama urging him to forgo Congress and pass cybersecurity legislation via his powers of executive order.

“While efforts to reach consensus continue, I fear that the Congress will be unable to pass meaningful cybersecurity legislation this year. Therefore, I believe the time has come for you to use your full authority to protect the U.S. economy and the networks we depend on from future cyber attack[s],” Feinstein contends. “While an executive order cannot convey protection from liability that private sector companies may face, your administration can issue cybersecurity standards and provide technical assistance to companies willing to take voluntary steps to improve their security.”

The Senator believes that the Nation faces grave and imminent national and economic security implications as long as the Internet is free and that there is no time to wait for Congressional legislation.

“These are meaningful, if limited, steps that can be taken now,” she said. “The threats to our national and economic security are simply too great to wait for legislation.”

Feinstein said the President should also encourage more collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security and private enterprise in the way of information sharing in order to lessen threats to national security.

A plea similar to Feinstein’s was made earlier in the month by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who also cosponsored Senator Joseph Lieberman’s latest attempt at legislation ceding control over the Internet to the government.

“[B]ecause it is very unclear whether the Senate will come to agreement on cybersecurity legislation in the near future, I urge you to explore and employ every lever of executive power that you possess to protect this country from the cyber threat,” Rockefeller wrote in a letter to Obama. “We must act to address our cyber vulnerabilities as soon as possible and many components of the Cybersecurity Act are amenable to implementation via executive order, normal regulatory processes, or other executive action under the authorities of the Homeland Security Act.”

Cybersecurity bills that have already been proposed have been met with harsh criticism from a number of conservative lawmakers, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a number of Internet-based companies. The critics say that such legislation opens the door for the Federal government to impede Internet commerce with burdensome regulation and could have a damning effect on Internet free speech.

White House chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan has said recently that the Obama Administration is considering the possibility of Internet regulation through executive order in the wake of recent failed legislative attempts to implement the controls.

Did Obama Just Sign Your Death Warrant?

“Following the direction set by President [Barack] Obama on May 21, 2010, NHTSA and EPA have issued joint Final Rules for Corporate Average Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas emissions regulations for model years 2017 and beyond, that will help address our country’s dependence on imported oil, save consumers money at the pump, and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.” So proclaimed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in a news release Tuesday.

Skipping over the poppycock that “greenhouse gases … contribute to global climate change,” let’s get to the meat of the new “direction.” Fleet fuel efficiency must average 35.5 mpg by 2016 (that’s just three model years away) and 54.5 mpg by 2025.

Under current government standards, the only way automakers can achieve these thresholds is by eliminating SUVs, vans and pickups (or downsizing them so that they are impractical) and replacing them with small-battery electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

This is merely a sop to the environmentalists. In fact, there at the end of the release for all to see is the sop:

The program also includes targeted incentives to encourage early adoption and introduction into the marketplace of advanced technologies to dramatically improve vehicle performance, including:

  • Incentives for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cells vehicles;
  • Incentives for hybrid technologies for large pickups and for other technologies that achieve high fuel economy levels on large pickups;
  • Incentives for natural gas vehicles;
  • Credits for technologies with potential to achieve real-world greenhouse gas reductions and fuel economy improvements that are not captured by the standards test procedures.

The new standards will drive up the average car price by $3,000 or more, according to the Federal government. The National Automobile Dealers Association warns that the additional $3,000 will drive about 7 million consumers out of the car market. The higher price tag will negate any “savings at the pump” promised in the NHTSA release.

And these new “Corporate Average Fuel Economy,” or CAFE standards are a death warrant. Studies show that as cars are made smaller and lighter, deaths and injuries in crashes increase. NHTSA data show that for every 100 pounds reduced from small cars, 322 additional deaths result. A 1999 USA Today analysis of crash data and estimates from the NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that, in the years since CAFE standards were mandated under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, about 46,000 people have died in crashes that they would have survived if they had been traveling in bigger, heavier cars. This translates into 7,700 deaths for every mile per gallon gained by the standards.

In essence, Obama just signed a death warrant for almost 208,000 people.

If the Obama Administration wanted fuel-efficient cars, it would relax emissions standards and allow importation of high-mileage diesel European cars like the Volkswagen Passat Bluemotion 1.6 TDI which currently gets 69 mpg.

But the aim is force you into cars you don’t want and that the free market would never support in order to placate Obama’s environmental constituency and pass more fiat money along to his green industry donors.

Abortion Survivor Attacks Obama

Pro-life advocates The Susan B. Anthony List are ready to begin a TV ad campaign that criticizes President Barack Obama’s stance on abortion. The first ad features Melissa Ohden, a woman who was born alive despite an attempt to abort her.

“Many children, more than you might think, actually survive failed abortions and are born alive. I know because I’m one of them,” says Ohden in the ad.

“When he was in the Illinois state Senate, Barack Obama voted to deny basic constitutional protections for babies born alive from an abortion — not once, but four times. Is this the kind of leadership that will move us forward, that will discard the weakest among us?” she asks.

As a Senator, Obama spoke against the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. Obama thought it would be OK to let infants die if they survived an abortion. Read more of the details here, here, here and here.

In 2001, Obama said:

Whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the Equal Protection Clause or other elements of the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a — a child, a 9-month-old — child that was delivered to term.

That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place. I mean, it – it would essentially bar abortions, because the Equal Protection Clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an anti-abortion statute. For that purpose, I think it would probably be found unconstitutional.

 

Expert: Costco Caters To Ultra-Affluent

STEVENS, Pa., (UPI) —  It’s not surprising Mitt and Ann Romney enjoy shopping at Costco, because it is the only discount retailer that attracts the affluent, a U.S. expert says.

Pamela Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and luxury market expert, said Costco was the only discount chain that attracted more ultra-affluent — consumers with more than $250,000 income a year — than lower-income shoppers, with income ranging from $100,000 to $249,900 a year.

“The fact is the affluent customers that Costco attracts are about the only ones in this economy who can afford to invest in a six-month supply of paper towels or toilet paper,” Danziger said in a statement. “Households on tight budgets can’t afford to tie up so much cash in stockpiling supplies. In addition, Costco stocks many name brands and gourmet foods that appeal strongly to the wealthy.”

Costco knows that its affluent consumers are likely to be small business owners acutely aware of the mark-up that typically comes at high-end stores. The discounter consciously strips away the frills that mean extra expense to these consumers and offers a bare-bones environment that says “savings,” Danziger said.

“The affluent consumers get excited by the hunt for name-brand bargains,” Danziger said. “They will put up with long checkout lines and the big-box format in order to get access to such a wide variety of quality items at deeply discounted prices and they are absolutely addicted to the Costco experience.”

Middle Income Students Have More Debt

MADISON, Wis., (UPI) —  Middle income families are more likely to rack up high student loan debt than students from both lower and higher income backgrounds, U.S. researchers say.

“Many middle income families make too much money for their children to qualify for student aid packages,” study author Jason N. Houle of the University of Wisconsin-Madison said in a statement. “While at the same time, they may not have the financial means to cover the high costs of college.”

The study found nearly 41 percent of all students left college with some student loan debt, and the average debt among those students was more than $22,000.

The study involved 4,414 participants in the 1997 National Longitudinal Study of Youth, which contains data on a nationally representative sample of young men and women from 1997.

Houle found, on average, young adults from middle income backgrounds, whose families earned between $40,000 and $59,000 annually, left school with more than $6,000 more in student loan debt than their low income peers whose families made less than $40,000 per year.

Similarly, students whose families made between $60,000 and $99,000 annually, racked up nearly $4,000 more in student loan debt than young adults whose families earned less than $40,000 per year. More than 90 percent of all Pell Grant recipients come from families with annual incomes of less than $40,000.

The findings were presented at the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

Identity Authentication Services Offered

DALLAS, (UPI) —  Subscription-based authentication services for U.S. law enforcement agencies accessing the FBI’s CJIS database are now on offer.

Under an FBI policy enacted last year, law enforcement agencies must use advanced authentication — such as biometric systems, smartcard and software tokens — by October 2013 to verify the identities of officers or individuals accessing the CJIS database from non-secure locations.

Heartland Business Systems and Entrust Inc. said they can provide the authentication service leveraging Entrust’s authentication framework technology.

“Entrust has a long, successful history with law enforcement agencies in the deployment of identity-based security for authentication, encryption and credentialing,” said Entrust President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Conner.

“Our partnership with Heartland Business Systems is a critical step that will enable these agencies to easily and cost-effectively comply with the FBI’s CJIS policy — all via a single security management framework.”

The companies said their turnkey authentication system provides for a number of authentication options to meet unique user requirements.