Author archives: Chris Gacek

Does “FTC” Mean “Clueless” ??

by Chris Gacek

December 18, 2009

With all the big health care news going on this week one could not be blamed for missing the news that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has filed suit against Intel, the computer chip maker, for anti-competitive practices. This news left me scratching my head. Of course, it is possible that Intel is crushing its competitors with horrible business practices, but, as the Wall Street Journal notes, it isn’t so obvious. Chip prices decrease now at staggering rates, and it is not clear that Intel is selling their chips below cost, the lodestar of anti-competitive behavior.

More to the point is this: has anyone at the FTC noticed that we are in a crushing recession and that Intel is one of the very few bright spots in the American economy? I guess not. To an outsider Intel appears to be engaged in fierce competition while fighting off regulators using antiquated anti-trust tools.

The Europeans have recently fined Intel a massive amount, but this strikes me as being part of a emerging trade pattern in which EU authorities use their trade laws to cripple America’s leading tech companies. Of course, the U.S. government appears oblivious to this strategm. Microsoft has been the most visible punching bag for the Euros.

Bottom line: perhaps, our government would do better laying off our job creating industries and firms until the unemployment rate — the “U-6” rate which is the broadest — goes from 17% to half that amount. How’s that for a deal?

Using Abortifacients to Covertly Abort Another’s Baby

by Chris Gacek

December 9, 2009

The story broke this Saturday that another attempt has been made to surreptitiously use a chemical abortifacient to kill a womans baby. In this instance a Brooklyn woman, Keisha Jones, was infuriated to find out that her husbands girlfriend became pregnant, so she tried to kill the girlfriends baby by chemically inducing a miscarriage. According to a story in the New York Daily News Jones tricked the pregnant mother, Monique Hunter, into going to a pharmacy and picking up a prescription for misoprostol, a drug that immediately causes a pregnant woman to begin uterine contractions. The trick worked, she took the drug, and Hunter soon went into labor.

Misoprostol is the second drug in the Mifepristone (RU-486)/Misoprostol abortion regimen approved by the FDA. It should be noted that RU-486 is not available in the United States by prescription. RU-486 is only available through abortion providers who agree to certain terms and conditions set by FDA and the drug manufacturer / distributor that is, doctors, clinics, and hospitals. RU-486 kills the pregnancy by blocking its development, but the misoprostol is needed to expel the embryonic or fetal remains.

Thankfully, the baby was born alive and is healthy. Incredibly, Jones tried another stunt to kill the baby: this time she tried to have poisoned milk given to the baby. That trick didnt work, and it led to Joness arrest.

Misoprostol was approved as an anti-ulcer medication, but it can be used to kill. Pregnant women need to be very careful about the drugs they take. In particular, they need to be warned never to take misoprostol, mifepristone (RU-486), or methotrexate, an abortifacient and chemotherapeutic drug.

Obama Is A Vulcan, Only Hes Tuvok not Spock

by Chris Gacek

December 3, 2009

Imagine my surprise, amusement and satisfaction upon reading an Associated Press story in the Tuesday (12/1/2009) Washington Times entitled Obama seen not unlike Mr. Spock. You see I had been claiming that President Obama resembled a Vulcan for about a year-and-a-half that is long before he was elected president.

The only problem with the A.P. story is that the president doesnt resemble Spock he resembles the Vulcan Tuvok from a later iteration of the show. (Yes, that would be the indescribably terrible Voyager. The show with Captain Janeway and Neelix — the most P.C. of all. The one with the Indian shaman. Didnt the men wear dresses? Hide the razor blades. The memories of it are returning.)

Well, Tuvok was played by an African-American actor, Tim Russ, and Russ bears an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Obama. One eco-Trekkie agrees; go here and see Obama in Tuvoks uniform. Or this on Facebook (Barack Obama Is Actually Tuvok. Yes, we have never seen both of them at the same time.)

Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live, give Tim Russs agent a call and sign him to a three-year two-month contract with a renewal option. Russ is your dead-ringer Obama impersonator, but he needs to wear the Vulcan ears when playing the President or the gag wont work. (Lorne, it shouldnt have taken this long to figure this one out.)

+ + +

On a more serious note, this Vulcan thing is now having political implications. So says A.P.s Seth Borenstein who writes, President Obama’s Spock-like qualities have started to cause him political problems in real-world Washington. Critics see him as too technocratic, too deliberative, too lacking in emotion. No kidding. (The A.P. article appears to be an attempt to spin Obamas bloodlessness to be a positive a nerdy love for science. It isnt.)

Obamas Vulcanism seemed completely obvious to me. Hes a great orator, but he has none of the warmth of a Ronald Reagan or a Bill Clinton. They would light up a room when they entered. Obamas different. I was always struck by images of Obama sitting next to some poor shlub in an Iowa diner at breakfast with the other guy looking like he wanted to take his pancakes and run away. No one-on-one rapport. None.

That doesnt make someone a Vulcan, however. Unfortunately, Obama has a detached, rationalism that is incapable of projecting any empathy. Combine that with his general demeanor, and you start getting a Vulcan. Even the patrician Bush the Elder could shed a tear occasionally. One doesnt have to go Dick Vermeil to beat the Vulcan tag, but I dont think I have ever seen Obama come close to choking up.

The greatest example of Obamas Vulcanism occurred when the president hosted ABCs propagandistic Health Care Day at the White House. He told a woman whose 100+ year-old mother had a pacemaker that under his scheme her mothers zest for life wouldnt have gotten her the device that kept her alive. You could almost hear the utilitarian Vulcan maxim: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Your mothers Death Panel does not approve of pacemakers for 100 year-olds. So, well give your mother some painkillers and send her on her way to go die in Vulcan Valhalla. (Actually, thats a pretty close approximation of what Obama did say.)

Who knows how this will all end up, but articles like this one in the Washington Times demonstrate that the public is starting to look at Mr. Obama much differently. And the media spins on.

Stupak-Pitts Amendment Speaks Truth to Power

by Chris Gacek

November 20, 2009

There is much gnashing of teeth by abortion supporters over the inclusion of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment in the Speaker Nancy Pelosi health care bill H.R. 3962. Bart Stupak, Michigan Democrat, and Joe Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican, succeeded in amending H.R. 3962 so that no government funds can be used to pay for abortion. Claims that Stupak-Pitts is out of line with current law or that it is unconstitutional are simply false.

The Stupak-Pitts amendment (Stupak-Pitts) combines two principles. First, it contains the core principle of the Hyde Amendment that the government not encourage abortion through direct funding or subsidization of the cost of plans that cover elective abortion. Second, Stupak-Pitts refuses to accept deceptive schemes in which funds deposited into a common pot are claimed to be separate. Stupak-Pitts recognizes the obvious truth that money is fungible. Hence, Stupak does not swallow the deception that government subsidized insurance policies covering abortion do not involve the government in the promotion or encouragement of abortion through subsidies.

Anyone with an ounce of foresight on the Left should have seen this coming. The current principle in federal law a la Hyde is that the United States government does not pay for abortions (with exceptions of mothers life, rape and incest) or pay for the cost of any plan that covers abortion. This principle even carries over to the private plans purchased by government employees. Now, if, as the Democrats want, the government is going to dominate, micro-regulate, and subsidize the nations health care system both government run and privately insured then the question of how the Hyde principle will apply to these new programs arises immediately.

The answer is that Hydes logic runs the gamut of all the new health care expenditures and programs. Therefore, Stupak-Pitts carries Hyde forward and refuses to buy into the accounting gimmicks that would give the Democrats cover for funding abortions. Speaker Pelosi had a choice. She could either allow a vote on Stupaks amendment, or she could accept the defeat of her health care bill. She chose to allow a vote on Stupak-Pitts, and her side lost. To strip Stupak-Pitts from the bill now would be highly dishonest, and, if Stupak-Pitts can count votes, it will lead to the defeat of Obama-Pelosi health care in the House.

As for the claims that Stupak-Pitts is unconstitutional, they are wrong as well.

The major constitutional point here is that the Congress is given wide discretion in deciding how to spend money and fund or not fund certain activities. This is true even if the activity in question rests on the exercise of a constitutional right. The old saw is that merely because there is freedom of the press, the government doesnt have to buy a writer a printing press, paper, and ink. The abortion-promoting members of Congress need to tell us why the government should buy them their equivalent of a printing press.

The argument that Stupak-Pitts violates Establishment Clause principles is absurd. Stupak-Pitts establishes no church or a favored religious organization. It apparently came as a shock to Lynn Woolsey and Diana DeGette that Catholics are allowed to vote and petition their government. While considering whether to import Guy Fawkes Day to the American calendar, they and their acolytes have issued various threats and slanders against the Papists. Such claims probably wont sway Justice Kennedy. Furthermore, you dont have to be a Christian to be pro-life. Even atheists can read ultra-sounds. Ask Bernard Nathanson, a physician and founder of the modern abortion movement whose viewing of fetal ultrasounds led him to reject abortion.

A series of liberal activist constitutional claims are also made against Stupak-Pitts. Equal Protection Clause. Substantive Due Process. Privacy. All the usual suspects. In other words, the gamut of the Were liberals and we dont like this law, so its unconstitutional arguments. Unfortunately for the Stupak opponents, each of these claims could be made against the Hyde Amendment, and the 1980 decision upholding the Hyde Amendment, Harris v. McRae, has stood for 30 years. Furthermore, the public has held constant in its disapproval of government endorsement and promotion of abortion since Hydes first enactment.

Of course, all these arguments are academic in some sense. What matters these days is the amount of raw judicial power that can be exercised by the Supreme Courts judicial activists and policy makers. Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor will vote to overturn Hyde & Stupak. It boils down to Justice Kennedy - - again. Aint life grand in a judicial oligarchy?

Something Has Gone Terribly Wrong

by Chris Gacek

October 26, 2009

Jeffrey Kuhner is one of the best conservative writers going these days. His column appears on Sundays in the Washington Times. He has a way of getting to the heart of a topic, and two Sundays ago he addressed President Obamas jihad against Fox News Channel (see Whos Partisan Now, 10/18/09, p. B1):

For decades, the Washington press corps has presented itself as the guardian of political order and institutional stability. They are the real news experts whose experience and rational judgment are necessary to preserve fairness and objectivity. The rise of Fox News and the New Media - Internet news sites, such as the Drudge Report, World Net Daily and Newsmax, along with talk radio - has ripped away that shallow, smug and self-satisfied journalistic veneer.

The emergence of Fox News is a sign many Americans no longer trust the political and media class. It is part of a larger populist revolt that is slowly reshaping our society. The American people crave government accountability and political transparency. Moreover, many in the heartland rightly sense that something has gone terribly wrong. They are slowly losing their country to globalist progressives who no longer share any attachment to traditional America. (my emphasis)

Right, and we recently got an Exhibit A of things gone terribly wrong.

Heres a headline from a Financial Times story: [Securities and Exchange Commission] hires Goldman [Sachs] alumnus to head enforcement division. Fox, hen house. Say no more. But there is more. First paragraph of updated story: The Securities and Exchange Commission has hired a 29-year-old Goldman Sachs alumnus as managing executive of its enforcement division. Is this a joke? I guess no high school students were available. Well, he has an MBA from New York University. I am so glad the SEC is serious about enforcement.

Obama Adviser, Dalia Mogahed, Hearts Sharia

by Chris Gacek

October 16, 2009

Well, President Obama sure knows how to pick em. His latest appointee miscue if you exclude recent news of White House communications director, Anita Dunn, explaining why she admires Chairman Mao came from his adviser on Muslim affairs, Dalia Mogahed.

As reported in an article by Andrew Gilligan and Alex Spillius of the Daily Telegraph (U.K.), Mogahed appeared on a British TV program hosted by a member of an extremist group to talk about Sharia Law. For more details, go to the article itself, but here are some key paragraphs:

Miss Mogahed, appointed to the Presidents Council on Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships, said the Western view of Sharia was oversimplified and the majority of women around the world associate it with gender justice.

The White House adviser made the remarks on a London-based TV discussion programme hosted by Ibtihal Bsis, a member of the extremist Hizb ut Tahrir party.

The group believes in the non-violent destruction of Western democracy and the creation of an Islamic state under Sharia Law across the world.

* * *

She said: I think the reason so many women support Sharia is because they have a very different understanding of sharia than the common perception in Western media.

The majority of women around the world associate gender justice, or justice for women, with sharia compliance.

* * *

The video of the broadcast has now been prominently posted on the front page of Hizb ut Tahrirs website. [See the interview from the groups Australian website.]

For a liberal Yemeni womans critique of Mogaheds assessment of worldwide Muslim opinion, go to this link. Dr. Elham Manea wrote this piece on July 1, 2009.

More on the Economy

by Chris Gacek

October 5, 2009

On Friday I wrote about the bleak unemployment numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the weekend, I heard some talking heads presenting a more optimistic economic picture (e.g., Juan Williams on Fox News Sunday). The preponderance of true expert opinion I heard over the weekend via internet streaming was much more gloomy than I bargained for. Because you probably wont have an opportunity to hear a detailed analysis of the numbers, I decided to provide links to audio streams that will do so.

The Korelin Economics Report is a weekly radio and internet webcast with a libertarian perspective with a distinct focus on precious metals. That said, Al Korelin, the host, interviewed former Labor Dept chief economist under George W. Bush, Diana Fuchgott-Roth for this past weekends program. Furchgott-Roth is a Stanford-trained labor economist who is a wholly mainstream conservative now working for the Hudson Institute in Washington. John Walter Williams is an economist and labor statistics guru. I recommend listening to them in this order: Furchgott-Roth, Williams segment 1, Williams segment 2 (you can stop around half-way through Williams / segment 2 when Korelin and Williams discuss whether gold is a good investment).

A main point both analysts make is that the most comprehensive unemployment number (U-6) now has a seasonally adjusted rate of 17.0%. Here is the definition of U-6 taken from Table A-12 of the BLS Household Data:

U-6 Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers.

17.0% comes to about 1 in 6 as a truer measure of unemployment or underemployment. As Furchgott-Roth notes, it is most unfortunate that policy makers in Washington are not focused on doing those things that will create jobs, so the potential for a rapid improvement in economic activity and employment is not great.

In the final segment, Williams discusses the fact that the new report indicates BLS has greatly underestimated the decline in payroll numbers by 824,000. (BLS News Release, USDL-09-1180, p. 5.) This prompted Williams to conclude that in May (approx.) with this revision included the U.S. reached the steepest decline in payroll employment since the Great Depression.

Economy: Not So Good

by Chris Gacek

October 2, 2009

Todays economic news was not good. This from Reuters via Yahoo! Finance:

U.S. employers cut a deeper-than-expected 263,000 jobs in September, lifting the unemployment rate to 9.8 percent, according to a government report on Friday that fueled fears the weak labor market could undermine economic recovery.

The consensus was for a loss of 180,000 jobs. Furthermore, highly respected banking analyst, Meredith Whitney, wrote in yesterdays Wall Street Journal that credit available for small business, the job creator in the American economy is non-existent:

Anyone counting on a meaningful economic recovery will be greatly disappointed. How do I know? I follow credit, and credit is contracting. Access to credit is being denied at an accelerating pace. Large, well-capitalized companies have no problem finding credit. Small businesses, on the other hand, have never had a harder time getting a loan.

This is not a good sign for getting people back to work. This credit contraction in conjunction with the make-believe economy of zero percent interest rates, money printing, and too-big-too fail has to undermine ones confidence in any data about current economic relationships. That, in turn, will make a recovery far more difficult due to the increased level of risk and uncertainty. Its going to take a long time for things to work themselves out I am afraid.

I’ll Stand with Israel, Mr. President

by Chris Gacek

September 24, 2009

Yesterday, President Barack Obama addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations and called for the creation of a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967. There is so much wrong with this statement and so much danger encapsulated in it. Aaron Klein (WorldNetDaily) provides key analysis of the speech in this piece.

Particularly alarming is this paragraph from Kleins article:

Obama’s reference yesterday to occupation that began in 1967 comes after a top PA official, speaking on condition his name be withheld, told WND earlier this week the Obama administration largely has adopted the positions of the [Palestinian Authority] to create a Palestinian state within two years based on the 1967 borders, meaning Israel would retreat from most of the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem.

That could include the Temple Mount, but even if it does not - the term contiguous implies the creation of a large, solid block of territory that will not be easy to traverse by Israel in times of emergency. It would occupy the center of what is now Israel.

President Obama has chosen to stand with the Palestinians, I think most Americans will choose to stand with Israel. I know that I will.