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Friday, March 11, 2011

All Things Contemptible

What NPR�"s �Seducated and intelligent⬝ elite really thinks

James O’Keefe, who is now felling executives of National Public Radio as he previously trap-doored ACORN, must be a deeply cynical young man. How else could he have imagined that ACORN workers in several cities would cheerfully offer to help him set up brothels using underage Central American girls?

How else could he have imagined that executives of National Public Radio (and apparently PBS, though that video has not surfaced as of this writing) would eagerly truckle to a front-group of the Muslim Brotherhood? But they did. They all did. As Nora Ephron said, “No matter how cynical I get I just can’t keep up.”

#ad# Like the FBI’s Abscam sting in the 1970s that netted six congressmen, a senator, and assorted others willing to accept bribes from “Arab sheiks,” O’Keefe and his colleagues designed a sting operation that involved activists posing as “Amir Malik” (supposedly from Nigeria though his accent screamed Caribbean), and “Ibrahim Kasaam.” They were, they explained, representatives of MEAC, the “Muslim Education Action Center,” a trust that was considering a $5 million donation to NPR.

On the fake website created for the scam, MEAC described its mission as fighting “intolerance” but also “to spread acceptance of sharia around the world.” You or I might have been given pause by that second bit, but not Ron Schiller, president of the NPR Foundation, and Betsy Liley, “senior director for institutional giving” at NPR. They showed up for lunch. Even before the risotto was served, “Ibrahim” volunteered that his organization was founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, “in America actually.” Not an eyelash quivered from the NPR team.

“Ibrahim” expressed his discontent with “the current discourse” in America, particularly as it concerned Muslims. This elicited enthusiastic nodding from Schiller and Liley. Schiller rhapsodized about NPR being the “voice of reason” -- nearly the only place Americans could turn for “fair and balanced” news. He used that stolen slogan repeatedly. Schiller and Liley stressed that anti-Muslim bigotry was just the latest iteration of a classic American sin. “We put the Japanese in camps,” Liley lamented. 

As for those who thought perhaps NPR should do without taxpayer dollars, Schiller noted, “It feels to me as if there is a real anti-intellectual move on the part of a significant part of the Republican party.” And then, inexplicably, this: “The current Republican party, particularly the Tea Party, is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives. They’re very fundamental Christian, and I wouldn’t even call it Christian, it’s this weird evangelical kind of move . . .”

Really? All those thousands of Americans carrying signs and listening to speeches about debt and taxes and spending and bankruptcy -- they were fundamentalists?

“The Republican party has been hijacked by this group,” Schiller explained to people he thought were representing a Muslim Brotherhood–linked group. They weren’t just “Islamophobic, but xenophobic -- they believe in right-wing, middle-America, gun-toting . . . I mean it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”

Again and again in the course of two hours (full video is available at, Schiller described NPR’s listeners as “educated and intelligent,” unlike you-know-who. It’s of course ridiculous to say that NPR is “liberal” -- but, just among ourselves -- “liberals are more educated, fair, and balanced.” There’s that phrase again!


What Schiller dislikes about America is that “people like to make snap judgments . . . that all gays are after your children, that blacks are going to stab you . . . NPR is constantly trying to break through that.” But it’s hard, because such “a small percentage of the population” is educated and intelligent.

Told that NPR is affectionately referred to as National Palestinian Radio among his compatriots, Schiller and Liley laughed, and Liley exclaimed “Really? I love that!” Schiller suggested that NPR was neither “pro-Israel nor anti-Israel” but didn’t hesitate to boast to his “Muslim” hosts that NPR’s Israel coverage had offended a prominent Jewish American family so much that they withdrew their funding. Ah, exclaimed “Ibrahim,” this underscores the degree to which the American press is controlled by Jews and Zionists. Most of the press, “Ibrahim” continued, is accordingly pro-Zionist.

#ad# “I don’t find that at NPR,” Schiller offered. “Obviously” you find it among people “who own newspapers,” he continued. “But nobody owns NPR, so I don’t find it.”

Thank goodness Mr. Schiller is among the “educated and intelligent” elite -- those who would never dream of stigmatizing minorities, dealing in stereotypes, or sanctioning bigotry. Thank goodness he would never consider slandering his countrymen in order to curry favor with people he had every reason to suspect were Islamic extremists.

Thank O’Keefe that Schiller and his boss are out of their jobs. It’s a start.

— Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2011 Creators Syndicate.

Mona Charen

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Dems�" Dull Budget Scissors

Nancy Pelosi demands more while President Obama refuses to lead.

According to earthly logic, if you got a raise of 10 percent last year, but this year you got a raise of only 8 percent, you still got a raise. On Planet Washington, that qualifies as an indefensible slashing.

So when the GOP actually cut $4 billion from the budget last week, the Democrats acted as if it was an involuntary amputation. 

#ad#Now the GOP wants to cut $61 billion of discretionary non-defense spending from the total budget of $3.7 trillion, and Democrats are responding as if this will spell the end of Western civilization.

But given their terror of forcing a government shutdown in this tea-soaked climate, Democrats were forced to counteroffer with a cut of $10.5 billion, or 0.28 percent of the federal budget. Imagine you have a budget of $10,000 (about 40 percent of it borrowed on a credit card), then “slash” 28 bucks. That’s what it’s like to be a frugal Democrat.

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace repeatedly pressed Sen. Dick Durbin: Is $10.5 billion in cuts “really the best the Democrats can do?” The No. 2 Senate Democrat responded, eventually: “We’ve pushed this to the limit.” Any cuts beyond that would simply crater our economy and gut “investments” to make us competitive with China. Apparently, Durbin thinks trimming the staff at the Oregon National Laboratory will result in us all becoming busboys at a Beijing restaurant.

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, makes Durbin look stingier than the guy who invented copper wire by refusing to let go of a penny. Her solution to the deficit is -- wait for it -- to spend a whole bunch more. In October, Pelosi said that every dollar spent on unemployment benefits and food stamps puts another $1.79 into economy. “It is the biggest bang for the buck when you do food stamps and unemployment insurance.” 

If that were true, why not drop bags of cash from C-130s over the unemployed and poor?

Her latest version of teenage-mutant-ninja Keynesianism is to “invest” even more on education. “Nothing brings more to the treasury than investing in education,” Pelosi said.

Never mind that Washington has “invested” roughly $2 trillion in education since 1965. And forget the fact that spending on education at all levels of government has gone from $55,000 (in 2010 dollars) for one student’s K–12 student in 1970 to $155,000 in 2009, according to Cato Institute scholar Andrew Coulson, while “overall achievement has stagnated or declined, depending on the subject.”

Would another trillion in education spending really have a greater return than, say, allowing American companies to drill for the billions of gallons of oil under our soil and the trillions of cubic feet of natural gas? Don’t ask Pelosi. Like Bluto in Animal House talking about the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor, she’s on a roll.

Why am I talking about Durbin and Pelosi? Well, Obama is in a fetal crouch under the Oval Office desk, muttering something about the need for courage and bipartisanship while quietly proposing $6.5 billion in cuts, which the Congressional Budget Office said is really only $4.7 billion. (That’s about $700 million more than the U.S. spends in borrowed money every day. Imagine someone in obscene debt going a little more than 24 hours without using his credit card. Problem solved!)

Oh, and Senate majority leader Harry Reid seems determined to keep talking until the men in the white coats escort him off the Senate floor. He was last heard saying the GOP has gone crazy because it had cut funding to a cowboy-poetry festival in Nevada. No, really. Stop laughing.

#page#In 2007, the budget was 19.6 percent of the GDP. In 2009, it went up to 25 percent of GDP. That’s where the Democrats would like it to stay.

What happened? The financial crisis, of course. But as many of us suggested at the time, one of the Democrats’ real motives behind the stimulus was to inflate the “baseline” budget so that huge increases would never be reversed thanks to the D.C. logic that a cut in growth is a cut.

#ad#Now, Democrats greet any attempt to restore the size of government to its pre-crisis size -- when we were still living way above our means -- as if America would be plunged into the Stone Age. 

Look at it this way. Those heartless Republican bastards would cut 2011 non-defense discretionary spending from 3.6 percent to 3.2 percent of GDP. Under Bill Clinton, such spending averaged 3.1 percent of GDP.

We owe $14 trillion we don’t have. Our total liabilities -- i.e., Social Security and other entitlements -- dwarf that. Obviously, we can’t just cut discretionary spending alone. But if it’s this hard to ask rough-rider poets to cowboy up, how are we going to deal with what everyone agrees is the much harder stuff?

--- Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. © 2011 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Jonah Goldberg

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Rep. Keith Ellison�"s Bigotry

The congressman told a teachable story this morning. One problem: It�"s untrue.

This morning, Rep. Keith Ellison (Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, Minn.) appropriated a hearing on Islamic radicalism by weeping his way through a speech about whata-buncha-nasty-bigots Americans are. He chose as his case in point Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a Pakistani-born Muslim American who rushed to lower Manhattan on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, to assist in rescue efforts, and died in the collapse of the World Trade Center. Here’s how Representative Ellison tells the story of the aftermath of his death: 

After the tragedy some people tried to smear his character solely because of his Islamic faith. Some people spread false rumors and speculated that he was in league with the attackers only because he was Muslim. It was only when his remains were identified that these lies were fully exposed. Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans. His life should not be defined as a member of an ethnic group or a member of a religion, but as an American who gave everything for his fellow citizens.

Does Ellison’s account check out with reality?

#ad#No. It is actually pretty close to the opposite of the truth. In fact, six weeks after the September 11 attacks -- before Hamdani’s remains were identified, which Ellison implies to be the turning point of public perception -- Congress signed the PATRIOT Act into law with this line included: “Many Arab Americans and Muslim Americans have acted heroically during the attacks on the United States, including Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old New Yorker of Pakistani descent, who is believed to have gone to the World Trade Center to offer rescue assistance and is now missing.” That is, Hamdani was actually singled out for particular high honors among the thousands of victims of the September 11 attacks.

There’s little evidence of the “rumors” of which Ellison speaks, either. Poke around yourself. Go to Google and search for Mohammed Salman Hamdani’s name, using various time frames from before today’s hearings (say, in the week after the September 11 attack). You’ll discover two discordant sets of returns: none for sites and news reports accusing Hamdani of being a terrorist, and many thousands of pages honoring him as a hero while claiming that he was “widely accused” of being a terrorist.

Web pages that do source the claim that Hamndani was “widely accused” of being a terrorist typically trace back to a single report from the New York Post, dated Oct. 12, 2001, and titled “Missing -- or Hiding? Mystery of NYPD Cadet from Pakistan.” The piece has been taken offline, but its content is preserved elsewhere. Here’s what the New York Post wrote:

His family distributed missing-person fliers in the fear that the 23-year- old, who is trained as an emergency medical technician, went instead to the World Trade Center to help and was killed.

But investigators for the FBI and NYPD have since questioned the family about which Internet chat rooms he visited and if he was political.

Hamdani, a graduate of Queens College with a biochemistry degree, had been in the NYPD cadet program for three years. He became “inactive” because he needed to work full time, his mother said.

Police sources said he hadn’t been to work at the NYPD since April, but he still carried official identification.

One source told the Post: “That tells me they’re not looking for this guy at the bottom of the rubble. The thing that bothers me is, if he is up to some tricks, he can walk past anybody [using the ID card].”

Hamdani’s mother, who has been in the United States for two decades, denied her son was political or a religious fundamentalist. Cops at the Midtown Tunnel reported spotting someone who looked like Hamdani yesterday morning.

#page#So the Post reported 1) that Hamdani’s family believed he died in the WTC attacks, 2) that the FBI asked Hamdani’s mother a few background questions after a mistaken sighting, and 3) that an unnamed source felt such questioning implied guilt. No doubt, that was hard on the grieving mother. But frankly, this -- a mistaken sighting, and very preliminary investigations of many people, most of whom turn out to be innocent -- is the kind of thing that inevitably happens after a major terrorist attack.

After that questioning, the FBI didn’t go farther in a serious investigation, and, a week later, Hamdani was singled out for honors by the United States’ executive and legislative branches with those lines in the PATRIOT Act that immortalized his story.

#ad#Then, he was eulogized by the New York Times, had scholarship funds named after him, was honored by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (both of whom went barefoot to honor Muslim practice) at his funeral, and has been celebrated over and over again by the media.

The belief that Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a victim of anti-Muslim bigotry was never based in reality. It was manufactured by the Left as a rhetorical prop, exploited as a bludgeon against people who want to talk seriously about terrorism. If Hamdani was singled out for his faith, it would appear he was singled out for especially high honors. Most 9/11 victims were not half so celebrated as he was. Rather than suffering from apocryphal American anti-Muslim bigotry, Salman Hamdani appears to have benefited from America’s eager inclusiveness.

Americans have long seen Mohammed Salman Hamdani as a hero. Too bad Representative Ellison saw him only as a prop.

--- Matthew Shaffer is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.

Matthew Shaffer

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The Right to Choose

It�"s time for the National Right to Work Act.

Even as they scream for “workers’ rights,” the one right that union bosses despise is the right to work. Big Labor and its overwhelmingly Democratic allies oppose a woman’s right to choose whether to join a union. Instead, they prefer that predominantly male employers and labor leaders make that choice for her.

The American Left has hoisted “choice” onto a pedestal taller than the Washington Monument. Liberals and their Big Labor buddies will race to their battle stations to defend a woman’s right to choose to abort her unborn child. Meanwhile, they holler themselves hoarse to prevent her (and her male counterparts) from freely choosing to accept or avoid union membership.

#ad#Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) understands that exercising this choice is a basic human right, and neither private employment nor government work should require joining or paying dues to a union.

“Many Americans already are struggling just to put food on the table,” DeMint said, “and they shouldn’t have to fear losing their jobs or face discrimination if they don’t want to join a union.” Thus, on Tuesday, DeMint introduced S. 504, the National Right to Work Act (NRTWA). If not today, then soon, a federally protected individual right to work should be signed into law.

The NRTWA’s economic rationale is compelling:

� Among America’s 22 right-to-work states (including Florida, Georgia, and Texas), non-farm private-sector employment grew 3.7 percent from 1999 to 2009, while it shrank 2.8 percent among America’s 28 forced-unionism states (e.g. California, Illinois, and New York).

� During those ten years, real personal income rose 28.3 percent in right-to-work states and sank 14.7 percent in forced-unionism states.

� In 2009, cost-of-living-adjusted, per-capita, disposable personal income was $35,543 in right-to-work states versus $33,389 in forced-unionism states. Americans in right-to-work states enjoyed more freedom -- and a $2,154 premium.

Notwithstanding that right-to-work states are comparatively prosperous engines of job growth, the case for right-to-work laws is not merely economic, but moral.

“Government has granted union officials the unprecedented power to force individual employees to pay up or be fired and to coerce workers into subsidizing union speech,” says the National Right to Work Committee’s Patrick Semmens. “This fundamental violation of individual liberty -- an infringement on freedom of speech and freedom of association -- finally would end with passage of the NRTWA.”

“Compulsory unionism#...#should not be lawful under a free government or tolerated by a free people,” Donald R. Richberg argued in his book Compulsory Unionism: The New Slavery. As a labor attorney and federal official, Richberg helped draft landmark union laws, including the 1926 Railway Labor Act, the 1933 National Industrial Recovery Act, and the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. Later in his career, however, Richberg considered such legislation authoritarian.

Richberg added: “A voluntary organization of workers united for self-help is inherently a much stronger organization than a union composed, to a considerable extent, of unwilling members.”

#page#Indeed, labor leaders should not fear voluntary membership. If their talents for securing higher wages, richer pensions, and cozier working conditions are truly as impressive as advertised, Americans should line up to sign up. If, however, unions must dragoon workers into their ranks, why should government allow or even mandate such bondage?

Last October, pollster Frank Luntz surveyed 760 private- and public-sector unionized employees. Eighty percent agreed that union membership and dues should be optional. (Error margin: +/− 3.7 percent.) Hence, the NRTWA is good policy and good politics -- if only Republicans and free-marketeers would promote it.

#ad#Today’s union bosses may dismiss the NRTWA as a right-wing plot. But they should recognize that it reflects the philosophy of a pioneer union boss.

None other than Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor, once wisely said: “I want to urge devotion to the fundamentals of human liberty -- the principles of voluntarism. No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion. If we seek to force, we but tear apart that which, united, is invincible.”

--- New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

Deroy Murdock

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Wisconsin: Playing the Recall Card

Which side has its finger on the public�"s pulse?

Because of their vote on Wednesday night to limit collective bargaining for some public workers, eight GOP Wisconsin state senators may face recall elections in the coming weeks.

“The national unions and the Democrats nationally have really decided that they’re going to try to make Wisconsin an example for other states,” says Mark Jefferson, chairman of the Wisconsin Republican party. Their message is, he says, “If you intended to pursue these reforms, we will intimidate you as best we can, and there will be retribution.”

#ad#To recall a state senator in Wisconsin, a group needs to file a petition, and then collect signatures from eligible voters in the senator’s district. The number of signatures required is 25 percent of the number of votes cast in that district in the last gubernatorial election. Wisconsin law also requires that a politician have been in office a year before any recall election can occur, which is why not all 18 GOP senators are facing recalls.

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Democratic party reported that it had about 15 percent of the signatures it needed. On Thursday, Democratic spokesman Graeme Zielinski reported that updated numbers were not available, but that the number of signatures “absolutely has increased.”

“We raised $250,000 in the last twelve hours alone [i.e., the hours immediately after the vote] to support these recall efforts,” he adds, “because people are spitting mad. People are itching for some way to talk back to Scott Walker. The recall is now the most immediate way that they can help.”

Jefferson acknowledges that the recall efforts against Republicans “are clearly very real.” “The Democrats have raised a couple million dollars already, when you put together what the state Democratic party has raised and the Democratic senate campaign committee,” he says. “And the outside groups, they’ve turned their stunt into a campaign cash cow. They’ve got the resources to pump out there.”

“We’re definitely taking it seriously,” agrees Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

After filing a recall petition, organizers have 60 days to collect signatures. If they gather enough signatures, state law requires a period of at least 31 days for reviewing and validating those signatures. If the result is that there are enough legitimate signatures, an election is scheduled for six weeks later.

Republicans have mounted recall efforts of their own against the eight Democratic senators eligible for recall. Jefferson says there’s “a lot of enthusiasm on the ground right now” for the recalls of Democrats, but he has not yet released any numbers on how many signatures have been gathered.

Republican state senator Randy Hopper, who is being targeted for a recall, says that recall threats had been used earlier to “to try to bully members of my caucus into voting a different way.” He adds that the prospect of a recall election is “really the last thing on my mind.”

“My colleagues and I have received substantial death threats today,” Hopper says. “So thinking about politics right now really isn’t something that is a priority to me.”

He also sees significant differences between the Democratic and Republican recall efforts. “My colleagues and I are being targeted for standing up and doing our job,” he says. “We’re being targeted because people don’t like the decisions we’ve made or the votes that we’ve cast. I think that’s very different from the recalls going on against a group of people who refuse to do their jobs, who refuse to be here working on behalf of their constituents.”

For the Democrats, the magic number is three: If they succeed in recalling three Republicans, the senate will flip to Democratic control. And they are not concerned about losing any seats themselves through recall elections. Talking about the Republican recall efforts, Zielinski says, “They have no momentum.”

Gov. Scott Walker will not be eligible for a recall effort until next year. But Zielinski says the Democratic party will definitely target him then.

Jefferson calls the possibility of a Walker recall “not likely at all.”

“I think people are going to, over time, appreciate the reforms that will have been implemented,” he says.

Jefferson is also confident that if recall elections occur, the Republican senators “will survive.”

“I think we’ll withstand it, but only if we are able to mobilize our people and counter what the Democrats are doing,” Jefferson explains. “We’re never going to match them dollar for dollar. We know that. But we do have a lot of taxpayers out there who have been waiting for these types of reforms to take place. And we think they’re going to stand strong on election day.”

— Katrina Trinko is an NRO staff reporter.

Katrina Trinko

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