Monthly Archives: April 2009

>Geheime Staatspolizei

>From the Washington Times via Drudge:

Federal agency warns of radicals on right
9-page report sent to police

By Audrey Hudson and Eli Lake
Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement officials about a rise in “rightwing extremist activity,” saying the economic recession, the election of America’s first black president and the return of a few disgruntled war veterans could swell the ranks of white-power militias.

A footnote attached to the report by the Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines “rightwing extremism in the United States” as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.

“It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration,” the warning says.

The White House has distanced itself from the analysis. When asked for comment on its contents, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said, “The President is focused not on politics but rather taking the steps necessary to protect all Americans from the threat of violence and terrorism regardless of its origins. He also believes those who serve represent the best of this country, and he will continue to ensure that our veterans receive the respect and benefits they have earned.”

The nine-page document was sent to police and sheriff’s departments across the United States on April 7 under the headline, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”

It says the federal government “will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months” to gather information on “rightwing extremist activity in the United States.”

The joint federal-state activities will have “a particular emphasis” on the causes of “rightwing extremist radicalization.”

Homeland Security spokeswoman Sara Kuban said the report is one in an ongoing series of assessments by the department to “facilitate a greater understanding of the phenomenon of violent radicalization in the U.S.”

The report, which was first disclosed to the public by nationally syndicated radio host Roger Hedgecock, makes clear that the Homeland Security Department does not have “specific information that domestic rightwing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence.” It warns that fringe organizations are gaining recruits, but it provides no numbers.

The report says extremist groups have used President Obama as a recruiting tool.

This WND story has a link for the actual report.

It’s just starting, kiddies.

Audentes fortunat iuvat.

Fortune favors the bold.

>Comrade Pelosi

>Despite logic and evidence overwhelmingly to the contrary, Überkommissar Nancy Pelosi this week called for universal firearm registration and prohibitions on interstate transport of guns by citizens:

ROBERTS: Let’s bring it back here at home for a moment. There’s so many issues on people’s minds. This past weekend, and the past week, we’ve seen a lot of mass shootings.

PELOSI: Yes.

ROBERTS: And the shooter in Pennsylvania, he was stated as saying that part of the reason why he purchased the AK-47, that he feared that under the Obama administration, that you would reinstate the assault weapon ban. And how do you reconcile that with the work that you have to do in trying to stem these types of surges in gun purchases?

PELOSI: Clearly, this is a sick person. So, whatever excuse he uses for his behavior is about that sickness. But, it’s important to note that since March 10th to April 5th, 53 people have been the victims of gun violence in our country. Four officers in Oakland, California. But the experience in New York more recent, and even many more people killed. We have to have answers to this. We have to find some level of compromise. Right now, we have the debate in Congress over the District of Columbia, wanting a vote on the floor of the House, something we all want. That’s a civil rights issue. And yet, they want to put a gun- a draconian gun bill- attach that to that. I don’t think that that should be the price is to pay to have a vote on the floor of the House. But we have to find some middle ground.

ROBERTS: Under the Bush administration, you pretty much said the ball was in their court when it came to reinstating the ban. Now, it’s a Democratic President, a Democratic House. So, is the ball in your court where this is concerned?

PELOSI: Yes, it is. And we are just going to have to work together to come to some resolution because the court, in the meantime, in recent months, the Supreme Court has ruled in a very- in a direction that gives more opportunity for people to have guns. We never denied that right. We don’t want to take their guns away. We want them registered. We don’t want them crossing state lines as this legislation would do in the District of Columbia. We wouldn’t tell any other state what to do. But Congress wants to tell the District of Columbia. So, in any event, there’s tremendous work ahead on this. And we have to rid the debate of the misconceptions that people have about what gun safety means.

The bill to effect such a scheme — HR 45, as sponsored by Castro-buddy Bobby Rush of Illinois — is already introduced in the House.

So on the assumption that Pelosi will get her way as a ‘compromise’ in the wake of the current media-driven ‘guns are scary’ campaign, let’s think a little about how an interstate-transport provision would be enforced.

Can you say roadblocks, labeled as “gun safety checkpoints”?

A bit of reconnaissance, ranging, and topo sketching at major interstate border crossings would seem to be in order, amigos.

Enjoy the weekend.

>TWIC – A Backdoor Real ID Card

>
Real ID is dying.

But the Department of Homeland Security has a new plan to subject every American to a national ID card anyway. They plan to pick off one occupational field at a time, starting with the maritime industry. One man is fighting back.

Meet him, and help stop this backdoor Real ID plan.

(h/t to CIII)

>Codrea: A Savage Con

>
Read David’s debunking of radio shock-jock Michael Savage’s plea for AWB2.

Then pass it on.

>Oath Keepers: See You On Lexington Green On 4/19/09

>
Details here or at Oath Keepers.

>Beck: Really Recommended Reading

>“United Nations Development Programme” —

“How to Guide Small Arms and Light Weapons Legislation” (that’s a PDF, kids)

Chapter 3 is… compelling.

Nighty-nite, now.

>NYT: Comrade Soetero To Legalize Illegal Immigrants

>
Read the NYT article and consider the political consequences.

>4/8/43: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Begins

>

Mindful Musings reminds us of an essential anniversary.

Never again.

>More Fusion Center "Analysis"

>This time, in Virginia, as reported by Alex Jones, who excerpts this section of the report’s introduction:

Spanning 39,598 square miles, Virginia has a population of almost 7.5 million residents. Roughly half of these residents are concentrated in the northern Virginia, central Virginia, and Hampton Roads regions. All three of these regions feature ethnically diverse populations with cultural ties to the Middle East, the horn of Africa, Southeast Asia, and other areas heavily impacted by terrorist activities.

Virginia’s network of colleges and universities also represent a potential avenue of entry for terrorist operatives and a possible forum for recruitment of sympathizers.

In addition to reviewing information directly reported to the VFC, surveys were sent to all Virginia local law enforcement agencies to determine the extent of terrorism activities throughout the state. Information of interest included not only event-specific data, but also suspicious traffic stops or activities consistent with pre-operational attack planning. Assessments of the overall threat posed by specific terror and extremist groups or movements were completed utilizing the Project SLEIPNIR: Revised Long Matrix for Criminal Extremism utilized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

OVERVIEW OF TERRORIST AND EXTREMIST DATA IN VIRGINIA

INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM THREAT

Al-Qa’ida

Al-Shabaab

HAMAS

Hizballah

Jama’at al-Tabligh

Jama’at ul Fuqra

Lashkar-e Tayyiba

Muslim Brotherhood

DOMESTIC TERRORISM THREAT

Anarchist Extremists

Black Separatist Extremists

Homegrown Islamic Extremism

Lone Wolf Extremists

Militia Extremists

Special Interest Extremism

White Nationalist Extremism

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The purpose of the 2009 Terrorism Threat Assessment is to convey potential terrorism threats affecting the Commonwealth of Virginia. Terrorism, for the purpose of this report, is defined as politically motivated violence or threat of violence designed to coerce action or to prevent others from taking intended actions. While there is no intelligence that indicates terrorists are currently planning attacks in Virginia, the presence of extremists, evidence of trends linked to terrorism, and the abundance of potential targets, suggests that the potential for Virginia to be targeted remains significant.

As with previous years, the threat from terrorist and extremist groups can be categorized as international or domestic threats. Each of these groups holds particular values and political goals and thus represents a different type of threat to Virginia and the U.S. The international terrorism threat to Virginia and the nation as a whole stems from several radical Islamic militant groups. The domestic terrorist threat is comprised of a wide variety of groups, to include special interest groups, anarchists, race-based groups, including black separatists and white supremacists, militias and sovereign citizens, and homegrown extremists.

In Virginia, identified activities have been limited primarily to non-violent acts and crimes committed to raise funds to finance group activities. Some activities also relate to criminal endeavors generally used by extremists to further operational planning. The Virginia Fusion Center monitors international, national, and regional trends relating to terrorism and criminal extremism for indicators of emerging activity in the Commonwealth. Terrorism trends of greatest concern in 2009 include terrorism tradecraft, recruitment, and radicalization, terrorist use of technology, and terrorism financing.

As terrorists adapt and evolve to offset existing counterterrorism measures, they have successfully exploited available technology and modified their tactics to ensure successful operations. While several of the trends noted are applicable to all terrorist and extremist groups, increasing linkages are noted to specific critical infrastructure and key resources. As such, this product highlights, where possible, connections noted between groups, their behaviors, and potentially targeted infrastructure.

Based on the information gathered, the Commonwealth of Virginia could be potentially targeted for terrorist attack due to its location and proximity to Washington, D.C., its concentration of critical infrastructure, and the amount of extremist activity documented in Virginia. In order to detect and deter terrorist attacks, it is essential that information regarding suspected terrorists and suspicious activity in Virginia be closely monitored and reported in a timely manner. Additionally, it remains important to determine the extent of existing trends and to collect, analyze, and disseminate this information to law enforcement partners in Virginia.

OVERVIEW

The 2009 Terrorism Threat Assessment, in keeping with the Virginia Fusion Center (VFC) mission of integrating threat information from public and private sector agencies to prevent terrorist attacks, is designed to afford law enforcement, homeland security, and policy making officials terrorism threat intelligence of relevance to Virginia. Included in this assessment is an overview of identified groups, individuals, or activities; known or suspected trends; and critical infrastructure or key resources with significant U.S. or Virginia reporting within the past five years. While there is no intelligence that indicates terrorists are planning attacks in Virginia, the abundance of potential targets provides terrorists with many possibilities and opportunities throughout the Commonwealth. Information contained in this Threat Assessment is current as of February 2009 and will be reviewed and updated on an annual basis.

In addressing the terrorism threat to Virginia, it is important to define terrorism and the scope of activities included. Terrorism can be defined as politically motivated violence or threat of violence designed to coerce others into actions they would not otherwise undertake or to refrain from actions they desired to take. Terrorism is generally directed against civilian targets and is intended to produce effects beyond immediate physical damage, to produce long-term psychological repercussions, especially fear, on a particular target audience. For the purposes of this Threat Assessment, terrorism is divided into two categories: international and domestic terrorism. International terrorism involves threats emanating primarily from the international jihad movement, foreign terrorist organizations, and state sponsors of terrorism. Domestic terrorism includes threats from special interest groups, white supremacists, black separatists, and anti-government groups. Terrorism trends included in this assessment are activities, such as recruitment, financing, training, and planning, conducted in furtherance of terrorism.

Terrorism remains a threat to Virginia, not only because of its proximity to the nation’s capitol, but also due to the volume of significant infrastructure. Such infrastructure includes military installations such as the Pentagon; two nuclear power plants; and a major East Coast seaport. Virginia is also home to a wide range of transportation sector targets of interest, including interstate highways with high-traffic bridges and tunnels; railways and subways; and aviation and port facilities. While other infrastructure sectors, such as water, energy, and information technology could be targeted, it is also possible that terrorist attention could be directed toward law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels.

Spanning 39,598 square miles, Virginia has a population of almost 7.5 million residents. Roughly half of these residents are concentrated in the northern Virginia, central Virginia, and Hampton Roads regions. All three of these regions feature ethnically diverse populations with cultural ties to the Middle East, the horn of Africa, Southeast Asia, and other areas heavily impacted by terrorist activities. While the vast majority of these individuals are law-abiding, this ethnic diversity also affords terrorist operatives the opportunity to assimilate easily into society, without arousing suspicion. Virginia’s network of colleges and universities also represent a potential avenue of entry for terrorist operatives and a possible forum for recruitment of sympathizers. Additionally, Virginia’s correctional system remains an attractive venue for recruitment and radicalization relating to terror organizations and hate groups.

The VFC has compiled information from local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as open sources to create this Threat Assessment. In addition to reviewing information directly reported to the VFC, surveys were sent to all Virginia local law enforcement agencies to determine the extent of terrorism activities throughout the state. Information of interest included not only event-specific data, but also suspicious traffic stops or activities consistent with pre-operational attack planning. Assessments of the overall threat posed by specific terror and extremist groups or movements were completed utilizing the Project Sleipnir: Revised Long Matrix for Criminal Extremism utilized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Although the primary objective of this report is to share valuable terrorism intelligence with public safety agencies in Virginia, a secondary goal is to highlight the types of data needed from local, state, and federal partners of the VFC. While every effort was made to ensure accurate, thorough reporting of the terrorist threat, it is expected that not every incident of possible terrorist activity will be reported or forwarded to the VFC.

A quick glance leaves me cold, but make up your own mind.

Read entire PDF document

>Grigg: The Ballad of John Singer

>Go and read Will Grigg’s latest.

Then imagine, based on the expansion of the State over the past 35 years, what is coming in the next three-and-a-hall decades.

Teach your children well.

Alea iacta est.

>Morris: The Declaration of Independence Has Been Repealed

>From Dick Morris:

On April 2, 2009, the work of July 4, 1776 was nullified at the meeting of the G-20 in London. The joint communiqué essentially announces a global economic union with uniform regulations and bylaws for all nations, including the United States. Henceforth, our SEC, Commodities Trading Commission, Federal Reserve Board and other regulators will have to march to the beat of drums pounded by the Financial Stability Board (FSB), a body of central bankers from each of the G-20 states and the European Union.

The mandate conferred on the FSB is remarkable for its scope and open-endedness. It is to set a “framework of internationally agreed high standards that a global financial system requires.” These standards are to include the extension of “regulation and oversight to all systemically important financial institutions, instruments, and markets…[including] systemically important hedge funds.”

Note the key word: “all.” If the FSB, in its international wisdom, considers an institution or company “systemically important”, it may regulate and over see it. This provision extends and internationalizes the proposals of the Obama Administration to regulate all firms, in whatever sector of the economy that it deems to be “too big to fail.”

The FSB is also charged with “implementing…tough new principles on pay and compensation and to support sustainable compensation schemes and the corporate social responsibility of all firms.”

That means that the FSB will regulate how much executives are to be paid and will enforce its idea of corporate social responsibility at “all firms.”

The head of the Financial Stability Forum, the precursor to the new FSB, is Mario Draghi, Italy’s central bank president. In a speech on February 21, 2009, he gave us clues to his thinking. He noted that “the progress we have made in revising the global regulatory framework…would have been unthinkable just months ago.”

He said that “every financial institution capable of creating systemic risk will be subject to supervision.” He adds that “it is envisaged that, at international level, the governance of financial institutions, executive compensation, and the special duties of intermediaries to protect retail investors will be subject to explicit supervision.”

In remarks right before the London conference, Draghi said that while “I don’t see the FSF [now the FSB] as a global regulator at the present time…it should be a standard setter that coordinates national agencies.”

This “coordination of national agencies” and the “setting” of “standards” is an explicit statement of the mandate the FSB will have over our national regulatory agencies.

Obama, perhaps feeling guilty for the US role in triggering the international crisis, has, indeed, given away the store. Now we may no longer look to presidential appointees, confirmed by the Senate, to make policy for our economy. These decisions will be made internationally.

And Europe will dominate them. The FSF and, presumably, the FSB, is now composed of the central bankers of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States plus representatives of the World Bank, the European Union, the IMF, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Europe, in other words, has six of the twelve national members. The G-20 will enlarge the FSB to include all its member nations, but the pro-European bias will be clear. The United States, with a GDP three times that of the next largest G-20 member (Japan), will have one vote. So will Italy.

The Europeans have been trying to get their hands on our financial system for decades. It is essential to them that they rein in American free enterprise so that their socialist heaven will not be polluted by vices such as the profit motive.

Now, with President Obama’s approval, they have done it.

>Codrea: More on Obama’s Planned Control of the ‘Net

>Thanks to David for posting this article on the proposed Cybersecurity Act of 2009:

Bill Would Grant President Unprecedented Cyber-security Powers
By Roy Mark
2009-04-02

The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 introduced in the Senate would allow the president to shut down private Internet networks. The legislation also calls for the government to have the authority to demand security data from private networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule or policy restricting such access.

The headlines were all about creating a national cyber-security czar reporting directly to the president, but the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 introduced April 1 in the U.S. Senate would also give the president unprecedented authority over private-sector Internet services, applications and software.

According to the bill’s language, the president would have broad authority to designate various private networks as a “critical infrastructure system or network” and, with no other review, “may declare a cyber-security emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from” the designated the private-sector system or network.

The 51-page bill does not define what private sector networks would be considered critical to the nation’s security, but the Center for Democracy and Technology fears it could include communications networks in addition to the more traditional security concerns over the financial and transportation networks and the electrical grid.

“I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t include communications systems, which are certainly critical infrastructure,” CDT General Counsel Greg Nojeim told eWEEK. “The president would decide not only what is critical infrastructure but also what is an emergency.”

The bill would also impose mandates for designated private networks and systems, including standardized security software, testing, licensing and certification of cyber-security professionals.

“Requiring firms to get government approval for new software would hamper innovation and would have a negative effect on security,” Nojeim said. “If everyone builds to the same standard and the bad guys know those standards it makes it easier for the bad guys.”

The legislation also calls for a public-private clearinghouse for cyber-threats and vulnerability information under Department of Commerce authority. The Secretary of Commerce would have the authority to access “all relevant data concerning such networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule or policy restricting such access.”

In another section of the bill, though, the president is required to report to Congress on the feasibility of an identity management and authentication program “with appropriate civil liberties and privacy protections.”

Nojeim complained the bill is “not only vague but also broad. Its very broad language is intended to confer broad powers.” Nojeim also speculated that the bill’s vague language and authority may prove to be powerful incentive for the private sector to improve its cyber-security measures.

“The bill will encourage private-sector solutions to make the more troubling sections of the bill unnecessary,” he said.

According to a number of media reports, the bill was crafted with the cooperation of the White House. The legislation aims to create a fully integrated, coordinated public-private partnership on cyber-security in addition to pushing for innovation and creativity in cyber-security solutions.

“We must protect our critical infrastructure at all costs—from our water to our electricity, to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records—the list goes on,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), bill co-sponsor, said in a statement. “It’s an understatement to say that cyber-security is one of the most important issues we face; the increasingly connected nature of our lives only amplifies our vulnerability to cyber-attacks and we must act now.”

Fellow co-sponsor Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) added, “America’s vulnerability to massive cyber-crime, global cyber-espionage and cyber-attacks has emerged as one of the most urgent national security problems facing our country today. Importantly, this legislation loosely parallels the recommendations in the CSIS [Center for Strategic and International Studies] blue-ribbon panel report to President Obama and has been embraced by a number of industry and government thought leaders.”

The CDT’s Nojeim stressed that are a “number of good things in the bill,” including creation of a cyber-security czar, scholarships for cyber-security programs and collaborations between the government and the private sector. While urging Congress to change the bill, he argued that the “problematic provisions shouldn’t crowd out the beneficial provisions of the bill.”

>Beck: It Really Can Happen Here

>From Billy Beck:

It Really Can Happen Here

“After 35 years in America, I never thought I would see this. I still can’t quite believe we will sit by as this crisis is used to hand control of our economy over to government. But here we are, on the brink. Clearly, I have been naive.”

Yes, Mr. Varney, you have been that at your very best. You and millions of others. You took freedom for granted, and like millions of others, you just didn’t bother to protect its fine contours along every inch of the line. You never bothered to examine your enemies’ premises and take them seriously. “Our economy”, “our workers”, “our resources”, “our jobs”: on and on, every bit of it on collectivist principles that always require main force for their practice, and you didn’t take a word or a minute of it for what they were saying to you right out loud.

It is ideas that move the world, Mr. Varney, and what you’re calling “naive” was always a supine complacence while these destroyers were on the march, even through those stupid years when almost everybody was saying that “socialism is dead”.

We’re really in it, now. Pay good close attention and realize that these are consequences.

If there is anything left to pass on to the children, this must be among the most important of it.

>Narcissism and Victimhood

>Dr. Helen considers a common thread between the Binghamton and Pittsburgh shootings — narcissism.

Key grafs:

***
…Freud explained narcissism as a failure to grow up. All infants are narcissists, he pointed out, but as we grow, we ought to learn that other people have lives independent of our own. It’s not their job to please us, applaud for us or even notice us–let alone die because we’re unhappy…

A generation ago, the social critic Christopher Lasch diagnosed narcissism as the signal disorder of contemporary American culture. The cult of celebrity, the marketing of instant gratification, skepticism toward moral codes and the politics of victimhood were signs of a society regressing toward the infant stage.
***

Read the whole thing, and consider what it means to have one’s Dear Leader afflicted with the same malady.

>Enablers

>
Mona Charen on the media’s coverage of the Binghamton shooting, while Vanderboegh schools the New York Times.

Read ’em both and pass ’em on.

>Trap

>From the late, lamented Cox and Forkum:

From The Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights: Obama’s Backward Economics by Yaron Brook:

“Barack Obama claims that Americans can only stave off economic disaster by trillions in government spending–which means trillions of dollars taxed or borrowed to finance government make-work programs,” said Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. “Obama-nomics couldn’t be more wrong. “Prosperity requires that the government drastically cut government spending. That way, as much real capital as possible will remain in private hands, and be put to productive use by entrepreneurs to create valuable goods and services to sell at home and abroad. By taxing and inflating our wealth away, Obama will simply be creating more of the crushing debt that brought about the current crisis.”

From RealClearPolitics: The “Can-Do” Economy-Killer by Robert Tracinski.

Obama is offering the basic Roosevelt method or formula: buoyant American “can-do” optimism–in the service of the economy-killing agenda of a high-taxing, high-spending welfare and regulatory state. Get the people to love you for giving them a pep talk that lifts their spirits–even as you impose policies that dash their hopes.

If Obama is identical to FDR in his basic method, all we can hope that he does not achieve the same result: another ten years of economic collapse.

From Capitalism Magazine: Obama’s Plans Will ‘Work’ — To Breed Servile Dependence by Richard Salsman.

Oddly, these [conservative] “critics” [of Obama’s economic policies] bestow undeserved compliments on their political opponents – and thus provide them with crucial political cover. By implicitly praising their enemy’s underlying motives, these critics effectively shield them from justified criticism. The critics who argue this way – including Rush Limbaugh – unwittingly carry water for President Obama. By insisting the schemes “won’t work,” the “critics” mean they won’t work to grow the economy – won’t revive the stock market – won’t fix the banks – won’t attract capitalists on strike – won’t bolster job creation – and won’t lift the poor out of poverty. Well, all that’s true, but it’s false to assume the Obama administration actually wants to achieve these things.

In fact, it wants no such thing.

It has other ideas — a wholly opposite aim.

Besides a desire for re-election, shared by all politicians, at root the Obama Administration wants individuals and firms to become more dependent on government. That requires not merely a more intensive redistribution of wealth to the needy (whether needy people or needy firms), but also programs and plans that might proliferate the ranks of the needy, even if that requires turning otherwise healthy people and firms into unhealthy, needy ones.

Alea iacta est.

The die is cast.

>Fine Young Cannibals

>From James Bovard:

NATIONAL DISSERVICE
President Obama’s feel-good draft

By James Bovard

On March 18, the House of Representatives voted 321-105 to pass the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, and the Senate is expected quickly to follow suit. The GIVE Act more than triples the number of slots for AmeriCorps members from 75,000 to 250,000. And it takes a giant step toward expanding Washington’s power to make “service” compulsory for all young Americans.

President Obama praises AmeriCorps for embodying “the best of our nation’s history, diversity and commitment to service.” In reality, AmeriCorps’s essence is paying people on false pretenses to do unnecessary things.

Since President Clinton created the program in 1993, politicians of both parties have endlessly touted its recruits as volunteers toiling selflessly for the common good. But the average AmeriCorps member receives more than $15,000 a year in pay and other benefits, and almost 90 percent go on to work for government agencies or nonprofit groups. Rather than financial martyrdom, signing up for AmeriCorps is, for many, akin to a paid internship.

Even though AmeriCorps is popular with the Washington establishment, it has always been a laughingstock. During the Clinton administration, AmeriCorps members helped run a program in Buffalo that gave children $5 for each toy gun they brought in, as well as a certificate praising their decision not to play with these trinkets. In San Diego, AmeriCorps members busied themselves collecting used bras and panties for a homeless shelter. In Los Angeles, they foisted unreliable ultra-low-flush toilets on poor people.

Indeed, AmeriCorps’s projects produce little more than sanctimony and headlines for news-starved local newspapers. Among the program’s recent coups:

In San Francisco, AmeriCorps members busy themselves mediating elementary school playground disputes.

In Florida, AmeriCorps recruits in the Women in Distress program organized a poetry reading on the evils of domestic violence.

In Oswego, New York, they set up a donation bin to gather used cellphones for victims of domestic violence.

In Montana, members encouraged people to donate books to ship to Cameroon.

In Lafayette, Louisiana, with help from the local Junior League, AmeriCorps led an effort to recycle prom dresses for high-school students.

And 11 AmeriCorps members spent several weeks at a Biloxi, Mississippi elementary school last fall helping the school “go green.” Students gathered more than 3,000 pounds of recyclable material. Much was paper, which is currently fetching barely $100 a ton, but the project presumably made all participants glow with virtue.

Puppet shows are a favorite activity for AmeriCorps members around the country. In Springfield, Illinois, they donned puppets to school 3-year-olds at the Little Angels Child Care Center about the benefits of smoke detectors.

Reading-related and other education activities are often presented as a prime justification for tripling the program’s size. President Clinton set the standard when he declared in a 1997 radio address touting AmeriCorps’s literacy efforts: “All you really need to do is to roll up your sleeves, sit with a child and open a book together.’’ When it comes to the hard work of actually teaching kids how to read, opening books is apparently “close enough for government work.” But in truth, AmeriCorps has shown little if any competence at teaching literacy. It makes do with a “fun with books” motif that provides as much benefit as watching a few episodes of “Sesame Street.”

Newsweek editor Jonathan Alter, one of the program’s biggest proponents, praises AmeriCorps for its “15 years of scandal-free” history. Not exactly.

The program was tainted from the get-go. In its early years, members were routinely used as backdrops for photo opportunities when President Clinton arrived on tarmacs around the nation. And AmeriCorps “volunteers” were repeatedly involved in political advocacy and petitioning. The program gave over $1 million to ACORN.

The Mississippi Action for Community Education AmeriCorps program was purportedly recruiting food-stamp recipients. In reality, it was stacking the payroll with ghost employees. MACE’s director was convicted on 15 felony counts and sent to prison in 2002. And last year, Sacramento’s St. HOPE Academy, a showcase AmeriCorps program, was disbarred after an inspector-general investigation found that AmeriCorps members were detailed to serve as personal assistants to the academy’s founder, to perform menial work for the academy, and “to engage in political campaigning to the benefit of St. HOPE’s charter school.”

But AmeriCorps remains popular on Capitol Hill, at least in part because it allows members of Congress to flaunt their goodness. The program’s headquarters encourages local branches to organize “AmeriCorps-for-a-Day events with elected officials” to help get them on board. After some pols showed up one day five years ago to hammer a few nails at a D.C. house-building project, AmeriCorps issued a press release naming and praising the eight members of Congress. Photos from appearances at AmeriCorps Habitat for Humanity projects can embellish constituent newsletters and aid in re-election campaigns.

Politicians exploit AmeriCorps in other ways. Early in his first term, President George W. Bush hyped the expansion of AmeriCorps as a counterpunch against Osama bin Laden. Shortly after 9/11, AmeriCorps chief Leslie Lenkowsky told members, “the daily duties that you perform will also be helping to thwart terrorism itself.” He assured AmeriCorps recruits that their efforts were “as important to our nation’s security and well-being” as the actions of American troops at that moment fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. By 2003, Lenkowsky changed his tune, describing AmeriCorps as just “another cumbersome, unpredictable government bureaucracy.”

AmeriCorps claims that its members “mobilize” 1.7 million other Americans to volunteer each year. At best, this is the Tom Sawyer model of virtue—some people getting paid to sway other people to work for free. AmeriCorps’s actual achievements are a statistical charade. The organization routinely counts anyone who works in a project that AmeriCorps members “manage” as a new volunteer. Thus, if 20 people are already working at a house-building project where an AmeriCorps member temporarily supervises, they are all counted as AmeriCorps-generated volunteers.

AmeriCorps trumpets the assertion that, since its creation, “540,000 AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 705 million hours of service.” Shirley Sagawa, a Clinton White House official, observed that presidents have always “set the measure of AmeriCorps [as] the number of bodies in it.” But AmeriCorps has never performed a credible analysis of the value of the service its members produce. Instead, it relies on Soviet bloc-style accounting—merely counting labor inputs and pretending the raw numbers prove grandiose achievements.

In 2003, the Office of Management and Budget concluded that “AmeriCorps has not been able to demonstrate results. Its current focus is on the amount of time a person serves, as opposed to the impact on the community or participants.” The General Accounting Office criticized the organization for failing to make any effort to measure the actual effect of its members’ actions.

But Congress continues to fill AmeriCorps ranks because it puts a smiley face on big government. Whether or not they produce anything, as long as AmeriCorps’s gray shirts are out there getting PR for helping people, Leviathan can be portrayed as a giant engine of compassion. “National service” is really just any subsidized activity that burnishes the image of the federal government.

If AmeriCorps were simply a garden-variety boondoggle, the fairy tales about its achievements would be relatively benign (except to taxpayers). But some politicians hope to exploit AmeriCorps’s cachet to gin up support for imposing compulsory labor requirements on all young Americans.

The GIVE act calls for the appointment of a Congressional Commission on Civic Service, raising the obvious question of whether congressmen deserve vastly more power over other Americans. But in Washington logic, since volunteering is a good thing, everybody should be forced to do it.

The commission will examine “the effect on the nation … if all individuals in the United States … were required to perform a certain amount of national service” and “whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed.” It will also consider whether tacitly repealing the 13th Amendment prohibition on involuntary servitude “would strengthen the social fabric of the Nation and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds.”

Would political subjugation produce moral uplift? The Beltway answer: of course—because politicians are the nation’s leaders, the de facto “best and brightest.” While they are destroying the nation’s financial future with one trillion-dollar bailout after another, they have the gall to lecture young people about their obligations to the government.

The GIVE Act views military-style regimentation as a model for the nation. Its National Civil Community Corps would seek to “combine the best practices of civilian service with the best aspects of military service.” This reminds some critics of Obama’s declaration last July: “We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that is just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded as the military.”

This is in character with Obama’s liberalism. Shortly after his election victory last November, the change.gov website announced the new president’s call for “developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.” The wording was later changed to “setting a goal” for service. (Some states have already imposed such requirements on students as a condition for graduation.)

This is part of a long series of Democratic Party efforts to create pretexts to commandeer more of people’s lives. A dozen years ago, in a stunning conflation of compassion and compulsion, President Clinton announced that America needs “citizen servants.” He declared, “The will to serve has never been stronger.” That may or may not have been true, but the will to power is certainly at a high-water mark.

A New York Times editorial on March 24 hailed the GIVE Act for providing “a chance to constructively harness the idealism of thousands of Americans eager to contribute time and energy to solving the nation’s problems.” But the GIVE Act is idealistic only if one believes that citizens should take their values—and their “moral opportunities”—from their rulers.

It is a sad day when people line up to have their virtue certified by the most exploitative, dishonest class in the nation. __________________________________________

James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy and eight other books.

>Vanderboegh: Pittsburgh Shooter Was A Nazi

>Go read Mike’s take on what the mainstream media is ignoring about the Pittsburgh shooter’s background.

>More Control

>Read Denninger’s take on this draft Federal legislation to expand the .gov’s control of the Internet.

Alles unter Sotero.

>Control

>From WSJ:

Obama Wants to Control the Banks
There’s a reason he refuses to accept repayment of TARP money
By Stuart Varney

I must be naive. I really thought the administration would welcome the return of bank bailout money. Some $340 million in TARP cash flowed back this week from four small banks in Louisiana, New York, Indiana and California. This isn’t much when we routinely talk in trillions, but clearly that money has not been wasted or otherwise sunk down Wall Street’s black hole. So why no cheering as the cash comes back?

My answer: The government wants to control the banks, just as it now controls GM and Chrysler, and will surely control the health industry in the not-too-distant future. Keeping them TARP-stuffed is the key to control. And for this intensely political president, mere influence is not enough. The White House wants to tell ’em what to do. Control. Direct. Command.

It is not for nothing that rage has been turned on those wicked financiers. The banks are at the core of the administration’s thrust: By managing the money, government can steer the whole economy even more firmly down the left fork in the road.

If the banks are forced to keep TARP cash — which was often forced on them in the first place — the Obama team can work its will on the financial system to unprecedented degree. That’s what’s happening right now.

Here’s a true story first reported by my Fox News colleague Andrew Napolitano (with the names and some details obscured to prevent retaliation). Under the Bush team a prominent and profitable bank, under threat of a damaging public audit, was forced to accept less than $1 billion of TARP money. The government insisted on buying a new class of preferred stock which gave it a tiny, minority position. The money flowed to the bank. Arguably, back then, the Bush administration was acting for purely economic reasons. It wanted to recapitalize the banks to halt a financial panic.

Fast forward to today, and that same bank is begging to give the money back. The chairman offers to write a check, now, with interest. He’s been sitting on the cash for months and has felt the dead hand of government threatening to run his business and dictate pay scales. He sees the writing on the wall and he wants out. But the Obama team says no, since unlike the smaller banks that gave their TARP money back, this bank is far more prominent. The bank has also been threatened with “adverse” consequences if its chairman persists. That’s politics talking, not economics.

Think about it: If Rick Wagoner can be fired and compact cars can be mandated, why can’t a bank with a vault full of TARP money be told where to lend? And since politics drives this administration, why can’t special loans and terms be offered to favored constituents, favored industries, or even favored regions? Our prosperity has never been based on the political allocation of credit — until now.

Which brings me to the Pay for Performance Act, just passed by the House. This is an outstanding example of class warfare. I’m an Englishman. We invented class warfare, and I know it when I see it. This legislation allows the administration to dictate pay for anyone working in any company that takes a dime of TARP money. This is a whip with which to thrash the unpopular bankers, a tool to advance the Obama administration’s goal of controlling the financial system.

After 35 years in America, I never thought I would see this. I still can’t quite believe we will sit by as this crisis is used to hand control of our economy over to government.

But here we are, on the brink. Clearly, I have been naive.