Saturday, March 7, 2009

Obama gave Gordon Brown the AFI top 25 movie list

Politics: As someone pointed out on Nikki Finke's site, those DVDs that Obama gave PM Brown that just reeked of crappy gift giving and terrible diplomacy, its also lazy gift giving. Its the Top 25 out of the 2007 list of AFI's top 100 greatest movies of all time.

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Pathetic, there are no words for this embarrassment. It is not even a personalized list of movies he likes which would make it slightly less stupid. Absolute mockery of UK leadership. I am not even a Gordon Brown fan but this is ridiculous.

Obama "overwhelmed" and aides too incompetent

Politics: Well this is just great news but it could explain the complete debacle that was Gordon Brown's visit.

Sources close to the White House say Mr Obama and his staff have been "overwhelmed" by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.

British officials, meanwhile, admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister.

But Washington figures with access to Mr Obama's inner circle explained the slight by saying that those high up in the administration have had little time to deal with international matters, let alone the diplomatic niceties of the special relationship.

Allies of Mr Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president's surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.

A well-connected Washington figure, who is close to members of Mr Obama's inner circle, expressed concern that Mr Obama had failed so far to "even fake an interest in foreign policy".

But the other story which goes back to my point that Obama seems to treat traditional American allies like shit is proven on how people around him view them.

But they concede that the mood music of the event was at times strained. Mr Brown handed over carefully selected gifts, including a pen holder made from the wood of a warship that helped stamp out the slave trade - a sister ship of the vessel from which timbers were taken to build Mr Obama's Oval Office desk. Mr Obama's gift in return, a collection of Hollywood film DVDs that could have been bought from any high street store, looked like the kind of thing the White House might hand out to the visiting head of a minor African state.

Mr Obama rang Mr Brown as he flew home, in what many suspected was an attempt to make amends.

The real views of many in Obama administration were laid bare by a State Department official involved in planning the Brown visit, who reacted with fury when questioned by The Sunday Telegraph about why the event was so low-key.

The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship, saying: "There's nothing special about Britain. You're just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn't expect special treatment." The apparent lack of attention to detail by the Obama administration is indicative of what many believe to be Mr Obama's determination to do too much too quickly.

No excuses because if this is the sort of attitude that is in the White House now, he is going to cause an international incident along the way. If Obama and others are overwhelmed the best thing to do is slow down and take stock on what is going on around them before its too late.

But given the state department source statement about nothing special about Britain, this could be all a smokescreen that Obama really doesn't give a damn about our allies and is just arrogant along with his aides. But it showed up so much in Brown's visit they are now covering their asses.

Either choice is an embarrassment to him.

David Brooks happily puts back on Obama's leash.

Politics: That didn't take long as Brooks is now back in black jesus's fave five after he complained about the big liberal agenda being pushed by what he saw is a liberal President. That article got the White House disciples in a tizzy, Thursday's column is basically a press release disguised as an op-ed.

On Tuesday, I wrote that the Obama budget is a liberal, big government document that should make moderates nervous. The column generated a large positive response from moderate Obama supporters who are anxious about where the administration is headed. It was not so popular inside the White House. Within a day, I had conversations with four senior members of the administration and in the interest of fairness, I thought I’d share their arguments with you today.

.... didn’t finish these conversations feeling chastened exactly. The fact is, after years of economic growth, the White House still projects perpetual deficits of more than $500 billion a year. That’s way too much, especially with the boomers’ retirements looming. Moreover, Congress will likely pass the spending parts of the budget and kill the revenue parts, like the cap-and-trade energy tax and the limits on itemized deductions, thus producing much, much bigger deficits.

Plus, I’m still convinced the administration is trying to do too much too fast and that the hasty planning and execution of these complex policies will lead to untold problems down the road.

Nonetheless, the White House made a case that was sophisticated and fact-based. These people know how to lead a discussion and set a tone of friendly cooperation. I’m more optimistic that if Senate moderates can get their act together and come up with their own proactive plan, they can help shape a budget that allays their anxieties while meeting the president’s goals.

Remember... this is the intellectual wing of the Republican party. Book smart and street dumb. A couple of soothing words and he is under Obama's spell again.

Illegal aliens to get in state tuition rights in Colorado.

Nation: The fix is in as Colorado Dems are happy to provide illegal immigrant students in state tuition fees that are not even legal for out of state citizens or legal residents.

Muslim parents ban mixed kids gym club from school

UK: Here's your problem UK, you got multiculturalist moral cowards running your schools.

Colin Perry, who runs Shirley Gymnastics Club, said that "multiculturalism" and pressure from Muslim parents on the school's head has forced him to look for somewhere else to train his 250 young members.

Mr Perry, who has held classes at the Old Palace School – an independent school for girls aged four to 18 years in Croydon – since January last year said he was furious he has to move.

He said: "The school commitment to multiculturalism has been compromised for fear of offending a minority of parents.

"There is a group of Muslim parents with Muslim children at the school and they are the ones putting pressure on the head teacher. It makes me sad to say that."

The club, which caters for young gymnasts aged between five and 21, has until April 3 to find a new home.

Mr Perry said the school's head Judy Harris told him that Muslim parents had approached her and asked her why an independent girls schools had boys in the gym while school was still open.

He said: "She said some of the parents have said their children go to an independent all girls school and unfortunately they're concerned because we have got boys in the club. She said to us that the school has got far more Muslim children than last year, so effectively we have to interpret that in our own way."

Dudley Mead, a governor at the school, said he knew about Muslim parents' concerns, adding: "That's the Muslim belief isn't it? They are very protective of their female children."

Housing bailout pays for second mortgages,liens and investments

Nation: Remember Obama's talk that people who flipped or made bad decisions wouldn't be bailed out? He lied.

Amid the dozens of pages of details of the Obama mortgage modification plan, one new element will likely not make it into the headlines because it’s something of an afterthought.

It has to do with second liens, that is piggy back loans or home equity lines of credit.

Deep deep in the pages of the plan, is paragraph vi. Second Liens:

While eligibly loan modifications will not require any participation by second lien holders, the program will include additional incentives to extinguish second liens on loans modified under the program in order to reduce the overall indebtedness of the borrower and improve loan performance.

Servicers will be eligible to receive compensation when they contact second lien holders and extinguish valid junior liens. Servicers will be reimbursed for the release according to the specified schedule, and will also receive an extra $250 for obtaining a release of a valid second lien.

So in an effort to help borrowers stay current on their newly modified loan, which is at a nice new 31% debt to income ratio, the government is also going to pay cash money to get servicers to totally wipe out second liens. When I heard this I thought there might have been something funky in my morning muffin.

It’s not that I don’t get the reasoning. Sure, do all you can to help people pay their mortgage, like get rid of other debt. By why stop there? What about car loans? Student loans?? The second liens, in general, were used by borrowers to either buy more home than they could really afford or to use their homes as ATM machines. Yes, some people use home equity lines of credit to pay college tuition.

But I can’t tell you how many homeowners I’ve interviewed (and just take a look at David Faber’s documentary House of Cards to see more) who took out home equity lines to put in a pool or buy a fancy car or put an addition on the house that includes a fancy new kitchen with a Viking six-burner. And I’m supposed to pay for all that?

Washington Post:

Homeowners with loans as large as $729,750 could see their interest rates temporarily cut to as low as 2 percent under the program. The administration also said it will add new incentives to persuade lenders that hold second mortgages to give up their claims, further lowering homeowners' debt obligations.

While the Obama administration initially said it would focus on owner-occupied properties, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said they would refinance loans for some second homes and investment properties, too.


Q. What happens if I have a second mortgage?

A. All borrowers with modified mortgages who make timely payments for three months will have the opportunity to have any second mortgages forgiven. As part of the plan, the Treasury will make a cash offer to the owner of the second mortgage to forgive the debt (the amount of those cash payments has not yet been determined). The lender can refuse the offer. But the lender is likely to collect more money than if the home was lost to foreclosure, when it would receive nothing.

Responsiblity is for suckers.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Italy pulls out of UN racism conference

World: The meeting has become too toxic for any reasonable person to endorse.

Italy said Thursday it is pulling out of a U.N. conference on racism — the latest blow to a meeting seen by many Western governments as marred by Muslim attempts to attack Israel and shield Islam from criticism.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini also decided to postpone a planned trip to Iran in protest over remarks against Israel and the U.S. administration by Tehran's leadership, the ministry said in a statement.

Speaking on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels, Frattini said Italy has withdrawn its delegation from the preparatory negotiations ahead of the so-called Durban II conference due to "aggressive and anti-Semitic statements" in the draft of the event's final document.

Frattini's comments on the conference were reported by Italian news agencies and confirmed by foreign ministry spokesman Maurizio Massari, who said Rome would not participate in the conference unless the document was changed.

"There are expressions of anti-Semitism," Massari said by telephone. "Until the document is modified we will not have a part in it."

The United States has imposed similar conditions. Israel and Canada have already announced a boycott.

UAW enlists other unions for help not looking evil.

Nation: Only thing the public likes more than one union touting themselves are others unions doing the job.

U.S. to Invite The Wealthy To Invest in The Bailout

Nation: It sounds like a nice deal but after beating up on the wealthy for political gain, you would be a little wary.

The government is seeking to resuscitate the nation's crippled financial system by forging an alliance with the very outfits that most benefited from the bonanza preceding the collapse of the credit markets: hedge funds and private-equity firms.

The initiative to revive the consumer lending business, outlined by officials this week, offers these wealthy investors a new chance to make sizable profits -- but, thanks to the government, without the risk of massive losses.

The idea is to entice them to put their huge cash piles to work to stimulate the financial system. They would be invited to buy up recently issued, highly rated securities. These securities finance consumer lending, such as credit cards and student and auto loans.

The program, which could involve the government lending nearly $1 trillion to these investors, exceeds the size of every other federal effort to address the crisis so far. The initiative's approach could be the model for future federal efforts to aid the credit markets, sources familiar with government planning said. Officials call this strategy a "public-private partnership," but in essence the government is offering good deals to private investors to draw them into its rescue efforts.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Obamas thoughtless gifts to Gordon Brown and family.

Politics: Honestly, does Obama want to wreck relationships with every ally we have? First he stiffs PM Harper of Canada, uses Eastern Europe as a pawn with Russia and now he shows a taste of diplomatic gifts that you would expect from an office gift exchange.

Gordon Brown gives Obama and family.

Mr Brown's gifts included an ornamental desk pen holder made from the oak timbers of Victorian anti-slaver HMS Gannet, once named HMS President.

Mr Obama was so delighted he has already put it in pride of place in the Oval Office on the Resolute Desk which was carved from timbers of Gannet's sister ship, HMS Resolute. Another treasure given to the US President was the framed commission for HMS Resolute, a vessel that came to symbolise Anglo-US peace when it was saved from ice packs by Americans and given to Queen Victoria.

Finally, Mr Brown gave a first edition set of the seven-volume classic biography of Churchill by Sir Martin Gilbert.

As revealed by yesterday's Standard, the Browns showered gifts on the Obama children too, using the occasion to promote British exports.

Sarah Brown gave Sasha and Malia Obama an outfit each from Topshop, which has just opened its first American store in New York. She also picked six children's books by British authors which are shortly to be published in America.

In exchange the Obamas gave

As he headed back home from Washington, Gordon Brown must have rummaged through his party bag with disappointment.

Because all he got was a set of DVDs. Barack Obama, the leader of the world's richest country, gave the Prime Minister a box set of 25classic American films - a gift about as exciting as a pair of socks.

...In return, the Obamas gave the Browns two models of the presidential helicopter, Marine One, to take home to sons Fraser and John.

Probably got that out of the gift shop. Not even a blu-ray collection and player so at least it can be argued he is the tech president but bunch of DVDs you can glum off of Amazon. UK Press notice how disregarded the UK was treated by Obama.

"...But on this side of the Atlantic the whole business looked pretty demeaning. The morning papers and TV last night featured plenty of comment focused on the White House's very odd and, frankly, exceptionally rude treatment of a British PM. Squeezing in a meeting, denying him a full press conference with flags etc. The British press corps, left outside for an hour in the cold, can take it and their privations are of limited concern to the public.

But Obama's merely warmish words (one of our closest allies, said with little sincerity or passion) left a bitter taste with this Atlanticist. Especially after his team had made Number 10 beg for a mini press conference and then not even offered the PM lunch.

We get the point, sunshine: we're just one of many allies and you want fancy new friends. Well, the next time you need something doing, something which impinges on your national security, then try calling the French, or the Japanese, or best of all the Germans. The French will be able to offer you first rate support from their catering corps but beyond that you'll be on your own.

When it comes to men, munitions and commitment you'll soon find out why it pays to at least treat the Brits with some manners."

Some are starting to catch on to the arrogance of Obama who seems to think he can treat allies like garbage while trying to cozy up to those who want to take advantage. Tremendous.

Obama pick for HHS faces questions about state aid

Politics: Another week and another Obama pick with questions.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, President Barack Obama's choice to head the Health and Human Services Department, is facing questions about increased state payments to a social services group whose board includes the chairman of the state Democratic Party.
Last fall, Sebelius' secretary of social and rehabilitation services, Don Jordan, approved an increased rate for Community Living Opportunities, a nonprofit group that provides services to the developmentally disabled, that amounted to $713,000.

The group's board of directors included Larry Gates, a Sebelius friend who has served as state Democratic chairman for six years; Dan Biles, a Gates law partner recently appointed by Sebelius to the Kansas Supreme Court, and Lew Perkins, athletic director at the University of Kansas. Biles left the board at the end of 2008.

Jordan said his decision was based on the severe disabilities of some of the group's clients and that warranted larger payments. Jordan has asked the Kansas Health Policy Authority to hire an outside expert to review his decision. Sebelius said there was nothing improper about Jordan's decision for the group located in the Kansas City suburb of Lenexa.

On Wednesday, Kansas legislators said they planned hearings examining the decision and raised the possibility of seeking a legislative audit.

More Mortgage Relief Bill modifications.

Nation: Its getting better but still smells.

House Democrats have reached an agreement to narrow the impact of legislation allowing bankruptcy judges to modify troubled mortgages.

Under the current version of the legislation, a bankruptcy judge could cut the principal balance of a homeowner's mortgage, lower the interest rate and extend the terms.

But after moderate Democrats raised objections last week, delaying a vote, Democratic leaders agreed to insert some restrictions, according to a letter circulated by some moderate Democrats in support of the legislation yesterday.

The compromise version, for example, requires that a homeowner share with the lender any profit from the eventual sale of the home if a bankruptcy judge lowers the principal balance. It also gives preference to lowering a homeowner's interest rate over cutting the principal balance.

The compromise also limits homeowners' ability to ask a bankruptcy judge for help if they have already received or been offered a loan modification that lowered their payments to 31 percent of their income.

The financial services industry, which has lobbied against the bill, fought for all those provisions. The House could take up the bill as soon as tomorrow, according to congressional aides.

David Brooks and Christopher Buckley: Political idiots.

Politics: The scary part is both of these writers are considered and consider themselves the intellectual wing of Conservatism. First you have Buckley shocked that Obama is a tax and spend liberal. Then you have Brooks who carries himself above it all shocked at Obama being a tax and spend liberal.

Those of us who consider ourselves moderates — moderate-conservative, in my case — are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was. His words are responsible; his character is inspiring. But his actions betray a transformational liberalism that should put every centrist on notice. As Clive Crook, an Obama admirer, wrote in The Financial Times, the Obama budget “contains no trace of compromise. It makes no gesture, however small, however costless to its larger agenda, of a bipartisan approach to the great questions it addresses. It is a liberal’s dream of a new New Deal.”

People want to gloat about it but I don't because these two happily went along being "inspired" by Black jesus and now have to confront reality that the conservatives they beat up on last fall were correct all along.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

NYTIMES and Wash Post with hard hitting journalism.

Politics: or the continued ass kissing of Obama. You decide! Via Drudge.

NYT INVESTIGATION, PAGE ONE THURSDAY: President Barack Obama is going gray... Developing...

WASH POST: Going Gray Is Just a Part of the Job...

Geithner attacks oil companies.

Nation: Wonderful, we got a climate changer in charge of monetary policies and his grasp of economics is a bit shaky.

U.S. oil and natural gas producing companies should not receive federal subsidies in the form of tax breaks because their businesses contribute to global warming, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Congress on Wednesday.

It was one of the sharpest attacks yet on the oil and gas industry by a top Obama administration official, reinforcing the White House stance that new U.S. energy policy will focus on promoting renewable energy sources like wind and solar power and rely less on traditional fossil fuels like oil as America tackles climate change.

"We don't believe it makes sense to significantly subsidize the production and use of sources of energy (like oil and gas) that are dramatically going to add to our climate change (problem). We don't think that's good economic policy and we think changing those incentives is good for the country," Geithner told the Senate Finance Committee at a hearing on the White House's proposed budget for the 2010 spending year.

Geithner said the additional taxes "can be absorbed" by the oil and gas companies, given the billions of dollars they have earned from high energy prices.

"The impact of these subsidies are very small relative to revenues produced by U.S. oil and gas producers," he said.

Did I miss the law passing saying that businesses cannot pass on Obama taxes as an expense to consumers/customers but they have to eat it? This guy just tanked the energy sector and seems to have a slight grasp on economics 101

$3.8 million earmark for Old Tigers Stadium.

Politics: Thanks a lot Carl Levin.

President Obama might have the future of Tiger Stadium in his hands by the time you read this. The president is expected to sign the huge congressional spending bill that includes a $3.8 million earmark essential for the preservation of The Corner sometime this week.

"I think it's essentially certain that he will sign it," says Thom Linn, president of the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy.

That money is the linchpin to leveraging $22 million of the $27 million needed for preservation of the now downsized version of Tiger Stadium. That $22 million includes the earmark, money already raised and tax incentives this project expects to garner. Linn says the other $5 million will be raised from foundations, grants and other fundraising avenues.

The Conservancy tapped some big-time powerbrokers to make this deal happen. Linn is a principal and chairman emeritus of the Miller Canfield law firm. U.S. Sen. and former Detroit City Councilman Carl Levin also played a key part getting the federal dollars through. Other local city politicians and activists played critical roles in making this a reality.

Source: Thom Linn, president of Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy

Awesome use of taxpayer money.

Sheltered student walks out on "racist" To Kill A Mockingbird

UK: I don't want to be mean to this kid but he seems the typical book smart with zero common sense to say this about a great book like Mockingbird.

A pupil walked out of school in protest at the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, describing it as "racially offensive".

Tinashe Makunike - the only black student in his class - says he felt uncomfortable at the use of racist language by characters in the GCSE set text.

The novel is taught in schools across the country and is widely regarded as an anti-racist classic which exposes prejudice in Depression-era America.

But 16-year-old prefect Tinashe, a high-achieving pupil who hopes to become a doctor, says he has previously experienced racist taunts at the school and reading the book in class made him feel "inferior and undermined".

He quit lessons at Holy Family College in Heywood, Rochdale, after a drama company acted out scenes from the text using the word 'n*****'.

....But Tinashe, from Heywood, said: "My mum explained to the teachers that I wasn't happy about it, but I still had to sit through a drama where people were using those words.

"People speak like that in real life but we can study that in history or politics, there is no need to make up fictional stories about it.

"Books like this do nothing to alleviate or reduce racism, but have contributed negatively to the school community with me getting the worst impact of its negativity.

"This type of book only creates and incites hate, violence and racism among races due to terms used in them, which are grossly degrading.

"Times have changed. Racist fiction should be buried in the past."

...Tinashe's family are backing him. Mum Thelma said: "He asked the English teacher to say that the terms used were not right. The teacher asked if he would like to use another word such as black.

"It was not necessary to put him in that position. I said to the headteacher that it wouldn't make any difference because in literature you have to quote the words as they are and therefore if you change it, it is pointless.

"Such books should be banned. This has affected his grades because he was getting A stars and his grades have now gone down to C and D because of pressure."

Sounds a little pampered and thin-skinned. But banning TKAM is ridiculous as it is one of the most anti-racism books out there. I could understand about being uncomfortable but banning or changing the words to avoid being offensive is wrong.

EU countries oppose Muslim views on racism meeting

World: As Muslim countries take over the Durban preparation, EU countries have had enough of it.

European Union countries Tuesday stepped up their opposition to Muslim attempts to shield Islam from criticism and attack Israel through a U.N. conference on racism.

EU members were unusually outspoken in appearances before the U.N. Human Rights Council, saying they were worried about preparations for a global racism conference to be held next month because attention was being diverted from the real problems of racial discrimination.

"I am deeply disturbed by the turn this event is taking," Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen said.

"The thematic world conference is used by some to try to force their concept of defamation of religions and their focus on one regional conflict on all of us," Verhagen told the 47-member council.

References to Israel and protection of religion in the current draft conclusion being negotiated for the so-called Durban II conference are unacceptable, Verhagen said.

"We cannot accept any text, which would put religion above individuals, not condemn discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, condone anti-Semitism or single out Israel," he said. Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Italy voiced similar concerns.

Islamic countries, still angry over cartoons and films attacking Muslims, have been campaigning for wording that would equate criticism of a religious faith with a violation of human rights. The informal negotiations have proven difficult with many issues that marred the first U.N. conference on racism in 2001 re-emerging — such as criticism of Israel.

Democrats reach deal on mortgage relief bill

Politics: It is not as bad as it could have been under the Dems, it still stinks though.

House Democrats, under pressure from a group of moderates in their ranks and the banking lobby, agreed Tuesday to narrow legislation that gives bankruptcy judges the power to force lenders to rewrite mortgages for debt-strapped homeowners.
The compromise legislation was expected to come to a vote in the House as early as Thursday.

Under the terms of the agreement, judges would have to consider whether a homeowner had been offered a reasonable deal by the bank to rework his or her home loan before deciding whether to take judicial action to lower the interest rate or principal.

Borrowers also would have a responsibility to prove that they tried to modify their mortgages with their lenders before seeking help in bankruptcy court.

"If there is modification available, you would prefer that than a bankruptcy," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., one of the centrist negotiators on the bill.

Democrats said the goal was to make bankruptcy clearly a last resort for homeowners in danger of losing their homes.

"The concern is that we want to ensure that those people who get relief have tried other avenues," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said.

Obama downplays letter to Russia

Politics: After Russia told him to go screw or at the very least publicly made him look like Oliver Twist begging for more, Obama comes back to clear up the letter.

President Obama said Tuesday that reports of a U.S. offer to kill a proposed missile defense system in exchange for Russian assistance in preventing Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons were inaccurate.

Obama acknowledged he had sent Russian President Dmitry Medvedev a "very lengthy letter talking about a whole range of issues," including nuclear proliferation and terrorism, but said there was no quid pro quo regarding the proposed defense system in Eastern Europe.

"What I said in the letter was that, obviously, to the extent that we are lessening Iran's commitment to nuclear weapons, then that reduces the pressure for — or the need for — a missile defense system," Obama said.

"It was simply a statement of fact that I've made previously, which is that the missile defense program, to the extent that it is deployed, is designed to deal with not a Russian threat, but an Iranian threat."

A.F.L.-C.I.O. to Support Nationalizing Banks

Nation: The first thing to come to mind is whats in it for them? If you nationalize any bank, the entire system which is over the cliff trying to be pull back is just going to fall and take the cliff with it.

30,000 government workers may lose jobs in Puerto Rico

Nation: Puerto Rico has 3.9 million people, its biggest employer is the government of 218,000, its going to get $5 Billion in taxpayer money for lord knows what. So cutting 30,000 workers from its overbloated public work force is a nice start.

Mexico bulks up border forces in drug war

Mexico: So we have thousands of Mexican troops massing along the border trying to stop violent drug cartels but we still won't strengthen our borders. Okay then.

Hundreds of heavily armed Mexican soldiers moved into this city on the Texas border to end a drug war that has left 2,000 people murdered over the past year.
The troops are among 7,500 soldiers and 1,700 federal officers President Felipe Calderon ordered into Ciudad Juarez, a major stop for drugs smuggled into the U.S.

"I'm relieved," said El Paso Mayor John Cook, whose city is just over the border. "It shows President Calderon is serious about winning this battle with the cartels."

Cook said he talked about the plan recently with Juarez's mayor, Jose Reyes Ferriz, whose family has lived in El Paso for years.

The troops will take over all the police precinct stations in Juarez, conduct neighborhood patrols, gather intelligence gathering and try "to ferret out illegal activity," Cook said.

Juarez is engulfed in the worst violence in Mexico as cartels, aided by corrupt police, fight each other over control of the trade in cocaine, heroin and marijuana. Several police officers were murdered last month. The city's police chief quit after threats from hit men. Catholic bishops pleaded in newspaper ads for an end to the killings "staining the state with blood."

Cook said the violence has not spilled into El Paso, but U.S. cities such as Phoenix have had cartel-linked murders and kidnappings.

Obama the economic dullard tries to calm the markets.

Politics: Too Late. After months of crisis, crisis, crisis, crisis talk, you think soothing words will stop the freefall you and your team contributed too so you could pass the stimulus bill?

The Obama administration yesterday made a concerted push to boost confidence in downward-spiraling financial markets, assuring Americans that officials are taking the steps necessary to contain the worsening economic damage and to restore the nation's long-term fiscal health.

A day after the markets hit crisis lows, the administration sought to restore calm. The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve launched a long-awaited program to pump money into consumer lending. Aides, including the White House budget director, vowed that the president's spending plan would benefit the vast majority of working Americans. And officials in various public venues used soothing language in an effort to inspire hope.

"What I'm looking at is not the day-to-day gyrations of the stock market," said President Obama, speaking to reporters at the White House, "but the long-term ability for the United States and the entire world economy to regain its footing."

The nation is caught in a dangerous cycle in which an endless stream of grim news -- waves of layoff announcements, signs that banks are teetering financially and negative economic data -- has contributed to anxiety among American consumers and businesses. That, in turn, has caused further economic weakness. The White House now appears to be moving to arrest that cycle.

But words weren't enough to end the raft of bad news yesterday.

I know that Obama and others in his circle think they are the smartest people on the planet but the market is reacting not only to bad financial news but his various economic plans. Obama is not creating wealth but spreading what is left and running up a credit card bill in the trillions.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Los Angeles set to re-elect Antonio Villaraigosa

Politics: You know the guy who had the mistress in Telemundo's Mirthala Salinas who then reported on the breakup of his marriage. At the time there was talk he wouldn't get elected but come on now. He is a Hispanic liberal Dem Mayor in Los Angeles. Who doubted he wouldn't get back into office?

Florida gov urges stimulus money use to balance budget.

Florida: I like Crist but this is wrong.

Gov. Charlie Crist called on lawmakers Tuesday to tap federal bailout money to avoid tax increases and painful public school cuts in a somber state of the state speech that was light on new policy initiatives.

Crist used his televised address to once again press legislators to quickly approve a gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe, setting the stage for a major clash between well-funded gambling interests during the 60-day session that began Tuesday.

But the austere economy dominated Crist's 18-minute speech, with the governor saying Floridians are being "tested in ways not seen in decades."

He urged the Legislature to use $4.7 billion in federal stimulus cash to pay for a host of state needs, from education to food stamps -- a stop-gap measure wary Republican legislative leaders say would be short-sighted.

No way. The money is supposed to stimulate the economy not plug up holes in runaway budgets. I know Florida is not the only state who is going to use the taxpayers money to do this but what happens next year or the year after when the money runs out? More taxpayer bailout?

Obama happily sells out to Russia over missile defense program.

World: Why would Russia give a damn in stopping Iran when its one of their best customers? So far Obama's foreign policy is selling out allies while kissing competitors and enemies asses.

President Obama has sent a letter to his Russian counterpart that raises the prospect of the United States halting development of its missile defense program in Eastern Europe if Russia helps resolve the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program, senior administration officials said last night.

Obama's letter, delivered to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in mid-February, "covered a number of topics" of mutual interest to the two countries, "including the issue of missile defense and how it relates to the Iranian threat," a senior administration official said. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter.

This official and others said the letter repeated an assertion Obama administration officials have voiced in recent weeks: The missile defense system would not be necessary if the threat posed by Iran's long-range missiles and its nuclear program was eliminated.

Russia has cooperated with Tehran on a range of issues and has often resisted Washington's tough stance toward Iran, which insists that its nuclear program is aimed at developing only cheap energy, not weapons.

Russia has to be ectasy America has a pushover in the White House. Obama goes after Rush Limbaugh but backs off over a real threat.

CJR posts off the record comments.

Media: Then they wonder why people piss all over the media?

Cerberus defends not putting more funds into Chrysler

Business: I wouldn't either but it is extremenly galling that the taxpayers are on the hook for something they even recognized is a dead company.

Cerberus Capital Management LP wants more federal loans for Chrysler LLC in order to avoid "excessive risk-taking" that contributed to Wall Street's demise, Cerberus' COO said today in The New York Times.

Mark Neporent, COO of the private-equity fund that owns 80.1 percent of Chrysler, made the comments in a letter responding to a critical Times editorial last week.

The Times had said Chrysler's restructuring plan submitted Feb. 17 to the Treasury Department was "little more than an assurance that it has already cut costs and accomplished most of what it had to do." The newspaper questioned why Cerberus is not putting more money into Chrysler, as "private-equity funds like Cerberus are supposed to do."

Cerberus intends to protect its investors through rules that limit how much capital it can commit to an individual company, Neporent said in his letter.

"Why should these retirees, universities and charities, simply because they are represented by a private investment manager, be required to take additional risks or make additional investments, when GM or Ford shareholders are not?" he wrote.

Bono hurt by being called a tax cheat.

Nation: He is not a tax cheat but hypocrite may be correct because while he is demanding government turn over taxpayer dollars to fund causes he promotes, the first chance the band gets to avoid paying taxes they run to the Netherlands.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Racist Detroit City Council at work.

Nation: Detroit is a dead city and its led in its city council by Monica Conyers who with four others killed a deal to expand Cobo Center which is home to the auto show. The hangup was if Cobo got the money to expand, the control would be in control of a regional council instead of the city.

Considering Detroit pass inability to function on basically everything, this was a logical deal. The city council disagreed as only they could being Detroit.

Nowhere is Michigan’s brain drain on greater display than in the Detroit City Council chambers.

My hopes for Detroit’s future faded as I watched the tape of last Tuesday’s council meeting, the one that considered the Cobo Center expansion deal.

It was a tragic circus, a festival of ignorance that confirmed the No. 1 obstacle to Detroit’s progress is the bargain basement leaders that city voters elect. The black nationalism that is now the dominant ideology of the council was on proud display, both at the table and in the audience.

Speakers advocating for the deal were taunted by the crowd and cut short by Council President Monica Conyers, who presided over the hearing like an angry bulldog; whites were advised by the citizens to, “Go home.”

Opponents were allowed to rant and ramble on uninterrupted about “those people” who want to steal Detroit’s assets and profit from the city’s labors.

A pitiful Teamster official who practically crawled to the table on his knees expressing profuse respect for this disrespectful body was battered by both the crowd and the council.

When he dared suggest that an improved Cobo Center would create more good-paying jobs for union workers, Conyers reminded him, “Those workers look like you; they don’t look like me.”

Desperate, he invoked President Barack Obama’s message of unity and was angrily warned, “Don’t yousay his name here.”

There is not one sensible person who would hand Detriot millions of dollars and control of something as valuable as Cobo Center after they rebuild/expand it. But this a great example of why Detroit is in a state of disarray.

Geert Wilders gains popularity and praises America.

World: Via NIS.

The PVV would according to prominent pollster Maurice de Hond win 27 seats in the 150-member Lower House if elections were held now. This is one more than the Christian democrats (CDA). This is the first time the PVV has emerged as the biggest party in a poll.

The PVV has risen in recent weeks thanks to apparent setbacks. First, the Amsterdam appeal court ruled that Wilders must be prosecuted for incitement to hatred and insulting of Muslims as a group. And subsequently, the UK refused him entry to the country.

In the US on the other hand, Wilders was greeted by neo-conservatives - as by a growing portion of the Dutch population - as a martyr for freedom of speech. The contrasts with Europe are great. A conservative philosopher said of his impact in the American media: "He is more than a hero. He is a celebrity".

Wilders says his criticism of Islam is dealt with much less frenetically in America. "In the Netherlands, the elite consider that you may not speak as I do, but here (in the US) freedom is in the genes. (...) I notice that in this country, at least arguments are exchanged. The Netherlands and Europe could adopt this as an example."

According to Wilders, the Pentagon shares his fears of a 'Eurabia'. "I have spoken with Pentagon staff, and they fear for the stability of Europe if the influence of Islam grows further."

Higher income workers trying sidestep Obama's taxes.

Nation: Via Instapundit roundup, the predictable result of having Obama spreading the wealth.

A 63-year-old attorney based in Lafayette, La., who asked not to be named, told that she plans to cut back on her business to get her annual income under the quarter million mark should the Obama tax plan be passed by Congress and become law.

So far, Obama's tax plan is being looked at skeptically by both Democrats and Republicans and therefore may not pass at all.

"We are going to try to figure out how to make our income $249,999.00," she said.

"We have to find a way out where we can make just what we need to just under the line so we can benefit from Obama's tax plan," she added. "Why kill yourself working if you're going to give it all away to people who aren't working as hard?"

What about us workers on the other end who don't qualify for the various welfare chec...err.. tax credits because we are above the income level? We need a plan of action to start getting our share.

'Ethical' stem cell creation hope

Science: You would hope Obama would push just as hard for research into this as he does for embryonic stem cell research.

The ability to create stem cell treatments without using embryos is a step closer, say researchers.

A UK and Canadian team have manipulated human skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells without using viruses - making them safer for use in humans.

The cells are reprogrammed by the insertion of four genes which are then removed once the process is complete, they report in Nature.

While a significant step it is early days, the Edinburgh-based experts say.

Much of the work on stem cells has focused on those taken from embryos as they have an unlimited capacity to become any of the 220 types of cell in the human body - a so-called pluripotent state.

But campaigners have objected to their use on the grounds that it is unethical to destroy embryos in the name of science.

Muslims upset over FBI mosque spying.

Terrorism: But the FBI doesn't care and bravo for not cutting off a surveillance tactic to find terrorists. If you suspect and know that a house of worship is used for making terrorist plans it cannot be off limits.

The Islamic Center of Irvine in Southern California is a beige stucco building that blends seamlessly into the rows of office buildings surrounding it. But last week, it became the most publicized mosque in California with disclosures that the FBI sent an informant there to spy and collect evidence of jihadist rhetoric and other allegedly extremist acts by an Orange County man who attended prayers there.

The revelations dismayed mosque members, including Omar Turbi, 50, and his 27-year-old son who shares his name. After the Friday prayer service, while hundreds of others scurried back to work, the pair stood with their backs to a wall and mulled over the news. "It gives you a little bit of apprehension about who you trust," said the father. "Makes you think twice about what you say. What if people misunderstand you?"

...Despite the critical reaction of Muslims, former FBI agents and federal prosecutors said spying on houses of worship where there is specific information about criminal activity by a member or members is still one of the government's best weapons to thwart terrorists.

'What the American people want'

"What matters to the FBI is preventing a massive attack that might be planned by some people ... using the mosque or church as a shield because they believe they're safe there," said Robert Blitzer, the FBI's former counterterrorism chief.

"That is what the American people want the FBI to do," he said.

It is not new that mosques have been the center of terrorist plots especially in the UK over the years. America should be no different in their approach.

Annette Bening hopes to help mend US-Iran ties

Culture: As Hollywood nimrods let their overinflated egos run ahead of their brains.

Top US film actress Annette Bening, in Iran as part of a Hollywood delegation, said on Sunday she hoped their presence in the country can help to kick-start talks between arch-foes Washington and Tehran.

"I hope that we can be a bridge to open a dialogue between the two countries", Bening, wearing a black traditional hejab and headscarf, told reporters.

She is part of a team of film-makers and actors from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the organisation which stages the annual Oscars, that is currently on a week-long visit to the Islamic republic.

The delegation is on a private initiative to stage workshops with their Iranian counterparts, a rarity in a country where the authorities brand the United States the "Great Satan."

After her brief statement, Bening and the other team members began a three-day workshop at Tehran's museum of cinema, an AFP photographer said.

Iran wants some apologies first.

An official delegation of Hollywood actors and filmmakers met with their Iranian counterparts in Tehran over the weekend, the first such visit to a country that banned American movies 30 years ago.

But the Iranian government quickly crushed any cinematic illusion of an Obama-era thaw in relations, denouncing the meeting on Sunday and demanding that Hollywood apologize for its “insults and accusations against the Iranian nation.”

The nine members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who arrived in Tehran on Friday as cultural ambassadors were apparently unaware of the official reaction as they sought to improve ties between the nations’ film industries.

“Today is my birthday, and I cannot think of any other place I wanted to be other than here,” Phil Alden Robinson, best known as the writer and director of the baseball fantasy “Field of Dreams,” said Sunday.

“I thought Iranians are different,” he said. “But I found out that we are no different, and films create a language for it.”

Clueless and patronizing. Typical Hollywood people.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Eric Cantor not ready for primetime.

Politics: Via Hot Air. I am disturbed by the fact DL Hughley actually got Rush's comments about wanting Obama to fail more right than George Stephanolopous. Equally disturbing that Cantor allowed George to put up a wrong question and can't think fast enough on his feet to repudiate him.

Kaine says stimulus saved 7,100 state jobs

Virginia: I bet taxpayers in the private sector are extremely happy about this news.

Virginia legislators quit on time tonight, approving a budget-balancing plan that protects state jobs and softens cuts to education, health care and police with nearly $1.5 billion in federal stimulus funds.

Revisions to the two-year, $77 billion budget capped the final hours of a 46-day session, during which lawmakers adopted additional restrictions on smoking in public but resisted tougher controls on gun sales and making it easier to vote.

With funds from President Barack Obama's plan to jump-start the economy, college tuition increases will be reduced, fewer state employees will lose their jobs and mental hospitals will stay open. Cuts for sheriff's offices were restored.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, an Obama confidante, said the assistance from Washington means the state will avert massive layoffs. For the first time, Kaine, who once proposed firing 500 workers, said more than 7,000 employees were imperiled.

"If anybody wonders whether the stimulus package mattered, 7,100 people are going to have jobs with the state government, continuing to serve others and not be out on the streets in the midst of the worst job market that this nation has seen in the last quarter-century," said Kaine.

Obama will sign 9,000 earmark loaded spending bill.

Politics: I guess we know who runs the Dems and it ain't Obama.

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama will sign a $410 billion government-spending bill, even though it includes thousands of the spending "earmarks" that he had criticized on the campaign trail, a top White House aide said.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, speaking on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday, said the president wasn't happy with the 9,000-or-so earmarks that lawmakers added to the legislation. But "this is last year's business," Mr. Emanuel said, adding that Mr. Obama would sign the bill, once it is approved by Congress.

Mr. Emanuel said Mr. Obama succeeded in preventing lawmakers from adding a single earmark to the recently passed, $787 billion economic-stimulus package. He also praised Congress for requiring more disclosure about the authors of earmarks in the spending bill. "The most important thing to do is to be transparent and accountable," he said.

UK Union chief living high on the union fees.

UK: Stylin and profilin.

One of the leaders of Britain's largest trade union has enjoyed the use of a £399-a-night hotel suite within yards of his office - to save a 35-minute journey to his £800,000 grace-and-favour home.

Derek Simpson, 64, the joint leader of Unite and a leading critic of 'fat-cat' banking bosses, has spent nights at the five-star Waldorf Hilton hotel in London, just 600 yards from his office.
The Mail on Sunday has established that Mr Simpson, a close political ally of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, recently spent four nights in one of the hotel's King Hilton suites, which boast such luxurious features as a king-size bed and 'body massage jets'.

Napolitano seeks reviews of illegals arrests.

Immigration: Obama and Napolitano already moving to protect illegal immigrants.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Wednesday ordered a review of a raid at an engine plant in Washington State that resulted in the arrests of 28 people suspected of being illegal immigrants.

A high-level official in the Department of Homeland Security said that Ms. Napolitano had not been informed about the raid on Tuesday before it happened, and that she was seeking details about its planning and scope.

“She was not happy about it because it’s inconsistent with her position, and the president’s position on these matters,” said the official, who agreed to discuss the matter on condition of anonymity because the secretary had not authorized the conversation.

President Obama has promised immigration enforcement that would focus less on illegal workers and more on the employers who rely on them.

Obama's wall street supporters feeling buyer's remorse.

Politics: What the hell did they expect? A pro business democrat? Suck it up and take you public flogging like men.

Essentially, the Obama economic policies represent a major Democratic party relapse into Great Society social spending and taxing. It is a return to the LBJ/Nixon era, and a move away from the Reagan/Clinton period. House Republicans, fortunately, are 90 days sober, as they are putting up a valiant fight to stop the big-government onslaught and move the GOP back to first principles.

Noteworthy up here on Wall Street, a great many Obama supporters — especially hedge-fund types who voted for “change” — are becoming disillusioned with the performances of Obama and Treasury man Geithner.

There is a growing sense of buyer’s remorse.

Well then, do conservatives dare say: We told you so?

CNN' s T.J. Holmes disappointed adultery is down.

Culture: What was on his mind.

T. J. HOLMES, CNN HOST: Unfortunately, you know, people have to stop cheating in this recession. But given the recession, people are being forced to improvise a little bit more as they're looking for a little variety out there in their lives.
BETTY NGUYEN: That could get a little tricky, and so we hear. And as you will see, CNN's Randi Kaye is dishing the dirt.

The upcoming NBA implosion?

Sports: The news that the NBA took out a loan to help teams cover expenses came as a surprise to fans and now Bill Simmons points out that it really shouldn't have been a surprise.

"....This season? We talked about money. Constantly. We didn't even know about the line of credit on the horizon; that didn't leak until the Monday after the All-Star Game. (On Thursday, we learned that 12 teams will accept the league's offer to borrow $200 million from JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, with between $13 million and $20 million available to each team. I found this ironic after learning in Phoenix that David Stern and Jerry Colangelo blew a jaw-dropping $100 million on the entire Redeem Team process from beginning to end. My how times have changed.) We knew about layoffs of employees within the league and various franchises. We knew various local and national sponsors were bailing, most notably car companies and major banks (two staples for the NBA). We knew certain franchises were losing significant wads of money and reacting accordingly. (Details are still trickling out.

For instance, after the trade deadline, The Sacramento Bee reported the Kings would have lost $25 million had they not dumped Brad Miller's salary and bought out Mikki Moore, and the newspaper's Kings blog reported team employees were no longer allowed to work overtime or eat dinner in the media room.) Even trade talk -- normally a staple of any All-Star Weekend -- revolved more around themes such as, "They have to cut payroll," "They can't take on any money right now" and "They're too terrified of the tax to do anything."

Newbos! The New Black Overclass

Culture: Right away I don't like the term Newbos because it too close to Newbie. Other than that, interesting excerpt. But I don't understand how this generation is any different from other black entrepreneurs from previous decades who built their empires in the exact same situations. The money is much larger due in part to societal changes and Lebron is just expanded on what the likes of Jordan and Magic laid the foundation for in the 80's and 90's.

Newbos are young African-Americans who rely on working-class values, a capitalistic philosophy and entrepreneurial instincts to create wealth and fame that would be unimaginable to their forebears. Largely male, they are using entertainment, professional sports, and media as foundations upon which to build diversified enterprises, some already worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Droves of other young blacks are building businesses and careers in industries that have sprung up around these sports, entertainment and media figures, including sports and entertainment agents and lawyers, producers, financial advisors, publicists, composers, choreographers, stylists, personal trainers and security professionals, among others.

Unlike previous generations of blacks striving to succeed in a white-dominated world, these young moguls and their retinues have found their economic power in refusing to assimilate. Recognizing that institutional racism and other social and cultural barriers often block their way forward in a traditional white-dominated economy, they embrace and commercialize their interpretations and versions of black style and culture, a trend that reflects the emergence of non-traditional, creative leadership — think Bill Gates and Steve Jobs — in every aspect of the American economy. Their rapid rise from almost nothing represents a shining new aspect of the American dream, but also creates unprecedented challenges in their lives.

Woman charged with breast-feeding while driving

Nation: The stupid award for last week is locked up.

Police in Ohio say a woman has been charged with child endangering after another motorist reported she was both breast-feeding a youngster and talking on a phone while driving.

Police in the Dayton suburb of Kettering say the caller told them he saw the woman Thursday.

Officer Michael Burke says authorities used a license plate number to track down 39-year-old Genine Compton.

He said the woman told officers she was breast-feeding and wouldn't let her child go hungry.

Then pull off the road or better yet make sure your kid is feed before getting into the car. Honestly, this is where tasering should be an option for the sheer stupidity of this woman.

House Is Abandoning Carbon Neutral Plan

Nation: Once again, what sounds great on paper stinks in reality.

The U.S. House of Representatives has abandoned a plan to make its offices "carbon neutral," a sign that Congress is wrestling with a pledge to become more green even as it crafts sweeping legislation on climate change.

The promise that the House would effectively reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero was a centerpiece of the Green the Capitol program in which the new Democratic leadership sought to use Capitol Hill as a kind of a national demonstration project.

But last week, a spokesman for the House's chief administrative officer said the chamber's leadership had dropped an essential part of the plan, the purchase of "carbon offsets" to cancel out emissions from its buildings. Offsets are a controversial commodity that promises that a certain amount of pollution was captured or avoided elsewhere.

"Right now, there is no plan to purchase more offsets," spokesman Jeff Ventura said. The House paid $89,000 for offsets to cover the last session, in 2007 and 2008.

The decision comes as legislators also struggle with the future of the Capitol Power Plant: Hundreds of demonstrators with Greenpeace, the Rainforest Action Network and other groups will protest tomorrow against the plant's continued use of coal.

Both issues, the proper use of offsets and the right way to clean up old smokestacks, will probably come up in the national debate over climate change measures expected this year.

Congress is learning that even in its back yard, the weeds get pretty deep.

"It's very easy to make glib promises and a heck of a lot harder to follow through with real action" on climate change, said Frank O'Donnell of the nonprofit group Clean Air Watch. "In the cold light of reality, I guess, they're saying, 'Gee, it's not going to happen very easily.' "

Somali president gives in to Sharia law.

World: This is the moderate Islamist of Somalia and like any moderate he gives in to pressure which in this case is a bad thing.

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said Saturday he will give in to a rebel demand that he impose Islamic law, or sharia, in an effort to halt fighting between Somali forces and Islamic insurgents.

However, Ahmed told a news conference he won't agree to a strict interpretation of the law, which forbids girls from attending school, requires veils for women and beards for men, and bans music and television.

The president, speaking at his palace in the capital, Mogadishu, said local elders and religious leaders, acting as liaisons with the militants, brought him a message saying the rebels wanted a truce in the two-year-old fighting. He also asked African peacekeepers to stand down.

If he agrees or not is out of his hand, he opened the door and he cannot close it ever.

Chechen leader imposes strict brand of Islam

World: Well this sounds like a swell situation to be in if you are a woman.

The bullnecked president of Chechnya emerged from afternoon prayers at the mosque and with chilling composure explained why seven young women who had been shot in the head deserved to die.

Ramzan Kadyrov said the women, whose bodies were found dumped by the roadside, had "loose morals" and were rightfully shot by male relatives in honor killings.

"If a woman runs around and if a man runs around with her, both of them are killed," Kadyrov told journalists in the capital of this Russian republic.

The 32-year-old former militia leader is carrying out a campaign to impose Islamic values and strengthen the traditional customs of predominantly Muslim Chechnya, in an effort to blunt the appeal of hardline Islamic separatists and shore up his power. In doing so, critics say, he is setting up a dictatorship where Russian laws do not apply.

Some in Russia say Kadyrov's attempt to create an Islamic society violates the Russian constitution, which guarantees equal rights for women and a separation of church and state. But the Kremlin has given him its staunch backing, seeing him as the key to keeping the separatists in check, and that has allowed him to impose his will.

"Kadyrov willfully tries to increase the influence of local customs over the life of the republic because this makes him the absolute ruler of the republic," said Yulia Latynina, a political analyst in Moscow.

Kadyrov's bluster shows how confident he is of his position. "No one can tell us not to be Muslims," he said outside the mosque. "If anyone says I cannot be a Muslim, he is my enemy."