Thursday, October 15, 2009

Political Digest October 15, 2009

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

I will be traveling on business until late Sunday. Will leave some things to post, including a very cheery article for Sunday, but doubt I can check in long enough to post much until next week.

Magic Numbers in Politics: Part II by Dr. Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: One of the other magic numbers that is popular in politics is the average miles per gallon of gas that cars are supposed to get, in order to meet standards set by the government. No matter how big this number gets, it can always get bigger, so there is no logical stopping place-- which means a never-ending political crusade to increase that magic number. The open-endedness of magic numbers is not their only problem. The more fundamental problem is that the costs entailed by a magic number are often either ignored or downplayed. More miles per gallon, for example, are usually achieved by having lighter cars-- and lighter cars mean less protection from the consequences of automobile accidents. Bluntly, it means more severe injuries and death. (Yeah, but dead drivers have a smaller carbon footprint and use fewer healthcare dollars, so everyone wins.)

Telling terrorists where to shove it
In case you missed this. Excerpt: But the al-Asiri case ended very differently from the al-Awfi case. Unlike al-Awfi, al-Asiri was not a genuine repentant — he was a human Trojan horse. After al-Asiri entered a small room to speak with Prince Mohammed, he activated a small improvised explosive device (IED) he had been carrying inside his anal cavity. The resulting explosion ripped al-Asiri to shreds but only lightly injured the shocked prince — the target of al-Asiri’s unsuccessful assassination attempt.

Don’t Try to Arrest the Sea: An Alternative Approach for Afghanistan
Excerpt: Over the last three months that I’ve spent in the United States, I’ve heard with concern and trepidation the growing calls for a possible pull out from Afghanistan. No sane citizen of our world, let alone a Pakistani infantry officer who may soon end up being another name on an ever-growing list of the fallen soldiers in the war against terror, enjoys thinking about the painful possibility of our world’s greatest military power and history’s most inspiring nation retreating in the face of an onslaught by Kalashnikov-wielding bearded barbarians riding on the back of motorcycles, hungry horses and perspiring mules. What is being realized with increasing intensity is the pain of a seemingly endless and bloody war for almost a decade now; the pressure of a U.S. public opinion that’s almost irreversibly weary of war (at least for now); the misery of a mismatch between resources and mandate; the rising groans of despairing allies unwilling to persevere and, the scary scarcity of success stories. However what needs to be realized is the fact that abandoning Afghanistan will be an unmitigated tragedy.

Will Obama ask the Taliban the deal-breaker question?
Excerpt: Now, Obama is putting up trial balloons about giving up on the whole project and accepting the Taliban returning to power as a fait accompli before it has even become one (passively allowing conditions on the ground to worsen and then accept the results as inevitable is Obama’s go-to foreign policy move). But Allahpundit asks one crucial question we need to put to the Taliban to test whether or not it’s completely insane to do this:Ask them to tell us where Osama, Zawahiri, Abu Yahya al-Libi, and the rest of the gang are hiding; if Omar and the Quetta Shura don’t have that information instantly available, they should be able to get it pretty quickly. Then they pass it to the Pakistanis and the Pakistanis pass it to us and the rest is left to the generals and drone operators….And if the Taliban refuses his demand, whether for reasons of jihadist loyalty or Pashtun hospitality, then there’s your proof that they can never, ever be trusted not to host AQ if we leave them alone in Afghanistan. (I’d ask them, “If we get out and let you return to power, will you still throw acid in the faces of young girls wanting to go to school?” Like the 900 Jewish refugees on the St. Louis, denied entry into Roosevelt’s America to be returned to the Nazi’s, the fate of these girls hangs on Obama’s decision as well as the fate of our country.

Arab-Nazi collaboration a taboo subject for the media
Excerpt: An exhibition in Berlin that cast light on the Muslim/Nazi collaboration during the holocaust was cancelled for fear of Islam. The publicly funded multicultural center in Berlin, “Werkstatt der Kulturen,” is located in a heavily Turkish and Arab neighborhood. Karl Rössel, the German journalist responsible for the exhibition, “The Third World in the Second World War”, wonders “why the people who so one-sidedly regard Israel as the region’s main problem never consider how the Mideast conflict would have developed had it not been influenced by fascists, anti-Semites and people who had just returned from their Nazi exile”.

The Message of Dollar Disdain
Excerpt: Unprecedented spending, unending fiscal deficits, unconscionable accumulations of government debt: These are the trends that are shaping America's financial future. And since loose monetary policy and a weak U.S. dollar are part of the mix, apparently, it's no wonder people around the world are searching for an alternative form of money in which to calculate and preserve their own wealth.

Ten things that probably will be in the health-care bill (but shouldn’t).
Excerpt: Instead of reintroducing concepts like competition and personal responsibility as a way to bring down costs and make coverage more affordable, Obamacare relies on coercion and taxation to pursue these same goals less efficiently. Here are ten reasons why no proposal built on this foundation deserves to pass:

Democrats using 'budget gimmicks' on healthcare
Excerpt: The latest salvo comes in the form of the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) score of the Senate finance bill. One day after the CBO announced that our record deficit has tripled in just one year, Senator Baucus and friends in the media were busy running victory laps with the latest CBO “score” of his health plan. In reality the Baucus plan hides nearly $1.2 trillion in additional spending from the American people. Amid pages of description and complicated budget tables lies the heart of what this bill means for the American taxpayer. On page 10 of the “score,” CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf writes that the expansion provisions in the bill are estimated to cost $180 billion in 2019, with projected growth at 8 percent beyond 2019. However, also revealing, the “score” assumes taxes on health insurance plans will total $46 billion by 2019, and receipts from these taxes are expected to grow by 10 to 15 percent in the following decade. Other taxes in the bill will total $52 billion in 2019, and are expected to grow by 10 percent in the following decade.

Mandatory Health Insurance: Lessons from Massachusetts
Excerpt: While the reform seems to have reduced the number of uninsured, it has also created incentives for costs to rise even faster. Richardson gives a summary of some of the reasons: Massachusetts' expenditures on its health care initiative have been discounted by 50 percent, thanks to matching funds from the federal government, which has encouraged a rapid increase in state expenditures. Growing burdens on businesses have meant that an increasing number are choosing to steer their employees into the state-subsidized system rather than provide health insurance themselves; in addition some will hesitate to expand beyond 10 employees when faced with the cost of providing health insurance or state penalties. Consumers of health insurance over certain income ranges have strong incentives to earn less money in order to qualify for more generous subsidies.

NHS care causes one in 50 hospital treatments
Excerpt: Up to one in 50 patients in hospital is being treated for problems caused by previous NHS care, official figures published today show. A study by the NHS Information Centre found that patients in England were treated for complications resulting from treatment on 326,000 occasions over a 12-month period — equivalent to 2 per cent of all hospital admissions. The figures include cases of botched surgery, excessive bleeding or serious side-effects to medicines or therapies given to help patients. Overall, 95,930 complications (29 per cent of the total) involved the patient suffering an adverse effect from drugs used in their treatment. Another 5,050 (2 per cent of the total) involved “misadventures” during surgical and medical care, and 3,690 (1 per cent) involved an adverse incident relating to equipment used in diagnosis or therapy. (Coming soon to a location near you.)

Pro-Obamacare Republicans in the pay of the health industry
Excerpt: As the White House dismissed the insurance lobby's critiques of the Senate health care bill as self-serving corporate disinformation, President Obama used his weekly radio address to laud four former Republican officials for supporting the push for "reform." But Obama failed to mention that these pro-"reform" Republicans -- whom he lauded for "ris[ing] above the politics of the moment" -- are all in the pay of the health care industry and could personally profit from "reform." Former Republican Health and Human Services Secretaries Louis Sullivan and Tommy Thompson, along with former Senate Majority Leaders Bill Frist (a doctor) and Bob Dole, received plaudits in the president's weekly radio address for exhibiting "the spirit of national purpose" and for understanding "that health insurance reform isn't a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but an American issue that demands a solution." Media outlets dutifully carried the Democratic story line: Four important Republicans are backing Obama, but GOP lawmakers remain in lockstep for partisan political readings. Obama, along with ABC News, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press and nearly everyone who reported on the GOP support for Obamacare, left out the salient detail that these pro-"reform" Republicans are lobbyists, consultants and directors for the drug companies, hospitals and other health care corporations that stand to profit from Obama's reform.

GOP Needs More Conservative Substance, More Moderate Tone,_more_moderate_tone
Excerpt: The encouraging message suggests that Americans strongly prefer conservative policies and values to the liberal approaches preached by the president. On the other hand, the same polls indicate that the two revival strategies most commonly discussed by the GOP will both lead to political dead ends. Neither a shift to more moderate positions nor an emphasis on rousing, uncompromising, us-vs.-them right wing rhetoric will bring Republicans back to power in Washington D.C. The only workable strategy for long-term GOP gains requires a combination of conservative substance and more moderate tone.

Birther leader Orly Taitz slapped with $20,000 fine
Excerpt: Thanks to her "frivolous arguments and disrespectful personal attacks" in court, the lawyer who leads the so-called "birther" movement has been slapped with a hefty fine today for abusing her privileges as a lawyer. In levying sanctions and a $20,000 fine against attorney Orly Taitz, Judge Clay Land wrote that Taitz's most recent court filing, meant to defend herself against sanctions, "is breathtaking in its arrogance and borders on delusional

Independents Lose Faith in President Amid Big Job Losses
Excerpt: They may love him in Norway, but President Obama is rapidly losing favor with the independents that boosted him to the White House. His support among self-described independent voters has fallen from about 73 in February to just 45 this month, according to the IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index. (Scary. During the Clinton impeachment thing, I predicted, correctly, that BC would be on TV every day announcing a new taxpayer-funded program to buy his popularity back. Expect the same from BO.)

Is the Stock Market Safe to Invest Again?
Excerpt: The current market psychology has gone in a complete 360 reversal. An important top in the market is at hand. We are in the latter stages of a cyclical bear market that started in March of 2000. A real cyclical bull market will re-emerge in 2-3 years. The current rally is just a big head fake…. There has been no country in modern history that ever was prosperous when their currency falls apart. It was one of the reasons why we crashed in 1987. People don’t want to hold a currency that loses its value overnight.

But: Dow Breaks 10,000 for First Time in a Year

Nobel Geopolitics
Interesting analysis of the Nobel Peace Prize and European views of President Obama: The Norwegians awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the president of their dreams, not the president who is dealing with Iran and Afghanistan. Obama is not a free actor. He is trapped by the reality he has found himself in, and that reality will push him far away from the Norwegian fantasy. In the end, the United States is the United States — and that is Europe’s nightmare, because the United States is not obsessed with maintaining Europe’s comfortable prosperity. The United States cannot afford to be, and in the end, neither can President Obama, Nobel Peace Prize or not.

New York jihadist calls for Allah to "throw liquid drain cleaner in the faces of Jews"
Excerpt: The main point of this story is that because the calls for violence were part of a prayer, it's protected speech. He was asking Allah to throw the drain cleaner, despite the fact that Allah hasn't shown much of an interest in plumbing or any other do-it-yourself projects over the years, relying instead on the violence of willing believers. The only question is where and when local authorities will decide al-Khattab has crossed the line of "clear and present danger."

The Drive-Away Media
Excerpt: Rick Sanchez quoted Rush Limbaugh on CNN and the quote was fabricated. The racially insensitive quote attributed to Limbaugh was made up on the internet and not uttered by Rush. Sanchez has refused to apologize for using the quote in a hit job on Limbaugh designed to destroy Limbaugh’s bid for the St. Louis Rams. Here is what is real. Rick Sanchez ran over a man and left the guy for dead. It was December 10, 1990. Sanchez was leaving a Miami Dolphins game when he ran over a man. Sanchez fled the scene for two hours.

Our European arrogance in alphabetical order
Excerpt: Apologize to no one. Remind those of our sacrifice and don't confuse
arrogance with leadership. If I added correctly the count is 104,366 dead. And we have to watch an American elected leader who apologizes to Europe and the Middle East that our country is "arrogant"! How many French, Dutch, Italians, Belgians and Brits are buried on our soil, defending us against our enemies?? We don't ask for praise ... But we have absolutely no need to apologize!!

Armed Forces Museum
Apparently not well known.

Then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama (2001): The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and, sort of, more basic issues of political and economic justice in the society. One of the, I think, the tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change. (Ah, the Mugabe approach to economic—make the US like Zimbabwe. Take money from those who earned it, give it to those who vote for us.)

"The Peace Prize judges won't see it this way, but America has gone to Europe twice in the past century to fight for peace. This is an old concept, and has to do with killing killers so they can't kill anymore. It cost America a lot to do this, and we kept no territory, as they say, beyond the graves where our soldiers lie. America then taxed itself and gave its wealth not only to its allies but to its former adversaries, to help them rebuild. We didn't actually have to do this. We did it to make the world better. We did it to foster peace. (They should give us a prize.)" --columnist Peggy Noonan. The Patriot Post (

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