Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Political Digest November 3, 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.

Democrats challenged on cost of health bill
Hey, lots of government programs come in on budget. There was, ah, let’s see. Give me a minute.

The only challenger to President Hamid Karzai withdrew from next week's runoff election
Another excuse for President Wobbly to vote “Present.”

Israel putting forth 'unprecedented' concessions, Clinton says But Palestinians reject Netanyahu's offer on settlements
Nothing will satisfy them but the death of all Jews, the total destruction of Israel and everyone in the world brought under a Muslim Caliphate. Then they’ll kill each other over doctrine. Such is the “Religion of Peace.”

Militants blow up Pakistan girls school
Tell me again how Islam respects women.

Egypt: Christians hide in homes after Muslims distribute leaflets saying "burn, vandalize and clean the country of these evil immoral infidels"
Tell me again how tolerant Islam is.

Muslim unrest hits US Homes http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/muslim_unrest_hits_us_homes_swfI0VrpBFYtz0nsxzOpoJ#ixzz0VkHpJ9Sn
Excerpt: The vast majority of honor killings do appear to be cases where there is some attempt to violate or leave [Muslim] cultural norms,” says David Bryan Cook, associate professor of religious studies at Rice University. “They’ve been going on in the US and Britain for a number of years, but in the recent past they’ve gotten a lot more publicity.”

H1N1 Vaccinations to Be Offered To Guantanamo Bay Detainees
Excerpt: The Pentagon will offer the H1N1 vaccination to detainees at the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, officials there said Friday. The Pentagon made the decision based on U.S. government assessments that people held in detention facilities are at high risk for the pandemic, said Maj. Diana R. Haynie, a spokeswoman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, which is in charge of holding the suspected terrorists. (If we didn’t, they’d accuse us of murder. Now they will accuse us of poisoning them with the shots. Meanwhile, somewhere, someone’s child will die so a terrorist gets his shot. I’d give them a shot, had I the chance.)

Study calls Md. smart growth a flop
Gee, Government Planning for economic activity didn’t work out. Economist Thomas Sowell points out in his books that these planning schemes are often designed to preserve green spaces, thus enhancing the value of the properties of the elites, while making housing for the poor much more expensive—see San Francisco.

Climate bill faces hurdles in Senate
Deal on nuclear plants offered to court Republicans
Gee, what could be controversial about wrecking our economy to do miniscule good as China and India grow their carbon footprints almost as large as Al Gore’s.

The Take: The grass roots prevail in N.Y. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2009/11/02/the_take_the_grass_roots_preva.html?wprss=44
Excerpt: Significant battles sometimes take place in obscure places. Until the past month, New York's 23rd Congressional District was known mostly for its cold climate, its history of electing Republicans to the House and its relatively moderate politics. The GOP has held the district for more than a century. As a result of a surprise announcement on Saturday, Republicans are likely to continue to hold it for the time being. But the developments that put Republicans back in a stronger position to win a special House election on Tuesday will reverberate unpredictably far beyond the district's boundaries. By the time this fight is over, several questions will be front and center heading into the 2010 midterm elections. One is who really controls the Republican Party. Another is whether grass-roots anger is now the driving force in politics. A third is whether all this is a wise and winning strategy for Republicans or a great gamble by what has been a beleaguered party.

NY-23: Scozzafava Endorses Owens
She claimed to be a centrist, but clearly her heart was to the left.

Morning Fix: A ground war in New Jersey
Both the D and the R have high negatives. Depends on the turnout and how many people can’t stomach either and cast a protest vote for the Independent. I don’t really think highly Democrat NJ will be a referendum on Obama, but whichever party wins will try to spin it that way.

The Worst Bill Ever
Epic new spending and taxes, pricier insurance, rationed care, dishonest accounting: The Pelosi health bill has it all.
I donno. I still think Smoot-Hawley which locked in the great depression by starting a trade war in 1931 may have been worse.

CO2’s Political Fingerprint
That’ll teach them. Excerpt: Unless they had explicitly named them, the Senate’s Kerry-Boxer and the House’s Waxman-Markey global warming bills could not have been better designed to inflict more pain on the states that swung red in the last election than on those that went blue. The American Clean Energy and Security Act in the Senate and House’s Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act both call for dramatic reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, eventually 83%. (Isn’t it curious that neither bill is titled after the impending global warming catastrophe that they are supposedly designed to avert?)

Stimulus jobs overstated by thousands
He lies. Excerpt: An early progress report on President Barack Obama's economic recovery plan overstates by thousands the number of jobs created or saved through the stimulus program, a mistake that White House officials promise will be corrected in future reports.

Bad news for Democrats in revelation of ethics probes
Excerpt: After years of criticism that congressional lawmakers were reluctant to investigate their colleagues, the disclosure in recent days of a sensitive document from the House ethics committee offers the contradictory portrait of a panel actively pursuing a range of probes even as Democrats under scrutiny remain in positions of power. The 22-page document revealed that the ethics committee, as of late July, was looking into the activities of at least 19 lawmakers, including reviews of home mortgages and interviews about corporate-backed trips for members of Congress to Caribbean resorts. Combined with the inquiries being conducted by a new ethics office, the document showed a far more robust set of investigations than previously revealed. But the document also brings potential political peril for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), whose party claimed the majority in November 2006 after she promised to "drain the swamp" of corruption on Capitol Hill. Two and a half years into Pelosi's reign, more than 25 Democrats have been targeted for ethics reviews by the two ethics bodies, while just seven Republicans appeared to be under scrutiny, according to the document. (Much as I enjoy seeing Nancy Pork Pelosi have to eat her “Republican Culture of Corruption” words, we need to understand that members of any party or political philosophy may be corrupt and root it out. See the next item.)

Ex-N.Y. (Republican) Senate leader faces corruption trial
Corruption is the only thing truly bi-partisan, and must be rooted out regardless of party. For Republicans to defend this guy would be as bad as Democrats defending Rangel, Murtha, Burris, Blagojevich, et. al.

Could America go broke? A “Must Read.”
Excerpt: The idea that the government of a major advanced country would default on its debt -- that is, tell lenders that it won't repay them all they're owed -- was, until recently, a preposterous proposition. Argentina and Russia have stiffed their creditors, but surely the likes of the United States, Japan or Britain wouldn't. Well, it's still a very, very long shot, but it's no longer entirely unimaginable. Governments of rich countries are borrowing so much that it's conceivable that one day the twin assumptions underlying their burgeoning debt (that lenders will continue to lend and that governments will continue to pay) might collapse. What happens then? (Maybe BO apologizes to everyone?)… Debt is ballooning from already high levels. The Congressional Budget Office reckons the Obama administration's planned budgets would increase the debt-to-GDP ratio from 41 percent in 2008 to 82 percent in 2019. Higher interest rates would aggravate the debt burden. Anticipating higher rates, the CBO estimates annual interest payments on the federal debt at $799 billion in 2019, up from $170 billion in 2009. Even the size of exposed debt is unclear; adding Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's debts (effectively guaranteed by the government) to Treasury debt would raise the total sharply. But containing debt by spending cuts or tax increases would involve wrenching and unpopular measures that might, perversely, weaken the economy and worsen deficits. In Japan, the existing value-added tax (national sales tax) of 5 percent would have to go to 12 percent, says JPMorgan, along with deep spending cuts. Against choices like that, some advanced country might decide that a partial or complete default, though dire, would be less damaging economically and politically than the alternatives. Deprived of international or domestic credit, defaulting countries in the past have suffered deep economic downturns, hyperinflation, or both. The odds may be against a wealthy society tempting that fate, but even the remote possibility underlines the precariousness and the novelty of the present situation. The arguments over whether we need more "stimulus" (and debt) obscure the larger reality that past debt increasingly constricts governments' economic maneuvering room.

Will We Lose It All?
Excerpt: This is such a unique thing we possess, this free way of life. Power granted to the government by the consent of the governed, not taken by force. The default setting for societies has always been a brutal mash of exploitation, oppression and unfettered greed. Whether couched in religion, geography, or tribe, the strong have always ruled the weak, and the wily take their cut off the top. But now we have leaders and laws chosen by process and debate, rather than the former staples of noble birth, graft, brute force, and intimidation. To be sure, a fair measure of those same flaws remain with us in our politics and governance, but they are not the norm, and they're usually driven out when discovered. This alone is enough to separate us from all previous attempts by man to bring order to human interaction...but wait, there's more.

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