Friday, February 19, 2010

Political Digest February 19, 2010

Political Digest for February 19, 2010
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.

Must Read: Financial Crisis: The Fall of the House of Cards
Excerpt: Each financial crisis is different, yet they all feature financial institutions making promises they cannot keep. The conventional explanation for the 2008 financial crisis and recession is that it was caused by a housing bubble, spurred by the Federal Reserve's low interest-rate policy and by lax regulatory oversight. All three claims may be true, but they do not identify the underlying institutional cause. The federal government's strategy to contain the financial meltdown is to fight each fire one-by-one and rebuild the old system pretty much as was: socialize the risks (having the public take the hit when things go south) and privatize the profits (banks earn big fees when the economy generates high investment returns). This treats the symptoms, not the disease, and will leave the country financially weaker. How the Cards Fell. Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on September 14, 2008, in what may be the largest bankruptcy in the history of the world. Lehman's portfolio was largely stuffed with claims to highly risky real estate and dicey mortgages - commonly referred by the industry and news media as "subprime." These mortgages were part of a $600 trillion market of complex bundles of mortgage-backed securities called derivatives. The principal rating companies - Standard & Poor's, Fitch and Moody's - rated these mortgages AAA (the highest rating possible) in exchange for large payments and after verifying the mortgages were insured by a large insurer, such as the American International Group, Inc. (AIG). In making these investments, Lehman Brothers leveraged itself 31 to 1, meaning that for every dollar of company capital, Lehman borrowed another $30 and invested it all in high-risk securities. With leverage of this magnitude, even a 3 percent loss in the value of assets can wipe out the company's capital (the difference between its assets and debts). Because Lehman's shares were claims to its capital, the perception that its assets had taken more than a 3 percent hit drove the stock from $18 in early September to essentially zero on September 14.

Must Read: The Disarming of America
The outlook for our armed forces: not good.
I was comparing BO to Jimmy BEFORE the election. Excerpt: In the cover story in the latest issue of Foreign Policy, Walter Russell Mead argues that Barack Obama’s foreign policy should be understood as a channeling of Thomas Jefferson via Jimmy Carter. The cover picture makes the point more bluntly. It shows two men linked by a boldface equals sign: Barack Obama = Jimmy Carter. The president’s supporters understand that this is not a compliment. But more important than any faculty-lounge fight over differing interpretations of Obama’s foreign policy is the actual course of Obama’s defense policy. The simultaneous release on February 1 of the president’s 2011 budget and the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review revealed the essentially Jeffersonian-cum-Carterite nature of this administration’s approach to the world; the only thing missing is a return to gunboats and coastal fortifications. The several narrower defense reviews to come—on missile defense, space, and nuclear weapons—will fill in the outlines drawn by the budget and the QD. Obama’s neo-Jeffersonian defense posture would reduce the profile of U.S. military power. To do this, the administration has only to let nature take its course: The U.S. armed forces have been shortchanged since the end of the Cold War. George W. Bush may have been a hawk, but he was a cheap hawk, and only in the wake of the decision to surge forces in Iraq in 2007 did he ask Congress to increase the size of the military, adding a mere 37,000 soldiers to the active rolls of the Army. Bill Clinton before him reaped a bounteous “peace dividend,” making the largest of the post-Cold War reductions. But the defense review and budget proposal suggest that the Obama administration wants to limit future American military “adventurism” by limiting our capabilities. The president is looking to eliminate the last vestiges of the Reagan-era buildup. Once the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are “ended” (not “won”), the arms control treaties signed, and defense budgets held at historic lows while social entitlements and debt service rise to near-European levels, the era of American superpower will have passed. Mead summarized Obama’s Jeffersonian approach neatly:….. But the defense review and budget proposal suggest that the Obama administration wants to limit future American military "adventurism" by limiting our capabilities. The president is looking to eliminate the last vestiges of the Reagan-era buildup. Once the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are "ended" (not "won"), the arms control treaties signed, and defense budgets held at historic lows while social entitlements and debt service rise to near-European levels, the era of American superpower will have passed. Mead summarized Obama's Jeffersonian approach neatly: Obama seeks a quiet world in order to focus his efforts on domestic reform-and to create conditions that would allow him to dismantle some of the national security state inherited from the Cold War and given new life and vigor after 9/11. Preferring disarmament agreements to military buildups and hoping to substitute regional balance-of-power arrangements for massive unilateral U.S. force commitments all over the globe, the president wishes ultimately for an orderly world in which burdens are shared and the military power of the United States is a less prominent feature on the international scene.

Nightfall in America
The Obama deficits portend a gloomy future.
Excerpt: Is it, as President Reagan's re-election commercial said, "morning in America"? Back then it was, but not anymore; it is economic evening in America as our nation's spending, government programs and deficits balloon. The federal deficit this fiscal year will be $1.6 trillion, or about 10.6% of gross domestic product. That is the largest deficit since World War II, and even President Obama's optimistic estimates show our deficits will not return to sustainable levels for at least the next decade. The administration's projection of total federal spending over those 10 years (2011-20) is $45.8 trillion, while expected taxes and other receipts will be $37.3 trillion. The $8.5 trillion deficit is about 20% of spending. And all of these numbers are based on a full and lasting economic recovery, which, based on current experience, is a pretty optimistic projection. Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal's editorial page did an analysis of the federal government's debt that will be held by the public over the coming decade. When the Democrats took control of Congress in 2007, the debt held by the public was 36.2% of GDP. It rose to 40.2% the next year. This year it will be about 63.6%, next year 68.6%, then 77% of GDP in 2020. And the Obama administration's budget estimates 218% in 2050. The reason for these rising deficits is the huge increases in federal spending--the intended growth of the federal government--that Congress and the president are pushing. The deficit in 2007 was $160 billion. In the next year the Pelosi-Reid Congress took it up to $458 billion, and when President Obama came into office in 2009 it hit $1.4 trillion. The current 2010 projected deficit is $1.6 trillion, which will lead to a tripling of our national debt from 2008 to 2020. To the White House and congressional Democrats, these large figures are not a surprise, a mistake or a worry. They part of a strategy to Europeanize America, to make the government larger, broader and in charge of almost everything. And that would of course require broad and massive tax increases. The Washington Post's Robert Samuelson calculated that to fund all the future deficit expenditures would require taxes to increase "by roughly 50 percent from the average 1970-2009 tax burden." A 50% tax increase would become a permanent part of a declining America, just as such tax increases have become a permanent part of declining European countries.

Sen. Reid doesn't have the votes to pass $15 billion version of jobs bill
Offer a bill that will help bankrupt the country and do little for jobs, then blame the Republicans for unemployment. Excerpt: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) lacks the votes to begin debating his targeted jobs bill, according to sources monitoring the legislation. Reid needs 60 votes to open debate on the $15 billion jobs bill. The vote is scheduled for Monday, when lawmakers return from the Presidents Day recess.

'Mount Vernon Statement' to unite conservatives
Excerpt: Leaders from different branches of the conservative movement are planning to release a document today in Washington that one longtime activist hopes will "codify what it means to be a small-government, principled conservative." Conservative leaders have been meeting in small groups since the 2008 election, trying to figure out how to relaunch the conservative movement. Tomorrow, a group of economic, social and foreign policy conservatives will be gathering at George Washington's Mount Vernon home to sign the "Mount Vernon Statement."

Dems trying to lower expectations for midterm elections in 2010
I think Bush gained seats in 2002. Lowering expectations is an old political game. In 1976, I had a Democrat opponent who didn’t get signatures to get on the ballot, who thus had to get 300 sticker/write in votes in the primary to get the Dem nomination and run against me in November. So I announced I was making stickers available to my Democrat supporters, but that “of course a Republican couldn’t win a Democrat primary; if I got 5% of the Democrat vote I’d consider it a great victory.” Having “lowered the expectations,” I then worked like hell, and beat him in the Democrat Primary by 150 votes, making me the nominee of both parties. The Worcester Telegram ran a cartoon of the “Hall-Hall debates, showing the Republican Hall debating the Democrat Hall in the mirror. His treasurer was so mad she ran against me on write ins in November. I got about 50,500 votes to her 137. Excerpt: Anticipating a Republican wave, Democrats are seeking to lower expectations for the 2010 midterm elections. During a Wednesday appearance on MNSBC’s “Morning Joe” program, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine cited historical trends in suggesting he expects Republicans to pick up congressional seats this November.

Va. Democrat from Appalachia hopes to quell anger among voters
Mountain folk have always been individualists, not collectivists. From the Highlands of Scotland to the hills of west Virginia that separated from the slave owning Virginia aristocracy, you can look to the high places for freedom fighters. Excerpt: The anger at Washington that is seeping across the country registered a while back in the high ridges of Appalachia, a once-indomitable Democratic stronghold where voters turned away from President Obama in 2008 just as overwhelmingly as they embraced him most everywhere else. Voters in Virginia's 9th Congressional District are mad that the government has spent hundreds of billions to fix an economy that seems only to deteriorate around them. They're fearful of a federal takeover of health care. They're petrified that proposed emissions limits would destroy the coal industry that provides most of the region's jobs. And they want no part of a president they view as elitist and unlike them. That anger, combined with the area's traditional Democratic ties, makes this mountainous region -- and a wider, rural arc from southern Ohio to Arkansas -- a prime battleground in this year's congressional elections. Democrats have been losing ground here for a generation, but 2008 brought a seismic party shift that Republicans hope to make stick in November. Already, four of the region's remaining Democrats have announced their retirements.

National Naval Medical Center looking into Rep. Murtha's surgery and death
I don’t suppose they are going to give the doctor the Congressional Medal of Freedom. There is no procedure under anesthesia in which the mortality rate is equal to zero. Excerpt: The National Naval Medical Center is conducting an inquiry into Rep. John Murtha's surgery at their Bethesda medical facility and his subsequent death, a Navy spokesman said Wednesday. Murtha (D-Pa.) had gallbladder surgery performed at the well-regarded Navy hospital in late January, and according to friends, suffered an infection from an accidental "nick" of his intestines during the surgery. He was readmitted to intensive care at an Arlington hospital and died there Feb. 8. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), a longtime friend who sat on the Appropriations Committee with Murtha, said last week that he was personally going to look into what had happened. Dicks complained that a routine gallbladder surgery should not end in death, except in rare cases.

Evan Bayh for President?
History suggests that when a president faces a strong challenge in his own party (Think Reagan vs. Ford in 76, Kennedy cs. Carter in 80) that party loses the White House. Excerpt: "Quitting the Senate was a no-lose move for the presidentially ambitious Bayh, since he can now crawl away from the political wreckage for a couple of years, plausibly alleging that he tried to steer the party in a different direction -- and then be perfectly positioned to mount a centrist primary challenge to Obama in 2012, depending on circumstances." …. The closest a centrist candidate came to winning his party's presidential nomination in recent years was in 2000 when Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) won the New Hampshire and Michigan primaries to nearly topple the juggernaut that was then Texas Gov. George W. Bush. But, in reality, McCain wasn't truly a centrist -- his voting record was largely reflective of his down-the-line conservatism on most issues -- but rather a deal-maker who liked to be in the middle of major legislation in the Senate…. But, Bayh is an astute political mind -- more so than many people realize or give him credit for -- and has always understood acutely the barriers between himself and the presidency. Unless and until those barriers change -- and it's hard to see how they would -- Bayh is likely to stay out of the race for the White House in 2012 or 2016.

White House crafts jobs bill, a year into stimulus effort
Excerpt: The giant economic stimulus package enacted a year ago has helped stabilize the economy but has not made much of a dent in the nation's vast unemployment. The Obama administration is acknowledging that its program of spending cuts and tax breaks has yet to ease joblessness, and White House officials are increasingly engaged in shaping the details of new legislation to boost job creation. "You can argue, rightly, that we haven't made as much progress as we need to make when it comes to spurring job creation," President Obama said Wednesday in marking the program's anniversary. "That's part of the reason why I expect Congress to pass additional measures as quickly as possible that will help our small-business owners create new jobs, give them more of an incentive to hire." (Government spending takes money out of the economy, through taxes, inflation or borrowing, hurting the creation of jobs in the private sector. Which is why government jobs and salaries are growing. And why this news flash just hit my inbox: “Wholesale prices shot up at double the expected pace in January, propelled higher by big increases in energy costs. The surprisingly large jump was viewed as a temporary blip and not the start of inflation problems. The Labor Department said Thursday that wholesale prices rose 1.4 percent last month, reflecting higher costs for gasoline and other energy products. Private economists had expected a 0.7 percent increase. Core inflation at the wholesale level, which excludes energy and food, rose 0.3 percent in January, faster than the 0.1 percent increase economists had predicted.” Watch your 401k go back down.)

U.N. climate chief resigns: Yvo de Boer to quit in July
Wants to move someplace warm—too much snow in NY.

Older Article: Global Warming on Mars, Pluto, Triton and Jupiter
The aliens are apparently Republicans, ignoring Al Gore and not driving hybrids. I blame George Bush.

Older Article: Sun Blamed for Warming of Earth and Other Worlds
But Earth Warming is still our fault. Excerpt: Earth is heating up lately, but so are Mars, Pluto and other worlds in our solar system, leading some scientists to speculate that a change in the sun’s activity is the common thread linking all these baking events.

Evidence of Climate Fraud Grows, Media Coverage Doesn't
Excerpt: Newsbusters' Noel Sheppard lets the mainstream media have it for completely ignoring this weekend’s game-changing revelations from Climategate conspirator Phil Jones while jumping all over the ejection of director Kevin Smith from a Southwest Airlines plane for being too fat. For those who may have taken the three-day weekend off from the blogosphere (and Fox News) -- the BBC released a Q&A and corresponding interview with the embattled erstwhile CRU chief on Friday. In each, the discredited Climategate conspirator revealed a number of surprising insights into his true climate beliefs, the most shocking of which was that 20th-century global warming may not have been unprecedented. As I pointed out in Sunday’s article, Climategate's Phil Jones Confesses to Climate Fraud, as the entire anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory is predicated on correlation with rising CO2 levels, this first-such confession from an IPCC senior scientist is nothing short of earth-shattering.

Clinton Plotting Tea Party Counterattack
Excerpt: Big Government has learned that Clintonistas are plotting a “push/pull” strategy. They plan to identify 7-8 national figures active in the tea party movement and engage in deep opposition research on them. If possible, they will identify one or two they can perhaps ‘turn’, either with money or threats, to create a mole in the movement. The others will be subjected to a full-on smear campaign. (Has MSNBC already been notified? Big Government has also learned that James Carville will head up the effort. Obviously, there is no love lost between Obama and the Clinton machine. It may at first seem odd that Clinton would rush to Obama’s defense, but the tea party movement poses a threat far beyond the immediate goals of the Obama Administration. The tea party movement could evolve into a new political realignment, one founded on a belief in limited government and less government interference in the economy. The Progressive agenda, which has been painstakingly built up over the last three decades, could be left in tatters. As the Clinton’s know, “politics ain’t beanbag.” Expect the counterattack soon. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Why Can’t Republicans and Democrats Get Together on Health Reform?
Excerpt: First, consider the health insurance benefit package and how it gets paid for. The Republican approach (as represented by Sens. McCain and Coburn and Rep. Ryan) is to equalize the tax subsidy — giving every family the same tax credit. But Republicans seem quite willing to allow people to buy very different benefit packages with their subsidy. By contrast, Democrats on Capitol Hill seem intent on equalizing benefits (virtually forcing everyone to have the same health insurance), but are willing to tolerate very substantial differences in tax subsidies — even for people at the same income level. If you are prone to exaggeration, you could almost say that Republicans want everyone to have the same subsidy, but are indifferent about what people do with their subsidy; while the Democrats want everyone to have the same benefits, but are indifferent about how those benefits get paid for.

Dalai Lama envoy says Obama meeting with monk probably won't be public,0,2614866.story
Can’t piss off the Commies—if they dump dollars, we’re screwed. Excerpt: The Dalai Lama's chief envoy said Tuesday that President Barack Obama probably won't make a public appearance this week with the Tibetan spiritual leader during a White House visit that is already infuriating China. A joint appearance by Obama and the Dalai Lama before reporters could make tense U.S.-China ties even worse and further complicate U.S. efforts to secure Chinese help in settling North Korean and Iranian nuclear standoffs and crucial economic, military and environmental issues.

Climategate 2.0 - The NASA Files:
Excerpt: The emails show the hypocrisy, dishonesty, and suspect data management and integrity of NASA, wildly spinning in defense of their enterprise. The emails show NASA making off with enormous sums of taxpayer funding doing precisely what they claim only a “skeptic” would do. The emails show NASA attempting to scrub their website of their own documents, and indeed they quietly pulled down numerous press releases grounded in the proven-wrong data. The emails show NASA claiming that their own temperature errors (which they have been caught making and in uncorrected form aggressively promoting) are merely trivial, after years of hysterically trumpeting much smaller warming anomalies.

Liberal reporter’s farewell to covering San Francisco city government
Pretty funny stuff.

The Worst-Run Big City in the U.S.
Spend more. Get less. We’re the city that knows how.
And his full take here. Worst than Disaster Detroit? Worse than Blagobamaville where I live? The fruits of liberal rule. Scary. Excerpt: Despite its good intentions, San Francisco is not leading the country in gay marriage. Despite its good intentions, it is not stopping wars. Despite its spending more money per capita on homelessness than any comparable city, its homeless problem is worse than any comparable city's. Despite its spending more money per capita, period, than almost any city in the nation, San Francisco has poorly managed, budget-busting capital projects, overlapping social programs no one is certain are working, and a transportation system where the only thing running ahead of schedule is the size of its deficit. It's time to face facts: San Francisco is spectacularly mismanaged and arguably the worst-run big city in America. This year's city budget is an astonishing $6.6 billion — more than twice the budget for the entire state of Idaho — for roughly 800,000 residents. Yet despite that stratospheric amount, San Francisco can't point to progress on many of the social issues it spends liberally to tackle — and no one is made to answer when the city comes up short.

Stimulus funds going to slashed programs
The efficiency of collectivist government, soon to bring you health care that will cost less! Excerpt: More than $3.5 billion in economic stimulus funds are going to programs that President Obama wants to eliminate or trim in his new budget. The president's budget released this month recommends getting rid of Army Corps of Engineers' drinking-water projects, which got $200 million in stimulus funds, and a U.S. Department of Agriculture flood-prevention program, which received $290 million from the stimulus, a USA TODAY review of stimulus spending reports show.

Interview with a college acquaintance of BO

Arizona State Legislators: Top 5 bill producers
Interesting to see the different kinds of bills sponsored by Republicans and Democrats. By one of the Republicans: They would require grades K-5 to have recess, give militia members a tax credit on ammunition purchases and allow guns to be carried concealed without a permit.. Sponsored by one of the Democrats: They would create a college football playoff system, apologize for the U.S. role in the 1973 coup in Chile, prohibit guns on college campuses and allow psychologists to prescribe medication.

It figures. Michelle Obama stocked the White House Library with books on socialism.

The straw that broke Evan Bayh's tenure
Excerpt: The last time Sen. Evan Bayh was the subject of this column was in October, when he organized a letter from 10 moderate Democrats informing Majority Leader Harry Reid that they would oppose any increase in the statutory debt ceiling unless it was accompanied by a serious move to rein in the national debt. Specifically, the Indiana Democrat and his colleagues asked for a vote on the proposal to create a bipartisan commission to examine all aspects of spending and taxation and recommend deficit-cutting steps for a guaranteed vote by the House and Senate by the end of this year. The Bayh threat worked. President Obama, who had been silent on the subject, belatedly gave the action-forcing commission his blessing, and Reid called it up for a Senate vote. But despite winning a 53-to-46 majority, it fell short of the 60-vote margin needed to avoid a filibuster. This was the final straw that pushed Bayh over the edge to announcing Monday his retirement from the Senate -- a move that shocked fellow Hoosiers and Democrats. Only 54, with $13 million in his campaign account, comfortably ahead in a state where he has won every time he's been on the ballot, Bayh told me that the "sorry episode" of the commission vote, as he called it, was what convinced him it was time to quit.

Mitt Romney: President Obama has 'failed' the American people
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney derided President Barack Obama for having "failed" to deliver on the promises of his Administration and sought to paint Republican obstruction as a beneficial thing for the country in a speech delivered today at a gathering of conservatives in Washington. "President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their team have failed the American people, and that is why their majority will soon be out the door," Romney told the audience at the CPAC conference, an annual get-together of conservative activists and leaders. In the speech, an early copy of which the Fix obtained, Romney used the word "fail" no fewer than a dozen times to describe the shortcomings of the current president and the opportunity before Republicans. "The people of America are looking to conservatives for leadership, and we must not fail them," Romney said. The main thrust of Romney's "failure" argument focused on the idea President had taken his eye off the ball in the early days of 2009, choosing priorities out of step with the American public.

Tarkanian: Obama & Reid is 'socialism summit'
Excerpt: Nevada Republican Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian is mocking President Obama's Thursday visit to Las Vegas, calling the president's campaign stop for embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid a "socialism summit." Mr. Reid, who spearheaded Mr. Obama's unpopular health care reform proposal through the Senate, is banking on the once-popular president to boost his flagging re-election prospects. But unemployment has skyrocketed in Las Vegas, severely hurt in the economic downturn, and polls show many Nevadans blame the Democrat-controlled Congress and the president for their plight. "In Las Vegas, President Obama and Senator Reid are convening a 'socialism summit' to argue for more government control of our economy. But after a full year of broken stimulus promises, Nevadans aren't buying what the president and Senator Reid are selling," said Mr. Tarkanian, who is leading Mr. Reid in the latest polls.

Plane crash pilot left anti-IRS Web note
By tomorrow, the left will link him to the Tea Party movement and Janet N. will start profiling Americans. Excerpt: A software engineer furious with the Internal Revenue Service plowed his small plane into an office building housing nearly 200 federal tax employees on Thursday, officials said, setting off a raging fire that sent workers fleeing as thick plumes of black smoke poured into the air. A U.S. law official identified the pilot as Joseph Stack — whose home was set on fire just before the crash — and said investigators were looking at an anti-government message on the Web linked to him. The Web site outlines problems with the IRS and says violence "is the only answer."

NJ man tells police he tossed baby off bridge
Allah made women subservient to men—this will teach her! Excerpt: Authorities say the girl's father, 21-year-old Shamsiddi Abdur-Raheem of Galloway Township, allegedly forced his way into the grandmother's East Orange apartment around 4 p.m. Tuesday, striking her in the face, choking her, and forcibly taking the baby, wrapped in a blanket and a pink and gray onesie, before fleeing in his vehicle. The 60-year-old grandmother, who police declined to identify, chased after Abdur-Raheem and was struck when she tried to stop him by throwing herself in the path of his van. She was treated for her injuries at a local hospital and released. Abdur-Raheem was arrested four hours after the abduction in southern New Jersey, and allegedly confessed to police that he had tossed the child from the bridge before driving to consult with his Imam, who then drove him to the home of a relative who called police. Abdur-Raheem faces charges of kidnapping, attempted murder aggravated assault and child endangerment when he is arraigned Thursday morning in Superior Court in Newark. It was not immediately clear if he has retained a lawyer. He is being held at the Essex County Jail on $700,000 bail.

Two top Taliban leaders arrested in Pakistan
Hope they got them good lawyers and read them their rights. Excerpt: Two Taliban leaders responsible for overseeing the rebel movement's presence in northern Afghan provinces have been arrested, according to Afghan and Pakistani officials. The arrests occurred in close proximity to the capture of the Taliban's second-in-command.

Visa Security: Getting Back to the Basics
Excerpt: As STRATFOR has noted for many years now, document-fraud investigations are a very useful weapon in the counterterrorism arsenal. Foreigners who wish to travel to the United States to conduct a terrorist attack must either have a valid passport from their country of citizenship and a valid U.S. visa, or just a valid passport from their home country if they are a citizen of a country that does not require a visa for short-term trips (called visa-waiver countries).

The Death of Adam Ray
Excerpt: On Feb. 9th, in a field near a road, an Afghan soldier squatted to relieve himself. He picked the wrong spot. A bomb exploded, blowing off a leg, and he died. Captain John Weatherly, Commander of Charlie Company of the 4-23 Infantry at FOB Price in Helmand Province, mentioned that in passing as he described the series of events that led to the death of Specialist – now Sergeant – Adam Ray, a vigorous 23 year old, born in Tampa, Florida. The bomb the Afghan stumbled upon was near the IED that struck Adam. Without the thousands of culverts underneath, the roads of Afghanistan would be flooded and washed away during the snow melts and rains. In safe countries, drivers pay as little attention to culverts as we would to telephone poles. As a practical matter they are invisible to us. In the war zone that is Afghanistan, life and limb depend on noticing normally mundane things like culverts. They are a favorite hiding spot for the Taliban to plant bombs intended to kill Americans driving the roads. Hundreds, even thousands of pounds of explosives can be stuffed inside, launching our vehicles into the sky, flipping them over and over, sometimes killing all. And so, in some areas, soldiers on missions must stop dozens of times to check culverts for explosives. Since we do this every day in front of thousands of Afghans, they know our patterns. In addition to planting bombs in culverts, they plant mines and other bombs near culverts, to get men who stop to check.

Rashad Hussain’s Troubling Ties
Excerpt: President Obama has chosen Rashad Hussain to be his special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a post originally created by the Bush Administration in 2008. Hussain’s past association with Muslim Brotherhood-connected entities raises major questions about the type of outreach he envisions for the Muslim world. The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report took a look at Hussain’s official biography and found several concerning affiliations. The first is that in October 2000, Hussain spoke at a conference sponsored by the Association of Muslim Social Scientists, which was listed in an internal Muslim Brotherhood document as one of “our organizations and the organizations of our friends,” and the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding of Georgetown University, which receives Saudi funding and is directed by prominent Muslim Brotherhood advocate, John Esposito. In September 2004, Hussain played a role in the Muslim Students Association’s annual conference, which was founded by Muslim Brotherhood in 1963 and is also listed as one the group’s fronts in its own documents. Since then, many of its nearly 600 college chapters have engaged in extremism and the group closely collaborates with the other Brotherhood fronts. For example, MSA was part of an umbrella organization called the American Muslim Taskforce that led a campaign against the FBI’s use of informants in mosques and accused the agency of “anti-Muslim activity.” Several Brotherhood affiliates are in this coalition including the Muslim-American Society, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. At this conference, Hussain spoke alongside the daughter of Professor Sami Al-Arian, who was convicted of being a key leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group and later admitted to being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hussain also defended Al-Arian and described his prosecution as being a “politically-motivated persecution.” The network of Brotherhood-affiliated groups have consistently been on his side throughout the entire ordeal and celebrated his release.

Islamic Indoctrination vs. Education
Excerpt: That brings me to an email I recently received from a concerned American mother, who said that she was horrified at what her child is being taught by Islamic guest speakers at her child’s high school, Clarence High School in Clarence, New York. The speakers are none other than Hassan and Othman Shibly, who are now lecturing our kids on Islam at New York state public schools. That is done with the help of politically correct apologist educators. Under their curriculum on the Ancient World, the New York State public schools as well as many other states around the country, require students to be taught about Islam, the spread of Islam, the Golden Age of Islam and the conflict between Muslims and Christians as part of the Crusades. That topic almost always turns political and accusatory when Muslims get very emotional about their history, jihad and religion. Islam by nature is extremely political and promotes a very elaborate legal system that Muslims must live under. To accommodate Islamic education with Western principals of freedom and the Bill of Rights is an impossible task. The two ideologies are at opposite poles in terms of the role of government, human rights, as well as women and minority rights. Thus, the two systems must eventually become villains. To avoid being politically incorrect, public schools prefer to use Muslims experts or clerics rather than public school teachers to teach the topic of Islam. Our educational hierarchy refuses to see that many devout Muslim experts have a political agenda and are themselves indoctrinated and thus always on the defensive or offensive. I can only imagine what the poor American kids are subjected to. I was on the receiving end of such indoctrination when I was a young Muslim girl.

Christians outraged in Lahore over release of young domestic worker’s murderer
Excerpt: Pakistani Christians have strongly protested the release on bail of a Muslim lawyer accused of raping, torturing and killing last month Shazia Bashir, a 12-year-old Catholic girl, employed in his household as domestic worker. They have appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, a symbol of judicial independence in Pakistan, to take immediate action against the court’s decision.

Obama's counterterrorism czar: "They are not jihadists, for jihad is a holy struggle"
Excerpt: From Umdat al-Salik, Englished as Reliance of the Traveller, which carries the endorsement of Al-Azhar University in Cairo as conforming "to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community": Jihad means to war against non-Muslims, and is etymologically derived from the word mujahada signifying warfare to establish the religion. And it is the lesser jihad. As for the greater jihad, it is spiritual warfare against the lower self (nafs), which is why the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said as he was returning from jihad. ``We have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad.'' The scriptural basis for jihad, prior to scholarly consensus (def: b7) is such Koranic verses as: -1- ``Fighting is prescribed for you'' (Koran 2:216); -2- ``Slay them wherever you find them'' (Koran 4:89); -3- ``Fight the idolators utterly'' (Koran 9:36);

Malaysia Court Canes Three Women
Note to Tiger Woods: Skip the Malay Open. Excerpt: Malaysian authorities said Wednesday that officials caned four Muslim men and, for the first time, three Muslim women this month after being found guilty of having sex out of wedlock. A Shariah court last year sentenced Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, right, to be caned after she was caught drinking beer in a hotel bar. The sentence hasn't been carried out. For the first time, three Muslim women were caned this month after being found guilty of having sex out of wedlock. The move to cane the women under the country's Islamic Shariah laws has raised fresh concerns about the growing political and judicial influence of Islam in what traditionally has been one of the world's more moderate Muslim nations.

The Confession of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
CAUTION: This video contains an extremely grisly sequence.

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