Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Political Digest February 24, 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.

Four easy steps pass a government takeover of healthcare
1. Pass a law to require insurance companies to accept everyone, regardless of ‘pre-existing” medical conditions. This will be very popular with the public, especially those of us like my wife and I with chronic diseases.
2. Pass a law allowing the government to control insurance rate increases, then grant very few increases. This will be popular with everyone—who wants to pay more for health insurance? Except, of course, the insurance industry, already operating at a profit margin of only 2%, according to an AP report.
3. The insurance companies, faced with vastly increased expenditures, and little increased revenue, go bankrupt.
4. The public, faced with a loss of insurance coverage, demands the government take over the insurance industry to provide coverage. Health insurance is declared “too big too fail.”
The government now controls health care, one-sixth of our economy, along with a lot of banks and car companies. It can pass laws to protect it’s investment and the legions of new unionized government workers, who contribute and vote for the party that guarantees their incomes. And there we have it—Socialism in our time.

Waiting for Barack
Excerpt: I’ve been waiting for more than a year for the President to tell us what he wants in a health reform plan. And with waiting comes hope. After all, the President didn’t sound like Reid or Pelosi when he campaigned for office. He sounded centrist, bipartisan and reasonable. Plus, there are reasonable people advising him. Orszag and Summers, just to name two. Still, along the way the questions have been nagging. For example, with respect to the House and Senate bills, I have been wondering:

Ten Easy Reforms to Cover Preexisting Conditions
Excerpt: Most current proposals for dealing with the problems of preexisting conditions would completely divorce health insurance premiums from expected health care costs. Yet a policy of trying to force health plans to take enrollees they do not want risks jeopardizing the quality of care people receive. Instead of suppressing the price system, I propose ten ways of dealing with this problem that make greater use of the price mechanism. In a reformed health care system, the chronically ill, along with their doctors, their employers, and their insurers, should all find lower-cost, higher-quality, more-accessible care to be in their economic self-interest.

Obama stays on offense with health-care proposal
The barbarians are still hammering on the gate. The public at large doesn’t want it, but the statist base is determined that we shall become Greece—or at least France. Excerpt: There had been rampant speculation that the White House would narrow its ambitions for health-care legislation after the loss of the Democrats' filibuster-proof Senate majority last month. Instead, the president's proposal is striking for the extent to which it hews to the basic scale and framework of the bills on which Congress has toiled for months.

Can They Make Obamacare Worse? Yes They Can!
Excerpt: Flacking for President Barack Obama's "new" health care plan, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters assembled for yesterday's press briefing: "The president posted ideas of his on the White House website today. We hope Republicans will post their ideas either on their website, or we'd be happy to post them on ours, so that the American people could come to one location and find out the parameters of what will largely be discussed on Thursday." And this might have been a small bit of successful Obama administration gamesmanship on health care and transparency in government except for one small problem: reality. Not only do House Republicans already have their own health care plan, not only is it already available online, but the White House's own website already links to it! And speaking of the President's behind-closed-doors plan, don't believe any of those headlines showing a $950 billion price tag. That is an Obama administration-created number that should not be afforded any more credibility than Gibbs' grasp of the contents of his own website. In fact, the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published this about the President's new plan yesterday: Preparing a cost estimate requires very detailed specifications of numerous provisions, and the materials that were released this morning do not provide sufficient detail on all of the provisions. Therefore, CBO cannot provide a cost estimate for the proposal without additional detail, and, even if such detail were provided, analyzing the proposal would be a time-consuming process that could not be completed this week.

Dems can’t figure out if House or Senate goes first
Excerpt: The ObamaCare roll out has run right into, well, itself. From the true-believer-ObamaCare-cheerleader-a-go-go, Jonathan Cohn: “Apparently unresolved, still, is the question of which House votes first. And that’s no small thing. “But the bigger question, really, is the broader one: Will Democrats, particularly in the House, get past their fear and vote for the bill? Really that’s what the summit is all about–convincing nervous Democrats that the Republicans really aren’t interested in compromise and that health care reform, despite the poll numbers, is still a good idea.” The above is a classic example of irrational thought defined. They have no legislative language. (This is another way of saying they do not know what is going to be in the bill, or what it will say once they decide what to put in it.) They know House Dems are freaking out because ObamaCare is hated by the public, the seniors and the independent voters. They do not have a clear reconciliation strategy, despite their chest beating and big bet making while holding a pair of twos. They do not even know if they will start in the House or the Senate. This will end badly for the White House and the Dems.

Chicago Sun-Times Carries Water for the Mob’s Favorite Banker
Excerpt: In this incredible piece, the Chicago Sun-Times begins the long and arduous process of carrying water for the mob’s favorite banker, Democrat Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias. For those not familiar with Giannoulias’s sordid recent past, Giannoulias has admitted to approving a number of high-risk loans to convicted mobsters when he was acting as Vice President of his family’s bank (Broadway Bank); loans which contributed to Broadway Bank’s current financial crisis. Furthermore, while the bank was in dire financial straits, the bank mysteriously paid the Giannoulias family a substantial dividend. Furthermore, Broadway Bank made loans to entities owned in whole or part by convicted influence peddler and Obama booster Tony Rezko during Giannoulias’s tenure. And frankly, when it comes to Giannoulias this is just scratching the surface. However, if you thought the Chicago media couldn’t at least attempt to cover up for Giannoulias’s many, many indiscretions, think again.

Biotech versus Precaution in Europe and America: Killing the Golden Goose
People fear what they don’t understand. I was told my great, great grandmother always made sure there was a plug in each of the few electrical outlets in her house, which were a new thing then, so the electricity wouldn’t leak out on the floor. Excerpt: Most versions of the precautionary principle require that those proposing to introduce new technologies prove that no harm will occur before proceeding. This standard has been applied rigorously to biotech crops, especially in the European Union, where only one genetically modified crop has been approved for use. By contrast: Since 1998, 23 new genetically modified crops and more than 120 genetically modified products have been grown (and consumed) elsewhere in the world. The United States cultivates approximately 50 percent of the world's land used for genetically modified crops -- 57.7 million hectares (143 million acres) in 2007. As of 2007, more than 114.3 million hectares (282.4 million acres) were planted with biotech crops in 23 different countries (12 developing countries, 11 industrialized countries). Biotech crops are already providing benefits to millions of people worldwide, says Burnett: For instance, the Rockefeller Foundation reports that golden rice -- rice genetically altered to contain beta carotene (which readily converts to vitamin A) and new genes to overcome iron deficiency - is preventing thousands of cases of childhood blindness, and reducing anemia, which is suffered by more than two billion women. Moreover, through genetic modification, crops can be altered to specifically reduce the risk of problems common to conventional breeding techniques, thus improving various crops' nutritional value and reducing the environmental impact of farming.

A report on the litigation industry
Excerpt: America’s litigation-friendly legal system continues to impose a heavy burden on our economy. The annual direct cost of American tort litigation—excluding much securities litigation, punitive damages, and the multibillion-dollar settlement reached between the tobacco companies and the states in 1998—exceeds $250 billion, almost 2 percent of gross domestic product.[1] The indirect costs of excessive litigiousness (for example, the unnecessary tests and procedures characterizing the practice of “defensive” medicine, or the loss of the fruits of research never undertaken on account of the risk of abusive lawsuits) are probably much greater than the direct costs themselves. Of course, tort litigation does do some good, and it does deter some bad behavior. The problem is that it deters a lot of good behavior, too. Indeed, the legal system does such a poor job of distinguishing between good and bad behavior that the high cost of litigation is effectively a “tort tax” paid by every American. The share of America’s economy devoted to lawsuits is far higher than that of other developed nations such as Germany and Japan (see graph, left). Yet America is hardly safer as a result.

Murtha’s Former Seat
I just sent a small contribution to William Russell for Congress, PO Box 96102, Washington DC 20077-7043. He’s the retired Army LtCol who ran against Murtha last time and is running in the special election May 18.
I hope he doesn’t spend it all sending me more appeals. My strategy next fall is to send $5 to every liberal candidate I can, as they will then spend hundreds asking me for more money!

Obama job approval numbers hover around 50 percent
Excerpt: Heading into Thursday's health care summit, President Obama's job approval numbers are steady if unspectacular in the latest data out of Gallup. Over the past week, Obama's job approval sat at 49 percent -- numbers virtually unchanged in Gallup surveys conducted over the past three months. "Since mid-November, Obama's daily approval ratings have ranged from a low of 47% (several times, most recently Jan. 27-29) to a high of 53% (three times, most recently Feb. 12-14)," writes Gallup's Jeffrey Jones. Obama is viewed very differently depending on one's party affiliation; 83 percent of Democrats approve of how he is handling the job while just 17 percent of Republicans feel the same. Forty-five percent of independents, considered the crucial voting bloc in the coming midterm elections, approve of the job Obama is doing. These numbers suggest two things: 1) Obama enters Thursday's summit with far less political clout than he enjoyed at the start of the health care debate lo these many months ago. 2) His numbers have solidly stabilized after a free fall during the summer of 2009 as the messaging over health care spiraled out of control. For Democrats -- particularly those on the ballot this fall -- Obama's current standing is worrisome, as presidents with approval ratings under 50 percent tend to lose seats in midterm elections, particularly the first midterm election of a presidency. At this time in the 1994 election, Gallup had Bill Clinton's job approval at 53 percent and Democrats went on to lose 54 seats in the House; in February 1982, Ronald Reagan stood at 47 percent approval in the Gallup numbers and lost 27 seats in the House that fall.

Charlie Cook: "Very hard" to see how Democrats keep House
Excerpt: Political handicapper Charlie Cook said that it was "very hard to come up with a scenario where Democrats don't lose the House" in an interview with National Journal late last week. Cook, who, in the interest of full disclosure, gave the Fix our first job in political Washington, went on to note that while House Republicans have their fair share of problems but "you could triple the Republican Party's problems and I'd still rather have their problems than the problems facing Democrats." Cook has, of late, been extremely down on Democrats' chances -- an attitude born, he argued in the interview, of "fundamental, total miscalculations from the very, very beginning" by the White House about the direction to take the country. Cook added that the White House's miscalculations in terms of their agenda were "of proportions comparable to President George W. Bush's decision to go into Iraq."

Under the world's greatest cities, deadly plates
“And, Lo! They cried out to the Great Satan, ‘Save us!’” Excerpt: Megacities are something new on the planet. Earthquakes are something very old. The two are a lethal combination, as seen in the recent tragedy in Port-au-Prince, where more than 200,000 people perished -- a catastrophe that scientists say is certain to be repeated somewhere, and probably soon, with death tolls that once again stagger the mind. In 1800, there was just one city with more than a million people -- Beijing. Now there are 381 urban areas with at least 1 million inhabitants. Urbanization crossed a threshold last year when, for the first time, more people lived in city settings than rural ones. About 403 million people live in cities that face significant seismic hazard, according to a recent study by seismologist Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado. The next Big One could strike Tokyo, Istanbul, Tehran, Mexico City, New Delhi, Kathmandu or the two metropolises near California's San Andreas Fault, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Or it could devastate Dhaka, Jakarta, Karachi, Manila, Cairo, Osaka, Lima or Bogota. The list goes on and on. "You can name about 25 cities that are like Port-au-Prince. They're not going to shake but every 250 years [on average]. But if you can name 25 of them, you're going to have an event like this every 10 years," said David Wald, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Unions and liberal groups blast Reid’s $15 billion jobs legislation as 'puny'
Spend more—we haven’t collapsed yet! Excerpt: Unions and liberal groups have dismissed Sen. Harry Reid’s $15 billion jobs bill as "puny" while calling for larger stimulus measures. More than two dozen organizations, including the AFL-CIO, National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples (NAACP) and National Council of La Raza, warned Democratic leaders in Congress to avoid tackling the troubled economy through incremental action.

ACORN gives itself a makeover (Rep. Michele Bachmann)
Like version III of a bad horror movie, they’ll be back again and again. Excerpt: ACORN, the community organizing group unable to erase the scandals associated with them, appears to be dismantling their operating structure. No matter the structure, this is the same group shown on video last summer recommending methods to create an illegal prostitution business. It is the same group which intimidated banks into risky financial practices before the financial collapse. It is the same group whose employees have been indicted for voter registration fraud.

Dem Congresswoman Laughs Hysterically at Request to Say Pledge of Allegiance at SEIU Meeting
No, the flag with the stripes….

Climategate Minority Report
From a Marine buddy of 45 years: This is some report. It also has links to the actual minority report (83 pages PDF, hard to read without printing out; I read only the first 15 pages and random samples of the rest), a sampling of the CRU emails, an article saying IPCC got the science wrong, and an assessment that EPA's "Endangerment" finding is likewise based on flawed science. (I linked through Frankly, I would have preferred to link directly to the report, but it is so difficult to read--even in full-screen mode--that it just isn't practical. Also, that would lose the links.) This is actually worse for the AGW advocates than I expected. –Ron P.

Debunking climate change doesn't mean the climate isn't changing
Excerpt: The climate of the Earth is changing. It's been changing for billions of years. And saying that it won't happen next Tuesday is not even close to agreeing that it has somehow stopped changing. It will change. But the exaggerations of the environmental movement have done nothing but earn the scientific community a level of trust normally reserved for politicians. Of course, Al Gore, already being a politician, never noticed the erosion. What is needed is a new start for climate study. It is important to be aware of potential changes in the climate. Protecting the property values of condo owners along Miami Beach or in Malibu doesn't really matter, but agricultural production, and its impact on the rest of us, most assuredly does. We need to establish an international body whose sole job is the collection and dissemination of untainted climate data from around the planet. That should be their sole job. No study of the data, no analysis or predictions, no angling for grants, or tenure. Just accumulate and tabulate the data for distribution. The data should be provided, at a nominal fee to cover costs, to anyone who wants to see it. I mean, it just tells us all how hot it is! Is there any reason for it to be Top Secret? Let scientists do the analysis, but if the raw, unchanged, un-massaged data was available to any and all scientists, then science would begin to work again as it has historically. It would again be disputation and debate, with all sides using the same facts and evidence.

Climate scientists withdraw journal claims of rising sea levels
Well, Obama pr0mised if he was elected the seas would stop rising. Sure happened fast, though. Excerpt: Study claimed in 2009 that sea levels would rise by up to 82cm by the end of century – but the report's author now says true estimate is still unknown.

Preaching Choice in Obama's Hometown
Excerpt: 'The voucher movement seems to have been born, or seems to have been started as a Republican idea. That's the way Democrats look at it. That's the way black lawmakers look at it. This is a Republican idea. This is what the Republicans want to push on us. . . . We don't seem to see public schools not working in your area." The speaker was the Rev. James Meeks, explaining black resistance to vouchers. The venue was a sold-out lunch put on by the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI). The result? Something new in Windy City politics: a powerful black Democrat reaching out to a free-market think tank to force reform on the city's most hidebound institution—the Chicago public schools. James T. Meeks does not fit the usual stereotype of a voucher advocate. To begin with, he is founder and senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church of Chicago, the largest African-American church in Illinois. He serves as executive vice-president for Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. Oh, yes: He is a Democratic state senator who chairs both his chamber's education committee and the legislature's Black Caucus

5 Reasons Illegal Immigrants Shouldn't Be Given American Citizenship
Excerpt: Over the last few months most conservatives have quite naturally been distracted by Barack Obama's frightening incompetence, his elephantine spending, and his zealous attempts to swallow as much of the private sector as the government beast can stuff down its gaping maw. But while the cat's away, the mice will play. The little feet you may have been hearing pitter-patter back into the public square? They belong to advocates of amnesty for illegal aliens. Oh, they don't necessarily call it that. They call it comprehensive immigration reform, earned legalization, a path to citizenship -- but, it all amounts to the same thing: rewarding people for breaking our laws.

'Significant' Mexican drug lord in U.S. court
How long until a left-wing support group forms to “Free Jesus”? Excerpt: A top Sinaloa Cartel lieutenant, accused of directing the assassinations of rivals as well as Mexican and U.S. government officials as part of a raging drug war that has claimed more than 8,000 lives, will be arraigned Tuesday in federal court in Chicago on charges of smuggling multiple tons of cocaine and heroin into this country. Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, whose father has been identified as a Sinaloa Cartel boss and has been named as being among Mexicos most powerful drug kingpins, was brought to Chicago on Friday and described by U.S. authorities as "one of the most significant Mexican drug defendants" ever extradited to the United States.

What happened to Kay Bailey Hutchison?
Excerpt: With just seven days left in what was expected to be the marquee primary fight of the 2010 election, Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) remains stuck behind Gov. Rick Perry (R) in a campaign that even her most ardent supporters acknowledge has been decidedly disappointing. Polling done over the past few weeks shows Perry with a double digit lead and it seems as though Hutchison's only hope is that Debra Medina, a far right candidate running in the primary, can siphon off enough of the vote to keep the Governor under 50 percent of the vote and force a runoff on April 13….Not only was the national environment working against her but so too was the dynamic in Texas. Unlike almost every other state in the country where the economic slowdown had led to a deep pessimism in the electorate, Texas voters by large majorities believed the state was headed in the right direction -- badly complicating Hutchison's "time for a change" message.

NBC Notes Obama Made Dalai Lama Sneak Out of White House Past Trash Bags
Excerpt: Uniquely among Friday’s broadcast network evening newscasts, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams gave his viewers a glimpse into the undignified exit from the White House endured by the Dalai Lama, who was made to walk past a number of trash bags as President Obama sought to keep the Chinese government from noticing the meeting. A photograph of Tibet's exiled Buddhist spiritual leader walking past the bags was shown as the NBC host read the piece. (Other sites are reporting BO gave the Dalai Lama a nice set of Presidential Cuff links before shoving him out the back door. If so, I hope his Buddhist robes have French cuffs. I guess those lefties with the “free Tibet” bumper stickers can peel them off.)

Lawyers' Lies and the Lying Lawyers Who Tell Them
Excerpt: It’s also true that the lawyers gave more to candidates than any other industry or profession—not only over the whole 2000 to 2010 time span but in every two-year political cycle over the last two decades. To understand why tort reform is not in the Democrats’ health-care bills, consider that in the last electoral cycle, lawyers gave more money than the combined total given by doctors, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and nursing homes.

The new scandal?
Come on—if that was a crime, half the politicians in Chicago would be in jail. Excerpt: Jeffrey Lord of the American Spectator breaks a potentially important story, making the case that there is ample ground for a formal investigation of potential law-breaking by the Obama Administration. The discovery that the White House has now been reported on two separate occasions in two different states to be deliberately committing a potential violation of federal law -- in order to preserve the Democrats' Senate majority -- could prove explosive in this highly political year. The 60-seat majority slipped to 59 seats with the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, a Democrat, and the election of Republican Senator Scott Brown. Many political analysts are suggesting Democrats could lose enough seats to lose their majority altogether. This is the stuff of congressional investigations and cable news alerts, as an array of questions will inevitably start being asked of the Obama White House. The specific crime alleged is bribery:

Bailout of U.S. Banks Gives British Rum a $2.7 Billion Benefit
Sure makes me feel good about the big checkl I just wote the Feds with my taxes. Excerpt: June 26 (Bloomberg) — In June 2008, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John deJongh Jr. agreed to give London-based Diageo Plc billions of dollars in tax incentives to move its production of Captain Morgan rum from one U.S. island — Puerto Rico — to another, namely St. Croix. DeJongh says he had no idea his deal would help make the world’s largest liquor distiller the most unlikely beneficiary of the emergency Troubled Asset Relief Program approved by Congress just four months later. Today, as two 56-foot-high (17-meter-high) tanks for holding fermenting molasses will soon rise from the ground on the Caribbean island of St. Croix, the extent to which dozens of nonbank companies benefited from last October’s emergency financial rescue plan is just beginning to come to light. The hurried legislation adopted by a Congress voting under the threat of sudden global economic collapse led to hidden tax breaks for firms in dozens of industries. They included builders of Nascar auto-racing tracks, restaurant chains such as Burger King Holdings Inc., movie and television producers — and London’s Diageo.

Najibullah Zazi pleads guilty in New York subway bomb plot
Sigh—Yet another Muslim who didn’t get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. Sure are a lot of them out of the loop. Haven’t they heard of e-mail? Excerpt: An airport shuttle bus driver who plotted to detonate potent explosives in New York's subway system pleaded guilty Monday for his role in a "martyrdom operation" that authorities called one of the most serious terrorism plots on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

U.S. plans for possible delay in Iraq withdrawal
Excerpt: The U.S. military has prepared contingency plans to delay the planned withdrawal of all combat forces in Iraq, citing the prospects for political instability and increased violence as Iraqis hold national elections next month. Under a deadline set by President Obama, all combat forces are slated to withdraw from Iraq by the end of August, and there remains heavy political pressure in Washington and Baghdad to stick to that schedule. But Army Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said Monday that he had briefed officials in Washington in the past week about possible contingency plans.

The Ultimate AfPak Reading List
Excerpt: What follows is the Ultimate AfPak ReadingList -- an amalgamation of syllabi from classes I've taught at the Kennedy Schoolof Government at Harvard and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced InternationalStudies. I've included a variety of reading, from books I've found particularly insightful on the topic to significant reporting oneverything from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to al Qaeda's mediastrategy.

Prepare for war with Iran -- in case Israel strikes
Excerpt: The defining moment of his presidency may well come at 2 a.m. some day when he picks up the phone and is told that the Israeli prime minister is on the line: Israel has just carried out a raid on Iranian nuclear sites. What then? This is hardly an inevitable scenario: If the Israelis were as enthusiastic about bombing raids as some believe, they would have carried them out already. They had no qualms about sending eight jets to take out Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981, or about bombing a purported Syrian facility in 2007. Both are now considered model operations. They were brief and successful, they provoked no serious retaliation, and they even won de facto acceptance from the outside world as legitimate defensive measures. The Iranian context is different, as Zeev Raz, the squadron leader of the 1981 raid, readily concedes. "There is no single target that you could bomb with eight aircraft," he told the Economist (in a strangely tragic article that says Raz "exudes gloom" while his children apply for foreign passports). The Israelis have the same doubts as everyone else about the efficacy of raids, which is why they have focused on covert sabotage and even off-the-record diplomacy, despite having no diplomatic relations with Iran, in the hopes of slowing down the nuclear development process. They have also quietly studied the ways in which Iran could be deterred, knowing that they will have the advantage in nuclear technology for the next couple of decades. Although they keep all options on the table, they have so far concluded that bombing raids aren't worth the consequences. At some point, that calculation could change. Because Americans often assume that everyone else perceives the world the way we do, it is worth repeating the obvious here: Many Israelis regard the Iranian nuclear program as a matter of life and death. The prospect of a nuclear Iran isn't an irritant or a distant threat. It is understood directly in the context of the Iranian president's provocative attacks on Israel's right to exist and his public support for historians who deny the Holocaust. If you want to make Israelis paranoid, hint that they might be the target of an attempted mass murder. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad does exactly that. If that ever happened, then the 2 a.m. phone call would be followed by retaliation, some of which would be directed at us, our troops in Iraq, our ships at sea. I don't want this to happen -- but I do want us to be prepared if it does. Contrary to Palin, I do not think Obama would restore the fortunes of his presidency by bombing Iran, like a character out of that movie "Wag the Dog." But I do hope that this administration is ready, militarily and psychologically, not for a war of choice but for an unwanted war of necessity. This is real life, after all, not Hollywood.

Lockerbie bomber Megrahi living in luxury villa six months after being at 'death's door'
Britain was stupid—or worse. Excerpt: The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing is living with his family in a luxury villa in Libya six months after he was released from jail on compassionate grounds because he had less than three months to live.

Army ignored warning signs from Fort Hood jihadist because it "valued the diversity of having a Muslim psychiatrist"
excerpt: And all it cost was thirteen dead. Ain't multiculturalism grand? "Ft. Hood suspect was Army dilemma: His extreme views possibly overlooked in favor of diversity," by Bryan Bender for the Boston Globe, February 22 (thanks to Block Ness): WASHINGTON - Army superiors were warned about the radicalization of Major Nidal Malik Hasan years before he allegedly massacred 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, but did not act in part because they valued the rare diversity of having a Muslim psychiatrist, military investigators wrote in previously undisclosed reports.

The Utility of Assassination
Excerpt: The apparent Israeli assassination of a Hamas operative in the United Arab Emirates turned into a bizarre event replete with numerous fraudulent passports, alleged Israeli operatives caught on videotape and international outrage (much of it feigned), more over the use of fraudulent passports than over the operative’s death. If we are to believe the media, it took nearly 20 people and an international incident to kill him.

President Obama says ax instead of ask
Guess Harry Reid was wrong.

Man too young for child support claims
They are really cracking down on deadbeat dads. Wait until these bureaucrats run your healthcare. Excerpt: A Florida man says the state is trying to force him to pay child support for a child who was born when he was 7 years old. Rusty Cole, a National Guardsman from Port Orange, Fla., said his tax return was delayed by the state because officials told him he owes support payments for a child born in 1995 -- despite the fact that Cole was born in late 1987, Central Florida News 13 reported Wednesday. Cole said weeks of phone calls and office visits failed to yield any results.

Olympic Shocker
In an unprecedented move, the International Olympic Committee has taken away US Skier Lindsey Vonn's medals! The Committee announced early today that the downhill skier's medals will be given to President Obama, since he obviously is going downhill faster than Vonn.

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