Friday, February 5, 2010

Political Digest February 5, 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.

Detroiters Yearn For Tuition Tax Credits
Excerpt: A brand new survey shows that parents of school children in Detroit overwhelmingly desire more school choice. Every single one of the 600 Detroiters surveyed support more scholarships and financial aid for private schools, and 95 percent of the respondents favor tax incentives for businesses to fund those scholarships. (But the teachers unions oppose them, and they contribute to Democrats, so who cares what poor parents of black kids want?)

As Economic Freedom Declines, So Does Prosperity
Excerpt: We've heard a lot of talk in the United States about the need to revamp or even abandon the free enterprise or capitalist system. Not surprisingly, much of the world is ignoring this rhetoric. Indeed, America is becoming something of an outlier, with its calls for greater regulation and government spending, says Kim Holmes, vice president of foreign- and defense-policy studies at the Heritage Foundation and co-author of, "The 2010 Index of Economic Freedom."

Subsidy Fiasco: Millions Spent, Homes Destroyed for Nothing
Big Government knows best. Excerpt: One of the most-criticized U.S. Supreme Court decisions in recent history is now linked with one of the biggest economic development failures in history. Pharmaceutical maker Pfizer is pulling out of New London, Connecticut, where local officials have spent more than $70 million to raze a neighborhood of middle-income homes and small businesses. The company moved to New London nine years ago after receiving more than $160 million in tax incentives and grants. Pfizer promised more jobs and higher tax revenues if city officials would turn over to it the Fort Trumbull property, but the 90 acres stand empty. Throwing salt into the wound is the further announcement Pfizer plans to close its New London research headquarters, moving nearly 1,500 jobs out of town.

The almost-lost cause of freedom
Excerpt: “ADMITTING to liberalism explicitly,” wrote Roberto Campos, a Brazilian politician, diplomat and swimmer against the tide who died in 2001, “is as outlandish in a country with a dirigiste culture as having sex in public.” His observation still holds for Brazil, where economic liberals (in the British, free-market sense, not the socialistic American one) are as scarce as snowflakes. Government revenue as a share of GDP has risen steadily in the past decade, and is now closer to the level in rich European countries than that of Brazil’s middle-income peers. Despite this, none of the likely candidates in the presidential election due in October talks about cutting taxes. The two leading candidates are both on the tax-and-spend centre-left.

Emanuel says he will join effort to stop use of 'retarded'
Excerpt: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel apologized again Wednesday for using the word "retarded" during a private meeting last summer, telling advocates for the disabled that he will join their campaign to help end the use of the word. The controversy over Emanuel's remark continued to dog the sometimes foul-mouthed senior Obama adviser despite his having privately apologized to Special Olympics Chief Executive Tim Shriver shortly after the comment was made public last week. In a statement after an afternoon. (What is forgotten is that the word “retarded” came into use as a reform—the previous term was feeble-minded—which is probably okay to use again in derision, since it isn’t used for folks with this condition today. When I was a senator, I worked with the Association for Retarded Citizens—it was okay then, though now the organization is called simply ARC. Bit it is the unfortunate condition that leads to whatever term is used being pejorative. Still, always fun to see the PC left hoisted by a PC petard. Extra credit if you know what a “petard” was.)

Pelosi silent on money saved by promised crackdown on waste
Excerpt: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who touted House Democratic efforts to crack down on wasteful spending last year, won’t say how much the initiative would save taxpayers. Last April, the Speaker fired off a letter to each of her chairmen, calling on them to “conduct rigorous oversight of all aspects of federal spending and government operations to help achieve deficit reduction and long-term fiscal responsibility.” She also demanded that each send her a schedule of planned hearings on waste, fraud and abuse.

Tough talk comes after Obama exits
Teleprompter Transparency. Excerpt: Senate Democrats held back from asking President Barack Obama about healthcare reform during a carefully scripted question-and-answer session in front of television cameras. With the cameras rolling, a group of senators selected in advance by the Democratic leadership asked questions about such topics as partisan gridlock and GOP obstruction. But once the president left and reporters were escorted out of the room, senators pressed White House officials about healthcare reform, according to those at the meeting. Democrats expressed their frustration with the lack of a clear plan for passing healthcare reform, according to one person in the room. One Democratic senator even grew heated in his remarks, according to the source. “It wasn’t a discussion about how to get from Point A to Point B; it was a discussion about the lack of a plan to get from Point A to Point B,” said a person who attended the meeting. “Many of the members were frustrated, but one person really expressed his frustration.” Senators did not want to press Obama on healthcare reform in front of television cameras for fear of putting him in an awkward spot.

Lobbyists helped launder millions
Should be jailed and barred from ever lobbying again. Excerpt: Washington lobbyists and lawyers helped launder millions of dollars for allegedly corrupt African politicians and their relatives, according to a two-year-long investigation by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The report, to be released Thursday, is part of a push by the panel 2007 energy law. The release of the final regulations follows a fierce campaign by ethanol companies that alleged 2009 draft rules unfairly found that large volumes of ethanol production would not meet targets in the statute for reducing greenhouse gases. chairman, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), to strengthen anti-money laundering and anti-corruption measures, which aides suggest could be added to the financial regulatory reform package moving through Congress.

EPA ruling boosts ethanol after fierce lobbying effort for corn-based fuels
Politically-correct ethanol starves poor people around the world by raising food prices and is a poor energy source—but lobbying and money trump science and outcomes. Excerpt: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) handed a victory to ethanol producers Wednesday by issuing final regulations that conclude corn-based fuels will meet greenhouse gas standards imposed under a

In 'vegetative state' patients, brain scanners show some alert minds
Calling Terri Schiavo—did you know you were being starved? Excerpt: Many of the patients were labeled with the same grim diagnosis: "vegetative state." Their head injuries, teams of specialists had concluded, condemned them to a netherworld -- alive yet utterly devoid of any awareness of the world around them. But an international team of scientists decided to try a bold experiment using the latest technology to peek inside the minds of 54 patients to see whether, in fact, they were conscious. One by one, the men and women were placed inside advanced brain scanners as technicians gave them careful instructions: Imagine you are playing tennis. Imagine you are exploring your home, room by room. For most, the scanner showed nothing. But, shockingly, for one, then another, and another, and yet two more, the scans flashed exactly like any healthy conscious person's would. These patients, the images clearly indicated, were living silently in their bodies, their minds apparently active. One man could even flawlessly answer detailed yes-or-no questions about his life before his trauma by activating different parts of his brain.

Obama's climate change police
You, there! You are breathing out CO2 a dangerous gas! Excerpt: The Copenhagen climate talks went nowhere. The Senate's attempt to pass a global warming bill appears stuck. But that's doesn't mean greenhouse gas laws aren't coming. The Environmental Protection Agency, spurred by a Supreme Court ruling, is racing to fill the void. As early as March, the EPA is planning to cap greenhouse gases from things like power plants and large factories, essentially doing what Senate Democrats want, without a messy vote. Some say it's a great idea. It could put a serious dent in greenhouse gas emissions and go a long way to cleaning up the environment. Others say it could jeopardize investment in industry and hurt job creation. A tight spot The EPA didn't really ask for this new power, and most lawmakers pushing to restrict greenhouse gases, in Congress and the administration, would prefer Congress to pass a new global warming law. But EPA is being forced to act thanks to a challenge from the state of Massachusetts and others back in 2007. Massachusetts said global warming was eroding its coastline, and pushed the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases from vehicles.

Republicans find loophole in budget ploy to push through healthcare legislation
Excerpt: As it turns out, Senate Democrats may not be able to force healthcare legislation through the chamber on a simple majority vote. Republicans say they have found a loophole in the budget reconciliation process that could allow them to offer an indefinite number of amendments. Though it has never been done, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) says he’s prepared to test the Senate’s stamina to block the Democrats from using the process to expedite changes to the healthcare bill. Experts on Senate procedural rules, from both parties, note that such a filibuster is possible. While reconciliation rules limit debate to 20 hours, senators lack similar constraints on amendments and could conceivably continue offering them until 60 members agree to cut the process off.

8 Sneaky Ways to Raise Taxes;_ylt=AnjjNNXWW4EsDPk44lEXTbJ0fNdF?x=0&.v=1
Excerpt: If you're hoping that tax hikes on the rich will solve America's debt crisis, you're overestimating the power of the wealthy. President Obama's budget proposal would raise taxes on upper-income earners by $969 billion over the next 10 years, yet the federal debt would continue to explode. To boost government revenues further, he'd raise an additional $122 billion from multinational firms, $90 billion from banks, $37 billion from oil companies, and $24 billion from hedge funds and private-equity firms. All told, that's nearly $1.2 trillion. And it would barely make a dent. We'd still have huge deficits, and the national debt would keep growing. Taxing the rich will be one of the hot political stories this year. It will also divert attention from a much bigger story: Sooner or later, almost everybody in America is going to pay more in taxes. One reason is that spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid--which equals 56 percent of all federal outflows--continues to skyrocket, and cutting those programs, just as baby boomers begin to retire, would be politically perilous. Few politicians in Washington want to cut defense, which leaves little else on the chopping block.

'Permission' needed to kill U.S. terrorists
Stupid. Excerpt: The U.S. intelligence community policy on killing American citizens who have joined al Qaeda requires first obtaining high-level government approval, a senior official disclosed to Congress on Wednesday. Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair said in each case a decision to use lethal force against a U.S. citizen must get special permission. "We take direct actions against terrorists in the intelligence community," he said. "If we think that direct action will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that."

Muslims in Michigan
Excerpt: What Happened to Fordson High School , Dearborn , MI USA ? Is this the future of America ? When Minister Trey Hancock baptized a teenage friend of his son, he had little reason to believe he was unleashing a jihad of bigotry. The teenager had attended his church for over two years, but when the teenager entered high school the baptism would set into motion the persecution of a string of Christians. Did these Christians live in Indonesia , Iran, or Saudi Arabia ? No, they live in Dearborn , Mich. The most prominent victim is Gerald Marszalek, one of America ’s most successful wrestling coaches; he was fired during the ugly chain of events by Fordson High School principal Imad Fadlallah. Marszalek’s “crimes” — allowing this Christian convert on the wrestling team, and allowing Trey Hancock to volunteer as assistant coach. Marszalek has filed a wrongful termination suit against Fadlallah and the public school district.

'Israel infiltrated Hamas leadership'
Excerpt: The mysterious death of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last month has prompted Hamas to launch an internal investigation to determine whether Israel has managed to infiltrate the highest echelons of the Islamist movement, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip revealed on Tuesday. "The assassination of someone as senior as Mabhouh has rung an alarm bell in Hamas," the official told The Jerusalem Post. "Only a few people in the Hamas leadership knew about Mabhouh's secret activities and movements."The official said that many Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip and Syria were convinced that the Mossad has infiltrated the movement's top ranks. "Obviously, the assassination of Mabhouh is a huge security blunder for Hamas, because it shows that the Israeli agents are sitting among our leaders in Damascus."

In Harm’s Way: Obama’s Shell Game Puts Troops In Danger
Excerpt: This is the kind of story that might be expected to draw a journalist’s attention, for it has the kind of elements that should outrage the average reader: a commander playing politics with the military, troops called upon to execute a mission they had neither expected nor been trained for, and subsequent accusations that heavy casualties might have been avoided, but for politically-motivated shell games. The commander in question is the commander-in-chief, who has made it the policy of his administration to reduce troop deployments in the “bad war” (Iraq) while increasing the number of boots on the ground to fight the “good war” in Afghanistan. While the President has followed through on the latter, the former has yet to happen in any substantive way and our troops have paid the price for this political sleight of hand. On February 17, 2009, the Defense Department announced, to great fanfare, that it was deploying an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan, including the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. The problem with that, which would soon become evident when the 5th Stryker entered combat, is that the Brigade was trained to fight one kind of war and then, apparently for the sake of political expediency, deployed to fight quite another.

Troubling Democratic Tremors ... "Heading for a Train Wreck!"
Excerpt: If President Obama thinks the political earthquake that hit his party last month in Massachusetts was bad, he had better read the Congressional Budget Office's latest economic forecasts for the next two years. In testimony before the House Budget Committee last week, which got scant news media attention, CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf painted a bleak forecast for the nation's economy under the White House's no-jobs, no-growth tax and spending policies. It spells even deeper political losses for the Democrats in Congress than are presently forecast. Mr. Elmendorf, who was appointed by Democratic congressional leaders, told the committee that economic growth will be painfully slow over the next several years and that will keep the national unemployment rate at an average of 10 percent throughout fiscal 2011, which ends in September of that year.

Is Obama unraveling?
Excerpt: Chief political correspondent Byron York wrote: "This is about the time Barack Obama becomes bored with his job." "He's in his second year as president and he's discovered that even with all the powers of office, he can't do everything he wants to do, like remake America. Doing stuff is hard. In the past, prosaic work has held little appeal for Obama, and it's prompted him to think about moving on." ("Has Obama become bored with being president?"; The Washington Examiner; Jan. 29) Perhaps Obama is bored – perhaps he is bored and chafing at having the brakes put on his stated goal of "fundamentally changing America." Allowing for whichever, we can say that Obama is a narcissist, and greater love hath no man than he hath for himself. Add to his narcissism his arrogance, egotism and the appearance that he alone is worthy. Egotism is a defining component of a person's personality. It is one's disposition, and it is neither bendable nor pliable – whereas arrogance is a reflection of one's core personality, which brings me to the reason for my posit pursuant to Obama's emotional stability. I know there are no few who will excoriate me for the mere suggestion of this – so be it. But is it possible we are witnessing the subtle unraveling of Obama?

The White House's Illegal Piggy Bank
Excerpt: When the specifically targeted and named Troubled Asset Relief Program was enacted, we were told it was a necessary and wise investment. It would stabilize the financial system and keep credit and money moving. We would even get our money back and then some. Many banks didn't want the money or need it. Some were told to take it or they'd be audited. So they took it. The banks, eager to break free from federal interference, paid the money back with some interest. The money was intended to be returned to the Treasury for deficit reduction. But an administration that touts a token discretionary spending freeze has no such intention.

German Islamists planned mass murder
Didn’t get the “Islam is a religion of peace” memo. Excerpt: The chief prosecutor in the German trial of four alleged Islamists said on Wednesday that they had planned 'mass murder' on a scale unknown in Germany. State prosecutor Volker Brinkmann said the members of the so- called Sauerland Group were driven by an overwhelming hatred of US soldiers and by a desire to carry out mass murder, and would not have shied away from killing innocent women and children. The group, consisting of Daniel Schneider, Fritz Gelowicz, Adem Yilmaz and Attila Selek, is accused of planning attacks on US military bases in 2007.

Muslim chaplain 'smuggled' box-cutter blades into jail Didn’t get the memo: Excerpt: A city Department of Correction Muslim chaplain who served 14 years in prison for murder and robbery was arrested today for carrying three utility blades and a pair of scissors into a lower Manhattan jail, authorities said. The chaplain, Zulqarnain Abdu-Shahid, had the utility blades and scissors in his duffel bag when he arrived at the Manhattan Detention Complex in the morning, according to the city Department of Investigation.

England ‘Is Cesspit For Breeding Islamic Terror’
Send them the memo. Excerpt: A NOBEL prize-winning author has accused England of being a “cesspit” that nurtures Islamist terrorism, in a damning indictment of Labour’s failed multicultural experiment. Wole Soyinka, the first African winner of the literature prize, claimed the Nigerian student who tried to blow up a jet over Detroit on Christmas Day, was radicalised during his time at University College London. The criticism comes amid a growing row between Nigeria, Britain and Yemen about where Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab turned to violent extremism. Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said last week that “ideology knows no boundaries” and the blame for Abdulmutallab’s extremism could not be “pinned on any one place”. But Mr Soyinka, 76, who was born in Nigeria and studied at Leeds University in the 1950s, said: “England is a cesspit. England is the breeding ground of fundamentalist Muslims.

Controversial feminist speaks as part of DLS
Excerpt: Former Muslim and feminist speaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali gave a controversial lecture at the Memorial Union Tuesday night as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series.
Over a thousand people endured hour-long lines and airport levels of security to attend the highly-anticipated event in which she delivered a message critical of Muslim society and called for increased freedom for Muslim women all over the world. Hirsi Ali said she uses her personal experiences as a former Muslim to form her views on the treatment of Muslim women. Originally from Somalia, she fled to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage, and began to question much of what she had been taught. “I had wholeheartedly embraced Islam,” Hirsi Ali says of her teenage years. “And yet, there was this deep part of me that rebelled, and I had questions about things that I had no right to ask questions about.” She said those questions included the topics of modest dress for women and the view of women as the property of their husbands. She cited cases in the Arab world and in the U.S. where violence against women was justified through the Qur’an and Islamic teachings in illustrating her argument. In countries under Islamic rule, Ali said, “It is law to disclude women from rights and freedoms enjoyed by men. Marriage and divorce, testimony in court, dress, inheritance. In these issues, Islam scripture is implicit that women are inferior to men.” (Her book Infidel is a must read.)

Americans Uninformed: Democrats Hardest Hit
I’m in the 2%. Excerpt: John Ziegler highlights a new poll by Pew that looks at what Americans know about current events. Before you read about the results why not take the poll yourself. It’s just 12 questions and takes about 2 minutes. How’d you do? If you’re a regular VS reader, probably a lot better than most Americans. As Ziegler notes, 13% of respondents failed to get even two right, a score which one should be able to get by guessing. Only 2% got all 12 right. Here’s the breakdown by question:

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