Friday, June 25, 2010

Political Digest for June 25, 2010

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

A Must Read: Requiem for a Sergeant
Short but powerful: Recently I learned that SGT Andrew McConnell was killed fighting in southern Afghanistan in September. I didn't know Andrew, or his family, but I know that his father is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and is still serving. Anguished friends e-mailed me, asking for confirmation, details and perhaps a small measure of comfort. There's not much we can offer each other except, perhaps – in the midst of our grief – a fierce pride that goes with service to our country. I'm well aware that, to some, that may sound trite or cloying. This is why I'm writing. Samuel Johnson once said, "Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier ..." He meant that while most people have no interest in military service, they nevertheless feel a pang of guilt when contemplating those who do. That may explain, at least in part, the strange uneasiness many Americans seem to feel about soldiers. A general aversion to the military is often identified with liberal bias, but it's more than that. The soldiers I've led for almost 30 years were among America's very best young people, but, for the most part, they were not the children of wealthy businessmen, doctors and lawyers, or college professors and politicians. The officers I've served with did not go to Ivy League universities. Our generals and admirals are at the top of their profession, but you will not find them on the Washington cocktail circuit or at summer gatherings in the Hamptons. In America today, military service has heavy class overtones. That should worry all Americans. The military's notion of selfless service in war and peace – not to a particular administration or point of view, but to the nation and to society – is not posturing or flag waving. It is the bedrock underlying all military service, and it often exacts a fearful price. It is largely and increasingly confined, however, to a narrow slice of America's demographics that bears the cruel cost of persistent and seemingly unending conflict. That cost falls even more heavily on military families such as the McConnells, who serve across generations. Though intellectuals sometimes complain about a military "caste," these service families are the glue and the granite of American military power around the world. They serve an idea and an ideal – that the nation matters more than the individual, that our laws and our Constitution are worth sacrifice, and that America's greatness must come at a cost. I write this from Afghanistan. Before I left the United States, I shared a beer with my father, a veteran of three tours in Vietnam. My son Christopher, a paratrooper in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, is here with me, fighting in Wardak Province. I am proud of our service, but we are in no way unique in this Army or in this war.

The Run Away General
The career ending article.

The take on McChrystal from a retired Marine MajGen
Excerpt: After reading the entire article I'm left with the impression that General McChrystal is arrogant, exhibits character flaws, and has been implementing a failed strategy. The counterinsurgency strategy will not work unless you want to be in Afghanistan for a very, very long time. Our hope now is to leave with national dignity. Kill as many Taliban and al-Qaeda as possible to show our national strength, and then get out of there. McChrystal deserves to be fired for insubordination.

A Sad Day by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: The flap about General Stanley McChrystal's "resignation" was nobody's finest hour. But there are some painful lessons in all this that go beyond any of the individuals involved-- the general, the president or any of the officials at the Pentagon or the State Department. What is far more important than all these individuals put together are the lives of the tens of thousands of Americans fighting in Afghanistan. What is even more important is the national security of this country. It is certainly not politic for a general or his staff to express their contempt for civilian authorities publicly. But what is far more important-- from the standpoint of national security-- is whether what those authorities have done deserves contempt. My hope is that General McChrystal will write a book about his experiences in Afghanistan-- and in Washington. The public needs to know what is really going on, and they are not likely to get that information from politicians. This is, after all, an administration that waited for months last year before acting on General McChrystal's urgent request for 40,000 more troops, which he warned would be necessary to prevent the failure of the mission in Afghanistan. He got 30,000 eventually-- and a public statement by President Obama about when he wants to start withdrawing American troops from that country.

Lose a General, Win a War
Excerpt: FOR most of our nation’s history, the armed services have had a strong and worthy tradition of firing generals who get out of line. So for most of our presidents there would have been no question about whether to oust Gen. Stanley McChrystal for making public his differences with the White House on policy in Afghanistan. If President Obama had not fired General McChrystal, it would have been like President Truman keeping on Douglas MacArthur after his insubordination during the Korean War. Some analysts fret that losing General McChrystal will mean sacrificing the relationship he had developed with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. But the general’s dysfunctional relationship with the other senior American officials in Kabul, painfully laid out this week in Rolling Stone, is more significant. If President Obama is to be faulted, it is for leaving that group in position after it became apparent last fall that the men could not work well together. No policy can be successful if those sent to put it in place undermine one another with snide comments to reporters and leaked memorandums like the cable disparaging Mr. Karzai written by Ambassador Karl Eikenberry last year. For this reason, the president should finish cleaning house and fire Ambassador Eikenberry and the special envoy, Richard Holbrooke. Mr. Obama should then replace them with a team that has a single person clearly in control, with the power to hire and fire the others. And he should send that new group to Kabul with clear orders that they should get along, or expect to be relieved. In the longer term, the Army has to return to its tradition of getting rid of leaders who are failing. The Navy has shown more fortitude; in the first two months of this year alone it fired six commanders of ships and installations. On Tuesday, it fired the skipper of the frigate John L. Hall, two months after it collided with a pier at a Black Sea port in Georgia. The Navy stated simply, as it usually does in such cases, that the officer’s superior had lost confidence in him. That is all that is needed. The Marine Corps has also largely kept the tradition of relieving officers — most notably during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 when its top ground officer, Maj. Gen. James Mattis, fired the commander of the First Marine Regiment. During his tenure, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has fired secretaries of the Army and the Air Force and an Air Force chief of staff.

Into battle once more
Excerpt: In the long and proud history of the United States military, talented, dedicated commanders have led their troops to the sounds of the guns time and again to defend those who could not defend themselves. General David Petreaus proved his mettle in Iraq by devising and implanting a strategy that provided security for innocent Iraqis under attack by Islamic fanatics. Now he’s being asked to march into battle once more, but this time the guns are sounding on two different fronts: in Afghanistan where a resurgent, increasingly confident Taliban makes headway in the war that our president has said we have to win; and in Washington, where the conflict is of the political variety in the wake of General McChrystal’s dismissal after that highly decorated soldier expressed his frustration with an administration that seems to specialize in vacillation. With no relief in sight for the economy, no end in sight for the disaster in the gulf and an ever-increasing number of voters starting to realize that this administration is woefully unprepared, intellectually overmatched and ideologically handicapped when it comes to dealing with the great issues of the day, Obama desperately needs a victory somewhere, somehow. Failing in Afghanistan, especially in the wake McChrystal’s damning criticism, would practically guarantee that a Republican tsunami would sweep scores of Democrats out of office in November. And so the president has turned to the nation’s most accomplished, most respected military leader, a man whose strategy in Iraq he dismissed out of hand and whom, when this dedicated patriot was the subject of shameless slurs by his leftist allies, Obama could not be bothered to defend. Professional that he is, Petreaus will continue to forget the criticisms, slights and slurs and do what American military leaders have always done: follow the orders of the commander in chief, no matter how incompetent and hypocritical that commander may be.

A Fired General – Rules of Engagement – And Winning The War
Fighting the PC war. Excerpt: It is official, After personal comments about the civilian leadership had been voiced by General Stanley McChrystal and his Aides, he is gone and General David Petraeus will assume command in Afghanistan. This does not mean our military personnel on the ground in that war zone will develop any greater fondness for the civilian establishment there. As was the case in Vietnam, most of our troops will view the civilians who command them with suspicion. But, those same military personnel will be showing much more caution when speaking about their leaders in front of the media. The unanswered question is; Why do our men and women in uniform feel so contumacious toward their civilian leadership? Much of the anxiety may well be due to irrational rules of engagement that are forced on combat troops be the key civilians who view everything from a political spectrum. The Good Lord knows my combat strategy is really limited to what I could observe through the sights of my rifle in those long ago days of my youth. My last combat command decisions were made more than 45 years ago when I was ordered to have my Marines defend the parameter of a Seabee base under attack by the Viet Cong. With those to items as qualifiers, I can still state without reservation that no war was ever won on defense. It is also a truth that no military unit can function at peak efficiency when it is saddled with unrealistic rules of engagement. I for one, see shadows of Vietnam in just about everything we are doing in Afghanistan. We are trying to prop up a very corrupt and unpopular government, drive out an enemy force that is a historical occupant of the territory under dispute, hold on to terrain without the troop strength to occupy the territory for any extended period and do all of these things while operating under a convoluted rules of engagement policy that few can either understand or defend. Back in the early days of Vietnam, when it was just an “operation” and not a “war’, I remember how we would draw perimeter defense duty to protect our base in DaNang. Even then, we had those crazy rules of engagement. For example, all of us along the perimeter manned our posts without ammunition in our weapons. Under the rules of that time, all ammunition was kept in a locked bunker. There was an ammunition officer who had the only key. Our instructions were, if we received enemy fire, the ammunition officer would unlock the bunker, issue the ammo and we would then engage the enemy.

What the Taliban Think of McChrystal's Ouster
To them, it means they're winning.
Excerpt: Pakistanis, particularly the large ethnic Pashtun population living in the country’s violence-prone northwest near the Afghan border, were transfixed by the unfolding McChrystal saga, launched by a profile of the general by NEWSWEEK alumnus Michael Hastings in Rolling Stone. Their eyes and ears were glued to round-the-clock television and radio news coverage of the general’s gaffes and the resulting political fallout in both Kabul and Washington. Of course, no one is more mesmerized than the Taliban themselves, who, if they don’t have access to television, followed the drama and the minute-by-minute coverage of McChrystal’s Pentagon and White House meetings on the Pashto-language services of the BBC and VOA. “We are enjoying every minute of it on TV and the radio,” says a senior Afghan Taliban official and former cabinet minister in Mullah Mohammed Omar’s defunct government, who spoke on the condition that he not be quoted by name. “All the talk about this being America’s longest, most expensive, and most unpopular war—and about the tension between McChrystal and Obama—is music to our ears.” The Taliban official, who spoke with NEWSWEEK along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and even naively asked about the possibility of a military coup in Washington, sees the apparent insubordination (and the backbiting) in the U.S. ranks as the latest sign of America’s impending defeat in Afghanistan. “What we are seeing is the mindset of a U.S. general and other commanders who are getting mentally ready for failure, so they criticize and make jokes about the president.”

The Real Story Behind the McChrystal Story
Excerpt: The Rolling Stone article about the top U.S. general in Afghanistan had within it a story that we think cut right to the core of an issue far more important than any one general. Gen. Stanley McChrystal was meeting with members of a small outpost of Marines in Kandahar Province. The unit had just lost a 23 year-old corporal, who was killed going into a booby-trapped house. The unit's commanders had wanted to blow up the house, but that request was denied because of rules of engagement that the Marines feel are overly cautious about civilian damage. A sergeant with the unit summed up the Marines’ view of these new tactics that appear to be costing American lives: "Sir, some of the guys here, sir, think we're losing, sir." Marines don't fight to lose. They fight to win. And so should America. The last time we saw a defeatist attitude like this was just before the surge in Iraq. President Bush realized that morale, strategy and tactics were leading us toward defeat in Iraq. So Bush faced a decision: either double down or begin to pull out. Of course, he ended up doubling down, betting on the surge and going against the views of many of his military commanders. It was a decisive moment of leadership. And it worked. So why is the Afghan surge different? First and foremost we have a different commander in chief. This commander's heart was never in the battle to begin with. He based much of his presidential campaign on disengagement from Iraq and Afghanistan rather than engagement. The very long pause he took last summer before deciding on the Afghan surge cost us time and morale. scrubs Petraeus ‘Betray Us’ ad today…
…from their site. Down the memory hole it goes, via Weasel Zippers. Stacy puts it best:
The American Left: Shamelessly Following Orders Ever Since Stalin Told Us to Endorse Hitler’s Invasion of Poland. Well not everyone. AMERICAblog expresses surprise: You’ll remember Petraeus as one of the Iraq war’s biggest defenders. Which is interesting, since the Senate Democrats just a few years ago produced a lengthy analysis of how flawed Petraeus’ Iraq testimony really was. They get full marks for consistency, but it’s funny I’m sure the first thing on everybody’s mind was his testimony.

Report: IAF planes spotted over Saudi Arabia
Excerpt: Israel Air Force aircraft have been spotted in recent days at a Saudi Arabian military base unloading military equipment in the city of Tabuk, in northwestern Saudi Arabia, according to a report from Iranian news agency FARS. The base will reportedly be used as a forward operating base by the Israelis as part of an offensive on an Islamic country.

IAF Landed at Saudi Base, US Troops near Iran Border
More on this. Hate that these things are made public. Today’s media would have been a real benefit to the Nazis in WWII. Excerpt: The Israeli Air Force recently unloaded military equipment at a Saudi Arabia base, a semi-official Iranian news agency claimed Wednesday, while a large American force has massed in Azerbaijan, which is on the northwest border of Iran. Both reports follow by less than a week the Pentagon’s confirmation that an unusually large American fleet sailed through the Suez Canal Saturday. Several reports stated that an Israeli ship joined the armada. The Pentagon played down the news, saying the American maneuvers were routine. However, a report by Iran on Wednesday that it has enriched dozens of pounds of 17 per cent enriched uranium serves as a reminder that time is running out to stop Iran from being able to produce a nuclear weapon. Iran’s Fars News Agency said the Israeli military aircraft landed 10 days ago at the Saudi base near the city of Tabuk, located in northwest Saudi Arabia, one of the closest areas in the oil kingdom to Iran. (The good news: something may be done about the mad mullahs and their nuke ambitions, if it isn't already too late. The bad news: the element of surprise is lost, along with operational effectiveness, security, and raises the potential cost in pilots and planes. It may not be worth doing at this point. Any likely target that has mobility will be removed from harm's way; immobile targets will have increased defences. Ron P.)

Israel's Crisis At Sea -- Another Storm Coming
Excerpt: The purpose of the recent flotilla event was to create an international upheaval that would isolate Israel and legitimize Hamas. If you look at Israel's current standing among the nations, the flotilla event was a success in that it did put Israel into greater diplomatic isolation. Round One, Hamas won. If the nations continue to engage Hamas, and play into the hands of humanitarian terrorists, Hamas is bound to win Round Two. The world was quick to condemn Israel without considering the facts of what happened on the Mavi Marmara. As this war of attrition heats up again, Israel's ability to diffuse tensions at sea will be the key to its effectiveness in diffusing tensions on the diplomatic front and in the public arena.

Obama's Gulf Oil Spill Commission and the Missing Experts
Excerpt: In fact, if you peruse the names of the council members, there isn't a single expert in oil drilling, oil platform rigs, or petroleum engineering. The panel's membership doesn't even include a single oil drilling company executive, or even a field engineer. In fact, the only technical-minded person on the commission at all is Cherry Murray, Dean of Harvard's Engineering School. Murray has had a long and distinguished academic career at all of the "right" schools, but she has absolutely nothing in her resume to indicate that she has the slightest knowledge about petroleum exploration. When it comes to academics, there isn't even one professor that specializes in petroleum exploration despite the plethora of possible names that could be drawn from institutions such as the prestigious Colorado School of Mines. In addition to the shocking lack of engineering and petroleum drilling experience on the panel, there isn't a single person with experience in investigation or forensic science. When we consider that the actual Deepwater Horizon rig is at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, we might expect to see an expert in deepwater salvage on the commission, but that expertise is also lacking.

Paul Driessen asks some inconvenient questions
Excerpt: America needs decisive leaders who understand what government can (and cannot) do to stop the Gulf gusher, clean up the mess, and get business, jobs and prosperity back on track. Instead, President Obama sounds like an anti-business Community Organizer in Chief – pointing fingers, making baseless claims about ending our “addiction to oil,” and leaving no crisis unexploited to promote job-killing cap-tax-and-trade and renewable energy agendas. His June 15 “vision” raised more questions than it answered. 1) The President said he can no longer support new drilling unless industry can prove it will be “absolutely safe.” This avoidable environmental disaster happened because BP, its contractors and MMS regulators did not follow procedures or respond properly to tests and warning signs, indicating critical trouble was brewing downhole. But if “absolute safety” is to decide activities and technologies, America will come to a standstill in the absence of impossible-to-obtain proof that nothing will ever go wrong, no one will ever screw up, and no technology will ever malfunction....
3) The President said China is creating “clean energy” jobs “that should be right here in America,” while we send “nearly $1 billion of our wealth every day to foreign countries for their oil.” We will “embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny,” he declared, because “the time to embrace a clean energy future is now.” America is not running out of oil. It is running out of places the government allows us to drill. China is creating renewable energy jobs, because it mines the lanthanides, lithium and other minerals that are essential for wind turbines, solar panels and hybrid cars, while we lock up our prospects; burns coal to generate cheap electricity to run its factories, while the White House, Congress and EPA try to drive US coal-based power to extinction; and pays its factory workers a fraction of what American workers receive.

Iran to send blockade-busting ship to Gaza
Excerpt: Iran said Tuesday it would send a blockade-busting ship carrying aid and pro-Palestinian activists to Gaza, fueling concern in Israel, where commandos were training for another possible confrontation at sea. Israel warned archenemy Iran to drop the plan. The Iranian announcement came days after Israel eased its three-year-old blockade of Gaza under international pressure following its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last month. "No one in their right mind can believe that a ship sent by the ayatollahs and their Revolutionary Guards has anything to do with humanitarian aid," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. "I don't think there is one single country in this region and beyond that would let such an ayatollah ship come near its coasts."

Wal-Mart Moms' Turn on the Democrats
Excerpt: The bad news for Democrats keeps pouring in. Now it comes from Wal-Mart moms -- women with children under 18 who shop at Wal-Mart. They tend to be Democrats and more of them than not voted for President Obama in 2008. But they’re leaning Republican this year. And despite the happy economic talk from the White House, they believe the economy is hurting their families and their situation will be just as bad a year from now. In Washington today, Wal-Mart officials unveiled a national survey of their female customers, who pollsters said amount to 16 percent of the electorate. “These are voters who are still feeling the economic pinch,” said Leslie Dach, a Wal-Mart vice president. “They’re feeling this intensified squeeze,” and an increasing number of them are “barely able to make ends meet.” Pollster Neil Newhouse said the moms identified themselves mostly as middle class (38 percent) and lower middle class (55 percent). They are slightly less white and more African-American and Hispanic than the country at large. And they are more moderate (46 percent) than conservative (34 percent), approve of Obama’s job performance (53 percent), and favor more government action to help people (60 percent). But while they identify more with Democrats (43 percent) than Republicans (39 percent), they’re inclined vote for Republicans (40 percent) over Democrats (37 percent) for Congress in November. And the reason is quite simple: their finances are perilous -- and not improving.

The Global Warming Inquisition Has Begun
Excerpt: A new “study” has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) which has examined the credentials and publication records of climate scientists who are global warming skeptics versus those who accept the “tenets of anthropogenic climate change”. Not surprisingly, the study finds that the skeptical scientists have fewer publications or are less credentialed than the marching army of scientists who have been paid hundreds of millions of dollars over the last 20 years to find every potential connection between fossil fuel use and changes in nature. After all, nature does not cause change by itself, you know. The study lends a pseudo-scientific air of respectability to what amounts to a black list of the minority of scientists who do not accept the premise that global warming is mostly the result of you driving your SUV and using incandescent light bulbs.

State Senator Sylvia Allen responds to SB1070
Excerpt: One Rancher testified that 300 to 1200 people a DAY come across his ranch vandalizing his property, stealing his vehicles and property, cutting down his fences, and leaving trash. In the last two years he has found 17 dead bodies and two Koran bibles. Another rancher testified that daily drugs are brought across his ranch in a military operation. A point man with a machine gun goes in front, 1/2 mile behind are the guards fully armed, 1/2 mile behind them are the drugs, behind the drugs 1/2 mile are more guards. These people are violent and they will kill anyone who gets in the way. This was not the only rancher we heard that day that talked about the drug trains. One man told of two illegal’s who came upon his property one shot in the back and the other in the arm by the drug runners who had forced them to carry the drugs and then shot them. Daily they listen to gun fire during the night it is not safe to leave his family alone on the ranch and they can’t leave the ranch for fear of nothing being left when they come back. The border patrol is not on the border. They have set up 60 miles away with check points that do nothing to stop the invasion. They are not allowed to use force in stopping anyone who is entering. They run around chasing them, if they get their hands on them then they can take them back across the border. Federal prisons have over 35% illegal’s and 20% of Arizona prisons are filled with illegal’s. In the last few years 80% of our law enforcement that have been killed or wounded have been by an illegal.

Arizona Democrats urge Obama not to sue over controversial immigration law
Excerpt: Arizona Democrats facing tough reelection races are distancing themselves from the Obama administration as it prepares to file a lawsuit against the state over its controversial immigration law. Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.) on Monday sent a sharply worded letter to President Barack Obama urging him not to sue. “I believe your administration’s time, efforts and resources would be much better spent securing the border and fixing our broken immigration system,” the two-term congressman wrote in the letter. “Arizonans are tired of the grandstanding, and tired of waiting for help from Washington. … [A] lawsuit won’t solve the problem. It won’t secure the border, and it won’t fix our broken immigration system.” Republican primaries in Arizona won’t be decided until August, but the prospective challengers have been hitting Democrats for not supporting the law or not staking out a specific position.

State police revoke appointment of Muslim chaplain
Excerpt: Officials from the Illinois State Police have revoked the appointment of a prominent Chicago-area cleric to be its first Muslim chaplain. In a statement, state police officials said Sheikh Kifah Mustapha, the associate director of the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, could not serve as a volunteer chaplain "due to information revealed during the background investigation." Last December, Mustapha was one of seven religious leaders trained in Springfield to become volunteer state police chaplains. State police said they discovered after all seven volunteers completed the training that detailed background checks had not been performed. But shortly after Mustapha's appointment, Steve Emerson, executive director of the Washington-based Investigative Project on Terrorism, criticized Illinois law enforcement for ignoring Mustapha's history as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, once the nation's largest Muslim charity. The foundation's two founding members were sentenced last year to 65 years in prison each for funneling millions of dollars to Hamas, a militant Palestinian group that the U.S. has labeled terrorist but also does social work. Mustapha raised money for the group in Chicago. On Wednesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations will hold a news conference to protest the revocation of Mustapha's appointment.

Pakistani court convicts 5 N.Va.; lawyers vow appeal
One can only hope these idiots appreciate the amenities provided by their Muslim brothers in a Pakistani jail, where they went to wage Jihad. Excerpt: Five Northern Virginia men were convicted on terror charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday by a Pakistani court, in a case that focused U.S. concern about its citizens linking up with foreign extremist groups.

Al Gore police report: Masseuse alleges 'sexual conduct'
Guess the seas aren’t the only thing rising. Excerpt: Via the Oregonian, here is the police report stemming from a 2006 sex crime allegation against Al Gore. Police, for reasons not made public, investigated the case further last year. The National Enquirer reported on the accusation Wednesday.

Environmental groups poised to spend $11 million on climate ads
SEIU is an environmental group? Or are they kicking in because these bills mean a more bloated government, more SEIU members and bigger pay for government workers? Excerpt: Four liberal groups are planning an $11 million campaign beginning next week on ads designed to pressure Senators on the need for comprehensive energy reform.
The money, which is coming from the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, Service Employees International Union and, will be spent primarily on television ads targeting a half-dozen Senators for their recent vote on a proposal that would stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. (The measure failed 53-47.)

The Myth of Financial Reregulation
Excerpt: The regulatory reform bill currently before Congress will supposedly impose financial reregulation, reversing the alleged deregulation of the past 30 years. What deregulation? Can anyone point to the removal of a particular legal or regulatory barrier in the last two decades as a cause of the recent financial crisis? If so, will the new legislation restore this barrier? What the Bill Is Missing. The financial crisis is often blamed on Gramm-Leach-Bliley, a 1999 law that ratified the de facto breakdown of the separation between commercial banks and investment banks (which raise capital and market securities for governments and corporations). Repealing the law would return restrictions on banks' lines of business back to the Glass-Steagall Act passed in the Depression. But the new bill does not repeal Gramm-Leach-Bliley, and there is not much connection between it and the crisis. In fact, to restore the distinction between commercial banking and investment banking would require an entirely new law. This is because Glass-Steagall did not contemplate such financial market innovations as money market funds, mortgage-backed securities or credit default swaps - all of which raise the question of whether they fall under commercial banking or investment banking. Some point to government policies that encouraged home ownership as the cause of the crisis. However, property bubbles took place around the same time in many other countries, including the United Kingdom and Spain. These property bubbles cannot be blamed on U.S. housing policy. Moreover, this bill does not repeal any of the subsidies, such as the income tax deduction for mortgage interest, that encourage home buying. Two federally chartered financial institutions, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, bought and sold mortgage-backed securities, and provided financing for individuals without the income necessary to repay them. But the proposed law does nothing to rein-in the mortgage giants

America's Bad Advice for Europe
Economic growth doesn't come from deficit spending, but competitiveness.
Excerpt: In the run-up to this weekend's G-20 meeting, there is growing U.S. pressure on Europe to suspend its austerity programs. Among those urging for continued deficit spending to overcome the economic crisis are Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman, U.S. President Barack Obama and—in a nearby oped—his Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and National Economic Council Director Larry Summers. Their advice is economically unreasonable, politically inappropriate and demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of European realities. Europe has unfortunately a solid track record of failing to reform during good times. France, for example, has not run a balanced budget in almost 40 years, which includes many years of growth when it would have been much easier to rein in public spending without causing major social upheavals. Alas, it was not done. And France is not alone. Across the European Union, countries have been piling up debt at record speed, allowing the state to take on more and more future obligations, particularly for pensions, often without the slightest strategy of how to pay for these entitlements down the road. Purporting to act in the cause of "social justice"—and purposefully oblivious to a demographic outlook of aging and declining populations—politicians cowardly shifted responsibility to future governments and generations. But the future is now. The moment of reckoning has finally come and it cannot be squandered. Interestingly—and despite the recent criticism of ratings agencies' slow response to the subprime crisis—Standard & Poor's predicted back in 2006 that by 2050, the debt burdens in France and Italy would be well above 200% of GDP, and about twice as high in Portugal and Greece. Two years before the financial crisis hit in 2008, S&P concluded in a study on aging that "a collective slide down the ratings scale would commence early in the next decade"—i.e. now. What was done in response to that study? Absolutely nothing.

Runaway Census Cost Is Frightening Preview of True Obamacare Price Tag
Excerpt: Friday’s May jobs figure is vastly skewed because of the hundreds of thousands of temporary census employees—approximately 411,000—hired to perform the decennial enumeration of the U.S. population and gather concomitant vital information. In the coming days, economists will be assessing the distorting effect the addition of these temporary public sector workers has on the restoration or creation of employment and the overall strength or weakness of the economic recovery.

High court sides with ex-Enron CEO Skilling
This hurts political corruption cases, like the Blago trial, but could have been worse. Excerpt: The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that prosecutors erred in using a certain federal fraud statute to convict former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, but left it to a lower appeals court to determine whether his conviction should be overturned. The justices were unanimous in imposing limits on the use of the "honest services" fraud law that has been a favorite of white-collar crime prosecutors. The law has been criticized as vague, subjecting people to prosecution for mistakes and minor transgressions in the business and political worlds. Skilling asked that it be struck down as unconstitutional. But the justices, in an opinion by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said prosecutors may continue to seek honest services fraud convictions in cases where they put forward evidence that defendants accepted bribes or kickbacks.

Propaganda 101
Excerpt: Can a $125 million ad campaign convince you to change your mind about ObamaCare? A coalition of labor unions, special interests, liberal foundations and wealthy donors is prepared to find out. Get ready for TV ads, newspaper spreads and lots of Internet spam. But before getting into that, what should we actually call this thing? That is, the Thing that Nobody Really Knows Much About (TNRKMA). At this blog, we have followed the convention of calling it “ObamaCare,” but that could be considered derisive. There is always “health reform,” but this bill will almost certainly be reformed many, many times, even before all of the original provisions are enacted. On balance, I’m inclined to go with the acronym, TNRKMA — which is pronounced “Turkey Ma” (mother of all turkeys), with the N silent, or simply “Turkey,” for short.

Randall gets convincing GOP win in 13th District
Yet another black Republican and solid candidate with a shot at Congress. Joins West in FL and Scott in SC. This could make meetings of the Black Caucus more interesting. Wonder if they’ll let in a “racist” tea party member? Excerpt: Republican William “Bill” Randall won a convincing victory in Tuesday’s primary runoff, beating Raleigh businessman Bernie Reeves for the GOP nomination in the state’s 13th Congressional district. Randall, a U.S. Navy retiree who lives in Wake Forest, will now face Democratic incumbent Rep. Brad Miller on the November ballot. Though he moved to North Carolina just 19 months ago, Randall gained support in the primary by aligning himself with religious conservatives and the tea party movement. Though Randall outpaced Reeves by just 135 votes in last month’s four-way-party primary, Randall beat Reeves in Tuesday’s head-to-head runoff by 1,150 votes out of a total 6,428 ballots cast, according to complete but unofficial results.

Senate Republicans Find New START Agreement Problematic
Excerpt: The suspicion among Republicans is that negotiators may have acceded to Russian demands on several issues, most notably missile defense. In a unilateral statement accompanying the treaty, the Russians claimed the right to withdraw from New START if American missile defense forces are upgraded “quantitatively or qualitatively.” The U.S. didn’t reject this claim, except to note that nothing would be done to missile defenses to upset the strategic balance between the two countries. Republicans want to know what American negotiators told the Russians in their private talks, particularly any assurances they might have given about any U.S. intentions on strengthening missile defenses. The State Department hasn’t rejected the request for the negotiating record, but hasn’t turned it over either or even said it would. Republican officials believe the department doesn’t want to hand it over.

Return control of our health system back to doctors and patients
Excerpt: Rep. Price argues that the government’s central planning will make health insurance more affordable for small businesses and individuals. Touting tax credits covering 35% of premiums for small businesses with less than 25 employees and less than $50,000 in average annual wages, Rep. Price asserts that the new law will encourage small businesses to offer health coverage for their employees. What happens if a business adds a 26th employee? Bye-bye, tax credit. Now employees will be forced to choose between a pay raise and insurance, and employers will choose between hiring employees and offering health insurance. (...) Rep. Price also claims that reform will lower insurance premiums for businesses and individuals through state‐based exchanges offering group rates. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office disagrees, however, and projects that insurance premiums with the exchanges will actually increase by 10‐13%. (...) As a physician, patient, and parent, I know we desperately need health care reform. This misguided legislation moves in the wrong direction, however, by placing more emphasis on health “insurance” than health care. So-called “insurance plans” with low deductibles and co‐pays are not insurance at all – they are simply middlemen that add cost, ration care, and stand between patients and providers.

Australian Political Coup
Excerpt: Today, Thursday 24 June, 2010 was an historic day for Australia. Australia’s first woman Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was sworn into office by Australia’s first woman Governor General, Quentin Bryce. The day was also historic because the swearing in of Ms Gillard was a result of a political coup against the, until then, current Labour Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. This is the first time an Australian Prime Minister has been rolled during his term in office and in this case, only months out from a general election. Until today Julia Gillard was Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister. The coup was unexpected, in spite of growing concerns about the direction Kevin Rudd was taking the Labour Party government. Ms Rudd had recently denied all speculation that she was setting herself up to topple Rudd and become the next Prime Minister. However, in the last 24 hours Labour party Members of Parliament managed to persuade her that the coup was necessary. There had been growing concern about the direction of the Labour led government and it was felt necessary within the ranks to have a change of leadership, in order to retain votes and political power in the coming election later in the year. Kevin Rudd resigned as Prime Minister rather than face a vote within his party. He had been expected to fight for his position, bit opted instead for a smooth change over. Rudd’s management style within the Labour party had become controversial recently, following his shelving of a greenhouse emissions trading scheme. He was also facing opposition with a recently proposed super-profits tax on miners. Ms Gillard has promised to act on these two issues as well as that of the concern over asylum seekers arriving in droves by boat upon Australian shores

Australian Prime Minister Rudd Ditched in Favor of Left-Wing Deputy
Excerpt: In a stunning collapse for a once-popular leader, an emotional Kevin Rudd resigned as prime minister of Australia on Thursday, after losing the support of party leaders who are anxious to avoid defeat in upcoming elections. Following a leadership challenge mounted by his deputy, Julia Gillard, Rudd late Wednesday night announced that the center-left Australian Labor Party’s caucus of lawmakers would meet on Thursday to hold a vote. But at that meeting he chose to avoid the showdown ballot, and instead stood down as party leader and prime minister.

Climategate and the EPA Endangerment Finding
Excerpt: While considerable attention has been paid by me and others to the cozy UK “inquiries”, Climategate is featuring prominently in another not-so-cozy forum in the US, though the connection has not been articulated to a larger audience. A June 18 article in the New York Times reports: Three judges issued an order Wednesday that the motions for remand be placed on hold as EPA considers numerous petitions asking it to reconsider the finding. The order freezes the motions for remand until two weeks after the agency makes a decision, or until Aug. 16, whichever comes first. That was the action sought by EPA, which has said it expects to decide on the petitions for reconsideration in late July. (...) The motion (Apr 15, 2010) says: Despite the explosive revelations of climate-gate, EPA insouciantly issued its Finding on December 15, 2009 without providing any mechanism for the consideration of this new information. Despite the pendency of motions for reconsideration, the agency has announced its intent to begin rule-making in reliance on the un-re-examined Finding.

Attacks on the Electoral College Gain Momentum
Excerpt: The American presidential-election system is a unique blend of federalism and democracy, combining purely democratic state-level elections with a national election among the states. The practical effect of this system is that a candidate can’t win unless he appeals to a wide variety of voters around the nation. NPV’s plan tries to keep the democratic portions of the election, even as it strips the system of its federalist aspects. It fails, instead managing to lose both. One fundamental flaw is NPV’s refusal to seek change through a constitutional amendment. NPV tries to take 51 very different sets of state and local laws, crushing them together into one national outcome. It won’t work. One coherent election result can’t be derived from 51 different election codes regarding ballot qualification, recount triggers, voting hours, etc. Inevitably, voters and candidates will be treated unequally across the country. Despite NPV’s claims, “more democracy” is not achieved when voters are thrown into the same pool for election purposes, but then have their votes tallied differently.

U.S. indirectly funding Afghan warlords: House report
Excerpt: The United States is indirectly paying tens of millions of dollars in protection money to Afghan warlords, and potentially to the Taliban, to secure convoys carrying supplies to U.S. troops in Afghanistan, congressional investigators said in a report.

Criminal Intent and Militant Funding
Excerpt: STRATFOR is currently putting the finishing touches on a detailed assessment of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the al Qaeda-inspired jihadist franchise in that country. As we got deeper into that project, one of the things we noticed was the group’s increasing reliance on criminal activity to fund its operations. In recent months, in addition to kidnappings for ransom and extortion of businessmen — which have been endemic in Iraq for many years — the ISI appears to have become increasingly involved in armed robbery directed against banks, currency exchanges, gold markets and jewelry shops. This increase in criminal activity highlights how the ISI has fallen on hard times since its heyday in 2006-2007, when it was flush with cash from overseas donors and when its wealth led the apex leadership of al Qaeda in Pakistan to ask its Iraqi franchise for financial assistance. But when considered in a larger context, the ISI’s shift to criminal activity is certainly not surprising and, in fact, follows the pattern of many other ideologically motivated terrorist or insurgent groups that have been forced to resort to crime to support themselves.

Three months of broken promises
GOP review of ObamaCare

Excerpt: I had the great pleasure of seeing Pope John Paul II in 1993 during the World Youth Day events held in Denver, Colorado. I have fond memories of that time, for it was a very moving and influential experience. But, it was also punctuated by debate. On many street corners anti-Catholic groups were handing out literature to the throngs of Catholic pilgrims who were making their way from event to event. The anti-Catholic groups were actively proselytizing by engaging World Youth Day participants in conversations both civil and not so civil. Fast forward now to 2010, to Dearborn, Michigan, where an Arab Cultural Festival was recently held . a group of 3 Christians stood outside of the festival grounds and peacefully handed out the Gospel of John presented in both English and Arabic. They did not harass. They did not throw about epithets. They simply handed out a book for anyone willing to take one. In about 3 minutes' time ….yes, just a scant 3 minutes…they were descended upon by no less than 8 Dearborn Police Officers. They were arrested and their video camera was confiscated.

Venezuela to nationalize U.S. firm's oil rigs
Maybe we should nationalize any Citgo assets in the US. Excerpt: Venezuela will nationalize a fleet of oil rigs belonging to U.S. company Helmerich and Payne, the latest takeover in a push to socialism as President Hugo Chavez struggles with lower oil output and a recession. A former soldier inspired by Cuba's Fidel Castro, Chavez has made energy nationalization the linchpin in his 'revolution'. He has also taken over assets in telecommunications, power, steel and banking. The 11 drilling rigs have been idled for months following a dispute over pending payments by the OPEC member's state oil company PDVSA. Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Wednesday the rigs, the Oklahoma-based company's entire Venezuelan fleet, were being nationalized to bring them back into production. Ramirez said companies that refused to put their rigs into production were part of a plan to weaken Chavez's government. (Nationalize, verb = NASH-on-al-ize = to steal (with the threat of force) from an individual or corporation in the name of a whole country. Incidentally, CITGO is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Venezuelan government. Just thought I'd let you know. Ron. P.)

Female suicide bomber murders two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan with bomb hidden beneath her burqa
Excerpt: As Spain moves to outlaw the face veil, and the cries of "Islamophobia" inevitably rain down, remember this story and others like it.

Jimmy Carter worries that court ruling may hinder his ability to promote jihad terror groups
Excerpt: Jimmy Carter is disgrace to the presidency, a disgrace to America, and a disgrace to all free people. "Jimmy Carter Worries Court Ruling May Affect His Interaction With Terror Groups," by Patrick Goodenough for CNS News, June 22 (thanks to Weasel Zippers): ( - Former President Jimmy Carter has voiced concern that Monday's Supreme Court ruling on "material support" to terrorist groups may criminalize his "work to promote peace and freedom." Carter, whose advocacy has entailed contact with groups designated by the U.S. government as "foreign terrorist organizations" (FTOs) - notably Hamas and Hezbollah - said he was disappointed by the court decision.

Would-be bomber got cash in Mass.
Excerpt: Two months before Faisal Shahzad tried to set off a car bomb in busy Times Square in New York City, he came to Massachusetts to pick up $5,000 in cash sent by a member of the Pakistani Taliban. But just how that transaction occurred is still unclear.

After apologizing to experts, Salazar once again implied in court that they endorsed his moratorium
Excerpt: On June 10, Salazar had been forced to apologize for falsely implying that experts who peer-reviewed a Safety Report on the Deepwater Horizon rig’s explosion had endorsed his recommendation of a six-month deep-water drilling moratorium. In fact, the experts had never seen the recommendation, which was added after their involvement came to an end. But the very next day, on June 11th, Salazar cited those experts once again in federal court documents defending the drilling moratorium.

World Collapse Explained in 3 Minutes
Think this is supposed to be funny, but is actually scary.

Senator Clint Webb
After the lead in, a funny, fake (I think) honest political ad.

"[Last Thursday] was the 36th anniversary of the Watergate scandal, when the Republicans broke into the Democratic headquarters looking for their long-term plans and strategies. It also marks the last time anyone thought the Democrats had a plan worth stealing." --comedian Jay Leno. The Patriot Post

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