Friday, July 2, 2010

Political Digest July 2, 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.

Kagan’s Abortion Distortion
This is very troubling. Excerpt: When President Obama promised in his inaugural address to “restore science to its rightful place,” he never explained what that rightful place would be. Documents recently released in connection with the Supreme Court nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan suggest an answer: wherever it can best be used to skew political debate and judicial outcomes. The documents involved date from the Clinton White House. They show Miss Kagan’s willingness to manipulate medical science to fit the Democratic party’s political agenda on the hot-button issue of abortion. As such, they reflect poorly on both the author and the president who nominated her to the Supreme Court….So Kagan set about solving the problem. Her notes, produced by the White House to the Senate Judiciary Committee, show that she herself drafted the critical language hedging ACOG’s position. On a document [PDF] captioned “Suggested Options” — which she apparently faxed to the legislative director at ACOG — Kagan proposed that ACOG include the following language: “An intact D&X [the medical term for the procedure], however, may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman.” Kagan’s language was copied verbatim by the ACOG executive board into its final statement, where it then became one of the greatest evidentiary hurdles faced by Justice Department lawyers (of whom I was one) in defending the federal ban. (Kagan’s role was never disclosed to the courts.) The judicial battles that followed led to two Supreme Court opinions, several trials, and countless felled trees. Now we learn that language purporting to be the judgment of an independent body of medical experts devoted to the care and treatment of pregnant women and their children was, in the end, nothing more than the political scrawling of a White House appointee. Miss Kagan’s decision to override a scientific finding with her own calculated distortion in order to protect access to the most despicable of abortion procedures seriously twisted the judicial process. One must question whether her nomination to the Court would have the same effect.

Peer-Reviewed Science is Politically-Revised
Excerpt: Many of us have known for years that the scientific community is not as pristine pure as they’d like the public to think; politics has long been alive and well at American universities and among the peer-review networks. It is still shocking, however, to discover that the White House has tampered with scientific findings. The political official in charge of defending the partial-birth abortion act in federal court during the Bush administration, Shannen Coffin, described for National Review his discovery of documents released by the Clinton White House that show the apparent manipulation of a scientific report on partial-birth abortion by Elena Kagan, the nominee for the Supreme Court who is undergoing confirmation hearings this week. If the reports are true –– and there are hand-written notes that seem to indicate Kagan’s direct involvement in the deception –– Kagan’s name should immediately be withdrawn from consideration for the Supreme Court and she should be disbarred and disgraced. Here are the facts. A “select panel” of physician-members of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a professional medical association that sponsors/conducts medical studies and publishes results, issued a report –– with the professional credibility of ACOG behind it –– that declared that the partial-birth abortion procedure “may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman.” That statement was used in numerous court cases as “official” medical opinion regarding the partial-birth abortion procedure.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Both sides in the Kagan hearings refer to the “Military’s Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” policy. It makes me nuts. It was not the military’s policy. It was an order from the Commander in Chief, Bill Clinton, which the military was bound to obey. If it was the policy and not the military she opposed, she would have barred Bill Clinton from Campus.

Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America forbids Muslims to aid American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq
Excerpt: For to do so would be "helping others in sin and transgression." The Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America says on its website: "AMJA recognizes that human brotherhood is the basic principle that should govern the relations between all peoples and nations. Therefore, the pursuit of peace and goodwill between all nations should be a desirable objective for all members of the human family. In this light, AMJA rejects any ideology or effort that aims to put the United States of America and Islam in conflict." Apparently it intends to achieve this goal by making sure that U.S. troops cannot achieve anything in Islamic countries.

(Even a Few) Words Matter
Excerpt: British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was ecstatic after the Munich Conference of 1938. He bragged that he had coaxed Adolf Hitler into stopping further aggression after the Nazis gobbled up much of Czechoslovakia. Arriving home, Chamberlain proudly displayed Hitler's signature on the Munich Agreement, exclaiming to adoring crowds, "I believe it is peace for our time. ... And now I recommend you to go home and sleep quietly in your beds." But after listening to Chamberlain's nice nonsense, Hitler remarked to his generals about a week later, "Our enemies are little worms, I saw them at Munich." War followed in about a year. Sometimes deterrence against aggression is lost with just a few unfortunate words or a relatively minor gesture.

Iran is Surrounded by US Troops in 10 Countries
Excerpt: Iran literally is surrounded by American troops, notes an oil market analyst, Energy and Capital editor Christian A. DeHaemer. There is no evidence of an imminent attack, but he connects a number of recent events and the presence of American soldiers to warn that oil prices might soar — with or without a pre-emptive strike aimed at stopping Iran’s nuclear power ambitions. Iran is bordered on the east by Pakistan and Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have been waging a costly war, in terms of money and lives, against Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other terrorists. The Persian Gulf is on Iran’s southern border, and last week’s report, confirmed by the Pentagon, that 11 warships had sailed through the Suez Canal, raised alarm bells that the U.S. is ready to fight to keep the Persian Gulf open. Iran has threatened it could close the waterway, where 40 percent of the world’s oil flows in tankers, if the United Nations or the United States by itself carry out harsh energy sanctions against the Islamic Republic. An Israeli ship has also reportedly joined the U.S. armada. (Over the past three weeks or so, this is the 4th or 5th story about how Iran is "surrounded by US and/or Israeli troops." At first, I was very concerned, now, less so. I notice almost all these stories are sourced to Israeli news media, regardless of where I ran across the story (mostly European, US, or Iranian feeds). That doesn't mean war can't or won't break out tomorrow, but must now consider the possibility this is a psych-op against the Iranians. Ron P.)

Graph of the Day for June 30, 2010
Interesting graph on jobs created and lost.

Is The Climate Around Global Warming Changing?
Excerpt: It didn’t start well. Monday night’s edition of Panorama, entitled ‘What’s Up With the Weather?’ aimed to examine British attitudes to climate change and the state of the science in the wake of both ‘Climategate’ and the failure of the Copenhagen conference on climate change last December. And that seemed to mean presenter Tom Heap sticking a carbon dioxide detector into a car exhaust to prove it was helping to warm the planet. The programme did, however, get better. What was striking about it was that the BBC, which has tended to be gung-ho in its presentation of the dangers of global warming, actually presented those who are sceptical of the orthodoxy in a reasonably fair way. In doing so, it accepted that there is a genuine debate – and not some Big Oil-funded attempt to pervert the course of environmental justice, as some earlier BBC programmes have suggested. That debate is about what has caused the moderate rise in temperature over the past 150 years, how much warmer things will get, and what the best policy is to deal with a changing world. In turn, this reflects (hopefully) a more rational turn in the politics of climate change. (...) What seems to have slowly dawned on those banging the drum for radical action on climate change is that the attempt to panic the population into accepting drastic cuts in living standards to counter rising temperatures has failed. Instead, this approach has merely confirmed for many people that the whole thing is a green conspiracy. In the programme, Heap talked to one ordinary couple about their attitudes to climate change. While the wife was convinced it was a major problem, the husband thought it was just a scare story. But this sharp difference of opinion soon collapsed when it came to the costs of switching to a low-carbon economy. While the orthodox approach to climate change would involve increasing the cost of energy (and therefore, pretty much everything else), this couple – like most others, one suspects – was concerned that energy prices were already too high.

Obama's Flimflam Plan to End Homelessness
Excerpt: In the midst of soaring deficits, a teetering world economy, a failing war in Afghanistan, a catastrophic oil spill, a surging Republican opposition and a chief executive with precipitously plummeting approval ratings, who could report with a straight face on a costly fresh effort that solemnly promises to "wipe out" all "chronic homelessness" by 2015? Could any sane observer above the age of 14 honestly believe that a new federal program would succeed in achieving that noble goal? Or, even more outlandishly, that the latest bureaucratic prescription would finally succeed in its broader purpose: to "end" homelessness of every sort within 10 years? In fact, the odd timing of Obama's "end homelessness" initiative raises an uncomfortable question: How is a federal government that has been utterly unable to seal off a single oil well in the Gulf of Mexico supposed to solve an intractable, nationwide, social and psychiatric problem that has foiled governmental authorities at the federal, state and local level for a half century? Defenders of the administration's arrogant approach would insist that there's no meaningful comparison between federal impotence in the face of the gulf oil slick and the painful predicament of the homeless hordes, since the undersea gusher was properly the responsibility of BP and its associates, not the feds. But this logic leads to another unanswerable challenge: Since when did the dilemma of homeless citizens in Hoboken and Honolulu become the responsibility of preening panjandrums in Washington, D.C., rather than the local leadership in Hoboken and Honolulu?

Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa Defends Tea Party; Says He Supports “What Arizona is Doing”
Excerpt: Here is a video report on St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Manager Tony LaRussa speaking out in defense of Tea Party Activists that showed up at Busch Stadium. LaRussa said he is “in support” of a lot of what they are doing, and he went further by saying, “I’m actually in support of what Arizona is doing.”

Senate adjourns for July Fourth without passing unemployment benefits extension
Most economists think that extending benefits extends unemployment, as people put off making compromises that may be necessary in the new economy. But it’s popular. Excerpt: The Senate adjourned Wednesday night after falling two votes short of passing an extension of unemployment benefits after a protracted battle about the nation's debt. The vote failed 58-38 on the two-pronged measure -- 60 were needed to end a Republican filibuster -- that included a $34 billion six-month extension of unemployment benefits.

Pentagon recommends Medal of Honor for a living soldier
Good man. Please don’t let him talk to Rolling Stone. Excerpt: The Pentagon has recommended that the White House consider awarding the Medal of Honor to a living soldier for the first time since the Vietnam War, according to U.S. officials. The soldier, whose nomination must be reviewed by the White House, ran through a wall of enemy fire in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley in fall 2007 in an attempt to push back Taliban fighters who were close to overrunning his squad. U.S. military officials said his actions saved the lives of about half a dozen men. It is possible that the White House could honor the soldier's heroism with a decoration other than the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor. Nominations for the Medal of Honor typically include detailed accounts from witnesses and can run hundreds, if not thousands, of pages. The review has been conducted so discreetly that the soldier's family does not know that it has reached the White House, according to U.S. officials who discussed the nomination on the condition of anonymity because a final decision is pending.

Oil spill visits get partisan
Excerpt: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) wanted to fly 10 lawmakers down to the Gulf of Mexico to see the damage caused by BP’s gigantic oil spill first hand. House Democrats said no. Scalise’s trip was rejected for a variety of bureaucratic and logistical reasons, but it has also opened a new vein of partisan squabbling over who should be allowed to arrange a trip to view the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Republicans want to be able to take trips using their office spending allowance. But Democrats have heard from the Department of Homeland Security, which has asked that Congress organize trips through committees of jurisdiction, to avoid having to cater to a ton of individual lawmakers in a disaster zone, Democratic aides say. GOP leaders say they’ve heard nothing of this. The squabbling over who gets to travel to the Gulf on whose dime is the latest sign that congressional oversight of the oil spill oversight from Capitol Hill has been bogged down by partisanship. Congress has held upwards of 20 hearings on the disaster, often duplicative ones each week, as lawmakers struggle to grasp and fully realize the scope of BP’s giant oil spill.

Conservatives use Pelosi as face of liberalism in campaign ads
I don’t usually criticize conservatives, but using that face certainly qualifies as “scare tactics.”

Independents move toward Republicans, away from Obama
Excerpt: New data from Gallup shows that independent voters now favor a generic Republican candidate for Congress over a generic Democratic candidate by 12 points, a trend that appears to be tied to their feelings about President Obama. In more than 6,000 interviews conducted in June, 46 percent of independents said they would support a Republican candidate while 34 percent said they would vote for a Democrat. In April and May, Gallup polls showed Republicans with a 10-point edge among independents on the generic ballot while in March it was an eight-point margin. The same gap does not appear in Gallup's generic ballot number among all registered voters, where 46 percent opt for a Democratic candidate and 45 percent choose a Republican. The Gallup numbers suggest that Obama himself is the prime motivator for independent movement toward Republicans on the generic ballot. More than half (51 percent) of independent registered voters -- a more useful demographic slice when analyzing election outcomes -- disapprove of the job the president is doing. Of that group, more than seven in 10 said they preferred a generic Republican candidate to a generic Democratic one. "Dissatisfaction with Obama appears to be a reason independents favor the Republican Party this year," writes Gallup's Jeffrey Jones.

House budget move kicks tough decisions down the road
What Congress does best, and why the eventual resolutions of the fiscal, immigration, economic and Jihadist challenges will be very painful, probably disastrous, with no good options.

Where Best To Be Poor
Excerpt: According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the 2009 poverty guideline was $22,000 for an urban four-person family. In 2009, having income less than that, 15 percent or 40 million Americans were classified as poor, but there's something unique about those "poor" people not seen anywhere else in the world. Robert Rector, researcher at the Heritage Foundation, presents data collected from several government sources in a report titled "How Poor Are America's Poor? Examining the 'Plague' of Poverty in America" (8/27/2007): Forty-three percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage and a porch or patio. Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning. Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded; two-thirds have more than two rooms per person. The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.) Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.

Released on Bail in Cyprus, Spy Ring Suspect Vanishes
Excerpt: The eleventh suspected member of a Russian spy ring broken up by the F.B.I. this week has disappeared on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where he was arrested but released on bail Tuesday after surrendering his passport. Late Wednesday, a police spokesman told the Cyprus state news agency that the suspect, Christopher Metsos, 54, had failed to report as required to a precinct in the island’s southwest, where he had been apprehended. The police obtained a warrant for his arrest and a manhunt was under way. (Who could've suspected that a person charged with working for a foreign power might skip out on bail? –Ron P.)

After November
Excerpt: Why kid our selves? There is something seriously wrong with our government. Some of us may choose to ignore it, others may wish it would go away, but we all, at least on some subconscious level, know it. We see it in dozens of ways: persistent high unemployment, government spending through the roof, a health care system made worse by “reform”, two thousand miles of southern border left wide open, taxes set to explode next January 1, vote buying at the highest levels of the Administration, terrorist states building nuclear weapons, and an oil leak that has been a Charley-Foxtrot of mismanagement from Day One…on and on…Behind all of this, down in the pit of our stomachs, is the gnawing feeling that many, even a majority, of those we’ve sent to Washington have no interest in looking out for the country’s best interests. What ever particular star in the east they are following, it isn’t ours. But, a large segment of the population is not taking this bad situation quietly. An epidemic of November Fever has broken out. Brought back from near death by the infusion of energy from revved up Tea Party activists, Libertarians and political first timers, the Republican Party stands a real chance of getting control of at least some part of the government. We know it and the Left knows it. There is, however, a catch: Electoral victory will not be enough.

Independence Forever!
Excerpt: The principle author of our Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, understood that, though Liberty is "endowed by our Creator," it is difficult to maintain among men. "The natural progress of things," he wrote, "is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." Indeed it is. We boldly threw off a monarchy in the American Revolution, but today countless bureaucrats under the command of a pack of hardcore Socialists have assumed the throne. Jefferson also understood the consequences of Socialism: "Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread." But 234 years after the signing of our Declaration of Independence, Beltway politicos, most of the "Democrat" variety, insist that we must conduct ourselves, in matters large and small, according to their will -- and would have us believe they know better than we. Indeed, they have so effectively institutionalized this deceit that their electoral lemmings fall in behind them in lock step. That subservience is an affront to our hard-won heritage of Liberty, and an insult to those generations who have defended it.

The Limitless Power of the Obama-Kagan Congress
Excerpt: This Sunday, our nation will celebrate Independence Day, which commemorates the Continental Congress’ adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration preamble reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The fact that we as a nation came together every year to celebrate this document might lead many Americans to believe that a Supreme Court Justice should take the Declaration of Independence into account when they are interpreting the Constitution. Elena Kagan is not one of those Americans. Under questioning from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) yesterday, Kagan admitted: “To be honest with you, I don’t have a view of what are natural rights independent of the Constitution.” And Kagan’s disturbing indifference to the existence of natural rights is just one of the many frightening revelations her confirmation hearing has produced. On Tuesday, Sen. Coburn pressed Kagan about the limits the Constitution places on Congress’ power to control what Americans do:

The Dismantling of a Suspected Russian Intelligence Operation
Excerpt: The U.S. Department of Justice announced June 28 that an FBI counterintelligence investigation had resulted in the arrest on June 27 of 10 individuals suspected of acting as undeclared agents of a foreign country, in this case, Russia. Eight of the individuals were also accused of money laundering. On June 28, five of the defendants appeared before a federal magistrate in U.S. District Court in Manhattan while three others went before a federal magistrate in Alexandria, Va., and two more went before a U.S. magistrate in Boston. An 11th person named in the criminal complaint was arrested in Cyprus on June 29, posted bail and is currently at large. The number of arrested suspects in this case makes this counterintelligence investigation one of the biggest in U.S. history. According to the criminal complaint, the FBI had been investigating some of these people for as long as 10 years, recording conversations in their homes, intercepting radio and electronic messages and conducting surveillance on them in and out of the United States. The case suggests that the classic tactics of intelligence gathering and counterintelligence are still being used by Russia and the United States.

CBO Budget outlook
Strain? How about Bust!: The federal debt will account for 62 percent of the nation’s economy by the end of 2010, the highest percentage since shortly after World War II, according to a long-term budget outlook prepared this week by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The 40-year debt average is roughly 36 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and the debt equaled 40 percent of the economy at the end of 2008. CBO attributed the sharp rise in debt to lower tax revenues and higher federal spending related to the prolonged economic recession and turmoil in the financial markets. However, CBO also said that an imbalance between spending and revenues that predated the recent economic downturn has contributed to the growing debt as well. As the economy and financial markets recover, budget deficits will probably decline markedly in the next few years, but over the long term, the budget outlook is “daunting,” CBO said. The retirement of the baby-boom generation will strain entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and per capita spending for health care continues to trend upward.

States seek financial help as new fiscal year begins
Excerpt: States face a combined deficit of $89 billion in the fiscal year that begins Thursday, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And because every state but Vermont is required to balance its budget, the only recourse is cutting employees or vital programs, including education spending, medical services, programs for the disabled and elderly, and police and fire protection. All that cutting could mean the loss of 900,000 jobs -- in the public sector and in private companies that rely on state business, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal research group.

How to Dismantle a Legislative Majority
Excerpt: That’s what legislators do, after all. New laws are like seed corn, intended to grow public support. But it’s not working. The congressional majority keeps passing initiatives they say respond to the public’s desire for “change.” Yet the combination of current liberal initiatives and uncertainty about future policies now seriously hampers economic growth and business risk-taking. It’s also taking a toll on congressional standing with voters. Gallup reinforced this point last week, reporting Congress’s job approval rate hovering near an all time low of 20 percent. Perceived liberalism in the lawmaking process may also impact Americans’ ideological self-identification. Gallup issued a separate study recently, demonstrating a significant rise in the number of Americans describing themselves as conservatives since the 2008 election. Near record numbers now also say that the Democratic Party is “too liberal.”

Alleged Russian agent Anna Chapman could have warmed up any Cold War night
Damn it, Harry, of COURSE we take prisoners. I’ll interrogate her myself. Excerpt: There were 11 alleged Russian agents arrested this week, under accusations that they'd been living as Americans while reporting back to the mother country. Ever since photos of Anna Chapman began circulating online late Tuesday, the Internet at large has been foaming, frothing, fanatic for details about the reported 28-year-old secret agent/Maxim model look-alike who specialized in sultry-eyed, pouty-lipped, come-hither stares.

Weather vs. Climate
Excerpt: Weather and climate models are at the core very similar, but climate models also consider additional parameters that vary over time, like atmospheric composition. Climate models iterate over very long time periods, and thus compound error. Weather modelers understand that 72 hours is about the limit which they can claim accuracy. Climate modelers on the other hand are happy to run simulations for decades (because they know that they will be retired and no one will remember what they said) and because it provides an excuse to sink money into really cool HPC (High Performance Computing) clusters.... 1. Weather modelers consider the realm of climate calculation to be “months to seasons.” Not the 30 year minimum we hear quoted all the time by AGW groupies. That is why NOAA’s “Climate Prediction Center” generates their seasonal forecasts, rather than the National Weather Service. 2. The two most important boundary conditions (inputs) to seasonal forecasts are sea surface temperatures and soil moisture. No one has shown any skill at modeling either of those, so no surprise that The Met Office Seasonal forecasts were consistently wrong.

The Gathering Storm
Things are going to get nasty, in the very near future. Excerpt: The Obama administration’s policy of engagement with Syria has yielded yet more rewards. The Wall Street Journal reports: "Iran has sent Syria a sophisticated radar system that could threaten Israel's ability to launch a surprise attack against Iran's nuclear facilities, say Israeli and U.S. officials, extending an alliance aimed at undermining Israel's military dominance in the region. The radar could bolster Syria's defenses by providing early warning of Israeli air-force sorties. It could also benefit Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militant group based in Lebanon and widely believed to receive arms from Syria." How much more evidence is required before a policy can be called failed or worse than failed – counterproductive?

Must read: Where ‘nice’ Obama has got us
Excerpt: In 1939, Capt. Peter Sanders, serving with the Tochi scouts on the Afghan-Indian border, was blown up by a Waziri booby trap and lost his right arm. Shortly afterwards, he accepted an invitation to lunch from the tribesman who’d planted the bomb. Awfully decent of the chap, and not a bad spread, all things considered. Not everyone cares for the old stiff upper lip: “I spit on your British phlegm!” as the Khazi of Kalabar remarked in what remains the seminal work on Afghanistan, Carry on up the Khyber. But imperialism requires a certain dotty élan. Without it, it’s no fun. You’re just a guy holed up in a Third World dump occasionally venturing out in the full RoboCop to pretend to implement some half-assed multilateral “nation-building” strategy that NATO defence ministers all agreed to at some black-tie banquet in Brussels and then promptly forgot about. Instead of the Tochi scouts—Pathan irregulars commanded by British officers—we now have Afghan units “trained,” or at any rate funded, by Western governments. A headline in the Washington Post captures the general malaise: “Afghan forces’ apathy starts to wear on U.S. platoon in Kandahar.” On a recent patrol through the city, 1st Lieut. James Rathmann stopped at a police checkpoint and found them all asleep in a nearby field. It’s not just the natives who are dozing. In London recently, Robert Gates, the U.S. defence secretary, complained that the allies’ promised 450 “trainers” for the expanded Afghan National Army had failed to materialize. These are not combat roles, so in theory even the less gung-ho NATO members should have no objection. Supposedly, 46 nations are contributing to the allied effort in Afghanistan, so that would work out at 10 “trainers” per country. Yet even that modest commitment is too much. So the Afghan army will fill up with time-servers and Taliban sympathizers. Colonial administration was always a cynic’s field. In Lisbon last week, I was admiring the beauty of the jacarandas when David Pryce-Jones, the scholar and novelist, reminded me of the words of Lord Lloyd, British high commissioner in Egypt in the twenties: “The jacarandas are in bloom,” he observed. “We shall soon be sending for the gunboats.” When the weather heats up, so do the natives. In Lloyd’s day, we were cynical about the locals. Now we’re starry-eyed about the locals—marvellous chaps, few more trainers and they’ll do splendidly—while they’re utterly cynical about us. Hamid Karzai has just fired his two most pro-American cabinet ministers and is making more and more pro-Taliban noises. This is a man who for the last nine years has been kept alive only by U.S. military protection. A throne in Kabul may not be much, but, such as it is, he owes it entirely to his patrons in Washington. Why would Putin, Ahmadinejad or the ChiComs take Barack Obama seriously when even a footling client such as Hamid Karzai can flip him the finger? “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse,” said Osama bin Laden many years ago, “by nature they will like the strong horse.” The world does not see President Obama as the strong horse

The Southern Border Could Get Much Worse
Excerpt: The southern border of the USA is no longer something that we can ignore or use as a political tool. Successive presidents have failed to control this border for one reason or another, but the escalation of drug cartel violence on the southern side of the border is making the issue of illegal immigration almost an afterthought. It seems that if something doesn't change, we could be looking at an all-out war with Mexican drug cartels. Police Chief Jeff Kirkham of the border town Nogales, Arizona, told Tucson Channel 9 (ABC) news that he has received threats that the Mexican drug cartels will start using snipers to target on- and off-duty police officers from across the border. Given the fact that Nogales sits right on the border with the town of Heroica Nogales on the other side, the threat is entirely credible and feasible. Heroica Nogales would provide ample places to hide within sniper range of many parts of Nogales. With an effective range of over one mile, modern rifles could easily target U.S. citizens and police in an eerie echo of the siege of Sarajevo in the Bosnian war. If snipers start setting up shop in Heroica Nogales, we certainly won't be able to count on the Mexican military to take care of the problem. The cartels clearly don't fear the Mexican military, given the enormous intimidation and bribery that they are able to bring to the table. Leaked stories of massive Mexican military corruption and intimidation are commonplace in the border regions. Given that the Mexican military would be of dubious worth, what options are left for the Obama administration to deal with the problem? Would Obama fire predator missiles into Mexico from drones to take out snipers, or would the risk of a real military conflict with the regular Mexican army and civilian casualties make that option out of the question? Would counter-snipers be employed to take out drug cartel snipers? Given Obama's reluctance to deploy anything more than logistic personnel from the National Guard to the border, the answer is likely "no." If Obama will not authorize return fire, what is the game plan for the police and civilians being shot at from across the border? If Obama did authorize return fire across the border, how would Mexico react to military snipers from our side shooting drug cartel snipers from theirs? Finally, what would the rules of engagement be? Would American military snipers be authorized to take out anyone deemed a threat, or would the life of a police officer or civilian have to be taken before they can fire back? Even the military will admit that counter-sniper operations are complex and fraught with risk.


  1. This comment is in reference to the article Peer-Reviewed Science is Politically-Revised

    It hurts when one's nose is rubbed in one's naiveté. I have realized the "peer-review process" in other sciences—particularly climate "science"—has been corrupted for some time. Somehow, it never once crossed my mind that medical doctors could, or would, fall prey to the same folly.

    My personal position on abortion is and always has been: it is an individual decision with far-reaching consequences, and should not be taken lightly, but that no one else has the right to take that choice away from the individual involved; further, that no participant, including the medical persons, should be forced to be a part of it against their will. (I mention this to point it out as irrelevant to this issue. The issue isn't abortion, but the integrity of the science.)

    No doubt, this will put me “in the wrong” with many of my friends. I find no contradiction with my political conservatism in this as I see it as an extension of the right to be left alone to pursue one’s sins in private. A social conservative will likely disagree, as is their right. Nevertheless, what follows is both enraging and frightening from a number of different directions.

    How many other issues have been politicized to the point that we can no longer trust the professional scientists we pay to give us their best advice to order our lives? How could an entire professional organization like ACOG be co-opted to play a part in partisan politics that required them to adopt a position exactly opposite of the findings of their best professional judgment? Why didn’t their membership notice and speak up?

    Is this really the attitude we want making judgments from the United States Supreme Court bench for the next 20+ years? If you see this as no big deal, remember you may have to deal with other doctors who made other political “compromises” that may affect your health directly. If, on the other hand, you think personal and professional integrity matters, if you want science that is science rather than politics, if you care what sort of world we leave to future generations, call or write your US Senators and let them know how you feel.

    Ron Pittenger

  2. Writing does not reach the person you want to express your opinion. It will reach a secretary or aid who will read the letter and depending what is said he or she may just trash it. Come November our votes will speak louder than words.