Saturday, July 24, 2010

Political Digest July 24, 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.

8 minute video with essential basics about Islam, Qur’an, & Shari’a
Really very well done, with critical information everyone really needs to understand. I don't doubt there are plenty of Muslims who really aren't into Sharia and dominating everyone else, who are in fact peaceful and willing to coexist with others. But a very significant fraction of Muslims do support these ideas, most passively (with money and approval) but plenty enough actively to be dangerous to everyone else. (Including any really peaceful Muslims.) Pass this on to anyone else who might need to understand. –Del (As I’ve said before, just as the most frequent victims of black and Hispanic gangbangers and thugs in our cities are the decent black and Hispanic folks who want to be left alone to lead good lives, the most frequent victims of the rather large number of Muslims who believe that murder glorifies Allah are fellow Muslims who just want to lead peaceful lives. Somehow cracking done on these murderous groups, who murder their own folks more than anyone, is considered “racists” by the left. ~Bob)

Very interesting column: A Fourth Approach to the Muslim World
Excerpt: American policy toward the Middle East has been traditionally split between the Stabilizers and the Radicals. The Stabilizers were old foreign policy hands in the State Department, the Pentagon or the CIA, sometimes tied in with the oil industry. They advocated maintaining stability in the Middle East by putting American support behind "our friends", the dictators. The US would supply them with weapons and military backing in case they were ever invaded or overthrown, and in exchange we would have reliable access to oil. From the Eisenhower interventions to the Gulf War, the United States protected Arab Muslim tyrannies in order to maintain stability in the region. The Radicals were often academics, part time journalists or old line leftists. They insisted that everything wrong in the Middle East was caused by Western colonialism and imperialism, and the healing could only begin when the United States stopped backing the tyrants and began backing Marxist and Islamist terrorists in taking over their respective countries. The Radicals believed that if the United States would only abandon the dictators and throw their support behind the Marxists and the Islamists, a wonderful new age would dawn in the Middle East.

GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter Submits Bill Forcing Attorney General Holder to Take Action Against Sanctuary Cities…
Marine vet Hunter’s bill has a snowball’s chance of action under Queen Pelosi, but always fun to give them heartburn. Excerpt: Frustrated at the Justice Department’s lawsuit against Arizona’s new immigration law, a Republican congressman introduced a bill demanding that the attorney general also take action against so-called “sanctuary cities,” which discourage immigration enforcement. Rep. Duncan Hunter’s bill is the latest step as lawmakers seek to inject themselves into the debate and force their colleagues to take a stand on the contentious Arizona law. One of those moves failed Wednesday when Republicans tried, but failed, to have the Senate vote on blocking the government’s lawsuit against Arizona. Mr. Hunter’s bill, for which he started soliciting co-sponsors Wednesday, would stop the Justice Department from pursuing its lawsuit against Arizona until Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. submits a plan to Congress outlining how he would bring sanctuary cities into compliance with federal law.

Still Waiting For Apologies
Excerpt: Now that the left-wing blogosphere and Democratic media operatives Media Matters and Think Progress have found the Religion of Context when it comes to Shirley Sherrod about finally apologizing for the months long smear in 2009 that Census worker Bill Sparkman was killed by anti-government, Tea Party-affiliated, right-wing talk show inspired extremists. Think Progress, which is leading the charge on Sherrod, linked the Sparkman killing to Michele Bachmann's concerns that the Census was too intrusive, and numerous left-wing bloggers did the same. There never was a shred of evidence to support the allegations, and it turned out that Sparkman committed suicide. And while we're at it, how about some apologies for all the false allegations by Frank Rich, Paul Krugman, Charles Blow and numerous left-wing bloggers claiming that health care protesters were violent, and falsely linking the Tea Parties to the Amy Bishop shooting, the IRS Plane Crasher, the Fort Hood attack, and the Pentagon shooter.

Uncle Sam spends $3.5 billion buying a subprime lender
Quite aside from the costs of rescuing GM itself, the U.S. government spent a whopping $17.2 billion bailing out GM’s subprime lender, GMAC. It’s never going to get repaid in full: at the moment estimates of total losses on that deal are running at about the $6 billion mark. So the government knows full well how dangerous and costly it can be for GM to own a subprime lender. What’s more, the government currently controls GM, holding an equity stake of about 61% of the company. So what on earth is GM doing spending $3.5 billion on buying a subprime lender? It’s not enough to simply bail them out, it seems: the government is now using taxpayer money to buy out AmeriCredit’s shareholders at a 24% premium to Wednesday’s closing price. I do appreciate that GM needs to be able to sell cars to people with bad credit. But there’s no indication that GM is a good owner of subprime lenders — quite the opposite. AmeriCredit is already working with thousands of GM dealers, and the two could easily start rolling out GM-branded products across GM’s dealer network even without an acquisition. I’m suspicious at the speed with which GM is moving back into the world of financial services: I’m not sure it bodes well for the company, which really should be sticking to building cars, keeping its credit operations outsourced.

Liberal Tax Revolt: Some Democrats decide they prefer lower rates. Obama isn't one of them.
Excerpt: There's nothing like the prospect of an electoral rout to concentrate the incumbent mind, and so all of a sudden rank-and-file Democrats in Congress are saying maybe they shouldn't let the 2003 tax rates expire after all. Now if they can only persuade their Speaker of the House, the Treasury Secretary and President Obama. The revelation that tax increases could hurt the economy has recently been heard from Senators Evan Bayh of Indiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and, most surprising, even from Kent Conrad of North Dakota. On a scale of unlikely events, this is like the Pope coming out against celibacy. As Senate Budget Chairman, Mr. Conrad has rarely seen a tax increase he didn't like, but this week he averred that "As a general rule, you don't want to be cutting spending or raising taxes in the midst of a downturn." Over in the House, Bobby Bright of Alabama even dared to defend the rich Americans who Democrats have been pounding for years. "I don't care if it's the wealthiest of the wealthy. You don't raise their taxes," he told The Hill newspaper. "In a recession you don't tax, burden and restrict." Better don the body armor on your next visit to the Speaker's office, Bobby. Even Jerrold Nadler, a liberal from central casting, is worrying publicly that the tax hike will hit his New York constituents too hard. And he's certainly right given that the combined top state and federal income tax rate will be close to 54% in 2011 in New York City. Mr. Nadler is proposing—seriously—to adjust the income tax brackets based on regional cost of living so fewer New Yorkers pay the rates Mr. Nadler has spent a decade saying "the rich" should pay. How about if we compromise and keep rates lower for both Nebraska and New York?

O's jobs errors: Why the president failed so miserably to deliver
Liberals have a religious-like faith that big government, more spending, more taxes, higher minimum wage laws, tariff protectionism, more benefits and more taxes are the solutions to all economic problems, despite their unbroken record of misery and failure. Excerpt: The White House last year released a supposedly scientific analysis that claimed to show that adopting the "stimulus" bill would cut unemployment. Indeed, the report specifically estimated that the unemployment rate today would be down to 7.5 percent. Something obviously went wrong. The actual unemployment rate is 9.5 percent, a statistic that doesn't include the millions who've given up looking for work or can only find part-time jobs. What were President Obama's biggest mistakes? Part of the problem was a misplaced faith in Keynesian economics -- that is, in the discredited notion that politicians can borrow money from the economy's right pocket and increase prosperity by dumping money in the economy's left pocket. But the bigger stumbling block is the folks in the White House seem to have no clue how the real-world economy works. Critics have noted that the Obama Cabinet sets the record for the lowest-ever level of private-sector experience. That doesn't necessarily mean people who don't understand how and why jobs are created -- but that seems to be the case with this administration.

President Obama calls Shirley Sherrod
Excerpt: President Obama has expressed his "regret" to former U.S. Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod over her ouster, the White House said Thursday. The president reached Sherrod around 12:35 p.m. ET and "emphasized that Secretary Vilsack was sincere in his apology yesterday, and in his work to rid USDA of discrimination," the White House said Thursday. "The President told Ms. Sherrod that this misfortune can present an opportunity for her to continue her hard work on behalf of those in need, and he hopes that she will do so," the statement said. Obama made the call from his private office on Thursday after twice trying unsuccessfully to reach her on Wednesday evening, according to a White House aide. Staffers tried to reach her again this morning and Obama spoke with her when she returned the call, the aide said. Sherrod did not indicate to Obama whether she plans to rejoin the government, according to the aide. She expressed reluctance to rejoin the Obama administration earlier Thursday during a series of television interviews. "I'd like to talk to him about the experiences of people like me, people at the grassroots level, people who live out here in rural America people, who live in the South. I know he does not have that kind of experience," Sherrod told NBC's Today Show.

Al-Arabiya Director Calls Nuclear Iran ‘Most Dangerous Threat That is Facing Our Region in 100 Years’
Excerpt: Writing in the London based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid, general manager of Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV, said that a nuclear Iran would seek to dominate the Gulf States in the Middle East and said he supported a military attack against Iran before it produces nuclear weapons. Al-Rashid was writing in support of statements made by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ambassador to the United States Youssef Al-Otaiba, indicating approval for a U.S. attack on Iran. The U.A.E. deputy foreign minister, Tareq Al-Haidan, later said that the ambassador’s comments "were taken out of context.”

The Ambassador's Talk on Attacking Iran!
Excerpt: I read the thirty page final statement of the stormy conference [that took place in Aspen, Colorado] during which the UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef al-Otaiba, roused Iranian anger after he was quoted as saying that the benefits from attacking Iran today would outweigh the short-term consequences of this and the threat represented by a nuclear Iran tomorrow. Iran responded with a barrage of insults, despite the fact that the UAE Foreign Ministry said that the ambassador's quote was not accurate and had been taken out of context. So long as this storm is raging, there is nothing wrong with taking a closer look at the situation. Was it inappropriate for somebody in this ambassador's position to say what he allegedly said? Was he wrong in his political understanding of the situation? More important, after the ambassador said what he said – whether we believe this is accurate or not – is this statement useful or harmful? The fact is that we have gotten used to the officials and affiliates of the Iranian regime freely expressing their views and opinions, and indeed issuing insulting remarks against the Gulf States with or without provocation, and in fact these officials do not hesitate even to make threats, which is the worst and most dangerous thing that can take place through the media. Just two weeks ago, Iranian officials said that they plan to inspect vessels that are traveling to Arab Gulf States in response to a UN Security Council resolution to inspect vessels making port in Iran, if there are suspicions over its cargo. Iran did not dare threaten to inspect US or European or Russian vessels in the regions, of which there are many, however they did threaten the Gulf, even though they had nothing whatsoever do with this resolution and no Gulf State sits on the Security Council. Prior to this, Iranian officials announced that Iran would attack Gulf States in the event of any Israeli or US attack against them. In such a poisonous climate, it is natural for an Arab politician or diplomat to say that a nuclear Iran represents a threat to us. Speaking from a protocol standpoint, both parties must work together to avoid throwing rotten tomatoes at one another, or allowing everybody to do so. Politically, what Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba was eloquently quoted as saying is also true. He said that we are in trouble with regards to what Iran is doing in the region today, so just imagine what Tehran will do when it has nuclear capabilities! Indeed imagine Iran's mentality and behavior after it gains nuclear capabilities and realizes that no country in the world is capable of entering a war with it. Therefore what is truly wrong is the reluctance of our politicians to express their opinions and concerns towards the most dangerous threat that is facing our region in a hundred years, not the opposite!

Rangel charged with multiple violations by House ethics panel
Cover your ears. We shall surely hear cries of “racism!” Excerpt: Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) faces multiple ethics violations as a House investigative committee announced unspecified charges against the former chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. The House ethics committee has launched a separate panel, called an adjudicatory subcommittee, in the wake of findings by a four-member panel of the ethics committee that Rangel violated House rules.

Rep. Rangel’s primary opponent
Let’s see, Rangel defeated Powel II because of corruption charges, now Powell IV is seeking to defeat Rangel because of corruption charges. Any bets on the future of the holder of this seat? And what happened to Powell III? Excerpt: News that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) faces multiple ethics violations before a House ethics committee is likely to bolster Rangel’s Democratic primary challenger. Rangel has had a lock on New York’s 15th District since the ’70s, but New York State Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV is waging a serious primary against him this year. Powell is the son of former Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., who Rangel defeated to first win the seat in 1970. Powell IV couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday, and there was no word from his campaign immediately following the news of the ethics charges against Rangel. But the hallmark of his campaign so far has been the ethics cloud surrounding Rangel.

Rangel says he's ready to fight ethics charges
In 2006, Nancy Pelosi said voters should punish all Republicans for the actions of a few, that created a “culture of corruption.” Let’s hope this and other scandals leads them to punish all Democrats in 2010. Sauce for the goose…. Excerpt: Rep. Charles Rangel, who has spent half of his 80 years as a member of Congress, says he looks forward to fighting ethics charges. Other Democrats won't be so pleased. The ethics trial sought by the New York congressman and former Ways and Means Committee chairman will coincide with campaign season. Democrats will have to defend their party's conduct. If enough of them lose, the party could cede control of the House. Republicans are already going negative, reminding voters that Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised to "drain the swamp" of ethical misdeeds in Congress. Rangel had a choice. His lawyer had been negotiating with the House ethics committee to settle his case. But to end it, Rangel would have had to accept the allegations. Rangel had been willing to accept some, but that didn't satisfy the committee, according to a person familiar with the talks but not authorized to be quoted by name.

Democrats' Charlie Rangel problem
Excerpt: The news that New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel violated House ethics rules and could be subject to a Congressional trial -- likely in September -- has party strategists panicked at what such a spectacle might do to an already difficult election climate for their side. “A disaster," said one New York Democratic operative when asked about the prospect of a trial detailing the charges against Rangel in the midst of the fall election campaign. Another New York strategist described the ethical cloud surrounding Rangel as a "two-year albatross that we all wish would go away." One House Democrat granted anonymity to speak candidly about a colleague called the potential trial timing "terrible," adding: "If it comes to a vote, Charlie will not win." The outline of allegations against Rangel are well documented -- related to personal financial dealings that include improperly living in a rent-controlled apartment to not paying taxes on a Dominican villa -- but it's unclear what punishment the investigative subcommittee would recommend.

Senate nixes House additions to war funding supplemental
Spending has to stand on its own merits, not because it’s attached to something else, or we will never get control. Excerpt: The Senate on Thursday night sent its $59 billion war funding bill back to the House without approving more than $20 billion in domestic spending tacked onto the lower chamber's version. The House had added money for teachers, Pell grants, a summer-jobs program and border security to the supplemental passed by the Senate in May. The House bill didn't even clear a simple majority in the Senate on a 46-51 vote. The Pentagon has been “seriously planning” for the possibility that Congress will not pass emergency war funding before lawmakers head to the August recess.

Minority leaders leaving Karzai's side over leader's overtures to insurgents
Disarray is not good. Excerpt: The man who served as President Hamid Karzai's top intelligence official for six years has launched an urgent campaign to warn Afghans that their leader has lost conviction in the fight against the Taliban and is recklessly pursuing a political deal with insurgents. In speeches to small groups in Kabul and across northern Afghanistan over the past month, Amarullah Saleh has repeated his belief that Karzai's push for negotiation with insurgents is a fatal mistake and a recipe for civil war. He says Karzai's chosen policy endangers the fitful progress of the past nine years in areas such as democracy and women's rights.

The Economic Case Against the Death Tax
Liberal readers often accuse me of being rich, apparently assuming on no evidence that all conservatives, who polls say make up 40% of the population, are wealthy. If only. I have never had an inheritance that would be subject to the death tax, and my estate, if any, won’t either. Unfortunately. Excerpt: 2010 is the only year since 1916 in which heirs to an estate will not have to pay the dreaded death tax. Victory for small businesses? Not yet—due to a legal quirk, the death tax is scheduled to come back to life in 2011. Studies, statistics, and real life have shown again and again that the businesses and families burdened with the death tax often see themselves forced to cut back on benefits, investments, and employees. The death tax keeps new jobs from being created, hurting not just the affected businesses, but the economy as a whole. Because it is a tax on capital, the death tax destroys as many as 1.5 million jobs that the economy needs as it struggles to recover. Heritage Foundation tax policy expert Curtis Dubay details a replacement for the death tax, and explains why Congress must kill the death tax—now.

Despite gains, public pensions crashing
Excerpt: State and local pensions remain in a hole at least $1.3 trillion deep despite transient gains in the first quarter of 2010. That's about $12,000 for every private sector worker due right now just to get the funds on an even keel. Each private sector worker in America owes state and local government pension funds at least $12,000 right now just to get them even. That’s on top of all current taxes, debt, deficits and other obligations. And it doesn’t even include promised health care for retirees, which easily could more than double the cost. Just the false pension promises politicians and union leaders made to public workers are enough to bankrupt average American households devastated by job losses, crashing real estate prices, looted 401k plans, exploding health-care costs and taxes at all levels taking more out of every paycheck.

Offshore Drilling Moratorium Affects Everyone
Excerpt: President Obama's offshore drilling moratorium will cost the Gulf Coast region jobs, money and economic development. In fact, the moratorium could be more costly than the oil spill itself, says Joseph R. Mason, Louisiana State University endowed chair of banking and renowned economist. In the first six months, the moratorium will cost the Gulf Coast approximately $2.1 billion in economic losses, including the loss of about 8,000 jobs and $500 million in lost wages, says Mason. What effect will the moratorium have on the United States, both directly and indirectly? According to Mason: Some 12,046 full-time jobs will be lost nationwide, not only on oil rigs, but also in associated industries. Texas will see a decrease of approximately 2,492 jobs, and Louisiana will see a decrease of approximately 4,719 jobs. The moratorium will also cause a loss in wages and tax revenue: Analysts are predicting loss of wages from $65 million to $135 million per month, negatively affecting an already distressed work force. State and local tax revenues in Texas will decrease by $22.8 million, Alabama's will decrease by $7.2 million, Mississippi's will decrease by $8.4 million, and Louisiana's will decrease by $59.3 million. The report also warns against a permanent moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. As a ''worst-case scenario,'' it would cost more than 400,000 jobs and $95 billion nationwide.

The War Next Door
I think right now they don’t want to piss off the customers. But I think it will have to start to spill over into our large cities, and that will have a political impact on those on the open-borders side of the debate. Excerpt: From his office window, El Paso mayor John Cook enjoys a clear view across the U.S.-Mexico border into Ciudad Juárez, birthplace of the famous maquiladora factories, where thousands of Mexicans are employed assembling products for export to the United States. Only the Rio Grande separates the most dangerous city in Mexico (and perhaps the world) from one of the least dangerous cities in the United States, says National Review. In the first six months of 2010, Juárez experienced more than 1,300 homicides. Over that same period, El Paso experienced one, a murder-suicide. According to the latest CQ Press rankings of America's safest cities with more than 500,000 people, El Paso is second only to Honolulu. Those rankings reflect 2008 crime data: Between 2008 and 2009 -- when the violence in Juárez absolutely exploded -- the annual number of murders in El Paso dropped by 28 percent, falling from 18 to 13. El Paso police spokesman Darrel Petry reports that, through June 15, robberies were down by 5 percent, burglaries were down by 13 percent, and car thefts were down by 18 percent from their 2009 levels. The fact that El Paso suffered only one murder in the first half of 2010 is nothing short of astounding, says National Review. So how did El Paso achieve such impressive security gains, and how has it managed to preserve them amid the drug-fueled carnage next door?

Rhee fires 241 D.C. teachers
Since when can you fire union members for poor performance. This is un-American! Alert the lawyers! Excerpt: D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee fired 241 teachers Friday for poor classroom performance. The dismissals are the first under a rigorous new evaluation system launched this year.

Calif. council accepts resignations of 3 managers
Public service pays well there. Probably worth more than BO, but who approved these salaries, if not the Council that fired them? Excerpt: Three administrators whose huge salaries sparked outrage in this small blue-collar suburb of Los Angeles have agreed to resign, the City Council said Friday. Council members emerged from an hours-long closed session at midnight Friday and announced that they'd accepted the resignations of Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo, Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia and Police Chief Randy Adams. Rizzo was the highest paid at $787,637 a year — nearly twice the pay of President Barack Obama — for overseeing one of the poorest towns in Los Angeles County. Spaccia makes $376,288 a year and Adams earns $457,000, 50 percent more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.

White House Emails Show More Extensive Improper Contact With Google
Excerpt: Recent email communication between White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer Andrew McLaughlin (in photo), who is Google’s former head of Global Public Policy, and multiple outside individuals raise new questions about the official’s alleged circumvention of federal ethics and recordkeeping rules. McLaughlin’s communications with Google officials and others about issues that directly benefit the company appears to be more extensive than indicated by a May White House report, which resulted in an official reprimand of Mr. McLaughlin.

Hearing on Arizona immigration law begins
Excerpt: A federal judge pushed back Thursday against a contention by the Obama Justice Department that a tough new Arizona immigration law set to take effect next week would cause "irreparable harm" and intrude into federal immigration enforcement. "Why can't Arizona be as inhospitable as they wish to people who have entered or remained in the United States?" U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton asked in a pointed exchange with Deputy Solicitor General Edwin S. Kneedler. Her comment came during a rare federal court hearing in the Justice Department's lawsuit against Arizona and Gov. Jan Brewer (R). Bolton, a Democratic appointee, also questioned a core part of the Justice Department's argument that she should declare the law unconstitutional: that it is "preempted" by federal law because immigration enforcement is an exclusive federal prerogative. "How is there a preemption issue?" the judge asked. "I understand there may be other issues, but you're arguing preemption. Where is the preemption if everybody who is arrested for some crime has their immigration status checked?" At issue in Thursday's hearing, argued in a tan-colored "special proceedings" courtroom" inside the federal courthouse, was whether Bolton would grant a preliminary injunction to stop the law from taking effect while the federal lawsuit proceeds. (...) Kneedler responded to her query about why Arizona authorities don't have the right to be inhospitable to illegal immigrants by saying the law has given the state the power to enforce immigration law "in, frankly, an unprecedented and dramatic way." (I don't think this is going quite the way Holder expected. –Ron P.)

Castro, Obama and the Rule of Law,_obama_and_the_rule_of_law
Excerpt: But then he said it. The sentence came naturally. I assume it was unplanned. But it carried the weight of a freight train. "You know when Castro took power, none of us knew he was a Communist." We sat stunned. He continued, "Yes, we all thought he was a patriot, a nationalist. Before the revolution he didn't sound like a radical." The comparison at this point was easy, and I interjected, "You mean just like Barack Obama?" He responded, "Yes, just like Barack Obama." He continued, "We were all shocked as the government just continued to grab more power. First they said the revolution is over, so please turn in your guns. We all complied." "I remember my uncle saying after it started, 'Castro will only nationalize some of the big industries, he will never come and take our family hardware store.' But that is exactly what happened, Castro started with the sugar mills and the large industries, but they eventually came and knocked on the door of our family hardware store. My family had run this store for generations. They said we now own the hardware store, you work for us. And that nice, large four-bedroom home you own, it is now our property also, and you can move yourself and five children into two rooms of the house because others are moving in with you."

North Korea vows 'physical response' to US exercise
Maybe we might get some respect in the world if we’d say we’re tired of this crap and take out their capital and nuke sites with small nukes. Yeah, I know…. Excerpt: North Korea has promised a "physical response" to joint US-South Korean military exercises this weekend. The comments came as Asian foreign ministers met in Vietnam for a regional security forum. The forum has been dominated by the crisis resulting from North Korea's alleged sinking of a South Korean warship in March. The US has accused Pyongyang of "provocative" behaviour and on Wednesday announced new sanctions. North Korea's delegation spokesman at the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) Regional Forum (ARF) in Hanoi said the military exercises - which begin on Sunday - were an example of 19th century "gunboat diplomacy".

Old wars never die: The unhappy fate of the Hmong
And we ask the Iraqis and the Afghans to trust us. This is what locals get when they trust America and Democrats take power. Excerpt: Another niggling concern is the fate of 4,689 ethnic Hmong who were forcibly sent back to Laos by Thailand in December. During the war the CIA recruited the Hmong as anti-Communist fighters. Many fled the country after 1975, ending up as refugees in America, Thailand and elsewhere. In 2004-05 America accepted 14,000 Hmong who had been living at a Thai temple. The latest group, which had been stuck in Thai army camps, was less fortunate. Thai officials, calling them economic migrants, blocked most from applying for sanctuary via the United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR. And although 158 of them did somehow get UN refugee status, pending resettlement by America and others, they were deported anyway. Foreign governments pressed Laos for access to the returned refugees, who were packed off to resettlement villages. In March visitors were flown by helicopter to one village for a carefully staged visit. Handpicked Hmong told diplomats that they preferred to stay in Laos and had been “misled” into seeking refugee status. But when others went off script, pleading for help in getting to the West, the visitors were bundled away. Some of these Hmong have since fled from the village, presumably for the border. In response, a curfew has been imposed, a human-rights monitor reports from Bangkok, the Thai capital.

Germany’s Surrender
Maybe L.A. can get police from Mexico, if any are left alive who aren’t owned by the gangs. Excerpt: It is another dismal capitulation on Europe’s sad road to dhimmitude. The police union for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) stunned Germans this week when it announced it would bring policemen from Turkey to help patrol the turbulent streets of some immigrant neighbourhoods in NRW cities. With this announcement, the state’s police administration is admitting domestic police forces can no longer handle violent Turkish and other youths of immigrant backgrounds inhabiting these quarters. “It can’t go on like this any longer,” said the union’s chairman, Erich Rettinghaus, in the German national newspaper, Die Welt. “Perhaps it is a good measure. One should try it out. The new NRW Interior Minister is from Duisburg and knows the problems.” According to Die Welt, the Turkish police would patrol the immigrant Turkish areas in their own uniforms together with German policemen. There are 3.5 million Muslims in Germany and those of Turkish background constitute 2.3 million of that number. With 18 million people, North Rhine-Westphalia, located in western Germany, is the most populous and economically powerful of Germany’s 16 states. NRW’s most important cities, such as Duisburg, Dusseldorf, Dortmund and Essen have large numbers of residents of different ethnicities that make up about 25 per cent of their populations. Overall, of Germany’s 82 million people about 20 per cent have a non-German background.

JournoList ‘Sick Puppies’ Planned Attacks on Sarah Palin
“Journalist” will soon become an epithet, like “mobster.” And they say they wonder why trust in the media is declining. Excerpt: Worse, the goal of the framing of the narrative was to marginalize and diminish a woman by using her womanhood itself against her for political means. In fact, one member, Daniel Levy of the Century Foundation, referred to the list as Obama’s “non-official campaign” and admitted he believed it was their job to discredit Palin: This seems to me like an occasion when the non-official campaign has a big role to play in defining Palin, shaping the terms of the conversation and saying things that the official [Obama] campaign shouldn’t say – very hard-hitting stuff, including some of the things that people have been noting here – scare people about having this woefully inexperienced, no foreign policy/national security/right-wing christia wing-nut a heartbeat away ……

American-Bred Terrorists Causing Alarm For Law Enforcement
Even in America, the “tiny minority of extremists” who don’t understand that “Islam is a religion of peace” seems to be growing rapidly. I wonder why if the peaceful teachings are so clear? Excerpt: A recently disclosed FBI Directorate of Intelligence document from July 2009 estimated that there were as many as 15,000 websites and web forums that were supportive of terrorist activities. Yet, officials say the number of websites is constantly changing since many of the sites and forums are not maintained, with current estimates indicating as many as 10,000 active sites. The FBI analysis noted that about 80 percent of those sites existed on U.S.-based computer servers. U.S. officials say these type of sites rapidly gained popularity when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, began to post beheading videos on the Internet in 2003. "This is what we have feared for a very long time--that finally the ideology of radical Islam is effectively reaching into the United States to disaffected people here over the Internet," said Richard Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism adviser….. "In the last six to nine months," Clark said, "the FBI has seen more domestic Islamist extremist activity than at any time since immediately right after 9/11."

Turkey: Honor Killing; Girl Murdered By 15-Years-Old Brother
Coming soon to a Shari’a friendly, multicultural district near you. Excerpt: A 17-year-old girl found dead one month ago was allegedly murdered by her 15-year-old brother in an ''honor killing'' after she left the women's shelter where she was staying, daily Radikal reported Wednesday. The body of Seyma G. was found half buried in the ground in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir, while subsequent tests revealed that she had been strangled to death. Her brother Y.G. was caught by police and then arrested July 16. According to the Diyarbakir police, the suspects in the murder were determined after an examination of the crime scene revealed footprints in the area and fingerprints on the tape put over the victim's mouth. The victim had reportedly been staying in a women's shelter after being subjected to violence at home.

Clinton presses Vietnam on human rights (mildly)
Excerpt: Responding in part to the urging of several Orange County lawmakers, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed a senior Vietnamese leader on the country’s human rights record Thursday during a visit to Hanoi. Clinton expressed concern about “arrest and conviction of people for peaceful dissent, attacks on religious groups, and curbs on internet freedom” in a private meeting with Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem, she announced in a joint news conference with Khiem afterwards. “The United States will continue to urge Vietnam to strengthen its commitment to human rights and give its people an even greater say over the direction of their own lives,” Clinton said. In a letter on behalf of 19 members of Congress last week, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, asked Clinton to call for the immediate release of political prisoners and repeal of Internet filters. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton wrote his own letter to Clinton, focusing on religious freedom. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa, signed both letters. Sanchez said she was “thrilled to see” Clinton raise the issue, calling it a “big breakthrough.” But Royce cautioned against being too comforted by the rhetoric because the rebuke appeared to be relatively minor. “I don’t think we should get carried away because the mention was brief and it was sandwiched between praise for the progress Vietnam has made and calls for economic growth,” he said. “That’s far from being the center of discussion.” He added that Vietnam should be added to the State Department’s list of “countries of particular concern” due to its violation of religious freedoms. Earlier this year, he sponsored a resolution saying much the same thing. The resolution passed the House but has stalled in the Senate.

Read the last sentence: David Cameron's dream could be President Obama's nightmare
Excerpt: The chilliness is understandable. When David Cameron, Britain's new conservative prime minister, met with Barack Obama this week, the president was also encountering his worst political nightmare. If Cameron succeeds, he will do more than save his ancient island from the economic fate of Greece -- he will provide a model for Republican victory in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. In his passion for fiscal austerity, Cameron resembles the new breed of Republican governors for whom the art of governing begins with the discipline of accounting. He is a taller Mitch Daniels, a svelter Chris Christie. During the past fiscal year, Britain's deficit was larger as a percentage of its economy than Greece's. Cameron's June 22 emergency budget proposed the deepest, most sustained reductions in British spending since World War II. Health programs and foreign assistance are fenced off from cuts. But other government departments will see an average of 25 percent reductions over the next five years. Bond investors and credit raters have responded positively to Cameron's austerity budget. When the cuts kick in, other responses could include strikes, demonstrations and riots. This is a risky strategy in a nation where "socialism" is not an epithet but a founding commitment of one of the main political parties. But Cameron's austerity has the virtue of economic responsibility. It is easy to close a budget deficit with massive new taxes -- but it is also massively destructive to economic growth. So Cameron has proposed about four pounds in spending reductions for every pound in tax increases. A recent study of 44 major fiscal adjustments in developed nations since 1975 found that a one-percentage-point increase in taxes as a portion of gross domestic product cuts annual economic growth by an average of 0.9 percentage points. Reducing government expenditures by one percentage point, in contrast, increases average annual growth by 0.6 percentage points.

The Art of the Ann Arbor City Budget
Bet the artist couldn’t sell this on the open market for $50k. Leftists love to use other people’s money to support “the Arts.” Excerpt: The debate in Ann Arbor, where firefighters are being laid off due to a multimillion dollar budget deficit, is over an $850,000 piece of art. That's how much the city has agreed to pay German artist Herbert Dreiseitl for a three-piece water sculpture that would go in front of the new police and courts building right by the City Hall. The city has the money to do it because in 2007, it agreed to set aside for public art 1 percent of money that went into capital improvement projects that were $100,000 or larger. Most capital projects involve streets, sewers and water.

Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA)
Wonder how this will go over in the black caucus. Excerpt: America still owes a debt to its black citizens, but government programs to help all 'people of color' are unfair. They should end. The NAACP believes the tea party is racist. The tea party believes the NAACP is racist. And Pat Buchanan got into trouble recently by pointing out that if Elena Kagan is confirmed to the Supreme Court, there will not be a single Protestant Justice, although Protestants make up half the U.S. population and dominated the court for generations. Forty years ago, as the United States experienced the civil rights movement, the supposed monolith of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant dominance served as the whipping post for almost every debate about power and status in America. After a full generation of such debate, WASP elites have fallen by the wayside and a plethora of government-enforced diversity policies have marginalized many white workers. The time has come to cease the false arguments and allow every American the benefit of a fair chance at the future. I have dedicated my political career to bringing fairness to America's economic system and to our work force, regardless of what people look like or where they may worship. Unfortunately, present-day diversity programs work against that notion, having expanded so far beyond their original purpose that they now favor anyone who does not happen to be white. In an odd historical twist that all Americans see but few can understand, many programs allow recently arrived immigrants to move ahead of similarly situated whites whose families have been in the country for generations. These programs have damaged racial harmony. And the more they have grown, the less they have actually helped African-Americans, the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action as it was originally conceived.

Hello, I'm a Racist, Pleased to Meet You
Excerpt: The point is that you can't prove you're not a "racist" to the left, because they'll just define "racist" as being whatever you are. In fact, sap conservatives, understand something: You're not going to "prove" anything to the NAACP. You're not going to prove anything to the mainstream media. You're not going to prove anything to any dyed-in-the-fool liberal. They are enemies. And enemies aren't interested in proof; they're interested in propaganda. So cultivate the right warrior attitude. Look at it like this: If you were engaging in a cold war against the Nazis in 1938, would you bend over backwards to "prove" to them that their propaganda about you was invalid? Of course not! They know it's invalid -- that's the nature of propaganda. And it's designed to invalidate you. And you don't respond to enemies with defensiveness and measured responses. You propagandize against them. (This author raises some excellent points: bigots come in all colors, not just white, being one of them; the problem is that he’s so in-your-face, it’ll take a miracle for him to live to old age and die a natural death. It’s your call whether or not to put in TOJ. Ron P.)

Haditha Incident Commander Speaks Out for the First Time
Excerpt: Retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel Jeffrey Chessani broke more than five years of silence Tuesday to tell Defend Our Marines what it was like to finally leave the Marine Corps he loves without ever being entirely exonerated of failing to adequately investigate an alleged massacre that never happened. “Praise God, this has taken care of everything,” Chessani said during an in-depth telephone interview from his home near Camp Pendleton, California. In the background the tiny voices of some of his seven children could occasionally be heard. After more than four years of legal wrangling, Chessani was forced to retire last week after Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus accepted a December 2009 ruling by a Camp Pendleton military board of inquiry that found Chessani was not guilty of misconduct after more than 23 years of exemplary service. The BOI ruled Chessani must retire anyway because he displayed “substandard performance” by failing to conduct a more detailed investigation of the civilians killed…” as a result of a house clearing counter-attack by four of his Marines.

White House predicts record $1.47 trillion deficit
Excerpt: New estimates from the White House on Friday predict the budget deficit will reach a record $1.47 trillion this year. The government is borrowing 41 cents of every dollar it spends. That's actually a little better than the administration predicted in February. The new estimates paint a grim unemployment picture as the economy experiences a relatively jobless recovery. The unemployment rate, presently averaging 9.5 percent, would average 9 percent next year under the new estimates. The Office of Management and Budget report has ominous news for President Barack Obama should he seek re-election in 2012 - a still-high unemployment rate of 8.1 percent. That would be well above normal, which is closer to a rate of 5.5 percent to 6 percent. Private economists don't think the unemployment rate will drop to those levels until well into this decade.

Republicans hold edge in fight for governorships
Excerpt: Of the 15 gubernatorial races most likely to switch parties this fall, Democrats currently hold 10 of them -- a sign that a national landscape tilted toward Republicans is affecting state races as well. Because there are so many governorships up for grabs this fall (37 states) and a large number that are near-certain switches -- Oklahoma, Tennessee, Rhode Island, Kansas and Wyoming to name five -- it's not immediately clear that Republicans will be able to claim as clear a victory at the governors level as the party seems headed for at the federal level.

America Needs More Marine Corps Values
Excerpt: A half a century ago, I spent the longest 13 weeks of my life at an out-of-the-way place called Parris Island, S.C., then and now the home of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. We were strangers who arrived there in the middle of the night and were immediately relieved of all our civilian clothing and possessions — including our hair. Standing there confused, apprehensive and bald, I remember asking myself over and over: What the hell am I doing here? Then silently appeared in our midst a man in a starched uniform and polished boots brimming with self-confidence and a sense of command. This was the Marine drill instructor, the DI, who did not conceal his disgust with what he saw in us. I can still hear him that we were the sorriest collection of misfits and rejects he or anyone else had ever seen. What followed was 90 days of splendid misery. Civilian habits, speech and attitude were marched and drilled and driven out of us. The DI was relentlessly democratic. He treated everyone on our platoon, 189, with equal contempt while double-timing us 12 hours a day from mess duty to the rifle range and back. He used his personal term of endearment to remind us, "Maggot, remember, you volunteered to be here." Somehow after more than three months of no Cokes, no beer, no TV and not even a day off, the DI, by then our Ultimate Authority Figure, reluctantly conceded that just possibly, maybe someday, we might actually be Marines. The combination of joy, relief and pride was unmatched.

Sen. John Kerry skips town on sails tax
Taxes are for the “little people.” Excerpt: Sen. John Kerry, who has repeatedly voted to raise taxes while in Congress, dodged a whopping six-figure state tax bill on his new multimillion-dollar yacht by mooring her in Newport, R.I. Isabel - Kerry’s luxe, 76-foot New Zealand-built Friendship sloop with an Edwardian-style, glossy varnished teak interior, two VIP main cabins and a pilothouse fitted with a wet bar and cold wine storage - was designed by Rhode Island boat designer Ted Fontaine. But instead of berthing the vessel in Nantucket, where the senator summers with the missus, Teresa Heinz, Isabel’s hailing port is listed as “Newport” on her stern. Could the reason be that the Ocean State repealed its Boat Sales and Use Tax back in 1993, making the tiny state to the south a haven - like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Nassau - for tax-skirting luxury yacht owners? Cash-strapped Massachusetts still collects a 6.25 percent sales tax and an annual excise tax on yachts. Sources say Isabel sold for something in the neighborhood of $7 million, meaning Kerry saved approximately $437,500 in sales tax and an annual excise tax of about $70,000.

NY AG candidate involved in hit and run …
Excerpt: New York state Sen. Eric Schneiderman, who is running for state attorney general, was involved in a comical car accident with far-reaching political implications on Monday night. After taping an interview with local news channel NY1, Schneiderman’s car rear-ended a parked car on Ninth Avenue, and then drove off. The car he hit belonged to the executive editor of NY1, and he hit it just outside its offices. Estimated damage: $3,000. A bicyclist took down Schneiderman’s license plate number. Schneiderman insisted he didn’t realize he’d just hit a reporter’s parked car. Upon being confronted by the vehicle’s owner, he said he had disciplined the staffer driving him. That staffer, his driver, is named Rachel Kagan. She is, yes, the niece of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.

More FOIA fakery – this time in the USA Homeland Security, plus peer reviewed paper on Climategate FOIA issues
Excerpt: And now we find not only did Homeland Security stonewall FOIA requests, they actively investigated the people making them: ... In light of these recent ugly FOI revelations uncovered by the Associated Press, it makes the recent FOIA issues paper by our friend Dr. Jennifer Marohasy and the subsequent scathing Washington Times editorial about science and disclosure (see below the Continue reading line) even more relevant. Clearly governments and government sponsored institutions like CRU don’t give a care about complying with the FOIA laws. CRU skated on a statute of limitations technicality. ... For at least a year, the Homeland Security Department detoured requests for federal records to senior political advisers for highly unusual scrutiny, probing for information about the requesters and delaying disclosures deemed too politically sensitive, according to nearly 1,000 pages of internal e-mails obtained by The Associated Press. The department abandoned the practice after AP investigated. Inspectors from the department’s Office of Inspector General quietly conducted interviews last week to determine whether political advisers acted improperly. … Career employees were ordered to provide Secretary Janet Napolitano’s political staff with information about the people who asked for records — such as where they lived, whether they were private citizens or reporters — and about the organizations where they worked.

Documents show media plotting to kill stories about Rev. Jeremiah Wright
The first JournoList story. Excerpt: It was the moment of greatest peril for then-Sen Barack Obama’s political career. In the heat of the presidential campaign, videos surfaced of Obama’s pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, angrily denouncing whites, the U.S. government and America itself. Obama had once bragged of his closeness to Wright. Now the black nationalist preacher’s rhetoric was threatening to torpedo Obama’s campaign. The crisis reached a howling pitch in mid-April, 2008, at an ABC News debate moderated by Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos. Gibson asked Obama why it had taken him so long – nearly a year since Wright’s remarks became public – to dissociate himself from them.

GOP spoiling for fight over Berwick appointment
Excerpt: On July 19, the White House sent to the Senate the nomination of Donald Berwick to be the top administrator of Medicare and Medicaid. The move seemed odd, given that President Obama had already nominated Berwick once, and then on July 7 used executive authority to bypass lawmakers and unilaterally appoint Berwick to the post while the Senate was in recess. Whether lawmakers like it or not, Berwick has the job -- a powerful position made even more powerful by the passage of Obamacare -- until the end of 2011. So why resubmit his nomination to the Senate? A White House spokesman did not respond to questions. But the renomination allows Obama to claim he wants to work with the Senate to win Berwick's confirmation, even though the recess appointment makes that superfluous. It does one other thing: It keeps anger over the Berwick nomination and the recess appointment alive for months to come. The Berwick affair has made an already polarized Senate more divided. Recently North Carolina Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan tried to advance two judicial nominations for debate on the floor, a move that required Republican consent. She didn't get it. "Democrats didn't schedule so much as a committee hearing for Donald Berwick," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reminded Hagan. "I am not inclined at this point to consent to the agreement proposed by my friend from North Carolina."

Sterling Hall Bombing Nearing 40th Anniversary
Search Continues For Fugitive 40 Years After UW Campus Bombing
The good old days when the left hated the government. Excerpt: As the 40th anniversary of the bombing of Sterling Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus nears, one suspected bomber remains at large. The FBI said that despite the time that's passed, it's still actively searching for Leo Burt, the only suspect in the bombing who hasn't been caught. The case started August 24, 1970, when four men upset about the Vietnam War parked a van filled with explosives next to Sterling Hall, hoping to blow up the Army Math Research Center. The van exploded outside the building, killing physics researcher Robert Fassnacht, who was working late in the lab.

You don't think the government can't take your guns?

Interview with Marine who lost both hands
Semper Fi.

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