Saturday, July 31, 2010

Political Digest July 31, 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.

I’m working the weekend, so will leave this, but probably no post on Sunday. Enjoy your day off—not to worry, the world will still be a mess when next I give you details!

Excellent Analysis—Worth Reading
Neither Roosevelt nor Reagan
Excerpt: When he signed the health care reform bill earlier this year, Barack Obama gave progressives the prize they had aimed at for seven-plus decades, an event they compared to the passage of civil rights and of Social Security. At the same time, he destroyed the best chance the Democrats had for enduring center-left governance since the mid 20th-century, shattered the coalition that brought him to power, and dealt his party and faction a political setback from which they may not recover for years. Only a year ago, to hear the press tell it, Obama was that rare bird, a transformational figure, the new FDR or the left’s Ronald Reagan. He was no mere presider—like the Bushes or Clinton—but a deliverer of major-league change. The alignments and mores of the past 30 years had been shattered; all that remained was to pick up the pieces and fashion them into a whole new mosaic that would run things for decades. Few doubted that this would be done. Obama’s chance for his new coalition came with the crash of September 2008, which dumped a windfall of independents, swing-voters, and softer Republicans into his and the Democrats’ laps. While Republicans brawled for two weeks over the TARP financial bailout, and destroyed any sense they were fit to hold power, Obama stayed calm, projecting an unflappability that many mistook for assurance and competence. The economic crisis produced a political bonanza—the biggest presidential win for his party since its historic blowout in 1964 and a flood of congressional Democrats. The victory was wide, deep, and truly seemed national: Obama won more white males than Al Gore or John Kerry, he won back many straying conservative Democrats, he won independents by a 52-44 percent margin, and he won the “investor class” (people with incomes of $75,000 or over, and whose home values and stock holdings had been very hard hit) in the suburbs of cities in swing states, who tipped the red states of Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina into his column. For Obama, this windfall was an opportunity, but also a challenge, whose nature he never quite grasped. ... Aligning the base with the swing voters would have brought realignment. This never was tried. (Good pragmatic centrist editorial. Might be better titled as "How Obama Saved the Republican Party." Ron P.)

Important: Sun Could Set Suddenly on Superpower as Debt Bites
Excerpt: We have been raised to think of the historical process as an essentially cyclical one. We naturally tend to assume that in our own time, too, history will move cyclically, and slowly. Yet what if history is not cyclical and slow-moving but arhythmic, at times almost stationary, but also capable of accelerating suddenly, like a sports car? What if collapse does not arrive over a number of centuries but comes suddenly, like a thief in the night? Great powers and empires are complex systems, which means their construction more resembles a termite hill than an Egyptian pyramid. They operate somewhere between order and disorder, on "the edge of chaos", in the phrase of the computer scientist Christopher Langton. Such systems can appear to operate quite stably for some time; they seem to be in equilibrium but are, in fact, constantly adapting. But there comes a moment when complex systems "go critical". A very small trigger can set off a phase transition from a benign equilibrium to a crisis. Complex systems share certain characteristics. A small input to such a system can produce huge, often unanticipated changes, what scientists call the amplifier effect. Empires exhibit many of the characteristics of other complex adaptive systems, including the tendency to move from stability to instability quite suddenly. But this fact is rarely recognised because of our addiction to cyclical theories of history. The Bourbon monarchy in France passed from triumph to terror with astonishing rapidity. The sun set on the British Empire almost as suddenly. The Suez crisis in 1956 proved that Britain could not act in defiance of the US in the Middle East, setting the seal on the end of empire. What are the implications for the US today? The most obvious point is that imperial falls are associated with fiscal crises: sharp imbalances between revenues and expenditures, and the mounting cost of servicing a mountain of public debt. Think of Spain in the 17th century: already by 1543 nearly two-thirds of ordinary revenue was going on interest on the juros, the loans by which the Habsburg monarchy financed itself. Or think of France in the 18th century: between 1751 and 1788, the eve of Revolution, interest and amortisation payments rose from just over a quarter of tax revenue to 62 per cent. Finally, consider Britain in the 20th century. Its real problems came after 1945, when a substantial proportion of its now immense debt burden was in foreign hands. Of the pound stg. 21 billion national debt at the end of the war, about pound stg. 3.4bn was owed to foreign creditors, equivalent to about a third of gross domestic product…. The CBO projects net interest payments rising from 9 per cent of revenue to 20 per cent in 2020, 36 per cent in 2030, 58 per cent in 2040 and 85 per cent in 2050. As Larry Kotlikoff recently pointed out in the Financial Times, by any meaningful measure, the fiscal position of the US is at present worse than that of Greece.

Worth Reading and Sharing
Who Doesn't Pay Taxes and Why
Excerpt: For the 2009 tax year, an estimated 47% of U.S. households did not pay any federal income tax. The percentage was a bit higher than normal due to the lousy economy and some allegedly temporary tax breaks that may not be renewed. The long-term percentage of non-taxpaying households is apparently around 40%. This is according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research outfit. Since we all benefit from federally supplied advantages like national defense, the interstate highway system and public education funding, I believe everyone who earns a halfway decent income should pay at least some federal income tax. Freeloading should be against the rules except for those who are truly poor. How did we get to the point where almost half of our citizenry is excused from paying any federal income tax despite being allowed to vote just like the other half? Keep reading for the answers.

The Enablers of Charlie Rangel
She should have promised to “slap the swamp lightly on the wrist.” Excerpt: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the world's worst cleaning lady. How has she fulfilled her vaunted promise to "drain the swamp" and preside over the "most ethical Congress in history"? By shrugging her shoulders, downplaying the gravity of myriad ethics charges against corruptocrat Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel and waiting for the "political chips" to "fall where they may." Imagine a custodial service that fixed toilet clogs by letting the overflowing waste and polluted waters "fall where they may." At a press conference to preempt the bipartisan House ethics panel's announcement of 13 ethics and federal regulation charges against Rangel on Thursday afternoon, Pelosi claimed to take "great pride" in her swamp-draining record. Unblinkingly, she cited the House trial against Rangel as proof that the "process" is working. But that beleaguered panel has been pathetically understaffed, has dragged its feet for two years on the Rangel case and has administered more halfhearted wrist-slaps than all the pushover parents on a season of "Nanny 911."

As Ohio Goes . . .
Excerpt: In Lucas County, these abstract numbers come to life. Obama beat John McCain here 65-34. But the May 2010 primaries demonstrated a shift in Democratic fortunes. Ohio voters who want to vote in party primaries have to declare an affiliation. (Voters also have the option of choosing an “issues only” ballot. Those who do so do not have to pick a party.) On primary day this spring, May 4, Republicans had a 10-to-1 advantage in crossovers. Some 392 voters switched their registration from Republican to Democrat, but 3,743 switched their registration from Democrat to Republican. This, despite the fact that the only competitive primary in Ohio this spring was for the Democratic nomination for Senate. (Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher defeated Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner by 10 points and will face former Republican representative Rob Portman this fall.) Republicans also had a strong advantage in voters who switched from “issues only” ballots in 2008 to a party ballot in 2010. Some 251 “issues only” voters chose Democratic ballots this year and 699 opted to align with Republicans—again, in a county that went for Obama almost 2-1. ... It’s not just Lucas County. In Cuyahoga County, which surrounds Cleveland, 12,756 voters switched from Democrat to Republican and just 1,796 went from Republican to Democrat. In Franklin County (Columbus), Republicans added 7,622 from Democrats and lost just 917. In Hamilton County (Cincinnati), 5,713 switched from Democrat to Republican and just 411 from Republican to Democrat. Kevin DeWine, chairman of the Ohio Republican party, believes that Republicans have picked up 100,000 crossover voters statewide this year, with 1.8 million primary votes cast. Contrast that to 2008, when Democrats picked up 96,000 crossovers with 3.6 million votes cast.

Tim Scott Rises in South Carolina
Excerpt: Tim Scott is the most heralded Republican House candidate this year, and for good reason. He’s likeable, experienced in politics at the local and state level, a self-described “bleeding heart conservative” of the Jack Kemp school, and the champion of an economic program he describes as “under the umbrella of fiscal sanity.” Scott, by the way, is an African-American from South Carolina. Scott, 44, is a strong favorite to win the House seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Henry Brown, who is retiring. He defeated Paul Thurmond, son of Strom, in a runoff last month for the Republican nomination. Now, absent polling evidence, he figures he’s ahead by a dozen to 15 percentage points over his Democratic opponent Ben Frasier, an African American who’s run for office 19 times but never won.

Ethics panel brings 13 counts against embattled Rep. Rangel
Excerpt: The House ethics committee announced 13 charges Thursday against Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who is accused of breaking House rules as well as federal statutes. Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), the chairman of an investigating committee, read the charges against Rangel as the ethics committee began an organization meeting setting up a public trial for Rangel.

House ethics panel, Rep. Rangel spent 2 years going toe-to-toe
Well. Earlier reports of a deal had me convinced the fix was in, but maybe not. This could clear the way for the son of the former corrupt Congressman Powell to take the seat. Excerpt: Documents released Thursday evening show that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and an ethics panel investigating him were constantly at odds over the last two years. The contentious relationship between the 20-term lawmaker and the ethics committee that concluded Rangel had violated House rules sheds new light on why a settlement wasn’t reached before Thursday’s public hearing. It is clear from the documents that there was an adversarial relationship between the former Ways and Means Committee chairman and the ethics panel. The investigative subcommittee, led by Reps. Gene Green (D-Texas) and Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), claimed that Rangel made misleading statements to the press about the investigation and had to subpoena the New York Democrat to secure certain information. Rangel asserted the ethics panel investigating him violated his Constitutional rights, but committee leaders strongly denied that charge. They also said the reason the probe took two years to complete was because Rangel did not meet deadlines. The committee wrote, “[Rangel’s] failure to abide by the deadlines set by the Investigative Subcommittee was troubling.”

Ethics subcommittee recommends reprimand for Rangel
Then again….Excerpt: The ethics panel investigating Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) is recommending that he be reprimanded for the conduct that resulted in 13 charges against the veteran lawmaker. Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), chairman of the ethics investigative subcommittee that announced the charges, told reporters Friday that his panel concluded Rangel should be reprimanded. "The recommendation that we had was that he be reprimanded," Green said. Such a punishment might be seen as a slap on the wrist to some. The subpanel could have recommended that Rangel be censured, or that he be expelled from the House. There was no recommendation for punishment listed in the lengthy report issued by Green's panel on Thursday.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky: Charles Rangel is "my leader"
My Congresswoman. Makes a guy proud.

Obama calls on Congress to help unemployed….person convicted of prescription drug fraud?
Too funny. (After the ad.)

Economic growth slows to 2.4 percent pace in second quarter
Business are afraid to hire or expand, not knowing how Obama, Pelosi and Reid will hit them next. Excerpt: The pace of economic growth slowed this spring, according to new government data, as Americans remained reluctant to consume and imports soared. The gross domestic product rose at a 2.4 percent annual rate in the April-through-June quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday, down from a revised 3.7 percent rate in the first quarter. The downshift in second-quarter growth shows an economic recovery that, one year in, seems to be settling into a middling pace. The 2.4 percent rate, while roughly in line with analysts' expectations, is slightly below the level that the nation is capable of growing in the longer run, meaning it is not fast enough to drive down the jobless rate.

Who Decides on Health-Care Value
Excerpt: What would you think if bureaucrats confiscated your iPhone because they decided it didn't provide enough value? State regulators may help the federal government do just that to the health-care benefits of millions of Americans. The most important element in implementing ObamaCare will be the requirement for health insurers to meet what is called a medical loss ratio. This requires health-insurance plans to split the dollars they receive from insurance premiums into two buckets. Depending on the type of insurance coverage, 80% to 85% of premiums must be spent on either medical services or "activities that improve health care quality." This bucket includes everything from doctor visits, hospital stays and surgery to prescription drugs and medical equipment. It also includes programs to help patients cope with chronic diseases and reminders to take prescribed medications. The remaining 15% to 20% of premiums falls into a smaller bucket of "administrative" expenses like overhead, marketing, profits, compensation and agent commissions. Regulators will soon decide which specific activities fall into which bucket. Forcing a wide range of services and benefits into the smaller administrative bucket puts them in direct competition with other critical aspects of a health insurer's business, as health plans will be compelled to cut back on those activities labeled "administrative" to meet new federal requirements. Plans will be forced to choose between priorities that benefit patients—such as preventing health-care fraud and reducing unnecessary services—and other priorities like creating new technological innovations or upgrading equipment. Many see this debate as an underhanded way for the federal government to cap insurers' profits and control executive compensation. But this is much more than a technical fight between bureaucrats and health plans. The implications for patients are enormous.

Americans Cut Back on Visits to Doctor
Excerpt: Insured Americans are using fewer medical services, raising questions about whether patients are consuming less health care as they pick up a greater share of the costs. The drop in usage is showing up as health-care companies report financial results. Insurers, lab-testing companies, hospitals and doctor-billing concerns say that patient visits, drug prescriptions and procedures were down in the second quarter from year-ago levels. "People just aren't using health-care like they have," said Wayne DeVeydt, WellPoint Inc.'s chief financial officer, in an interview Wednesday. "Utilization is lower than we expected, and it's unusual." Others say that consumers are beginning to forgo elective procedures like knee replacements. "We have a very weak economy and it's just a different environment for the elective parts of health care," said Paul Ginsburg, a health economist who runs the Center for Studying Health System Change and has been analyzing health-company earnings. But "this could go beyond the recession. Being a less aggressive consumer of health care is here to stay."

False Claims on Obamacare Savings
Excerpt: The Obama administration continues to insist the new health care law will reduce the federal budget deficit by $100 billion over ten years and ten times that amount in the second decade of implementation. They cite the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) cost estimate to back their claims. CBO says the health legislation as written would reduce the federal budget deficit by $124 billion over ten years. But that’s not the whole story about Obamacare’s budgetary implications—not by a long shot. For starters, CBO is not the only game in town. In the executive branch, the chief actuary of Medicare is supposed to provide the official health-care cost projections for the administration. His cost estimate for the new health law differs in important ways from the one provided by CBO and calls into question every major contention the administration has advanced about the bill. The president says the legislation will slow the increase in costs; the actuary says it won’t. The president says people will get to keep their job-based plans if they want to; the actuary says 14 million people will lose their employer coverage, many of whom would certainly rather keep it than switch to an untested program. The president says the new law will improve the budget outlook; don’t bet on it, says the chief actuary,. In addition, it’s not the chief actuary’s assignment to provide estimates of non-Medicare-related tax provisions, so his cost projections for Obamacare do not capture all the needed budget data to estimate the full impact on the budget deficit. Using the Joint Tax Committee’s estimates for the tax provisions missing from the chief actuary’s report, we find $50 billion of deficit reduction alleged in the CBO report is wiped out. And that’s before the other gimmicks, double counting, and hidden costs are exposed and removed from the accounting, too.

Europe Slashes Low-Carbon Energy Subsidies as Budgets Shrink
Excerpt: What appears to be a bonfire of low-carbon energy subsidies has been lit in Europe as cash-strapped countries grapple with their empty coffers and start to cut back on what many see as over-generous support for industries from wind to solar that has created a green energy bubble. Spain, Germany, France, Italy and the Czech Republic have all announced subsidy cuts, and there are fears that the United Kingdom, making budget cuts across the board as it desperately seeks to reduce a deficit of over 160 billion pounds, will be tempted to go even further. The United Kingdom's independent Committee on Climate Change called earlier this week for the government to safeguard the £550 million a year it spends supporting clean energy, which it said was a paltry amount that needed, if anything, to be increased when economic circumstances allow. Yet cuts have already been announced. (Breaking News: To offset these cuts, Al Gore announced he is bull dozing his energy hog mansion and moving into a 1,300 SF condo similar to mine, giving up flying around the world in private jets, and will drive a 4 cyl vehicle like I do. “I want to be as Green as Bob,” Gore told stunned reporters.)

Mental health experts ask: Will anyone be normal?
Excerpt: An updated edition of a mental health bible for doctors may include diagnoses for "disorders" such as toddler tantrums and binge eating, experts say, and could mean that soon no-one will be classed as normal. Leading mental health experts gave a briefing on Tuesday to warn that a new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is being revised now for publication in 2013, could devalue the seriousness of mental illness and label almost everyone as having some kind of disorder. Citing examples of new additions like "mild anxiety depression," "psychosis risk syndrome," and "temper dysregulation disorder," they said many people previously seen as perfectly healthy could in future be told they are ill. "It's leaking into normality. It is shrinking the pool of what is normal to a puddle," said Til Wykes of the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. It is seen as the global diagnostic bible for the field of mental health medicine.

Do Democrats need to choose between George W. Bush and the Tea Party?
Can’t they work Satan and bin Laden in too? Excerpt: Democrats have made little secret in recent days that much of their 2010 strategy revolves around casting their Republican opponents as throwbacks to the unpopular administration of George W. Bush.
But when Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine stepped in front of reporters at a press conference Wednesday, his goal was to attach the GOP to a decidedly post-Bush movement: the Tea Party. Can the two strategies co-exist? Can Republicans be tied to the policies of Bush when the party is, in the words of Democrats, being "taken over" by a new movement altogether in the form of the Tea Party? In a blog post this morning, Nate Silver makes the case that while the Tea Party might burden the GOP with candidates who may be too conservative for their states in some races (like the Senate races in Kentucky and Nevada), on the whole it has helped them move forward. "In the macro view, the Tea Party has been a huge asset to the Republicans in the way that it facilitated a 'rebranding' of conservative ideas," Silver wrote. After the press conference Wednesday, Kaine disagreed, saying the Tea Party and Bush can effectively be tied together.

Departing lawmakers clutch cash
Excerpt: Democratic leaders are pushing departing lawmakers to turn over their war chests to help the party retain control of Congress, but in some cases are getting a stiff-arm. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who is retiring at the end of the year, reported earlier this month having an eye-popping $10.8 million on hand. But he has given only $15,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) to keep his seat in Democratic hands, according to his fundraising reports. Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), who lost his primary race in March, still had $2.7 million as of June 30, a report showed. He also has given just $15,000 to the party’s Senate fundraising committee. Another retiring Democrat, Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.), likewise had donated $15,000 to the party committee through the end of June, despite having nearly $1 million left in his campaign account. DSCC Chairman Robert Menendez (N.J.) said he has asked all colleagues who aren’t facing reelection this year to give generously.

SEC charges billionaire Texas brothers who donate to GOP with fraud
Excerpt: Sam and Charles Wyly, billionaire Texas brothers who gained prominence spending millions of dollars on conservative political causes, committed fraud by using secret overseas accounts to generate more than $550 million in profit through illegal stock trades, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Thursday. The Wylys, who have been generous contributors to the Republican Party and GOP candidates, have spent the past several years facing questions, including from a Senate investigative committee, about whether they hid millions of dollars in tax shelters abroad.

Islam & Shari’a Law Video Clip

What to do if your doctor quits and leaves medicine
Excerpt: It would be hard to find a doctor more symbolic of the best of medicine than Marcus Conant – a man willing to devote his life to caring for people who, at the time, no one wanted to care for, a person who is a powerful advocate for not only his patients, but for all those affected by a devastating and stigmatizing disease, and a practitioner willing to devote himself to the tremendous amount of life-long-learning needed to not only transition into a lower paying field (from dermatology to primary care), but to stay up on developments as the stakes rose as treatment became vastly complex and life-changing. But Marcus Conant is also, sadly, not an isolated case. More and more doctors have fled medicine. And more have fled California, in particular. The numbers are dwindling both due to dissatisfaction and justified retirement. Primary care practitioners – family practice docs, primary care docs, and internal medicine docs – are more and more only represented by an older generation of physicians who entered the field before the twin pressure of gutted pay and mega-hassles meant fewer and fewer sane people would choose it as a career. So if you are one of the many whose doctor has given you the sad news that he/she is leaving the practice of medicine, what should you do? 1. Don’t delay – the number of people in the Bay Area who are taking new patients into primary care is shockingly small. When you add to that the restrictions that your insurance (if you’re lucky enough to have it) is likely to impose, plus the wait time for an appointment, you need to start working the phones. 9the follow up comments are also interesting.)

More women becoming virgins again with hymen replacement operations on the NHS
Bet ObamaCare covers this with your tax dollars. Excerpt: Increasing numbers of women are having taxpayer-funded ‘virginity repair’ operations before marriage. There were 116 hymen replacement operations carried out on the NHS between 2005 and 2009. The total for 2009 was 30, up 25 per cent from 24 in 2005. The health service figures, which do not include data on the religion or marital status of the individuals, seem to echo a trend reported by private clinics, which are seeing a huge surge in demand for the procedure from Muslim women paying up to £4,000. One Harley Street clinic said that demand for its half-hour procedure had tripled in recent months. Doctors say patients are under pressure from future husbands or relatives who insist that they should be virgins on their wedding night.

The Pentagon's WikiLeaks Breakthrough
Excerpt: The former California computer hacker who first raised the alarm weeks ago about a massive leak of classified documents to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks said he provided the Pentagon this week with technical information that almost certainly proves that the leaker was 22-year-old Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning. And he said he hopes he helped the Pentagon figure out what secrets WikiLeaks will reveal next. Adrian Lamo, the former hacker, told The Daily Beast in an interview that he began analyzing the huge library of classified information about the war in Afghanistan immediately after its release by WikiLeaks on Sunday. On Monday, he said, he alerted Pentagon criminal investigators to technical markings on the documents that would allow them to identify exactly which Defense Department computer databases had been used to store the information.

British Academics Put Global Warming Into A New Political Perspective
Excerpt: 'The Profits of Doom', in the 22 July 2010 issue of the influential British news weekly, the Times Higher Education, moves the debate on man-made climate change on from increasingly sterile scientific disputes this week, and places it firmly in the political arena. The special six-page feature article argues that Climate change is serious business in more ways than one. Somehow capitalist "Bootleggers" have co-opted the environmental "Baptists" to fulfil their raison d'être - making money. Thanks to the "greenwash", the solutions could be worse than the problems. In the article, the British writer and philosopher, Martin Cohen, contrasts the high moral claims of those who warn of the threats to the planet and 'future generations' with the practical reality that the policies advantage certain Western agendas, notably the dismantling of their heavily subsidised (and hence very expensive) coal industries and the promotion of nuclear power. Unprecedented amounts of money have been made available to researchers to come up with 'evidence' to back a pre-existing and highly partisan political agenda.

The Obama Gang Can't Shoot Straight
Excerpt: Let’s NOT have a conversation about race. The calls for Obama to now make the Shirley Sherrod debacle a teachable moment fills me with panic that the president will retreat to the Oval Office and craft a soaring piece of oratory, instead of getting on with the humdrum business of firing the stumbling, bumbling members of his own team who, as the saying goes, can’t find their ass with either hand. ... But Obama can’t keep doing catch-up outrage two media cycles after the fact. On the campaign trail, he was the chief executive of a laser-guided, on-message apparatus, the candidate who seemed to lead from a head that was always the most level of the people round him. Instead, the president sounded as out of it as his old adversary John McCain when Obama said on Good Morning America that “we now live in this media culture where something goes up on YouTube or a blog and everybody scrambles.” Yeah, right. There is something loose and jittery about the atmosphere round Obama at the moment of which Vilsack's clumsy over-reaction gives us a whiff. (Tina Brown of leftwing Daily Beast seems out of patience with The One. She doesn't usually rave unless it's about evil conservatives. The dam is cracking and no little Dutch boy is in sight. Ron P.)

North Korean football team shamed in six-hour public inquiry over World Cup
Excerpt: The entire squad was forced onto a stage at the People's Palace of Culture and subjected to criticism from Pak Myong-chol, the sports minister, as 400 government officials, students and journalists watched. The players were subjected to a "grand debate" on July 2 because they failed in their "ideological struggle" to succeed in South Africa, Radio Free Asia and South Korean media reported. The team's coach, Kim Jong-hun, was reportedly forced to become a builder and has been expelled from the Workers' Party of Korea. The coach was punished for "betraying" Kim Jong-un - one of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il's sons and heir apparent. The country, in its first World Cup since 1966, lost all three group games – including a 7-0 defeat to Portugal. The broadcast of live games had been banned to avoid national embarrassment, but after the spirited 2-1 defeat to Brazil, state television made the Portugal game its first live sports broadcast ever. Following ideological criticism, the players were then allegedly forced to blame the coach for their defeats. (If the ruling North Korea thing doesn't work out, maybe the Cubs would hire him? And, at that, he isn't in the same category of evil as Saddam's sons--they would have simply had the team executed. Ain't sports in dictatorships fun? Ron P.)

Looming threat from illegals: terror
Or, as the administration likes to call them, Undocumented Population Control Experts. Excerpt: Arizonans will be grateful for some extra help from the National Guard, starting Sunday, in protecting the border and fighting drug violence -- especially now that a federal judge has blocked key parts of their recent illegal-immigration law. But there's a more pressing border issue that goes beyond Arizona: the alliance between drug cartels and groups that aim to smuggle terrorists into our country through the Mexican border. Last week's detonation along the Texas-Mexico border of an Improvised Explosive Device similar to those used in Iraq and Afghanistan strongly suggests that Hezbollah is working with the drug cartels -- and that America is unsafe. Law-enforcement officials and intelligence analysts believe that terrorist groups like al Qaeda have been working with such gangs as the ruthless MS-13 to smuggle terrorists into America. Intel briefings and other sources suggest that al Qaeda spends as much as $50,000 to smuggle in a single terrorist, while Hezbollah, funded by Iran, pays as much as $10,000.

Thank you Viet Nam veterans and all veterans
Video of the speech by the Vietnamese immigrant I posted before.

Marine Life Survived 8X Current CO2 Levels
Excerpt: Throughout Earth’s history, there is evidence of large carbon dioxide releases, greenhouse conditions, ocean acidification, and major changes in marine life. About 120 million years ago (mya), during the early part of the Cretaceous period, a series of massive volcanic eruptions pumped huge amounts of carbon dioxide into Earth's atmosphere. During the Aptian Oceanic Anoxic Event, atmospheric CO2 content rose to about twice today's level. Eventually, the oceans absorbed much of that CO2, which significantly increased the water's acidity. The change reduced the amount of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the water, making it difficult for creatures such as some kinds of plankton to form shells. But the plankton did not die out. In fact, the geological record indicates that ocean biota can adapt to CO2 concentrations as high as 2000 to 3000 ppm—five to eight times current levels. Proxy evidence indicates that atmospheric CO2 concentrations were higher during long warm intervals in the geologic past, and that these conditions did not prevent the precipitation and accumulation CaCO3 as limestone. The accumulation of alkalinity from rock weathering, brought to the ocean by rivers, kept surface waters supersaturated. (One of the few things virtually every climate expert agrees on: each doubling of CO2 should result in a ONE DEGREE rise in global temperatures. Currently, CO2 has increased--if the warmists are correctly using and interpreting their proxies (tree rings, ice cores, etc.)--less than 50% in the past 250 years of industrialization. Translation = even if the warmists are correct right down the line, there is NO hurry to verifying the problem and finding the best solution. Ron P.)

Boehner's own Karl Rove
Excerpt: To illustrate just how pervasive Barry Jackson’s influence is in Republican politics, look no further than the wild Florida Senate race. Early in 2009, when Marco Rubio was waffling over a challenge to Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, he called Jackson — who is now House Minority Leader John Boehner’s chief of staff — for advice. Jackson encouraged Rubio, saying he could beat Crist in the primary. Rubio went for it, rattling the political landscape in the Sunshine State. Yet Jackson’s name never appeared in any media narrative about the race. Such has been the common thread through Jackson’s career as Boehner’s chief of staff and a top adviser to President George W. Bush — no fingerprints, no credit — but enormous behind-the-scenes influence.

The Zombie Option
Excerpt: A 2,000-page government takeover of the health system was just enacted, but now congressional Democrats want even more government. The "public option" is rising from the grave. When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delighted the liberal Netroots Nation convention in Las Vegas on Saturday by telling them, "We're going to have a public option. It's a question of when," most people assumed he was talking long-term. But 128 House Democrats have co-sponsored a bill to establish a "robust" government-operated health insurance program. Their selling point is, surrealistically, deficit reduction. One of the bill's boosters, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., ranked by as the farthest left member in Congress, claimed a government option would save money the way Medicare does. Is that the same Medicare that in 1966 was only supposed to cost $3 billion, and that the House Ways and Means Committee once assured the country would only cost $12 billion by 1990? Is it the same program that really ended up costing $600 billion by 2008 — 20% of federal spending? The same entitlement that started spending more than it took in from taxes that same year, according to its trustees? And that will go bust less than a decade from now?

Reports Bolster Suspicion of Iranian Ties to Extremists So much for the “experts” saying the Sunnis and Shi’a would never work together. They will to kill infidels! Excerpt: Cooperation among Iran, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremist groups is more extensive than previously known to the public, according to details buried in the tens of thousands of military intelligence documents released by an independent group Sunday. U.S. officials and Middle East analysts said some of the most explosive information contained in the WikiLeaks documents detail Iran's alleged ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda, and the facilitating role Tehran may have played in providing arms from sources as varied as North Korea and Algeria. The officials have for years received reports of Iran smuggling arms to the Taliban. The WikiLeaks documents, however, appear to give new evidence of direct contacts between Iranian officials and the Taliban's and al Qaeda's senior leadership. It also outlines Iran's alleged role in brokering arms deals between North Korea and Pakistan-based militants, particularly militant leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and al Qaeda. WikiLeaks released a cache of intelligence documents Sunday that detail raw intelligence reports over a five-year period. The information is fragmentary, and its not known how many reports were corroborated by other sources. "Some parts are more believable than others, but this sort of raw stuff could be gold or a dud," said a senior U.S. official working on both Pakistan and Iran. The apparent links are striking because Iran has historically been a foe of the Taliban, who generally view the followers of Shiite Islam—Iran's predominant faith—as heretics.

Muslim cleric: "Hitler was right what he did to the Jews"
Excerpt: Mind you, Hussam Fawzi Jabar is an Islamic cleric. He has devoted his life to studying the Qur'an and Sunnah. And he doesn't seem to have come across anything in that extensive study to make him reconsider his vile and genocidal anti-Semitism. Yet the myth persists that Islamic anti-Semitism is an import from Christianity or Nazism or both, and that Islam in its pure form is tolerant and friendly to Jews.

How the CIA Got It Wrong on Iran’s Nukes
Excerpt: In a stunning departure from a decade of assessments, the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran declared: “We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program,” including “nuclear weapon design and weaponization work” and covert uranium enrichment. Even more astonishingly, it attributed this change to “increasing international scrutiny and pressure resulting from exposure of Iran’s previously undeclared nuclear work.” In other words, the threat of sanctions had ended that country’s surreptitious effort to obtain nuclear weapons. This assessment suggested that further action against Iran was unnecessary. Unfortunately, as the Obama administration has now acknowledged, the NIE’s conclusion was dead wrong, costing us precious time in dealing with a serious threat. The question remains, what caused such a disastrous mistake? In 2007, there was still much the same mountain of evidence that led U.S. intelligence to conclude in the 2006 NIE with equally “high confidence” that Iran was secretly engaged in a nuclear weapons program. This evidence included verified reports that Iran had experimented with Polonium 210, a key ingredient in the trigger of early-generation nuclear bombs. And documents recovered from a stolen Iranian laptop described its efforts to fit a warhead in the nose cone of its Shahab 3 missile that would detonate at an altitude of 600 meters, which is too high for anything but a nuclear warhead to be effective. The CIA had learned that Iran had most likely acquired a digital copy of a Chinese nuclear warhead design from the A.Q. Khan network. It also had monitored Iran’s crash program at Natanz to build a nuclear enrichment plant that could house up to 50,000 centrifuges. Taken individually, these secret activities might have a nonnuclear explanation. For example, Iran claimed the purpose of its Polonium 210 experiments was merely to find a power source for an Iranian spacecraft (though Iran had no known space program at the time). Taken together, however, these efforts added up an inescapable conclusion: Iran was going nuclear.

G.M.’s Electric Lemon
Government Motors strikes again. Excerpt: GENERAL MOTORS introduced America to the Chevrolet Volt at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show as a low-slung concept car that would someday be the future of motorized transportation. It would go 40 miles on battery power alone, promised G.M., after which it would create its own electricity with a gas engine. Three and a half years — and one government-assisted bankruptcy later — G.M. is bringing a Volt to market that makes good on those two promises. The problem is, well, everything else. For starters, G.M.’s vision turned into a car that costs $41,000 before relevant tax breaks ... but after billions of dollars of government loans and grants for the Volt’s development and production. And instead of the sleek coupe of 2007, it looks suspiciously similar to a Toyota Prius. It also requires premium gasoline, seats only four people (the battery runs down the center of the car, preventing a rear bench) and has less head and leg room than the $17,000 Chevrolet Cruze, which is more or less the non-electric version of the Volt. In short, the Volt appears to be exactly the kind of green-at-all-costs car that some opponents of the bailout feared the government might order G.M. to build. Unfortunately for this theory, G.M. was already committed to the Volt when it entered bankruptcy. And though President Obama’s task force reported in 2009 that the Volt “will likely be too expensive to be commercially successful in the short term,” it didn’t cancel the project. Nor did the government or G.M. decide to sell the Volt at a loss, which, paradoxically, might have been the best hope for making it profitable. Consider the Prius. Back in 1997, Toyota began selling the high-tech, first-of-its-kind car in Japan for about $17,000, even though each model cost $32,000 to build. By taking a loss on the first several years of Prius production, Toyota was able to hold its price steady, and then sell the gas-sippers in huge numbers when oil prices soared. Today a Prius costs roughly the same in inflation-adjusted dollars as those 1997 models did, and it has become the best-selling Toyota in the United States after the evergreen Camry and Corolla.

"Born in other countries, yet believing you could be happy in this, our laws acknowledge, as they should do, your right to join us in society, conforming, as I doubt not you will do, to our established rules. That these rules shall be as equal as prudential considerations will admit, will certainly be the aim of our legislatures, general and particular." --Thomas Jefferson. The Patriot Post

Details of 100m Facebook users collected and published
Excerpt: Ron Bowes used a piece of code to scan Facebook profiles, collecting data not hidden by the user's privacy settings. The list, which has been shared as a downloadable file, contains the URL of every searchable Facebook user's profile, their name and unique ID. Mr Bowes said he published the data to highlight privacy issues, but Facebook said it was already public information. The file has spread rapidly across the net. On the Pirate Bay, the world's biggest file-sharing website, the list was being distributed and downloaded by more than 1,000 users. One user, going by the name of lusifer69, described the list as "awesome and a little terrifying". In a statement to BBC News, Facebook said that the information in the list was already freely available online. (Got a Facebook account? How about your spouse and children? By the way, that's 100,000,000 accounts. Ron P.)

Obama Worried About Losing Cracker, Honkie Vote
Excellent satire: Excerpt: The Obama administration is reeling after several race-based debacles. Now the poll numbers are suggesting the mishaps are hurting the President. Officials are worried that the administration looks racist. This misrepresentation could mean the they'll lose both the Cracker vote and elements of the Honkie voting block. Obama pollster Reginald Ferrengotti paints a stark picture of what's at stake for the nation's first post-whitey presidency. "We are a full eight percentage points down among drunk, cracker-assed crackers and five percent down among those rich, pussified urban honkies," Ferrengotti said. "I'd tell you what the rednecks are trending, but none of them poor bastards pay their phone bills. What I gotta go out there and count 'em on their porches? No way." Ferrengotti said the administration hopes to pull some of the Honkey vote back by labeling them racists if they call the Obama administration racist. "It's a reverse-reverse discrimination tactic," said Ferrengotti. But they've largely written off the cracker, beauhunk, hymie, hick, wop, and kraut support. "It's hard to believe in this day and age that a cracker would get so sensitive about race," said Ferrengotti.

Obama Orders End to ID Checks at White House
Satire. I recommend this site for political humor. Excerpt: Admitting there’s no way to ask a visitor for identification without treating him like a criminal, President Obama today lifted the requirement that Secret Service, military and police personnel assigned to the White House be required to establish a visitor’s threat status before granting admittance. The move comes just a day after a federal judge, at the president’s request, overturned parts of Arizona’s effort to enforce federal immigration law, including requirements on law enforcers to establish immigration status of alleged perpetrators, and on immigrants to carry documents to verify that status. Mr. Obama said that the process, which critics defend as a way to prevent dangerous people from getting close the president and his staff, is merely another form of discrimination. “I inherited from my predecessor this terrible system” said President Obama. “Just to get into this place you have to provide a valid social security number, drivers license, submit to a background check, have your car searched, empty your pockets, get wanded…it’s dehumanizing.” “In other words,” the president said, “before today, if you wanted to get into the White House, you automatically fit the profile, and federal agents would harass you like a criminal. Today I throw open the doors of the White House to people of all nations, and all creeds. Let freedom ring.”

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