Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Political Digest August 11, 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.

Former Sen. Stevens killed in downed plane
I wasn’t a Steven’s fan, but I thought his being convicted, then having it overturned after he lost the election sucked. Now this. Excerpt: The former Alaska lawmaker was one of five people killed after a plane carrying nine people crashed in southwestern Alaska, a family spokesperson told the Associated Press. Also aboard the flight was former NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe, whose condition is unknown. Stevens, 86, was the longest-serving Republican in Senate history. He narrowly lost reelection in 2008 after being convicted on corruption charges for failing to disclose campaign gifts. The charges were later dismissed.…. Stevens, who served in the Senate for 40 years, funneled billions to his home state and was one of the most powerful congressman of his generation. He retired in 2009 after being convicted of corruption -- charges which were later dismissed by a federal judge due to allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.

Obama overtures to business fall flat
The Chase CEO supported Obama and is surprised? I suppose there were Jews who voted for Hitler in 1934 as well. Excerpt: Labeled antibusiness by Republicans and some corporate chiefs, President Barack Obama mounted a campaign to show he wasn't. But his charm offensive has hit a rocky patch. Business leaders gripe about burdensome new financial and health care regulations, what they see as unfriendly tax policies and vast government spending. They were put off by Obama's harsh depiction of "fat cat bankers" and "reckless practices," a label he applied both to Wall Street and to oil-spill giant BP.

U.S. Debt Load Among World's Worst
Excerpt: This year, the U.S. public debt is projected to reach 62 percent of the economy—up from 40 percent in 2008 and nearly double the historical average, according to recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates. The financial crisis and recession drove much of this debt swing, yet larger problems loom in the future. By 2030, the CBO projects that debt will more than double to 146 percent of GDP.[1] The only good news, if it can be called that, is that the U.S. is not alone. Two recent studies by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) highlight the significance of the global debt challenge and stress the need for governments to aim higher than short-term deficit reductions. For the U.S., one of the most poorly positioned countries, addressing the long-term debt challenge must include prompt reform of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Since 2007, nations across the globe have been following a recipe for rising debt. Government financing surged to ameliorate the global financial crisis, amounting to 13.2 percent of industrialized countries' GDP.[2] Meanwhile, a worldwide recession caused revenues to drop, growth to slow, and politicians to pursue false hopes that lavish stimulus spending would somehow stop the bleeding. These anti-recessionary efforts drove advanced economies' deficits collectively up to 20–30 percent of GDP in three years. The numbers are alarming enough, but as the BIS points out, the most damning aspect is that these deficits are now baked into the cake—otherwise known as structural deficits—and will persist even when economies recover. A short-term focus on deficit reduction, such as G20 nations' pledges to halve deficits by 2013, will do little to pull nations back from the brink. The U.S. domestic situation is so severe that a fiscal adjustment of 12 percent of GDP would be required to stabilize debt at 60 percent of GDP, which is even higher than Greece's 9.2 percent adjustment.

GOP leader admits Republicans have "credibility problem" on deficits
Yes, you can’t use tax dollars to buy votes, then expect to be trusted when you hit Democrats on “earmarks.” Excerpt: But the most interesting aspect of the exchange was that Pence, the chairman of the House Republican Conference, openly admitted that the GOP has a "credibility problem" on tax cuts and the deficit.

Big donors rewarded with stimulus oversight positions
Excerpt: Two large donors to Obama’s presidential election and/or Democratic campaign committees have been appointed by the President to the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel (RIAP). A former Clinton Administration official occupies a third slot. This 4 member panel, debuting on August 5, 2010, will occupy a position of influence over Earl Devaney, Chairman of the Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board (RAT). The Presidential appointments of Steven Koch, Edward Tufte, and Myrta "Chris" Sale have raised the concern of Congressman Darrell Issa, ranking minority member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform…..Steven Koch, a Chicago banker, is an accomplished fundraising "bundler", bundling over $200,000 for the President’s 2008 campaign, and donating over $43,000 to the Democratic National Committee since 2008.

Veterans for Obama? Some now have doubts
Must have been vets hoping for more federal goodies, and to hell with the country. Excerpt: Leading military vets who joined the 2008 campaign now complain about White House "deafness" and inaction. Relations between the Obama administration and some elements of the military veterans community, a constituency the Obama campaign carefully cultivated for the 2008 election, have grown distant and, in some cases, icy. Some veterans advocates describe a tangible sense of disenchantment, even among some of Obama's staunchest veteran supporters who actively campaigned on his behalf as part of "Veterans for Obama."

Charlie Rangel's birthday bash
Excerpt: Embattled Rep. Charles Rangel's (D-N.Y.) big birthday gala is slated for Wednesday night in the Big Apple, and the guest list reads like a who's who of New York's political elite (though it's far from clear how many of them will actually show). Entertainment will be provided by none other than Dionne Warwick, who is filling in after Franklin injured herself in a fall. (The whole swamp will be there.)

Obama's latest joke: Republicans and cars
Excerpt: If President Obama loses his reelection bid in 2012, maybe he can find some work as a stand-up comedian. At a fundraiser here, he trotted out his latest joke, chuckling as he told it. The punch line came after his usual story about refusing to give Republicans back the keys to the economy because they drove it into a ditch. Speaking of cars, he said: "You want to go forward, what do you do? You put it in 'D.' When you go backward, what do you do? You put it in 'R.'" Then, with another chuckle, he added: "I'm just sayin' that's not a coincidence." (Yup, it’s true. Put the car in “R” and go back to the economy, jobs and stock market we had in 2006, when the Republicans last controlled Congress. Or put it in “D” and go forward to higher taxes and deficits, bigger government and the declining economy and spiking unemployment we’ve had since the Democrats took over Congress in 2007. Putting it in “drive” isn’t smart when you are pointed at a cliff.)

Texas gov. asks Obama for more troops for Texas-Mexico border
Excerpt: Republican Gov. Rick Perry hand-delivered a letter as President Obama emerged from Air Force One here, repeating his demand that the government send 1,000 troops to the Texas-Mexico border. The letter, released to the news media by the governor's office, also repeated Perry's request to meet with Obama and his secretaries of homeland security and defense to discuss what he described as the increasing danger along the border. "Drug cartels and related forces are waging war in Northern Mexico, their tactics including death threats, torture, car bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and beheadings," Perry wrote to Obama. "Absent federal action, it's only a matter of time before that violence affects more innocent Americans." The Obama administration earlier announced that 1,200 additional troops would go to the U.S. border with Mexico. But in his letter, Perry said Texas's share of those troops -- 286 -- is "clearly insufficient." Border security has become a hot-button political issue in southern states as politicians grapple with the violence in Mexico and the broader question of how to deal with illegal immigration.

Greg Gutfeld: I’m raising money to build a Muslim gay bar next to the Ground Zero mosque
Excerpt: Andy Levy assures me that he’s quite serious. Media narrative on the GZ mosque: Shining beacon of liberal values bursting through the overcast skies of American intolerance. Media narrative on the GG gay bar: Dangerous provocation that needlessly inflames cultural tensions in the ostensible service of liberal values. How very insensitive….I’m announcing tonight, that I am planning to build and open the first gay bar that caters not only to the west, but also Islamic gay men. To best express my sincere desire for dialogue, the bar will be situated next to the mosque Park51, in an available commercial space. This is not a joke. I’ve already spoken to a number of investors, who have pledged their support in this bipartisan bid for understanding and tolerance. As you know, the Muslim faith doesn’t look kindly upon homosexuality, which is why I’m building this bar. It is an effort to break down barriers and reduce deadly homophobia in the Islamic world. The goal, however, is not simply to open a typical gay bar, but one friendly to men of Islamic faith. An entire floor, for example, will feature non-alcoholic drinks, since booze is forbidden by the faith. The bar will be open all day and night, to accommodate men who would rather keep their sexuality under wraps – but still want to dance. (I’d contribute, but I’m all in on a Lesbian Wedding Chapel in Mecca. Personally, I have zero problem with gays as long as they leave me be, but I go nuts at how the left gives Islam a pass on treating women as chattel and Gays as infidels to be murdered. Apparently, they have zero problem with Iran hanging gay men.)

Undocumented Imam's Refusal to Perform Interracial Gay Handicapped Wedding Leads to Charges of Racism
Funny satire targeting Islam’s anti-gay, anti-feminist and anti-dog stance. Excerpt: Charges of racism, sexism, and religious discrimination filled the air this afternoon outside the just-completed Cordoba House, the gleaming new $100 million 15 story mosque and Islamic cultural center near the ruins of New York's World Trade Center, following a tense 5-hour standoff prompted by the mosque's refusal to host a wedding between a lesbian African-American woman and her blind white transgendered partner. Over 200 NYPD officers and multicultural crisis counselors were bused to the site to quell the simmering 17-way tensions between Muslim, Black, LGBT, immigrant, disabled, and lawsuit community activists. The scene was punctuated by outbursts of pushing and shoving, including a brief confused intramural scuffle among members of Reverend Louis Farrakan's Nation of Islam, but the only serious injuries reported was a hernia suffered by a legal aide distributing plaintiff's briefs. The incident resulted in one arrest, a 7-year old girl who was seen operating a lemonade stand without a permit. According to witnesses, the standoff began at 11 AM EDT when Eleanor Davis, 38, and her partner Mary Markowicz, 43, entered Cordoba House and requested the use of the mosque for a wedding ceremony. They were escorted from the building, but quickly returned with a 9th District Court of Appeals injunction ordering the mosque's Imam to perform the ceremony, citing the US Supreme Court's Kelo and Proposition 8 decisions. They were barred at the door by security guards who countered with their own injunction citing First Amendment religious protections. Following the incident, Davis, who is African-American, called a press conference on the sidewalk in front of the Cordoba House to complain of racial and gender discrimination. She was eventually shoved from the podium by Abdul Mohammed-Haq, the Mosque's controversial Yemeni Imam who is currently battling a federal deportation case against the ICE, who countered with complaints of profiling discrimination by Davis and Markowicz. Within minutes the streets in front of the center were filled with chanting protesters from the Gay, Muslim, Black and handicapped communities. A disaster was narrowly averted when the Reverend Al Sharpton's limousine rammed a parked EMS ambulance before it could careen through the crowd. Amid the growing crisis, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered a SWAT team of negotiators from the city's Multicultural Affairs Office parachuted to the scene. A brief truce was reached when negotiators pointed out to the Imam Markowicz's status as a pre-op transexual, obviating his religious objections to performing a same-sex marriage. But tensions erupted again after Markowicz - who is legally blind - tried to enter the mosque with a seeing-eye guide dog.

Iran Unveils New Submarines and Makes More Persian Gulf Warnings
Excerpt: Iran announced the addition of four new submarines to its fleet Sunday, saying the Iranian-manufactured vessels to be deployed in the Persian Gulf have sonar-evading technology and can launch torpedoes and missiles simultaneously. The announcement comes amid continuing warnings by senior Iranian officials about retaliatory actions in the Gulf in response to any military strike by the U.S. or Israel aimed at Iran’s nuclear facilities. In the latest warning, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Brig. Gen. Yadollah Javani, said Saturday Iran’s enemies have never dared to attack because of the vulnerability of the waterway. “If anything happens in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz is closed, the possibility of using this route will be lost for decades, and this will be a great tragedy for the global economy,” he told the IRNA news agency. (...) The four new submarines take to 11 the number of Ghadir-class submarines in Iran’s navy, according to Iranian reports. First introduced in 2007, the small, 120-ton vessels are named for a location in the Arabian Peninsula important to Shi’as. Iran says the light subs are indigenous, although a Congressional Research Service report last year said Iran had possibly bought subs assembled or in kit form from North Korea. According to, Iran’s Ghadir is “extremely similar” to North Korea’s Yugo-class sub. North Korea and Iran are also known to have collaborated closely in other military areas, including missile development.

Obama's 'Cool'
Excerpt: Barack Obama's affinity for pop culture is emblematic of his administration's greater disconnect on programs, policy, and ideology from the mainstream of American society. Much of this has to do with the dichotomy between the terms "class" and "cool." Though difficult to precisely define, personal class is one of those things of which it may be said (to paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart) that "you know it when you see it." Its attributes include maturity, rational self-possession, a sense of the appropriate, generosity of spirit, and the humility that begets both charm and wit. Though frequently associated with childhood training and education, class knows no boundaries when it comes to gender, economic status, or even political persuasion. William F. Buckley, Jr. and Daniel Patrick Moynihan held opposing views, but both were possessed of great personal grace and were sincerely liked by even their opponents. The American people have always valued class in their presidents and other leaders, and for good reason. Its highly personal characteristics are the prime means by which presidents are first observed and measured by foreign leaders, friend and foe alike. This does not mean that individuals possessing "class" are immune from mistakes, miscalculations, or even personal misconduct. The way in which they handle adversity is perhaps what defines them most. Despite multiple personal and political failings that we have become aware of in recent years, John and Jacqueline Kennedy possessed such respect for their country and themselves that they worked diligently at projecting the proper image to their fellow citizens and the rest of the world. The pride in American history reflected in his speeches and her restoration of the White House, their support of the fine arts, and their ongoing interaction with younger Americans presented an image that, though some might call it hypocritical, at least preserved us from the tabloid presidency that is the Clinton legacy, and increasingly Obama's. It is impossible to conceive of John Kennedy presenting the British Prime Minister with a set of DVDs (even ones that worked) or the Queen of England with an iPod of his speeches. Contrast the Kennedy administration's approach to physical fitness for the nation's youth which stressed personal responsibility (the fifty-mile hike) with today's big-government solution (micromanaging the school cafeteria and excluding certain soft drinks). From the inception of his campaign, Barack Obama was described by his younger supporters as "cool," and, as with an American Idol contestant, that was what caused many of them to vote for him. It likewise explains why he persists in trying to maintain the rock star/pop star image long past its useful life.

'Nouveau Riche'
Excerpt: Michelle Obama's trip to Spain has finally boosted her family into the winner's circle as the "Most Vulgar" family to ever live in the White House. When the Obamas moved in last year they began by gorging themselves on imported Japanese beef (known as "Kobe" or "Waygu" beef) at $75 dollars a pound. The Obamas are what as known as nouveau riche; they are people who are new to money and have no sense of propriety or manners. I suppose you could say nouveau riche is a polite substitute for "trailer trash." Did Mrs. Obama take a "private" vacation to Spain last week, as Robert Gibbs claims? On a public airplane, with 80 "security" people and a million dollar price tag all paid for by American taxpayers? Are you kidding? Michelle Obama, who showed her real contempt for the American people during the presidential campaign, has now proven she has utter contempt for the people that elected her husband. Many critical comments about Mrs. Obama's trip to Spain have noted that we have 9.5% unemployment, and Mrs. Obama should not be spending government cash at a time of economic distress. I agree. Using a bogus "lunch" with the Spanish King as an "official" fig leaf to write off a million dollar government junket is similar to what the recently fired Hewlett-Packard chief executive did. He got fired for cooking the books and riding his expense account. In time the Obamas will be removed for the same arrogance and abuses. Every day the U. S. Government is "losing" four (4) billion dollars. That is, every day we have to borrow four billion more dollars to meet the expenses of the federal government. All of this borrowing adds to our long-term debt. These borrowings are being shared by every American.

What's Holding Back The Hiring? Start With Obama's 10 Job Killers
Excerpt: President Obama claims that he's concerned about "jobs, jobs, jobs," but he has signed laws, issued executive orders and approved regulations that create incentives for private-sector employers to lay off people or delay hiring people. It's no wonder high unemployment persists. Obama's top 10 job killers include:

More wealthy migrate south to avoid tax hikes
Excerpt: For years, wealthy retirees from high-tax states in the Northeast and Midwest have been streaming to sunny, low-tax Florida. That stream is now turning into a flood. “We haven't had a situation like this in quite a few years,” said Greg Rosica, a tax partner at Ernst & Young LLP. “We have this impending tax increase, and people are trying to look for ways to hide from that, but they're not seeing many from the federal perspective. One of the ways they're looking to do it is changing their state income tax rate,” Mr. Rosica said. “This move to no-tax states is absolutely big business,” said Thomas Handler, a partner at the law firm Handler Thayer LLP. “People are doing it all day long, and it's ramping up.” In addition to Florida, the states that don't tax income are Alaska, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. New Hampshire and Tennessee tax only dividend and interest income.

Under Obamanomics, Government Workers Win, You Lose
Excerpt: Today the House of Representatives is expected to approve yet another bailout for those states that have proved incapable of controlling their spending on government worker pay, benefits and pensions. The $26.1 billion price tag will be funded in part by $11 billion in tax hikes on U.S. companies that compete internationally. From his trillion dollar economic stimulus to his $3 trillion tax hike it has become clear that President Barack Obama views the private sector the same way the Huns viewed a city – as something to be sacked and plundered for the benefit of public sector workers. The effect of President Obama’s policies is becoming clear. The Wall Street Journal reports that personal incomes fell across the U.S. last year except in areas with a high concentration of federal government jobs. Washington D.C. was one of just three metro areas that saw both net earnings and personal income rise. And those gains were due entirely to the growth of the federal government; private sector compensation in the Washington metropolitan area actually fell. Nationally, private wages fell six percent in 2009 while government pay rose 2.6 percent. And USA Today reports that federal employees’ average compensation has grown to more than double what private sector workers earn.

An August Surprise from Obama?
Excerpt: Main Street may be about to get its own gigantic bailout. Rumors are running wild from Washington to Wall Street that the Obama administration is about to order government-controlled lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to forgive a portion of the mortgage debt of millions of Americans who owe more than what their homes are worth. An estimated 15 million U.S. mortgages – one in five – are underwater with negative equity of some $800 billion. Recall that on Christmas Eve 2009, the Treasury Department waived a $400 billion limit on financial assistance to Fannie and Freddie, pledging unlimited help. The actual vehicle for the bailout could be the Bush-era Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, a sister program to Obama’s loan modification effort. HARP was just extended through June 30, 2011. The move, if it happens, would be a stunning political and economic bombshell less than 100 days before a midterm election in which Democrats are currently expected to suffer massive, if not historic losses. The key date to watch is August 17 when the Treasury Department holds a much-hyped meeting on the future of Fannie and Freddie. A few key points: 1) Republican leaders believe this is going to happen since GOPers and Democratic moderates in the Senate are unwilling to spend more taxpayer money on more stimulus. But such a housing plan would allow the White House to sidestep congressional objections and show voters it is doing something tangible about an economy that seems to be weakening. (Dear God. I can’t believe this can be true. Economic madness. Who determines if a mortgage is “under water” or what the current value is, absent a sale. So I have a paid off condo where we’ve installed my ne’er do well, Obama-voting step-daughter and granddaughter, and another small condo we bought in the Chicago area, which we have been scraping to pay ahead on, so we wouldn’t be under water, and I’ll have to pay higher taxes to fund this too? Buying more votes with IOUs. ~Bob)

Obama Mixes Policy and 'Rank Politics' in Texas?
Excerpt: Signage accompanying President Obama's policy speech at the University of Texas in Austin has raised some eyebrows, primarily because of the inclusion of the Obama campaign logo. While nobody is accusing Obama of crossing legal lines, the Republican Party of Texas is questioning the decision to include campaign logos at an official presidential policy speech. "It's one thing for the President to carry his campaign logo forward into the transition to the presidency," says Texas GOP spokesman Bryan Preston, "but quite another for him to carry it to official functions and policy events 18 months after he has been in office. The appearance of this logo on signage for an official presidential event - not a fundraiser, but a presidential policy speech - shows just how confused this entire administration is about what's appropriate and what is not. What next, are they planning to paint the Obama campaign logo on Air Force One?" Preston added: "Mr. President, it's time to stop campaigning, listen to the people, and lead. (When I think of "right-leaning news sites," Politics Daily isn't even on the list. Doesn't this mean the campaign has to pay for at least some portion of the trip? Ron P.)

Confronting China's Snarl
Excerpt: For years, foreign policy optimists have predicted that China's rise to superpower status would be peaceful and responsible. But recent Chinese offensives, both domestic and foreign, make this vision look increasingly naive. The Obama administration must decide whether to respond vigorously to Beijing's hostility or allow its aggressiveness to go unchecked. China, for example, continues to modernize and expand its nuclear-capable delivery systems, even as President Obama urges Senate ratification of a treaty with Russia that would further reduce U.S. nuclear weapons and long-range conventional delivery systems. Beijing operates under no restraints whatsoever in enhancing its nuclear and ballistic missile options, while also developing new "carrier killer" cruise missiles. On nuclear nonproliferation, China is evermore uncooperative. As Washington pushes for further economic sanctions against Iran, Beijing is distancing itself from the effort. In part, the apparent distance stems from the Obama administration's unrealistic spin about how cooperative China and Russia were on the Security Council's recent ineffective sanctions resolution. But the truth is that China was never serious about tough sanctions. If anything, it is now likely to double down on its relationship with Iran, particularly with regard to oil and natural gas, in order to help Iran meet its domestic need for refined petroleum products.

Are Americans Bigots?
Excerpt: Attacking the motives of those who disagree with elite opinion has become all too common. When in 1983 Ronald Reagan characterized the Soviet Union as an "evil empire," the reaction from his betters was swift. Writing in the New York Times, Anthony Lewis called it "primitive"—and wondered (naturally) what the Europeans would think. A headline in Time referred derisively to "The Right Rev. Ronald Reagan." All agreed on one thing: this kind of black-and-white moralizing had no place in American politics. Now cut to today, where moralizing about the ugly motives of the American people has become common. Whether it's a federal judge declaring there exists no rational opposition to same-sex marriage, a mayor railing against those who would like a mosque moved a few blocks from Ground Zero, a Speaker of the House effectively likening the majority of her countrymen who did not want her health-care bill to Nazis, or a State Department official who brings up the Arizona law on immigration in a human-rights discussion with a Chinese delegation, the chorus is the same: You can't trust ordinary Americans.

Dems digest food stamp cuts
Excerpt: As they prepare to slash food stamps to pay for Medicaid and teachers’ salaries, House Democrats are facing up to a harsh reality: To save some social programs, they’ll have to sacrifice others. “This is a bitter pill to swallow,” Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, chairwoman of the subcommittee that funds Agriculture Committee programs, said in a statement Monday. “As you can imagine, for me personally, it’s like ‘Sophie’s Choice.’” While few Democrats would make such a stark analogy — “Sophie’s Choice” required the title character to pick which of her two children would die at the hands of the Nazis — voter antipathy toward government growth has forced moderates to demand offsets to new spending, and Democrats of all stripes are having to sacrifice one constituency for another. So DeLauro and many of her Democratic colleagues will have to swallow hard as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gathers her troops Tuesday for a rare mid-August session to pass a $26.1 billion state aid spending package that cuts billions of dollars from food stamps to save thousands of teachers’ jobs and to stave off cuts in Medicaid. The anti-hunger community is finding the decision even harder to digest. “We call it the big disaster. It was just so shocking that they would take money from the food stamp program in these economic times to support any other program,” said Carey Morgan, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger. “We’re not saying that education and medical [aid] aren’t important, but hungry kids can’t learn and hungry kids get sick.”

Good Column: Revenge and Vindication
Excerpt: The artist Paul Gauguin said, "Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge." My favorite monument is the tomb of Yue Fei in Hangzhou, China. 12th century General Yue was a national hero, until a lying, bureaucrat named Qin Gui launched a scheme resulting in the general's head getting cut off. After learning the truth about Qin Gui's lies, the people built a temple in Yue Fei's honor. For 900 years the Chinese have paid homage to Yue Fei, but they haven't forgotten the villain, Qin Gui either. Statutes of the evil Qin Gui and his wife, on their knees, face Yue Fei's tomb, begging for his forgiveness. Visitors to the temple pay their respects to the good Yue Fei, and then turn to curse the evil Qin Gui and his wife and then spit on their statutes. You have to be in awe of that much revenge over so many centuries. It will be hard for you to match it. (My personal policy is never to hold a grudge. As soon as I get even with the bastard, I forgive—but never forget! ~Bob)

From a Brother Marine
Yesterday I mentioned sacrifice. Previous to that we discussed heroes. Over the past two weeks I had a chance to read various newspapers — since I was mostly off the net. Here is some of what I read…….. Lindsay Lohan, 24, got her name and face all over the news because she went to jail. Justin Allen (23), Brett Linley (29), Matthew Weikert (29), Justus Bartett (27), Dave Santos (21), Chase Stanley (21), Jesse Reed (26), Matthew Johnson (21), Zachary Fisher (24), Brandon King (23), Christopher Goeke (23), and Sheldon Tate (27) — all Marines — gave their lives for US over the course of that period of time. They were barely in the news….. Honor THEM by working at home to make their sacrifice meaningful. Restore this country to the greatness that motivated these young Marines to serve on OUR behalf! –Greg Johnson.

Drought, Fire and Grain in Russia
Excerpt: Three interlocking crises are striking Russia simultaneously: the highest recorded temperatures Russia has seen in 130 years of recordkeeping; the most widespread drought in more than three decades; and massive wildfires that have stretched across seven regions, including Moscow. The crises threaten the wheat harvest in Russia, which is one of the world’s largest wheat exporters. Russia is no stranger to having drought affect its wheat crop, a commodity of critical importance to Moscow’s domestic tranquility and foreign policy. Despite the severity of the heat, drought, and wildfires, Moscow’s wheat output will cover Russia’s domestic needs. Russia will also use the situation to merge its neighbors into a grain cartel.

Worth Fighting For?
Excerpt: The rights of women are improving in Afghanistan, but some fear the return of violence toward women if the Taliban is included in a coalition government. In TIME magazine (vol. 176, No. 6 , 2010) the cover article, “Betrayed,” discusses fears that Afghan women have about Taliban beliefs and practices returning in an integrated government which includes them. The example given is Bibi Aisha, an 18 year old , who had her nose and ears sliced off because of the Taliban leadership. Aisha ran away from abusive in-laws who beat her. This was her punishment and she was left to die, but survived to tell her story. She was taken to a U.S. military medical unit because the local Afghan hospital would not treat her. From there, she was taken to a shelter created and supported by a U.S. organization, Women for Afghan Women. It has now been reported that she will come to the U.S. for reconstructive surgery. Additionally, TIME reported that the religious council of Herat province issued an edict in May forbidding women from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a male relative. Taliban law forbids the education or employment of women or examination by a male doctor without the presence of a close male relative. Since women were teachers and nurses, these professions have practically disappeared. This has caused the physical, mental, and intellectual health of women under Taliban rule to deteriorate. Burqas became required clothing under Taliban rule. A burqa covers the entire body of a woman in tent like fashion, with only a small fenced window with which to see. Women not wearing burqas or unaccompanied by a male relative outside the home were beaten in public with sticks. Women, by law, were only allowed to read the Qur’an and windows had to be blackened so no one could see into houses. We now hear in the news that a woman is to be stoned to death for adultery in Iran. This is also a Taliban law. With international publicity, the stoning has been suspended, but it can be reinstated at any time. We see from this that open international dialogue is having an effect.

Is getting HIV/AIDS a “Civil Right” Mr. President?
Excerpt: Two unpleasant topics of conversation most of us avoid are the epidemic of HIV/AIDS among prison inmates and a variety of sometimes violent events resulting in transmission of the disease. Some states long ago implemented policies to protect the uninfected part of the prison population while providing exceptional medical treatment and counseling to the infected population. In South Carolina, it has worked so well since 1998 that there has only been a single transmission of HIV/AIDS to a noninfected prisoner. All that may change, however, thanks to a threat from Eric Holder’s Justice Department. South Carolina received a letter from the now-infamous Civil Rights Division that the policy of keeping infected inmates at a designated facility, instead of scattered across the state in the general prison population, may unfairly stigmatize infected prisoners.

The 7 Worst Presidents Of The Last Hundred Years
Excerpt: Liberal historians have been ranking Presidents for years and of course there's always a heavy leftward skew to their evaluations. Republicans are inevitably ranked lower than they deserve to be while Democrats are sure to be portrayed in the kindest historical light. Here's a different take on the issue: A look at the worst Presidents of the last hundred years from a conservative perspective. 7) Herbert Hoover (R): Hoover didn't make the list because the Depression started on his watch. After all, it's not as if he created that problem. But, his protectionist Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act created a trade war at the worst possible time and helped lock the Depression in place.

Cheering Immaturity by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: A graduating senior at Hunter College High School in New York gave a speech that brought a standing ovation from his teachers and got his picture in the New York Times. I hope it doesn't go to his head, because what he said was so illogical that it was an indictment of the mush that is being taught at even our elite educational institutions. Young Justin Hudson, described as "black and Hispanic," opened by saying how much he appreciated reaching his graduation day at this very select public high school. Then he said, "I don't deserve any of this. And neither do you." The reason? He and his classmates were there because of "luck and circumstances." Since Hunter College High School selects its applicants from the whole city on the basis of their test scores, "luck" seems a strange way to characterize why some students are admitted and many others are not. If you can't tell the difference between luck and performance, what has your education given you, except the rhetoric to conceal your confusion from others and perhaps from yourself? Young Mr. Hudson's concern, apparently, is about what he referred to as the "demographics" of the school-- 41 percent white and 47 percent Asian, with blacks, Hispanics and others obviously far behind. "I refuse to accept" that "the distribution of intelligence in this city" varies by neighborhood, he said. Native intelligence may indeed not vary by neighborhood but actual performance-- whether in schools, on the job or elsewhere-- involves far more than native intelligence. Wasted intelligence does nothing for an individual or society. The reason a surgeon can operate on your heart, while someone of equal intelligence who is not a surgeon cannot, is because of what different people actually did with their intelligence. That has always varied, not only from individual to individual but from group to group-- and not only in this country, but in countries around the world and across the centuries of human history…. Similarly, if prices are higher in high-crime neighborhoods, that is often blamed on those who charge those prices, rather than on those who create the higher costs of higher rates of shoplifting, robbery, vandalism and riots, which are passed on to those who shop in those neighborhoods. The prices convey a reality that the prices did not create. If these prices represent simply "greed" for higher profits, then why do most profit-seeking businesses avoid high-crime neighborhoods like the plague? It is painful that people with lower incomes often have to pay higher prices, even though most people are not criminals, even in a high-crime neighborhood. But misconstruing the reasons is not going to help anybody, except race hustlers and politicians.

Taliban (flog and) execute pregnant woman
Didn’t get the memo. Must be a stone shortage, because they shot her. Hope Mohammad’s okay with that. Can’t wait until all women are subject to Shari’a Law. Excerpt: The Taliban publicly flogged and then executed a pregnant Afghan widow by shooting her three times in the head for alleged adultery, police said. Bibi Sanubar, 35, was kept in captivity for three days before she was shot dead in a public trial on Sunday by a local Taliban commander in the Qadis district of the rural western province Badghis. The Taliban accused Sanubar of having an "illicit affair" that left her pregnant. She was first punished with 200 lashes in public before being shot, deputy provincial police chief Ghulam Mohammad Sayeedi told AFP on Monday. "She was shot in the head in public while she was still pregnant," Sayeedi said. The execution is a grim reminder of the Taliban's harsh six-year rule from 1996 to 2001 in Afghanistan. The radical Islamists staged public stonings or lashings of those found to have committed adultery or sex outside marriage. The then-Taliban government would also chop off the hands and feet of those accused of theft and robbery.

British couple gunned down in Pakistan in suspected honour killing after calling off marriage
Didn’t get the memo. Excerpt: A British couple who flew to Pakistan to settle a row over their daughter's arranged marriage have been shot dead in a suspected 'honour killing'. The spurned groom is thought to have gunned down Gul Wazir and wife Bagum alongside their son who had also travelled to the remote Nowshera province, one of the areas devastated by the flooding in the country. The son survived the attack and is in a stable condition in hospital. It was reported the gunman was a nephew of the couple, and was named locally as Rehman Wazir.

Ray Stevens—God Save Arizona

White House unloads anger over criticism from 'professional left’
Hope those “liberal naysayers” just stay home in November. Who needs them. Excerpt: The White House is simmering with anger at criticism from liberals who say President Obama is more concerned with deal-making than ideological purity. During an interview with The Hill in his West Wing office, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs blasted liberal naysayers, whom he said would never regard anything the president did as good enough. “I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.”

Rangel defends himself in House floor speech
Draining the swamp is harder than Nan thought. Excerpt: Embattled Rep. Charles Rangel defended himself on the House floor Tuesday in a meandering, 30-minute speech.

Phoenix police to Houston officers: Immigration law has reduced crime
Excerpt: Would an immigration reform law like Arizona’s work in Texas? That was the topic of discussion Thursday when some HPD officers met with police officials from Phoenix. The Phoenix officers were in town presenting information on why their controversial law would work here in the Lone Star State. Mark Spencer, president of the police union in Phoenix, where officers are already allowed to call immigration officials, said crime has dropped. "It’s not based upon race. It’s based upon conduct," Spencer said. "The clear connection between those statistics is the crime of illegal immigration. We needed to be proactive [and use] common sense." Support for similar legislation has spilled into Texas, and some state lawmakers plan to make a push for a law in January.

Desperate stakes for women under Sharia
Excerpt: It is impossible to view Time magazine's cover photograph of Aisha, an 18-year-old Afghan girl whose nose and ears were severed by her husband and brother-in-law on the order of a Taliban commander, without shuddering in recoil. Her "crime" was nothing more than fleeing the hellish home of in-laws who had beaten and enslaved her. That Aisha's only recourse in the face of such abuse was to run and hide is testimony to the reality that, in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world that Sharia law prevails, women are at best second-class citizens. Sharia is the vehicle by which the most oppressive tenets of extreme Islamic religion become the civil law of any society on which it is imposed. In many such places, daily life for women and girls remains today much as it was a millennium ago -- the unrelieved tedium, oppression and drudgery of chattel. It would thus be a terrible mistake to dismiss Aisha as a nightmarish exception to the rule. As Examiner columnist Diana West noted Sunday, "similar scenarios play out beyond the wilds of the Taliban zone wherever Sharia culture flowers, an expanding zone that now includes urban centers of the Western world from Berlin to London to Atlanta to Calgary." Mutilations like Aisha's are far from the worst that can happen to women under Sharia law; the United Nations estimates that at least 5,000 women are murdered every year in "honor killings" by Muslim family members aggrieved by a wife or daughter thought to have disgraced her kin. As Fox News' recent reporting has made clear, such crimes happen in America, too, and will likely become more frequent occurrences as Muslims here demand, as their co-adherents already are in Britain and on the continent, that they be allowed to live under Sharia separate from the established civil law. It is no coincidence that renewed attention is being paid to the plight of Aisha and other Muslim women, even as we learn that 10 medical missionaries with a Christian charitable organization, including six Americans, were slaughtered last week in a remote area of northeast Afghanistan while returning from a mercy mission giving medical and dental care. The Taliban murdered them for allegedly speaking about Christianity, a charge the sponsoring organization vigorously denied. Such barbarities remind us that no place must be given for moral equivalence on these issues. If our civil law doesn't permit Mormon polygamy, Fundamentalist snake handling or Christian Scientist denial of medical care for children, even less can it tolerate Muslim mutilation and murder of women. Those who can't -- or won't -- see the difference between a murderous intolerance and the intolerance of murder should be pitied and ignored.

Trial lawyers win when judges and juries become regulators
Excerpt: Americans should beware of plaintiffs attorneys bearing gifts. We will all be worse off now that judges and juries have taken over health care regulation in the California case of Lavender et al. vs Skilled Healthcare Group, Inc. Lavender represents almost everything that is wrong with our legal system. A few profit-minded lawyers filed a so-called class-action suit. Making a claim based on bureaucratic rules rather than patient harm, they won a verdict of $671 million against a company with only a little more than that in annual revenue. In effect, the judge and jury usurped the state’s role in regulating health care facilities. The litigation originated in the arbitrarily set legal requirement that skilled-nursing facilities provide a minimum of 3.2 hours of nursing care per patient day. What is frustrating is that this capriciously set ratio is not supported by any study or other rigorous review proving it necessary or even desirable for quality care. It is instead a number purely drawn out of the air 10 years ago by California legislators who at the same time mandated that new regulations be adopted to further explain to caregivers how to comply with the 3.2 requirement. Those regulations never came. This opened the door for plaintiff attorneys to put their own spin on how facilities should be staffed.

To Protest Hiring of Nonunion Help, Union Hires Nonunion Pickets
This sounds like a joke. Union guys can’t be too upset with the “unfair” treatment they get if they have to hire scabs to picket for them. Excerpt: Billy Raye, a 51-year-old unemployed bike courier, is looking for work. Fortunately for him, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters is seeking paid demonstrators to march and chant in its current picket line outside the McPherson Building, an office complex here where the council says work is being done with nonunion labor. "For a lot of our members, it's really difficult to have them come out, either because of parking or something else," explains Vincente Garcia, a union representative who is supervising the picketing. So instead, the union hires unemployed people at the minimum wage—$8.25 an hour—to walk picket lines. Mr. Raye says he's grateful for the work, even though he's not sure why he's doing it. "I could care less," he says. "I am being paid to march around and sound off." Protest organizers and advocacy groups are reaping an unexpected benefit from continued high joblessness. With the national unemployment rate currently at 9.5%, an "endless supply" of the out-of-work, as well as retirees seeking extra income, are lining up to be paid demonstrators, says George Eisner, the union's director of organization. Extra feet help the union staff about 150 picket lines in the District of Columbia and Baltimore each day. Online postings recruit paid activists for everything from stopping offshore drilling to defending the Constitution. In California, one group is offering to pay $10 and up per hour to activists to hold signs in demonstrations against foam cups and plastic bags.

A Democratic Panic Attack?
Excerpt: With the announcement this week that Council of Economic Advisers chair Christy Romer will leave the White House to go back to teach at Berkeley, it looks like the center of economic gravity will shift leftward inside the West Wing. Meanwhile, over at the Fed, it seems ever more likely that the FOMC meeting next week will produce a much more dovish policy statement, one that will lengthen the “extended period” near-zero-interest-rate language and hint at new cash purchases of Treasury and mortgage bonds to increase the central bank’s balance sheet and expand the basic money supply. Already, in recent weeks, the dollar has been plunging. Of course, Republicans will push harder to keep the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy — as they should. But Democrats are now trapped by Treasury man Tim Geithner’s statements that extending low tax rates for successful earners, investors, and small businesses would actually imperil economic recovery. This is his war against investment and capital formation. Maybe the Democratic revolt in favor of keeping all the Bush tax cuts will gather steam. But Democrats are more likely to push for greater spending than investment tax incentives. They’d rather take your money than let you keep it. The GOP also should call for lower corporate tax rates, including full cash expensing for businesses. But so far they haven’t made much noise on this, despite the fact that cash-rich businesses are mostly avoiding new hires in the face of the Obamacare regulatory threats and the uncertainty about future tax burdens.

More worried about recovery, Fed takes small steps
Excerpt: More worried about the recovery, the Federal Reserve took a small step Tuesday to bolster the economy. Wrapping up a one-day meeting, the Fed said it will use the proceeds from its investments in mortgage bonds to buy government debt on a small scale. That could help nudge down long-term rates on mortgages and corporate debt, but won't likely have a dramatic impact on stimulating growth, economists say. Perhaps more importantly, the largely symbolic action sends a signal that the Fed sees the recovery weakening and that it stands ready to take more aggressive action, if needed, to keep it on track. Delivering a more downbeat assessment, the Fed now believes economic growth will be "more modest" than it had anticipated at its late June meeting. (Could it be that with spending out of control, taxes threatening to go up, the government interfering in the economy and no idea what cockamamie green scheme the Democrats will come up with next, businesses and people are holding on to cash? But liberals think people will behave like they wish them to behave. Then they don’t and have to be encouraged – that is, coerced. ~Bob)

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