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.
U.S. Marines Retake Ship From Pirates
Oohrah! ~Bob. Excerpt: U.S. Marines early Thursday boarded and seized control of a German-owned commercial vessel that had been commandeered by pirates, in what appeared to be the first American-led military boarding of its kind amid a recent surge of attacks in the Gulf of Aden and along the east coast of Africa. A raiding party of 24 Marines boarded the ship about 85 miles southeast of Mukallah, Yemen, in the Gulf of Aden, according to the U.S. Navy. Pirates had captured the vessel, which was carrying steel chains, in the same vicinity the previous day, the Navy said. The U.S. said there were no casualties among the raiding party or the ship's crew. Nine alleged pirates were captured in the operation. Somalia-based pirates started to ratchet up their attacks in the gulf and along the east coast of Africa in late 2008. In the spring of 2009, the U.S. military intervened in a pirate attack on an American-flagged merchant ship. The crew of that ship retook control of the vessel, but pirates escaped in a lifeboat with the captain of the ship as a hostage. U.S. snipers killed three pirates, captured a fourth and freed the captain in an elaborate naval rescue.
Here’s the truth
Both the people who want to build a mosque near Ground Zero in New Your and the people who want to burn the Qur’an in Florida have the right to do so in our free society. Both are being deliberately offensive, the Mosque builders to all Americans, but particularly to Christians, Jews, and those who lost family and friends on 9/11. The Qur’an burners to the millions of peaceful Muslims who want only to practice their faith and be left alone.
But there is a difference. If the mosque is built in New York, it is highly unlikely that any innocent Muslims will be murdered because of it. If the Qur’an is burned in Florida, it is highly likely that innocent Christians and Jews will be murdered because of it. That is a truth that everyone knows, but many dare not speak, for fear of further inflaming the large, murderous Jihadist-supporting segment of modern Islam. That a large segment of Christians were murderously intolerant in the middle ages is undoubtedly true—as were a large segment of Muslims. That a large segment of Muslims still has this middle ages’ mentality is one of the major problems in today’s world. And that they will kill as many people—including fellow Muslims—to impose Shari’a law on the world as they need to is made manifest every day.
Shari’a law means no separation of religion and state. It means a degrading second class status for women. It means child marriages. It means second class status with special taxes (Jizra) for non-Muslims—or forced conversion. It means the execution of Gays and the stoning to death of women accused of adultery, including rape victims who cannot produce four Muslim male witnesses that it was rape. In short, it means the imposition of a tyranny that is the equal of anything envisioned by Stalin, Hitler or Mao, perhaps worse. And people who would be free must fight it with every fiber of their beings. Appeasement will not work with the Jihadist any more than it worked with Hitler. And being afraid to speak the truth aids the Jihad.
Is burning the Qur’an worse than tramping on the American Flag?
But there were no angry mobs. No speech by Obama, not threats of death that I heard about, whatever veterans might have thought.
FBI agents visit Florida church over Quran burn
Excerpt: FBI agents visited Thursday with a minister of a small Florida church that plans to burn the Quran on Sept. 11, as public safety became a paramount concern and President Barack Obama added his voice to the chorus of opposition. Elsewhere, hundreds of angry Afghans burned an American flag and chanted "Death to the Christians" to protest the planned burning of Islam's holiest text….. The international police organization Interpol issued a global alert to its 188 member-countries determining "strong likelihood" of violent attacks if the burn goes forward. Interpol said in a statement that Pakistan's interior minister, Rehman Malik, called the organization and asked it to warn other police forces around the world of an increased terror threat.
No place for democracy and human rights in Islam, says Qom theologian
Excerpt: As the world mobilises against the stoning of Sakineh, a 43-year-old woman convicted for adultery and killing her husband, Iranian police continue to threaten and arrest journalists and human rights lawyers. Dozens of university professors are fired and pro-reform students are beaten. The reason is simple. “Democracy, freedom, and human rights have no place” in Islam, said Mesbah Yazdi, who heads Shia Taliban, in a speech reprinted in Rooz, an online Iranian news website. (I have to agree with him. There is no place for Freedom, Democracy or human rights in Islam. But if I say it, they call me an Islamophobe! ~Bob.)
Bonfire of the Insanities
Excerpt: In response to Gen David Petraeus' denunciation of Florida pastor Terry Jones' right to engage in a symbolic protest of the 9/11 attacks by burning copies of the Quran this Sept. 11, President Obama said: "Let me be clear: As a citizen, and as president, I believe that members of the Dove World Outreach Center have the same right to freedom of speech and religion as anyone else in this country." Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida lauded Obama's remarks, saying America is "a place where you're supposed to be able to practice your religion without the government telling you you can't." New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Obama's words a "clarion defense of the freedom of religion" -- and also claimed that he had recently run into a filthy jihadist who actually supported the Quran-burning! Keith Olbermann read the poem "First they came ..." on air in defense of the Quran-burners, nearly bringing himself to tears at his own profundity. No wait, my mistake. This is what liberals said about the ground zero mosque only five minutes ago when they were posing as First Amendment absolutists. Suddenly, they've developed amnesia when it comes to the free-speech right to burn a Quran. Weirdly, conservatives who opposed building the mosque at ground zero are also against the Quran burning. (Except in my case. It turns out I'm for it, but mostly because burning Qurans will contribute to global warming.) Liberals couldn't care less about the First Amendment. To the contrary, censoring speech and religion is the left's specialty! (Any religion other than Islam.) They promote speech codes, hate crimes, free speech zones (known as "America" off college campuses), and go around the country yanking every reference to God from the public square via endless lawsuits by the ACLU….. Also, as I recall, there was no Guantanamo, no Afghanistan war and no Iraq war on Sept. 10, 2001. And yet, somehow, Osama bin Ladin had no trouble recruiting back then. Can we retire the "it will help them recruit" argument yet? The reason not to burn Qurans is that it's unkind -- not to jihadists, but to Muslims who mean us no harm. The same goes for building a mosque at ground zero -- in both cases, it's not a question of anyone's "rights," it's just a nasty thing to do. (Well, I’m opposed to it, though I believe they have the right, because it will help the Jihadists attack us. But maybe I’m inconsistent, because I’d contribute to putting up a billboard across from the Ground Zero Mosque condemning Mohammad as a pedophile, quoting the most sacred of the Hadith about his consummating his marriage when his youngest wife was nine. ~Bob.)
Political controversy over Islam surrounds 9/11 anniversary
Excerpt: For almost a decade, the annual commemoration of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has been seen as a day of national unity and sober remembrance. This year, contentious issues of religious freedom and national identity threaten to color the ninth anniversary of those tragic events. Controversies over calls to burn the Koran and an ongoing debate over a proposed mosque and Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in New York are drawing particular attention as the anniversary nears, sparking questions about how 9/11 became so politicized.
Letter to the editor about the proposed Qur’an Burning from an old friend
The Rev. Terry Jones’ actions are not those of a committed follower of Jesus Christ, and are particularly wrong-headed for a Christian Pastor. Rev. Jones’ duty is to reach unbelievers with the Gospel by preaching the Word of God, and witnessing by living in a Christ-like manner. That means living in humility and acting out of love. This man is doing neither. Secular, un-American arguments are unlikely to cause him to change his mind. Perhaps the Word of the Lord will cause a heart change: “There are six things the Lord hates, -no, seven things he detests: Haughty eyes, A lying tongue, Hands that kill the innocent, A heart that plots evil, Feet that race to do wrong, A false witness who pours out lies, A person who sows discord among brothers.” Proverbs 6: 16-19, NLT --Bonnie Mason, Collingswood, NJ
Get Over the Quran Burning
Apparently a truly moderate Muslim—will other Muslims welcome a dialog—or condemn her to death? ~Bob. Excerpt: On the plan to burn Qurans this weekend, I say to Muslims: Let's get over the symbolic insult and deal with the very real issues of literal interpretations of the Quran that are used to sanction domestic violence, terrorism, militancy, and suicide bombings in the name of Islam. Gen. David Petraeus has weighed in, saying that the planned burnings by the Rev. Terry Jones' congregation in Florida will endanger U.S. soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. But I believe that there is something that endangers Americans and American soldiers even more: certain passages that—when read literally—pit Muslims against Americans and the West. I believe the Qurans are being burnt because we, as Muslims, haven't dealt sincerely and intellectually with very serious issues that certain Quranic passages raise, particularly in the West. These include verses—when literally read—that say that disobedient wives can be beaten “lightly,” that Muslims can't be friends with the Jews and the Christians, and that it's OK to kill converts from Islam. We, as Muslims, need to tear a few pages out of the Quran—symbolically, at least, by rejecting literal adherence to certain problematic verses. The Christian faith had to deal with problematic verses from the Book of Deuteronomy that sanctioned violence. Jews have had to confront rigid readings of the Old Testament that sanctioned stonings. Muslims, too, must re-interpret verses that aren't compatible with life in the 21st century.
Starting to say 'no' -- Demanding truly moderate Islam
Excerpt: A Tectonic shift is in motion: How fitting that its focal point is Ground Zero, the inevitable fault line between Islam and the West. Only the blink of an eye ago, uttering the unpleasant truth that in terms of doctrine there is no such thing as "moderate Islam" resulted in one's banishment from what our opinion elites like to call the "mainstream," by which they mean the narrow-minded, viciously defended circle of their own pieties and fictions. You could say it, but your skin had better have an extra coat or two of thick: You were in for a fusillade of rage, the likes of which our candor-phobic elites would never dream of unleashing at our Islamist enemies -- no matter how clearly those enemies announced their intention to destroy us. The fusillade still comes, but now its blows only glance. The elites and their mainstream have been exposed as frauds: Being on the wrong side of enough 70-30 issues will do that to you. It should never have gotten this far. Sponsors of the Ground Zero mosque neither own the property in question nor possess the means to build and operate the palatial Islamic center they envision. The more light that shines on their record of murky real-estate dealings and the dubious circumstances of their limited stake in the Ground Zero property, the more questions arise.
Ground Zero Imam Threatens America With Attack If Mosque Not Built
Excerpt: The religious leader behind plans to erect an Islamic center and mosque a few blocks from New York’s ground zero said Wednesday night that America’s national security depends on how it handles the controversy. “If we move from that location, the story will be the radicals have taken over the discourse,” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien on “Larry King Live.” “The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack.” (The headline may be pushing the case. Like saying Petraeus was threatening attacks on soldiers when he said burning the Qur’an would lead to attacks. ~Bob.)
Women, kids among 18 dead in NW Pakistani bombing
Didn’t get the memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: A car bomb ripped through a police compound in a northwestern Pakistani city, killing 18 people, including 14 women and children and four officers, the latest in a string of attacks proving that Islamist militants remain a potent force in the country. The civilians killed were the wives and children of police officers, said Khalid Omarzai, the city's top government official. Another 94 people were wounded in Tuesday's bombing, he said, adding that they had been taken to hospitals after rescuers cleared rubble of over two dozen collapsed houses and shops.
Conservatism's Extreme Makeover
Excerpt: Conservatism might well have remained a limited heretical sect for liberals to sneer at until, at long last, the lot were gathered up and run into the reeducation camps. But it was rescued by Barry Goldwater. Although he went down to miserable defeat in 1964 (it's unlikely that any Republican could have won following JFK's assassination), he demonstrated that the conservatism's heartland lay not only west of the Hudson, but west of the Mississippi. Apart from principles, western conservatism could not have differed more from the East Coast variety -- it was a tough, outspoken, and no-nonsense doctrine dedicated to the practical rather than theoretical. Goldwater established an American form of conservatism, comprising American virtues and capable of attracting a mass public following. It is this style of conservatism that forms the basis of what we have today. It did not overcome the Eastern variety as much as subsume it. Eastern conservatism provided the theoretical framework, the western variant the drive. The result was formidable, leading to the presidency of Ronald Reagan and the market- and tradition-oriented reforms of the '80s and '90s. But all throughout, the reputation problem continued. Conservatives could not shake the "extremist" label or overcome the "fascist" accusation. "Racist" soon joined the lexicon with the belated recognition of the civil rights movement by the Democrats. With such a public image, any crime was plausible -- and the left didn't hesitate to throw every possible innuendo. Many of them stuck. As a result, the American public, though voting conservative and supporting conservative policies, could not be persuaded to openly march under the conservative banner. Such hesitation is easily understood -- who would happily accept the labels of "fascist" or "racist"? That, in large part, is how it remained until the turn of the century. (I was a Goldwater Volunteer before I left for Marine Boot Camp on August 16, 1964. Still fighting that battle. ~Bob.)
The Mullahs’ Gulag for Gays
Excerpt: In September 2007, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood before an audience of college students and faculty at Columbia University and made the perverse claim that there were no homosexuals in Iran. ”In Iran we do not have this phenomenon, I don’t know who has told you that we have it,” he said. Ahmadinejad’s comments, made in a year in which Iran had executed 200 people, homosexuals among them, made shock waves around the globe. Yet the absurdity of the official denial may also have been unintentionally salutary, spotlighting as it did the terrible plight of homosexuals in the Islamic Republic. There is a good reason that Iran’s theocratic dictatorship denies the existence of gays inside the country. An honest acknowledgment of reality would force the authorities to acknowledge that Iranian gays are regularly marginalized, harassed, tortured, and executed. Sometimes, they are forced into gender-altering operations. Ahmadinejad’s claim also called attention to the hypocrisy of the international community on the issue of gay rights in Iran. President Ahmadinejad’s absurd claim received overwhelming disapproval, yet when Iranian homosexuals are routinely abused and lawfully executed simply for their sexual preferences, that same international community, and the “progressive” Left that claims to champion gay rights, are deafeningly silent.
Islamist Propaganda in the K-12 Classroom
Excerpt: A highly disturbing phenomenon is rising in our public school system today with hardly a peep of protest from parents and from our society at large: students are being force-fed a curious and bizarre narrative that presents Islam in a glowing — and historically mangled — light, while Western civilization and the Judeo-Christian tradition are demonized and smeared. The latest example can be found in New York’s statewide high school Regents exam where students will find points deducted from their grade if they don’t obediently regurgitate the Party-Line given to them. Some of the test’s questions are based on specific readings from A World History: A Cultural Approach by Daniel Roselle, including this troublesome lesson: “Wherever they went, the Moslems brought with them their love of art, beauty and learning. From about the eighth to the eleventh century, their culture was superior in many ways to that of western [sic] Christendom.” Elsewhere, students learn from Roselle how, under Christian rule, “idols, temples and other material evidences of paganism [were] destroyed.” The text also marvels at how, after being conquered by Muslims, the Spanish city of Cordoba’s “streets were solidly paved,” unlike in Paris, and lamps were set up. At the same time, the author makes pains to point out, “there was not a single public lamp in London!” The lesson for impressionable children taking this exam is clear: Islam is historically tolerant, progressive, and admirable, whereas modern extremism has more in common with Christianity. Islamic scholar Andrew Bostom described the teaching as a “grotesque distortion of historical reality,” leaving students ignorant of how “the jihad ravages…wreaked havoc—massacre, pillage, enslavement, and deportation—upon culturally more advanced civilizations.”
To Save a Continent
From March, but pertinent to the current debate.
Imagine BO with the guts to do this. ~Bob. Excerpt: Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who in 2005 portrayed the Prophet Mohammed wearing a bomb in his turban, is to receive the M100 Media Prize in Germany on Wednesday, organisers said. The prize is to be awarded for Westergaard’s ‘unbending engagement for freedom of the press and freedom of opinion, and for his courage to defend these democratic values despite threats of death and violence,’ the prize committee said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to deliver the keynote speech at the ceremony, held in the Sanssouci palace in Potsdam and attended by editors and publishers from Europe’s top media companies. Westergaard’s cartoon, published along with other portrayals of Mohammed in the Jyllands-Posten in 2005, caused a storm of protest when they became known in the Arab and Muslim world. Many took offence at the personal and disrespectful portrayal of the prophet.
Castro says Cuban model doesn't work
Excerpt: Fidel Castro told a visiting American journalist that Cuba's communist economic model doesn't work, a rare comment on domestic affairs from a man who has conspicuously steered clear of local issues since stepping down four years ago. The fact that things are not working efficiently on this cash-strapped Caribbean island is hardly news. Fidel's brother Raul, the country's president, has said the same thing repeatedly. But the blunt assessment by the father of Cuba's 1959 revolution is sure to raise eyebrows. Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, asked if Cuba's economic system was still worth exporting to other countries, and Castro replied: "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore" Goldberg wrote Wednesday in a post on his Atlantic blog. (Too bad it took all that pain and suffering for all those years for him to notice something I knew at 15 when I was cheering for the Bay of Pigs fighters doomed by Kennedy’s half measures. ~Bob)
Jeffrey Goldberg’s Scoop of the Year: The Castro Interview
Excerpt: By now most PJM readers have heard about or looked at Atlantic magazine correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg’s scoop of the year — his invitation to travel to Cuba and have an exclusive meeting with Fidel Castro. The dictator, it seemed, read Goldberg’s Atlantic cover story about Iran and Israel, and requested that Goldberg travel to Cuba so he could talk about the issue with him. Of course, what Castro wanted to really accomplish was to use Goldberg as a conduit for his ideas — to let the world know his most recent thoughts and also to send a message to those considered his long-standing allies, Ahmadinejad in Iran and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. What Castro told them is that a nuclear war between Iran and Israel must be averted and that Ahmadinejad should “stop slandering the Jews.” Was this Castro’s message to Jews on the eve of the Jewish New Year? Has the man who for years backed and trained PLO terrorists during Yasser Arafat’s heyday, and who supported the USSR’s anti-Semitic and anti-Israel policies, actually reevaluated and moved towards a new Cuban policy? The truth is we don’t know. Whatever his motives, to have Fidel Castro announce that essentially Ahmadinejad is both wrong and probably crazy is some kind of unexpected breakthrough. (...) The next installment of the interview with Castro then presented another shocker. Said the old revolutionary: “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us any more.” Julia Sweig of the Council on Foreign Relations, who accompanied Goldberg, explained that what Castro meant is that “he wasn’t rejecting the ideas of the Revolution. I took it to be an acknowledgment that under ‘the Cuban model’ the state has much too big a role in the economic life of the country.” She interprets this as meaning he is trying to pave the way for allowing more privatization of the kind his brother Raul is supposedly trying to implement.
Karzai seeks to limit role of U.S. corruption investigators
Corruption, violence, tribalism—Karzai should run for Mayor of Chicago! ~Bob. Excerpt: Afghan President Hamid Karzai intends to impose rules restricting international involvement in anti-corruption investigations, a move that U.S. officials fear will hobble efforts to address the endemic graft that threatens support for his administration in Afghanistan and the United States. Karzai wants to circumscribe the role of American and other foreign law-enforcement specialists in two key anti-corruption organizations that have been set up in the Interior Ministry by preventing them from direct involvement in investigations.
'Web of Lies' -- A JournoLiar Browser App?
Excerpt: If any of you techies out there want to get rich quick and Save the Republic to boot, here's your chance. This idea is all yours, free. All you have to do is write a tiny program. Here's what you need to know. Up to four hundred mainstream "journalists" got caught a couple of months ago conspiring on an e-mail listserv that was cleverly called "JournoList" to fix the news for Obama in the 2008 election. They agreed on when to smear Sarah Palin and when to cover up Jeremiah Wright. This is the same Big Media you've come know and despise so well, except now we can see their secret machinations right in front of our eyes. These four hundred shameless agitprop artists were fixing an American election for the most radical Leftist administration in U.S. history. These are not "journalists." They are corrupt propaganda artists, Soviet-style. (...) Honest people therefore need a consumer warning to notify us about JournoLiars: Whenever their names pop up, our web browsers should warn us: You are about to read a known professional liar and Democrat corruptocrat. Be warned. Enter a new browser plug-in: The "Web of Lies"! It's just like the Web of Trust, a nice Firefox plug-in to let you know when you're visiting a site that does bad things to your computer. The Web of Trust plug-in protects you and your kids against online predators. Web of Lies could protect you and your kids against power-hungry predators who want to steal your country, your money, and your freedom. (This sounds like a good, commercial idea. I have no idea how this could be done, but I'd probably buy one if it was cheap enough. No doubt, it'd have to be updated periodically as the media members involved changed locations like virus spreaders do. It might even get their bosses to bring this stuff to an end. Nah. Wishful thinking. Ron P.)
Not ready for the Middle Ages
New Health Law Puts Seniors at Risk
Excerpt: On Wednesday, former Comptroller General David M. Walker, National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) Senior Fellow Thomas R. Saving, and NCPA President and Kellye Wright Fellow John C. Goodman held a briefing in Washington, D.C. At the briefing, the NCPA presented a new analysis that concludes finding accessible and quality care for the elderly and disabled will become increasingly difficult in the coming years under the new health care law because of draconian cuts in payments to doctors and hospitals: Medicare payment rates will fall below the rates paid by Medicaid (for low-income families) by the end of this decade and will fall even further behind all other payers in succeeding decades. Whereas Medicaid pays about 80 percent of what private insurance pays today, the payment rates will fall to two-thirds of private payment by the end of this decade and one-half of private payment by midcentury. Just as Medicaid patients must often seek care at community health centers and safety net hospitals today, seniors could face similar access problems in the near future.
Housing Crisis? Look to Canada for Answers
Excerpt: President Barack Obama has tried to prop up the housing market by helping people stay in their homes, even though they're still overwhelmed with mortgage debt. This is the latest in a long series of government interventions intended to promote homeownership. But propping up the housing market has only prolonged the housing slump -- a depressing fact brought home by the recent dismal home-sales reports. So what to do? Perhaps Obama could learn a lesson from our neighbors to the north. Canada, after all, didn't have a housing bubble. What explains the difference? For decades, the U.S. has actively promoted homeownership through a raft of programs: generous mortgage interest tax breaks, subsidized loans, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan guarantees, limits on what banks can repossess when a borrower defaults and so on. The result has been an increase in homeownership, true, but it's also convinced far too many people to buy homes who couldn't afford them, helping to unrealistically push up home prices, which inevitably led to the subsequent collapse. Even now, with interest rates near zero, millions continue to struggle to make mortgage payments, making it likely that the number of mortgage defaults will increase when interest rates rise. That means more homes will be offered by individual homeowners and banks with an urgent need to sell, depressing home prices. Contrary to popular belief, a home isn't a good investment for everyone. First of all, it's imprudent for people of limited means to have virtually everything tied up in a single asset such as a home, whose value can go down as well as up. The bills are never-ending. For many, owning a home makes it almost impossible to save money for anything else. (Alas, the statist can’t believe there isn’t a role for government in everything. ~Bob.)
U.S. healthcare costs projected to continue to climb
Excerpt: Pushed by a dramatic increase in the number of Americans who will get insurance under the new healthcare law, total U.S. medical spending will continue to gallop upward, consuming nearly 20% of the economy by 2019, according to a new government estimate. But because new savings in the law offset most of the cost of extending insurance to more people, the nation's total healthcare bill is not expected to be substantially larger than it would have been without the overhaul. "It appears that the Affordable Care Act will have a moderate effect on health spending growth," said Andrea M. Sisko, the lead author of the closely watched study by independent economists at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Two-Thirds of Medicaid Eligible Children Not Enrolled
Excerpt: Of the roughly 7.3 million children uninsured on an average day in 2008, 65 percent were eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), but not enrolled, based on researchers' analysis of data from the 2008 American Community Survey, a yearly survey fielded by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Boxer aide charged with pot possession
Note to self: Don’t hire stupid people. ~Bob. Excerpt: A top-level staffer for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has been arrested and charged with possession of marijuana after he allegedly tried to bring the illegal substance into the senator’s office. U.S. Capitol Police arrested Marcus Stanley just before noon on Tuesday as he made his way through the security screening area to the Senate Hart Office Building, according to a police report. Stanley allegedly tried to “remove and conceal an item from his pocket,” the report states.
Boxer Tied to Dubious Waters Cash-for-Endorsement Scheme
Excerpt: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee, has paid some $30,000 since 2004 for the endorsement of embattled Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) in the context of a scheme that critics charge is unethical and amounts to Waters using her political station to benefit her family members. According to the Washington Times, Waters “has turned political endorsements into a family business, using federal election laws to charge California candidates and political causes to include their names as her personal picks on a sample ballot, or ‘slate mailer,’ she sends to as many as 200,000 South Central Los Angeles voters.” The slate mailer business, it turns out, is run by Waters’ daughter, Karen, via her public relations firm. Records show that Karen Waters’ firm has been paid more than $350,000 since 2004, and has billed a further $82,000 since California’s June primary, for its services in this regard. It is a scheme that has been criticized by good governance groups including the Sunlight Foundation and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). The Sunlight Foundation, in a blog post last month, equated the scheme to Waters “selling” her endorsement and noted that the amounts of money being paid to Waters’ own campaign committee in exchange for her endorsement often exceed the federal limit applicable to campaign donations. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) meanwhile cited Waters as one of the most corrupt members of Congress in both 2005 and 2006 for operating the scheme.
Could Viet Nam be America’s New Counterweight to China?
Excerpt: When Hillary Clinton told the ASEAN regional forum in Hanoi last July that it was in the United States’ interest that sovereignty issues in the Eastern Sea be settled by negotiations, not force, it sent a shockwave through the region. Unlike her husband’s conciliatory stance vis-à-vis an expanding China, the Secretary of State seemed ready to challenge China’s dominance in the Eastern Sea when she declared, “We oppose the use or threat of force by any claimant.” Now the United States is making good on its promise by engaging in joint military exercises with China’s neighbor, Viet Nam. Her declaration struck a special chord in Viet Nam, the country most affected by China’s aggressiveness. Viet Nam’s skirmish with China resulted in the near depletion of Viet Nam’s navy in 1988. The Chinese navy, in fact, frequently killed or harassed Vietnamese fishermen operating within Viet Nam’s territorial waters. These incidents added to a consistent pattern of Chinese expansionism: conquest of the Paracel Islands in 1974; occupation of the Spratly archipelago in 1979; and annexation of the 12,000 square meters of territorial waters in the Vinh Bac Bo (Gulf of Tonkin) conceded by Hanoi, under the 2000 Vinh Bac Bo Pact. Young Vietnamese flocked to Internet chat rooms to hail the new U.S. assertiveness as a necessary counter-weight approach to Chinese expansionism. One reporter wrote that Hillary Clinton’s statement “lit up the faces of people deadlocked and saddened by the risk of losing the country entirely.” One Vietnamese journalist reported that he would write a letter to President Obama to commend him for his firmness in dealing with the new Chinese threat in South-East Asia. To add teeth to Clinton’s statement, the heavily armed super aircraft carrier, George Washington, made its way through the Eastern Sea along Viet Nam’s coast in August -- after a high profile exercise with the South Korean navy following the sinking of a South Korean warship allegedly by a North Korean torpedo. A group of high-ranking Vietnamese military and civilian officials was flown onto the aircraft carrier cruising 200 miles off the port of Danang, the site of the landing of the first contingent of American marines in March 1965. Two days after the George Washington stop, on August 10, the USS John McCain destroyer paid a port call to Danang to participate in training exercises with the Vietnamese navy.
Excerpt: It is a matter of no small amusement for the journalist and agitator Nicholas von Hoffman that his beloved mentor, Saul Alinsky, learned the craft of “organizing” at the feet of Chicago’s most notorious mobsters. This was nearly eighty years before the self-proclaimed radical became a household name, having posthumously inspired an up-and-coming organizer who went on to become the forty-fourth president of the United States. Alinsky’s entrée to the Al Capone gang (which, tellingly, he called a “public utility”) was neither his ruthlessness nor his penchant for rabble-rousing, though a surfeit of both qualities surely impressed his friend Frank (“the Enforcer”) Nitti. It was, instead, his academic credentials. A freshly minted doctor of criminology from the University of Chicago, Alinsky sought out, bonded with, and closely studied anti-social types. His experience proved invaluable in his lifelong pursuit of “social justice,” the organizer’s panacea. Alinsky even found a Depression-era job at Joliet’s hard-knocks penitentiary, assessing the suitability of inmates for parole. Not every crook had the panache of the Enforcer, and the work soon bored Alinsky, whose promiscuous mind was easily given to boredom. Yet there was an oasis in this desert: the evaluation of an occasional con man. In an unintentionally hilarious vignette, von Hoffman relates that “one of the flim-flam men initiated Alinsky into the secrets of his trade.” We’re never told to which “his” the trade-secrets in question belonged—the flim-flammer or the organizer. It turns out not to matter. They’re both frauds. (For anyone who wants to take the time & effort to understand why things have been happening as they have, this article about Saul Alinsky will be very helpful. --Del)
An Epic Dem Disaster
Excerpt: The magnitude of the catastrophe facing the Democratic Party in the fall elections is only gradually becoming clear to the leaders of both parties. The Democrats will lose both the Senate and the House. They will lose more House seats in 2010 than the 54 they lost in 1994, and they will lose the Senate, possibly with some seats to spare.
In state after state, the races that were once marginal are now solidly Republican, those that were possible takeaways are now likely GOP wins, and the impossible seats are now fully in play. Colorado offers a good example. Betsey Markey was supposed to be a marginal new Democratic member. But Cory Gardner, her Republican opponent, is now more than 20 points ahead. John Salazar, the brother of the interior secretary and a well-established Democratic incumbent in a largely Republican district, is now almost 10 points behind his GOP challenger Scott Tipton. And Ed Perlmutter, a solidly entrenched Democrat in a supposedly nearly safe district, is running 1 point behind his GOP opponent, the unusually articulate Ryan Frazier (a black Republican with Obama-esque charisma). The Republicans will probably win all three seats. Or take Arkansas. Blanche Lincoln is clinically dead, trailing John Boozman 65-27 in the latest Rasmussen poll. In the race that was supposed to be close for the open seat in AR-2, Republican Tim Griffin is massacring Democrat Joyce Elliott by 52-35. In the race that was thought to be a likely Democratic win -- AR-1, the East Arkansas district -- Republican Rick Crawford is running seven points ahead of Democrat Chad Causey. And, in the district that was considered a safe Democratic seat, the home of Blue Dog leader Mike Ross, Republican Beth Anne Rankin is showing surprising strength and may topple her opponent. (Work now, celebrate later. ~Bob.)
Suicide attack in Russia kills 15, wounds more than 100
So, who would you guess is behind it? Presbyterians mad about the Mosque in New York? Or Muslims who didn’t get the “Islam is a religion of peace” memo? ~Bob. Excerpt: A suicide car bomber hit the central market of a major city in Russia's North Caucasus on Thursday, killing at least 15 and wounding more than 100 people in one of the worst terror attacks in the volatile region in years, officials said. The attacker detonated his explosives as he drove by the main entrance to the Vladikavkaz market, according to the Emergency Situations Ministry. At least 15 people, including the suicide bomber, were killed and 133 were wounded in the explosion, said Alexander Pogorely of the Emergency Situations Ministry's branch in southern Russia. He said 87 of the injured were hospitalized, many in grave condition. Russian television stations showed a shrapnel-littered square in front of the market, with blood stains on the pavement and rows of vehicles scarred by the blast…. No one has immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, which was the deadliest such attack in the region since a double suicide bombing killed 12, mostly police officers, in the province of Dagestan in April. Twin suicide bombings on Moscow subway in March killed 40 people and wounded over 100.
Republicans privately plot John Boehner-run House
Excerpt: House Republicans have held a series of private discussions to plot their first moves if they win the majority in November — with plans to use spending bills and subpoenas to rein in President Barack Obama and satiate their own ravenous base. Republicans recognize they won’t be able to do any broad governing even if they take back the House; they’d hold just one chamber of Congress, or at most one branch of government, if they also win the Senate. So officials familiar with the early discussions say they’ve centered on undoing key parts of the Obama agenda and repositioning Republicans as the party of fiscal responsibility heading into 2012 — a mantle the GOP surrendered during the big-spending George W. Bush years. (Some typical media bias evident in word choices like “ravenous” and “big spending…Bush years.” [compared to the last two years?] ~Bob.)
Capitol Hill employees owed $9.3 million in back taxes last year, data show
Taxes are for the little people. ~Bob. Excerpt: Capitol Hill employees owed $9.3 million in overdue taxes at the end of last year, a sliver of the $1 billion owed by federal workers nationwide but one with potential political ramifications for members of Congress. The debt among Hill employees has risen at a faster rate than the overall tax debt on the government's books, according to Internal Revenue Service data. It comes at a time when some Republican members are pushing for the firings of government workers who owe the IRS and President Obama has urged a crackdown on delinquent government contractors. The IRS data does not identify delinquent taxpayers by name, party affiliation or job title and does not indicate whether any members of Congress are among the scofflaws. It shows 638 employees, or about 4 percent, of the 18,000 Hill workers owe money, a slightly higher percentage than the 3 percent delinquency rate among all returns filed nationwide. The average unpaid tax bill is $12,787 among the Senate's delinquent taxpayers and $15,498 among those working in the House.
Gauging the Threat of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack
Excerpt: Over the past decade there has been an ongoing debate over the threat posed by electromagnetic pulse (EMP) to modern civilization. This debate has been the most heated perhaps in the United States, where the commission appointed by Congress to assess the threat to the United States warned of the dangers posed by EMP in reports released in 2004 and 2008. The commission also called for a national commitment to address the EMP threat by hardening the national infrastructure. There is little doubt that efforts by the United States to harden infrastructure against EMP — and its ability to manage critical infrastructure manually in the event of an EMP attack — have been eroded in recent decades as the Cold War ended and the threat of nuclear conflict with Russia lessened. This is also true of the U.S. military, which has spent little time contemplating such scenarios in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union. The cost of remedying the situation, especially retrofitting older systems rather than simply regulating that new systems be better hardened, is immense. And as with any issue involving massive amounts of money, the debate over guarding against EMP has become quite politicized in recent years.
Iran to release 1 of 3 American hikers held on spying charges
Excerpt: One of the three American hikers jailed in Iran for more than a year on spying charges will be released Saturday, at the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, Iranian culture ministry authorities said Thursday. Reporters were told by an official with the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance to gather in a northern Tehran hotel on Saturday for a meeting. The hikers' lawyer, Masoud Shafii, said it is widely expected that Sarah Shourd, the only woman among the three, will be released.
Momentum builds for extending all of President Bush's tax cuts
Be good for the stumbling Obama economy. ~Bob. Excerpt: Momentum built Thursday for extending all of the Bush-era tax cuts after President Obama avoided a veto threat and a key Senate Democrat voiced support for the extension. Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), a centrist who has been a key vote on several Obama administration initiatives, said Thursday that he supports extending all of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts until the economic recovery has taken root. Raising taxes on wealthier taxpayers could hurt the economy, he said. "I support extending all of the expiring tax cuts until Nebraska’s and the nation’s economy is in better shape, and perhaps longer, because raising taxes in a weak economy could impair recovery," Nelson said in a statement Thursday. Earlier in the day, Obama refrained from promising to veto legislation that extends tax cuts not only for the middle class, but also for individuals with incomes above $200,000 and families with incomes above $250,000. Pressed on the issue during an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Obama restated his opposition to extending low tax rates for wealthier taxpayers, but stopped well short of a veto threat.
Harry Reid’s Job Review
Excerpt: But back in June, Reid was bragging about creating jobs. Now Harry Reid says, “My job is to create jobs.” So we have the Majority Leader of the United States Senate say it is his job to create jobs. The same man also says the lack of jobs is not his fault. And the state he represents in Congress has the highest unemployment in the country. It appears Mr. Reid wants all the credit, none of the blame, and has nothing to show for all his work taking credit for something that doesn’t exist. Looks like he should be fired.
Democratic hypocrisy on Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac.
Excerpt: This is a copy of a letter from 2004 House Democrats and sent to then-President George W Bush. In it, the signatories complained that the administration had taken a hard line with ‘housing-related government sponsored enterprises’ (GSEs) such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by insisting on emphasizing fiscal prudence and responsible lending over increased affordable housing access. The relevant section? We have been concerned that the Administration’s legislative proposal regarding the GSEs would weaken affordable housing performance by the GSEs, by emphasizing only safety and soundness. While the GSEs’ affordable housing mission is not in any way incompatible with their safety and soundness, an exclusive focus on safety and soundness is likely to come, in practice, at the expense of affordable housing. Needless to say, this letter more or less completely subverts the narrative - lovingly created during the 2008 campaign, and kept up ever since - that the entire housing meltdown was really the (racist) Republicans’ fault.
I Am So Tired of Malthus
Excerpt: Daily we are deluged with gloom about how we are overwhelming the Earth’s ability to sustain and support our growing numbers. Increasing population is again being hailed as the catastrophe of the century. In addition, floods and droughts are said to be leading to widespread crop loss. The erosion of topsoil is claimed to be affecting production. It is said that we are overdrawing our resources, with more people going hungry. Paul Ehrlich and the late Stephen Schneider assure us that we are way past the tipping point, that widespread starvation is unavoidable. Is this true? Is increasing hunger inevitable for our future? Are we really going downhill? Are climate changes (natural or anthropogenic) making things worse for the poorest of the poor? Are we running out of food? Is this what we have to face? (...) To me, that simple chart represents an amazing accomplishment. What makes it amazing is that from 1960 to 2000, the world population doubled. It went from three billion to six billion. Simply to stay even, we needed to double production of all foodstuffs. We did that, we doubled global production, and more. (As I’ve said, my professors gave me Paul Ehrlich’s Population Bomb as received truth and “settled” science. Being a fellow of action, I decided not to have children of my own so as not to contribute to the famines and total depletion of resources due to hit the US in the 1990s. Now the west has a collapsing birth rate that threatens civilization. ~Bob)
Mexican Army in armed standoff in America!
Report of Mexican military helping drug smugglers in the US.
Sheriff rides to town
Excerpt: When Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio rolls into Nashua next weekend, he’ll bring with him a firestorm of controversy. Arpaio, the featured speaker at a Nashua Republican City Committee fundraiser next Sunday, was the target of a lawsuit filed by the federal government last week. The lawsuit filed Thursday accused Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona, of failing to turn over documents relating to an investigation into whether his aggressive techniques to curb illegal immigration violated civil rights law.
Jarhead under siege
iPhone-Controlled Drone Hits Market
Excerpt: Want to own your own remote-controlled drone? Parrot, a technology firm, says its unmanned aircraft, which can be operated using an iPhone, is available for purchase starting today. The "augmented reality" toy aircraft, known as the AR Drone, has four rotors and is equipped with two cameras. Rather than a traditional joystick control, the drone is directed using the accelerometer in the iPhone, meaning operators can simply tilt their hands in one direction or another; the camera can be directed just by touching the screen. (...) Weighing in at three-quarters of a pound, the tiny drone is smaller than most of the Pentagon's unmanned aircraft, but it is, like many military drones, equipped with a camera that broadcasts video back to the operator, allowing it to act as a mini-spy plane. (What little privacy we still had just went away. Think of the military and intel uses! Then apply them to private detectives, gangs, paparazzi, your nosy neighbors...or anybody with $300. Now, we ALL live in glass houses. Hell, I have $300, but nobody I want to spy on. They don't mention its range or max altitude, though; I'm guessing not very far. Ron P. Last fall, my bride said we had top get heavy curtains for the bedroom, as the leaves were off the trees and the neighbors could see in. I said, “Let them get curtains if they don’t want to see! ~Bob)
I read your article entitled "I am 63 and Tired." I belong to the Tea Party Patriots in Hartford CT and would love to hear from you. The coordination committee is interested in having you speak at our October 2nd Rally. (Alas, I have work commitments. Besides, wouldn’t want to tee off my pal Al Sharpton. ~Bob.)
Climate: New study slashes estimate of icecap loss
Excerpt: Estimates of the rate of ice loss from Greenland and West Antarctica, one of the most worrying questions in the global warming debate, should be halved, according to Dutch and US scientists. In the last two years, several teams have estimated Greenland is shedding roughly 230 gigatonnes of ice, or 230 billion tonnes, per year and West Antarctica around 132 gigatonnes annually. Together, that would account for more than half of the annual three-millimetre (0.2 inch) yearly rise in sea levels, a pace that compares dramatically with 1.8mm (0.07 inches) annually in the early 1960s. But, according to the new study, published in the September issue of the journal Nature Geoscience, the ice estimates fail to correct for a phenomenon known as glacial isostatic adjustment. This is the term for the rebounding of Earth’s crust following the last Ice Age.