Thursday, September 16, 2010

Political Digest September 16, 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.

Tea Party win strikes blow to GOP hopes of winning Senate in Nov.
Congratulations to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Tea Party allies. First they gave him the only candidate in Nevada he had a hope of beating, not they have pretty much assured liberal Democrat control of the Senate for the next two years. I hope I’m wrong, of course, but there are lots of things are coming I hope I’m wrong about. This was another big night for the Tea Party. I hope they have a bigger night in November, but I doubt it. They suffer from the echo effect, talking to each other and thinking they are unbeatable. They don’t realize the majority of voters are paying very little attention, which is why all the attack ads are over done and aimed low. ~Bob. Tea Party-backed Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell handed a shocking defeat to national Republicans Tuesday and endangered GOP chances of taking control of the Senate. Her win in the Delaware Republican Senate primary was fueled by the involvement of the Tea Party Express, which spent close to $300,000 on TV and radio ads slamming Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), who had the party’s backing. With 86 percent of the precincts, O'Donnell defeated Castle 54 percent to 46 percent. Before the vote totals came in, strategists were debating whether state and national Republicans would support O’Donnell and what her victory would do to newfound Republican hopes of taking back the Senate this fall. Castle was one of the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s (NRSC) top Senate recruits this cycle and even the most optimistic of Senate projections suggest the party is unlikely to take back the majority without winning Delaware. The party needs 10 seats to win control of the chamber.

Junior Super Tuesday: O’Donnell Takes Delaware
Excerpt: Well, ABC News billed today’s primaries as the “Last Chance for Tea.” What it really was, was the last chance for intramural warfare on the right before November. The Tea has just begun. And in New York, Tuesday’s primary was a chance to show that chaos is never far away. What else do you expect where liberals run everything? Taking stock of the major primaries around the country, the big action was in Delaware, where upstart and Palin-endorsed Christine O’Donnell defeated Rep. Mike Castle in the GOP primary by about 2000 votes, which puts a seat thought to be safe for Republicans into play for the Democrats. There has been enough said about this race to last a lifetime. Interestingly, GOP turnout trounced Democrat turnout in Delaware. That’s likely a function of the high interest in the O’Donnell/Castle contest, and the boredom on the other side. That may carry over into November, which would obviously be good for the GOP side in a deep blue state. The state GOP’s overt and aggressive intervention against O’Donnell may carry over to November too, though. Closing ranks will not be easy. (I'm very concerned. Although all 3 of those I wanted to win did so, and I don't have to pull off any bumper stickers, I'm concerned first that turnout was so light, and second that most of the Republicans and Tea Party people I've talked to are treating the upcoming November election as though we've already won. The madness of overconfidence is rampant, at least here. And, I'm not qualified to speak to it. ARGH! Ron P. Actually, Ron, you are very qualified. You're an activist who pays attention, thus one of a tiny minority of elite voters. Really. Right now, I’m in the middle of Barbara Tuchman’s “A Distant Mirror” about the 14th century. The Tea Party is starting to remind me a peasant rebellion she describes in France where the peasants thought that their numbers and righteous cause ensured victory—until trained warriors arrived and slaughtered them. ~Bob.)

Democrats will keep Delaware seat, but look at the bright side
Excerpt: Now that Christine O’Donnell has won the GOP Senate primary in Delaware, Democrats will definitely retain Joe Biden’s old Senate seat. It’s not because O’Donnell is too conservative — it’s because of her numerous and serious personal issues. For those seeking specifics, there are plenty…. This is just the year for a candidate to win with a campaign based almost entirely on paranoid rhetoric about the party establishment trying to do her in. Expect to hear more, but also expect that more O’Donnell’s will mean fewer citizen-candidates in the future, because she will hurt the credibility of tea partiers. I don’t expect the Democratic nominee, Chris Coons, to waste any time by debating her. There is something to be said for taking a chance in order to get a better senator — for nominating a serious conservative over an “electable” moderate like Charlie Crist or Arlen Specter. I’m all for it. I like the idea that someone like O’Donnell can win. If only it wasn’t her.

Pelosi: Tea Party primary victories 'very positive' for Democrats
Excerpt: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cheered the Tea Party victories in Tuesday’s Republican primaries, saying the results were “very positive” for Democrats. “What happened for Democrats last night was very positive,” Pelosi told reporters after addressing the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation at the Capitol Wednesday morning. “We were very pleased with the candidates that we drew, and they offer a great contrast in the election as to the clarity of the choice.” Pelosi’s comments are in line with the Democratic mood following the upset win of Tea Party-backed Christine O’Donnell over Rep. Mike Castle, a long-serving moderate, in the Delaware GOP primary for Senate. Democrats and independent political analysts believe O’Donnell’s win gives the party a much better shot at keeping the seat, long held by Vice President Joe Biden, and, by extension, the Senate majority. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) also said on Wednesday that the Tea Party's primary successes point to a deep division in the GOP, as Tea Party candidates have run to the right of establishment Republicans, and the party establishment in some cases — including Delaware — has actively campaigned against Tea Party candidates. (Wish I disagreed. ~Bob)

Lynch survives, Urquhart conquers
Excerpt: New York Republicans are staring at the prospect of a familiar obstacle in New York's 23rd District, where lawyer Matt Doheny defeated tea party darling Doug Hoffman for the GOP nomination. In a 2009 special election against Democrat Bill Owens, Hoffman - then running on the Conservative Party ballot line - narrowly lost his bid for the historically Republican seat. Hoffman is poised to run on the Conservative Party line once again - a prospect that would siphon votes from Doheny. It's the best possible outcome for Owens, who has an otherwise tentative hold on a district solidly in the path of national Republicans pursuing a House majority.

Tea party wins in northeastern primaries could bode well for Democrats
Excerpt: In the era of the "tea party," is the moderate northeastern Republican in danger of going completely extinct? Tuesday's primaries could give a clue. Although tea party candidates have bumped off establishment favorites in GOP primaries this year, such results have generally come in conservative states where the victors also have a serious shot at winning in November. The Northeast, meanwhile, is known for a more moderate, even liberal, electorate. In these parts, moderate congressional Republicans have seen their numbers decline over the past few election cycles, with many longtime officeholders sent packing by the Democrats. (Elections are won in the center, and the center is in a different place in each state. If we can’t elect a Republican majority, which may include RINOs, we have to accept liberal Democrat control of the Congress, the committees and the process. And the future of the country. ~Bob.)

Worth Reading: The Money of Fools: Part II by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Words are supposed to convey thoughts, but they can also obliterate thoughts and shut down thinking. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, a catchword can "delay further analysis for fifty years." Holmes also said, "think things, not words." When you are satisfied to accept words, without thinking beyond those words to the things-- the tangible realities of the world-- you are confirming what philosopher Thomas Hobbes said in the 17th century, that words are wise men's counters but they are the money of fools. Even in matters of life and death, too many people accept words instead of thinking, leaving themselves wide open to people who are clever at spinning words. The whole controversy about "health care reform" is a classic example. "Health care" and medical care are not the same thing. The confusion between the two spreads more confusion, when advocates of government-run medical care point to longer life expectancies in some other countries where government runs the medical system. Health care affects longevity, but health care includes far more than medical care. Health care includes such things as diet, exercise and avoiding things that can shorten your life, such as drug addiction, reckless driving and homicide. If you stop and think-- which catchwords can deflect us from doing-- it is clear that homicide and car crashes are not things that doctors can prevent. Moreover, if you compare longevity among countries, leaving out homicide and car crashes, Americans have the longest lifespan in the western world. Why then are people talking about gross statistics on longevity, as a reason to change our medical care system? Since this is a life and death issue, we need to think about the realities of the world, not the clever words of spinmeisters trying to justify a government takeover of medical care. American medical care leads the world in things like cancer survival rates, which medical care affects far more than it affects people's behavior that leads to obesity and narcotics addiction, as well as such other things as homicide and reckless driving.

Excellent column: Americans have good reason not to believe in Obamanomics
Excerpt: The used-car market is an important mechanism for redistributing wealth to low-income persons: The price of a car drops when it is driven out of the dealership, but much of its transportation value remains when it enters the used-car market. Unfortunately for low-income people, the average price of a three-year-old automobile has increased more than 10 percent since last summer. This is largely because the Car Allowance Rebate System, aka "Cash for Clunkers," which ended in August 2009, cut the supply of used cars. Cash for Clunkers provided up to $4,500 to persons who traded in a car in order to purchase a new car with better gas mileage, but it stipulated that the used car had to be scrapped. The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby reports that a study by shows that all but 125,000 of the 700,000 cars sold during the clunkers program would have been bought even if no subsidy had been available. If this is so, each incremental sale cost taxpayers $24,000. Even on environmental grounds the program was, Jacoby argues, "an exorbitant dud": The reduction in carbon dioxide from removing older cars from the road cost, according to research at the University of California at Davis, $237 a ton (the international market prices carbon emissions credits at about $20 a ton) and the new higher-mileage cars mean a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions of less than what Americans emit every hour. Obama is desperately urging consumers and investors to have confidence in his understanding of economics. They may, however, remember his characteristic certitude that "cash for clunkers" was "successful beyond anybody's imagination."

Rangel, under ethics cloud, faces primary voters
Excerpt: Facing ethics charges in Washington and upstart challengers at home, Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) won a resounding victory Tuesday to keep the Harlem-based House seat that he has easily controlled for 40 years. (Swamp still needs draining, Nancy. Giving that three prominent members of the black caucus face ethics charges, could it be that black voters in those districts actually approve of candidates who rip off the establishment? ~Bob.)

Pax Americana
Excerpt: The Middle East is now sliding toward war, with potentially devastating ripple effects far beyond the region. Obama may not want it, but he has made war a near certainty by making the United States look like "the weaker horse" in a very tough neighborhood. He would never make that same mistake on Chicago's South Side. Remember, it was peace-loving Jimmy Carter who brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power in Iran and thereby set off a war with Saddam Hussein that killed a million people. It is the fools of history, and not just the knaves, who bring catastrophe in their wake. Obama sure looks like another one of them. With Obama, Pax Americana seems ready to crumble. You can't be a halfway superpower in the world; you either are one or you aren't. Military strength is not just the ability to project force, but the visible will to use it under a clear set of conditions. American power and will have been used in defense of good and decent causes, like defeating Hitler and containing Stalin. For the last six decades, we have kept the peace among the hungry jackals of the world by wielding a credible U.S. deterrent at very great expense. We fought bloody proxy wars in Korea, Vietnam, and twice in Iraq. Our will and our capacity have kept the world's crazies at bay. But now it seems we've lost our way. The United States kept the peace for sixty years when nobody else could be trusted to do it. That is why the famously brave Western Europeans stayed on our side during the Cold War, shivering in their pompons. They knew perfectly well where the real danger lay. It is only lately that they've plumb forgotten what we did to protect them. When the first Euro-socialist to rise to the U.S. Presidency, Barack Obama, took office, Europeans went mad with joy. Now they are feeling the chill down their backs: What if he's a real socialist? What if he is as wishy-washy as they all are in social democratic Europe? They may yet come to regret their moment of historical amnesia.

Rauf on the Ropes
Excerpt: The white flag hasn’t reached the top of the flagpole yet, but Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf all but surrendered on Monday morning in his battle to build a Muslim interfaith community center with a prayer room two blocks from Ground Zero. At an unusual meeting Monday morning at the Council on Foreign Relations in midtown Manhattan, Rauf said that he wanted to find a “solution” to the furious imbroglio over the planned center, which opponents say is inappropriate, insensitive to the memory of those who died in the 9/11 attacks, and likely to inflame tensions rather than build bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims. Saying that his advisors were “looking at every option,” including a suggestion that the project be delayed until it could win greater support and become less divisive, the imam pledged to “do what’s best for all.”

Ohio GOP senator leaning against extending Bush tax cuts
Excerpt: Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), an outspoken budget hawk who is not afraid to buck his party, is leaning against voting for an extension of tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush. “My gut is probably no,” Voinovich told The Hill. “I think I would probably not vote, period, for it.” Voinovich also said he would not vote only to extend tax cuts for middle-class families earning less than $250,000 a year. Voinovich said Congress needs to tackle tax reform and extending the Bush tax cuts for another two years would only “kick the can down the road.” My feeling at this stage of the game is we need to do tax reform,” Voinovich said. President Obama has called on Congress to extend tax cuts for individuals making less than $200,000 and families with incomes below $250,000. Obama would end tax cuts for people with higher incomes. 9and if this tax hike pushes the country back into a deep recession, how will revenues affect the deficit? ~Bob.)

Senate Republicans unveil a plan to make Bush tax cuts permanent
Excerpt: Even as they hammer Democrats for running up record budget deficits, Senate Republicans are rolling out a plan to permanently extend an array of expiring tax breaks that would deprive the Treasury of more than $4 trillion over the next decade, nearly doubling projected deficits over that period unless dramatic spending cuts are made. (You can see the bias of this WaPo writer. Taxes are not a zero sum game. JFK cut capital gains taxes and government revenue increased. If you raise taxes and make the recession worse, you lose on both ends. ~Bob.)

Inestimable Harm
Excerpt: The national debate about health-care insurance has underscored one indisputable fact: In every way imaginable — socially, ideologically, culturally, politically, and financially — the American public is profoundly divided. There is one area of division that is starker, more enduring, more contentious, and with greater potential to leave lasting scars than others; and that is the area of race. Each of the other factors of American life intersects with race, thereby compounding its effect upon all Americans. If I have learned one thing from life, it is that race is the engine that drives the political Left. When all else fails, that segment of America goes to the default position of using race to achieve its objectives. In the courtrooms, on college campuses, and, most especially, in our politics, race is a central theme. Where it does not naturally rise to the surface, there are those who will manufacture and amplify it. Such is the case with the claims that the “Tea Partiers” are a bunch of racists and that many of them spat upon members of the Congressional Black Caucus and called them “n*****s.” I am convinced beyond any doubt that all of this is part of the strategic plan being implemented by the Left in its current campaign to remake America. In a video that has been played repeatedly showing CBC members as they walked past the tea partiers, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is seen using his telephone to tape the event. If he had any evidence to corroborate the racial claims, why hasn’t he come forward with his phone by now to settle this matter? I believe we all know the answer. I agree with earlier Corner posts on the matter: By their reckless accusations, those who are alleging “racism” without evidence are doing inestimable harm to the social fabric of America.

Charges filed in Overland Park banjo self-defense case
Excerpt: Attacked by a man wielding a frying pan and a knife, an Overland Park man swung his banjo. Police say the Monday banjo blow to the head stopped the assailant, who was treated for a cut and taken to jail. On Tuesday, Johnson County prosecutors charged Alexander L. Hilton with aggravated assault and disorderly conduct. The incident happened about 9 p.m. Monday at an apartment in the 7600 block of Shawnee Mission Parkway, police said. The two 21-year-old friends were drinking and arguing about a band when Hilton grabbed the kitchen weapons and attacked, police said. The victim happened to have banjo in hand and used it in self defense, they said. The smell of alcohol was prevalent, police said. (Ah, crap. Now we’ll have a big national fight to outlaw banjos, or at least limit size and number of strings. I can see the bumper stickers: When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will sing Bluegrass! ~Bob.)

The 1099 Insurrection
Excerpt: Think about a midsized trucking company. The back office would have to collect hundreds of thousands of receipts from every gas station where its drivers filled up and figure out where it spent more than $600 that year. Then it would also need to match those payments to the stations' corporate parents. Most Democrats now claim they were blindsided and didn't understand the implications of the 1099 provision—which is typical of the slapdash, destructive way the bill was written and passed. As the critics claimed, most Members had no idea what they were voting on. Some 239 House Democrats voted to dump the 1099 provision in August, and the repeal would have passed except Speaker Pelosi rigged the vote procedurally so it needed a two-thirds majority. She thus gave Democrats the cover of a repeal vote without actually repealing it. In the Senate today, Nebraska Republican Mike Johanns will offer his amendment to scrap the new 1099 rules altogether. But the White House is opposing this because it fears it would set a precedent for repealing the larger health bill. Over the weekend the Treasury Department pronounced the Johanns amendment "not acceptable in its current form." (I'm pretty sure this also includes non-profit organizations. So, for example, a small opera company will not only have to track and 1099 its landlord and performers, but suppliers of lighting and sound equipment, the lumberyard where they bought the materials for their sets, the office supply store where they get the toner and such for their computer printers, the company that sold/rented them the musical scores and librettos, the recipients of most royalties, the newspapers and magazines they buy advertising in, the lawyer who advises them, and the accountant who will be needed to deal with all the new requirements. Most of these expenses were already being tracked just as they would've been in a for-profit business, but the additional matching up of vendors to see if they are over the $600 mark will be expensive and time consuming. And this is in a business that, by definition, doesn't make any money to begin with. Even a dedicated bean-counter would see there isn't much point in it. The problem is we are being ruled by ideologues, who are even worse than bean-counters. Ron P.)

What Happens When Illegals Leave?
Excerpt: Crime in Arizona dropped sharply in 2009, with overall violent crime down by 13.9 percent. FBI statistics released on Monday show murder and non-negligent manslaughter dropped by 22 percent in 2009. Last year, 354 people were victims of murder or manslaughter, compared to 454 people the year earlier. Forcible rape was down by 3.8 percent, and both robbery and aggravated assault dropped by double digits. Property crimes dropped by nearly 12 percent, lead by a 32 percent decline in motor vehicle theft.

Nancy Pelosi, Wicked Witch of the West
Political ad

Maine GOP candidate LePage swears at reporter, storms out
My guess is we can’t count on the GOP winning that statehouse. He may be in the wrong biz. ~Bob. Excerpt: Here's how you know your press conference didn't go so well: You abruptly cut it short and storm out. That's what happened Monday to Paul LePage, the GOP nominee for governor in Maine. LePage has been facing questions from the press recently over alleged tax violations stemming from real estate his wife owns in Maine and Florida. When reporters dogged LePage for answers, the candidate became visibly angry and left the room, though he did respond to a few questions on the way out. WMTW has video of the exchange.

Letter from Mexico: In no mood for a fiesta
Excerpt: These days the news feels like an endless rerun of the same cop show as one midlevel drug capo after another is arrested or killed. Last month it was El Nacho. Then it was La Barbie. This week, El Grande. All of them - beefy thugs with fashionable sports shirts, living in nice big houses, with lots of guns and grenades - are quickly replaced. "Because when one is captured, the next in line steps up," said Jorge Romero, a representative in the National Congress. A popular movie in theaters here to commemorate the bicentennial is called simply "Hell." Billboards touting the film are a tragicomical tableau of the state of the state: the grinning narco in his cowboy hat and white suit standing alongside a fictional version of the real-life "El Pozolero," the infamous Stewmaker, who disposed of corpses in a 50-gallon drum of lye. The movie is gruesome but funny, and audiences laugh and gasp, as corrupt cops, mayors, dopers and even a priest are mowed down by AK-47s and dispatched with the newest symbol of Mexican macho - the chain saw. (Harry Reid and the Democrats have a solution—invite “Hell” here. They’ll fit in perfectly in Chicago and Detroit. ~Bob.)

The naked stimulus: Why savings stimulate more than spending
Excerpt: The Obama administration's stimulus package may have boosted spending in the short-term, but savings have a more lasting impact on the broader economy. Despite the struggling economy, President Obama keeps arguing that his stimulus package is producing GDP growth that's far better than the disaster that would have ensued without the $862 billion in emergency spending. The reason, he and his advisors maintain, is that what really counts is spending -- the more the better, at least for now. The sole thrust of the administration's policy is to boost consumer and government spending by borrowing heavily, and then recycling those dollars to people who are most likely to spend them on restaurant meals, PCs or toys. At the same time, it's vastly lifting federal outlays on everything from auto fleets to subsidies for solar panels. All that "new" spending supposedly saved the economy. As Obama stated in December, "When you lose a trillion dollars in demand, you need to have a big enough recovery package to make up for the lost demand." In August, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner used the "consumption is king" rationale to champion keeping the Bush tax cuts for middle-income Americans who typically spend the cash, and ending them for high-earners, who save most of it. But the administration's policy has a fundamental flaw. By basic economic math, it's impossible to raise GDP by borrowing from one group of people who would otherwise save that money, and transferring it to another group of people, and to the government, to spend. Savings, in the short term, have precisely the same impact on national income as spending. The reason couldn't be simpler: All savings are spent. Let's look at the big picture. GDP measures all spending on all the goods and services that America produces. Savings translate, dollar for dollar, into a major component of that total spending: investment. All the money that the administration successfully moves from savings to consumption simply channels one type of spending to another, in precisely offsetting amounts. It's like filling a swimming pool from one end, and draining it from the other end. The level doesn't change. Nor does GDP change when the government drains investment to lift consumption.

Seven Empty Promises About ObamaCare
I disagree with this writer on one point. They were not “empty promises.” They were deliberate lies to get the bill through. ~Bob. Excerpt: The bill passed, but the case didn’t take. Since Obama signed the bill into law, its unpopularity has, according to’s multi-poll aggregate, held steady, with roughly 48 percent of the public opposed. Liberal health care activists trying to sell the law and help its supporters in Congress have been forced to backtrack on their messaging—and in some cases, have found that their best strategy is to avoid mentioning the law at all. Now, the Obama administration and its allies are launching a multimillion dollar ad campaign intended to sell the public on the law’s virtues. The president and his administration, it seems, are still doing everything they can to make the case for reform. The problem is that so much of that case isn’t likely to pay off. Here are seven empty promises made about ObamaCare:

Sebelius Has a List
Excerpt: 'As a consequence of us getting 30 million additional people health care, at the margins that's going to increase our costs—we knew that," President Obama said at his press conference Friday in response to a question about rising health spending.
That wasn't how he sold the plan, but, anyway, that's a truism. Here's another: The White House was always going to blame insurance companies for any cost increases, even when its own policies cause them. Witness Kathleen Sebelius's Thursday letter to America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry trade group—a thuggish message even by her standards. The Health and Human Services secretary wrote that some insurers have been attributing part of their 2011 premium increases to ObamaCare and warned that "there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases." Zero tolerance for expressing an opinion, or offering an explanation to policyholders? They're more subtle than this in Caracas. What Ms. Sebelius really means is that the government will prohibit insurers from doing business if reality is not politically convenient for Democrats. ObamaCare includes a slew of mandated benefits for next year, such as allowing children to remain on their parents' plans until age 26 and "free" preventative care (i.e., no direct out-of-pocket cost sharing for consumers). The tone of Ms. Sebelius's letter suggests that she doesn't understand that money is exchanged for goods and services, and that if Congress mandates new benefits, premiums will rise. (For Democrats, their good intentions should over rule bad results or the laws of economics. ~Bob.)

U.S. State Steps in to Meet City's Debt Cost
Kicking the can down the road. It’s being down across the country and in socialist countries around the world. But the cans gets heavier every day. ~Bob. Excerpt: The state of Pennsylvania has stepped in to help its capital city, Harrisburg, avoid a default. The state will advance next year's state aid so that the money can be used to make a $3.3 million bond interest payment due this week, says the Financial Times.

When Socialism Creeps In . . .
Excerpt: Survey the world’s statist systems of every stripe, from soft to hard. One sees either failure and misery or stasis and lethargy. At the most extreme, a North Korea is turning into a Neanderthal society where subjects eat grass. Castro’s Cuba is imploding, and the Great Leader in his dotage is now renouncing his communist catastrophe. Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela proves that an even an oil-rich exporter can destroy itself with self-imposed socialism. India progressed only when it adopted free markets. People do not outsource 1-800 numbers to socialist paradises. No need to review the Soviet collapse or the change in China from a peasant to a wealth-building capitalist society. Europe for a while longer works despite (rather than because of) democratic socialism. From Germany to Greece, Europe is moving away from the encroaching public sector that has nearly destroyed the European Union. So the trend of the world — even after the meltdown of September 2008 — is away from statism, except in the United States.

For Army, It's the Charge of the Drones
Excerpt: In a remote stretch of desert in southeastern New Mexico, the U.S. Army is experimenting with gadgetry that may play a key role in the battlefields of the not-too-distant future. Beer-keg-shaped drones hover over a simulated battlefield, tracking targets of interest. Small, portable robots with an odd resemblance to the computer-animated hero of the movie "WALL-E" peer around corners, relaying sound and digital images. Sensors silently track enemy movements. Some of these devices are already in service, but the Army wants to link them together on a secure mobile network that gives soldiers a detailed look at the battlefield in real time. The Army has outfitted a number of armored trucks with "network integration kits" that bundle together information from the different sensors, turning the vehicles into roving digital command posts. (Neat new toys that could reduce exposure of troops to harm. –Ron P. In my next war, I want to be a drone pilot based in the US. You have breakfast, read the paper, go to work, fly your drone and kill some Islamic terrorists. Then you eat lunch in the chow hall, excuse me the dining facility, kill some more terrorists in the afternoon, and have a BBQ with your neighbors that evening. Life is good. ~Bob)

Quotes from the Patriot Post
"Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself." --economist Milton Friedman

Don't know much about history: "[I]t's both instructive and discouraging to look at the state of America circa 1938 -- instructive because the nature of the recovery that followed refutes the arguments dominating today's public debate, discouraging because it's hard to see anything like the miracle of the 1940s happening again." --New York Times columnist Paul Krugman ("What Krugman calls 'the miracle of the 1940s' is more commonly known as World War II, a ruinous conflict that cost some 60 million lives, including more than 400,000 American ones, and that entailed the near-extermination of Europe's Jewish population." --WSJ columnist James Taranto)

"According to government auditors, the stimulus money is being held up because there aren't enough government workers to oversee the spending. So follow me, in other words, government workers who aren't there are needed to spend money we don't have to create jobs that don't exist." --comedian Jay Leno

Liberal Crackup
Excerpt: Krugman says that what we're witnessing is "political craziness." Therefore, the overwhelming majority of Americans who think our borders ought to be secure and think we should have the right to determine who enters our country are politically crazy. Americans who can find nothing in the U.S. Constitution granting Congress the power to take over our health care system are politically crazy. Americans who think a mosque should not be built in the shadows of the Muslim-destroyed World Trade Center are simply religious bigots. By the way, those who oppose the building are not saying there's no legal or constitutional right to do so any more than they would say a person has no legal or constitutional right to curse his parents, but neither is a good idea. In Thomas Sowell's column on the topic (8/31/10), he reminds us that "If we all did everything that we have a legal right to do, we could not even survive as individuals, much less as a society." Krugman predicts that political craziness, and by inference crazy Americans, will result in a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives and play chicken with the federal budget. Chicken with the budget is precisely what has called for. Already they've obtained the pledges of 165 congressional candidates not to fund any part of Obamacare. While America's liberal elite have not reached the depths of tyrants such as Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Hitler, they share a common vision and, as such, differ only in degree but not kind. Both denounce free markets and voluntary exchange. They are for control and coercion by the state. They believe they have superior wisdom to the masses and they have been ordained to forcibly impose that wisdom on the rest of us. They, like any other tyrant, have what they see as good reasons for restricting the freedom of others.

Pot Flavored Ice Cream Anyone?
You can’t make this stuff up. Legalize pot—make liberals too stoned to bother voting. ~Bob. Excerpt: A new medical marijuana dispensary in Soquel is offering its customers a tasty alternative to smoking: enjoying a bowl of pot-infused ice cream. At Crème De Cana, the half pints of ice cream have titles that may have Ben and Jerry taking notes. The current flavors owner Jonathan Kolodinski offers at Creme De Canna, which opened last week, are Banannabis Foster, Straw-Mari Cheesecake and TRIPLE Chocolate Brownie. Kolodinski said more flavors are in the works.

McKitrick: Understanding the Climategate Inquiries
Excerpt: News broke on or around 19 November 2009 that a large archive of emails and files from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in the UK had been released on the internet. The contents of the files were sufficiently disconcerting to the public, governments and university administrations that a number of inquiries were established. Several of my research projects were discussed not only in the so-called “Climategate” emails themselves, but also in the investigations, and I made detailed submissions of evidence to three of the panels. Consequently I take considerable interest in the outcome of these inquiries, especially with regards to whether they approached the issues impartially, investigated thoroughly and drew valid conclusions that fully reflected the evidence. As of 30 August 2010 all five had issued their reports. The overall impression that has been created is that the scientists and their work were vindicated. (...) Considerable reliance is being placed upon the outcome of these investigations. As I will show, for the most part the inquiries were flawed, but where they actually functioned as proper inquiries, they upheld many criticisms. But a surprising number of issues were sidestepped or handled inadequately. The world still awaits a proper inquiry into climategate: one that is not stacked with global warming advocates, and one that is prepared to cross-examine evidence, interview critics as well as supporters of the CRU and other IPCC players, and follow the evidence where it clearly leads. (This guy knows if anyone does. The author is one of the main principals of the story. Ron P.)

The Obamacare Inquisitions: A Brief, Brutish History
Excerpt: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (below right) is just the latest creepy keeper of the Obamacare enemies list. The White House has been keeping tabs on individual and corporate critics of the federal health care takeover for more than a year. It started with the health czar's Internet Snitch Brigade. Remember? Last August, the White House Office of Health Reform called on its ground troops to report on fellow citizens who talked smack about the Democratic plan. Team Obama issued an all-points bulletin on the taxpayer-funded White House website soliciting informant e-mails:

Send away the Marines?
Excerpt: "Send in the Marines!" For many generations, successive U.S. presidents have given those orders, from early in our nation's history in places like Montezuma's palaces in Mexico to the Barbary pirates' shores of Tripoli, and more recently from the halls of Saddam Hussein in Iraq to the pirate-infested coast of Somalia. Of late, the question occurs: Will Barack Obama be the first American president to say, "Send away the Marines" - as in permanently? That is a not-unreasonable inference to draw from the myriad steps being taken by the Obama Defense Department at the moment - steps that could threaten the future viability of the Marine Corps. Consider the following examples: (It's somewhat disturbing that this issue is still being talked about given the success and performance of Marines in combat today. Maybe there are people out there who believe combining the Army and Marine Corps will somehow make the Army a better fighting force, but that won't happen until and unless the entire Army adopts and embraces the training and discipline that make the Corps what it is...the finest and most feared fighting force in the world today. When I say this, please know that I am not knocking the brother retired from Special Forces and was in every aspect of the word a warrior. But the Army is not imbued service wide with the "Warrior Ethos" that runs through the veins of every person who has ever earned the title of United States Marine. But the time is ripe...maybe riper than it has ever been, to fold the colors and play Taps for the Corps. The political environment in our nation's Capital today lends itself to doing away with anything or anyone or any organization that lends itself to being outside their norm. General Conway has spoken out in defiance of the proposal to do away with Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and his views are seen as archaic and out of touch with reality. If General Amos acquiesces, then the Corps may live to fight another day. If he maintains the same opinion of General Conway and expresses it publicly, then I fear for the future existence of the Marine Corps. I'm hoping that if and when the actual proposal comes to retire the colors of the Corps that America will rise up in protest from ocean to ocean and border to border. But as it has been proven time and again lately in Washington D.C., the powers that be could care less what the people of this country want or say. –MasterGuns. Inevitable that the Corps will be a political target. You can’t destroy America while the Corps exists, and you cannot defeat the Corps in battle. But no Marine of any party will ever vote for a politician who attacks the Corps, so they must chip away. ~Bob.)

Koran burner Derek Fenton booted from his job at NJ Transit
Excerpt: The protester who burned pages from the Koran outside a planned mosque near Ground Zero has been fired from NJTransit, sources and authorities said Tuesday. Derek Fenton's 11-year career at the agency came to an abrupt halt Monday after photographs of him ripping pages from the Muslim holy book and setting them ablaze appeared in newspapers. (It would have been interesting to see if he had burned a Bible if he would have been fired, and with such speed. Some religions are "more equal than others." –DH)

Dem health bill foes escape payback
Because most of them would have voted for the bill if needed, were allowed to “vote off,” as we used to say, by Pelosi to protect their seats. Put “foes” in quotes. ~Bob. Excerpt: After 34 House Democrats voted against the health care bill in March, liberal groups and their allies in the labor movement vowed to exact revenge. The threats ranged from crippling primary election challenges to a withdrawal of support for some of the offending lawmakers. In a few cases, activists even went so far as to say they would run third-party candidates against the Democrats in November. But five months later, the group of 34 has emerged from primary season not much worse for the wear. Every one of the 30 lawmakers who voted against the health care bill and is seeking another term won re-nomination.

What are we getting for our healthcare dollars?
Excerpt: I think it has become politically incorrect to say anything positive about the U.S. health care system. What other reason would the authors of a Health Affairs study have for burying the important good news deep in the article, while leading with a relatively trivial (and maybe not even correct) complaint? Here’s why the study is important. The conventional wisdom is that extra spending on U.S. health care is producing very little marginal improvement in health outcomes. Another conventional idea is that we are wasting a lot of money on the elderly. Both notions are completely debunked by the graph below, which compares the reduction in mortality to the increased spending that produced it for common conditions in U.S. hospitals from 2000 to 2004.

Wrong Court Ruled on Arizona Law
Excerpt: In a stunning development that could potentially send the nation into a Constitutional crisis, an astute attorney who is well-versed in Constitutional law states that the ruling against the State of Arizona by Judge Susan Bolton concerning its new immigration law is illegal. The attorney in question submitted her assertion in a special article in the Canada Free Press. Her argument states in part, "Does anyone read the US . Constitution these days? American lawyers don’t read it. Federal Judge Susan R. Bolton apparently has never read it. Same goes for our illustrious Attorney General Eric Holder. But this lawyer has read it and she is going to show you something in Our Constitution which is as plain as the nose on your face. "Article III, Sec. 2, clause 2 says: "In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction . . . ." In other words, the Judge in the Arizona case has absolutely no Constitutional jurisdiction over the matter upon which she ruled.

Turkey's Constitutional Referendum: The Beginning of the End?
Excerpt: The struggle for Turkey's political soul continues -- and Turkey's self-proclaimed moderate Islamists are winning. The struggle has major implications for the global war on militant Islamist terror groups like al-Qaida. This past Sunday, a constitutional referendum provided the latest battleground for the ongoing political war between Turkish Islamists and secularists. The governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), a political movement openly favoring Islamist policies, advocated the constitutional changes, and it won in a landslide. Fifty-eight percent of the country supported the AKP. The most critical changes affect the Turkish judiciary. The AKP promotes itself as a "moderate" Islamist political party that believes moral values provide a bulwark against political corruption. It regards its opponents as hard-line secularists who run Turkey's "Deep State," a code word for a nefarious Turkish underworld of corruption, cronyism and manipulation tied to the Turkish military. The AKP's opposition, centered in the secularist Republican Peoples Party (CHP), cast the referendum as another step in the destruction of the secular republic established by Turkey's 20th century political and military genius, Kemal Ataturk. Ataturk strongly believed radical Muslims insisting on imposing Shariah (Islamic) law were the greatest long-term threat to Turkish modernization. The Kemalists, as his political heirs proudly call themselves, label the AKP as a collection of stealth radical Islamists whose moralist balderdash cloaks a plot to create a theological tyranny and feudal police state. (If the EU lets Turkey in, they are nuts. ~Bob.)

Must Read: The Endless Wars of Islam
Excerpt: Islam emerged from what is modern day Saudi Arabia in the 7th century, and never looked back. Muslim armies swept across North Africa and invaded Catholic Spain, destroying or converting the Christian communities along the way. They turned churches into mosques, and made Islam the official religion. Muslim armies also took over the Holy Land, destroyed the last non-Islamic Persian empire, and moved into Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). By the 16th century, Islam had destroyed the Christian Byzantine Empire, had taken over Constantinople, and had turned the Hagia Sophia -- the most beautiful church in Christendom -- into a mosque. A century later, Muslim armies were outside the gates of Vienna. While the years have passed and the names of the armies and countries have changed, Islam's war against the rest of us continues at full speed. There isn't a day that goes by without a new terrorist attack carried out by a Muslim militant. Women are stoned in Afghanistan because they had the nerve to be raped... Children are beaten to death and strung up in Pakistan, because they were suspected of theft... Non-Muslims living in Muslim countries are in constant fear of kidnapping and murder... It's even happening here. In Buffalo, New York, a Muslim-American television executive who attempted to use his station to improve U.S public opinion about Muslims later beheaded his wife after she filed for divorce. Of the roughly 25 wars currently ongoing, 21 involve Muslim countries. Put differently, Islam is connected to 80% of the planet's armed conflicts, while making up only 20% of its population. There's a reason for that. In Islam the world exists in two Houses. The House of Peace, where Islam is the recognized religion, and the House of War, where Islam is fighting to become the recognized religion, and because Islam teaches that Allah may change his mind at any time, for Muslims, there is no stable and universal moral code. When you eliminate reason as a guide in human thinking, force is the only thing that determines truth. For that reason, in the House of War, anything goes.

How Iran Kills Americans
Excerpt: Five Iranian companies in Afghanistan are paying Taliban militants over $200 per month with bonuses of $1,000 for killing an American soldier and $6,000 for destroying a U.S. military vehicle. The ideological differences and past tension between Iran and the Taliban have not stopped them from allying against a common enemy, allowing the Iranian regime to help kill American soldiers with little consequence. Most shockingly, the Iranian companies fund the Taliban using foreign aid. They win construction contracts and then place the money in corrupt Afghan banks, including one that is tied to President Karzai’s brother. The money then leaves Afghanistan for Tehran and Dubai and comes into the Taliban’s hands through the unregulated hawala networks. The Iranian financing is so large that one Taliban money-handler claims he alone has collected nearly $80,000 in the past six months. Iran’s bounties may not be a new development, as a U.S. government document released by WikiLeaks reported that Iran had a bounty of $1,740 for the death of every Afghan soldier and $3,841 for the death of every Afghan official in February 2005. Pakistan’s offensives in the Swat Valley and South Waziristan have made the Taliban more reliant upon Iran for support. One “senior insurgent in Kunduz” told a British newspaper that “day by day the Iranian border becomes more important for us, especially now in Pakistan there are many problems for the Taliban.” Another commander admitted that they were working with the Iranians, saying “Our religions and our histories are different but our target is the same. We both want to kill Americans.” (So, how’s that “soft power,” meet with Iran without preconditions thing working out for you, Barack? ~Bob)

Welfare State of Insanity
Excerpt: European Union Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht recently made news for all the wrong reasons, declaring in a radio interview that “It is not easy to have, even with moderate Jews, a rational discussion about what is actually happening in the Middle East.” According to De Gucht, “religious Jews” and “lay Jews” alike “share the same belief that they are right.” This is just the latest example of what a dysfunctional mess the EU—and to a large extent, the whole of Europe—is. While some European officials attack Jews for daring to come to Israel’s defense, others defend—and pamper—the indefensible. The International Criminal Court and a sister court focused on war crimes in the former Yugoslavia houses 36 defendants in what critics rightly deride as “The Hague Hotel.” The New York Times notes that the goal of the courts’ European planners was “to provide a model of humane, civilized detention.” In reality, the courts and their holding facilities are a model of moral relativism. For their crimes, the likes of Charles Taylor and Radovan Karadzic can play games and sports. They receive free legal aid, along with travel subsidies for their families. They can read from a library of books, build models, dabble in ceramics, learn about computers and see their spouses and family. But they cannot be put to death, no matter how heinous their crimes or how obvious their guilt.

Gambian president: Islam is the best religion
Excerpt: Gambian President Yahya Jammeh on Monday said Islam is not a religion of violence and that true Muslims are noble and honorable…. "Your security cannot be guaranteed by fighting Islam. We Muslims will defend our religion with our blood, and we will never be intimidated," said Jammeh. President Jammeh stressed that he has never seen any demonstration where the holy Quran is being burnt. "Any country that allows any copy of the holy Quran being burnt, Bilahi Walahi Talayi, you will regret it," he declared…. He further noted that such an action could endanger world peace, warning that anyone who plays with it would surely pay the price. (Sure sounds like he’s threatening violence to me. ~Bob)

Iran Ayatollahs Issue Fatwas Against Koran-Burners
Excerpt: Two Iranian grand ayatollahs issued fatwas calling for the killing of those who insult the Koran, including anyone who burns the Islamic holy book, the state-run Fars news agency reported. (bible burning and desecrating the American flag are still okay, however. ~Bob)

Australian lawyer smokes pages of Bible and Koran, asking 'Which is best?'
His life is doubtless in danger…but probably not from Christians. ~Bob. Excerpt: In a 12-minute clip entitled "Bible or Koran – which burns best?" Mr Stewart, who works for the Queensland University of Technology, holds up the two religious texts before ripping them apart and lighting the rolled up pages. At one stage he inhales deeply from one of the roll-ups before blowing out the smoke and commenting: "Holy". The video, which has since been deleted, was posted on the video-sharing site over the weekend, coinciding with the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Memory Hole: Munich Massacre Week
Excerpt: September 1972. Worth remembering. I’ll bet most of our children never heard of it, because we don’t teach such things anymore. History and terrorism started with the election of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Mr. Hall. I’m pleased to inform you that we at Sam Adams Alliance have chosen you for our Irreverent Messenger of the Week! After considering several voices and personalities that we heard and read over the last week, we thought that your piece “I’m 63 and I’m tired” was the most inspiring and irreverent voice for freedom and responsibility. A little about our award. It’s something we hand out once each week to someone who is filling a message void on the side of freedom and responsibility. The subject is often politics and government, but it doesn’t have to be. Irreverent Messengers are people who have something important to say, and they’re saying it to all the people who need to hear it most. Sometimes it’s a famous media personality, sometimes an activist, or sometimes a blogger like yourself. We’re proud to give you the award given all that you’ve done as a soldier, elected official, blogger and outstanding leader. I’d like to invite you to take a look at some of our past winners on our blog.

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