Saturday, September 18, 2010

Political Digest September 18, 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.

Happy 63rd Birthday to the U.S. Air Force

Secret, off the record call, White House Dream Act call—But they didn’t ask me. I didn’t agree to keep it “Off the Record!”
Notice I received as a forward: Next week the Senate will consider the Defense Authorization bill and Senator Harry Reid has announced that he will offer the Dream Act as an amendment to the bill. Please join White House officials to discuss this issue today at 2:30pm EST. This call is off the record and not intended for press or bloggers. WHAT: Conference call on the DREAM Act with White House Officials. WHEN: Today, Friday, September 17, 2010, 2:30PM EST. HOW: (800) 288-8968. Call Title: Dream Act Call (this is what you give the conference operator).

(I called in. I wanted to know how the WH was spending my money to pass a bill to create another entitlement to entice more illegals here. Got through. Pardon cryptic notes. Said hundreds on call. Can’t ask people to lobby, as WH staff, so won’t. Reid offering to defense bill as best way, as if offered as an amendment, could be ugly amendments offered. Assume there will be a filibuster. Need 60 votes to get to floor. Sen. McCain leading effort to oppose the motion to proceed. Vote expected on Tuesday. If goes to floor, series of amendments, expect filibuster on them. Have never got every Democrat to vote for anything, will get most Democrats, but doubt will get all on this. Will need Republican votes to pass this. Very tough environment. People will make excuses on why not vote on this. President was strong for this. Reminded this was off the record. Asked for questions, but I didn’t want to jump in. Reiterate off the record. Really need folks mobilized across the country on this as well (Thought couldn’t ask for lobbying?). Defense will be able to continue if bill not brought to the floor, so Senate could keep from the floor. Number of Republicans saying Reid making too controversial, looking for ways not to have to vote on the Dream Act. Not going to be easy. Need everyone’s help. Please keep us aware of what you are doing across the country. That was it. ~Bob.)

Chart: Federal Deficit by the year

The Money of Fools: Part IV by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: One of the many words that sound so attractive, to people who do not think beyond the word, is "disarmament." Wouldn't it be better to live in a world where countries were not armed to the teeth, especially when they are armed with nuclear weapons? Of course it would. But the only country we can disarm is our own. The only countries we might be able to persuade to disarm are countries that intend no harm in the first place. Those countries that do intend to harm others-- and we know all too well that they exist-- would be delighted to have all their victims disarmed. What if we can just get nuclear disarmament? Again, we need to think beyond the word to the realities of the world, so that we do not simply accept words as what Thomas Hobbes called the money of fools. Had there been no nuclear weapons created during World War II, that would have given an overwhelming military advantage in the postwar world to countries with large and well equipped armies. Especially after the U.S. Army withdrew from Europe, following the end of World War II, there was nothing to stop Stalin's army from marching right across the continent to the Atlantic Ocean….Why then is President Barack Obama pursuing an international nuclear disarmament agreement? It cannot be because he thinks it will work. Even if he were foolish enough to believe that, virtually anybody in the Pentagon can tell him why it won't. His political advisors, however, can tell him how great that can be for him personally-- if he doesn't already know that. It would be "historic" and an "achievement," just like ObamaCare. His political base-- the young, the left and the thoughtless-- would be thrilled and energized. That can translate into money donated to his campaign coffers and people willing to walk the precincts to get out the vote for him in the 2012 elections. It is by no means an irrational thing to do, from Obama's self-centered perspective….International disarmament has long been a favorite crusade of the left, before as well as after the age of nuclear weapons. The period between the two World Wars were full of popular disarmament agreements and renunciations of war. In fact, such pious agreements contributed to the outbreak of war. Because some nations adhered to these agreements and others did not, the military advantage swung to the latter, who started the war-- in which tens of millions of human beings died.

Must Read: The Nanny State Has Blown the Bank
And the collapse is coming. ~Bob. Excerpt: In France, the legal retirement age is 60. President Sarkozy, who like every other European leader is desperate to balance the books, proposes to raise this to 62. Hence the scene, as strikers work at bringing the country to a halt, and fill the streets in the time-honoured, Parisian fashion. Over the Channel, the flashpoint was an attempt by management to lay off 800 employees of the London Underground. Sympathetic unions began an industrial action designed to cripple the city in Monday's rush hour. From what I can see, nothing like the scenes in Athens, recently, but getting there. The foreground problem is essentially the same everywhere, and in the stimulating spirit of "yes we can," Obama's America is quickly catching up with the European bankruptcy. Here in Canada, we may be feeling rather smug, thanks chiefly to the "no we can't" attitudes of successive federal governments. But our actual fiscal condition is concealed in the federal-provincial cups and marbles: A country that may be technically solvent, consisting of provinces that are all going bankrupt. The background problem is simplicity itself. The Nanny State has blown the bank. She, or it, has done so everywhere. Even after appropriating half of every national income with taxes both direct and indirect, and after offloading the costs of cumbersome do-good schemes onto businesses through convoluted regulations, Nanny is reduced to printing money. From the liquidators' point of view, however, the problem is rather more complicated: the debtors are more hostile than the creditors. Thanks to democracy, and the power of "the people," under the inspiration of demagogues, to appropriate each other's wealth, there seems no chance of a smooth disposition. Our debts have been rephrased as "entitlements." They are the fiscal dimension of "human rights." Everyone has a "right" to a pension, and to much else besides, regardless of whether he put his share into the piggy; or whether Nanny absconded with what he did put in.
Those who prudently saved against the contingencies of this world, have subtly numbered themselves among "the rich." And, "tax the rich" is the received solution. For generations now, "progressive" politicians, imposing "progressive" tax systems, have been making an example of the prudent. The cultivation and manipulation of envy is at the heart of all political schemes for income redistribution, and parties of the Left have been building their client base upon it.

America's Hidden Welfare Program
Excerpt: They are the recipients of Social Security's Disability Insurance, a somewhat obscure federal program that nonetheless eats up nearly $200 billion a year. SSDI began in 1956 and was intended to provide benefits for people between 50 and 64 who'd been in the workforce but had developed "any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or to be of long-continued and indefinite duration." At the end of the first year, there were 150,000 Americans receiving SSDI benefits. As Congress serially widened the eligibility criteria—by age, by type and duration of impairment—that number began to grow. Enrollment hit 1 million adults in 1966; by the end of 1977 it was 2.8 million; and today it's more than 8 million ex-workers, plus another million disabled adult offspring and disabled widows and widowers. With the annual commitments now at about $180 billion, SSDI represents, as the authors of a 2006 economics journal paper put it, a "fiscal crisis." Equally distressing, it also represents public policy run amok. Over the last few decades, a program that was designed to help a relatively small group of people who were fatally sick or permanently unable to work has evolved into a backdoor welfare program in which a huge number of people are paid not to get jobs. How huge? Nationwide, we're talking about well over 4 percent of the adult population. In some states—Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, and West Virginia—the rate exceeds 6 percent. These millions of workers extricated from payrolls represent untold lost billions in tax revenues and all manner of desperately needed economic activity (consumption, home purchases, etc.)….. It's crucial, then, to examine what conditions now qualify people for SSDI. In the early decades of the program, the largest categories were life-threatening ailments, particularly heart disease and cancer. Today, the single largest category is mental disorders (not including mental retardation). This category has skyrocketed in the last few decades. In 1983, about 50,000 people were given SSDI awards for mental illness; in 2003, it was nearly 200,000—almost a fourfold increase in a generation. Some analysts are understandably concerned about whether claimants are exaggerating mental illness to get SSDI. On the other hand, depending on the definition, most Americans will experience "mental illness" at some point in their lives; a growing diagnosis in the overall population will of course be reflected in the SSDI population. But from a labor-economy perspective, the numbers are perplexing enough even at face value. Did the American workplace once accommodate mentally ill people more readily than it does today? It's not hard to believe. As long as a worker made his quota, the clang of the factory floor drowned out many personality traits—illiteracy, poor skills, alcohol and drug abuse—that in different settings would be liabilities. Mental illness could easily make that list. Today's multitasking, language- and tech-intensive, customer-facing workplace challenges all sorts of workers, and perhaps the mentally ill more than many. (Similar questions apply to the next-largest category, musculoskeletal and connective tissue injuries, a large portion of which is back pain. Does it make sense that a higher percentage of workers have back pain today than did 50 years ago?) (Since I have a terminal illness, IPF, I would automatically qualify if I choose not to work. But my income and life satisfaction is much higher being productively employed. The rise of the mental illness/drug diagnosis threatens the people who are desperately in need, just as it has made the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) a disaster. Another large nail in the coming fiscal collapse of the entitlement society. ~Bob.)

Notice: Global warming and Climate Change Canceled
Excerpt: Global warming is now canceled. I thought global warming was already canceled in favor of climate change, but that is canceled too now. Lets hope the administration remembers to notify the IPCC, AR5 needs time to mitigate the language. The unsuspecting authors may have already reached a language tipping point forcing adaptation rather than mitigation. Now Holdren science and technology advisor to the White House of the United States Dictators for the World have concluded that the proper phrase is — Global Climate Disruption. Update your notebooks. (This would be hilarious if it wasn't so important. Journolist influence (like today suddenly having multiple stories from different sources comparing the Tea Party to Goldwater)? --Ron P.)

The Tsunami Heads to Shore
Excerpt: The pros tell us that 2010 will be a "wave" election, and if that's true then think of Republicans as passengers on a ship who have just watched the tsunami roll over them. A few were washed overboard on the port side, but the GOP is likely to suffer no more losses. Now the huge wave is roaring toward shore, heading directly for the Democrats who are running American government. Democrats and their media retinue are pointing to the tea party upset in Delaware as a sign of GOP "civil war" that will cost them at least a Senate seat. And so it probably will. Christine O'Donnell is the weakest of the successful tea party primary challengers this year, with little career achievement and a history of suing her friends. She is already a two-time loser in the state that President Obama carried with 62% of the vote. Yet the mere fact of her improbable primary victory speaks to the depth of the public uprising against the ruling political class. The upset owed less to Ms. O'Donnell's virtues than to Mike Castle's 18-year voting record in a primary season when Republican voters want candidates who will clean out the Augean stables, not find a corner to lie in. Until the very end, Mr. Castle's TV commercials were aimed at general election voters, bragging about the pork he had brought home. This is not a pork-selling year, and after 44 years in public life Mr. Castle had lost touch with his small state's primary voters. The challenge now for Sarah Palin, South Carolina GOP Senator Jim DeMint and the tea partiers who endorsed Ms. O'Donnell is to show they can deliver seats in the Senate rather than merely conduct an intra-party cleansing. If they really want to change Washington with a revived GOP, they will have to deliver Senate victories in November in most of the states where their candidates prevailed—Kentucky, Colorado, Nevada, Alaska and Delaware. Otherwise their insurrection will merely have helped Democrats retain their majority. (I hope this is correct. ~Bob.)

Adult Swim: A Republic is for Grown-ups
Excerpt: Thirty years ago this November the nation elected a man who had actually been a lifeguard in his youth. He spent his summers watching over and saving lives. Yet this lifeguard in his political career looked upon people as individuals, not as belonging to restrictive classes, and upon the nation as a place of swimmers, in fact good swimmers. All they needed to be given was minimal instruction—by parents and parts of civil society, not the government—and a chance. Compare the Reagan economy to the Obama economy to decide whom you would prefer as the lifeguard—not the parent—of the republic.

Hamas Using Phosphorus Shells in Stepped-Up Assault on Israel
Excerpt: IDF explosives experts identified four phosphorus shells among the nine rounds fired from Gaza against Israeli civilian locations Wednesday, Sept. 15, as Israeli-Palestinian talks resumed in Jerusalem. This was the first known use by Palestinian terrorists of phosphorus whose use against civilians is banned by international law. Phosphorus shells cause severe burning and set off fires. Hamas has cranked up its attacks since Israeli and Palestinian leaders began talking at Sharm el-Sheikh under the aegis of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday. None of the participants mentioned Hamas' escalating war on Israel and the IDF reprisal was understated, a belated Air Force strike against empty tunnels in southern Gaza. Tuesday and Wednesday morning, three missiles, almost certainly Iranian-made Grades, were fired from Gaza at the two Israeli port cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod, and another missile and nine mortar rounds by noon Wednesday; seven against Eshkol region farms and two at Kibbutz Nirim. This was the most extensive Palestinian assault from Gaza since Israel's Cast Lead operation early last year. (I am sure the apologists will soon come up with some good reasons on why the terrorists are using phosphorous shells, which are now banned by International Law, and shelling Israeli citizens in order to derail the planned Palestinian/Israeli talks. Yet just the other day an article came out stating that it was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel, who was causing the problems with the on-going talks. I'll take some wild guesses, and say the terrorists will blame the Israeli's for firing off the rounds themselves and in order to make headlines news. Or it was to get Netanyahu back on track with the talks. Or the CIA did it to make the Terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood look bad. Or these rounds were fired by mistake, since the rounds came from an old PLO ammunition dump. Or George W. Bush ordered it. I am sure in the end a lot of talk will ensue, diplomats and Ambassadors will point fingers at one another, and as usual nothing will be done to the offenders whoever they might be. --Stolz Sends)

Can Christine O’Donnell Win?
Some hopeful commentary on The Gay Patriot site. ~Bob. Excerpt: Well, maybe. This morning, to test a theory that the votes were there (with the question remaining whether or not she could get them to the polls), I checked Michael Barone’s Almanac of American Politics. In her 2008 bid for the same Senate seat, O’Donnell won 140,595. In the most recent off-year Senate race in 2006, Democrat Tom Carper won with 170,567 votes, Republican Jay Ting had 69.734. Throw in the Libertarian candidate and you have a total turnout of 242,972. If O’Donnell gets all her 2008 voters to the polls (and that’s a big if) and turnout is roughly same as 2006, she wins with 58% of the vote. But, how many of those voters came to vote in the presidential election and voted for her as the Republican candidate? If “O’Donnell spends the next seven weeks pounding away on ObamaCare and deficits while Democrats talk about masturbation and Bill Maher,” Timothy P. Carney ”wouldn’t be surprised to see a Senator O’Donnell.” Hitting those issues and factoring in the relative enthusiasm levels of the two parties, he may well have reason for his absence of wonder. While Rasmussen has Coons over 50%, that pollster’s numbers have also been fluctuating widely over the course of the contest, with O’Donnell currently only 11 points behind. Not entirely insurmountable.

The Buckley Rule
Excerpt: Tuesday in Delaware was a bad day not only for Republicans but for conservatives. Tea partier Christine O'Donnell scored a stunning victory over establishment Republican Mike Castle. Stunning but pyrrhic. The very people who have most alerted the country to the perils of President Obama's social democratic agenda may have just made it impossible for Republicans to retake the Senate and definitively stop that agenda. Bill Buckley -- no Mike Castle he -- had a rule: Support the most conservative candidate who is electable. A timeless rule of sober politics, and particularly timely now. This is no ordinary time. And this is no ordinary Democratic administration. It is highly ideological and ambitious. It is determined to use whatever historical window it is granted to change the country structurally, irreversibly. It has already done so with Obamacare and has equally lofty ambitions for energy, education, immigration, taxation, industrial policy and the composition of the Supreme Court. That's what makes the 11th-hour endorsements of O'Donnell by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Sarah Palin so reckless and irresponsible. Of course Mike Castle is a liberal Republican. What do you expect from Delaware? A DeMint? Castle voted against Obamacare and the stimulus. Yes, he voted for cap-and-trade. That's batting .667. You'd rather have a Democrat who bats .000 and who might give the Democrats the 50th vote to control the Senate? Castle wasn't only electable. He was unbeatable. Why do you think Beau Biden, long groomed to inherit his father's seat, flinched from running? Because Castle, who had already won statewide races a dozen times, scared him off. Democrats had already given up on the race. O'Donnell, a lifelong activist who has twice lost statewide races, is very problematic. It is not that the Republican establishment denigrates her chances -- virtually every nonpartisan electoral analyst from Charlie Cook to Larry Sabato to Stuart Rothenberg has her losing in November. Nor is opposition to O'Donnell's candidacy a sign of hostility or disrespect to the tea party. Many of those who wanted to see Castle nominated in Delaware have from the beginning defended the tea party movement from the mainstream media's scurrilous portrayal of it as a racist rabble of resentful lumpenproletarians. Indeed, it is among the most vigorous and salutary grass-roots movements of our time, dedicated to a genuine constitutionalism from which the country has strayed far…. Delaware is not Kentucky. If Republicans want to be a national party, they cannot write off the Northeast, whose Republicanism is of a distinctly moderate variety. Scott Brown broke Republican ranks to vote for Obama's financial reform. Are conservatives going to now run him out of the Senate? Wasn't it just eight months ago that his victory in Massachusetts was hailed as a turning point in the campaign to stop the Obama agenda? You don't stop that agenda by nominating an O'Donnell in Delaware and turning a Senate seat from safe Republican to safe Democratic. If DeMint and Palin want to show that helping O'Donnell over the top -- she won late and by six points -- wasn't a capricious spreading of fairy dust, perhaps they should go to Delaware now and get her elected to the Senate. You made it possible. Now make it happen. (Majorities govern, minorities complain. If the Democrats have a majority in the Senate, liberals get to govern. ~Bob.)

Jimmy Carter slams Ted Kennedy for killing health-care reform in the ’70s
Excerpt: Former president Jimmy Carter had some harsh words for late Massachusetts senator Edward Kennedy in an interview with “60 Minutes” set to air Sunday. Appearing on the show to discuss his new memoir, “White House Diary,” available from Farrar, Straus and Giroux on Sept. 20, Carter was asked about his descriptions of his battles with Kennedy in advance of the 1980 election and Kennedy’s primary campaign challenge. “The fact is that we would have had comprehensive health care now, had it not been for Ted Kennedy’s deliberately blocking the legislation that I proposed,” Carter said. “It was his fault. Ted Kennedy killed the bill,” he added. “Just to spite you? …That’s the implication,” asked CBS correspondent Leslie Stahl. “That’s the implication,” Carter agreed. “He did not want to see me have a major success in that realm of America life.”

White House rips Forbes article
This should help their circulation. ~Bob. Excerpt: Dinesh D'Souza has drawn a torrent of criticism with a Forbes cover story that accuses President Obama of adopting "the cause of anti-colonialism" from his Kenyan father. But while most detractors focus on the author--and Newt Gingrich, who embraced the critique--the White House is aiming its ammunition at the business magazine. "It's a stunning thing, to see a publication you would see in a dentist's office, so lacking in truth and fact," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says in an interview. "I think it represents a new low." Gibbs is meeting with Thursday afternoon with Forbes's Washington bureau chief, Brian Wingfield, to discuss his objections. "Did they not fact-check this at all, or did they fact-check it and just willfully ignore it?" he asks.

Islam in Paris
I think I posted this link before—but if you missed it. Special privileges for one religion—or else.

Is Ohio slipping from Democrats' grasp?
The must-win state for 2012. ~Bob. Excerpt: New numbers out of Ohio from Quinnipiac University show Republicans running away with the gubernatorial and Senate races even as Democrats insist that they are still in the game in this most critical of electoral battlegrounds. The Q poll showed former Rep. John Kasich (R) leading Gov. Ted Strickland (D) by 17 points and former Rep. Rob Portman (R) ahead of Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) by 20. Democrats are adamant that the numbers -- particularly in the governor's race -- are flat wrong, pointing out that a CNN/Time survey in the field at around the same time showed Kasich up only seven points. And, according to internal poll numbers obtained by the Fix, a Strickland survey in the field from Sept. 12-14, showed the race Kasich 48 percent, Strickland 45 percent. Strickland allies note that the campaign made a strategic decision in August to husband their resources for the fall stretch run, essentially handing the airwaves over to the Republican Governors Association, which spent nearly $3 million on ads hitting Strickland on the job losses in the state during his first four years as governor.

Ohio Republican candidate John Kasich caught telling a true story in governor's debate
Excerpt: The fun story is that during the Tuesday debate Kasich began to wax on about, you know, an older couple he'd recently talked with in a Bob Evans restaurant and how they had a pad out and were going over their challenged budget because of the bad economy that hasn't been stimulated by you-know-whose hundreds of billions of you-know-what. Now, that story is obviously as phony as an assertion that some healthcare legislation will cover more people for less money. So a Democratic blogger in Ohio called Kasich on it. He wrote: "Someone please send me a photo of the Ohio couple in the Bob Evans with the napkin and I'll personally apologize to Congressman Kasich the next time I'm at his country club." Well, order up some humble pie while you're there, Anthony, because CNN's John King did better than that. He produced a film clip of Honest John Kasich talking to that very couple. (See video below.) And, look! There's the pad on the table. (We wouldn’t tolerate candidates telling the truth here in Illinois—it would be the end of the world as we know it. ~Bob)

Gender pay gap is smallest on record
Excerpt: The earnings gap between men and women has shrunk to a record low, partly because many women are prospering in the new economy and partly because men have been hit hard by the recession. Women earned 82.8% of the median weekly wage of men in the second quarter of 2010, up from 76.1% for the same period a decade ago and the highest ever recorded, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. (The economist Thomas Sowell points out that the “gender pay gap” is largely a matter of choices. Women who were never married earn slightly more than men in similar situations. Women who were married, even those divorced, tend to put in fewer hours and to have taken more time off from their careers, thus not having advanced as far. Of course, “Social Justice” demands that those who work less—or even not at all-be rewarded equally with those who are more productive. Until the collapse and the Jamestown Rule goes into effect. ~Bob.)

Obstacle to Deficit Cutting: A Nation on Entitlements
Excerpt: Efforts to tame America's ballooning budget deficit could soon confront a daunting reality: Nearly half of all Americans live in a household in which someone receives government benefits, more than at any time in history. At the same time, the fraction of American households not paying federal income taxes has also grown—to an estimated 45% in 2010, from 39% five years ago, according to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research organization. A little more than half don't earn enough to be taxed; the rest take so many credits and deductions they don't owe anything. Most still get hit with Medicare and Social Security payroll taxes, but 13% of all U.S. households pay neither federal income nor payroll taxes. "We have a very large share of the American population that is getting checks from the government," says Keith Hennessey, an economic adviser to President George W. Bush and now a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, "and an increasingly smaller portion of the population that's paying for it." The dimensions of the budget hole were underscored Monday, when the Treasury reported that the government ran a $1.26 trillion deficit for the first 11 months of the fiscal year, on pace to be the second-biggest on record. (Since no one can get elected on a platform of making the painful decisions to fix the problem, we will go on kicking the can down the road until it can’t be kicked---then comes the collapse. ~Bob.)

Maryland Surgeon Calls Medical Malpractice Lawsuits “Big Business”
Excerpt: Last year we talked to Dr. Michael Curi – a vascular surgeon from Annapolis, Maryland. In an interview, Dr. Curi talked about the impact of lawsuit abuse on patients and doctors in Maryland. He says filing medical malpractice suits "has become a big business" for personal injury lawyers, driving doctors away from the state.

Self-Proclaimed “Lawsuit Zeus” Targeted By Prosecutors
Excerpt: He’s been dubbed “the Patrick Ewing of Suing,” but now prosecutors in Kentucky want to send him to the sidelines. Jonathan Lee Riches (pictured), a 33-year-old federal inmate in Lexington, has filed more than 3,800 lawsuits against an array of outlandish figures, from Somali pirates to Plato to Bill Belichick, the coach of the New England Patriots, according to this Associated Press story via the Washington Post. Riches suffered a setback earlier this month in his effort to intervene in the bankruptcy case for Bernard Madoff’s investment firm, when his appeal of an earlier denial was dismissed because he hadn’t paid the required fees. In a handwritten court filing, Riches said Madoff had been his pen pal, and defrauded him, his siblings, neighbors and pets, and put him up to filing lawsuits.

Public school class trip turns into promotion of Islam
Excerpt: On Sept 15th Americans for Peace and Tolerance released a video showing 6th graders from Wellesley, MA as they rise from prostrating themselves alongside Muslim men in a prayer to Allah while on a public school field trip to the largest mosque in the Northeast. Teachers did not intervene. Parents have not been told. (The video has a detailed sound track about what happened. The short form is that a supposed trip to admire the architecture of the mosque turned into a brainwashing exercise and proselytizing for Islam for public school kids. The history of that mosque and some of its key figures explains only too easily how this could happen. And until now there's been nothing from the major media, nothing from the ACLU (who would sue in a second if a trip to a cathedral ended up asking non-Catholic kids to take part in the Mass), nothing from the school authorities. There is no excuse for this happening, and no excuse for the lack of action on the part of authorities after it did happen. This is a very bad sign of where things are today. --Del)

Some Illinois Small Business Owners Must Pay Themselves More or Risk Shutting Down
Insanity. And they wonder why more people every day hate unions. ~Bob. Excerpt: A number of small businesses could soon be forced to close shop in Illinois. Why? Because, get a load of this, the labor department says the boss can't take a pay cut. We've learned the state's cracking down on contractors who choose not to pay themselves the set rate -- better known as the prevailing wage. If you're ever searching for an electrician, all you need to know is this about Frank Vavra: “I’m a hard-working son of a gun.” But these days, this small business owner says he's being bullied by a big government agency, the Illinois Department of Labor. Essentially, what the government's doing is fining Vavra for not paying himself enough. “This is highway robbery. If they want to shut me down, do this. If they want to shut other people down, keep doing this,” Vavra said. “I could have run this business into the ground by paying myself a big wage,” he explained. “…I had to cut back on everything in life. I’ve got a little garden, a pond, some cats, and a grandson. I mean -- that's it.”

$2M/Job!: Stimulus funds failed to create enough jobs: LA City Controller
Excerpt: The Los Angeles City Controller said on Thursday the city's use of its share of the $800 billion federal stimulus fund has been disappointing. The city received $111 million in stimulus under American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) approved by the Congress more than year ago. "I'm disappointed that we've only created or retained 55 jobs after receiving $111 million," says Wendy Greuel, the city's controller, while releasing an audit report. (Do the math. They spent $111M to create 55 jobs. That’s about $2M per job. Have I got a deal for the Obama administration. They give me $1M and I’ll retire, opening up a really good job at half the cost of a worse job in LA. And people wonder at the strength of the Tea Party? ~Bob.)

In the 10th Year of War, a Harder Army, a More Distant America
Excerpt: The U.S. Army now begins its 10th continuous year in combat, the first time in its history the United States has excused the vast majority of its citizens from service and engaged in a major, decade-long conflict instead with an Army manned entirely by professional warriors. This is an Army that, under the pressure of combat, has turned inward, leaving civilian America behind, reduced to the role of a well-wishing but impatient spectator. A decade of fighting has hardened soldiers in ways that civilians can't share. America respects its warriors, but from a distance. "They don't know what we do,'' said Col. Dan Williams, who commands an Army aviation brigade in Afghanistan. The consequences of this unique milestone in American history are many -- the rise of a new warrior class, the declining number of Americans in public life with the sobering experience of war, the fading ideal of public service as a civic responsibility. But above all, I think, is a perilous shrinking of common ground, the shared values and knowledge and beliefs that have shaped the way Americans think about war. Without it, how will soldiers and civilians ever see this war and its outcome in the same way? Are those faded "Support the Troops'' magnets enough to guide us through what is likely to be the murky and unsatisfactory conclusions and aftermaths of this era's conflicts? (I find this article to be very cogent, very worthwhile. And perhaps somewhat sad. All who have served in war, in combat, are changed, and all of us had to go through a readjustment to civilian life. (Which is perhaps never 100% complete- some changes in our view of life tend to be permanent) For the guys who have gone back & forth in a long series of deployments, that readjustment becomes very difficult, perhaps near impossible. The author writes about the Army in particular, but it all must apply just as well to the Marines. I don't know if we need a draft again, but I think the divisions that Bill Clinton deactivated should be reactivated so we have a larger standing Army and thus people will not have to be redeployed so often. --Del)

A Stranger in our Midst
This essay is four months old, but it does hit the nail on the head, and is more applicable now than it was then. Whatever of the several theories about why Obama is different you find most attractive, that he is different has become manifestly evident. We do have a stranger sitting in the Oval Office, who has surrounded himself with others who are certainly very different from anyone in Middle America. In effect, we have an entire tribe of strangers holding power throughout the Executive Branch, and not a few in the Legislative and Judicial Branches as well. A scenario of some mental patients having taken over the entire hospital. –Del. Excerpt: As the Obama administration enters its second year, I -- and undoubtedly millions of others -- have struggled to develop a shorthand term that captures our emotional unease. Defining this discomfort is tricky. I reject nearly the entire Obama agenda, but the term "being opposed" lacks an emotional punch. Nor do terms like "worried" or "anxious" apply. I was more worried about America's future during the Johnson or Carter years, so it's not that dictionary, either. Nor, for that matter, is this about backroom odious deal-making and pork, which are endemic in American politics. After auditioning countless political terms, I finally realized that the Obama administration and its congressional collaborators almost resemble a foreign occupying force, a coterie of politically and culturally non-indigenous leaders whose rule contravenes local values rooted in our national tradition. It is as if the United States has been occupied by a foreign power, and this transcends policy objections. It is not about Obama's birthplace. It is not about race, either; millions of white Americans have had black mayors and black governors, and this unease about out-of-synch values never surfaced. The term I settled on is "alien rule" -- based on outsider values, regardless of policy benefits -- that generates agitation. This is what bloody anti-colonial strife was all about. No doubt, millions of Indians and Africans probably grasped that expelling the British guaranteed economic ruin and even worse governance, but at least the mess would be their mess. Just travel to Afghanistan and witness American military commanders' efforts to enlist tribal elders with promises of roads, clean water, dental clinics, and all else that America can freely provide. Many of these elders probably privately prefer abject poverty to foreign occupation since it would be their poverty, run by their people, according to their sensibilities. This disquiet was a slow realization. Awareness began with Obama's odd pre-presidency associations, decades of being oblivious to Rev. Wright's anti-American ranting, his enduring friendship with the terrorist guy-in-the-neighborhood Bill Ayers, and the Saul Alinsky-flavored anti-capitalist community activism. Further add a hazy personal background -- an Indonesian childhood, shifting official names, and a paperless-trail climb through elite educational institutions.

Stop Mocking the Tea Party
From left-leaning Daily Beast. Ron P. excerpt: It’s time to stop mocking the Tea Party. Whether they are loons, principled conservatives, or a mix of both, they are a potent force that won’t be intimidated off the national stage by snarky media coverage and clueless attacks from the establishment. In fact, they are clearly poised as the heir to the Goldwater movement that was also ridiculed by elites in both parties during the early 1960s. Yes, Goldwater was demolished by Lyndon Johnson in the landslide that was the 1964 presidential election. But his crowning accomplishment was igniting the flames of a conservative movement that would eventually lead to the election of Ronald Reagan, ushering in eight years of conservative realignment. To this day, conservatives rule the Republican Party which, prior to Goldwater, wasn’t the case. (...) Every Tea Party candidate has been variously described as crazy, stupid, and on track to destroy America, if elected. Funny, that’s pretty much what was said about Barry Goldwater and his followers by the establishment. And yet, that didn’t stop him from reshaping the Republican Party and laying the groundwork for the Reagan Revolution. Today, Barry Goldwater is romanticized as an undiplomatic but principled conservative with an adorable penchant for “shooting from the lip.” He retired after decades in the Senate as a revered elder statesman. Even Hillary Clinton once referred to herself as a “Goldwater girl.”

Big Blow to DOJ: District Court Fast-Tracks Challenge to Federal Oversight of Elections
Excerpt: Today, D.C. District Court Justice John Bates dealt a blow to the Holder Justice Department by fast-tracking a constitutional challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. I had previously written that the Justice Department requested nine months of factual discovery. I also reported that the DOJ made courtroom arguments that may be untrue. Today, Judge Bates rejected the DOJ positions entirely, calling it “absurd” to pursue extensive discovery. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires mostly southern states to obtain federal government approval of any change involving voting or elections. Merely moving a polling place from a school gym to a fire hall requires Washington’s approval. Increasing or decreasing the number of voter registration offices, or their hours of operation, also requires pre-clearance. The Supreme Court almost overturned the law a few years ago, saying the requirement may be constitutionally defective, but held off the ultimate decision for another day. Judge Bates’ decision brings that day much closer. He rejected the DOJ’s request to delay the matter to conduct nine months of expensive discovery. (...) This is a nightmare for the Department. Why? First of all, liberal law professors have written that the 2006 Congressional record simply isn’t robust enough to withstand a constitutional challenge to Section 5. Secondly, the Department had assumed they could saddle places like Shelby County with the sins of history — the vile age of slavery, then segregation, would be on vibrant display in the courtroom. Even Shelby-specific evidence — like statements from local citizens cataloging their perceptions of modern day discrimination — are now off limits to the DOJ. (This sounds like it ought to be a game changer, but it really isn't. Most of the states covered by the law voted for Obama in the last election. But, it is an opportunity to cut one head off the federal hydra. --Ron P.)

Israel analysts see Turkey radicalizing, becoming 'Iran No. 2'
Excerpt: Israel's defense community has assessed that Turkey was moving toward becoming a radical and nuclear Islamic state. Officials and leading analysts asserted that the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan was rapidly dismantling the secular Turkish state. They said Erdogan could turn Turkey into another Iran, a radical Muslim state with nuclear weapons.

Obama welcomes Erdogan's referendum victory
Excerpt: President Barack Obama has praised Turkey for revising its secular constitution. Erdogan during the referendum that called for the revision of Turkey's constitution on Sept. 12. About 58 percent of voters supported Erdogan's drive to reform the constitution to reduce the power of the military and increase the influence of the prime minister's pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party. (Doubtless would have congratulated Hitler on being elected leader of Germany. ~Bob.)

First Impeachment Since Clinton Under Way
The impeachment trial of U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous of Louisiana began in the Senate this week. It marks the 15th impeachment proceeding in the nation's history, and the first since Bill Clinton in 1999. Porteous, a Clinton appointee (hold the laughter), faces four articles of impeachment including taking gifts and cash payments from a law firm, making a false statement on a bankruptcy filing to hide gambling debts, and lying under oath to the Senate and the FBI. Porteous plans to move forward with his defense rather than resign, but the case against him is pretty solid. Of course, so was the one against Clinton. The Patriot Post

Second Amendment: Gun Sales Up, Crime Down
In what may seem a paradox to leftists, violent crime continued to fall in 2009 as gun sales reached an all-time high. The FBI released its annual violent crime statistics Tuesday, revealing that such crimes had decreased by 5.3 percent in 2009, while murders and manslaughters -- the types of crime most likely to be committed using a firearm -- fell 7.3 percent. According to the FBI's National Instant Background Check System, 14 million guns were purchased in 2009. "What the data tell us is exactly the opposite of what the gun-ban lobby has predicted for several years," said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizen's Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. "Their dire predictions that America's streets would run red have been shown up as a fraudulent sales pitch for public disarmament." Facts may be stubborn things, but the Left is perhaps even more stubborn. The Patriot Post

Ethics may punt on Charles Rangel, Maxine Waters
Is it racial discrimination if a black politician gets a pass that wouldn’t have been given a white or Asian one? Easier to kill these cases after November 2. ~Bob. Excerpt: House Republicans had hoped to use the election-season ethics trials of Reps. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) to hammer Democrats for failing to stop corruption, but there are increasing signs that the trials may be postponed until after Election Day. The ethics committee met on Wednesday, the first time the panel has assembled since the August break, but announced no decision on a schedule for the Rangel or Waters trials. Sources familiar with the ethics process said both trials might be pushed off until a lame duck session in November or possibly even into the 112th Congress, which convenes in January. And while their ethics trials get kicked down the road, Rangel and Waters are enjoying new political life, with Rangel winning a Democratic primary this week while Waters is loudly proclaiming her innocence, even passing out buttons and putting up posters saying the ethics committee has “no case.”

Why Democrats Can't Win on Taxes
Excerpt: To listen to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrats are fired up for a tax debate. Republicans are holding "hostage" the "middle class" with their insistence that the Bush tax cuts be extended for all. Democratic leaders claim they can't wait to bring this line to voters this fall. There comes a point in Washington debates when the losing side has little left but bluff, and here's a good example. What Democrats know, but won't say, is that the party has walked itself into a lose-lose-lose tax fight. Their choices now range from bad to worse to problematic. They are in this fix because the tax debate they are having is not the tax debate they had planned. By now, the $800 billion "stimulus" was supposed to have the economy roaring back and unemployment well below 8%. The administration was supposed to be resting on its legislative laurels, the public showing growing appreciation for its agenda. The economy and polls firmly in hand, President Obama would then pivot to the deficit to argue that it was now responsible for a once-again-prosperous nation to pay its bills by letting some tax cuts expire. The majority stuck to this vision despite all evidence it was imploding. At any point Democrats could have pre-emptively embraced the tax question, perhaps intelligently enough to help the economy, and take credit. They didn't.

Five Saturdays
Excerpt: The difference between winning big on November 2 and winning really big could be decided by five Saturdays in October. It is daily becoming more apparent that Republican candidates will unseat many Democrats. A lot of deadwood will get trimmed, and a lot of toothless "Blue Dogs" will get kicked off the front porch of the Capitol Building where they've been dozing for the last couple years. Most pollsters seem comfortable predicting that the Republicans are within range of picking up the 39 seats necessary to regain control of the House of Representatives. A retaking of the Senate is no longer out of the question. If you are a Republican, this is a nice place to be in the middle of September. But having a very good election year is not the same thing as having a great election year.

Rick Boucher (D, VA-09) buys new car with campaign money
Excerpt: Via… Not Larry Sabato, who cannot be happy about the fact that his fully-justified anger at seeing a 14 term Democratic Congressman use campaign finance money to buy himself a nice, new car is now showing up as yet another reason why to vote for Rick Boucher’s opponent Morgan Griffith, who is not using special-interest money to buy himself shiny new automobiles. I know this because I just called to check; and the sound of their laughter at the very thought…Moe Lane PS: For extra giggles, Boucher sabotaged his own administration’s fiscal policies by buying a Ford. What, Government Motors wasn’t good enough for the Democrat? Didn’t the government buy that company for our own good?

The Size of Government and the Choice This Fall
Excerpt: As we move into this election season, Americans are being asked to choose between candidates and political parties. But the true decision we will be making—now and in the years to come—is this: Do we still want our traditional American free enterprise system, or do we prefer a European-style social democracy? This is a choice between free markets and managed capitalism; between limited government and an ever-expanding state; between rewarding entrepreneurs and equalizing economic rewards. We must decide. Or must we? In response to what each of us has written in the preceding months, we have heard again and again that the choice we pose is too stark. New York Times columnist David Brooks (no relation) finds our approach too Manichaean, and the Schumpeter columnist in The Economist objected that, "You can have a big state with a well-functioning free market." Data support the proposition that Americans like generous government programs and don't want to lose them. So while 70% of Americans told pollsters at the Pew Research Center in 2009 they agreed that "people are better off in a free market economy, even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time," large majorities favor keeping our social insurance programs intact. This leads conventional thinkers to claim that a welfare state is what we truly want, regardless of whether or not we mouth platitudes about "freedom" and "entrepreneurship." But these claims miss the point. What we must choose is our aspiration, not whether we want to zero out the state. Nobody wants to privatize the Army or take away Grandma's Social Security check. Even Friedrich Hayek in his famous book, "The Road to Serfdom," reminded us that the state has legitimate—and critical—functions, from rectifying market failures to securing some minimum standard of living. However, finding the right level of government for Americans is simply impossible unless we decide which ideal we prefer: a free enterprise society with a solid but limited safety net, or a cradle-to-grave, redistributive welfare state. Most Americans believe in assisting those temporarily down on their luck and those who cannot help themselves, as well as a public-private system of pensions for a secure retirement. But a clear majority believes that income redistribution and government care should be the exception and not the rule.

Counter-terror police arrest five 'Algerian' street cleaners in dawn raid over alleged plot to attack the Pope on UK visit
Didn’t get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. Excerpt: Police arrested five street cleaners in a dawn raid today after receiving information they were allegedly plotting to harm the Pope. The suspects were arrested by Scotland Yard at 5.45am at business premises in the centre of London and are now being questioned by counter-terror detectives. They were working for Veolia Environmental Services, a contractor which employs 650 on-street staff to keep Westminster's streets clean. A sixth man being questioned by officers tonight after he was arrested at 2pm at a North London home by police investigating the alleged threat. Scotland Yard said the suspect, aged 29, was arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

Walrus Desperatus By Medius Doofus – The Latest Media Hoax
Excerpt: It’s September and so it’s the time of the year for ritual bed-wetting here in Europe among the alarmist media and environmental activists, all triggered by the annual arrival of the Arctic sea ice minima.... Yet, it’s not enough to report only about melting sea ice. An additional instrument, extra shock, has to be found to emotionalize the event. This year that instrument is no longer the polar bear, trapped on a single tiny chunk of ice. That’s out. The new symbol of climate doom this year is the lovable walrus – odobenus rosmarus. Practically every major German media outlet has reported on the “plight” of the poor walrus, “forced to flee” to the Alaskan beaches because of the “dramatic” ice melt. It’s the latest unprecedented event that’s proof of anthropogenic global warming. (...) Relax. Walrus landing on the beaches is nothing unusual. Yes, the beaches in Alaska have been invaded by thousands of walrus. But it turns out that this is nothing unusual. The Tucson Citizen reports here that according to the The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: The largest concentrations are found near the coasts, between 70 degrees North and Pt. Barrow in the east and between Bering Strait and Wrangel Island in the west. Concentrations, mainly of males, are also found on and near terrestrial haulouts in the Bering Sea in Bristol Bay and the northern Gulf of Anadyr throughout the summer. In October the pack ice develops rapidly in the Chukchi Sea, and large herds begin to move southward. Many come ashore on haulouts in the Bering Strait region. Depending on ice conditions, those haulout sites continue to be occupied through November and into December, but with the continuing development of ice, most of them move south of St. Lawrence Island and the Chukchi Peninsula by early to mid-December. In October? Why are they early this year? The Tucson Citizen also quotes the Alaska Fish & Game Department, which says that concentrations of walrus on beaches is not unusual. (It appears the iconic polar bear on the ice floe has worn out its welcome. Here's the replacement. Ron P.)

D.C. ABC Affiliate Fires Longtime Anchorman After He **Gasp** Pointed Out Obama Took Campaign Cash From BP During Oil Spill Protests…
The left supports all kinds of diversity except diversity of thought. ~Bob. Excerpt: Amid the ongoing BP oil spill in July, McKelway covered a Capitol Hill demonstration by environmental groups protesting the influence of oil-industry contributions to members of Congress. In his piece, McKelway said the sparsely attended event attracted protesters “largely representing far-left environmental groups.” He went on to say the protest “may be a risky strategy because the one man who has more campaign contributions from BP than anybody else in history is now sitting in the Oval Office, President Barack Obama, who accepted $77,051 in campaign contributions from BP.”

Irreverent Messenger of the Week: Robert Hall
Good site. And I’d say that even if they hadn’t sent me a great briefcase for my blog piece “I’m Tired.” See picture.

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