Monday, September 27, 2010

Political Digest September 27, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Nor that I disagree with them, of course.

Last, best Hope
Worth watching.

Controversial UIC professor denied emeritus status,0,5045265.story
Excerpt: In a very unusual move, University of Illinois trustees Thursday denied giving emeritus status to controversial retired professor William Ayers. The vote, at a U. of I. board meeting in Urbana, was unanimous and came after a passionate speech by board chair Christopher Kennedy, who invoked the 1968 assassination of his father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, in saying that he was voting his conscience. The other trustees, without comment, also voted against the appointment. Ayers, the Vietnam War-era radical, had been an education faculty member at UIC since 1987. He retired effective Aug. 31 and then sought the emeritus faculty status, a largely honorific title that includes some benefits such as library privileges. A co-founder of the Weather Underground anti-war group, Ayers was frequently in the media spotlight and, as such, was one of the university's best-known faculty members. While trustees regularly vote on emeritus appointments, they rarely comment about them. But in an emotional statement, Kennedy discussed his reasons for voting against Ayers' request. "I am guided by my conscience and one which has been formed by a series of experiences, many of which have been shared with the people of our country and mark each of us in a profound way," Kennedy said. He said he could not confer the title "to a man whose body of work includes a book dedicated in part to the man who murdered my father." Kennedy was referring to a 1974 book co-authored by Ayers, "Prairie Fire," which was dedicated to a long list of people including Robert Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan and "all political prisoners in the U.S." (In a more rational time long gone, they knew how to reward treason. ~Bob.)

Federal Prosecutor Accuses DOJ of Showing Bias Against Whites
Excerpt: Down in Washington, Politico reporter Josh Gerstein has pulled the curtains back on an interesting saga arising out of the halls of the Department of Justice. According to Gerstein’s story, a Justice Department prosecutor on Friday testified at a U.S. Civil Rights Commission hearing that top Justice Department officials pulled the plug on a voter intimidation case because the suspects were black and their alleged victims were white. Gerstiein writes: The prosecutor, Christopher Coates, also said the downgrading of the case against the New Black Panther Party was evidence of a Justice Department culture which discouraged “race neutral” enforcement of civil rights laws, frowned on prosecuting minority perpetrators and folded under pressure from black and Latino rights groups. Coates told the panel that the culture intensified in 2009 – and led to his demotion from leading the voting rights division – after President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder took office. “They have not pursued the goal of equal protection of the law for all people,” he said.

Citizen Assaulted for Filming Governor John Kitzhaber Event
Comment with the e-mail: Dude! This is enraging, and it should be. At a public gathering, a man is filming a speech given by Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber when the moderator announces for people to stop filming. The man continues to film, believing it to be his first amendment right, when two thugs come and sit beside him. When they fail to deter this man from filming, they grab his camera and punch him in the face, right there during the speech. (Gee, I bet AG Holder jumps all over this! Oh, wait, the thugs were black. Intimidation’s okay then, sorry, my bad. ~Bob)

Lucky Me
Good song.

Superlobbyist pleads guilty, made illegal contributions
How’s that swamp-draining thing working out, Nancy? ~Bob. Excerpt: Superlobbyist Paul Magliocchetti, who specialized in getting defense earmarks for his clients, pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges of making hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to members of Congress. Magliocchetti admitted using straw donors -- friends, lobbyists and family members, including his aged in-laws -- to funnel $386,250 in illegal contributions to favored members of Congress including key members of the House appropriations defense subcommittee who provided hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks for the clients of his now defunct Arlington lobbying firm, The PMA Group. And while watchdog groups had hoped Magliocchetti would use his insider's knowledge to help federal prosecutors investigate Congress and earmarks, his plea agreement makes no mention of him cooperating in other probes….. Magliocchetti was a major fundraiser for three powerful Democratic members of the defense subcommittee -- the late John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, James P. Moran of Virginia and Peter J. Visclosky of Indiana -- who had repeatedly helped him and his clients. The Justice Department said Friday the federal campaigns that received the Magliocchetti funds were unaware of the scheme. But federal prosecutors have been trying to determine whether members of Congress or their staffs engaged in a "pay to play" scheme with Magliocchetti and his firm in which they exchanged earmarks for donations. In May 2009, a federal grand jury subpoenaed records from the congressional and campaign offices of Mr. Visclosky and from his then chief of staff, Charles Brimmer. Mr. Visclosky obtained dozens of earmarks for PMA clients and PMA employees were his largest group of campaign donors. Mr. Visclosky has denied any wrongdoing.

Your Government Taking Care of You (British Version)
Excerpt: . . . the treatment of a former soldier who served in Afghanistan could not be more different to that of a refugee and her family fleeing the same place. Lance Corporal Craig Baker, 26, and his family have been refused a council house in his home town as 'he has no local connection'. Now the couple and their two young children are camping at his parents' three-bedroomed home in Bracknell, Berkshire - the house where L/Cpl Baker grew up. His treatment is in stark contrast to that of an Afghan family who fled the Taliban and live on benefits as refugees, 30 miles away in London. Mother-of-seven Toorpakai Saiedi, 37, was revealed to be living in a £1.2million seven-bedroom home in Acton, west London, which cost Ealing council £150,000 a year to rent.

American Hero: Coates Negates a Year of Justice Department Spin on New Black Panther Case
Excerpt: It has been a very bad week for the dwindling number of people defending the dismissal of the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party by Eric Holder’s Justice Department. Today might have been the worst day of all. Former Voting Section Chief Christopher Coates testified to the United States Civil Rights Commission that Obama political appointees dismissed the case because they are opposed to enforcing civil rights laws in a racially neutral fashion. And that was just the beginning. In a dramatic hearing in Washington, D.C., Coates simply destroyed the year-long spin from the Justice Department regarding the dismissal. Coates is the former Voting Section chief, and served as lead attorney on the Black Panther case. He has practiced voting rights law longer than any other lawyer at the Justice Department. His testimony today was the worst possible nightmare for the Obama political officials responsible for the dismissal.

Time for Change: Gov’t Must Address Lawlessness Uncovered by Christopher Coates
Excerpt: Friday’s testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights by Christopher Coates — a career Justice Department lawyer and supervisor — knocked down the Potemkin Village that the Obama administration has built to obscure why Justice officials dismissed a voter-intimidation case against two members of New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia. Coates, former chief of the Voting Section in the Civil Rights Division, testified that Justice officials purposefully dropped the New Black Panthers case because they didn’t want to enforce the Voting Rights Act against minority defendants accused of violating the law. Coates’ sworn testimony to the independent Civil Rights Commission supported accusations made previously in testimony by J. Christian Adams, a former career lawyer in the Voting Section. In a long and detailed opening statement, Coates sought to confirm the truth of Adams’ charges. Most disturbing was Coates’ description of a culture of animus within the Civil Rights Division toward race-neutral enforcement of federal voting rights laws. He described an atmosphere of harassment directed at lawyers and paralegals who worked on the NBPP case, and on an earlier case filed in Noxubee, Mississippi, against Ike Brown, a twice-convicted felon and political activist who runs Noxubee County. Like the defendants in the Philadelphia case, he is black. (Has this gotten more than a passing mention on any TV network other than the evil Fox? Where is the media outrage? If the races had been reversed, you know we'd have burning cities tonight. Ron P.)

Citizens' Group Helps Uncover Alleged Rampant Voter Fraud in Houston
Excerpt: When Catherine Engelbrecht and her friends sat down and started talking politics several years ago, they soon agreed that talking wasn’t enough. They wanted to do more. So when the 2008 election came around, “about 50” of her friends volunteered to work at Houston’s polling places. “What we saw shocked us,” she said. “There was no one checking IDs, judges would vote for people that asked for help. It was fraud, and we watched like deer in the headlights.” Their shared experience, she says, created “True the Vote,” a citizen-based grassroots organization that began collecting publicly available voting data to prove that what they saw in their day at the polls was, indeed, happening -- and that it was happening everywhere. (An old story. An honest count in IL & TX in 1960 might have made Nixon president. ~Bob.)

Op-ed: American Jews should not vote for any Democrat in upcoming US elections,7340,L-3959769,00.html
Excerpt: Despite recent change in tone, rhetoric and conduct by President Obama toward Israel and its prime minister, most Israelis do not trust this new act and perceive Obama to be the most pro Palestinian, Pro-Arab, and Pro-Muslim American president ever, lacking a basic commitment or even sympathy to the Jewish state. It seems that Obama’s sudden “change of heart” toward Israel is not the result of rediscovered love, but rather, fear of losing the Jewish vote and financial backing in the upcoming elections.

Where Consensus Fails – The Science Cannot Be Called ‘Settled’
Excerpt: Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch have just published the findings of a survey conducted with practicing climate scientists. The survey was conducted in 2008 with 379 climate scientists who had published papers or were employed in climate research institutes and dealt with their confidence in models, the IPCC and a variety of other topics. The survey findings are here: Most of the questions were asked using a Likert Scale, which most of you have probably used in filling out one of the numerous online surveys that are on almost any website. “A set of statements was presented to which the respondent was asked to indicate his or her level of agreement or disagreement, for example, 1 = strongly agree, 7 = strongly disagree. (...) The total number of respondents is large enough to make statistically significant statements about the population of similarly qualified climate scientists, and the response rate to the invitations is in line with surveys conducted among academics and professionals. What that means is that we can be fairly confident that if we conducted a census of all such scientists the answers would not be very different to what is found in the survey’s findings. Typically in a commercial survey, analysts would group the top two responses and report on the percentages of respondents that ticked box 6 or 7 on this scale. Using that procedure here makes it clear that there are areas where scientists are not completely confident in what is being preached–and that they don’t like some of the preachers. (Once again, with feeling: consensus is not science, it's politics. Also, this survey was completed more than a year before the climategate email revelations. Ron P.)

Cyber War on Iran: the Siemens Connection
Excerpt: While the boors and bores of the mainstream media continue to focus on the “crucial matters” of our time such as Stephen Colbert’s tedious appearance before Congress and whether a Delaware senatorial candidate spent two days as a witch in high school, news of real importance is breaking all around us. I am not just referring to the cataclysmic testimony by Chris Coates in front of the Civil Rights Commission on Friday, but to a yet bigger story with a potentially huge implications for geo-politics — the recent (and possibly ongoing) cyber attack on Iranian computers that may have temporarily crippled the nuclear capability (and who knows what else) of the totalitarian Islamic state. Yesterday, I wrote some preliminary words about this highly sophisticated attack by the so-called “Stuxnet” worm; today we learn the startling news the Iranians themselves have admitted that something serious has happened. Such admissions are certainly not common from the secretive state. From Asia Bizz: The Iranian Ministry has stated that some 30000 industrial computers have been infected by Stuxnet. One of the main operations done by Stuxnet is that it extracts vital information from these systems and then sends it somewhere abroad. Iran has termed this virus as a spy virus, as it is deploying vital data to other countries. On the other hand it is said, a similar attack has been reported from Iran’s latest nuclear power plant facility, but these reports have not yet been confirmed. Three-thousand industrial computers … what industries and how extensive the damage is Iran isn’t saying. But we can hazard the guess that most of it is militarily related. Besides the ability to send information abroad, “Stuxnet” is reportedly able to commandeer computers and direct them to destroy what they are managing. If true, this changes the face of warfare. (This is the first I've heard of this. If it can be done to them, it can be done to us. Perhaps it's time to take computer security seriously. I doubt Siemens was involved (unless involuntarily), and further doubt any real proof of the country of origin will surface. It'll be from some "former USSR" backwater. Ron P.)

Climategate Fallout: Don't Let Personal Views Cloud Scientific Integrity
Excerpt: Researchers should make it clear that they are going beyond their professional expertise when they make recommendations about the policy implications of their research, according to a new international agreement on research integrity. The "Singapore Statement" was drawn up before the Second World Conference on Research Integrity, which took place in the island state in July, and was released on 22 September after consultation with the 350 delegates from 50 countries. Its 14 universal research "responsibilities" include an injunction to "clearly distinguish professional comments from opinions based on personal views" when taking part in public discussions. Nick Steneck, the director of the research ethics and integrity programme at the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, who helped draft the guidelines, told Times Higher Education that some scientists "blur the lines between their scientific findings and their own positions on issues". He said many people felt that the "Climategate" scandal at the University of East Anglia had been an instance of such behaviour. "Although (scientists) may have strong feelings about what policies should be adopted based on their research findings, they are generally not policy experts," he said. When I pass Bob an article, I usually try to link it to the original source. In this case, although this was originally published in the Times Higher Education section, I linked it through the Global Warming Policy Foundation's site because they coupled it with a statement also worth reading from the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity and a link to the working (draft) paper they (the conference) are hoping to complete. Should this become "policy," I suspect many large institutions will simply ignore it (as will all activist scientists) because it would endanger both their funding and political power. Mice can vote to bell the cat, but the cat will have its own opinion. Ron P.)

Herman Cain, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO, is contemplating 2012 run
Excerpt: Herman Cain is thinking about running for president, even though it’s likely you’ve never heard of him. And that’s OK — at least right now — for the black Republican who has become a sought after speaker on the Tea Party circuit. The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza says he’s going to build a grassroots coalition of supporters from the bottom up, if he decides to run, and if the Tea Party movement in 2010 is any indication, Republicans won’t be looking to nominate a household name for president in 2012. “They’re ready for a non-establishment candidate,” Cain, casually dressed in a blue shirt and slacks, said here in Florida during an interview Thursday after addressing an enthusiastic crowd at a “Spending Revolt” rally. “I will run proudly as a non-establishment candidate. I think the public has an appetite for a non-establishment candidate.” Though he may not be well-known on the national stage, the stage 4 cancer survivor and chairman of the Hermanator PAC is a star among the conservative grassroots. Activists who showed up to the Americans for Prosperity’s “Spending Revolt” bus tour this week didn’t hide their admiration. “He’s a beautiful package,” said Bob Prescott, a Jacksonville man selling campaign buttons, while Cain addressed an audience in Tampa. Prescott said he’s heard the Tea Party star speak multiple times and would support a Cain bid in 2012. (Maybe it's time for a businessman who really is a complete outsider. His name, however, may work against him, it's too much like the last GOP candidate's. Ron P.)

Climate science solar shock and awe
Excerpt: The idea that changes in the sun’s activity can influence the climate is making a comeback, after years of scientific vilification, thanks to major advances in our understanding of the atmosphere. … So far, three mechanisms have come to light (see diagram). The best understood is what is known as the top-down effect, described by Mike Lockwood, also at the University of Reading, and Joanna Haigh of Imperial College London. Although the sun’s brightness does not change much during solar maxima and minima, the type of radiation it emits does. During maxima the sun emits more ultraviolet radiation, which is absorbed by the stratosphere. This warms up, generating high-altitude winds. Although the exact mechanism is unclear, this appears to have knock-on effects on regional weather: strong stratospheric winds lead to a strong jet stream. The reverse is true in solar minima, and the effect is particularly evident in Europe, where minima increase the chances of extreme weather. Indeed, this year’s cold winter and the Russian heatwave in July have been linked to the sun’s current lull, which froze weather systems in place for longer than normal. The second effect is bottom-up, in which additional visible radiation during a solar maximum warms the tropical oceans, causing more evaporation and therefore more rain, especially close to the equator. … The third solar influence on climate is extraterrestrial. Earth is bombarded by cosmic rays from exploding stars, which are largely deflected by the solar wind during solar maxima and to a slightly lesser degree in minima. (Think about this: it took advanced degrees and research grants before some bright person figured out the sun has a "real" influence on climate. Duh. A valley girl (of either sex; ignorance is equal opportunity) could have told us this for free. And HAS been telling us for 30+ years. Ron P. But could the Valley Girl” have spent millions in grant money? ~Bob.)

Pensions wiped out by the White House
Excerpt: The White House believes it can win back depressed and economically stressed voters by turning President Obama into the storyteller-in-chief again. But consider the real-life horror story of 20,000 white-collar workers at Delphi, a leading auto-parts company spun off from GM a decade ago. As Washington rushed to nationalize the US auto industry with $80 billion in taxpayer "rescue" funds and avoid contested court termination proceedings, the White House auto team schemed to preserve UAW members' costly pension funds by shafting their nonunion counterparts. The nonunion pensioners also lost all of their health and life insurance benefits. The abused workers -- most from hard-hit northeast Ohio, Michigan and neighboring states -- had devoted decades of their lives as secretaries, technicians, engineers and sales employees at Delphi/GM. Some have watched up to 70 percent of their pensions vanish. John Berent of Marblehead, Ohio, lost one-third of his pension: "I worked as a salaried employee for GM (30 years) and Delphi (10 years). After 40 years of dedicated service, I was forced to retire. Then Delphi terminated my health care, life insurance, vision, dental, then terminated the pension plan. Everything I worked 40 years for was wiped out." Kelly Fabrizio of Franksville, Wis., saw her pension cut by 55 percent after 30 years at Delphi/GM: "I am truly scared for my future. Every day I wake up, shake my head and say out loud -- This Is Not How It Was Supposed To Be."

Comment on “I’m Tired”
People have urged me to run for President, but this is a new one: M.C. YATES- MARSHALL has left a new comment on your post "I'm Tired--some updates": Message to Mr. Hall. Please come over here to Britain and be our prime minister.... And another fellow commented on a recent blog post that he was going to boycott CSI and CBS, in hopes they end my contract! Too funny.

Video surfaces of Taliban stoning woman in northwest Pakistan
Excerpt: WARNING: The video above is graphic, and beyond disturbing. It is footage of a woman dying under a barrage of stones. But it must be exposed: This is Sharia. This is an act Muhammad approved of and participated in, according to canonical Islamic sources including Sahih ("sound," "reliable") Bukhari. This is Islam's "justice," "compassion," and "mercy" which apologists will not repudiate, attempting to dodge the issue by assuring the uninformed (and maybe even trying to make themselves believe) that it is not an issue because it is not prescribed in the Qur'an itself. Click here for why that does not make a difference to the Muslims who have continued the practice over the centuries. And what was this woman's crime? Here is the back story. "Rare Video Shows Taliban Allegedly Stoning Woman to Death in Pakistan," by Megan Chuchmach for ABC News, September 24: A rare video reportedly smuggled out of northwest Pakistan allegedly shows a woman being stoned to death by Taliban militants in the upper region of Orakzai. Al Aan, a Dubai-based pan-Arab television channel that focuses on women's issues, said it had obtained cellphone footage that it says shows a woman being executed because she was seen out with a man. The killing reportedly took place two months ago and was smuggled out by a Taliban member who attended the stoning, according to Al Aan. ABC News could not independently confirm the cellphone video's authenticity.

Mexican Drug Cartels Infiltrating Collages and High School Campuses in America
Excerpt: In a recent drug bust at the San Diego State University Federal agents and SDSU police culminated a yearlong investigation into drug dealing around campus and found it to be more sophisticated, more pervasive and more dangerous and far reaching than they expected or have seen before. These arrests coincided with the first anniversary of a female student freshman’s cocaine-related death. According to local newspaper reports ninety-six suspects, including 75 SDSU students, have been arrested on drug-related charges as a result of the undercover operation, launched after Jenny Poliakoff, 19, was found dead in her off-campus apartment after a night of celebration. One of the main suspects in this international drug investigation is Omar Castaneda, a gang member from Pomona with ties to the Mexican Tijuana drug cartels, officials said. Castaneda, 36, after his arrest he was arraigned in San Diego Superior Court on charges of possession of cocaine for sale. He is suspected of being a major link between drugs flowing into California from Tijuana and sales at SDSU and other California campuses.

Rep. Peter Roskam: Why not stop Medicare fraud before it happens?
Excerpt: A few years ago, my wife and I were sightseeing through Hungary when my wallet was stolen. Before I even realized it, my bank had already notified me that a scammer attempted to purchase $10,000 worth of stereos and speakers in Budapest with my credit card—which was very uncharacteristic of my consumer behavior. The claim was analyzed and halted before the reimbursement crossed the Atlantic Ocean. By prospectively verifying the extreme likelihood that the purchase was fraudulent, financial services companies are able to deny payments to obvious criminals. By contrast, but in typically maddening government logic, Medicare fails to verify legitimacy prospectively, instead paying out $60 billion in fraudulent claims annually with its “pay then chase” pursuit of fraud. The New York Times reported last month that a suburban Chicago physician with billing privileges at three hospitals confessed to $13 million in improper payments. “He sent 14,800 billings over five years to Medicare alone, billing for 24 hours or more of work every day of the year.” Predictive modeling technology like the system used to catch the thief who stole my wallet in Budapest could have detected that the doctor’s 168 hour work week was fishy, not to mention impossible.

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