Saturday, October 23, 2010

Political Digest for October 23, 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.

I have family commitments this weekend, and business trips to Arizona and Texas on the next two. So you may be deprived of the Political Digest on some days. Your subscription will be extended to make up for it. ~Bob.

Military Votes
Thought this needed to be widely seen before election day. In my view, the Democrats deliberately sent the ballots late to keep down the troops votes. I swear I will never vote for a Democrat again. Yes, I have in the past, more than once. ~Bob

Guard your right to fair elections: The Democrats Will Steal the Election if We Let Them
The longstanding Democrat tactic of stealing elections threatens a reappearance on November 2. It would be foolish to pretend otherwise and rely on the voters' voice to be heard merely because the public has turned on the Democrats. A number of comments on my recent pieces dealing with electoral issues (particularly "The American Left Slides Into Psychosis") have mentioned the importance of protecting the vote to assure that standard corrupt Democratic tactics are not allowed to lessen the weight of the impending November avalanche. This is certainly a valid point in this age, when Stuart Smalley has found his way from the tube to the Senate and the Black Panthers have been resurrected from their status as footnote to the '60s to serve as enforcers for humane, progressive liberalism. It will serve us well to take a close look at the Democrat record in this matter, consider what they may be up to regarding this election, and, the most serious question of all, ask why the GOP lets them get away with it. Democrats and election-stealing by any means necessary go back a long way. In the heyday of Tammany Hall in the mid- to late 19th century (the name allegedly was derived from that of an early New York-area Leni Lenape chief -- they were practicing PC even then), entire armies of thugs were recruited from Manhattan's gangs to take control of polling places, oust any opposition, and assure that only Row A votes were counted. One description I read years ago stated that some of these goons filed their teeth to points, while others had metal finger caps fitted with sharp nails. This is a step beyond Philly's Panthers, I'm sure all will agree. (...) It's not a question of how much the Dems will cheat. It's how much they will be allowed to get away with.

ObamaCare's Incentive to Drop Insurance
Excerpt: This past spring, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (President Obama's health reform) created a system of extensive federal subsidies for the purchase of health insurance through new organizations called "exchanges." The details of these subsidies were painstakingly worked out by members of my own political party to reflect their values: They decided who was to benefit from the subsidies and what was to be purchased with them. They paid a lot of attention to their own strategies, but what I believe they failed to consider properly were the possible strategies of others. Our federal deficit is already at unsustainable levels, and most Americans understand that we can ill afford another entitlement program that adds substantially to it. But our recent health reform has created a situation where there are strong economic incentives for employers to drop health coverage altogether. The consequence will be to drive many more people than projected—and with them, much greater cost—into the reform's federally subsidized system. This will happen because the subsidies that become available to people purchasing insurance through exchanges are extraordinarily attractive. In 2014, when these exchanges come into operation, a typical family of four with an annual income of $90,000 and a 45-year-old policy holder qualifies for a federal subsidy of 40% of their health-insurance cost. For that same family with an income of $50,000 (close to the median family income in America), the subsidy is 76% of the cost. One implication of the magnitude of these subsidies seems clear: For a person starting a business in 2014, it will be logical and responsible simply to plan from the outset never to offer health benefits. Employees, thanks to the exchanges, can easily purchase excellent, fairly priced insurance, without pre-existing condition limitations, through the exchanges. As it grows, the business can avoid a great deal of cost because the federal government will now pay much of what the business would have incurred for its share of health insurance. The small business tax credits included in health reform are limited and short-term, and the eventual penalty for not providing coverage, of $2,000 per employee, is still far less than the cost of insurance it replaces.

How big could the GOP House wave be?
Excerpt: While most of the focus is on whether Republicans can win the 39 seats they need to re-claim the House majority, there is a lower-profile debate going on within the ranks of party strategists regarding the ceiling for GOP gains on Nov. 2 if all the breaks go against Democrats. In conversations with Democrats and Republicans closely monitoring the House playing field, estimates range widely from 50 seats all the way to 70 (or so) seats with most people coming down somewhere in between. "It's likely to be in the fifties, but Republicans could gain a net of up to seventy House seats," offered one Democratic strategist pessimistically. (To be clear: Those sorts of seat losses for Democrats are based on a worst-case scenario which, as of today, remains less than likely.) If Republican gains do approach the top end of that spectrum, however, it would mark a historic changeover of seats.

Young voters not engaged in midterms, surveys show
Frankly, when citizens who don’t pay much attention say they aren’t going to vote, it makes me happy. ~Bob. Excerpt: Democrats face a big hurdle in motivating young voters to go to the polls this November, according to two new surveys released today. A Pew Research Center study shows that only 45 percent of registered voters aged 18 to 29 say they "definitely will vote" this November. That's much lower than the 71 percent of all registered voters who say they will definitely vote next month. Another survey released today by Harvard University's Institute of Politics puts the number much lower -- only 27 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds surveyed said they definitely will be voting in the midterms. Sixteen percent said they probably will be voting, 21 percent said their chances are 50/50, and 36 percent said they either definitely or probably won't be voting. By contrast, fifty-seven percent of the 18-to-29-year-olds surveyed in Institute of Politics poll said they voted in the 2008 general election, either at a polling place or by absentee ballot.

Flagstaff Grandmother Can Wear Tea Party T-Shirt to Polls on Nov. 2
Excerpt: In a major victory for free speech, Coconino County Recorder Candace D. Owens has decided not to fight a court injunction that lets Diane Wickberg wear her Flagstaff Tea Party T-shirt when she votes on Nov. 2. “Diane Wickberg can proudly cast her ballot in the upcoming election without fear that she will be harassed by county poll workers for wearing a T-shirt with the U.S. Constitution on it,” said Diane Cohen, the Goldwater Institute’s lead attorney in this case. U.S. District Judge James Teilborg signed an order late Wednesday that directs Coconino County election officials to not stop anyone from wearing the Flagstaff Tea Party T-shirt when they vote at the polls on election day. "We hope this victory will provide a civics lesson to government officials who substitute their own subjective values and political biases for objective rules," said Clint Bolick, the Goldwater Institute’s litigation director.

U.S.-led Afghan reconstruction projects to end because of security dispute
Excerpt: U.S.-funded development firms are beginning to shut down massive reconstruction projects because the Afghan government has refused to rescind a ban on their use of private security guards, according to U.S. officials and aid workers here.

Take VAT!
Excerpt: A new study warns that a value-added tax would kill 850,000 jobs in a year and cut retail spending by $2.5 trillion over 10 years. Sounds too bad for Washington to pass up. An analysis for the National Retail Federation by Ernst & Young finds that adding a VAT to the U.S. tax system would reduce GDP for years, causing the loss of "850,000 jobs in the first year," plus "700,000 fewer jobs 10 years later." A VAT imposed in such a way would also cause retail spending to drop by almost $260 billion — or 5% — in the first year alone, according to the study. As a result, "most Americans over 21 years of age when the VAT is enacted would be worse off," and there would be "significant redistributional effects across generations, reducing real incomes and employment for current workers." Significantly, in this election year of the Tea Party, in which spending restraint has more resonance with voters than ever, the report, "The Macroeconomic Effects Of An Add-On Value Added Tax," also found that reducing the deficit by cutting government spending, rather than adopting a VAT, would mean more economic growth.

Mich. woman accused of civil rights violation for seeking Christian roommate at church
Excerpt: When a 31-year-old single woman in Grand Rapids placed an ad for a Christian roommate on her church bulletin board, she had no idea it would result in a civil rights complaint accusing her of illegal housing discrimination. The Alliance Defense Fund, which represents the woman, sent a letter last week to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights asking that the groundless complaint be immediately dismissed, but the division has not yet offered any response. “Christians shouldn’t live in fear of being punished by the government for being Christians. It is completely absurd to try to penalize a single Christian woman for privately seeking a Christian roommate at church--an obviously legal and constitutionally protected activity,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster. “Not content to just lock Christians and their beliefs into the four walls of their church or home, some groups also want to invade those walls and force their own ideas upon them by force of law.”

Tea Party Metaphysics: Economics and First Principles
Excerpt: Social conservatives and economic conservatives are getting along better than they have in years. And it’s not just at the tactical level—two factions setting aside their differences to fight a common foe who threatens both. To the contrary, prominent conservative writers as diverse as Arthur Brooks, Wilfred McClay and Peggy Noonan are articulating a new fusionism that sees economic and cultural issues as tightly integrated. Economic and social conservatives are starting to embrace each other’s issues like they haven’t in more than a generation. Still, there are frictions. And nothing reveals them like hearing people talk about the Tea Party. Does the Tea Party prove that economic issues are now more important than social issues, both in American politics generally and on the right in particular? Should social conservatives make peace with the fact that their issues are not the hot issues in this election? Do we need to accept that voters outside the social conservative base don’t want to hear about God, marriage and abortion, especially at a moment when government is nationalizing huge chunks of the economy, destroying basic liberties in the name of centralized economic planning, and hocking our grandchildren’s futures in order to jack up present consumption? Or is the Tea Party really good news for social conservatives? Does it represent not only a reaction against the injustices of socialist policies, but against the secularization and de-moralization of American politics? Is the Tea Party protesting not only a government takeover of the economy, but the denial of the intrinsic sacredness of the human person and the “natural” or pre-political qualities of human relationships? Does the Tea Party prove that God, marriage and abortion are still centrally relevant to American politics, and that there’s more hope than ever for the future of social conservatism? I answer “yes” to all of the above.

Juan Williams signs contract with Fox News
Excerpt: In the latest chapter of the Juan Williams vs. NPR saga, media outlets are reporting that Williams has signed a contract with Fox News for an expanded role at the network. As the Los Angeles Times reports: Fox News Chief Executive Roger Ailes handed Williams a new three-year contract Thursday morning, in a deal that amounts to nearly $2 million, a considerable bump up from his previous salary, the Tribune Washington Bureau has learned. The Fox News contributor will now appear exclusively and more frequently on the cable news network...This follows on the heels of Williams' appearance Monday night on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," and his comment about feeling "worried" and "nervous" when seeing "people who are in Muslim garb" when flying. In response, Williams' contract as an NPR contributor was terminated, because his comments "were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR." The LA Times story goes on to say the sudden firing of Williams "came after years in which Williams' role at Fox News caused internal tension at the public radio organization." (Note the last statement. William’s statements were pretty mild. Maybe they fired him for consorting with the enemy. ~Bob.)

Juan Williams: Fair & Balanced
Excerpt: NPR’s firing of Juan Williams tells you more about NPR than it does about Juan. What a stupid thing to do! You’d think the folks at NPR would be delighted: He’s a strong, mostly liberal voice on the most popular cable news channel in the country. But I suspect that was outweighed by their hatred of Fox News in particular and the conservative media in general. I have no doubt that Juan’s comments about Muslims were merely a pretext. There had been prior run-ins between NPR and Juan over his appearances on Fox. But fire him over remarks that most Americans would identify with? I didn’t think the loathing of Fox would cause NPR to do something so ideologically driven, unprofessional, and bigoted. Liberals in the media – not all of them – regard Fox as illegitimate, as something less than honest journalism. The mainstream media, on the other hand, is the real thing. And NPR is solidly in that mainstream – that is, the elite, liberal press establishment. Fox isn’t. I know many NPR listeners have been irritated by Juan’s appearances on Fox. So what? I’ve heard from Fox viewers upset over things Juan says. Again, so what? Should Fox be on the lookout for some pretext to fire Juan because he’s on NPR and expresses views that some in the Fox audience don’t like? (I don't watch a lot of TV. When I do, it is often Fox News. I also listen to one of the local PBS stations, though always in the car, and mostly for BBC's World Service. I've heard Juan Williams on both PBS and Fox. Though I seldom agree with him, he is always well-informed, intelligent, articulate, and urbane. He'd be welcome to come to dinner with me. I don't expect everyone to agree with me. Most adults expect others to have their own thoughts and opinions. Apparently, liberals don't agree. Earlier, I read a story at Daily Caller asking "Who is next, Mara Liasson or Nina Totenberg?" I'll never give another cent to either PBS or NPR. I see no reason I--or anyone else--should support a group so intent on marching in lock-think. --Ron P.)

All Things Considered, Public Broadcasting Should Be Abolished
Excerpt: Three points should be front and center. One, Williams made the comments for which NPR fired him not on their air, but on the Fox News Channel. Two, Williams’ actual comments weren’t all that incendiary and were factually accurate, yet the Muslim Brotherhood mouthpieces at CAIR made an issue of them and so NPR, ever the dutiful dhimmi, fired him. Hey, it’s either that or face whatever maumauing CAIR was cooking up as a next step. And three, this is the second time this week that a public broadcaster said or did something controversial and politically charged, yet only one of the two has faced any disciplinary action. (...) Just a day before, public broadcaster Gwen Ifill got herself into some trouble on Twitter for siding with Markos “screw them” Moulitsas, aka Kos, against Sarah Palin. Palin, in a speech, rallied her Tea Party supporters not to “party like it’s 1773 yet,” and Kos slammed her for the date, which, BIG HINT, is the year of the Boston Tea Party. And Ifill joined in the mockery on Twitter, only to dishonestly backtrack once Kos’ gaffe got called out. There are a couple of things at work in all that. One, Ifill assumed that Palin was ignorant while assuming that Kos wasn’t. That’s bias, and Ifill is supposed to be an objective reporter. And two, Ifill dishonestly dealt with the issue and, evidently from her subsequent silence, hoped it all would just go away. It might have, but thanks to NPR’s firing of Juan Williams, it won’t. Or it shouldn’t. (It will, and that’s among the problems with public broadcasting.) (If liberals want their own radio network, God bless'em, let'em have it, but why should WE have to pay for it? If they actually had to be self-supporting, maybe they'd remember the rest of the public. Nah. Ron P. I’ve long thought that it was wrong to tax people to support public media spouting opinions they didn’t agree with, or public art that they hate. Let both compete in the marketplace of ideas for support. But they can’t so they have to force people to support them. ~Bob.)

Vatican Synod Sees Growing Concern Over Islam
Excerpt: Jordanian Father Raymond Moussalli, Protosyncellus of the Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans said the Church in his country, Iraq, is under attack. “There is a deliberate campaign to drive Christians out of the country.” Father Mousalli said the agenda is not limited to Iraq. There is evidence of this strategy in all parts of the region. “There are satanic plans by fundamentalist extremist groups that are not only against Iraqi Christians in Iraq, but Christians throughout the Middle East." Marco Impagliazzo, a history professor at the University for Foreigners of Perugia, Italy and president of the Community of Sant'Egidio said Christians are essential to preserving authentic Arabic culture. Without Christians there will be little support for moderate elements within Islam. “Without then,” he explained, "Islam would be more alone and fundamentalist. Christians present a form of resistance to an Islamisizing 'totalitarianism'. Their permanence in the Middle East is in the general interest of the societies and of Islam.

Police see over 1,000 militant Islamists in Germany
Excerpt: Germany is probably home to more than 1,000 potentially violent Islamists and the number of identified militants has risen constantly in the past few years, the Federal Crime Office (BKA) said on Wednesday. The number of investigations into Islamic terrorism in Germany, where the 9/11 attacks on the United States were planned, has risen continually since 2001 according to the BKA. A total of 352 investigations were now under way, they said. "Security officials in Germany believe there are more than 1,000 Islamists ready to commit violence," the BKA, a nationwide police agency, said in a statement for its autumn congress. Authorities in the European Union's most populous state had classified 131 Islamists in Germany as "instigators" of terrorism and held files on a further 274 individuals deemed relevant, the BKA said. Radical Islam has been under the spotlight in Germany again over the past few weeks since security officials said a plot to stage attacks in Europe had been disrupted thanks to information from a suspected German militant captured in Afghanistan. Recent reports suggest a rise in Islamic militancy could be occurring in tandem with an increase in xenophobia. A study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which is close to the centre-left opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD), showed 58 percent of those surveyed said Muslims' rights to practise their religion in Germany should be considerably limited. The group agreeing with the statement "I don't like Arabs" rose from 44 percent in a 2003 poll to 55 percent this year, the study said. It also showed opinions once limited to the neo-Nazi scene were now spreading across German society more widely. The BKA said potential for far-right violence had almost doubled from the 1990s on, and encompassed around 9,000 people. Germany has been engaged in a very public debate about its Muslim population following a spate of disparaging remarks about immigrants made by Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin. Sarrazin was later removed from office, but a book he wrote addressing the role of immigrants has become a best-seller. In what has been widely perceived as a sharp shift to the right on the issue, Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the weekend that multiculturalism had "utterly failed" in Germany.

When Being Offended Becomes A Strategy of Oppression
On Wednesday, October 20, in Virginia, 20-year old Zachary A. Chesser pleaded guilty to providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and encouraging violent jihadists to kill U.S. citizens. In a wrongly-dated press release from USDOJ, Assistant Attorney David Kris for the National Security Division is quoted as saying: “The defendant attempted to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and used the Internet to incite violence. Thankfully, his commitment to violence was outmatched by the dedicated work of the agents, prosecutors and analysts who worked tirelessly to bring this man to justice. Today’s guilty plea is a direct result of the partnership and cooperation between the National Security Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI.” Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said: “Zachary Chesser seriously endangered the lives of innocent people who will remain at risk for many years to come. His solicitation of extremists to murder U.S. citizens also caused people throughout the country to fear speaking out – even in jest – lest they also be labeled as enemies who deserved to be killed. In admitting his guilt today, Mr. Chesser reminded us of the serious threat homegrown jihadists pose to this country, and I express my gratitude and admiration for the FBI agents who apprehended Mr. Chesser before he could endanger even more Americans.” Chesser, who lived in Fairfax, Va., had drawn attention from the world’s media after he posted an entry on the radical website Revolution Muslim in April. Posing as “Abu Talhah Al-Amerikee,” Chesser had said of the creators of South Park that “what they are doing is stupid, and they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of reality of what will likely happen to them." The posting was accompanied by a picture of the corpse of Theo van Gogh, who had been shot and stabbed to death on an Amsterdam street on November 2, 2004, after he had made a documentary about Islam’s poor treatment of women.

Police Clear Refinery as French Unions Defiant
Coming soon to a socialist entitlement state near you. ~Bob. Excerpt: French riot police rushed picket lines to break a blockade of the main fuel refinery supplying Paris on Friday as unions hardened their stance before a vote on President Nicolas Sarkozy's pension reform due later in the day. Signalling their determination to keep fighting even after a bill raising the retirement age becomes law, the country's six main unions have called for two more days of action on October 28 and November 6 against the unpopular reform. "The protests are not stopping, we just have different views on how to proceed," Jean-Claude Mailly, head of the more radical Force Ouvriere union told RMC radio. "We still think that demonstrating is not enough ... we have to ramp it up ... we need a strong day of public and private sector strikes." The government appeared equally determined. Police in riot gear wielding shields rushed a blockade and cleared pickets and burning tyres at dawn at Total's Grandpuits oil refinery, which supplies fuel for the Paris area. Scuffles broke out at the refinery southeast of the capital and one person was carried away on a stretcher after being trampled."

Allen West vs Lady gaga
Oh this is a great clip. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so I’ll just tell you it starts out slow but then picks up soon enough. --DH

About That O'Donnell Debate Remark
In the Delaware Senate debate between Republican candidate Christine O'Donnell and her Democrat opponent, Chris Coons, the former asked the latter to list the five freedoms in the First Amendment. He couldn't do it. But according to the Leftmedia, the story here is that O'Donnell doesn't know what's in the First Amendment. The two were talking about science and religion in schools when O'Donnell asked, "Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" Coons, of course, pointed to the First Amendment, which says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." She replied, "You're telling me the First Amendment does?" Her point was, to us, obvious -- the First Amendment does not contain the words "separation of church and state," a phrase which emanates from Thomas Jefferson's 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, not the Constitution. It has been remarkable to see the smear job on O'Donnell done by the Leftmedia, as they mock her for making a point that, in reality, was just over their heads. The Patriot Post

Military Vote Suppression in Illinois?
The Obama Justice Department has become embroiled in more voting shenanigans, this time in the president's home state of Illinois. The Illinois State Board of Elections has been lying about the level of county compliance with mailing military election ballots. Executive Director Dan White claims 10 counties didn't meet the mailing deadline, but in reality 35 of the state's 110 voting districts failed to comply, effectively stripping untold military service personnel of their right to vote. One election official, Robert Delaney, held up sending 1,300 military absentee ballots for 14 days. But while Patriots who have vowed to fight and die for our country can't be guaranteed the right to vote, 2,600 inmates in Chicago's Cook County Jail received hand-delivered applications and ballots -- at the same time. Fifteen other states have also failed to comply with the mailing deadline for military ballots, and the Obama Justice Department is looking the other way as it did with the New Black Panther Party case. Apparently, if you're white, or if you serve in the U.S. military (which tends to vote Republican), you're just not a priority to this White House. . The Patriot Post

Tort reform an under-the-table issue in governor's race,0,7444698.story
Excerpt: (Florida) Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink is a big fan of lawyers. Her husband, former gubernatorial nominee Bill McBride, is a partner in a Tampa law firm. Her running mate – former legislator Rod Smith -- is a former prosecutor and plaintiff's attorney, as is his son. And some of her biggest financial supporters file lawsuits trying to win money for injured clients from deep-pocketed businesses and insurers. Republican nominee Rick Scott is also a lawyer, but he's made it no secret what he thinks about attorneys who sue businesses on behalf of injured people. "When I'm governor, we're going to do tort reform," he said with a laugh during his first debate with Sink on Oct. 8. Scaling back big jury awards in injury lawsuits may not be a kitchen-table issue in Florida's race for governor, but it is one commanding a large financial investment from doctors, businesses and trial lawyers. Roughly one-fifth of the $10.2 million Sink has raised through her campaign and a related committee that's bought ads for her came from law firms, mostly trial firms. "For most of us, it's not about Rick Scott. It's about the fact that for 12 years, we've given the Republican party absolute control over state government," said Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, who has held three Sink fundraisers in the last year, including one at his Lake Mary home this month that featured Jimmy Buffett performing barefoot.

Costly virtual border fence in tatters,0,5546525.story?om_rid=Mqh-D0&om_mid=_BMwYdSB8VUa6$e
Excerpt: The Department of Homeland Security, positioning itself to cut its losses on a so-called invisible fence along the U.S.- Mexico border, has decided not to exercise a one-year option for Boeing to continue work on the troubled multibillion-dollar project involving high-tech cameras, radar and vibration sensors. The result, after an investment of more than $1 billion, may be a system with only 53 miles of unreliable coverage along the nearly 2,000-mile border. The virtual fence was intended to link advanced monitoring technologies to command centers for Border Patrol to identify and thwart human trafficking and drug smuggling. But from the beginning, the program has been plagued by missed deadlines and the limitations of existing electronics in rugged, unpredictable wilderness where high winds and a tumbleweed can be enough to trigger an alarm. (...) But given that the virtual fence has yet to pass muster even in the 53-mile test area — two sections in Arizona that officials acknowledge won't be fully operational until 2013 — and the government's lack of interest in extending Boeing's contract, most do not expect the department to invest billions more in a project that has continually disappointed. (Have they never heard of foot patrols? Must be too simple. Ron P. Ron, Ron. If this administration sends out foot patrols, they will be armed with water bottles and voter registration forms! ~Bob.)

Agenda 21: UN Sustainable Development. Implementation Recently Exposed by Hackers
The scary future if the UN rules. ~Bob.

Kids And Their Toys In Afghanistan
Excerpt: For the last two months, 12,000 NATO troops, and 7,000 Afghan soldiers and police, have been swarming all over Kandahar province, systematically taking down Taliban bases, safe houses, headquarters and bomb workshops. This culminated on the recent air-land assault on the Horn of Panjwai (a hilly, and heavily fortified Taliban base area, 30 kilometers long and 10 kilometers at its widest, shaped like a rhino horn). The Taliban have controlled this rural area for four years, but now admit they have been forced to abandon it. However, the Taliban also say they were return from their Pakistan sanctuaries when the foreign troops leave. The successful offensive relied on several factors. Intelligence was the biggest reason. The additional UAVs, intel aircraft and intelligence analysts reaching Afghanistan in the last year have made their mark. Much more is known about the enemy, and the foe can be monitored 24/7 when necessary. The Taliban were surprised at the speed and accuracy of the attacks, and how follow up raids, based on just captured information, were carried out. This was all possible because of good intelligence, that was constantly updated. All these operations were also carried out with little or no publicity. The troops, and the smart munitions, were just suddenly there. Few protracted firefights. Just a lot of initial noise, and then a systematic clean up.

Thanks To Obama And Health Care Reform, I'm No Longer Paying For My Employees' Insurance
If you factor out homicide and car accidents, Americans live longer than any other country’s people. We have the best survival rates for most types of cancers by far. And I think they have irretrievably ruined that system. ~Bob. Excerpt: For 15 years, I have taken pride in paying the full cost of health insurance for every full-time Palisades Hudson employee who wanted it. This month marks the last time I will do that. Beginning in October, our 20 employees will make their own decisions, and their own arrangements, regarding health coverage. They can stay on our company’s plan, but they will have to pay the entire cost – ranging from $574 to $683 per month – themselves, through payroll deductions. Though I am raising everybody’s salary by $3,000 per year, or $250 per month, as a partial offset to the loss of company-paid health coverage, those who remain on the company plan will have a significant new out-of-pocket expense. Some will undoubtedly make other arrangements instead. A few can elect to be covered under a spouse’s or domestic partner’s plan. In New York, where a state law already requires insurers to cover family members through age 29, some may be able to join a parent’s plan. These staffers may end up benefiting from the pay raise. My employees could opt to go uninsured. The new federal requirement for all adults to have insurance or pay a penalty does not take effect until 2014. I hope nobody makes this choice, but they are adults, and the decision now is in their hands.

The REAL Mean Girls
No wonder leftie feminists identify with Islam, despite it’s treatment of women. Apostates must be killed! ~Bob. Excerpt: The intensity of anger from liberal women these days is appalling. So-called “women’s groups” are showing their true colors by only supporting leftist, abortion-loving, marriage-hating women. The claws come out not just at the very mention of Sarah Palin’s name, but also in relation to any number of the successful conservative women candidates who are following in her high heels. But bad news girls, 2010 is the Year of the Conservative Woman. Strong, conservative, pro-life women are running for office this year, and the liberal groups supposedly speaking for women, like the National Organization for Women (NOW), are seething. In fact, they have gone so far out of their minds that they had no trouble endorsing Democrat Jerry Brown for governor of California, the guy who either called his opponent, Meg Whitman, a “whore” or allowed someone else to say it about her. But that’s obviously of no concern to an organization completely blinded by ideology and a searing lust for a woman’s right to choose to abort her child. In fact, supporting a man who calls his opponent a whore is so much of a non-issue that the president of NOW in California went on to seemingly clarify Jerry Brown’s statement, saying that Meg Whitman was actually a “political whore.” Thanks for the clarification. Way to stand up for women, NOW. They must have been taking their cues from New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who wrote about the GOP mean girls, the “grown-up versions of those teenage tormentors who would steal your boyfriend, spray-paint your locker and, just for good measure, spread rumors that you were pregnant.” Really? Just because Sharron Angle, the GOP nominee for Senate in Nevada, tells her opponent, current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to “man up” and admit that there’s a huge problem with Social Security, she is deemed a “mean girl.” What some call “mean” others call “strong,” and by the way, get over the high school drama.

Democrat Congressman says military service isn’t public service
Maybe that’s why the Democrats have delayed sending ballots to the troops serving overseas.

Campaign's Big Spender: Public-Employees Union Now Leads All Groups in Independent Election Outlays
Need to keep government spending, taxes and deficits high, so they can keep sucking dollars out of your wallet. ~Bob. Excerpt: The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is now the biggest outside spender of the 2010 elections, thanks to an 11th-hour effort to boost Democrats that has vaulted the public-sector union ahead of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO and a flock of new Republican groups in campaign spending. AFSCME, the public-employees union, has vaulted ahead of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to become the largest campaign spender of 2010. Jerry Seib discusses how that could boost the Democrats? Plus, Neil King on the Republican wave sweeping Indiana. The 1.6 million-member AFSCME is spending a total of $87.5 million on the elections after tapping into a $16 million emergency account to help fortify the Democrats' hold on Congress. Last week, AFSCME dug deeper, taking out a $2 million loan to fund its push. The group is spending money on television advertisements, phone calls, campaign mailings and other political efforts, helped by a Supreme Court decision that loosened restrictions on campaign spending. "We're the big dog," said Larry Scanlon, the head of AFSCME's political operations. "But we don't like to brag." The 2010 election could be pivotal for public-sector unions, whose clout helped shield members from the worst of the economic downturn. In the 2009 stimulus and other legislation, Democratic lawmakers sent more than $160 billion in federal cash to states, aimed in large part at preventing public-sector layoffs. If Republicans running under the banner of limited government win in November, they aren't likely to support extending such aid to states. Newly elected conservatives will also likely push to clip the political power of public-sector unions. For years, conservatives have argued such unions have an outsize influence in picking the elected officials who are, in effect, their bosses, putting them in a strong position to push for more jobs, and thus more political clout.

The new political map: Welcome to 2004
Excerpt: After consecutive elections marked by big gains in Republican territory, the Democratic Party of 2011 is poised to shrink back to its form before the GOP’s downward spiral: more coastal and urban and less Southern, Midwestern and rural. Based on the state of the political map two weeks out from the elections, the famed red vs. blue model that followed the 2004 presidential race appears to be returning to shape, with enough grave threats to Democratic officeholders to suggest that the party — as it is expressed in Congress, at least — could end up even narrower than that. Republicans are already well-positioned to capture scores of House, Senate and gubernatorial seats across the South and the heartland. And depending on the strength of the party’s performance on Nov. 2, the GOP is also close to penetrating citadels of Democratic strength in places like Washington, California, Oregon and Massachusetts.

Conservative Group FreedomWorks Hit by Cyber Attack
Excerpt: A planned "money bomb" thwarted by a cyber attack. No, it's not the stuff of comic books, but a page out of this year's election battles. FreedomWorks' computer server was hit by a mysterious hacker Thursday, and the conservative group said it believes it was targeted by a political foe just as it launched a major fundraising drive, sometimes also called a "money bomb," The Wall Street Journal reported. The FreedomWorks Web site went down at 9:45 a.m., just as its $200,000 money bomb was being promoted on conservative host Glenn Beck's radio show. The group estimated it lost about $80,000 in potential donations as it worked to revive the site, according to the Journal. "We think the idea was to take our site down until after the election," Kara Pally, Web developer for FreedomWorks, told the newspaper. "This was politically motivated." The server was fried, but the pro-Tea Party group said no data was lost or stolen. (Isn't election tampering a federal crime? By the time the FBI and/or NSA track down the villain, there might be a new Attorney General who will actually enforce the law. Ron P. Not when done by leftists. In 2004, the son of a Democrat Congressman in Milwaukee was part of a group that slashed tires on vans rented by Republicans to take voters to the polls. To liberals, the ends justify the means. ~Bob.)

GOP says compromise not on the agenda if they retake the House
Excerpt: Republicans aren't interested in compromising with President Obama on major issues if they retake the House or Senate, a senior GOP lawmaker said. "Look, the time to go along and get along is over," said Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.), the chairman of the House Republican Conference. "House Republicans know that. We’ve taken firm and principled stands against their big government plans throughout this Congress, and we’ve got, if the American people will send them, we’ve got a cavalry of men and women headed to Washington, D.C. that are going to stand with us." Pence said his party wouldn't compromise on issues like spending or healthcare reform, two of the weightiest items on Congress's agenda next year, when the Republicans could control one or both chambers. "Look, there will be no compromise on stopping runaway spending, deficits and debt. There will be no compromise on repealing Obamacare. There will be no compromise on stopping Democrats from growing government and raising taxes," Pence told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt Thursday evening. "And if I haven’t been clear enough yet, let me say again: No compromise." (Someone should make buttons with this Ayn Rand quote and send to every GOP member: “When good and evil compromise, evil always wins.” ~Bob.)

Obstructed 'View'
Excerpt: An African-American woman who affects a Jewish-sounding surname as a running joke storms off the stage in response to what she regards as the slander of Muslims. Only in America. But let me back up, in case you missed it: Last week, Fox anchor Bill O’Reilly appeared on ABC’s “The View” and argued against building an Islamic center adjacent to the consecrated ground where the World Trade Center once stood. When asked why he objects, he blurted out: “Because Muslims killed us on 9/11!” At that point Whoopi (the nickname derives from “whoopee cushion”) Goldberg (see above) and co-host Joy Behar exited stage left in righteous outrage. Put aside for a moment whether O’Reilly is right or wrong about the Islamic center. Put aside, too, whether, by failing to put an adjective – e.g. “radical” or “extremist” – in front of “Muslims” he implied that all Muslims bear responsibility for the atrocities of 9/11. Consider simply this: how difficult it has become to discuss such questions. By walking off the set, talk show hosts Goldberg and Behar were saying they will not tolerate talk about possible links between Islamic belief and terrorism. Co-panelist and producer Barbara Walters, to her credit, immediately said they were wrong. But quick to support Goldberg and Behar was none other than John L. Esposito, Founding Director of Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding – an institution that has accepted $20 million from a Saudi prince, an adherent of Wahhabism which is among the more extreme interpretations of Islam. Writing in the Huffington Post, Esposito presented no scholarly or even serious argument. Instead, he attempted to shut down debate by calling O’Reilly’s remark “baseless anti-Muslim rhetoric” reflecting the “anti-Islam hysteria sweeping over the U.S.” To substantiate that claim, Esposito noted that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has called for a "federal law that says Sharia law cannot be recognized by any court in the United States." He added that, “nobody is calling for Islamic Law…” Among the obvious facts that ignores: Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris has gone into hiding after an American-born imam called for her to be killed for the “crime” of suggesting that an “Everyone Draw Mohammad Day” would bolster freedom of speech. In Europe, Theo van Gogh was murdered for the “crime” of making a film critical of the treatment of women under Islam. Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders is on trial right now, for the “crime” of expressing opinions offensive to Muslims. He is hardly the first European to face such legal consequences as Nina Shea recently made clear. (Well, to be fair, it’s natural that Caryn Elaine Johnson—Whoppi’s birth name—would want to sound more Jewish. After all, she works in what that hero of anti-discrimination Jesse Jackson calls “Hymie Town.” ~Bob.)

America today is governed by a ghost.
Excerpt: But instead of readying us for the challenge, our President is trapped in his father's time machine. Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation's agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his father's dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost. (The article is long but full of meat. Be sure to at least give it a glance if not a word for word. Many well made points but if nothing else it serves as a reminder as to the huge difference in Obama's view and that of the majority of Americans. –Mac.)

Cafe owner ordered to remove extractor fan because neighbour claimed 'smell of frying bacon offends Muslims'
Well, he won’t get a job with NPR; offending Muslims is now the top PC crime. ~Bob. Excerpt: A hard-working cafe owner has been ordered to tear down an extractor fan - because the smell of her frying bacon 'offends' Muslims. Planning bosses acted against Beverley Akciecek, 49, after being told her next-door neighbour's Muslim friends had felt 'physically sick' due to the 'foul odour'. Councillors at Stockport Council in Greater Manchester say the smell from the fan is 'unacceptable on the grounds of residential amenity'.

Taliban: 'Britain is our greatest source of funding'
When they aren’t complaining about frying bacon, British Muslims send a few shillings to help kill British soldiers in Afghanistan. If that makes you nervous, NPR thinks you should be fired. ~Bob. Excerpt: “We are not like a government, we depend on individuals,” a Taliban commander told Sky News. “We get donations from our Muslim brothers in Britain for jihad and they help us. It is the duty of all Muslims to pay towards fighting a jihad. And this is how we get our money and buy our weapons and carry on fighting.” The commander added that an attack on Britain and Europe could happen “at any time”.

Bomb on bus in Philippines kills 10, wounds 9
Didn’t get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. Excerpt: A bomb ripped through a passenger bus Thursday in the southern Philippines, killing at least 10 people and wounding nine in an attack authorities say may have been carried out by an extortion gang with links to Muslim militants. The bus was traveling with more than 50 passengers when the powerful blast shook the rear of the vehicle from the overhead compartment, police Chief Superintendent Gil Meneses said. The force of the explosion was so strong it decapitated two of the victims, he said. Ten people, including the bus conductor, died in the blast in Matalam township in North Cotabato province, said police spokeswoman Senior Inspector Joyce Birrey.

Brothers arrested over string of recent 'honor killings' in Lod
Didn’t get the memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: Police suspect the two were hired hit men in a string of so-called 'honor killings,' offering their services to locals who wanted to attack their family members.

Obama Strips the 'Creator' from Declaration of Independence – Again
Well, he quoted the Declaration and attributed the quote to the Constitution in his State of the Union speech, so he’s doing better, but his pretensions to being a constitutional scholar are pretty thin. But he may have left this out because any mention of God offends so many Democrats. ~Bob. Excerpt: For the second time in little over a month, President Barack Obama stripped the word "Creator" from the Declaration of Independence when giving a speech. "As wonderful as this land is here in the United States, as much as we have been blessed by the bounty of this magnificent continent that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, what makes this place special is not something physical. It has to do with this idea that was started by 13 colonies that decided to throw off the yoke of an empire and said, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that each of us are endowed with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’” Obama said in Monday's speech.

Iranian Police Chief Targets Women Cyclists, Roller-Skaters
Excerpt: The new police chief of the Iranian city of Esfahan says it is a crime for women to cycle or roller-skate in public, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda reports. The two were among a range of women’s activities deemed criminal by Hassan Karami in an announcement on October 18. Further criminal activities include singing near Esfahan’s famous Khajoo Bridge and playing volleyball in public. Karami also said that it is a crime for either sex to play cards in public parks. Karami said police will “severely prosecute” offenders. He added that the number of police stations and patrols in Esfahan should be increased in order to combat crime in the city. Tehran-based lawyer Ahmad Bashiri told Radio Farda on October 19 that for an act to be considered a crime, there must be a defined punishment under the law, so that the crime can be prosecuted. “Singing is not in itself a crime,” Bashiri said. “But if it inconveniences the public, or if the song contains obscene words, then it can be considered a crime.” By contrast, playing cards or gambling in public is considered a crime under Iranian law, Bashiri added. Whether women should be permitted to ride bicycles has been a controversial issue in Iran for a long time. (Honest, I don't make this stuff up, I just pass on what I find. Ron P. NPR can’t cover stories like this—it would be “Islamophobic.” ~Bob.)

Feds: Mentally Ill Targeted in $200M Medicare Fraud
Anyone convicted of Medicare Fraud should be permanently barred from receiving government dollars in ANY program, including Social security, ever again. In addition to jail time. ~Bob. Excerpt: Two Miami health care companies and four owners and senior managers were indicted today in a $200 million fraud scheme that targeted mentally ill patients, federal authorities said.

Spring Has Sprung ... On Titan
Excerpt: NASA's Cassini spacecraft has sent back dreamy raw images of Saturn's moon Titan that show the appearance of clouds around the moon's midsection. These bright clouds likely appeared because the moon is changing seasons and spring has arrived in Titan's northern hemisphere. The images were taken from about 2.5 million kilometers (1.5 million miles) away from Titan on Oct. 18, 2010, and also show the faint etchings of Saturn's rings. One of the new raw images also features a cameo from the icy moon Tethys, which looks smaller and brighter than Titan in the image. (Early Halloween treat for space geeks. By the way, Titan is one of the OTHER solar bodies known to be getting warmer, and has been for at least several years. Maybe it's caused by too many SUVs. Ron P. If Titan’s getting warmer, we are REALLY going to have to reduce our carbon footprints. Except for Al Gore, of course. His doesn’t count. ~Bob.)

Dispute over New Black Panthers case causes deep divisions
Excerpt: On Election Day 2008, Maruse Heath, the leader of Philadelphia's New Black Panther Party, stood in front of a neighborhood polling place, dressed in a paramilitary uniform. Within hours, an amateur video showing Heath, slapping a black nightstick and exchanging words with the videographer, had aired on TV and ricocheted across the nation. Among those who saw the footage was J. Christian Adams, who was in his office in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in Washington. "I thought, 'This is wrong, this is not supposed to happen in this country,' " Adams said. "There are armed men in front of a polling place, and I need to find out if they violated the law, because in my mind there's a good chance that they did." The clash between the black nationalist and the white lawyer has mushroomed into a fierce debate over the government's enforcement of civil rights laws, a dispute that will be aired next week when the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights unveils findings from a year-long investigation. Two months after Election Day, Adams and his supervisors in the George W. Bush administration filed a voter-intimidation lawsuit against Heath and his colleagues, even though no voters had complained. The Obama administration months later dismissed most of the case, even though the Panthers had not contested the charges. Interviews and government documents reviewed by The Washington Post show that the case tapped into deep divisions within the Justice Department that persist today over whether the agency should focus on protecting historically oppressed minorities or enforce laws without regard to race. (If justice is not color blind, it feeds racism, regardless of which way the bias cuts.. Of course, if racism disappeared tomorrow, it would be a disaster for not only the Democrats, but for race hustlers like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who make a fine living off grievance-mongering. They have to keep it alive. ~Bob.)

Obama’s Boss Buys NPR
Weird story. How can you buy NPR? Doesn’t the government own it? And $1.8M seems low. Probably a contribution. But the firing of Williams may not really be “unrelated,” so I assume that’s sarcasm. ~Bob. Excerpt: Just days after declaring himself “helpless” to stop the Republican avalanche coming next month, George Soros paid $1.8 million to purchase NPR. The money is supposed to be used to hire 1oo “news” reporters for his Impact of Government project. Soros’s OSI is using the project to target state governments, as he is doing with his nefarious SoS campaign. Obama’s boss is conniving to install regime-friendly operatives in Secretaries of State offices nationwide. In a completely unrelated story, NPR just fired its lone intellectually honest liberal and Fox News commentator, Juan Williams. Soros also gave $1 million to Media Matters, another liberal cabal dedicated to harassing conservatives in the media and whining about Fox News. Soros may have abandoned all hopes for November, but he is investing heavily in subverting the 2012 election.

Soros-Backed Documentary Embraces Terrorists Who Wanted To Kill Republicans
Excerpt: America’s body politic is suffering from Soroses of the Giver: radical philanthropist George Soros acknowledged he is giving $1 million to the media “watchdog” group, Media Matters for America. Accusing Fox News hosts of using “incendiary rhetoric,” Soros said he wants his donation used “in an effort to more widely publicize the challenge Fox News poses to civil and informed discourse in our democracy.” His son, Alexander Soros, has given $73,800 to Democratic national candidates and political committees in the current election cycle. Now comes the news (reported in my debut article at Big Hollywood) that Soros is bankrolling a documentary called Better This World that celebrates left-wing terrorists who plotted to napalm Republicans at the 2008 GOP convention in Minnesota. Even worse, you too are bankrolling the film through your taxes.

As economists urge Congress to de-fund Obamacare, lameduck battle looms
Excerpt: Today, the group is hand-delivering a letter to Capitol Hill that has been signed by 64 economists, asking members of Congress to de-fund Obamacare. The letter, whose text I have pasted below, highlights what will become the next political controversy if Republicans gain a majority in one or both houses of Congress. Will President Obama sign a bill that de-funds his own pet project? Or will we end up in a government shutdown situation? The first big battle will come during the lameduck Congress. Republicans, who may hold as many as 43 Senate seats in the lameduck (the Illinois and West Virginia races are both special elections), will try to get a continuing resolution that keeps the government open until victorious Republicans take their seats in January. Democrats will try to rush through as many appropriations bills as they can, and they will likely try to fund Obamacare. Next year, Republicans will need to think carefully about how they proceed with spending bills. They will try to attach “none of the funds contained in this bill” clauses related to the money Obamacare needs to establish its bureacracies, enforce its employer mandates, and levy fines against the uninsured and under-insured. But President Obama will obviously be wary of signing bills that contain such riders, as it would amount to an admission of defeat. If Republicans want to avoid being blamed for a total government shutdown — and if it happens, this is inevitable, no matter how blameworthy Obama is himself — their best bet is probably to pass all of the spending bills separately (no omnibus), and only play chicken with Obama on the appropriations bills that affect Obamacare spending: primarily Treasury, Health and Human Services, and Labor. Even more effective, how about providing funds for the agencies within those departments that people would actually miss, but not others? House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, suggested such an approach during a recent speech at AEI:

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