Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Political Digest for November 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. Help your friends and relatives stay informed by passing the digest on.

Bob Hall for President
Here’s my entire platform for 2012. Foreign Policy: I will support our friends and defeat our enemies. Domestic policy: I will slash spending and the bureaucracy so deeply that every single person in the country will hate me, but the Republic will survive. Economy: I will support the free market, free trade and lower taxes and far fewer regulations on private sector job creators. That’s bad politics short term, but it will boom jobs and the economy long term. And I will not seek re-election in 2016, as I expect the above policies will get me assassinated long before that election.

Bladder cancer survivor recounts humiliating TSA screening
In the Corps, we used to say, “Better to be pissed off than pissed on.” Guess this guy is both, thanks to the TSA (The Stupid Authority) who are, indeed, stuck on stupid, because their masters would rather you die than do anything Non-PC, like profile. ~Bob. Excerpt: The pressure on the TSA to change its screening procedures is likely to grow following the story of one bladder cancer survivor who left a screening covered in urine. Thomas D. Sawyer, a 61 year-old man who survived a bout with bladder cancer, had his urostomy bag seal broken during one screening causing urine to spill down on his clothes and body. Sawyer was then told he could leave and was forced to board his plane before he could clean himself up.

The Truth about Entitlements
Excerpt: Most Americans would be happier if the outlook for the budget could be taken care of without having to make major changes to entitlement programs. Certainly, politicians would have it easier if this were the case. Unfortunately, arithmetic and prudence imply a need to tackle entitlements, says Arnold Kling, an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute.

Sen. Coons: 'I'm nobody's pet'
Guy owes his election to the Tea Party, who preferred losing with O’Donnell to winning with RINO Mike Castle. Harry Reid owes his own re-election to the Tea Party, because either of the other Republican candidates would have beaten him, and he owes them for this vote to keep him and liberals in control of the Senate’s business. A former “Marxist” is now a centrist? We’ll see. ~Bob. Excerpt: Conventional political wisdom may call Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) “lucky.” He simply calls himself a centrist. In an interview with The Hill at the end of his first week in the Senate, Delaware’s newly elected junior senator said he was surprised at the media attention that surrounded his general election campaign against Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell (R), and said his victory reflects the “reasonable, balanced, centrist” nature of his state’s voters…. Establishment Republicans promoted Rep. Mike Castle (R), a former lieutenant governor, two-term governor and congressman since 1993, for the seat, and he was generally favored over Coons. But Castle surprisingly lost to O’Donnell in the GOP primary in September after Tea Party activists helped boost her campaign.

With bailout near, Irish PM's coalition cracks
With a collapsing birth rate, steady Islamization from “temporary guest workers,” and entrenched entitlement babies, Europe staggers closer to the Socialist precipice—over which we will be pulled with them. ~Bob. Excerpt: One day after Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen requested a financial bailout for his country from the International Monetary Fund and European Union, he faced a deepening political crisis as the junior partner in his ruling coalition called for a new general election in January. Monday's move by the Green Party deepens the political turmoil that is unfolding in Ireland at the same time as Cowen's government is seeking a rescue package to prop up the country's banks and plug a massive hole in public finances.

Homeless hero finds $3,300 cash in lost backpack... and gives it BACK
An example for Congress. ~Bob. Excerpt: A homeless man in Arizona found over $3,300 (£2,000) in a backpack, and rather than keeping the money he tracked down the owner and gave it back. Dave Talley, a recovering alcoholic who's been homeless for 11 years, found the satchel with thousands cash at a light rail station in Tempe.

Obama's Power-Mad Cell Phone Czar
Excerpt: America is in debt past its eyeballs. Unemployment remains stuck near double digits. Small and large businesses, unions and insurers are clamoring for Obamacare waivers in droves. Jihadists are making a mockery of homeland security. And border chaos reigns. So, what's one of the Obama administration's top domestic policy agenda items this month? Combating distracted drivers. What? You missed the Million Anti-Distracted Drivers Protest March on Washington and the Great Grassroots Groundswell for federal intervention on our highways and byways? Don't worry. You weren't the only one. Making the cable TV rounds to unveil a public service announcement campaign against "epidemic" cell phone use and texting on the road, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood revealed bizarre and alarming plans on Wednesday to install devices in cars that would block a driver's ability to communicate.

Liberty-Loving Latinos Outshine Loud-Mouthed Leftist Latinos
Excerpt: I’ve long held that Hispanics owe a debt of gratitude to African Americans. They, more than any group, have shown us what allegiance to the Democratic Party can bring: the disintegration of the African American family, the targeting of black mothers for abortions by left-wing groups like Planned Parenthood, the lowering of the bar for African American students in state-sponsored schools. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Oddly enough, I have the Reverend Al Sharpton to thank for my current view. Back in 2003, when the good reverend was seeking the Democratic nomination for president, he said this: “We must no longer be the political mistresses of the Democratic Party.” It was a rare moment of honesty and admission that he and compatriot Jesse Jackson may have made a mistake in taking the African American community down the road of victimhood, represented by the Democrats, instead of the road of empowerment, represented by the conservative wing of the GOP. Sharpton’s words changed my life. I was bound and determined that my family, any Hispanics that would listen, and I would never become victims and reliant on an all-powerful government for our existence. But I knew I had powerful forces aligned against me. I saw many leftist Latinos seeking to take the Hispanic community down Sharpton’s road of victimhood. Take your pick of any Latino hate group. La Raza, Nation of Aztlan, the Brown Berets — these are the anti-American groups that have sullied the reputations of all Latinos. They get a lot of press. But they’re not alone. Groups like LULAC, Border Angels, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and countless others have made it their mission to portray Latinos as a bunch of victims who need to be compensated for some slight perpetrated by white America

Aircraft carrier plan shows China naval ambitions
Excerpt: The new generation of combat aircraft China proudly showed off at the Zhuhai Air Show in the country's south this week could soon be taking off from a prestigious runway: an aircraft carrier. Beijing has become increasingly assertive in its ambitions on the high seas -- as demonstrated by recent tensions with old rival Japan -- but still lacks this naval centrepiece. This looks set to change. Although it has not officially announced as much, China is working on a carrier and Western experts believe it could be launched as early as next year, though not in a fully operational state. It is a former Soviet aircraft carrier called the Varyag, currently being refurbished in the port city of Dalian in northeast China.

Excerpt: I promised to return to this question in an earlier post. Loyal readers know we have rejected the extreme and silly claim that 44,400 people die every year (one person every 12 minutes) because they were uninsured. Still, there are serious questions left unanswered. I propose to address them by breaking down the titular question into three component parts: 1. Does being insured in general versus being uninsured add to life expectancy? 2. Does being on Medicaid as opposed to be uninsured add to life expectancy? 3. Is there something about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that will add to life expectancy?

Lt Col Allen West speaks out on the Islamist ‘perversion of Islam’
I just hope West “works the district” so he gets re-elected in 2012. ~Bob. Excerpt: When you're asked an awkward question, you can either distract and deflect as the politician does; you can ruminate and reflect as the philosopher does; you can equivocate and obfuscate as the diplomat does. Or you can answer the question explicitly and directly, as the soldier does. When asked about the Islamist terrorists’ 'perversion of the religion of Islam', Lt Col Allen West replies: Let me say this. I don’t care about being popular – whatever. The first thing you’ve got to do is you’ve got to study and understand who you’re up against. And you must realise that this is not a religion that you’re fighting against: you’re fighting against a theo-political belief system and construct; you’re fighting against something that has been doing this thing since AD 622 – since the seventh century, 1388 years. You want to dig up Charles Martel and ask him why he was fighting the Muslim army at the Battle of Tours in 732; you want to ask the Venetian fleet at Lepanto why they were fighting a Muslim fleet in 1571; you want to ask the Christian – I mean the Germanic and Austrian knights why they were fighting at the Gates of Vienna in 1683; you want to ask people why they fought at Constantinople and why today it’s called Istanbul because they lost that fight in 1453. You need to get into the Qur’an: you need to understand their precepts; you need to read the Sira; you need to read the Hadith, and then you can really understand that this is not a perversion: they are doing exactly what this book says.

View from Middle East: President Obama is a problem
That touchy-feely, hope & change, community organizer stuff doesn’t seem to work that well in foreign policy. ~Bob. Excerpt: Vowing to change a region that has resisted the best efforts of presidents and prime ministers past, Barack Obama dove head first into the Middle East peace process on his second day in office. He was supposed to be different. His personal identity, his momentum, his charisma and his promise of a fresh start would fundamentally alter America’s relations with the Muslim world and settle one of its bitterest grievances. Two years later, he has managed to forge surprising unanimity on at least one topic: Barack Obama. A visit here finds both Israelis and Palestinians blame him for the current stalemate — just as they blame one another. Instead of becoming a heady triumph of his diplomatic skill and special insight, Obama’s peace process is viewed almost universally in Israel as a mistake-riddled fantasy. And far from becoming the transcendent figure in a centuries-old drama, Obama has become just another frustrated player on a hardened Mideast landscape.

Angle's campaign sank candidate
I would have voted for her, but Harry Reid isn’t the only Democrat senator who has the Tea Party to thank for his seat. If we nominate poor candidates just because they pander to the most conservative views, liberals will continue to control the government. ~Bob. Excerpt: It’s widely recognized that in the marquee 2010 Senate race, Majority Leader Harry Reid ran a nearly flawless, textbook campaign, an operation so extraordinary that it enabled him to defy an almost certain political death. It turns out he got some inadvertent inside help. Interviews with Nevada and Washington Republicans familiar with the campaign of Reid’s GOP opponent, Sharron Angle, describe a not-ready-for-prime-time effort that was equally astonishing — a model of dysfunction that was as bad as Reid’s campaign was good.

British pupils taught how to carry out Sharia punishments at Islamic schools
Excerpt: PUPILS at Islamic schools across Britain are being taught how to chop off a criminal's hand and that Jews are conspiring to take over the world, a BBC investigation has found. Up to 5000 pupils aged between six and 18 are being taught Sharia law punishments using "weekend-school" text-books which claim those who do not believe in Islam will be subjected to "hellfire" in death. A text book for 15-year-olds advises: "For thieves their hands will be cut off for a first offence, and their foot for a subsequent offence." "The specified punishment of the thief is cutting off his right hand at the wrist. Then it is cauterised to prevent him from bleeding to death," it added. Young pupils are warned that the punishment for engaging in homosexual acts is death by stoning, burning with fire or throwing off a cliff and that the "main goal" of the Jews is to "have control over the world and its resources."

U.S. District Court Judge found "ample evidence to establish the association" between CAIR, ISNA, NAIT and Hamas
Excerpt: Recently an erroneous story circulated to the effect that ISNA and CAIR had been removed from the unindicted co-conspirator list -- see here. The story turns out to be even worse for Hamas-linked CAIR, ISNA, and NAIT, three of the most important Islamic supremacist organizations in the U.S. today: the judge's actual ruling has just been unsealed, and as it turns out, the judge reaffirmed the three organizations' links with Hamas. He was only taking issue with the publication of the unindicted co-conspirator list.

Excerpt: An Afghan Christian, detained for months for allegedly converting to Christianity from Islam, could face trial as early as next week - and could face a potential death penalty, officials said Sunday. Said Musa was arrested by Afghan Interior Ministry intelligence authorities near the German Embassy in Kabul because of the allegations, said Qamaruddin Shenwari, director of the Kabul courts' north zone. The exact date of his arrest is not known.

Excerpt: The chief liberal critique of the War on Terror has been that George W. Bush wrongly treated 9/11 as an act of war, rather than a criminal act. Instead of passing the Patriot Act, invading Afghanistan, torturing terrorists and trying them under military tribunals, he should have just made a nice speech, and then turned the rest over to the FBI, holding civilian trials and moving on-- the way Bill Clinton did. Under Obama, liberals have gotten the chance to implement their security solution. And from civilian trials for terrorists, to soft power and diplomacy in the Muslim world, to 'civil rights first' security at home, every bit of it has failed badly.

Hail to the Chiefs
Excerpt: In 1936 Franklin Roosevelt felt overwhelmed. The New Deal had begun to spawn dozens of new agencies, and Roosevelt, fearful of the fragmentation of the executive branch, asked for help. The Brownlow Committee, an independent panel tasked with finding a new model of White House management, proposed offering the president some personal staff. “They would remain in the background, issue no orders, make no decisions, emit no public statements,” the committee explained in a report responding to public skepticism about growing the size of government. Over the next two years, Roosevelt recruited six trusted aides. Nowadays, six aides is roughly the number Barack Obama has to handle incoming mail—a small fraction of the 469 employees who work in the White House Office and councils for domestic and economic policy, the core staff of the presidency.

Consensus is forming on what steps to take in cutting the deficit
Excerpt: "I'm open to everything if it gets us where we need to go," said Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.), who is emerging as one of the GOP's most influential voices on budget issues. "This is going to require compromise, even from someone as conservative as me." Coburn is among a dozen lawmakers serving on the independent commission that President Obama created to help rebalance the federal budget. The panel will conclude its work after Thanksgiving with a vote that will reveal whether a convincing majority of its 18 members can agree on a deficit-reduction strategy.

Snowe, Collins back lawsuit challenging health-care law
Excerpt: The Portland (Maine) Press-Herald reports that both of Maine's senators -- Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins -- are signing on to a friend-of-the-court brief in support of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new health-care law.

Republicans' 2012 dark horse still has no name
Excerpt: So recent history then suggests that the 2012 Republican presidential field - one devoid of a clear front-runner - will produce a dark horse of its own. But who will it be? Here are four candidates who could fill the role: (Of these four, I like Pence best, Santorum least. I was in PA during his rise and he is conservative and bright, but earned his reputation for arrogance, not good in a candidate. I don’t think Brown will play well in GOP Primaries in conservative states. I like Rubio, but he’s too untried. ~Bob.

Why are the Marines the military's biggest backers of 'don't ask, don't tell'?
This will draw some fire! ~Bob. Excerpt: I have studied, taught and interviewed Marines for 15 years and have gained great appreciation for the history and culture of the Corps, so much so, in fact, that I began teaching at the Marine Corps War College in Quantico almost three years ago. Marines have survived and thrived as a service in part because they exemplify everything warrior. (I have never seen as many trucks with gun racks as I do driving on the Quantico base.) They pride themselves on being the toughest service, serving in the most austere environments under the most demanding circumstances. This pride has been forged throughout history, from Iwo Jima to Khe Sanh, from Fallujah to Helmand province. In the Corps, the creed that "every Marine is a rifleman" means that no matter the Marine's specialty, he or she is ready to fight. Marines do battle where the stakes are high and the quarters close. Although they have individual specialties, they all have infantry in their blood. As a rule, ground pounders are more conservative, resistant to change and likely to uphold tradition. This equates to a fear of the unknown - in this case, serving in combat with an openly gay Marine. Every Marine sees himself or herself as on the front lines, if not at the moment, then ready to deploy at any time. The Marine Corps is a smaller service than the other branches, with a greater singularity of purpose. That attitude is part of Marine Corps exceptionalism broadly, as well as when it comes to the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Anything that could dilute the warrior ethos will face a challenge. I am an openly gay woman, equally comfortable at Quantico and in
Dupont Circle
. Each of these worlds holds negative stereotypes about the other, and like all stereotypes, they tend to break down on an individual level. Yet for some in both cultures, the notion of a gay Marine seems almost impossible, as though this most masculine and punishing service simply isn't for gay people.

Worth reading: Lies, Censorship, and Power
Excerpt: Muslims who for one reason or another fall foul of the law in a Western society almost invariably claim to have been tortured. It’s standard procedure. I first came across it in Israeli military courts, where healthy PLO prisoners with broad smiles tried to explain why there wasn’t a mark on them when they’d just been hung by the wrists for twenty-four hours, or something equally physical. The British government has fallen for it. It is paying out a million or more pounds to each of a dozen Islamists who say they were tortured in Guantanamo. As far as can be seen, there is no corroboration and not even checking of their stories. We, the public, are supposed to take it on trust. None of these men are in any real sense British, with among them an Iraqi, a Libyan, a Jordanian, and a Moroccan. Several were in the country illegally. On the face of it, all were Islamist terrorists, usually with direct connection to al-Qaeda. (I have read that captured Jihadist handbooks instruct them to automatically claim torture if captured. ~Bob.)

Ground Zero Mosque Developers Apply for $5M in U.S. Taxpayer Money
Excerpt: From the Daily Beast today, we learn that the Ground Zero mosque developers, who still owe more than $200,000 in back taxes, have jumped the funding shark. Evidently, those Saudi millions have failed to come through as planned and the mosque developers have applied for a federal grant to get their “cultural bridge” out of the water. The mosque developers, having at last report only about $20,000 in their bank account, have applied for — stop the presses — five million taxpayer dollars. The grant money, if approved, will come from a special fund set aside for rebuilding the area around the Islamist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. And, of course, there are no restrictions on religious organizations applying for the taxpayer funding. The only requirement imposed by federal bureaucrats is that the structure, when complete, have some space allocated for non-religious purposes. The Ground Zero mosque plans include a “community center” along with their Muslim prayer rooms.

Politicized Science vs. Anti-Science Republicans
Ron’s comment is long, but a good summary of the skeptics view. ~Bob. Excerpt: It is an article of faith among many conservatives that climate change is sham science. Even worse, it is the nexus of a vast conspiracy involving governments, the UN, and climate scientists that is seeking to destroy the industrial economies of the West, create a one world government, and enrich people like Al Gore who have bet a bundle on a reduced carbon emissions future. They believe that either the earth is not warming at all, or that rising temperatures are the result of other phenomena like water vapor or the dearth of sunspot activity. (The climate argument really turns on just a few questions: 1. Is the "known" temperature data complete and accurate? In fact, it is neither complete nor accurate. As an example, last year was claimed (again) to be "the warmist year on record," but most of the warming is supposed to have taken place in the Arctic area. Yet, there are no instruments there to detect and record the temperature from much less than 1000Km from the pole. That's about the same as saying "If I know the temperature of Washington, DC, I also know the temperatures in Boston and Chicago." The absurdity of this is obvious when put in such terms. While many scientists agree there has been some warming, the greatest amount widely agreed to is eight tenths of one degree over the previous century or century and a half. That's not much. (There is also general agreement that no significant warming has occurred since 1995. Even Phil Jones agrees with this.) Many of the so-called weather stations are located in places that used to be rural areas, but are now urban or suburban (airports, for example). "Urban Heat Island" effect is still being debated, but anyone who lives outside a major city and commutes to work in the city can assure you it exists. So, UHI may be impacting the temperatures recorded by as many as 25% of the stations in developed countries--which happen to be the countries with most of the stations. Has this magnified the rise is temps? No one knows. So, the data is suspect. This is not opinion, it is fact. Computer models are neither facts nor evidence; they are opinions in mechanical form that express only those parameters programmed in by the very fallible builders. That's why none of the models has yet made a single long-term prediction that has come to pass. 2. Has the climate warmed beyond historic ranges? We know that in historic times Greenland was essentially ice-free because Vikings grew wine-grapes there. Between about 900AD and 1300AD, temperatures were known to be much warmer than today, and most historical geology suggests this was a worldwide occurrence, not just localized in Greenland or just the Northern Hemisphere. Fact, not opinion. 3. If warming is occurring, is it necessarily bad? Historically, humanity has done very well in periods of extended warmth. Food is easier to grow, less effort is needed to keep from freezing. Do Eskimos have an easier or harder lifestyle than Polynesians? This is mostly opinion, but under even the warmist scenarios envisioned, there will still be places with lots of ice and cold for those who like it. Why should the rest of us freeze with them? 4. Is climate something humans can influence? One single volcano puts out as much in "greenhouse" gases in a few weeks as most human activity will in a year. Volcanoes are always erupting somewhere. The largest single influence on Earth's climate seems to be the Sun. Ocean currents appear to guide warmth to--or away from--different areas of the world in patterns like El Nino and La Nina. None of these are things humans can have much influence on. 5. My opinion is humanity will probably have to adapt to any change, just as we must have each of the previous times the climate has changed. But, now, we are better prepared to deal with it, and won't have to huddle in caves to stay warm. We dare not destroy our industries to attempt feel-good solutions; we're going to need those industries to cope with the never-ending changes to come. --Ron Pittenger)

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