Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Political Digest for December 1, 2010

Political Digest for December 1, 2010
Robert A. Hall
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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.

The world’s economy is so tied together, they are likely to drag us into the abyss with them when they go. ~Bob. Excerpt: Yesterday afternoon, Ireland finalized terms of a bailout valued at 85 billion euros, from the ECB, the IMF, a government pension fund, and several European states. So far, the bailout is NOT having a calming effect on Europe’s capital markets. Credit spreads on so-called “peripheral” European sovereigns are blowing out this morning, and government bonds of Portugal and Spain are falling sharply. Italy managed to tap the credit markets earlier today, but the interest rate was high and the subscription level was disappointing.

Important: European Union: R.I.P.?
Excerpt: When communism collapsed in Moscow, Prague and Belgrade at the end of the Cold War, ethnic nationalism surged to the surface in all three nations and tore them apart into 24 countries. Economic nationalism is now resurgent across Europe. And it is hard to see how a transnational institution like the European Union, run by faceless bureaucrats, and the 16-nation eurozone it created long survive. As of Monday, Greece and Ireland had been bailed out -- Greece with $145 billion, Ireland with $89 billion. All eyes have now turned to Iberia, to Portugal and Spain, where bond prices are sinking and interest rates are rising, and investors are eying the exits. Monday's stock and bond sell-off across Europe testifies to a belief that this storm is far from over…. For if bondholders know they will be among the first victims burned in bailouts in 2013, they may suspect a singeing even before then. This will impel them to start shedding the bonds of any nation with deficit and debt problems, which will deepen those deficit and debt problems. While the EU-IMF bailout fund is now sufficiently flush to handle a Portugal, Madrid has an economy twice the size of Greece, Ireland and Portugal combined. If Spain is forced into a bailout, and Italy, which has a huge debt, totters, a European panic is on -- and a global panic may not be far behind.

"I’m Tired"—the Energizer Bunny of blog posts
Have another request for a radio interview—from Australia. And this comment just came in: “Just heard Neil Bortz read this on his program and I had to look it up for myself. I think you have summed up what many hard-working, country loving Americans are feeling these days. Thank you Mr. Hall for your service to our country. We might be headed in the wrong direction, but thanks to people like you we have such a long, long way to fall.”

Airport Security: Let's Profile Muslims
Excerpt: As an American Muslim, I’ve come to recognize, sadly, that there is one common denominator defining those who’ve got their eyes trained on U.S. targets: MANY of them are Muslim—like the Somali-born teenager arrested Friday night for a reported plot to detonate a car bomb at a packed Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Portland, Oregon. We have to talk about the taboo topic of profiling because terrorism experts are increasingly recognizing that religious ideology makes terrorist organizations and terrorists more likely to commit heinous crimes against civilians, such as blowing an airliner out of the sky. Certainly, it’s not an easy or comfortable conversation but it’s one, I believe, we must have. (...) In the debate, I said, “Profile me. Profile my family,” because, in my eyes, we in the Muslim community have failed to police ourselves. (The author of this piece is taking a lot of heat from within her community, but her point is irrefutable. I especially like the last line of the excerpt as she is saying what many of us have said all along. Terrorists cannot and do not live in a vacuum. So long as there is no social or familial “cost” to supporting terrorists (or being a terrorist), there is little or no reason for the community not to tolerate or support them. This way, all those “innocent, peace-loving, moderate” Muslims have an incentive to be more active in their opposition to terrorists. Ron P.)

The Swiss have voted to deport foreign criminals. Let's copy them.
Excerpt: The Swiss know how to stand up for themselves. In a referendum yesterday, they voted in favour of the automatic deportation of foreigners who commit serious crimes. Needless to say, the latte liberals at Amnesty International are appalled and – revealing their utter contempt for democracy – are calling on Swiss politicians to ignore the will of the people. Amnesty’s reasoning is that deportations could cause convicts to be sent back to countries where they could face persecution. But this is a ridiculous argument: no one is forcing visitors to Switzerland to commit offences. If people don’t want to be sent back home, why don’t they just desist from rape, robbery, murder and fraud? The new Swiss policy is so obviously a sensible idea that we ought to copy it here. Having very high levels of immigration, and having allied ourselves with America in the fight against terrorism, we have an even bigger problem with foreign criminals.

Phelim McAleer is a journalist. In his capacity as a journalist, he is a skeptic. The role of skeptic - the one who asks the questions, the one who demands answers - is generally a lauded role in modern society. At least .. as long as there’s a Republican on the hot seat. But in climate circles, they have another word, a pejorative term, for skeptics: deniers. The church of global warming has no tolerance for heresy, and even less for probing questions or investigations. And so it is that the journalist Phelim McAleer was denied press credentials for the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in sunny Cancun, Mexico this week. (Certainly a better PR choice than frigid Copenhagen.)

Excerpt: We have noted many times that the Department of Justice named the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a self-described civil rights group, as an unindicted co-conspirator in its prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation and others for providing support to the terrorist group Hamas. But we missed the fact (I did, anyway) that the federal courts have now affirmed DOJ's designation of CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator.

Can Republicans Talk? By Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: The biggest battle in the lame duck session of Congress may well be over whether or not to extend the Bush administration's tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire in January. The fact that this decision has been left until late in the eleventh hour, even though the expiration date has been known for years, tells us a lot about the utter irresponsibility of Congress. Neither businesses nor individuals nor the Internal Revenue Service will know what to do until this issue is resolved. In a stalled economy, we do not need this prolonged uncertainty that can paralyze both consumer spending and investment spending. Republicans want the current tax rates to continue and Democrats want only the current tax rates for people earning less than "the rich"-- variously defined-- to continue, with everyone making more than some specified income to have their tax rates rise next year…. What does that record say? It says, loud and clear, that cuts in tax rates do not mean cuts in tax revenues. In all four of these administrations, of both parties, so-called "tax cuts for the rich" led to increased tax revenues-- with people earning high incomes paying not only a larger sum total of tax revenues, but even a higher proportion of all tax revenues. Most important of all, these tax rate reductions spurred economic activity, which we definitely need today.

Policy change will allow passengers to bring guns on Amtrak
Reversing a near decade-long ban, Amtrak will allow passengers to bring guns on most trains starting next month. The change, pushed by gun-rights advocates and ordered by Congress, aligns Amtrak's firearm policy with air travel rules that allow unloaded guns to be stored in locked baggage holds.

Minimum Wage, Maximum Folly
Excerpt: How about this: The law of gravity is applicable to the behavior of falling objects on the U.S. mainland but not applicable on our Pacific Ocean territories Samoa and Northern Mariana Islands. You say, "Williams, that's lunacy! Laws are applicable everywhere; that's why they call it a law." You're right, but does the same reasoning apply to the law of demand that holds: The higher the price of something, the less people will take of it; and the lower its price, the more people will take of it? The law of demand applies to wages, interest and rent because, after all, they are the prices of something. In 2007, the Democrat-led Congress and White House enacted legislation raising the minimum wage law, in steps, from $5.15 an hour to $7.25. With some modification, the increases applied to our Pacific Ocean territories. Republicans and others opposed to the increases were labeled as hostile toward workers. According to most opinion polls taken in 2006, more than 80 percent of Americans favored Congress' intention to raise the minimum wage. Most Americans see the minimum wage as a good thing, and without it, rapacious employers wouldn't pay workers much of anything.

Political markets betting on John Thune in 2012
I think that the four “front runners,” Palin, Romney, Huckabee and Gingrich (my favorite) have too much baggage and the GOP needs a new face. ~Bob. Excerpt: He barely registers in polls, but there’s a lot of smart money betting on Sen. John Thune for Republican presidential nominee in 2012. In a Quinnipiac University poll out Monday, just 2 percent of likely Republican voters said they support the South Dakota senator. That places him at the bottom of the field, tied for seventh place with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. A Gallup Poll earlier in November. But on two of the three major political exchanges — markets in which users bet on or buy stocklike futures contracts for candidates they think will win the GOP nomination — Thune ranks third, behind only Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin. Investors think he’s almost twice as likely to win it as the fourth-place contender, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Want To Raise a Good Person? Stop Nurturing Your Child's Self-Esteem
I’ve long thought that the best way to destroy a child’s future was to heap un-earned self esteem n him or her. I’m hardly an expert—but what we’ve been doing hasn’t produced a new “greatest generation.” ~Bob. Excerpt: It turns out, however, that the premise was entirely misguided. There is no correlation between goodness and high self-esteem. But there is a correlation between criminality and high self-esteem. Florida State University Professor Roy Baumeister (Ph.D. psychology, Princeton University) has revealed that in a lifetime of study of violent criminals, the one characteristic nearly all these criminals share is high self-esteem. Yes, people with high self-esteem are the ones most prone to violence. The 1960s and '70s ushered in what I refer to as the Age of Feelings. And one of the most enduring feelings-based notions that came out of that era was that it was critically important that children feel good about themselves. High self-esteem, it was decided, should be imparted to children whenever possible -- no matter how undeserving.

5 Reasons The CIA Should Have Already Killed Julian Assange
Excerpt: One of the weirder tics of modern civilization is that oftentimes, even in matters of life and death, many people would prefer to lose in a politically correct manner than win easily, but make people angry in the process. So, we put nonsensical, self-defeating limitations on ourselves to try to avoid angry editorials and hurt feelings. Take warfare, for example. We've built an overwhelming, nearly unstoppable war machine that can turn any military force that goes up against it into cat food and then we've proceeded to create mind numbingly stupid, overly legalistic rules of engagement that nullify many of our advantages. We have a military capable of reducing whole regions to rubble in days and yet we struggle to deal with Somalian pirates and Taliban cavemen because we can't bear the idea that there might be an unflattering piece in the New York Times if we accidentally kill some of the "civilians" who, short of picking up a gun, are doing everything they can to help our enemies.

Egyptian Security Used Live Ammunition on Christian Coptic Protesters, 4 Killed
Excerpt: Christian Copts worldwide were shocked and enraged at the use of live ammunition by Egyptian state security forces against unarmed Coptic protesters, causing the death of three Coptic young men. A four-year old child suffocated from tear gas thrown inside the chapel. Rights groups inside and outside of Egypt have condemned the use of excessive violence by security forces and the use of live ammunition against Coptic demonstrators.

Yodelling offends praying Muslims, say judges
First they came for the yodelers, but I was not a yodeler….~Bob. Excerpt: An Austrian has been fined for yodelling while mowing his lawn, according to a report. The Kronen Zeitung newspaper claims Helmut G. was told by a court in Graz, Styria, that his yodelling offended his next-door Muslim neighbours. The men reportedly accused the 63-year-old of having tried to mock and imitate the call of the Muezzin. The daily paper writes the Austrian was fined 800 Euros after judges ruled he could have tried to offend them and ridicule their belief. The Muslims, whose nationalities were not revealed by the report, were right in the middle of a prayer when the Austrian started to yodel.

Now you can breathe easy, Infidels: Wheelchair-bound nun searched by TSA
Her fault. She should have told them it was a burka. ~Bob.

Three days after a Muslim tries to kill thousands of Infidels in Oregon, OIC chief says West is spreading "Islamophobia"
Excerpt: No, Ihsanoglu. Mohamed Mohamud is spreading "Islamophobia," if it really exists at all. Nidal Hasan is spreading "Islamophobia." Faisal Shahzad is spreading "Islamophobia." Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad is spreading "Islamophobia." Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is spreading "Islamophobia."

Gunbattle breaks out in Kyrgyz south
Didn’t get the memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: At least four Islamic militants were killed Monday in a clash with security forces in Kyrgyzstan's restive south, officials said.
Three suspected militants were shot and killed by government forces in the city of Osh, while another militant blew himself up during the clash, Security Council Secretary Marat Imankulov said. One soldier was injured.

A Yale Forum Two-Part Special Feature: Scientists and Journalists on ‘Lessons Learned’ (Pt. 1)
Excerpt: By any account, it’s been a challenging 12 months for climate science, for climate scientists, and for the ever-changing face of journalism as its practitioners struggle, or not, to keep their audiences adequately informed and knowledgeable.

Portland averted its eyes as terror threat grew
Excerpt: "I was recently told by a media person that if something happens in this city, I'm toast." So said Tom Potter, mayor of Portland, Oregon, on April 28, 2005 as he and the city council voted to bar Portland police from participating in one of the federal government's key anti-terrorism initiatives, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. In Portland's deep-blue precincts, there was intense opposition to the Bush administration's conduct of the war on terror; residents worried the task force might violate state anti-discrimination laws by targeting Muslims for their religious and political views. So city leaders forbade police from taking part in it. They made brave statements. "Here in Portland, we are not willing to give up individual liberties in order to have a perception of safety," city commissioner Randy Leonard told reporters a few days before the vote. Yet there was still a little note of concern in Mayor Potter's words: What if there were a terrorist attack after we refused to work with the FBI to prevent it?

Rangel hopes punishment will come in writing rather than on House floor
Excerpt: In the curious annals of congressional drama, this week's debate on the fate of New York Rep. Charles B. Rangel will be odder than most. The House will agonize, and Rangel will emote, over this question: Will Rangel - who has been found guilty of 11 ethics violations - be scolded in person, or will he be scolded in writing? That's all. The first option is called a censure. The second, which Rangel (D) very much prefers, is a reprimand. Neither would kick Rangel out of Congress, dock his pay, take away his right to vote - or in any other way prevent him from being the exact same congressman he is today. (He’s lucky. The average tax-avoider goes to jail—or into Obama’s cabinet. He whole, I’d prefer jail. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: Last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced plans to bailout Ireland. Since U.S. taxpayers pay 17 percent of the IMF’s funding, we are the world’s largest contributors. This means that American taxpayers will be on the hook again for billions of dollars to prop up failed economic policies overseas. With the largest share of voting power, the U.S. government has the authority to veto any IMF bailout. For the sake of American taxpayers, Congress should reject any effort to bailout profligate European countries.

The EPA Permitorium
Another round of anti-stimulus for the economy from the Feds. ~Bob. Excerpt: President Obama is now retrenching after his midterm rebuke, and one of the main ways he'll try to press his agenda is through the alphabet soup of the federal regulators. So a special oversight priority for the new Congress ought to be the Environmental Protection Agency, which has turned a regulatory firehose on U.S. business and the power industry in particular. The scale of the EPA's current assault is unprecedented, yet it has received almost no public scrutiny. Since Mr. Obama took office, the agency has proposed or finalized 29 major regulations and 172 major policy rules. This surge already outpaces the Clinton Administration's entire first term—when the EPA had just been handed broad new powers under the 1990 revamp of air pollution laws….. Then there's the upcoming "boiler rule," which the EPA's lowball estimate says will impose $9.5 billion in new capital costs on manufacturers, paper mills, hospitals and the like. There are so many others.

The Climate Cash Cow
Excerpt: A high-ranking member of the U.N.'s Panel on Climate Change admits the group's primary goal is the redistribution of wealth and not environmental protection or saving the Earth. Money, they say, is the root of all evil. It's also the motivating force behind what is left of the climate change movement after the devastating Climate-gate and IPCC scandals that saw the deliberate manipulation of scientific data to spur the world into taking draconian regulatory action.

Is ET Search Heating Up? NASA to Announce 'Astrobiology Finding'
Excerpt: Could this be what we've all been waiting for? NASA has announced it will hold a special news conference Thursday "to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life." That's quite an eye-opening mouthful. NASA's press release goes on to say: "Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe." Speculation is, of course, skyrocketing on the Internet, as people wonder what the space agency is going to reveal. (Maybe the little green men will save us. ~Bob.)

Obama Is "Gutless" For Not Taking Down Wikileaks
Excerpt: Lt. Col. Ralph Peters: "This is an attack on the United States, on our security. We have the cyber capability to take down Wikileaks, could have done it before the first dump of information, could have destroyed their operating systems. President Obama decided not to do it because President Obama is a gutless wonder who cared more about his left-wing free-cyberspace base than he did about protecting the security of the United States......We have the capability to track cyber crime anywhere in the world, to go after it anywhere, take it on, and we've done nothing? And I'll tell you, people are stewing about this because President Obama has overseen the gravest compromise -- the greatest willful compromise because he did nothing -- of our national security of any president in my lifetime."

Have Yourself an Excremental Christmas
I believe in their freedom to create what they want. But I’d like the freedom not to pay for it. ~Bob. Excerpt: The federally funded [American] National Portrait Gallery, one of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, is currently showing an exhibition that features images of an ant-covered Jesus, male genitals, naked brothers kissing, men in chains, Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, and a painting the Smithsonian itself describes in the show’s catalog as “homoerotic.”

Christine O’Donnell backs Hillary Clinton for 2012 run
I’m sorry, but I can’t resist. This is clearly a case of witches flocking together! ~Bob. Excerpt: Former Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's dream presidential matchup for 2012 might just be Hillary Clinton versus Sarah Palin. O'Donnell, a Republican who rode the tea party wave to a primary upset in August, said she hopes Clinton runs and defeats President Barack Obama in a Democratic primary.

Myth of the Ugly American exploded
Excerpt: A government whose inattention to detail (no corporate secrets would be so easily accessible) made such a horrific event possible is an entity worthy not of paranoid terror but of scorn and contempt. It should frighten not because it's so powerful, but because no matter how potent the weapons at its disposal might be, it's fundamentally inept. That ineptitude is not the only aspect of the US government revealed by the Wiki dump. One also gets an overpowering sense of just how well-intentioned the United States is. The cables I've read so far show our diplomats trying to make sense of a Bizarro World in which the United States tends to say what it means while almost every other nation is essentially allergic to candor or straight talk.

WikiLeaks founder could be charged under Espionage Act
Excerpt: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the Justice Department and Pentagon are conducting "an active, ongoing criminal investigation.'' Others familiar with the probe said the FBI is examining everyone who came into possession of the documents, including those who gave the materials to WikiLeaks and also the organization itself. No charges are imminent, the sources said, and it is unclear whether any will be brought. Former prosecutors cautioned that prosecutions involving leaked classified information are difficult because the Espionage Act is a 1917 statute that preceded Supreme Court cases that expanded First Amendment protections. The government also would have to persuade another country to turn over Assange, who is outside the United States. (No doubt, this will have them shaking in their WikiBoots. Ron P.)

Americans Hiding From Reality: Personal Responsibility
Excerpt: NBC’s Brian Williams last week reported, “The latest figures show 72 percent of African-American newborns in the United States arrive from single mothers, most of them teenagers.” (Date: November 7, 2010, NBC Nightly News) They immediately land on welfare rolls as “Aid to Dependent Children.” Similar figures include Hispanic teen single mothers. These unmarried teen mothers fail to graduate from high school—while they birth two, three, four and more children while living full-time off welfare. The rate of U.S. taxpayer welfare dollars for this new generation of illiterate, irresponsible, unemployed and un-trainable armada of citizens and non-citizens—grows annually with massive immigrant loading of 3.1 million. (, Dr. Steven Camarata) Legal immigrant mothers birth 900,000 newborns annually within the United States. Additionally, figures show that an average of 350,000 to 400,000 illegal alien un-wed women and pregnant visa over-stayers also land on welfare rolls—paid for by U.S. taxpayers. U.S. citizens must pay for assisted housing, medical care, breakfasts and lunches, food stamps, K-12 education and more. (Let us note that it’s not just minorities, though the rates are worse there. The single mother with children entirely dependent on living off others is too high and growing among whites as well. When I was in high school, both the guys and the girls were scared shirtless of getting a girl pregnant out of wedlock. Now it is no big deal. We will likely not recover from the sixties until the future survivors of the collapse build a new society on the Jamestown Rule—no work, no eat. ~Bob.)

Angry Iranian and Arab Leaders in the Middle East React to WikiLeaks Revelations
Excerpt: “New and harmful” was how Freilich described the WikilLeaks revelation that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, consulted with Washington about working with Iran's students and ethnic minorities to topple Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime in Iran. In the Muslim Middle East, even suspicions of alliance with Mossad can be fatal to the accused. The Mossad-Washington exchange would strengthen the Iranian government's claims that its critics are agents of Israel and the U.S., Freilich said, noting that this was “not good for the opposition.” Inside Iran, the revelations have sparked anger—and not all of it toward Israel or the United States. P.B., a human-rights activist in Tehran, who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the revelations just highlighted Arab animosity toward Iran. The Gulf States “have their own problems,” she said. “The last thing that they want is the Shia brand of Islam being imported to their [Sunni Arab] country.” (The lives of Iranian Greens being endangered counts for nothing in the eyes of these self-righteous idealists at WikiLeaks. Few countries treat their enemies as gently as the western democracies; WikiLeaks will have bloody hands. I favor the .45 caliber solution to the WikiProblem. Ron P. Now, now, Ron, that would endanger the guy holding the 1911. Better a cruise missile into their headquarters, eliminate computers, staff and all. ~Bob.)

It's WikiHateAmerica
Excerpt: Barack Obama came into office hawking the illusion that America's adversaries hated his predecessor, not this country. Julian Assange begs to differ. The first batch of WikiLeaks documents undermined the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, violent conflicts started by the hated, warmongering Bush administration. The latest batch undermines American diplomacy, the soft art of international bargaining and persuasion as practiced by the highly anticipated, engagement-loving Obama administration. The classic justification for a leak is to expose malfeasance. In all his tens of thousands of released documents, Assange has exposed none, despite his typically delusional boast that the first dump revealed "thousands" of possible war crimes. Assange's goal is wanton destruction, pure and simple. He wants to expose to retribution those who cooperate with us on the ground in war zones. He wants to undercut domestic support for our wars. He wants to embarrass our foreign allies and exact a price for their trust in us. He wants to complicate sensitive operations like securing nuclear material in Pakistan and attacking terrorists with missiles in Yemen.

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