Friday, December 3, 2010

Political Digest for December 3, 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.

Worth Reading: Islamists Know a Western Civilization Secret: 'Progress' Makes Religion Decline
Still, it is necessary for at least those members of the elite engaged in politics to pretend they have some religious faith. “Paris is worth a Mass,” said the French king who switched from being a Protestant to Catholicism in order to rule. So is Washington. Another intriguing question is whether the decline in religiosity in the West is an inevitable part of the modernization process, or something reversible. The former argument seems more likely. None of this, however, is my point here. My interest is how this affects Islam and the Middle East. In light of this Western history, how strong is the motive to reform Islam? The answer is that it is far less strong than outside observers may think. The year is 2010, not 1517 when Martin Luther proclaimed his revolt against the Catholic Church and could in full confidence believe his reform would strengthen Christianity, as it arguably did for several centuries. Can Muslims believe the equivalent of that idea today? It is 2010, not the 1820s or 1830s when Strauss and Paulus could believe that a thorough critical inquiry into Christianity would preserve its hegemony in European society. Can Muslims believe the equivalent of that idea today? Islam suffers not due to any military or economic aggression of the West, but from the pervasiveness of apparently Western — but really more generically modern — ideas. For the great majority of believing Muslims, any serious reform of their religion is risky, probably too risky, to undertake and still expect the patient will survive.

Important: Do Americans still believe freedom leads to prosperity?
Excerpt: The market happens like gravity happens – talent, capital and creativity are attracted to countries where they are wanted and well-treated. Intellectual resources gravitated to the American economy where they were put to their highest and most productive use. The scope, scale and volume of American production became the center of gravity in the economic universe. Just as planets orbit the sun, so too did the world’s economies orbit the United States. However, today the planets are realigning, where a markedly interventionist government repels entrepreneurship while the rest of the world is learning to attract it. At home, a 35 percent corporate tax rate, strong union laws and more than two trillion dollars worth of annual government regulation has compelled a significant amount of capital and labor to find another home. Unions abhor free trade, but specialization and free trade is what Adam Smith told us creates prosperity. Every year, the American tax code becomes more complicated and less competitive. Americans tout free trade, but undermine that truth when the current administration refuses to sign a free trade agreement with Columbia. Without exception, the United States topped all of the leading indices of economic freedom, competitiveness and globalization over the last century. But today, the Wall Street Journal’s Index of Economic Freedom shows the United States has fallen from the top-tier in 1999 to being moderately competitive in 2010. (Unfortunately, politicians are rewarded for short-term thinking, as the next election is never more than two years away. And the public is ignorant of basic economics. ~Bob.)

Happy Hanukah
Nice cartoon. This site has some great ones. I recommend it. ~Bob.

Obama's Trade Contortions
Excerpt: But let's assume the Obama administration is mentally stuck in 1930s Italy and thinking only of exports. It still can't justify its position on Colombia, the third largest market for agricultural imports in Latin America. American farmers now pay an average 16.5% tariff on exports to Colombia. As a result, according to Colombia's ministry of trade, "countries like Argentina [which is part of an FTA] are rapidly displacing U.S. producers. In 2008 American farmers had 46% of the Colombian market; today that share has diminished to 22%."

The Age of Adolescence
Excerpt: One of the great themes of the 1960s was to “do your own thing.” But usually “liberation” distilled down to creating your own rules and norms to justify allowing the appetites and passions to run free, while offering some sort of exalted cover for being either gross or mediocre — or both. The hip generation that came of age talked about a new, perpetually youthful world that would supplant the values and aspirations of a fading bankrupt establishment (e.g., cf. Bob Dylan’s “the order is rapidly fading”). And in time the promise of the sixties, in fact, did permeate the last half-century, creating a contemporary culture of perpetual adolescence, of defying norms and protocols without offering anything much in their place.

Lawmaker proposes volunteer force for border
Excerpt: With a new Republican majority and a different governor, a veteran state lawmaker is resurrecting plans to create a state civilian militia that could be called out to patrol the border. Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, said Monday he wants a group of trained civilians that the governor could call out in times of emergency such as natural disasters. And he said the governor also could place the volunteers on the border. But Harper, who is moving to the state House in January, said that is only part of the plan. He also is crafting a second measure so that, once the Homeland Security Force was established, the governor would have to deploy not only the volunteers but the National Guard to the border if the federal government reduces the number of federally funded Guard soldiers now based there.

Krysten Knievel on IPF
Evel’s Granddaughter. Based here in Chicago. I would appreciate your sharing, since this is my challenge.

Keep the Cuts, Cut the Breaks
Congress starts its lame-duck session this week with a tax battle. Democrats want to extend, at least temporarily, the Bush tax cuts for families making under $250,000. Republicans want to extend the cuts for everyone—including those in the upper-income brackets—forever. They’re both wrong. A better approach would be to keep all the cuts, but only on the condition that we pay for them by junking the tax breaks that corrode our economy. An effective tax code would raise money for the government without intruding on private economic activity. Tax rates—that is, the percentage of your income that you fork over to Uncle Sam—would be as low as possible while still funding public spending. Tax breaks—the government’s rewards and penalties for certain behavior—would be minimal to nonexistent. That is, you wouldn’t get a tax break for carrying a big mortgage on your house or living in an expensive state (or both).

How EPA Could Destroy 7.3 Million Jobs
Liberal shibboleths, like Going Green, trade barriers and killing black kids by banning DDT to save birds always take precedence over jobs for working folks, however much they prate about it. ~Bob. Excerpt: Here we are, with 15 million Americans unemployed and millions more underemployed, and the EPA is moving blindly ahead with new regulations that will increase dramatically the energy costs of U.S. industries, reducing their competitiveness and profitability, and making it less likely they will hire. EPA’s action amounts to rewriting the Clean Air Act to suit its own bureaucratic and ideological objectives. At a time when the Obama administration should be focused on job creation and the nation’s economic recovery, promulgating stringent new environmental rules should be its last priority.

Will a taste of civility lead to bipartisanship?
Excerpt: After shutting Republicans out of the healthcare debacle and not including anything from their healthcare bills (despite promises to the contrary during the 2008 campaign) the 2010 GOP victory has revived the need for bi-partisanship among Obots. I’m 100% for civility (Which goes both ways. We won’t call Obama Hitler if they apologize for calling Bush Hitler.) Bipartisanship is fine on some things, but you cannot compromise principles. If a thief holds you up, you pull a gun and a third party steps in and says, “Let’s compromise—give him half your money,” the thief wins. And will be back next week for the other half. As Ayn Rand said, “When good compromises with evil, evil always wins.” ~Bob. Excerpt: After a campaign notable for invective and negativity, a modicum of civility has broken out in Washington this week. Is it a harbinger of genuine bipartisan cooperation ahead or an illusory moment before a quick return to partisan combat in the capital?

Waters wants answers on why ethics attorneys were placed on leave
The cornered Demo-corrupt rat spots a hole in the traps and sprints for daylight? Will she get away without the dreaded wrist-slap? Stay tuned. ~Bob. Excerpt: Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) is calling on the ethics committee to explain why it placed the two attorneys handling her case on administrative leave the same day it delayed her public trial. “It appears that we now know the real reason for the delay: Something has gone wrong in the ethics process,” she said in a lengthy statement issued late Wednesday afternoon.

Rep. King on Pigford: 'We're Not Going to Pay Slavery Reparations'
Hey, they can just print more money. ~Bob.

Hill 881 South: Captain William Dabney
Very moving. I served with the 26th Marines, but was lucky to rotate home from Khe Sanh on September 10, 1967, well before all this nastiness. Dabney is one of the many heroes of Vietnam who are largely unknown to most Americans—a great Marine leader.

The Met Office: lousier than a dead octopus
I talked to friends in Scotland, buried under 18 inches of snow on December 1, before the start of winter. They report all Edinburgh schools were closed for the first time in history. Must be why the warmists changed it from global warming to climate change to climate disruption, trying to find a term that would prove them right no matter what the ever-unpredictable weather did. ~Bob. Excerpt: us, as recently as late October the Met Office was predicting that we should expect an “unusually dry and mild winter”. This was news to every independent weather forecaster in the world from Joe Bastardi to Piers Corbyn who have been predicting a harsh winter for months. But the Met Office of course knew better thanks to its spiffy new £33 million IBM supercomputer (90 per cent funded, of course, by the taxpayer) whose precognitive powers are so great, it is said that on a good day with a fair wind behind it and can very nearly match the track record of the dead celebrity Paul the Octopus. And of course, it’s this very same computer which is responsible for so many of the “projections” – not even “predictions”, note, but “projections” – of Anthropogenic Climate Doom so lovingly detailed on its taxpayer-funded website.

US family under siege by drug cartels
Don’t think this won’t affect you. I think this would be a great spot for the Obamas' next vacation, without pesky Secret service guards to spoil the fun. ~Bob.

Excerpt: Anyone remember that exactly one year ago President Obama's original deadline for Iran expired? Back in the halcyon days of hopeychange, newly minted President Barack Obama articulated his master plan for dealing with Iran. Mr. Peabody, set the Wayback Machine for May of 2009: Obama said Monday that he would know "whether or not these discussions [with Iran] are starting to yield significant benefits" by the end of the year. In a White House press conference held by Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, capping a 90-minute meeting today, Obama told reporters that he was against an artificial timeline but effectively created one. Obama offered a period from June, after Iran's domestic elections, to year's end "to see serious movement on the part of Iranians." "We're not going to have talks forever," Obama said...

US approval a step toward Russian company control of Wyoming uranium mines
We seem to be the slowest suicide since the Roman Empire fell. ~Bob. Excerpt: Two uranium mines in Wyoming are on their way to control by a Russian company now that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved transferring the mines' licenses.

Austrian MP Ewald Stadler to Turkish Ambassador: "People are Sick and Tired of the One-Way Street Tolerance Babble Which You Feed On"
Excerpt: Austrian MP Ewald Stadler's powerful address to the Turkish Ambassador. Finally ...... an eviscerating response to Turkish Islamic supremacism. Perhaps Obama will stop kissing Erdogan's ass?

Attacks on Nuclear Scientists in Tehran
Excerpt: On the morning of Nov. 29, two Iranian scientists involved in Iran’s nuclear development program were attacked. One was killed, and the other was injured. According to Iranian media, the deceased, Dr. Majid Shahriari, was heading the team responsible for developing the technology to design a nuclear reactor core, and Time magazine referred to him as the highest-ranking non-appointed individual working on the project. Official reports indicate that Shahriari was killed when assailants on motorcycles attached a “sticky bomb” to his vehicle and detonated it seconds later. However, the Time magazine report says that an explosive device concealed inside the car detonated and killed him. Shahriari’s driver and wife, both of whom were in the car at the time, were injured. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of town, Dr. Fereidoon Abassi was injured in a sticky-bomb attack reportedly identical to the one officials said killed Shahriari. His wife was accompanying him and was also injured (some reports indicate that a driver was also in the car at the time of the attack). Abassi and his wife are said to be in stable condition. Abassi is perhaps even more closely linked to Iran’s nuclear program than Shahriari was, since he was a member of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and was named in a 2007 U.N. resolution that sanctioned high-ranking members of Iran’s defense and military agencies believed to be trying to obtain nuclear weapons…. It is unlikely that any foreign power was able to conduct this operation by itself and equally unlikely that any indigenous militant group was able to pull off an attack like this without some assistance. The combination of the two, however, could provide an explanation of how the attacks targeting Shariari and Abassi got so close to complete success. 9everyone looks at Israel. But in light of the WikiLeans dump. How about the Saudis? ~Bob.)

Who's Killing the Great Nuclear Scientists of Iran? Here's Hoping it Was Us!
Excerpt: Who is killing the great nuclear scientists of Iran? Who cares? That is, as long as enough of them are offed to stymie development of a deliverable Iranian nuke. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he knows who's behind the recent drive-by bombings of the scientists. He sees "the hand of the Zionist regime and Western governments" -- by which he means Israel and the United States. Maybe. (The answer will no doubt be in the next WikiLeaks dump.)

Mexican Drug Cartel-Related Murders Exceed 10,000 So Far This Year
Every drug dealer and drug abuser in the US has blood on his/her hands. ~Bob. Excerpt: Cartel-related murders in Mexico’s drug war have surpassed 10,000 so far this year, according to a tally kept by the Mexican newspaper Reforma. As of November 19, the newspaper’s Ejecutómetro (execution-meter) stood at 10,514 for 2010. With an estimated 230 killings a week in the last two months, the cartel-related murders for 2010 could reach 12,000 by the end of the year. That figure is about twice the overall number of U.S. military fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, which currently stand at about 5,700 for 2010, as reported by The Reforma newspaper shows that since Felipe Calderón became president of Mexico in December 2006, there have been 24,534 killings attributed to drug cartel violence, a more conservative estimate than the Mexican government's official estimate of 28,000.

The New York Times' WikiLeaks Hypocrisy
Excerpt: When leaked e-mails exposed the global warming hype to be a concocted fraud, the "newspaper of record" was in high dudgeon. When stolen classified information appears on its front page, that's another story. Given its track record of exposing U.S. secrets on its front pages, we may be thankful that the New York Times did not have the plans to the Normandy invasion before D-Day. It might have justified printing them, using Executive Editor Bill Keller's explanation in the WikiLeaks fiasco. We have come a long way from the patriotic slogan "loose lips sink ships." Today they sell newspapers and win Pulitzer Prizes. Keller explained that in printing the purloined classified WikiLeaks documents, other outlets had the same information that would have gotten out anyway and that "it would be presumptuous to conclude that Americans have no right to know what is being done in their name." Right. That rationale was nowhere in sight when the administration pushed for cap-and-trade legislation, and a climate change treaty at Copenhagen was derailed by the unearthing of e-mails from Britain's Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

Second Genesis on Earth?
Excerpt: All life on Earth - from microbes to elephants and us - is based on a single genetic model that requires the element phosphorus as one of its six essential components. But now researchers have uncovered a bacterium that has five of those essential elements but has, in effect, replaced phosphorus with its look-alike but toxic cousin arsenic. (Arsenic, huh. May prove evolution. This may be where liberals come from! Oh, lighten up, just a joke. ~Bob.)

Germany: Imam of Munich mosque sought by police for beating one of his three wives
Excerpt: "Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them." -- Qur'an 4:34. Islamic apologists in the West routinely insist that Muslims aren't really supposed to beat their wives at all, or that if they are, they should only beat them lightly, and that Muhammad said to beat one's wife only with a toothbrush. They never mention, of course, how Muhammad's favorite wife, Aisha, recounted the time when Muhammad "struck me on the chest which caused me pain." And with Muhammad being the supreme example of conduct for Muslims (cf. Qur'an 33:21), that doesn't bode well for Muslim women.

Iran hangs former soccer player's "temporary wife"
Excerpt: Temporary marriage, or mut'a, is the practice of entering into a marriage with a time limit: the couple is married only for a night, or a week, or whatever time period their agreement specifies. So in other words, it is prostitution under the guise of morality. Temporary wives are found in large numbers in seminary towns where young clerics-in-training are away from home and lonely. This is a Shi'ite concept that mainstream Sunnis ostensibly reject; the Shi'ites point out that Muhammad allowed it, while the Sunnis maintain that he later abolished the practice. Shi'ites also justify it by reference to Qur'an 4:24, which says: "And those of whom ye seek content (by marrying them), give unto them their portions as a duty. And there is no sin for you in what ye do by mutual agreement after the duty (hath been done)." They see in that reference to "what ye do by mutual agreement" the allowance of a time limit. Sharia Alert from the Islamic Republic of Iran: "Iran hangs former soccer player's mistress," from the Associated Press, December 1 (thanks to S.K.S.): Iran on Wednesday hanged a former soccer player's mistress _ known as a "temporary wife _ who was convicted of murdering her love rival, the player's wife, the official IRNA news agency reported. Shahla Jahed was hanged at dawn, after spending more than eight years in jail, IRNA said, in a case that has captivated the Iranian public for several years.

Sentenced to 70 lashes for turning on bluetooth near a women's shopping centre
Why I never opened the package with my Bluetooth in it. The courts just knocked down the vote of the citizens of Oklahoma to outlaw Shari’a law, under which such punishments for crimes like this. ~Bob. Excerpt: A Saudi man is to be lashed 70 times with the whip after he was caught using the Bluetooth feature in his mobile phone near a women’s shopping centre, the London-based Saudi Arabic language daily Alhayat reported Wednesday. Members of the feared Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice grabbed the man after suspecting him when he came close to a women’s market in the central town of Taif, the paper said.

Indonesia's Islamic laws are 'abusive', report says
 In moderate Indonesia? Who would have guessed? ~Bob. Excerpt: Two Islamic laws applied in the Indonesian province of Aceh violate people's rights and are implemented abusively, Human Rights Watch says.

There is nothing like seeing the other fellow run to bring back your courage! ~ William Joseph Slim

Excerpt: With unemployment still near 10 percent, and experts saying that won't change much, if at all, in 2011, it seems clear the economy is dead in the water. We need look no further than right here in the nation's capital to understand why. On every front, the federal government is creating more investment-killing tax uncertainty, issuing endless pages of new bureaucratic regulations on the economy, and preventing firms from taking actions that could create hundreds of thousands of new positions and kick-start a muscular recovery with real legs. Political grandstanding by President Obama and Democratic leaders of the lame-duck Congress like Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York on extending the Bush tax cuts is only the most obvious example of how Washington is why the economy is at a standstill.

Excerpt: If raising energy-related revenues is the goal, why not fill federal coffers in a manner that actually reduces the price at the pump? Washington can accomplish this by allowing more oil drilling. The federal government controls all offshore areas beyond three miles from the coast, as well as vast expanses of energy-rich western lands. Unfortunately, only a fraction of these areas have been opened to energy leasing, due to legislative and regulatory restrictions. For example, a 2008 Department of the Interior report concluded that only 8 percent of the estimated 31 billion barrels of oil beneath federal lands is fully available for leasing, while 30 percent is subject to significant restrictions and 62 percent is entirely off-limits.

1 comment:

  1. WikiLeaks - seems like treason to me?
    Border - put more guards on it. Shoot to stop the invasion if necessary.