Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Political Digest for December 7, 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.

Want to be depressed?
Ask ten people between 16 and 25 what happened at Pearl Harbor on December 7th. Then ask them who is leading on American Idol. That so many younger Americans neither care about nor know American history is one of the reasons the country is likely to fail in the next twenty years.

If We Were Politically Correct After Pearl Harbor
Excerpt: On December 8, 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt would have come before a joint session of Congress to apologize for the presence of U.S. Marines in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic earlier in the century, and the Spanish-American War. He would have offered to give the Philippines back to Spain and pay reparations. He would have referred to December 7, 1941 as “a day pretty much like any other and let’s not make a big deal of it” and cautioned that, “I think that at a time when the country is anxious generally and going through a tough time, then fears can surface, suspicions can surface. We have to make sure that we don’t start turning on each other.” To put the emphasis where it properly belonged, the president would have said that anniversaries of Pearl Harbor would be officially designated National Days of Service. America’s slogan would have become “Remember, Pearl Harbor was no one’s fault.”

News Test
Embarrassing. I missed one. ~Bob.

Obama signals compromise with Republicans on extending tax cuts
Excerpt: President Obama on Monday inched closer to making a deal with Republicans that would extend the Bush tax cuts and add another year of benefits for the unemployed.
In a speech about the economy in Winston-Salem, N.C., Obama said it is time to reach an agreement on the Bush tax cuts “even if it's not 100 percent of what I want” or what Republicans want.

Democratic leaders to press Obama to take tough line on tax cuts
Note to small businesses from Democrats: Don’t start hiring yet, we haven’t decided what you will pay. ~Bob. Excerpt: House Democratic leaders will meet with President Obama on Monday and press him to take a tougher negotiating line with Republicans on extending the Bush-era tax cuts. The meeting with Obama and Senate Democratic leaders follows a separate meeting between the leaders and Vice President Joe Biden on Monday. The top-level talks come as House Democrats are increasing pressure on the White House to stand firm in securing middle-class priorities in exchange for acceding to a Republican demand that tax cuts for the wealthy be extended temporarily.

The Jobs at Stake in the Tax Cut Fight
Excerpt: Last Friday the Labor Department reported that private sector employers added an anemic 50,000 net jobs to the U.S. economy in November. That is far fewer than what is needed to absorb discouraged workers reentering the workforce or population growth. As a result, unemployment rose to 9.8 percent, marking the 19th consecutive month that our nation’s unemployment rate topped 9 percent, a post–World War II record. Faced with this record breaking unemployment, what did the leftist Senate majority do the very next day? They voted to raise taxes, of course. Fortunately, a bipartisan coalition of Republican and Democratic Senators defeated the Obama tax hikes, setting the stage for an all-or-nothing tax showdown this week. With unemployment at 9.8 percent and President Barack Obama 7.3 million jobs short of where he promised the economy would be by December 2010, just how many jobs are at stake in this week’s negotiations? The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis crunched the numbers on various possible tax proposals and estimates that: Permanently extending current tax rates would cause no further job losses in 2011 or over the next 10 years; Raising taxes on just those making more than $1 million would cause 78,000 lost jobs in 2011 and 198,000 lost jobs by 2020; Raising taxes on individuals making more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000 would cause 238,000 jobs lost in 2011 and 693,000 jobs lost by 2020;

Just weeks after 2010 election, Republicans lining up for 2012 Senate races
Excerpt: The 2012 presidential race may be off to a slow start - not a single Republican has announced his (or her) intentions to run - but aspiring GOP pols are falling all over themselves to get into Senate races nationwide. Last week, former Missouri state treasurer Sarah Steelman became the latest to make an early leap into the candidate pool when she announced her intention to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in nearly two years. 9after talking it over with my family, I’ve decided not to run in order to spend more time at Hooters. ~Bob.)

U.S. steps up pressure on China to rein in North Korea
If China doesn’t kowtow, we’ll just stop borrowing money from them! ~Bob. Excerpt: The United States has stepped up diplomatic pressure on China by accusing its leaders of "enabling" North Korea to start a uranium-enrichment program and to launch attacks on South Korea, a senior U.S. administration official said this weekend. In response to the North Korean moves and apparent Chinese acquiescence, Washington is moving to redefine its relationship with South Korea and Japan, potentially creating an anti-China bloc in Northeast Asia that officials say they don't want but may need.

Gingrich: I'm 'more inclined to run' in 2012
Of the top four candidates, he’s the smartest, has the best historical view, and would, IMHO make the best president. But I fear he has too much baggage to win. ~Bob. Excerpt: During an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said that he is "much more inclined to run" for president in 2012 than not run. Gingrich has been hinting for months that he may seek the presidency -- though he has a history of making a lot of noise about running before deciding against it, as he did before the 2008 election. On Sunday, Gingrich said that after speaking with friends and colleagues, he is "more inclined to think it is doable." However, he said he would not make a decision until the "end of February, beginning of March." In recent months, Gingrich has raised his profile as a conservative bomb-thrower, frequently making inflammatory remarks about President Obama and congressional Democrats. He came under fire in September when he said the president holds a "Kenyan, anti-colonial" worldview, citing a controversial Forbes magazine piece that made the same argument.

Gingrich: Leaks show Obama administration 'shallow,' 'amateurish'
Excerpt: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Sunday that President Obama and the White House deserve a large share of the blame for the massive amounts of classified information revealed through WikiLeaks. Gingrich said the leaks are "a scandal of the first order" and that they demonstrate the Obama administration is "shallow" and "amateurish" when it comes to national security.

Merry Christmas Blessed Nation
Excerpt: I thought that it might be a good idea to post something to this blog site before it is seized by the Department of Homeland Security. With the direction our country is headed, there will be no probable cause required to search us (TSA apparently doesn’t need it) or our homes or take away our possessions. I may be left to nailing my thoughts on a tree like our patriot pamphleteer forefathers did. I am sure that the all powerful EPA must have regulations prohibiting that too. Maybe we modern pamphleteers will just resort to stapling them to the foreheads of politicians. Sort of like a poor man’s teleprompter. Penetrating some of those thick heads may require some heavy duty staples. We have a lot for which to be thankful in the United States of America. All of it points back to one intangible not material thing. Freedom. Not just any old freedom, but that freedom that came to us directly from God and was once protected under the Constitution of our republic. It is the freedom that the men and women who lead us are sworn to protect. Makes one wonder about what the value of a sworn oath is these days. I suppose that it is as binding as is the integrity of the man who swears to it.

Medicare admits overpaying for common items like wheelchairs
Excerpt: It's no secret the federal government is not always frugal with our money -- remember the military's $640 toilet seats and $436 hammers? Now comes Medicare paying more than double the retail cost for wheelchairs. Alan Siegel of Fort Lauderdale discovered the overspending recently when he needed to replace a wheelchair for his wife. He wanted to buy one since she suffers from a form of muscular dystrophy and requires permanent use of a wheelchair. But Medicare only covers the cost to rent one for up to 13 months. At that point, the chair belongs to the patient. Two months into Siegel's rental, he learned just how much Medicare was paying. The total cost over the course of the rental would top $800. "I checked further and found the chair being rented cost less than $350. . .I had the supplier stop the rental and I purchased the chair,'' Siegel said. "It is ridiculous for Medicare to spend so much more for a rental in situations when a cheaper purchase makes so much more sense.''

No Volunteers, Please, We’re Unionized
Hard to know if trial lawyers or unions are doing the most damage to the Republic. ~Bob. Excerpt: Prior to giving a speech on civic participation for a group of city and county employees just north of San Francisco, I chatted with a county volunteer coordinator about her job. “It sounds like fascinating work,” I offered. “You must interact with a lot of different people on a variety of projects.” It was an interesting job, she said. “But,” she continued—lowering her voice to a near whisper—”you have to be real careful when you bring in a volunteer to help on certain jobs, that they can’t be seen as taking work from unionized employees.” She explained that her formula for placing volunteers in needed assignments had to incorporate the type of work and the time commitment. “I usually have no problem [with the unions] if I bring someone in for a couple of hours each week,” she allowed, “but I’m pushing it if it moves beyond five hours—even if the volunteer is willing to take longer hours.” She concluded: “And, of course, you’ve heard what’s happening in Petaluma with the school district?” I hadn’t.

Doctors’ Orders: The government’s war on medical “price fixing” squelches speech without helping consumers.
Excerpt: Doctors who own independent practices sometimes band together to provide a bulk offering of services, at a collectively negotiated rate, for third-party payers such as large health insurance carriers. These groups are called “independent practice associations,” or IPAs, and they’ve been around since the 1950s. IPAs provide tangible value for physicians and patients alike: Doctors get a middleman to deal with the insurance bureaucracies, and patients get access to a wide range of health care providers at discounted prices. But thanks to the ever-expanding mission of antitrust regulators, the associations are also under constant attack from the federal government. Since 2001, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice Antitrust Division have prosecuted 36 IPA groups, representing more than 18,000 physicians, for the crime of “price fixing”—that is, for jointly negotiating with insurance companies. By setting some of their prices on a group level, the theory goes, doctors are illegally colluding in a way that thwarts competition at the expense of insurance companies, other third-party payers, and ultimately patients.

Government can’t print money properly
Now they can’t even print it right. ~Bob. Excerpt: As a metaphor for our troubled economic and financial era -- and the government's stumbling response -- this one's hard to beat. You can't stimulate the economy via the money supply, after all, if you can't print the money correctly. Because of a problem with the presses, the federal government has shut down production of its flashy new $100 bills, and has quarantined more than 1 billion of them -- more than 10 percent of all existing U.S. cash -- in a vault in Fort Worth, Texas, reports CNBC.

WikiLeaks: Fishing With Dynamite
Excerpt: Pity their sources, or at least some of them, who thought they were speaking in confidence and now see their remarks plastered all over the internet. Pity a world in which any information that can be downloaded onto the internet is advertised as serving the high cause of “truth,” no matter who gets hurt. Not that the wikileaked cables aren’t interesting. They’re fascinating. In the trove released to date, there are cables that deserved to be leaked. They expose a wealth of important information, from the begging and finagling with which the Obama administration has been pursuing an economically disastrous accord on “climate,” to the hypocrisies of Arab rulers who foster mindsets profoundly dangerous to the U.S. and its democratic allies, but plead privately with American officials for the U.S. to save their necks by cutting the head off the Iranian snake. And why, pray tell, has the Obama administration not done more to inform the American public about the specifics of the fears emanating from the Middle East itself regarding Iran, including such wikileaked items as “the Iran-Al-Qaeda connection.” But that kind of information, yea, even those particular cables, could have been leaked without Assange embarking on the wholesale release of more than a quarter of a million State Department cables. There’s a difference between exposing specific wrongdoing, and exposing almost everything you happen to obtain in a massive download.... (The author asks why WikiLeaks would play out the revelation of its trove of secrets over a long period. The answer, obviously, is to blackmail those countries, companies, and individuals who might be able and willing to pay to “delay” exposure. Where else is Wikileaks’ funding coming from? This is just one more reason to eliminate them as quickly as possible. Ron P.)

Sunlit Uplands - A New Blog
Excerpt: Daniel J. Cassidy, who lives in South Carolina, and has had a notable career with the George HW Bush and George W Bush administrations and in education reform and school choice, has started a new blog with the wonderful title Sunlit Uplands, a phrase used by Winston Churchill when he called on the Anglo-American world to defend civilization from the Nazis. Cassidy writes - My blog is dedicated to a defense of Western Christian culture, particularly through a vibrant, organic cultural, social, and spiritual union of the English-speaking peoples, as envisioned by Sir Winston Churchill. Of course, my blog's title is from the great man's "Finest Hour" speech…It is the idea that there is a natural, organic unity of the English-speaking peoples throughout the world based on their history, language and culture. They share a belief in "fair play," a dedication to individualism, have a strong sense of justice, and a willingness to stand up for the "little guy" and those who have been unfairly treated. These cultural qualities are the foundation for the great hallmarks of the English-speaking world - Magna Carta, habeas corpus, trial by jury, freedom of speech, common law and America's own Bill of rights.

Rule of Law Disregarded in Cases of Immigrant Identity Theft
Excerpt: In yet another example of the rule of law being cast aside whenever it suits our courts, identity theft appears to be acceptable if you are one of those hard working pillars of society known as the “undocumented immigrant.” Now if you or I tried it, there would be a serious problem, but in today’s justice system, judges seem to be interpreting law based on their personal feelings and ideology. An example of this development comes from a Supreme Court decision (May 2009), where they decided the defendant was ignorant to what he was doing:

WikiLeaks Struggles to Stay Online as Hostility Grows
Excerpt: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is working to keep his whistle-blower website online and the project funded amid growing hostility from governments and business partners. "The man is a high-tech terrorist," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said this morning on NBC's "Meet the Press." His website's release of thousands of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables caused "enormous damage to our country and, and to our relationships with our allies around the world." (All this is nice, but I'd still like to see him parachuted into the remote hills of Pakistan with a tattoo in Arabic on his forehead saying something seriously disrespectful to Islam. –Del)

Doc fix new weapon vs. health reform
Excerpt: Congressional Republicans are hoping to put Democrats in a no-win new year's jam: defund a big chunk of their health care overhaul or slash Medicare payments instead. Despite rampant repeal rhetoric, Republicans have so far struggled to dismantle any part of health reform. Now, they see a new path forward: pilfer health reform dollars to pay for the next "doc fix," the must-pass patch to Medicare doctor payments. Republican Senate aides familiar with the issue told POLITICO they are seriously looking at the new law's $15 billion public health commitment to finance a one-year doc fix in the next session of Congress. The Senate has passed four doc fixes this year alone, none of which were longer than six months and two lasted just 30 days. The last patch, a one-month reprieve passed by the House on Monday, will expire on Dec. 31. Without a doc fix, Medicare provider rates would drop 25 percent.

Al Gore's climate group shrinking
Excerpt: One of Al Gore's campaigns to save the planet has scaled back its field operations since climate legislation failed earlier this year in Congress. The Alliance for Climate Protection was operating in about 25 states at its peak, including Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania. But the group now has field offices in just seven states.

List of facilities 'vital to US security' leaked
Excerpt: In February 2009 the State Department asked all US missions abroad to list all installations whose loss could critically affect US national security. The list includes pipelines, communication and transport hubs. Several UK sites are listed, including cable locations, satellite sites and BAE Systems plants. BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says this is probably the most controversial document yet from the Wikileaks organisation. (I have a real bad feeling that this is the tip of the iceberg, that Assange is about to drop a thermonuclear warhead on BHO, Hillary Clinton and by extension USA. . It was reported today that diplomats and ambassadors around the world are about to get official letters of persona non grata and be sent home, that military attaches and covert CIA have been outed and are about to be recalled----and this is just the beginning. The looming calamity will make Jimmy Carters presidential debacle look like Ding Dong School! –Tom C.)

Indonesian Terrorists Targeted ‘Infidel’ Oil Execs
Excerpt: Terrorists planned to attack executives of an international oil company in Riau province as well as tourists visiting Anak Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait, a police source said on Sunday. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said police learned of the plan while questioning 27-year-old terrorist suspect Fadli Sadama, who was arrested in October in possession of firearms in Malaysia. (Gee, hope they didn’t violate his constitutional rights. ~Bob.)

Pop goes the taxpayers Bridge Card
The revolution is coming. ~Bob. Excerpt: About 9 p.m. Sunday, a customer walked down the pop aisle at the Wayland Hardings, and picked up 42 pops in both cans and bottles. She bought them on her Bridge Card, the federally-funded, state-administered debit card that allows people on public assistance to, among other things, purchase food with the swipe of the card. The customer walked out the door, pulled the pop out of the bag, and fed the bottle and cans, still full of pop, into the bottle-and-can return machines. As the glass and aluminum is crushed in the machines, they explode, gumming up the inside of the machine, spreading a sticky mess across the floor. "It was a big mess last night," Holland said. "We had to pull the bins out and let them drain off and we flushed them with water, and put them back in this morning." The yet to be identified customer walked away with $4.20. Holland said he called the state. They told him the customer didn't violate any of the rules regarding Bridge Card purchases.

Never Mind the Squeaky Voice, Osborne, What Have You Got To Say About This?
Excerpt: As Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT said: “Future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st century’s developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally average temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections combined into implausible chains of inference, proceeded to contemplate a rollback of the industrial age”. TATA, the Indian steel conglomerate, is currently closing the Redcar steelworks with the loss of 1700 British jobs. It appears that TATA thus stands to benefit by some £600 million in EU Carbon Credits for stopping Redcar’s “Carbon Emissions”. TATA is currently expanding its steel production elsewhere in the world. Thanks to Chris Huhne the British taxpayer is now paying Europe to throw British workers out of work and, in the end, achieving nothing. Just where are the solid facts to justify this unproven creed that mankind is altering the climate? The Minister for Climate Change cannot supply them, he relies on argumentum ad populum and is now finding himself running short of populi..."

America's Liberal Civil War is Getting Vicious: Paul Krugman blasts Barack Obama "moral collapse" and "policy of appeasement"
Excerpt: While US conservatives are focusing on cutting the budget deficit, creating jobs, winning the War on Terror, and protecting the United States from dangerous treaties such as New START, America’s liberal elites are investing a great deal of energy fighting each other, and blaming the White House for, incredibly, not being Left-wing enough. In the wake of their crushing defeat in midterm elections, some on the Left have upped the stakes in the increasingly brutal liberal civil war, with open talk in some quarters of a challenge to Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2012. There have been some scathing attacks on the president from high-profile traditional supporters. Recently New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote of “a spineless spiral” in reference to the Obama White House, while over at The Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson spoke of an “uninspired and uninspiring president”. But it is today’s piece in The New York Times by Paul Krugman which is by far the most damning. Prior to November, the über-liberal Nobel Prize-winning economist was content to concentrate his fire on the Right, predicting “political chaos” ahead of the midterms with the doom-laden warning – “if the elections go as expected next week, here’s my advice: Be afraid. Be very afraid."

The Liberal Crisis
Excerpt: The defeat of Russ Feingold in the November 2 election has unexpectedly provided the most uncompromisingly left-wing Democrat in the U.S. Senate with a new job opportunity—that of candidate for the presidency of the United States. Feingold hinted in his concession speech on election night that he might challenge Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries. “It’s on to 2012,” Feingold said, “and it is on to our next adventure.” The next day, a spokesman said that Feingold had “no interest” in running for the presidency, but such a denial is meaningless. The scale of the Democratic Party’s defeat and the parlous condition of the country’s finances inevitably raise the specter of a challenge to a first-term president from within his own party. Such challenges have been part of the political landscape for the past half-century. Eight presidents since 1960 have run for re-election. Four of them have had to fight off a significant primary opponent whose key message was that the president had betrayed his party’s core principles. In each case, the challenge preceded the president’s eventual ouster in the general election.

Excerpt: A new Judicial Watch investigation has found that President Obama spent millions of taxpayer dollars on a “misleading” propaganda campaign to help foster public support for his extremely unpopular “health care reform” law, also known as Obamacare. Using the Freedom of Information Act, our investigators obtained documents from the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding a series of three Medicare television advertisements featuring actor Andy Griffith, which were deemed misleading by a number of press outlets, including the nonpartisan (but left-of-center) FactCheck.org. The new documents show the Obama administration spent $3,184,000 in taxpayer funds to produce and air the advertisements on national television in September and October of 2010 to educate “Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers, and family members about forthcoming changes to Medicare as a result of the Affordable Care Act.”…

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