Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Political Digest for January 12, 2011

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.

Blog Down, Blog Down!
My blog will be down for a few days. No, it’s not under attack by the Forces of Darkness. As far as I know. But family obligations will keep me from the computer screen. I’ll leave a couple interesting things from readers to post. Your subscription will be cheerfully extended at no additional cost. ~Bob

The Media’s Disaster Template
The Main Stream Media, called by conservatives the Lame Stream Media, or the Blame Stream Media or the Left Stream Media, is often accused of being one dimensional, but I don’t think that’s true.

I do think they have a computer template, much like those programs you can buy that are supposed to help you write fiction. I think it works like this:

Something bad happens, and they launch the program. They enter the basic details, like “Congresswoman shot by nut,” or “Snowstorm in the Northeast” and a pop-up screen asks, “Blame?” On the screen are the following choices, arranged in order of likelihood for the event, based on the details (The program would need to prompt them, or they’d be blaming Israel and Islamophobia for snow storms):

Global Warming
Tea Party
Sarah Palin
George W. Bush
Talk Radio Commentators
Fox News
Big Oil
Big Business

There may be others I’ve left out. The propagandist, journalist clicks on one or more and it offers him a series of pre-written paragraphs, quotes and speculation about the involvement and guilt of the offending person or group, which can be incorporated into the story, thus saving a lot of time and effort. The more details they enter about the event, the more the program can drill down to find “facts” and claims linking one of the above to the event. Ah, the wonders of modern technology for saving time, effort and thought.

Westboro Baptist Church to Picket Funeral of 9-Year-Old Arizona Shooting Victim
Just when you think these folks couldn’t be more evil and insensitive. Talk about provoking violence. ~Bob. Excerpt: Members of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church plan to protest outside the funeral of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, one of six people killed Saturday in the Tucson, Ariz., shootings. But some in area are planning a counter-action to protect the grieving family from the unwelcome picketers and their slurs. (It’s possible they may discover this is not the best time and Arizona is not the smartest place for them to irritate the public. Just think of it as evolution in action. Ron P.)

A Republican Showdown? By Thomas Sowell
They say that, in politics, "overnight is a lifetime." In other words, the journey from triumphant hero to discredited scapegoat can be very brief. In the wake of the Republicans' triumphs in last November's elections, great hopes are being held out that Republican control of the House of Representatives can slam the brakes on Barack Obama's march toward a completely government-controlled economy and ruinous deficit spending. The first big step toward that goal could be forcing the Obama administration to cut back on spending, as the price of raising the national debt ceiling, which will be necessary early on in this new Congress, if the federal government is not going to be forced to shut down for lack of money. Much of the runaway spending in Washington has been a spending of money that the government doesn't have in the till, by borrowing money through the sale of government bonds-- in other words, running up a record high national debt.

Judge sentences Tom DeLay to 3 years in prison
Excerpt: A judge ordered former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to serve three years in prison Monday for his role in a scheme to illegally funnel corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002. The sentence comes after a jury in November convicted DeLay on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. DeLay was once one of the most powerful men in U.S. politics, ascending to the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives.

Political Vultures: The sick art of turning insanity into politics
Excerpt: Very few Americans are fans of both The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf, as the Tucson killer, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, apparently was. Fewer still post on the Internet fears about “brain washing,” “mind control,” and “conscience dreaming”; have a long record of public disruption and aberrant behavior; were expelled from community college; or were summarily rejected for military service. No matter. Almost immediately following Loughner’s cowardly murdering of six and wounding of 14 including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, pundits and some public figures rushed to locate his rampage, together with his paranoid rantings about government control, within the larger landscape of right-wing politics — especially the rhetoric of the Tea Party and Sarah Palin.

Dem Rep. Clyburn: "Reading Of The Constitution" Contributed To Climate Of AZ Shooting
Let’s see. Barack Obama was an instructor in constitutional law. Presumably he read the constitution sat least once, perhaps long ago, making him responsible for the murders. Nothing in it about stupidity. ~Bob. Excerpt: In addition, reading the Constitution is uncalled for. Excerpt: "All [of] this stuff taking place in the Chambers the other day, when the Constitution was being read -- all that stuff is uncalled for," Rep. Clyburn (D-SC) told the Ed Schultz radio program. Clyburn says there may be a "direct link" between Sharron Angle's "Second Amendment remedies" comment and the reading of the Constitution with the attempted murder of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords over the weekend.

The Climate of Krugman
Excerpt: Within hours of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, lunatic “economist” Paul Krugman raced to put up a blog post blaming Sarah Palin and the Tea Party for the attack. “For those wondering why a Blue Dog Democrat, the kind Republicans might be able to work with, might be a target,” said Krugman, “the answer is that she’s a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona, precisely because the Republicans nominated a Tea Party activist. (Her father says that ‘the whole Tea Party’ was her enemy.) And yes, she was on Sarah Palin’s infamous ‘crosshairs’ list.” Somehow the New York Times left Krugman on the payroll after this disgusting example of mindless idiocy, and he’s decided to double down, expanding on his deep thoughts at greater length in an op-ed called “Climate of Hate.” With the publication of this editorial, the New York Times hits absolute rock bottom. Not only is it slanderous, and easily fisked by a six-year-old with a dial-up connection to Google, but it’s a perfect example of someone very deliberately trying to create a “climate of hate.” “When you heard the terrible news from Arizona, were you completely surprised?” Krugman begins. “Or were you, at some level, expecting something like this atrocity to happen?” After he approvingly cites Bill Clinton’s disgusting attempt to pin the Oklahoma City bombings on Rush Limbaugh, he says “you could see, just by watching the crowds at the McCain-Palin rallies, that it was ready to happen again.” Ah, so this whole “democracy” thing is just too dangerous for us benighted rubes, eh? Political opposition to the sainted Left is inherently illegitimate, and should be swept away. Let us pause to note that this is one of many times in his essay that Krugman demonstrates his near-complete ignorance of actual news, and conveys the sense he can’t be bothered with Google searches. If he had tried one before humiliating the Times with this op-ed, he would know that Jared Loughner, the Tuscon shooter, has been obsessed with Giffords since at least 2007, long before there were any McCain-Palin rallies. (How the NYTimes can let this kind of insane, provocative, and false opining go on is a total puzzle. But we've seen the policy of making unfounded accusations and nasty name-calling come from the Left for a long time now. I guess I'm still naive, I keep thinking somebody somewhere at the NYT would notice how monumentally stupid this kind of writing is, how it trashes whatever name the Times has left as a responsible news source. –Del)

The point is?
Let’s see if I get the point: “Those slimy, murder-enabling, violence-encouraging fascist tea-baggers of the far right have to tone down their over-heated rhetoric and name calling, and give up their right to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and opposing political candidates they don’t agree with to return civility to American politics. Say, do you want one of these cool “Abort Sarah Palin” bumper stickers we are distributing?” Right. ~Bob.

Jared Lee Loughner was a registered independent, didn't vote in 2010 election
Geeze, he doesn’t vote, he doesn’t register as a Republican, he doesn’t come to the rallies, he reads the Communist Manifesto—I think we should throw him out of the Tea Party! (No, I’m not in the Tea Party—never went to a rally or joined a Tea Party group myself, not that I don’t support a lot of what I understand their positions to be. This is called “sarcasm.” ~Bob) Excerpt: Suspected Tucson gunman Jared Lee Loughner registered as an independent voter in Arizona in the fall of 2006, according to the Pima County Registrar of Voters. Loughner registered to vote on Sept. 29, 2006, identifying himself as an independent. Records show he voted in the 2006 and 2008 elections but is current listed as "inactive" on the state's voter roles -- meaning that he did not vote in November. The political affiliations of Loughner, who is being charged by state and federal authorities with the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) as well as 19 other victims outside a Tucson grocery store on Saturday, have become the subject of a white-hot partisan debate in recent days. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, liberals sought to paint Loughner as an anti-government, tea party conservative.

Leftist circulating a photo-shopped registration showing the shooter was a Republican.
Look who is spreading hate and lies. But they misspelled Tucson! ~Bob.

Slain Girl's Father Says Attack is the Price of a Free Society - 'I prefer this to the alternative.'
Excerpt: If you want to see heartbreaking grace and tremendous courage in the face of unspeakable tragedy, you don’t want to miss this segment from the Today show this morning with John Green, the father of the 9-year-old victim of the shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Christina Green was born on 9/11 and died in another act of nationally-covered violence, which her father says are “bookends” to her joyful life. Instead of lashing out, which would be entirely understandable for a heartbroken father, John instead offers us an amazing example of poise and perspective that puts many to shame: (It hurts the heart. Every Marine I know would have willingly put his body between her and the gunman, given the chance. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: At the direction of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Obama Administration and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had established a profile for what they call “potential domestic terrorists” of grave concern in the DHS Intel Report titled “Rightwing Extremism.” The Obama Administration has allowed the Southern Poverty Law Center to define “hate” – hate speech and hate-based domestic terrorism. But the Southern Poverty Law Center is nothing more than a George Soros funded hate group of a different sort, using its power with the current administration to launch a full scale assault on all who do not share the left-wing political view and labeling all conservatives “haters.” However, Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged gunman responsible for shooting Democrat Congresswoman Gabby Giffords did not meet Obama’s SPLC depiction of a domestic terrorist. He was not a soldier, as first reported by the left-wing press, but rather an Army reject. He is not a political conservative, but rather a political liberal.

Democratic Congressman on GOP Gov. Rick Scott: 'They ought to put him against a wall and shoot him.'
Excerpt: While Paul Krugman and other liberal commentators continue to exploit this weekend's tragedy by making hay out of supposedly extreme rhetoric on the right, perhaps they would do well to examine some of the rhetoric that has come from the left. On October 23, The Scranton Times reported that Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., said this about Florida's new Republican Governor Rick Scott: "That Scott down there that's running for governor of Florida," Mr. Kanjorski said. "Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him. He stole billions of dollars from the United States government and he's running for governor of Florida. He's a millionaire and a billionaire. He's no hero. He's a damn crook. It's just we don't prosecute big crooks." Kanjorski did not win reelection in November.

Motes and beams again: the mean-spirited vitriol of the left
Excerpt: I am rubbing my eyes in disbelief at the attempt to blame the Tea-Partiers and ‘the right’ for the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the murder of six others in Arizona by a mentally disturbed individual, Jared Lee Loughner. Even more outrageously, America’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has effectively equated this mentally deranged loner with the Islamists who committed the 9/11 atrocities: In a television broadcast filmed before students in Abu Dhabi, Mrs Clinton was asked why the 9/11 terror attacks, the work of a handful of men, had been allowed to colour American views of a whole people. ‘We have extremists in our country,’ she said. ‘A wonderful and incredibly brave young woman congress member was just shot by extremists in our country. We have the same kinds of problems, so rather than standing off of each other we should work to try and prevent the extremists wherever they are from being able to commit violence.’ The moral corruption of Mrs Clinton’s equation is not only obscene – it actively endangers America and the free world. Can it really be the case that an American Secretary of State believes that an attack upon her country that murdered thousands of people and which chalked up another marker in the holy war against the west being waged from within the Arab and Muslim world -- in the defence against which America is sending its young men to die on the battlefield -- has the same significance as one deranged gunman running amok?

Prosecutors Seek to Portray Arizona Shooter as Methodical; Bullets at Wal-Mart
Excerpt: Federal prosecutors are assembling a case against suspected killer Jared Lee Loughner that portrays him as a man with psychological problems who was nonetheless competent enough to plot an assassination. Mr. Loughner appeared Monday in federal court—his head shaved, shackled at the waist and dressed in a beige jail jumpsuit—to hear the government's charges of murder and attempted murder against him. Federal prosecutors will try to show that Mr. Loughner planned the Saturday attack that killed six people, gravely wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D., Ariz) and injured 13 others. During the hearing, Magistrate Judge Lawrence O. Anderson asked Mr. Loughner whether he understood the charges, which could carry the death penalty. "Yes, I understand," he replied in a loud voice.

The Left, Not the Right, Owns Political Violence
Excerpt: It took less than 24 hours for the political left to seize upon the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the murder of six people on Saturday to blame the political right for the shooting. Perhaps the most egregious example came from Paul Krugman of the New York Times, who wrote, "We don't have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was." (The newspaper that published plagiarized and fabricated accounts of the "D.C. sniper" by affirmative-action hire Jayson Blair in 2003 is still publishing unsubstantiated suppositions without "proof," eh?) "[Giffords'] father says that 'the whole Tea Party' was her enemy," continued Krugman. "And yes, she was on Sarah Palin's infamous 'crosshairs' list." As if that was not enough, Krugman went on to invoke the specter of Tim McVeigh. Well, we do have some proof now, and it's clear that the shooter was in no way connected to the Tea Party, the Republican Party, or any other movement on the political right. Law enforcement officials have revealed that suspect Jared Loughner was rejected by the Army and kicked out of college. He appeared to have mental health issues, and he was a reader of The Communist Manifesto. But since Krugman and the other members of the leftist chattering classes have brought up the subject of politically inspired violence, maybe we ought to remind them of the left's protracted association with political violence.

To Understand Assassination Threat, Look Beyond Tucson
Thoughtful column by a leftie. ~Bob. Excerpt: Word of the attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords outside a Tucson supermarket, which left her in critical condition after a bullet passed through her brain, had barely broken before speculation erupted on the motivations of the man accused of shooting her and killing six others, Jared Lee Loughner, 22. Was Mr. Loughner a conservative or a liberal? What did he think of the Tea Party? How serious was his degree of mental illness? What role, if any, did heated political rhetoric and violent political metaphors play in his decision to shoot the congresswoman and 19 other people who were at the scene, including a federal judge?

Get your free ObamaPhone here
Spread the wealth around. It’s all free.

Emergency Medical Services: How Health Reform Could Hurt First Responders
Excerpt: An estimated 32 million to 34 million individuals will gain public or private health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Insured individuals consume nearly twice as much health care as the uninsured, on the average. Thus, EMS utilization will likely increase; however, the ACA does not provide funds to pay for increased EMS use. This will force local governments to choose between raising taxes, finding alternative revenue sources or reducing emergency services.
Use of Emergency Medical Services. Ambulance trips to hospitals have grown 13 percent from 1997 to 2006, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2006, the 18.4 million ambulance transports to hospitals accounted for 15.4 percent of emergency department visits

Five myths about why the South seceded
Never mind the Tea Party. We’ll still fighting over why we fought 150 years ago. Though I have a master’s degree in history and have had two master’s level courses in the Civil war, I’m not a practicing historian. But this article tends to agree with what I understand from long study of the conflict. ~Bob. Excerpt: One hundred and fifty years after the Civil War began, we're still fighting it -- or at least fighting over its history. I've polled thousands of high school history teachers and spoken about the war to audiences across the country, and there is little agreement even on why the South seceded. Was it over slavery? States' rights? Tariffs and taxes? As the nation begins to commemorate the anniversaries of the war's various battles -- from Fort Sumter to Appomattox -- let's first dispense with some of the more prevalent myths about why it all began.

Excerpt: Bet you haven’t seen this one on TV: A newer, more sophisticated climate model has lost more than 25% of its predicted warming! You can bet that if it had predicted that much more warming it would have made the local paper.
The change resulted from a more realistic simulation of the way clouds work, resulting in a major reduction in the model’s “climate sensitivity,” which is the amount of warming predicted for a doubling of the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide over what it was prior to the industrial revolution. Prior to the modern era, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, as measured in air trapped in ice in the high latitudes (which can be dated year-by-year) was pretty constant, around 280 parts per million (ppm). No wonder CO2 is called a “trace gas”—there really is not much of it around. The current concentration is pushing about 390 ppm, an increase of about 40% in 250 years. This is a pretty good indicator of the amount of “forcing” or warming pressure that we are exerting on the atmosphere. Yes, there are other global warming gases going up, like the chlorofluorocarbons (refrigerants now banned by treaty), but the modern climate religion is that these are pretty much being cancelled by reflective “aerosol” compounds that go in the air along with the combustion of fossil fuels, mainly coal. (Interesting article. Just as "statistics are not proof," computer models are not proof, either. Necessarily incomplete, computer models are merely the modeler's opinions written in mechanical form. Ron P.)

The CBO's Fuzzy ObamaCare Math
Excerpt: The CBO letter says that the health law spends $780 billion in the next decade and pays for it by raising taxes and fees by $410 billion, and by reducing future Medicare funding by $500 billion. The CBO argues that the law raises more money ($910 billion) than it spends, but that is hardly sufficient reason to keep it, or any law. Projections from another federal agency—the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—fill in the grim picture on what ObamaCare will do. The CMS figures, released Sept. 9, show that if you buy your own health plan, you will have to pay more every year than you would have if the law hadn't passed. Amazingly, only 3% more people will have private health insurance in 2014 than would have it if the law hadn't passed. But a staggering 85.2 million people will be on public insurance—Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or S-CHIP. That's 31% of non-elderly Americans. The new health law is pushing the U.S. toward a European-style welfare state, making more people dependent on government, instead of on themselves, and undermining incentives to work. The new law stipulates that Medicaid must provide the same health benefits that employers will have to provide for their workers.

Chamber president pleased with new tone from White House
Excerpt: The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce used a major address Tuesday to praise the White House’s tone on business, but said his organization continues to worry about excessive regulations impairing economic growth. In his annual State of American Business address, Chamber President Ton Donohue said the economy is picking up steam and is in much better shape than a year ago, but remains fragile and uneven. "Last year, we worried about a double-dip recession,” Donohue said. “Today, we are cautiously optimistic recovery will continue and pick up steam as the year progresses." Donohue said the tax package agreed to by President Obama and congressional Republicans in December should help grow the economy and will give “a significant boost” to jobs. 

If One Extremist Gunmen Can Do So Much Damage in America, How About Ten Million Such People In The Middle East?
Excerpt: When one crazed or ideologically obsessed gunman named Jared Loughner starts shooting in Arizona, people condemn him and start bemoaning the state of their society. How about a place with ten million people like that who are treated as heroes? America this week is awash in a huge and passionate debate over whether angry political disagreements and harsh criticisms of certain views or groups inspired the attack on an American congresswoman (Jewish and a strong supporter of Israel, by the way). I’m not going to enter into that argument right now but I want to point out the Middle Eastern ramifications of what's going on here. Every day for more than a half century, Arabs and Muslims have been inundated every day with hatred for Israel, America, the West, Jews, and often Christians. You can read transcripts of Syrian broadcasts or Palestinian speeches from 50 years ago that sound just like what is being said by their successors now.

France is Our Biggest Ally, declares Obama
Loose cannon alert. When BO said he’d “reset” our foreign policy, we now know he meant “trash” it. ~Bob. Excerpt: Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a former commander of the Sherwood Foresters regiment, said: 'I’m getting a bit fed up with the American President using terms like "best ally" so loosely. 'It’s Britain that has had more than 300 servicemen killed in Afghanistan, not France. 'That to my mind is a lot more powerful than any political gesture making.' The remarks also angered conservatives in Washington. Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Centre For Freedom at the Heritage Foundation think-tank, said: 'Quite what the French have done to merit this kind of high praise from the U.S. President is difficult to fathom.' And if the White House means what it says this represents an extraordinary sea change in foreign policy. 'Dr Gardiner, a former aide to Lady Thatcher, added: 'To suggest that Paris and not London is Washington’s strongest partner is simply ludicrous.

Seven face court over Bendigo rape
Forget cartoons. It is people bearing the name Mohammad for defame Islam when they commit heinous crimes. ~Bob. Excerpt: Four men and three boys have been charged with raping a woman at Bendigo in central Victoria. Mohammad Zaoli, 21, Aru Gar, 19, and Mohammad El Nour and Akoak Manon, both 18 years old, are each facing 17 offences including counts of rape and assault. Three boys aged from 14 to 17 have been charged with the same offences. It is alleged the rape happened in the suburb of Flora Hill on Sunday.

Gaza 2011 Is Not What You Think
Must be Atlantic City. Everyone knows Gaza is starving under the blockade of the “evil Joos.” The media tell me so. ~Bob. Excerpt: “Gaza has everything for your next vacation – beaches, kids attractions, fine dining, shopping malls, open markets and more. This is Gaza 2011 – not what you think.”

Nothing Sacred
Excerpt: This explains the belief that is universally held on the Left that the Constitution is an “evolving text,” meaning that it says what anyone (on the Left) wants it to say. Conservatives, on the other hand, do not share this view. They do not believe the Constitution has something to say about everything they believe in. While the Left sees the right to abortion in the Constitution (because the Left believes in the right to abortion), those who oppose abortion do not believe that the Constitution prohibits abortion. They believe that the Constitution is silent on the issue. Precisely because the Right does believe the Constitution is to be treated as sacred, it does not claim that whatever it supports is in the Constitution or that whatever it opposes is unconstitutional. There are humble individuals and arrogant individuals on the right and on the left. But there is no arrogance like leftist arrogance. If you hold a leftist position, you know that you are smarter, wiser, and more moral not only than conservatives, but more so than the Bible, more so than the Constitution, indeed often more so than everyone who lived before you.

The Latest Terrorist Tactic: Litigation
Excerpt: In Europe especially, their cause is aided by vague hate speech laws that make it all too easy to punish legitimate discourse on Islam. Last month, a Danish Member of Parliament pleaded guilty to violating hate speech laws with comments he made on Islam’s treatment of women. He had agreed to forgo parliamentary immunity in order to fight the charges on the merits only to discover that truth is no defense. On January 24, another Danish politician, International Free Press Society president Lars Hedegaard, will stand trial for similarly speaking his mind. He also faces a potentially costly libel suit. There were reports last summer that Denmark’s hate speech laws would be reformed to prevent abuse, but this has yet to happen. In the meantime, authorities can borrow from the extremists and use civil litigation as a complementary strategy in counterterrorism operations, particularly in the US. Forcing terrorists to fight simultaneous criminal and civil proceedings would make it difficult for them to focus their defense resources effectively. This has been the experience in white-collar cases when the Justice Department and a regulatory agency pursue parallel investigations against a target company. While criminal defendants can get court-appointed lawyers, civil defendants pay out of pocket and the plaintiff’s burden of proof is typically lower. In addition, the broader scope of discovery in civil cases may produce information otherwise unavailable to prosecutors. Finally, parallel lawsuits can pin terrorists between remaining mum in the civil suit and likely losing, or fighting back and forfeiting their right to “plead the Fifth” in the criminal case. Defendants might dodge these difficulties by delaying the civil proceedings, but courts do not always permit that. (if you say a woman is legally worth only half a man, may be beaten by her husband, may be one of four wives, may be married against her will at age 9, may be stoned for adultery if she reports a rape and doesn’t have four believers as witnesses, that gays and people who adopt another faith should be executed—is not all that, found in the Qur’an and Shari’a law, hate speech? ~Bob.)

Chinese Stealth Fighter Makes First Test Flight
Excerpt: China's aviation industry - both military and civilian - has made rapid progress in recent years but still relies heavily on imported technology. Propulsion has been a special problem, with Russian engines still powering the J-10 and J-11, a copy of Russia's Su-27 fighter. Stealth technology is even more difficult to master because it relies on systems to hide the presence of the plane, while equipping the pilot with enough information to attack an enemy. Emissions must be hidden and the plane's fuselage sculpted to avoid detection by radar and infrared sensors. Despite the challenges, the J-20's entry into the test flight stage seems to indicate China is progressing faster than expected with the new technology, even while the plane's true capabilities aren't known. Analysts said two prototypes have been developed, with one employing a Russian engine and the other a Chinese one. Chang said the Chinese engine-equipped prototype flew in Tuesday's test.

Obfuscating the National Security Threat
Excerpt: “Today,” Abu Mounisa emphasizes, “people don't worship physical idols. Today, people worship the ideas of democracy, freedom, and capitalism…Who allows that freedom? Who allows that democracy? Who allows these false gods to exist? The government, the law and order, they are the ones that allow it.” Like Muhammad, the only way to destroy these ideas is by beheading believers which is why, Abu Mounisa, concludes, “We need to behead capitalism from its roots, take it, kill it from its roots. That is what we need to do. We should hate it so much, my dear brothers, that every day, we should attack their system. Every day. Just like the Prophet Muhammad did…” Interestingly, while the US has difficulty identifying Islamism as a threat and expressing concerns about an ideology far worse than Nazism, two European countries heavily populated by Muslim immigrants now are voicing their own concerns. A recent poll by a French newspaper reveals about two-thirds of the French and Germans realize that Muslims are not well integrated into society—with 40% calling this a threat to their national identity. With the largest Muslim communities in Europe, obviously France and Germany are being impacted more so than other states. But this concern should be viewed by all democracies with the same significance as the canary in the coal mine.  

Allen West says legitimate security concerns shouldn’t create police state
Congressman Allen West said Tuesday the response to the Arizona shootings that wounded one of his colleagues and left six dead shouldn’t result in so much security that people live in fear in a “police state.” “The worst thing that we can have happen in the United States of America is take away the freedoms and the liberties that we have in this great nation,” he said at a West Boca Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting. West, who started his first term in Congress last week, said he wouldn’t let legitimate security concerns make it difficult for constituents to interact with him or prevent him from interacting with them.

Los Angeles gang police quit over financial rules
Excerpt: Dozens of anti-gang police officers across the city are quitting their assignments over a requirement to reveal personal financial information under strict anti-corruption rules, The Associated Press has learned. Gang units in some of the city's most violent neighborhoods are being left with multiple vacancies, with officers choosing instead to work regular patrol shifts, Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger said Monday. One of the areas most affected is the city's northeast division, which includes territory controlled by the notorious Avenues gang around Highland Park. Rather than fill in financial disclosure forms, most of the division's anti-gang unit has decided to leave and return to patrol, resulting in an unspecified number of vacancies. Paysinger and other police officials stressed the reassignments would not affect public safety. The former gang officers - along with their street smarts and gang expertise - would remain in the neighborhoods they had long served.

Good column: The Constitution Did Not Condone Slavery
Excerpt: The Rucker-Farenthold article was nowhere labeled analysis, but who expects anything but front-page editorials these days, anyway? They waded right in to a two-hundred twenty-two year old controversy when they flatly stated that the original Constitution "condoned" slavery. Abraham Lincoln did not agree. He revered the Constitution and said that the fact that it nowhere mentioned the words slavery, slave, African, or Negro was a silent but powerful admission that the Founders were ashamed of the existence of slavery among them. They hid it away, Lincoln said, as "an afflicted man hides a wen or tumor. Abolitionist editor and orator Frederick Douglass also did not agree. He emphasized eloquently that not one word would have to be changed in the Constitution if only the states would follow George Washington's example and voluntarily give up slavery…. Further, the Three-Fifths Compromise reduced the power in Congress of slaveholding states while giving an electoral bonus to any state that voluntarily emancipated its slaves. When seven of the original thirteen states abolished slavery, they were allowed to count free black people in the census for purposes of representation in Congress.

Climate change 'long drought’
Excerpt: The study of attitudes to climate change among farmers, commissioned by the Agriculture Department, found only 27 per cent of those surveyed believed human activity was causing climate change, compared with 58 per cent of urban dwellers. As well, primary producers are "very resistant to carbon trading". "It fills them with dread, and there were strong negative reactions towards it," the report says. Handed to the department late last year, the report warns that terminology that fails to take into account the attitude of primary producers towards human-induced climate change risks failure. The term "climate change" sets up negative reactions among primary producers for a number of reasons, from scepticism through to perceptions that they are being held solely responsible for causing climate change, it says. "Preferred terms such as 'climate challenges', 'prolonged drought' and 'risk management' are accepted, better understood and more likely to motivate change." (From down-under. Change the name and maybe no one will know it’s the same stuff. Really? A marketing study promoting climate change? To farmers? Even weathermen don’t pay as much attention to long-range weather reports as farmers. A farmer has to plan his crops, buy in the seeds and fertilizer, and schedule the labor as much as possible 4 to 6 months in advance. If he’s right, he makes a profit. If he’s wrong, he loses his farm. Regardless of the name, farmers will still recognize this for what it is: fertilizer, sourced from a bull. Ron P.)

Clarice's Pieces: Be Scientific (Skeptical) about Scientific Research
Excerpt: It was November 1959, and the first major food scare I can remember was set off by a report by the secretary of HEW, who, just before that Thanksgiving, warned that cranberries were "contaminated" with a weed-killer called aminotriazole. Without paying much attention to the fine print of the reports about the chemical, consumers shunned cranberries, which remained heaped up at supermarkets even with drastic price cuts. I had come home from college and was horrified to see my mother unloading the grocery bags, which contained several packages of cranberries. I asked if she was unaware of the report. She said she was not, but the cranberries had been grown in the very same way for years, they were healthful and inexpensive, and no one had died from eating them before or would from eating them then. (The article referred to within this piece, "Lies, Damned Lies. And Medical Science" in the Atlantic Monthly, was carried in TOJ on 11 Jan 2011 (yesterday) and on 27 Dec 2010. Ron P.)

Jab that will beat ALL strains of flu
Excerpt: The researchers from Chicago and Atlanta believe that swine flu holds the key to a super vaccine because those hit by it appear to be immune to other types of the virus. Their study, published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, looked at nine patients aged 21 to 45 who had swine flu last winter, some of them becoming seriously ill. The scientists removed genetic material from the patients and used it to create flu-fighting antibodies which were then injected into healthy mice. This was found to protect the mice when they were later injected with swine flu and two more deadly strains. Patrick Wilson, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, said: ‘The result is something like the Holy Grail for flu-vaccine research. (This is sounds encouraging, but mice aren’t human. Sometimes things work differently in humans, even from tests in monkeys and apes. Viruses have been around for at least hundreds of millions of years, and are incredibly adaptable. Even if the potential vaccine works as hoped, the war between humans and viruses will not end, it will merely change. And, like all “Holy Grails,” the payoff is just out of sight, a mere decade away; they are probably hoping to get government funding. Ron P.)

Gun Control's Twisted Outcome
This article is almost 9 years old, but it sure reveals a lot about what happens when the drive to "make people safe" goes all the way into nonsensical extremism. Maybe there's a lesson here somewhere? –Del. Excerpt: Restricting firearms has helped make England more crime-ridden than the U.S. On a June evening two years ago, Dan Rather made many stiff British upper lips quiver by reporting that England had a crime problem and that, apart from murder, "theirs is worse than ours." The response was swift and sharp. "Have a Nice Daydream," The Mirror, a London daily, shot back, reporting: "Britain reacted with fury and disbelief last night to claims by American newsmen that crime and violence are worse here than in the US." But sandwiched between the article's battery of official denials -- "totally misleading," "a huge over-simplification," "astounding and outrageous" -- and a compilation of lurid crimes from "the wild west culture on the other side of the Atlantic where every other car is carrying a gun," The Mirror conceded that the CBS anchorman was correct. Except for murder and rape, it admitted, "Britain has overtaken the US for all major crimes." In the two years since Dan Rather was so roundly rebuked, violence in England has gotten markedly worse. Over the course of a few days in the summer of 2001, gun-toting men burst into an English court and freed two defendants; a shooting outside a London nightclub left five women and three men wounded; and two men were machine-gunned to death in a residential neighborhood of north London. And on New Year's Day this year a 19-year-old girl walking on a main street in east London was shot in the head by a thief who wanted her mobile phone. London police are now looking to New York City police for advice. None of this was supposed to happen in the country whose stringent gun laws and 1997 ban on handguns have been hailed as the "gold standard" of gun control. For the better part of a century, British governments have pursued a strategy for domestic safety that a 1992 Economist article characterized as requiring "a restraint on personal liberty that seems, in most civilised countries, essential to the happiness of others," a policy the magazine found at odds with "America's Vigilante Values.”

Diminished Horizons for Young Readers
Excerpt: If you still have a bookstore in your neighborhood, stroll through the children’s section and look for fairy tales, Bible stories, Greek myths or comparable folk tales. Chances are that you’ll have a hard time finding any of these without getting a salesperson’s help because they’re no longer the books of choice for children.  I asked my 5 year old grandson what story he heard at story time in school. Though he didn’t remember the title of the book, he knew that it was about children moving to a new house. It might also have been about divorce, sibling rivalry, the death of a pet, a school bully or any of a dozen other topics that relegate the actual world of children into the realm that used to be primarily reserved for imaginative literature. It’s doubtful that children would forget such titles as Rumplestiltskin, Pinnochio, Aladdin, King Arthur, Prometheus or David and Goliath but when stories are about the quotidian activities of everyday life, they are less memorable because they are in fact less wonder-full. (I have wondered about this kind of thing myself. None of the high school kids I have met in my lectures ever heard of Aesop's Fables, which were told and retold in schools for thousands of years as part of education. It seems educational practices have changed in major ways in the last 30 years or so. I'm sure some of the changes are positive, but am also concerned that young kids aren't getting the benefit of some of the timeworn practices. And for sure I know that many young people demand learning to be entertaining, fun, pleasant, or they feel they can't learn whatever topic it is. What are the experiences of teachers like now? –Del)

The Turkish Role in Negotiations with Iran
Excerpt: The P5-1 talks with Iran will resume Jan. 21-22. For those not tuned into the obscure jargon of the diplomatic world, these are the talks between the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia), plus Germany — hence, P5-1. These six countries will be negotiating with one country, Iran. The meetings will take place in Istanbul under the aegis of yet another country, Turkey. Turkey has said it would only host this meeting, not mediate it. It will be difficult for Turkey to stay in this role. The Iranians have clearly learned from the North Koreans, who have turned their nuclear program into a framework for entangling five major powers (the United States, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea) into treating North Korea as their diplomatic equal. For North Korea, whose goal since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the absorption of China with international trade has come down to regime survival, being treated as a serious power has been a major diplomatic coup. The mere threat of nuclear weapons development has succeeded in doing that. When you step back and consider that North Korea’s economy is among the most destitute of Third World countries and its nuclear capability is far from proven, getting to be the one being persuaded to talk with five major powers (and frequently refusing and then being coaxed) has been quite an achievement.

Police, Islamists Put Up Obstacles to Worship in Indonesia
Excerpt: Government officials in West Java Province blocked one church from worshipping, and Islamic groups pressured authorities to seize the property of another during the Christmas season. The Bogor Regency Administrative Leadership Council tried unsuccessfully to forbid the Gereja Kristen Indonesia (Indonesian Christian Church, or GKI) in Bogor’s Taman Yasmin area from holding a Dec. 25 Christmas service, but authorities did block it from its regular Sunday service on De.26. In Rancaekek, Bandung, Islamic demonstrators on Dec. 19 got police to remove items from a Huria Kristan Batak Protestan (HKBP) church building that had already been sealed. In Bogor, GKI Yasmin spokesperson Bona Sigalingging said police telephoned church leaders to forbid Christmas services that were to begin at 7 p.m. on Dec. 25….. At 8 p.m., the Christmas prayer and reflection service began, with demonstrators screaming, “Allahu akbar [God is greater]!” and “Break it up!” They also yelled, “Arrest the provocateurs,” Sigalinging said. Though upset, the congregation continued to worship, he said. As they sang “Silent Night” and lit candles, the demonstrators shouted all the louder, moving toward the worshippers. They came within three meters of the worshippers before police were finally able to restrain them. The congregation continued in solemn prayer and song, with the mob yelling until the service finished at 9 p.m.

Sudanese president: "Sharia law has always stipulated that one must whip, cut, or kill"
Excerpt: He said it. Is Omar al-Bashir some kind of Islamophobe? No, he is looking forward to using the outcome of southern Sudan's independence referendum to ramp up Sharia law within the remainder of the country. Religious minorities in the north are rightfully afraid (along with all minorities who will be further marginalized under Bashir's intended campaign of cultural Arabization), given the subjugated status Islamic law prescribes for them (Qur'an 9:29). The entire population can look forward to more punishments like the flogging of a terrified woman by laughing police, which Bashir has emphatically defended. When one looks at the contents of Sharia law and the Qur'anic verses and ahadith that underly it, it is easy to confirm that Bashir is not just a thug abusing the law; rather, it is Sharia that validates and guides his thuggery.

Schadenfreude In Taliban Country
Excerpt: While the Islamic terrorist groups in Pakistan's tribal territories are not happy with the six year CIA decapitation (kill the leaders) campaign, many of the local tribesmen are. Attacked by Predator and Reaper UAVs, armed with missiles, the terrorists (al Qaeda, Taliban and the Haqqani Network) have lost about 40 senior leaders in the last six years, most of them in the last three years. These losses are not only bad for morale at the top, but are seriously disrupting terrorist activities. The locals love this, because the Islamic radicals have been nothing but trouble. For one thing, the radicals come across as a bunch of self-righteous bullies, and use their weapons to intimidate, or kill, anyone who crosses them. This includes coercing families to provide daughters to be wives of bachelor terrorists. Then there is the terrorist tactic of using civilians as human shields for protection from the missile attacks. Here's where the CIA won hearts and minds, by scrupulously avoiding casualties among the innocent tribesmen. Moreover, the tribes eventually drew the line on human shields, bringing out their own guns and forcing the Islamic radicals to back off on hostages. The locals also abandoned their compounds when the terrorists came by to spend the night. If the CIA hit the compound (after noting how the owners fled), the tribesmen blamed the Islamic radicals, not the CIA, for the damage. The Islamic radicals know that the tribesmen have been cheering, not so much for the CIA, as against the radicals, but don't make an issue of it. On the surface, everyone is a good Moslem. But the local Moslems make no secret of wishing that the super-Moslems would go somewhere else. The terrorist losses have been severe, and include heads of operations, finance and intelligence. Many of the mid-level commanders were bomb making, and terror attack experts. ((Hmm.... this is good news. If we have actually been doing something right and NOT bending all the locals out of shape while doing it, that would almost seem like a first in this Afghan/Pakistani thing. –Del)

Obama—Making it up as we go along.
Excerpt: Gone is Bush the great Constitution-shredder. Tribunals, renditions, Predators, wiretaps, Iraq, Guantanamo, preventative detention—these are now either embraced or expanded. Iraq (“the surge is not working”) is Obama’s “greatest achievement.” The public I think believes Obama demagogued all those protocols for political advantage, then as commander-in-chief looked at the intelligence, and quietly adopted them all. OK, politicians do that. But how can one “virtually” oppose all that he embraces? Does he just make things up as he goes along, assuming we all have collective amnesia? The same thing has happened to Keynesian economics that gave us near 10% unemployment and $3 trillion more in debt, taking a bottoming-out recession and turning it into near European-like stasis. Suddenly, the Bush tax rates are critical.

Jeb Bush for President in 2016!
Excerpt: Palin versus Bachmann would be a lot of fun to watch. The media would have to be sedated. And the Tea Party would be torn. But give the ladies credit. They are politically astute enough to know they share the same base and can’t both run. The question is, who blinks? On the other hand, 2012 may not be the bonanza Republicans anticipate. At this point the GOP field has no clear leader. If the economy shows any signs of life in the next year and half, and President Obama’s favorable ratings bounce and hold over 50, it may not matter. With all the advantages of incumbency, it’s likely Obama will be re-elected. So, on to 2016, when the presidential contest will be wide open. And this time there will be a clear favorite: Jeb Bush. (The howling starts here.) Despite the obvious legacy issues—his last name is a four-letter word to some—the Bush brother who actually grew up wanting to be president is a true policy wonk with proven executive, crisis management, and leadership abilities, and the former Florida governor’s favorability is still high. “He’s a serious conservative, with a seriously positive case for what he wants to do for America. He’s not just a ‘Party of No’ guy,” says best-selling author John Heilemann. And Jeb cracked the door open the other day.

1 comment:

  1. I know you don't write the articles you list, but let me respond to the one about the cause of the Civil War.

    Over and over and over -- did I mention over -- the South itself shouted from the rooftops what the war was about AT THE TIME. In their official documents, in the speeches, in their books, in their newspapers, emphatically, proudly, and loudly.

    It was about the SPREAD of slavery. Not the protection of slavery, but the SPREAD of slavery as God's word, as the "revealed will of Almighty God".

    See the Southern leaders own Ultimatums, just before the War -- all Five Ultimatums were about the same thing: the SPREAD of slavery. Not the protection of slavery, not the tariffs, not anything BUT the spread of slavery. Not one word about any issue but the SPREAD of slavery.

    Not ONE WORD.

    Southern leaders issued their Ultimatums, and Southern newspapers shouted them proudly, with headlines like "THE TRUE ISSUE!" in Richmond, March 23, 1861.

    The TRUE ISSUE -- five specific demands, all about the spread of slavery.

    So Southern leaders issued the ultimatums, Southern newspapers announced them with great bravado. When have you seen those Ultimatums even mentioned?

    Importantly, the Utlimatums are violent attacks on state's rights. No state can have the right to pass their own laws regarding blacks. No state can decide ANYTHING about blacks or slavery. Only the Southern slave owners can decide what Maine, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri -- any state -- can do or say about blacks.

    In fact, Kansas had just voted 98% to 2 % to keep slavery out FOREVER. Think of that! But the FIRST Ultimatum by the South is that KANSAS must accept and RESPECT slavery.

    No sane person who reads the Southern Ultimatums can ever again pretend the South gave a rats hiney about state's rights. The South hated state's rights as much as they hated free speech, and they outlawed free speech from the 1820's on.

    We have whitewashed the horrible truths about the Civil War to an absurd degree. It's time to show what the SOUTH said AT THE TIME. Not the cover up and sanitized window dressing we have had for 150 years.