Friday, January 21, 2011

Political Digest for January 21, 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.

Important: States of Insolvency
Excerpt: Paced by California and Illinois, state governments across the country continue to mimic the unsustainable fiscal excesses of the federal government – creating crushing deficits and soaring unfunded liabilities. Moreover, any state attempting to plug these holes with tax hikes or other revenue enhancements could create an exodus of businesses and taxpayers – meaning fewer jobs, lost revenue streams and diminished political clout. It’s a delicate if not impossible calculus for states with large shortfalls – and a cautionary tale for states facing smaller deficits. With the exception of Vermont, every state in America is required to submit a balanced budget. Many have refused to do so, however – resulting in mountains of unpaid bills, rising tides of red ink and widening chasms of never-to-be-kept promises. During the 2010 fiscal year, states reported a record $191 billion in deficit spending. Another $300 billion in red ink is projected over the coming two years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Not only that, a July 2010 report published by the National Center for Policy Analysis estimated that state pension plans are underfunded by a combined $3 trillion – more than three times the amount that states are reporting.

DeMint: There Will Be No Bail-out For The States
Excerpt: Senator DeMint did not exactly say, “We’re going to let the municipal-bond market collapse,” but it sure sounded a lot like that. Republicans have a three-part plan for the states’ fiscal crises: First, create a legal process to allow states to renegotiate debts and union contracts in something akin to bankruptcy. Second, forbid a congressional bailout of the states. Third, forbid the Fed to buy states’ debt as part of a freelance Ben Bernanke bailout. In other words, prepare a site for crash-landing state finances and then forcibly guide them to it. That third part is interesting, no? Republicans are looking askew [askance?] at the Fed’s new career as at-large bailout-maker.

Hate Speech

House votes to repeal health-care law
Repeal might delay the collapse a bit, but won’t happen. ~Bob. Excerpt: The House on Wednesday evening passed a bill that would repeal the national health care overhaul, approving the measure on a largely party-line vote. The repeal bill passed 245 to 189, with three Democrats - Reps. Mike Ross (Ark.), Dan Boren (Ind.) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.) - joining Republicans in backing the measure. The three were among the four Democrats who voted earlier this month to advance the measure. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who remains in serious condition following this month's mass shooting in Tucson, was the only lawmaker not voting.

Dependance Day: On the Erosion of Personal Liberty
Excerpt: In the days when I used to write for Fleet Street, a lot of readers and several of my editors accused me of being anti-British. I’m not. I’m extremely pro-British and, for that very reason, the present state of the United Kingdom is bound to cause distress. So, before I get to the bad stuff, let me just lay out the good. Insofar as the world functions at all, it’s due to the Britannic inheritance. Three-sevenths of the G7 economies are nations of British descent. Two-fifths of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are—and, by the way, it should be three-fifths: The rap against the Security Council is that it’s the Second World War victory parade preserved in aspic, but, if it were, Canada would have a greater claim to be there than either France or China. The reason Canada isn’t is because a third Anglosphere nation and a second realm of King George VI would have made too obvious a truth usually left unstated—that the Anglosphere was the all but lone defender of civilization and of liberty. In broader geopolitical terms, the key regional powers in almost every corner of the globe are British-derived—from Australia to South Africa to India—and, even among the lesser players, as a general rule you’re better off for having been exposed to British rule than not: Why is Haiti Haiti and Barbados Barbados?

The tax beast: Contrasts in black and red
Excerpt: The contrast between what Illinois Democrats did last week and what Republicans have done in Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia and New Jersey could not be clearer. In Illinois, Democratic legislators and a Democratic governor pushed through a massive 67 percent personal income tax hike (and a 46 percent boost in corporate taxes), claiming an accompanying "cap" would limit new spending. Sure. Illinois is caught in a trap of its own making, agreeing with unions (the Democrat base) to pay to public employees exorbitant amounts of retirement and health benefits the state cannot afford. Governors in nearby states are inviting Illinois residents and businesses to move from Illinois. California is a failing state, having overpromised public-sector workers at the expense of the private sector. And it's not alone. According to Bloomberg, "More than 80 percent of the nation's 27 million state and local government workers and retirees are covered by public pensions. Yet the median state plan had enough money to pay just 76 percent of its obligations as of Aug. 20, 2010." Data compiled by the University of Rochester and Northwestern University found that "six cities — Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Fla., Philadelphia and St. Paul, Minn. — will run out of pension money by 2020." States that have had enough of this have Republican governors who are committed to reducing spending and taxes.

The art of the political takedown
Excerpt: Today's Portland Oregonian newspaper features a brutal accounting of the odd antics of Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.), who "has lost at least six staffers," along with nearly his entire political team, amid complaints about his odd behavior. (Among other things, Wu lied to TSA agents in order to greet voters at the airport.) That got us thinking -- what other newspaper/magazine articles or television pieces have so thoroughly hammered a politician? Here are some of our favorite journalistic takedowns. What did we miss? Put it in the comments section and we'll compile a Fix Top Political Takedowns list.

Khalid Sheik Mohammed killed U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl, report finds
Where do we try him for this? Pakistan, where adoring crowds cheered the bodyguard who murdered a governor, because the governor was for repealing the death penalty for blasphemy? Watch for the Obama administration to punish KSM severely—probably no Jersey Shore for three whole weeks! Of course, if he’d murdered a Muslim-American instead of a Jew, it would be different. ~Bob. Excerpt: A recently completed investigation of the killing of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan nine years ago makes public new evidence that a senior al-Qaeda operative executed the Wall Street Journal reporter. Sheik Mohammed -- the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, who is being held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- said at a military hearing in 2007 that he killed Pearl. But there have been lingering doubts about his involvement, and the United States has not charged him with the crime.

Excerpt: Preparations for the tribunal trials — including the circulation of new draft regulations for conducting them — were described by several administration officials familiar with the discussions. A spokeswoman for the military commissions system declined to comment. With the political winds now against more civilian prosecutions of Guantánamo detainees, the plans to press forward with additional commission trials may foreshadow the fates of many of the more than 30 remaining detainees who have been designated for eventual prosecution: trials in Cuba for war crimes before a panel of military officers. The administration is also preparing an executive order to create a parole board-like system for periodically reviewing the cases of the nearly 50 detainees who would be held without trial. (Anyone paroled from Gitmo should be sent to halfway houses located next door to Obama, Holder, Reid, Pelosi, Janet N. etc. ~Bob.)

Candidates from both sides of aisle mull run for Lieberman seat
GOP only wins this seat if the Demo-corrupts self destruct or Obama does. ~Bob. Excerpt: Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-Conn.) retirement announcement is partially a relief for Democrats eager to move past the man who has been a perennial irritant for the party of late. And, given Connecticut’s blue tinge, plus the fact President Obama will be on top of the ticket next year, Democrats are hopeful Lieberman’s decision paves the way for a more reliable Democrat to capture the seat in 2012. Political insiders in Connecticut, however, predict there will be spirited primaries on both sides of the aisle next year.

Liberate to Stimulate
But this flies in the face of the liberal chimera that right-thinking elites can run every aspect of your life—for your benefit—better than you can. Which is why they blame real or imagined “deregulation” for all ills except Sarah Palin. As Hayek points out in The Road to Serfdom, Nazis or Commissars, this always leads to coercion, as people want to do their own decision making for their lives, and have to be forced—eventually at gun point by the minions of the elites in power. ~Bob. Excerpt: Taxes and spending receive plenty of public scrutiny, which makes regulation an increasingly attractive option for those who favor greater political intervention in the economy. Our goal is to ensure that regulations are subject to the same degree of oversight as taxes, spending, and legislation in general. The Tea Party movement's success in the recent elections suggests that awareness of these burdens is growing. Thus, we are more hopeful that economic liberty and regulatory reform will make some significant headway in 2011. To further that goal, CEI is unveiling a Liberate to Stimulate deregulatory agenda.

Why the Bush tax cuts overpromised and underdelivered
Excerpt: For many of the people whom President Obama calls "rich," the Bush tax cuts didn't make much difference. That's largely because of the Alternative Minimum Tax. Now that the Bush tax cuts have been extended for two more years, let me share a dirty little secret with you. It's this. For many of the people whom President Obama calls "rich," including me, the Bush tax cuts didn't make much difference. That's because of the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was created 40 years ago to foil rich tax dodgers but now doesn't affect people with income in the high six digits and above. Instead, the AMT has become the bane of the middle- and upper-middle classes, especially those of us who live in high-cost, high-tax areas. Washington won't fix or eliminate the AMT because the government would have to raise tax rates or pare back deductions to fill the ensuing revenue gap. To Obama, all families with at least $250,000 of annual income and single taxpayers with $200,000 are "rich." But to the AMT, many of them are prey. This parallel tax, which allows fewer deductions than the regular tax, ensnares millions of taxpayers with incomes of $75,000 through $600,000. There's no cost-of-living adjustment for this tax or Obama's definition of rich. For example, according to CNNMoney's cost-of-living calculator, making $250,000 in New York City's Manhattan (that's "rich") is like making $110,000 in Manhattan, Kans. (not rich).

Hospitals lure doctors away from private practice
Excerpt: While making the case for his health reform package, President Obama argued that his proposal would make life easier for small-business owners. Unfortunately, Obamacare threatens to undermine a group of small-business owners that is perhaps more important than any other to his reform effort — doctors in private practice. The number of privately owned medical practices has declined sharply in the past five years. In 2005, at least two-thirds of practices were in private hands. That figure has dropped to less than half today — and is expected to sink below 40 percent by next year. Many doctors, specifically those who have just completed a resident specialty, are now choosing not to enter private practice in the first place. Instead, they're heading to salaried positions at large hospitals. Last year, 49 percent of first-year specialists chose hospital employment. Obamacare will only exacerbate these trends. Some of the law's dictates will make it more expensive to operate small practices — even though the rules are supposed to reduce medical costs.

Government’s Obesity Crisis
Excerpt: The question that will haunt America for the next several months is whether the new 112th Congress has the will to trim back the unsustainable excesses to which Washington has become accustomed or will fall back into old, unhealthy habits. Every representative must wage battle between personal desires and the will to make responsible decisions. But the road to discipline is fraught with temptation. The first test will be raising the statutory limit on the amount of money the government can borrow. Even before the new Congress was sworn in, Austan Goolsbee, chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, was warning that failing to raise the debt limit—now $14.3 trillion, or more than 95 percent of last year’s Gross Domestic Product—would be “catastrophic” and pure “insanity.” Goolsbee’s cries to loosen the belt on the already obese federal budget sounded much like the excuses overeaters use to avoid changing their habits. “Just a few more cookies. . . . I’ll work myself into those skinny jeans tomorrow.” Goolsbee certainly is not the first to want to delay self-denial. Since World War I, when the Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917 placed a statutory limit on government borrowing, Congress has increased the debt ceiling more than 70 times. But each increase, like those additional cookies, has made it more difficult to stop and has helped hide the fact that we face ruin if the overindulgence continues.

U.S. Border Patrol Agents Ordered to Pick Up Trash Instead of Protecting Our Border
Hard to believe, but who knows what to believe today. ~Bob. Excerpt: 01-17-11 Teams of uniformed Border Patrol agents from the Casa Grande station are being ordered to spend their duty shifts cleaning up trash on the Tohono O'Odham Indian reservation instead of performing the police work they were hired for. This is outrageous. Border Patrol agents are not dumping trash on the reservation, nor are we responsible for cleaning up the mess. Illegal aliens, smugglers, and reservation members are dumping trash on the reservation. For example, there are thousands upon thousands of empty quart beer bottles strewn about the reservation, dumped there by tribal members. Many tribal residents dump household trash wherever it's convenient. And as we all know, illegal aliens and smugglers could care less about littering in this country. Littering by tribal members and illegal aliens on the reservation has been going on for decades. Some Border Patrol and DHS managers have been going out of their way to appease tribal leaders for years, but this is ridiculous. Agents assigned to these trash pick-up duties report tribal members snickering at them and belittling them. We are used to that type of treatment for enforcing the law, but being forced to pick up their trash, especially while on duty and in uniform is shameful, and it needs to stop. 01-18-11 update: Our newest information indicates that agents showed up for muster at Casa Grande station and were ordered to report to the Tohono O'odham district office at Federal Route 19 and
Baboquivari Park Road
. They were issued sticks with nails in them and told to pick up trash along the roadsides. This was presumably in preparation for a meeting with tribal leaders at the District office so that certain BP managers could ingratiate themselves to the tribal leaders. We are disgusted by these actions.

The Truth Wears Off
This excellent article was originally written to describe “declining results” in scientific studies and offer a possible explanation or two. Especially notice it is applicable to virtually all scientific disciplines. What it should do is make everyone far more skeptical of studies that rely on statistics. As Nobel-laureate Richard Feynman said: “Statistics are not proof.” Ron P. Excerpt: The test of replicability, as it’s known, is the foundation of modern research. Replicability is how the community enforces itself. It’s a safeguard for the creep of subjectivity. Most of the time, scientists know what results they want, and that can influence the results they get. The premise of replicability is that the scientific community can correct for these flaws. But now all sorts of well-established, multiply confirmed findings have started to look increasingly uncertain. It’s as if our facts were losing their truth: claims that have been enshrined in textbooks are suddenly unprovable. This phenomenon doesn’t yet have an official name, but it’s occurring across a wide range of fields, from psychology to ecology. In the field of medicine, the phenomenon seems extremely widespread, affecting not only antipsychotics but also therapies ranging from cardiac stents to Vitamin E and antidepressants: Davis has a forthcoming analysis demonstrating that the efficacy of antidepressants has gone down as much as threefold in recent decades. For many scientists, the effect is especially troubling because of what it exposes about the scientific process. If replication is what separates the rigor of science from the squishiness of pseudoscience, where do we put all these rigorously validated findings that can no longer be proved? Which results should we believe? Francis Bacon, the early-modern philosopher and pioneer of the scientific method, once declared that experiments were essential, because they allowed us to “put nature to the question.” But it appears that nature often gives us different answers. (…) Leigh Simmons, a biologist at the University of Western Australia, suggested one explanation when he told me about his initial enthusiasm for the theory…. He decided to conduct a few experiments of his own, investigating symmetry in male horned beetles. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the effect,” he said. “But the worst part was that when I submitted these null results I had difficulty getting them published. The journals only wanted confirming data. It was too exciting an idea to disprove, at least back then.” For Simmons, the steep rise and slow fall of fluctuating asymmetry is a clear example of a scientific paradigm, one of those intellectual fads that both guide and constrain research: after a new paradigm is proposed, the peer-review process is tilted toward positive results. But then, after a few years, the academic incentives shift—the paradigm has become entrenched—so that the most notable results are now those that disprove the theory. (Well, 43.78% of statistics are made up—including this one. ~Bob.)

Good News: Study Confirms That College Is Pretty Much A Total Waste Of Time
Excerpt: Despite learning a little bit of jack and a whole lot of squat, students in the survey nonetheless managed a 3.2 GPA on average according to the study’s author, which tells you most of what you need to know about grade inflation and the rigors of modern higher learning. (I knew this when my 36-year-old step-daughter, who has never held a full time job or I believe read a book cover to cover—really—got a 4.0, albeit not carrying a full load. ~Bob.)

Report Card on Obama's First Two Years
Excerpt: Two years ago today, Barack Obama was inaugurated as president of the United States. Are you better off today than you were two years ago? Numbers don't lie, and here are the data on the impact he has had on the lives of Americans: (Interesting data. The only hard thing is for the media to figure out if this is all George Bush’s or Sarah Palin’s fault. ~Bob.)

Assessing the 2012 Senate Battlefield
Maybe we should let them eliminate the filibuster rule. Then elect a GOP Senate and President in 2012 and dismantle the welfare state. ~Bob. Excerpt: With the seriatim retirement announcements of Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Democratic Senator Kent Conrad, and independent Senator Joe Lieberman (who caucuses with the Democrats), the 2012 campaign for Senate has officially kicked off. While the 2010 races were, until fairly late in the game, only about breaking the Democrats' filibuster-proof majority, 2012 will feature a full-on battle for control of the upper chamber. While it is still too early to make any real predictions, we can break these seats down into categories of competitiveness. Democrats clearly start out with more vulnerabilities than Republicans, largely as because (a) Democrats have to defend 23 seats to the Republicans' 10 and (b) of those seats, the median Democratic seat has a PVI of D+2, while the median Republican seat has a PVI of R+8.

Judge OKs 'flag of Islam on American soil': Decision approves government funding for Shariah indoctrination
Excerpt: Attorneys for a Marine Corps veteran of the Iraqi War say they have filed a petition to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a federal district judge ruled it is fine for the U.S. government to fund commercial enterprises that promote the indoctrination of Shariah religious law inside the United States. The decision came from Judge Lawrence Zatkoff, who changed his perspective on the issue and said just last week that he would dismiss a constitutional challenge brought by Kevin Murray against the U.S. government's bailout of AIG, the insurance giant. That company used more than "$100 million in federal tax money to support Islamic religious indoctrination through the funding and promotion of Shariah-compliant financing. … SCF is financing that follows the dictates of Islamic law," said officials at the Thomas More Law Center. (People don't understand that allowing banking practices that meet with the dictates of Sharia Law is the nose of the camel coming into the tent. The West needs to vigorously oppose and forbid all public uses of Sharia Law concepts and rules. To do otherwise is to start sliding down that slippery slope that ends in a place we really don't ever want to find ourselves in. --Del)

Hariri Indictment Spikes Lebanese Tensions
Excerpt: The United Nations' Special Tribunal for Lebanon handed over its first sealed indictment to The Hague Monday. Although its contents remain sealed, the Jerusalem Post reports that Hizballah's reaction indicates that it and its Iranian sponsors may be held responsible for the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Hizballah is treating the indictment as a political act by America and Israel, and is threatening to throw the small but diverse Middle Eastern nation back into civil war. (See, it’s un-Islamic to say they can’t assassinate people they disagree with. What, you thought it was a Religion of Peace? What idiot told you that? ~Bob.)

More Than 120 Busted In Northeast Mafia Crackdown
Excerpt: More than 120 organized crime associates face charges including murder, extortion and narcotics trafficking in one of the largest Mafia crackdowns in FBI history, prosecutors announced Thursday. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference Thursday in New York City that the 127 defendants include high-ranking members of the Gambino and Colombo crime families and the reputed former boss of organized crime in New England. All five of New York’s five major crime families were targeted. The charges cover decades worth of offenses, he said, including “classic mob hits to eliminate perceived rivals,” a killing during a botched robbery and a double shooting in a barroom dispute over a spilled drink. (Interesting. In New York they call them suspected mobsters. In Chicago they call them Rahm Emanuel’s campaign staff. –Rinohunter. Huh, if you think Rahm is the worst candidate, you haven’t been paying attention to the consensus black candidate, Carol Mosley Braun. ~Bob.)

And Counting: 27 of 50 States Now Challenging Constitutionality of Obamacare in Court
Excerpt: More than half of the states—27 out of 50—are now challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare in federal court. Six additional states--Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Ohio, Wisconsin and Wyoming--petitioned in federal court on Tuesday to join Florida’s law suit challenging the constitutionality of the health care law President Barack Obama signed last March. Nineteen states had previously joined with Florida in this suit, making the total number of states that are now a party to the suit 26. (Elections DO have consequences it seems. Ron P.)

Survey: US Doctors Fear Healthcare Reform
Excerpt: Nearly two-thirds of U.S. doctors surveyed fear healthcare reform could worsen care for patients, by flooding their offices and hurting income, according to a Thomson Reuters survey released Tuesday. The survey of more than 2,900 doctors found many predict the legislation will force them to work harder for less money. "When asked about the quality of healthcare in the U.S. over the next five years, 65 percent of the doctors believed it would deteriorate with only 18 percent predicting it would improve," Thomson Reuters, parent company of Reuters, said in a statement.

Barack’s Five Lies About ObamaCare
Excerpt: Republicans should build their case on five straight forward points: The government takeover of healthcare explodes the deficit even further, delivers skyrocketing premiums, increases overall healthcare costs, suffocates job growth and micromanages the entire healthcare market because… well, because you must bow before the government and ask no questions, peasant.

Pro-union Harper's Publisher Changes Tune as His Employees Unionize
Excerpt: If liberalism is more "academic" than conservatism, it's because it looks a lot better in a classroom (or a newsroom) than it does in real life. Just ask Harper's Magazine publisher John "Rick" MacArthur. In a recent article, New York magazine detailed an ongoing fight at Harper's between MacArthur and his recently-unionized staff. MacArthur fought hard against unionization, and is now trying to lay off a veteran at the magazine who, according to NY mag, "played a key role in the union drive." The newly-formed union says the effort "is pure retaliation." The irony of the situation has the righty blogosphere giggling: despite his vehement efforts to prevent unionization, MacArthur and his magazine have a history of supporting the labor movement. (Probably be a good thing if all the Left-Stream Media unionized. Hasten their failure. ~Bob.)

What Green MP Caroline Lucas Should Know About Liberal Fascism
Excerpt: Perhaps it’s time Lucas read Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, which anatomises this mindset just perfectly. Crisis is routinely identified as a core mechanism of fascism because it short-circuits debate and democratic deliberation. Hence all fascist movements commit considerable energy to prolonging a heightened state of emergency. Fascism, Goldberg explains, is not a movement of the political right but of the political left. It is a “religion of the State”. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified [in order to] achieve the common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure.

Black Man's Burden: Those Who Make Them Victims
Excerpt: There are certain things every young black person "needs to be prepared to handle." And one of them is this: learning to reject newspaper articles, relatives, friends, teachers and the media that are determined to convince them that they remain forever victims. Now, more than ever, hard work, drive and focus win the race.

America's China Syndrome
Excerpt: When we were supposedly cock of the walk, under Democratic and Republican presidents alike, anti-Americanism flourished. The United Nations refused to authorize the use of force to stop ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. Sure, we didn't take no for an answer, but we didn't go it alone. We joined with our NATO allies to put an end to the bloodshed. During the Persian Gulf War, America had that "grand coalition" that Sen. John Kerry talked about. During the second Iraq war, the "coalition of the willing" was smaller, but we were hardly flying solo. U.S. leaders decried unilateralism, an odd sentiment for the undisputed global hegemon. Another reigning cliche is that the sun is setting on us as it did on the British Empire. But what does that mean? China isn't remotely powerful, influential or rich enough to play the leading role of America, and we aren't nearly so weak, ignorable or poor to deserve the supporting gig as 1950s Britain. Besides, although China clearly wants its moment in the sun, it doesn't seem particularly eager or able to lead.

How to Combat an Arrogant China?
Excerpt: Is there a new Cold War developing between China and the United States? That's a question hovering over President Hu Jintao and his entourage as they come to Washington to discuss military, trade and financial flash points with the Obama administration. Hu told The Wall Street Journal that "we should abandon the zero-sum Cold War mentality." But is he to be believed? Everyone agrees that this is a new, muscular and more aggressive China. The more the Chinese strengthen economically, the more rambunctious they become with their foreign policy. Americans are increasingly irritated by this arrogance. Just last week -- and just as the Pentagon plans to cut back on the modernized F-22 stealth fighter -- China insulted Defense Secretary Robert Gates by test-flying its own J-20 stealth bomber during his visit. Adm. Mike Mullen, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wondered out loud why China is boosting its high-tech weaponry. He said, "Many of these capabilities seem to be focused very specifically on the United States."

U.S. and China to Sign Nuclear Security Deal
Excerpt: President Obama plans to announce a deal to step up cooperation with China on nuclear security, senior administration officials confirmed to Fox News on Wednesday. The agreement to be signed by U.S. and Chinese energy officials during the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao would establish a jointly financed nuclear security center in China. The senior administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record before Obama’s announcement, said the agreement is an opening to expand security cooperation with China. (Obama is taking away all our defenses...we the people have helped all the other nations much to our own detriment.  This man in our White House has no loyalties and no shame. He needs to be removed or made to resign. –DH)

Beijing's still not ready to lead
Excerpt: Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit this week has rekindled the familiar debate over American "decline." Our sole-superpower moment is over, we're told, and the 21st century will prove so much tougher than the 20th. What's all the fuss about? One source of confusion may be this whole sole-superpower business. It's true that from the early 1990s until around now, America has been essentially alone at the top of the world heap. But that hasn't meant as much as some claim. During this Pax Americana, a nasty war broke out in Europe, genocide materialized in Africa, and America was harassed and wounded by stateless Islamic terrorism. We also fought a war in Iraq; now, we're in another costly war. Meanwhile, our trade deficit only worsens, and our industrial base has been outsourced to Mexico, Vietnam and, of course, China. Next, we're told, one consequence of the new multipolar world will be that we won't be able to do things unilaterally anymore. Anymore?

Chinese Espionage and French Trade Secrets
Excerpt: Paris prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin on Jan. 14 began an inquiry into allegations of commercial espionage carried out against French carmaker Renault. The allegations first became public when Renault suspended three of its employees on Jan. 3 after an internal investigation that began in August 2010. Within days, citing an anonymous French government source, Reuters reported that French intelligence services were looking into the possibility that China played a role in the Renault espionage case. While the French government refused to officially confirm this accusation, speculation has run wild that Chinese state-sponsored spies were stealing electric-vehicle technology from Renault. The Chinese are well-known perpetrators of industrial espionage and have been caught before in France, but the details that have emerged so far about the Renault operation differ from the usual Chinese method of operation. And much has been learned about this MO just in the last two years across the Atlantic, where the United States has been increasingly aggressive in investigating and prosecuting cases of Chinese espionage. If Chinese intelligence services were indeed responsible for espionage at Renault it would be one of only a few known cases involving non-Chinese nationals and would have involved the largest amount of money since the case of the legendary Larry Wu-Tai Chin, China’s most successful spy.

Congress Should Have Addressed Medicare
Excerpt: That would be great, but there remains a looming disaster that should have been addressed by the president and congressional Democrats if they truly cared about the real crisis in health care in America. Now, with their backs against the wall, they are playing catch-up. But they have created much damage in the meantime and still have not solved the problem. That problem is Medicare and its reimbursements to doctors. All of last year, physicians were fearful that a 25 percent reduction in the Medicare reimbursement they receive would go into effect in 2010 as scheduled. The reduction is part of a formula created in the 1990s, when the economy was much stronger. Other reforms were contemplated at the time, and the nation was nearing the passage of balanced budgets.

Ronald Reagan - Our First Black President?
Excerpt: In a White House Rose Garden ceremony in 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill honoring Dr. King with a federal holiday on the third Monday of January every year. On Dr. King's birthday that year, my father [Ronald Reagan] said, "Abraham Lincoln freed the black man. In many ways, Dr. King freed the white man. . . . Where others -- white and black -- preached hatred, he taught the principles of love and nonviolence." On this anniversary of Dr. King's birthday, less than a month before the hundredth birthday of Ronald Reagan, it's fitting to note that Ronald Reagan did more to improve the lives of African-Americans than any other president since Abraham Lincoln. Unfortunately, we have to acknowledge that America's first black president has made life worse for us all -- and especially for black Americans.

The GOP's Health-Care Offensive Has Just Begun
Excerpt: The longer this issue is around, the worse it's likely to be for Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid described this week's House vote to repeal and replace ObamaCare as "partisan grandstanding." Other Democratic congressmen called it "a political scam," "unfortunate" and "fruitless." Liberal pundits described it as "useless" and "meaningless." All of which confirms that the GOP is on the right path. Republicans said during the election campaign that they would take this vote. Seasoned Democratic observers like pollster Pat Caddell believe that opposition to ObamaCare helped drive turnout and draw independents into the Republican column. The GOP would have deeply damaged its credibility if it failed to follow through on its pledge.

Excerpt: this is three and three-quarter minutes’ worth of Rep. Ryan ripping apart last year’s useless CBO report on Obamacare costs, with some additional commentary added in on how you can reconcile said CBO report claiming that Obamacare will reduce the deficit while the CBO is saying elsewhere that Obamacare will increase the debt. Short version: when looking at the deficit the CBO was forced by the then-majority party to make assumptions that they couldn’t make while looking at the debt. Shorter version: Democratic politicians lie.

BLACKBURN: Learning to defend technological freedom
Excerpt: Just before Christmas, after Congress had extended tax rates and the halls of the congressional office buildings had emptied, after Air Force One was wheels-up for Hawaii, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did a remarkable thing. Four days before Christmas, it regulated the Internet. Perhaps FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski thought no one would care - after all, relatively few members of Congress had educated themselves on the issue and raised objections. He could argue that the regulations themselves were innocuous. They are a compromise, the FCC could claim, between the telecommunications industry and federal bureaucrats. They were not nearly as onerous as they could have been. And so, with a 3-2 vote by the short-sighted majority of commissioners, the federal government staked its regulatory claim to the freest and most productive sector of the American economy. In recent decades, America's industrial edge has been dulled by a cocktail of anti-competitive taxes, high labor costs and endless regulation. Conservatives must not let the same thing stifle the new creative economy.

Massive Propane Recall: Feds Warn of Explosion Danger
Excerpt: The fuel was sold to consumers under a variety of brands in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia. If your most recent purchase of propane occurred between Feb. 25 and Sept. 30, you are urged to contact Aux Sable at (866) 473-7612 or visit the recall site to see if you're affected and eligible for a free inspection. Liquid propane, or LP, is typically injected with a foul smelling ingredient that often resembles rotten eggs. Propane, housed in outdoor tanks, is a common form of heating and appliance fuel, particularly in rural areas. It is most commonly used in gas grills. (Got a gas grill? You may have a problem. Sent BCC to everyone who might be affected. Ron P. )

Opinion: Gun Control Emotions vs. Gun Control Facts
Excerpt: Indeed, the evidence shows that the only people inconvenienced by the Brady Act background checks for gun purchases -- which have been in place since 1994 -- are law-abiding citizens. In fact, over 99.9 percent of those purchases initially flagged as being illegal under the law were later determined to be misidentified. Take the numbers for 2008, the latest year for which data are available. The 78,906 initial denials resulted in only 147 cases involving banned individuals trying to purchase guns. Of those 147 cases, prosecutors thought the evidence was strong enough to proceed on only 105, and they won convictions in just 43. But few of these 43 cases stopped career criminals or those who posed real threats. The typical case was someone who had misdemeanor convictions for an offense he didn't realize prevented him from buying a gun.

Anchor babies cost Los Angeles welfare $600 million last year
Excerpt: California harbors the most illegal aliens in the nation and a new report out from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors shows the incredibly high cost of welfare for parents of anchor babies. The $600 million tab was tallied using county statistics released by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich who says social spending for those families rose $53 million in November and when added to the $570 already spent would edge the yearly welfare bill past $600 million for 2010. Antonovich estimated the figure using the cost of food stamps and other welfare benefits used by California’s CalWORKS program. The supervisor also pooled those numbers with public safety and health care costs. However, county officials say the "total cost for illegal immigrants to county taxpayers is $1.6 billion,” according to a Fox News report. 

Canadian accused of conspiring to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq
What are the odds that a member of the Religion of Peace named Muhammad would be involved? ~Bob. Excerpt: A Canadian man accused of being linked to a militant group whose attack killed five U.S. soldiers in Iraq — and who authorities say chillingly described the work of insurgent bombers as the “harvest” of “metal and flesh” — has been arrested in Edmonton. Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa, 38, was arrested by RCMP officers Wednesday without incident on a U.S. provisional arrest warrant. U.S. Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said it was believed the suspect, who is a dual citizen of Canada and Iraq, had been living in the Edmonton area. Muhammad ‘Isa is accused of “conspiring to kill Americans abroad” in connection with a bombing attack in Iraq in April 2009.

Denmark: Muslim who hacked through Motoonist's door with axe calls himself "a Muslim who follows the precepts of Islam and who prays and goes to the mosque"
Excerpt: Kurt Westergaard is an ironic and unfit poster child for the freedom of speech: he has pursued legal action against anti-jihadists who have republished his cartoon of Muhammad, and has never demonstrated any awareness of the larger issues at stake in the attempts to murder him and suppress his cartoon. That does not mean, of course, that Mohamed Geele should not be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and the freedom of speech of Westergaard defended -- in spite of Westergaard himself. And "moderate Muslims" in the West should explain exactly how Geele is misunderstanding the religion that he explicitly invokes as his motivation -- but they won't, of course.

Killer of wife, daughter arrested
Didn’t get the memo. But he was probably incited to murder by Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. ~Bob. Excerpt: GHAZIABAD police on Tuesday arrested an accused of murdering his wife and daughter in the name of ‘honour.’ According to police, the accused after killing his wife, mother of seven, had hid her body in a heap of woods in a cattle shed and was arranging to burry it when police after having information from their sources found the body. Police arrested the accused and recovered the murder weapons - a hammer and meat cleaver. The accused has confessed that he killed his wife on suspicion of having illicit relations with another man. He also confessed that he had killed his daughter three months back. Ghaziabad SHO Atif Zulfiqar said that after receiving information of murder of a woman, he deputed three cops to find out truth and arrest the accused. He said that they went in civvies and succeeded in arresting the accused - Rehmat Ali, husband of deceased Allah Rakhi. He said the accused had hid the body in a heap of woods and was in a chance to remove it to some other place to burry it. He said the accused killed his wife with repeated strokes of the meat cleaver on her sensitive parts. He said later he pressed her head with a hammer.

Bomb attack on school in Peshawar, two killed and 14 wounded, seven children,-two-killed-and-14-wounded,-seven-children-20538.html
Didn’t get the memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: The radical Islamists target education institutions, especially female ones.

'Wear the hijab or I'll kill you, cousin told girl': Muslim tells of terrifying phone threats
Didn’t get the memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: A man threatened to kill his cousin and harm her family after she decided to stop wearing the traditional Muslim headscarf, a court has heard. Mohamed Al-Hakim, 29, allegedly phoned Alya Al-Safar to tell her she must die because of the ‘shame’ she had brought – leaving her too afraid to leave the house. He had already branded her family ‘bitches and whores’ because of her decision, the court heard.

Vit D (deficiency!) linked to cancer, autoimmune disease genes
Bad headline! ~Bob. Excerpt: Scientists have found that vitamin D influences more than 200 genes, including ones related to cancer and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis -- a discovery that shows how serious vitamin D deficiency can be. Worldwide, an estimated one billion people are deficient in vitamin D, and a team of scientists from Britain and Canada said health authorities should consider recommending supplements for those at most risk. "Our study shows quite dramatically the wide-ranging influence that vitamin D exerts over our health," said Andreas Heger of the Functional Genomics Unit at Britain's Oxford University, who led the study. Vitamin D effects our DNA through something called the vitamin D receptor (VDR), which binds to specific locations of the human genome. Heger's team mapped out these points and identified more than 200 genes that it directly influences. Vitamin D deficiency is a well-known risk factor for rickets, and some evidence suggests it may increase susceptibility to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes, as well as certain cancers and even dementia.

Will Afghanistan Be A Forgotten War?
Excerpt: In 2004, when enthusiasm for the Iraq war was still tied to post-9/11 national unity, I wrote a column ("Here's a Way You Can Help the Cause in Iraq") about a group called Spirit of America, created to support the troops with aid from stateside. Readers responded with a burst of support for the new organization, founded by California software entrepreneur Jim Hake. Even as the nation dialed back its attachments to these far-off battles between U.S. troops and Islamic fanaticism, Mr. Hake and his Spirit of America associates stayed in the game. First in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, they've continued to fill requests from commanders on the ground for the sort of stuff—sewing machines, blankets, radios, soccer balls—that is too small to register with the Pentagon's procurement bureaucracies but matters in terms of creating trust between the troops and local villagers. Until the Defense Department made them stop.

Arizona Shooting: Judge Hailed as Hero
Excerpt: Richard Kastigar, head of operations at the Pima County sheriff's department, said that footage showed that after the suspect Jared Loughner shot Ronald Barber, a Giffords aide, Judge Roll almost simultaneously moved Mr Barber towards the ground. Both men crawled beneath the trestle table set up outside a Safeway supermarket, near Tucson, with Judge Roll moving on top of Mr Barber in an apparent effort to shield him. The judge was then shot in the back and died from his injuries. Mr Barber was shot in the leg, the face and neck area and survived. "I believe the judge is a hero," Mr Kastigar said. "I think Judge Roll is responsible for directing Mr Barber out of the line of fire and helped save his life. It's very clear to me the judge was thinking of his fellow human more than himself."

Three Things We've Learned From Repeal
Excerpt: Repeal is far more popular than Obamacare ever was. Obamacare barely squeaked through the legislative process. In the House, it passed by a margin of seven votes and two percentage points. Repeal passed with ease by 56 votes and twelve percentage points. Moreover, repeal was a reflection of popular will, not a circumvention of it.

Before banning ‘crosshairs,’ CNN used it to refer to Palin, Bachmann
Excerpt: Now, King says, CNN is "trying to get away" from such terms, suggesting that in the wake of the Tucson shootings, such language should no longer be part of the public conversation. But if Palin is to blame for using crosshairs in her much-discussed map, then CNN, by its own use of the allegedly inflammatory term "crosshairs," might also share some blame for creating the atmosphere that led to the violence in Arizona. A look at transcripts of CNN programs in the month leading up to the shootings shows that the network was filled with references to "crosshairs" -- and once even used the term to suggest the targeting of Palin herself. Some examples: "Palin's moose-hunting episode on her reality show enraged People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and now, she's square in the crosshairs of big time Hollywood producer, Aaron Sorkin," reported A.J. Hammer of CNN's Headline News on December 8.

Excerpt: Everyone loves Girl Scout cookies, right? What could be more American? It’s a right of passage for many young girls to set up a folding table in front of a local business and sell their little cookies and what American doesn’t get a warm feeling in their heart when they see those peppy little ones chirping out, “would you like to buy some cookies?” Who could be against that? Who would want to set up a situation where Girl Scouts would be turned away from their traditional cookie-selling outposts? Apparently the Obama administration. At least one sector of America isn’t so fond of the ability of Girl Scouts to sell their wares unhindered, it seems. When the Obama administration’s Department of Labor and his National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) look at Girl Scouts, they don’t see cute little children taking their first steps toward adulthood, they see opportunity for a union powergrab. Obama’s NLRB is trying to push a new rule that would force any business that allows Girl Scouts or any other local groups like baseball or football teams, school bands, charity groups etc. to sell their fundraiser items or solicit donations in front of or inside of their businesses to also allow unions into their businesses to cajole employees to organize.
Excerpt: If immediate measures are not taken, the national debt will soon be equal to the entire U.S. economy. At this moment, American opportunity threatens to be overwhelmed by our debt, and that's a race we can't afford to lose. This dangerous dynamic has been steadily building up for decades, but Washington worsened the problem in recent years with a spending binge of costly bailouts, massive omnibus bills, and failed stimulus. As a result, the debt burden has grown to previously unimaginable levels. When Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House in January 2007, it stood at $8.6 trillion. Today, Americans must shoulder a national debt weighing in at a whopping $14 trillion, and the mountain grows larger every day. By the end of this decade, President Obama's budget projections show the national debt nearly doubling its current size to $26 trillion.

Female Medic Earns Silver Star in Afghan War
Excerpt: CAMP SALERNO, Afghanistan — A 19-year-old medic from Texas will become the first woman in Afghanistan and only the second woman since World War II to receive the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest medal for valor. Army Spc. Monica Lin Brown saved the lives of fellow soldiers after a roadside bomb tore through a convoy of Humvees in the eastern Paktia province in April 2007, the military said. After the explosion, which wounded five soldiers in her unit, Brown ran through insurgent gunfire and used her body to shield wounded comrades as mortars fell less than 100 yards away, the military said.

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