Saturday, January 22, 2011

Political Digest for January 22, 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.

Movie Recommendation
I watch little TV and go to movies only when my bride drags me—too many unread books in the pile. But we just saw The King’s Speech. Excellent movie, with an interesting bit of little known WWII history.

Posts May Be Limited
I’m going to spend some time this weekend with my friend Major Duncan, a Marine buddy battling cancer. He was given a month to live by a VA doc in august, doing better now than then. I have to assist in administering Scotch Therapy, which is having remarkable positive results so far.

Obama shifts political staff, will launch campaign in March or April
Mayor Rahm can have city employees illegally work on the campaign, as Mayor Daley did for Rahm when he ran for Congress. It’s The Chicago way. Hope they are packing. ~Bob. Excerpt: President Obama is moving his political operation outside the White House and will launch his reelection campaign in March or April. With the biggest parts of a staff reshuffling behind him, Obama has approved some more moves for his political team, shifting his political director to the Democratic National Committee and sending two key operatives to serve as deputy campaign managers in what will be his campaign headquarters in Chicago. In addition, we now have an official time frame for the campaign's launch. In an e-mail to members of the Democratic National Committee, Chairman Tim Kaine announced the staffing moves and said Obama's 2012 campaign "will be based in Chicago starting in March or April of this year." Obama is effectively shutting down his political affairs office in the White House and moving his campaign staff elsewhere, in order to keep the two entities separate and avoid the turf battles and disparate messaging that sometimes occur when a sitting president is running for reelection. (And should he lose, he and his teleprompter will be worth billions on the speaking circuit. ~Bob.)

The Davis file
Ho hum, business as usual in the Demo-corrupt City of Chicago. No wonder BO moved his campaign here—you can get anything done and no matter how you beat on them, the voters will still support you. How long until she plays the Race card about her tax bills? I heard on the news that a company from Seattle is moving here, creating 70 jobs. What is the owner thinking—he’s making too much profit? ~Bob. Excerpt: With all the talk of financial crises in Illinois governments, it would be easy to overlook the $1 million that Chicago Public Schools and Cook County officials say state Rep. Monique Davis owes for rent and taxes on her district office. But the standoff between the Far South Side Democrat and her landlords at CPS shows how even minor disputes can grow into hefty bills that might land in the laps of taxpayers. Bear with us because it's not easy to follow the dancing debts. And, as we go along, join us in guessing who's going to get stuck for this fiasco.

Just Another Extremist
Excerpt: We know that “civility codes” on college campuses are used to stifle speech (see, for example, the case of the College Republicans at San Francisco State University), which is why it is important to oppose them. (Ironically, they were also used by government officials to silence speech during the Civil Rights Movement. Many of the foundational free speech cases come from that era.) We must remember that simply because someone does not like what they hear does not mean the truth should not be spoken. And we must remember that when we are labeled “extreme” simply because we truly believe in love, justice and truth, it is no insult, though it is meant for one. It simply means we are in good company with those in the past that chose to stand for these things and make a difference.

Affordable Health Plans Are an Endangered Species
Excerpt: Beginning in 2014, most U.S. residents will be required to have health insurance coverage. However, provisions of the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) will limit the choice of health plans offered. Health insurance that does not cover preventive care, plans with deductibles above the statutory limit and plans that cap benefits at predetermined levels will ultimately disappear, says Devon M. Herrick, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Health Care Repeal Won't Add to the Deficit
Excerpt: The Congressional Budget Office says repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit by $230 billion over the coming decade and by a modest amount in the decade after that. The CBO estimate has become the central defense by ACA advocates fighting the upcoming repeal vote in the House. They might want to re-think their strategy. A close examination of CBO's work and other evidence undercuts this budget-busting argument about repeal and leads to the exact opposite conclusion, which is that repeal is the logical first step toward restoring fiscal sanity. Federal finances are buckling under the weight of unaffordable entitlement programs. So what is the primary aim of the ACA? Open-ended entitlement expansion: to more people at greater expense than anytime since the 1960's. If CBO is right, 32 million people will be added to the health entitlement rolls, at a cost of $938 billion through 2019, and growing faster than the economy or revenues thereafter. How, then, does the ACA magically convert $1 trillion in new spending into painless deficit reduction? It's all about budget gimmicks, deceptive accounting, and implausible assumptions used to create the false impression of fiscal discipline.

The Only Way To Go Green
Excerpt: Man cannot control the weather. But famine today is as much man-made as it is a force of nature. Zimbabwe, for instance, was once considered the breadbasket of Africa. It exported wheat, corn and sugar cane across the continent and beyond. But the country's agriculture industry has been destroyed by a Marxist government that has seized privately owned farms in the name of "land reform." Under the regime of Robert Mugabe, the annual corn harvest shriveled from more than 1.5 million tons in 2000 to 500,000 tons in 2003. By 2010, production was still around 600,000 tons. Wheat production also collapsed, from 309,000 tons in 2000 to 27,000 tons in 2003. Last year it was roughly 18,000 tons. Over a short period, Zimbabwe went from being a net exporter of food to a country dependent on international handouts. (And the life expectancy of blacks dropped from 63 to about 36—but what’s a few million dead Africans if liberals get to feel good about themselves for supporting black rule—no matter how many blacks that kills. ~Bob.)

Cosmic rays contribute 40 p.c. to global warming: study
Take this article to mean two things: first, climate science is far more complex than is generally talked about in the media; and second, that science is being done around the globe, not just in English-speaking countries. The following are generally accepted: cosmic rays cause the formation of clouds in the atmosphere, the clouds then reflect much sunlight—and heat—back out to space. Cosmic rays themselves are effected by changes in the Sun’s magnetic fields, being steered toward or away from the Solar System. While we can’t see the sun’s magnetism directly, it has long been observed to be the opposite of sunspot activity (weak when there are many sunspots, strong when there are few). The sun is currently in a “sunspot minimum” that was expected to end a year or so ago, but has instead stretched on in a case of stubborn natural variability. So, the idea is “fewer sunspots = more cosmic rays = more clouds = less sunlight = less heat.” And, the argument will be over the proportion of the total. Ron P. Excerpt: A key belief of climate science theology — that a reduction in carbon emissions will take care of the bulk of global warming — has been questioned in a scientific paper released by the Environment Ministry on Monday. Physicist and the former ISRO chairman, U.R. Rao, has calculated that cosmic rays — which, unlike carbon emissions, cannot be controlled by human activity — have a much larger impact on climate change than The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims. In fact, the contribution of decreasing cosmic ray activity to climate change is almost 40 per cent, argues Dr. Rao in a paper which has been accepted for publication in Current Science, the preeminent Indian science journal. The IPCC model, on the other hand, says that the contribution of carbon emissions is over 90 per cent.

Spanish wind farm giant plans to create 300 jobs in Scotland
Be interesting to see if this succeeds, even subsidized by the taxpayers, as these things usually are. ~Bob. Excerpt: UP to 300 jobs are set to be created in Scotland after Spanish wind turbine maker Gamesa unveiled plans to make a major investment north of the Border. An offshore wind technology centre is to be created in Glasgow, while Gamesa, which is part-owned by ScottishPower parent company Iberdrola, signed an initial contract to set up a manufacturing base in Dundee…. But the Dundee project is dependent on the scheme winning a share of the £70m fund earmarked by Mr Salmond to strengthen port and manufacturing facilities and supply chain provision for manufacturing offshore wind turbines last year.

Nimbys wreck green strategy
Excerpt: Rosie Vetter, planning policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said planning delays could put Scotland's plans to become a world leader in renewable energy in jeopardy. "The lengthy delays that continue to exist in the process have a damaging effect on investor confidence at a time when thousands of jobs in manufacturing and development are at stake across Scotland," she said.

130 turbine plant staff win reprieve
Excerpt: Workers at the Skykon factory in Campbeltown have been granted a temporary reprieve by engineering firm Siemens, which is to inject short-term funding into the troubled business until an order of 30 wind turbines is completed.
All 130 staff were set to return to work this morning and all outstanding wages are due to be paid. It is thought it will take until well into next month for the turbines to be constructed.

Charter Schools Outperform Traditional Public Schools
Excerpt: Since the 1930s, traditional public schools have been centrally run from the top down by state legislatures, school district administrators and by collective bargaining agreements negotiated by powerful unions.  In addition, administrators in traditional public schools have never been held directly accountable for student performance. Public schools that fail to educate students adequately often remain open and unchanged year after year. In the early 1990s, education leaders in some states took a different approach by authorizing independent charter public schools, says Liv Finne, director of the Center for Education at the Washington Policy Center.

Va. teen detained in Kuwait returns to U.S., reunites with family
Excerpt: A Virginia teenager who was placed on the no-fly list and barred from returning home to the United States from Kuwait arrived at Dulles International Airport on Friday morning for an emotional reunion with his family. Gulet Mohamed, a 19-year-old U.S. citizen from Alexandria, entered the arrivals terminal nearly two hours after his United Airlines flight landed. His attorneys said he had been kept after the flight by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents….. Mohamed was detained in Kuwait last month at the behest of the United States, according to his attorneys. They allege that Mohamed was beaten by Kuwaiti officials who questioned him about his travels in Yemen and Somalia after he left the United States in March 2009.

Pressed on human rights, Chinese president gives stiff-arm to Congress
Excerpt: Chinese President Hu Jintao gave congressional leaders a stiff-arm Thursday when they pressed him on human rights during a private meeting in Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office. Boehner pressed Hu on reports that the Chinese government has forced women to have abortions under the “one-child policy.” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) criticized China’s incarceration of human-rights activist and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo. Hu rebuffed the pressure by telling the leaders: “You have to respect the differences we have in our respective cultures,” according to a lawmaker who attended the meeting.

House Dems vow to improve messaging
Could it be the policies the public hates? Nah, must be the way we sold them. Very good news for Republicans. ~Bob. Excerpt: House Democrats kicked off their annual retreat here with a vow to improve the flawed messaging that contributed to the loss of their majority last fall. The down-sized Democratic Caucus is meeting for three days at the glitzy Hyatt Regency resort on the shores of the Chesapeake, with the goal of figuring out what went wrong in 2010 and how the party can position itself on policy and politics for the next two years.

House GOP group proposes deep spending cuts over next decade
Excerpt: Congressional conservatives on Thursday demanded far more dramatic reductions in government spending than House GOP leaders have recently proposed, in the first sign of a fissure between old-guard Republicans and tea-party-backed newcomers. Members of the conservative Republican Study Committee said the GOP must keep its campaign pledge to immediately slice at least $100 billion from non-defense programs, an effort that would require lawmakers to reduce funding for most federal agencies by a third over the next seven months. And the group called for even deeper cuts over the next decade to return non-defense spending to 2006 levels.

Hmm... the governor couldn't keep his promise
The governor stated unequivocally when he took office he'd release indisputable proof of Mr. Obama's birth in Hawaii. However, time has passed, and so far all that's emerged is a statement that the original full version birth certificate is in the records.... somewhere. Interesting. This is showing up even in UK newspapers, see link below. I don't think any of this will ever make any difference, at least not from now until 2012, when Obama runs again. Even then, any and all who bring up the subject of his birth will be ridiculed and dismissed. I don't have any strong feeling myself as to where he was born, but it sure is strange that he won't simply release the long version himself and make all his detractors look stupid. –Del. Doesn’t matter. You could have video of Obama being born on Mars, and the courts wouldn’t over turn an election. Especially when doing so would produce riots, death and destruction in our cities. The “birther” issue is a distraction from the battles we must fight if a collapse is to be avoided. ~Bob.

Tucson and Zhivago
Excerpt: A powerful scene from Dr. Zhivago, the Academy Award-winning movie based on Boris Pasternak's novel of the Russian Revolution, provides insight into the libel of conservatives following the Tucson killings and why the libeling will not stop. Zhivago, a doctor and poet, flees with his family from Moscow to his in-laws' estate in the Ural Mountains after Soviet censors denounce his poems, putting the clan in mortal danger of condemnation as "enemies of the people." The family arrives to find the estate boarded up and a poster on the door declaring the property confiscated in the name of "the people." Outraged, Zhivago's father-in-law Professor Gromeko utters one of the film's classic lines, "I am one of the people too!" We empathize with Gromeko because, throughout the movie, a ubiquitous commissariat brutalizes, ruins and kills anyone they label an "enemy of the people."  Commissars seize Zhivago's house in Moscow. They order summary executions. Their secret police hunt the wealthy, business and farm owners, intellectuals and other enemy classes. Petty apparatchiks force their way into every aspect of their neighbors' lives. There is no escape from the misery sown by communism in the name of the people. In the end, even the fanatical Bolshevik revolutionary, Commissar Strelnikov, falls from the Party's favor and commits suicide on the way to his execution. Yet another enemy of the people. (The writer makes an excellent point about the Left always attacking any and all conservative programs or people, to keep the Right always on the defensive. And sad to say, the Left are better at attacking (as sloppy and stupid as they often are) than the Right is at defending and counterattacking. Of course the heavy slant of much of the media does put the Right at a serious disadvantage from the get-go, but they absolutely need to do better. Sadly, in too many cases it doesn't matter how well the leftist attack is debunked, refuted, picked apart, because as soon as the attack is aired it's taken for gospel by a lot of people, and after that they just cling to what was sad as Truth Revealed From On High. I have a friend who is a good guy, but liberal leaning, and as soon as the motive of the Tucson shooter was attributed to Sarah Palin's speeches, he drank that jumbo size Kool Aid container to the dregs. Now nothing I can say or sent to him shakes him in the slightest, it's 100% the fear-mongering, libelous, lying bastards of the Right who have caused this whole situation with their unending over the top nastiness. But all we can do is keep spreading the factual reports as far as we can and hope that enough people see and understand them to make a difference in the balance of thought among the people. --Del)

Yes, Virginia, A Climate Cover-Up
Excerpt: Junk Science: Democrats in Virginia are trying to stop their attorney general from probing climate fraud carried out by university researchers at taxpayer expense. Are they afraid of finding the inconvenient truth? It's not the crime, it's the cover-up, as the saying goes. In the case of former University of Virginia climate scientist Michael Mann and his supporters, it may be both. Not only did Mann participate in perhaps the greatest scam of modern times, but he may have also have fraudulently used taxpayer funds to do so. At least Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli thinks so, and has been diligently trying to obtain from U.Va. documents and e-mails related to Mann's work there. Mann reportedly received around $500,000 from taxpayer-funded grants from the university for research there from 1999 to 2005.

Senators target Cuccinelli's UVa probe
Excerpt: Two Democratic state senators are proposing to change state law to thwart Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s efforts to investigate a former University of Virginia professor’s research on global warming. The proposed legislation would repeal sections of Virginia law that give the state’s attorney general authority to issue civil investigative demands, similar to subpoenas, to gather documents in relation to a civil investigation conducted by the office. The bill is in response to efforts by Cuccinelli, a Republican, to investigate possible fraud by former UVa professor Michael Mann in relation to five taxpayer-funded research grants between 1999 and 2005. (This makes you wonder what there is in these documents worth hiding. Ron P.)

An Inconvenient Truth
"I am going to go back to Washington and meet with the president of China. He is a dictator. He can do a lot of things through the form of government they have. Maybe I shouldn't have said dictator, but they have a different type of government than we have ... so we have to work in the system we have." --Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) Reid's words are, at their core, words of admiration for the Chinese system -- a system in which Hu Jintao can do a lot of things without consent of the governed, while Reid and company actually have to compromise. At least sometimes. No wonder he backpedaled. The Patriot Post

Detroit May Close Half of Its Schools to Pay for Union Benefits
Detroit’s new Motto: “The Collapse Starts Here!” ~Bob. Excerpt: A report from the Detroit News Monday suggested that without government aid, the city of Detroit will be forced to close down nearly half of the city’s public schools in the next two years. Additionally, the paper warns that average high school class sizes will swell to 62 students by the following year. These startling statistics were laid out in a deficit-reduction plan filed with the state of Michigan by the city’s Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb. Bobb’s role is working to slash the $327 million deficit the Detroit school district has accrued over the years.

A Path Is Sought for States to Escape Their Debt Burdens
Excerpt: Policy makers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts, including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers. Unlike cities, the states are barred from seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court. Any effort to change that status would have to clear high constitutional hurdles because the states are considered sovereign. But proponents say some states are so burdened that the only feasible way out may be bankruptcy, giving Illinois, for example, the opportunity to do what General Motors did with the federal government’s aid. Beyond their short-term budget gaps, some states have deep structural problems, like insolvent pension funds, that are diverting money from essential public services like education and health care. Some members of Congress fear that it is just a matter of time before a state seeks a bailout, say bankruptcy lawyers who have been consulted by Congressional aides.

Brother of Harry Potter Star Jailed for Attacking Her
Excerpt: The brother of a Harry Potter star has been jailed for six months for a ''prolonged and nasty'' attack in which she was beaten and branded a ''slag'' for dating a non-Muslim.

Idaho Set to Nullify Obama's Health Care Law
Unlikely to fly. The left tried to push nullification in the 1960s in Massachusetts to ‘nullify” the draft. Watch for the Idaho National Guard to be issues gray uniforms. ~Bob. Excerpt: After leading the nation last year in passing a law to sue the federal government over the health care overhaul, Idaho's Republican-dominated Legislature now plans to use an obscure 18th century doctrine to declare President Barack Obama's signature bill null and void. Lawmakers in six other states -- Maine, Montana, Oregon, Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming -- are also mulling "nullification" bills, which contend states, not the U.S. Supreme Court, are the ultimate arbiter of when Congress and the president run amok.

First Black Tea Party Forms in Houston
Watch for the left to call them racists, though they have no problem with black leaders selecting a black consensus candidate for mayor in Chicago. ~Bob. Excerpt: Anita MonCrief, infamous ACORN whistleblower, was asked to go on Sean Hannity’s radio show Thursday the 20th to discuss the founding of America’s first black Tea Party. Named after the first person to die in the Revolutionary War, the Crispus Attucks Tea Party was founded January 18th, 2011, at “This Is It” soul food restaurant in the heart of Houston, Texas' 3rd district. The 3rd district is Represented by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, and was the focal point of rampant ACORN-style vote fraud and widespread voter intimidation this past November. It is thus fitting that this tea party had its inaugural meeting right down the street from Lee’s residence.

Excerpt: The most remarkable thing about Rick Santorum’s comparison of abortion and slavery is the mainstream media’s initial reaction treating it as a gaffe. That reaction reflects the intellectual smugness that has made “mainstream media” a bad word in much of America. The analogy between the slavery debate in the 19th century and the abortion debate in modern times is a solid one because both centered on 1) who to include in the definition of “human,” and 2) whether the ultimate moral decision should be legislated or left to individuals. Despite the similarities, well-meaning people are free to reject the abortion-slavery analogy given that there is no longer any disagreement that slavery was a moral outrage. However, to refuse to see the similarities and, instead, view the analogy as ignorant is to contemptuously dismiss the half of America that considers abortion to be the taking of a human life and a moral outrage. You don’t have to share the moral judgment of pro-life Americans, but to dismiss their values as unworthy of serious consideration is the very definition of smugness

Palestinian Islamic court forcibly divorces West Bank couple after declaring them 'apostates'
Excerpt: For more than a year, a Palestinian couple belonging to an Islamic sect rejected by many mainstream Muslims endured insults from some of their neighbours and even death threats while struggling to maintain a quiet existence in this West Bank town. As word spread about them, things got worse. A local Islamic court branded them apostates and dissolved their marriage. The couple, Mohammed and Samah Alawneh, now live in legal limbo. Their plight demonstrates the tensions between a still largely conservative Palestinian society and a Western-backed government expected by the international community to ensure democratic freedoms. (Anyone in the “international community” who expects Palestinians to “ensure democratic freedoms” shouldn’t be allowed out without a minder. ~Bob.)

Busy lame-duck gives
K Street
firms a lift
Excerpt: Several of
K Street
’s most prominent lobby shops showed steady growth in 2010, ending the year on a high note thanks to the flurry of activity during the lame-duck session of Congress…. Perennial
K Street
powerhouse Patton Boggs reported making $45.2 million in lobbying fees for 2010, which included revenue from the Breaux-Lott Leadership Group — the lobby firm run by former Sens. John Breaux (D-La.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) that merged into Patton earlier in 2010. Patton’s figure is about an 11 percent improvement over the firm’s $40.7 million total for 2009. Allard noted that 2010’s lobbying figure does not capture much of the firm’s expanding portfolio in regulatory legal work. The Obama administration is spinning off new regulations at a steady clip as it implements the healthcare and financial-services laws. The regulatory work of many firms is not reportable under the LDA, several lobbyists noted, so the fourth-quarter reports provide an incomplete picture of
K Street
’s activities. “These figures don't reflect the large tectonic shift toward regulatory work given the Congress passing the healthcare reform law and Dodd-Frank,” Allard said.

Chinese Government Threatens to Use Force to Close Catholic Orphanage for Disabled Children
Excerpt: Chinese government officials have told Roman Catholic Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding, China, that he must sign an agreement giving the Chinese government control of a church orphanage for disabled children and that if he does not do so the government may use force to seize the facility. In the past, the Chinese government has repeatedly imprisoned Bishop Jia, including as recently as last year, because he will not renounce his allegiance to the Holy See.

Obama’s Double Standard
Excerpt: If Obama wasn’t such an Israel-Hater, why is he always holding Israel’s feet to the fire accusing them of occupying land owned by others? Or how Obama is always on Israel’s case for how the “poor” Palestinian Arabs are being treated by those big bad Israelis? Or how Obama is always DEMANDING that Israel make “painful” concessions? WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING IS ISRAEL GUILTY OF? Do the Israelis occupy a whole nation like Tibet? Do the Israelis execute convicts and sell their body parts? Do the Israelis imprison and torture dissidents? Do the Israelis force prisoners to carry-on slave labor? Do the Israelis censor all freedom of expression INCLUDING the media? Do the Israelis ban Internet Search Engines or control what they search? Do the Israelis not allow everyone to participate equally in government? (Read the whole list. ~Bob.)

Facing $1.6B shortfall, San Fran pays employees $170 million in Bonuses
Excerpt: As San Francisco struggles under ballooning pension and health care costs, the city’s retirees will receive unexpected cost-of-living bonuses totaling $170 million. The city’s anticipated budget deficit for the coming year is $360 million. A political battle has raged over the city’s growing retirement obligations. In November, Proposition B, which would have required city workers to contribute more toward their pensions and benefits, was soundly defeated. The measure’s opponents — every major elected official and energetic public-employee unions — said fears about the pension fund were overblown. Meanwhile, the fund’s fundamentals deteriorated as it gradually accounted for its huge losses in the stock market crash. It took in $414 million in contributions in 2010 but paid out $819 million.

How the government can fix the housing market by getting out of it
Excerpt: The housing finance market—like other US industries and housing finance systems in most other developed countries—can and should principally function without any direct government financial support. Government involvement will always promise big, but eventually, underwriting standards will deteriorate, regulation of issuers will fail, and taxpayers will take losses once again. To the extent that regulation is necessary, it should be focused on ensuring mortgage credit quality. Prime mortgages are good investments because they are less likely to fail. The writers note: "Bubbles in turn spawn subprime and other risky lending, as most participants in the housing market come to believe that housing prices will continue to rise, making good loans out of weak ones. Bubbles and the losses suffered when they deflate can be minimized by interrupting this process—by inhibiting the creation of weak and risky mortgages through appropriate regulation." All programs for assisting low-income families to become home-owners should be on-budget and should limit risks to both homeowners and taxpayers.

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