Friday, January 7, 2011

Political Digest for January 7, 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.

Long but worth reading: Why Our Best Officers Are Leaving
Excerpt: Why are so many of the most talented officers now abandoning military life for the private sector? An exclusive survey of West Point graduates shows that it’s not just money. Increasingly, the military is creating a command structure that rewards conformism and ignores merit. As a result, it’s losing its vaunted ability to cultivate entrepreneurs in uniform.

Another Doozy From Pelosi: Deficit Reduction Was Our Top Priority!
Excerpt: “Deficit reduction has been a high priority for us. It is our mantra, pay-as-you-go.” Now for the punchline: She said that with a straight face! Seriously, here’s a chart showing the national debt during Nancy Pelosi’s tenure as Speaker of the House.

National Debt Year by Year
Under the Constitution (you remember that, right), all spending must originate in the House of Representatives. The President, Bush, Obama or Lincoln, is not authorized to spend a cent not approved first by the House. On October 30 of 2006, the end of the Fiscal Year and just before Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, the National Debt was $8.5 Trillion. As she gave up the gavel on January 4, 2011, the National Debt had just topped $14 Trillion. That’s an increase in debt of $5 Trillion in the four years she and the Democrats have controlled the purse. Or, should I say, not controlled the purse.

Excerpt: Here are Obama’s thoughts on the debt limit in 2006, when he voted against increasing the ceiling: “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.” In 2007 and in 2008, when the Senate voted to increase the limit by $850 billion and $800 billion respectively, Obama did not bother to vote. (He did vote for TARP, which increased the debt limit by $700 billion.)

Video: Obama on Raising the Debt Ceiling in 2006

Reid on Raising Debt Ceiling in '06: Weakens Country, Hurts Economy
Excerpt: If my Republican friends believe that increasing our debt by almost $800 billion today and more than $3 trillion over the last five years is the right thing to do, they should be upfront about it. They should explain why they think more debt is good for the economy.

Repeal Doesn’t Increase the Deficit
Excerpt: When now-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D–CA) was sworn in as Speaker on January 4, 2007, the national debt stood at $8.67 trillion. By the time Pelosi surrendered the gavel to Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) yesterday, the national debt stood at $14.01 trillion. At $5.34 trillion, that means Speaker Pelosi added more than $1 trillion in debt per year during her tenure as Speaker. And yet she has the audacity to tell reporters Tuesday: “Deficit reduction has been a high priority for us. It is our mantra, pay-as-you-go.” Only someone so out of touch with reality that they could claim that “deficit reduction” has been their “highest priority” while simultaneously adding more than $1 trillion a year to the debt could possibly claim that repealing Obamacare would add to the debt. But that is exactly what Pelosi wants us to believe. Also on Tuesday she claimed that repealing Obamacare would do “very serious violence to the national debt and deficit.” Nothing could be further from the truth. While the CBO did produce a report projecting that Obamacare could produce $124 billion of savings over its first 10 years, no honest and intelligent person believes that that score will ever become reality. Not even the CBO. CBO Director Doug Elmendorf wrote: “CBO’s cost estimate noted that the legislation maintains and puts into effect a number of policies that might be difficult to sustain over a long period of time.” Elmendorf then goes on to identify a number of specific Obamacare policies, such as arbitrary reductions in the growth rate for Medicare spending, that anyone who follows health care policy knows will be impossible to actually implement.

John Boehner sets humble tone as he claims House gavel
Gee, a humble, emotional, working class guy replaces Queen Nancy as speaker. Guess Pelosi Air can stand down. ~Bob. Excerpt: The clerk called his name twice to vote for speaker, but John Boehner wasn't on the House floor. He didn't have to be, of course. Once the tally was announced, the Republican from Ohio emerged, now officially speaker of the House. He looked up at his wife, two daughters and 10 of his 11 siblings in the gallery above. They were crying, and so was he. The new speaker, his hair perfectly parted and his suit perfectly pressed, dabbed his eyes with a white handkerchief. Then he took an oversize wooden gavel he had picked and began his maiden speech to his new House. "Thank you all," Boehner said, engulfed in the applause. "It's still just me." Wednesday's ceremonial installation capped a remarkable and at times quixotic political journey for Boehner, 61, who rose from a tough upbringing and years of mopping floors and tending bar to the highest office in the U.S. Congress…. Boehner is also promising an environment far more hospitable to the minority than in recent decades, saying he will permit Democrats to offer amendments and debate controversial bills. (Very democratic, huh? ~Bob.)

Canada's Competitive Edge
Don’t bother me with this stuff—I’m still trying to figure out why folks aren’t starting businesses here and hiring Americans. ~Bob. Excerpt: It wasn't long ago that Americans viewed Canada as a poorer neighbor with only one competitive advantage—in hockey. No more: On January 1, Ottawa cut the nation's corporate tax rate to 16.5% from 18%, compared to the U.S. federal rate of 35%.

Eco-bulb cost to treble: Makers cash in as the ban on old-style bulbs kicks in
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1343554/Eco-bulb-cost-treble-Makers-cash-ban-old-style-bulbs-kicks-in.html
Don’t laugh, this has already cost Americans their jobs. The bean counters are going to stick it to you, too. ~Bob. Excerpt: The price of energy-saving light bulbs will treble as the final supplies of traditional bulbs dry up, industry experts have warned. The Government has ordered energy companies to scrap the subsidies that have kept the price of eco-bulbs artificially low for the last few years. At the same time, manufacturers are increasing wholesale prices to take advantage of the European ban on ‘energy guzzling’ old-style bulbs.

Physician shortages coming
Our great grandchildren won’t believe campfire stories about the healthcare system we’ve lost. ~Bob. Excerpt: According to survey data released by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), without an increase in the number of graduate medical education students, the United States will experience a shortfall of more than 90,000 physicians by 2020, including 46,000 surgeons and specialists. The strain on the medical community will be exacerbated by an aging population and increased demand by those newly insured under healthcare reform legislation.

Journal calls autism study a 'fraud'
Excerpt: Parents panicked after a 1998 study linked autism to vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella. In response, many stopped vaccinating their children. Now that research, conducted by Doctor Andrew Wakefield, is being called an 'elaborate fraud' by a leading British Medical Journal, BMJ. The journal also claims Wakefield was paid nearly $700,000 by lawyers looking to file suit against vaccine makers. All the way through the paper we see Dr. Wakefield chizzeling the data, falsifying medical histories of children, and essentially concocting a picture which was the picture he was contracted to find by lawyers hoping to sue vaccine manufacturers and to create a vaccine scare. Last year, the British Medical Journal that originally published Wakefield's study, 'The Lancet', retracted it. (When your politics dictates what your science will prove.... I wonder how many deaths resulted from this fraud that no one will ever be charged for? After all, it was only a "poorly written" research paper, and after all, the poor man's reputation has already suffered so much. Ron P. There seems to be some objection to shooting a researcher who would put kids at risk to be paid for false data, but I’m having trouble understanding that viewpoint. ~Bob.)

ATF source confirms ‘walking’ guns to Mexico to ‘pad’ statistics
I’d rate this as “unverified,” and tend to dismiss most conspiracy theories. But in today’s world, who knows? ~Bob. Excerpt: “Coming next will be more info on what the agents refer to as the Phoenix ATF office ‘walking across’ ARs and AKs to pad their statistics,” this column reported on Monday, citing a December reference to allegations made on the CleanUpATF.org forum that approval/direction was given for “more than 500 AR-15 type rifles from Tucson and Phoenix cases to be ‘walked’ to Mexico.” As we’ve previously discussed, CleanUpATF is run by a group of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives employees who formed “a non-profit organization dedicated to returning integrity, accountability and decency to the management of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE or "ATF").”

Oceanic "Garbage Patch" not nearly as big as portrayed in media
Excerpt: There is a lot of plastic trash floating in the Pacific Ocean, but claims that the “Great Garbage Patch” between California and Japan is twice the size of Texas are grossly exaggerated, according to an analysis by an Oregon State University scientist. Further claims that the oceans are filled with more plastic than plankton, and that the patch has been growing tenfold each decade since the 1950s are equally misleading, pointed out Angelicque “Angel” White, an assistant professor of oceanography at Oregon State.

Is Birthright Citizenship the Next Immigration Battlefield?
Excerpt: The immigration push-and-pull is currently playing out in the U.S. courts, most prominently in a case pending at the Ninth Circuit involving the constitutionality of an Arizona law which, among other things, criminalizes the failure to carry immigration papers showing lawful residency in the U.S. But the immigration battleground could be shifting to a different legal issue, one involving citizenship automatically granted to those born on U.S. soil. The problem facing those who’d like to see citizenship requirements toughened up is, of course, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. It states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

'Cover up' Claims over Asian Sex Gangs
Charities and agencies working with victims of sexual abuse have been accused of covering up the role of British Pakistani Muslims in sexually exploiting young white British girls. Most agencies have publicly denied a link between ethnicity and the grooming of vulnerable girls as young as 11 on streets by criminal gangs of pimps. But in 17 court cases since 1997 where groups of men were prosecuted for grooming 11 to 16 year old girls on the street, 53 of the 56 people found guilty were Asian, 50 of them Muslim, while just three were white, The Times reported.

Top Detective Blasts 'Culture of Silence' that Allows Asian Sex Gangs to Groom White Girls...Because Police and Social Services Fear Being Branded 'Racist'
Excerpt" 'To stop this type of crime you need to start everyone talking about it but everyone's been too scared to address the ethnicity factor. 'No one wants to stand up and say that Pakistani guys in some parts of the country are recruiting young white girls and passing them around their relatives for sex, but we need to stop being worried about the racial complication.' In a briefing paper, researchers at University College London's Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science concurred that victims were typically white girls while 'most central offenders are Pakistani'. The offenders were not viewed as paedophiles but had picked the girls 'because of their malleability'.

Pakistan: Lawyers shower assassin of governor opposed to blasphemy law with rose petals
Excerpt: And another group of clerics warned no one should pray or "express regret" for the loss of Salman Taseer, who died essentially for committing "blasphemy" against the blasphemy law. They said, "the supporter is as equally guilty as one who committed blasphemy." In barely two days, the wide reporting of this single case may have done more than any before it to rip the fig leaf of "moderation" off of Pakistan, and to show what a uselessly relative label "moderate" ultimately is. As one Pakistani radio host said, "Extremist thought has become so mainstream that what we need to question in Pakistan is what people think constitutes extremism now."

Salman Taseer's killer an Islamic warrior: Pakistani clerics
Gee, you’d think scholars and clerics would know that “Islam is a Religion of Peace.” ~Bob. Excerpt: A group of over 500 Pakistani scholars and clerics have described the policeman who gunned down the Punjab governor Salman Taseer as a 'Ghazi' and have warned against any expression of sympathy for slain PPP leader, saying it would tantamount to an act of blasphemy. Warning the people not to lead or offer funeral prayers for Taseer, 66, the clerics part of Jamaat-e-Ahl-e -Sunnat Pakistan, a grouping representing the moderate Barelvi sect of Sunni Muslims praised the Elite Force policeman Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri and called him a 'Ghazi', an Islamic warrior. The outspoken Taseer who was known for his liberal views and who supported changes in the controversial blasphemy law, was gunned down in a posh market in the heart of Islamabad on Tuesday. The clerics said in a statement issued last night, "Also, there should be no expression of grief or sympathy on the death of the governor, as those who support blasphemy of the prophet Mohammed are themselves indulging in blasphemy."

Pakistan: Punjab governor murdered for opposing blasphemy law was killed by member of moderate Muslim group
Excerpt: The assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, was "was associated with the moderate Barelvi sect" and "is said to be associated with 'Dawat-i-Islami', a non-political and non-violent religious group close to a moderate Sunni Muslim sect." So was he an immoderate moderate all along, or is the moderate Barelvi sect immoderate in its moderation? What do they think of the blasphemy law and the imprisonment and murder of innocent people that it brings in its wake? Do they consider that, too, to be moderate?

The Mohammed Cartoon Dust Has Not Settled
Excerpt: When one considers all of the people and places in the West targeted by transnational jihadists over the past few years, iconic targets such as New York’s Times Square, the London Metro and the Eiffel Tower come to mind. There are also certain target sets such as airlines and subways that jihadists focus on more than others. Upon careful reflection, however, it is hard to find any target set that has been more of a magnet for transnational jihadist ire over the past year than the small group of cartoonists and newspapers involved in the Mohammed cartoon controversy. Every year STRATFOR publishes a forecast of the jihadist movement for the coming year. As we were working on that project for this year, we were struck by the number of plots in 2010 that involved the cartoon controversy — and by the number of those plots that had transnational dimensions, rather than plots that involved only local grassroots operatives.

Man Steals Idaho Squad Car to Get Deported
Excerpt: Police in Idaho say a man who asked authorities to arrest and deport him to Mexico stole a squad car after his request was denied. The Idaho Mountain Express reports that 38-year-old Guadalupe Cruz-Vasquez went to the Jerome County Sheriff's office Monday night and demanded to be deported. Police Sgt. Duane Rubink says authorities declined to take the Jerome resident into custody, so he walked to a nearby police station, broke the window of a squad car and drove away with the vehicle. Rubink says a cell phone inside the vehicle helped police track its location near Carey, but police didn't need to stop it: The car ran out of gas. He says after that, Cruz-Vasquez finally got his wish.

Obama chooses William Daley as chief of staff
The
Chicago Way
grows stronger at the Hope and Change White House, where the President is rejecting the failed politics of the past, you know. ~Bob. Excerpt: President Obama has chosen former commerce secretary William Daley to serve as his chief of staff, replacing interim chief of staff Pete Rouse. Daley paid a furtive visit to the White House on Wednesday, which added to speculation that he was the clear front-runner. As many as eight key jobs will soon be filled in an administration-wide game of musical chairs, among them the role of press secretary. Robert Gibbs, who has served in that job for the past two years, confirmed Wednesday that he is leaving the administration, saying he will play an outside advisory role and give speeches.

What the Bill Daley hire tells us about the White House
Excerpt: Much was written during the lame-duck session of the 111th Congress about the relationship (or lack thereof) between President Obama and the liberal left. The selection of Daley is further evidence that the White House is paying little attention to the carping on the left. Daley is widely regarded as a business-friendly, pragmatist; he told the New York Times last year that the Administration had "miscalculated" on health care because the country was, at its roots, "center left" not "left". As expected, liberals howled when the Daley pick was made public, casting him as a corporatist out of step with the broader Administration on any number of issues. (Republicans, of course, gleefully forwarded around those clips to reporters.) Without a serious figure on the ideological left weighing the idea of a primary challenge to Obama in 2012 -- former Sen. Russ Feingold (Wisc.) and former Gov. Howard Dean (Vt.) are both out of the running -- the White House almost certainly believes that there is little danger in making a move like this one.

ObamaCare Rewards Friends, Punishes Enemies
if ObamaCare is so wonderful, why grant ANY waivers? ~Bob. Excerpt: A primary task for the new Republican House majority is to undo as many of the pernicious effects of ObamaCare that it can. One of these effects is the spectacle of employers going hat-in-hand to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for waivers from some of the law's more onerous provisions. In September, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius began granting waivers to companies that provided workers "mini-med" coverage—low-cost plans with low annual limits on what the insurance will pay out. This followed announcements by some employers that they would have to drop these plans because they did not meet the new health law's requirement that 85% of premium income be spent on medical expenses. By early December, HHS had granted 222 such waivers to provide mini-med policies for companies including AMF Bowling and Universal Forest Product, as well as 43 union organizations. According to the department's website, the waivers cover 1,507,418 employees, of which more than a third (525,898) are union members. Yet unionized workers make up only 7% of the private work force. Whatever is going on here, a disproportionately high number of waivers are being granted to administration allies.

Allen West: NPR
Excerpt: The media think that they want to interview Allen West because he's what they think is a rare species, a black Republican. (They're as wrong about that as they are about everything else, of course; black Republicans are getting less rare every day, and Allen West is always quick to point this out.) Allen West is a rare species, all right, but not in the way the folks in "mainstream" media tend to think. Allen West is the rarest political species of all: a person who knows the truth, says it out loud, and doesn't back down in the face of opposition. When I read the transcript of the NPR interview, I found myself laughing out loud: It was hilarious to see the politically-correct interviewer try to make Allen fit into his own pre-formulated narrative. It just did not work. (Read the whole thing, if you have time; it'll make your day. In fact, the more the interviewer tried to trip Allen up, the more Allen shone. His clarity, insight, honesty and common sense only stood out all the more clearly against the mushy background of the interviewer's all-too-predictable, conventional thinking.

Saving California Over Half a Billion a Year - Easy
Excerpt: OK, so cutting spending is difficult. Somebody's rice bowl will be broken, so let's pick off a weakling, an agency that few love, with no union backing and no real constituency. I can suggest an agency that Governor Brown created back when he was governor the first time. This agency serves an important role in neither the governance nor the economy of the state. It is really pretty useless -- nobody but the environmentalists and the greens have much use for it. Plus, it has done a bang-up job of annoying the voters and continues to issue regulations that are in fact little more than petty tyrannies with no positive effect or necessity. We voters would be happy to live without them. Yet we taxpayers spend almost half a billion dollars a year on the agency ($407 million in 2009/2010). That agency is the California Energy Commission (CEC).

Fixed-term marriage site a hit in Iran
Excerpt: However, a website that promotes temporary marriage, accepted in the Shia Islam but frowned upon by many Iranians, has gained more than 22,000 members since it was set up less than five months ago. Hafezoon, with a homepage presented in a remarkably similar style and colour to Facebook, has fewer than 1,000 female members, while the rest are men. Only a very small number of them use profile pictures. (can be as short as a day. Alert Eliot Spitzer. ~Bob.)

Liberals are Completely Deluded About Islam In Britain and The Existence of Sectarianism
Excerpt: “You don’t even have to be religious to cheer for Team Islam,” Prof Kaufmann says, “Identity politics stimulates spiritual curiosity and strengthens communal norms of piety that might otherwise crumble.” Liberals are also deluded about the size of the Muslim population, which is not 2.3 per cent, but as my colleague Damian Thompson pointed out, 4.6 per cent, according to the Pew Forum. Even if our cowardly Government were to stop immigration tomorrow, that figure will easily get closer to 10 per cent within two decades through natural increase. Are deluded liberals willing to bet that “Team Islam” will cease to exist by then? Team Christianity, in the form of the English Defence League, with its heavy use of Crusader iconography, has already come to life in response; indeed one of the reasons why anti-racist veterans don’t understand the EDL is because it is not racist as such but sectarian, a concept English people find hard to understand.

Plea Deal For Muslim Dad Who Murdered His 20 Year-Old Daughter
Excerpt: State prosecutor Stephanie Low said Almaleki admitted purposefully running down his daughter." -- " 'By his own admission, this was an intentional act and the reason was that his daughter had brought shame on him and his family,' Low said. 'This was an attempt at an honor killing.' " Noor Almaleki was the murder victim in an Islamic honor killing. In November 2009, her Muslim father deliberately ran her over with his car, backed up, then ran her over again. She hung on for weeks. She succumbed. She did not submit. Honor killing should be a capital crime. Islamic honor killing is on the rise in the West, a gruesome gallery. Honor killings in the West should be stamped out, not sanctioned. They should be dealt with in the harshest terms.

Passengers overpower hijacker on Norway-Turkey flight
Excerpt: Police said the man was a Turk who had demanded that the plane return to Norway. His motive was unclear. According to the Turkish Dogan news agency, he tried to force his way into the cockpit of the plane saying: "I have a bomb." ... "I was sitting at the front end of the plane and I heard voices at the back of the plane around 30 minutes before we landed," said Lelya Kilic, one of the 59 passengers aboard flight TK1754 from Oslo. "I saw a fight between passengers and a man with a mask, carrying a device that looked like a radio handset." Police said a passenger had been sitting on top of the hijacker when they entered the plane, a Dogan journalist said. Police identified the hijacker as Cuma Yasar.

Handouts to the Healthy Only Hurt
My childhood was spent in the hardscrabble world of Pennsylvania’s coal towns, where hard-working anthracite miners drove the economy. As my awareness of the world around me grew, from the 1950s into the early 1960s, I was struck again and again by the pride of the men who worked underground in a dangerous profession: Those who avoided work were considered a blot on the community, and being forced onto “the dole” for any reason humiliated not only the immediate family involved, but even distant relations. Men expected to earn their way, taking pride in maintaining their simple “company” houses as best they could, and dressing their wives and children anew each Easter. Ours was no ideal society (beware anyone who tells you an ideal society can be fabricated from human material). It was, by and large, a dirty blue-collar world, dangerous below ground and rough-edged above. But those miners had a pride and shared a comradeship I only encountered again when I served in our military. When troubles came, family members aided one another. When the need was too great for blood kin to relieve, communities pulled together. The question in every mind regarding an injured miner was, “When will he be able to go back to work?” As brutal as it was, the coal man’s work let him stand up straight and look any man in the eye.

Wind turbine maker sends workers home while buyer sought
Another Greenie bubble pops. Excerpt: MORE than 120 workers at Highland wind turbine factory Skykon have been sent home after the facility fell into the hands of administrators. The uncertain future of the Campbeltown factory - the only major turbine maker north of the Border - is a blow for Scotland's aspirations to lead the way in renewable energy generation. Insolvency specialists from Ernst & Young held a meeting with staff at the manufacturing base in Machrihanish yesterday morning, when workers were told that just six of the 130-strong workforce would be kept on to assist administrators. The remainder have been asked to take unpaid leave while a buyer is sought.

Yes, Virginia, you do have to produce those 'Global Warming' documents
Excerpt: Today, Virginia taxpayers, a state lawmaker and a public interest law firm are asking the University of Virginia to produce important "global warming" records under that state's Freedom of Information Act. These are records the school no longer denies possessing but nonetheless refuses to release, even to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. They address one of the most high-profile claims used to advance massive economic-intervention policies in the name of "global warming." In response to a previous FOIA request, U.Va. denied these records existed. However, during Cuccinelli's pre-investigation under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act ("FATA"), a 2007 law passed unanimously by Virginia's legislature, which clearly covers the work of taxpayer-funded academics, U.Va. stunningly dropped this stance. For this reversal, the taxpayers of Virginia owe Cuccinelli a debt of gratitude. Still, the school has spent upward of half a million dollars to date fighting Cuccinelli's pursuit, now before the Virginia Supreme Court. However, Virginia's transparency statute FOIA gives the school one week to produce the documents, and offers no exemption for claims U.Va. is using to block Cuccinelli's inquiry. These e-mails and other documents relate to claims made by Michael Mann to obtain, and claim payment under, certain taxpayer-funded grants. Mann worked at the university's department of environmental sciences when he produced what was hailed at the time as the "smoking gun" affirming the theory of catastrophic man-made global warming. Despite that lofty honorific, persistent controversy led promoters of this notorious "Hockey Stick" graph (principally, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC) to stop advancing it as serious work.

Democrats' defection from Pelosi is historic
Excerpt: How divided are Democrats' right now? With 19 Democrats withholding support from Nancy Pelosi for House speaker on Wednesday, it represented the largest defection from a party's speaker nominee in nearly a century. The resistance in the Democratic Party to back now-former Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) in the ceremonial first vote of the 112th Congress registered higher than at any point since 1913, according to data from the Congressional Research Service. That year, which happens to be the last year for which records are available, featured 23 votes for Republicans other than that party's speaker nominee. Of the 19 Democrats who didn't support Pelosi on Wednesday, 18 voted for other Democrats and one voted "present."

Pelosi's partisan parting shot
Excerpt: At mid-day Wednesday, it fell to now-former Speaker Nancy Pelosi to introduce her successor, John Boehner, as he was sworn in as Speaker of the House. Some might have forgotten, but four years ago, on January 4, 2007, it was Boehner (not the departing Dennis Hastert) who introduced Pelosi when she first became Speaker. A look at the two speeches -- Pelosi introducing Boehner and Boehner introducing Pelosi -- shows striking differences. Boehner's 2007 speech, coming after Republicans were trounced at the polls in November 2006, was self-effacing, gracious, and non-partisan. Pelosi's 2011 speech, coming after Democrats were trounced at the polls in November 2010, was self-serving, sharp, and partisan. (Liberals are bitter and vicious because they feel entitled to rule. ~Bob.)

Pentagon to cut spending by $78 billion, reduce troop strength
Let’s see, got to cut the budget. Can’t get rid of high tech systems made in some Congress Critter’s district. I know, let’s reduce the number of guys doing the boots-on-the-ground fighting, make them serve longer tours! ~Bob. Excerpt: The Pentagon will have to cut spending by $78 billion over the next five years, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday, forcing the Army and Marine Corps to shrink the number of troops on active duty and eventually imposing the first freeze on military spending since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Editor who fired Juan Williams resigns after NPR review
Excerpt: NPR's top news editor, Ellen Weiss, resigned on Thursday after the release of an internal review of the news organization's handling of the firing of analyst Juan Williams in October. And NPR's board of directors said that chief executive Vivian Schiller, who stood by the decision to fire Williams, will not receive a 2010 bonus.

UK-Train stations on alert over terror threat fears
Excerpt: It is understood that “intelligence chatter” suggested that transport hubs in London could be a target.

Barack Obama is the anti-Reagan of US Global Leadership: the president lacks true grit in the face of America's enemies
Excerpt: For President Obama, the Anglo-American Special Relationship is an irritation rather than a centerpiece of Western leadership in the world. The Obama administration’s betrayal of America’s closest friend over the Falklands is something Reagan would have greatly deplored. Ultimately, Ronald Reagan possessed true grit as president of the United States, and displayed the kind of forceful, principled leadership that Barack Obama can only dream of. Under Reagan, the United States was revered by its allies, feared by its enemies, and looked upon with awe by hundreds of millions who lived under the boot of tyranny in Eastern Europe.

Suspicious Devices Detonate at Maryland State Offices
Excerpt: A pair of small packages burst into flames inside two government office buildings in Maryland today, causing minor injuries, evacuations and a federal probe into who might have sent what appears to have been incendiary bombs similar to devices recently mailed to embassies in Rome and in Greece. The explosives were described as incendiary devices that looked like a small padded envelope or a book. One exploded at the Department of Transportation headquarters, located near the Baltimore airport. The other erupted at the Jeffrey Building in downtown Annapolis, which is home to several departments, including the Maryland Secretary of State and the Maryland Office of Homeland Security. (story continues below a large blank space--RGP)

The Troubled Heart of Pakistan
Excerpt: Wearing stylish glasses and hair slicked back, he looked a youthful 66. Taseer was a local tycoon with unabashedly liberal tastes. He was unusual, too, in his willingness to openly challenge Islamist dictates. "They want to hold the entire country hostage," he told me. Most Pakistanis agree with him, he added, since "they vote for secular parties." In recent tweets and public statements, Taseer had called for parliament to amend Pakistan's law on blasphemy—a "black law" in his words—that mandates the death penalty for insulting Islam. In our conversation, he saw little room for compromise with fundamentalists who fare badly in elections and resort to violence. "These are not people you can mollycoddle," he said. "These are killers." So, evidently, they are. After lunch this Tuesday in the national capital, Islamabad, Salman Taseer was gunned down by one of his security guards. The assassin told witnesses that he was angry over the man's stance on blasphemy.

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