Thursday, February 24, 2011

Political Digest for February 25, 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.

Question of the Day
Which right-wing, violence-encouraging, tea party nut helped create a climate of violence by saying publically, ““I’m proud to be here with people who understand that it’s more than just sending an email to get you going. Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary.” Sarah Palin? Glenn Beck? Rush Limbaugh? See the story linked further below for the answer.

Worth Hearing: Harvard's Niall Ferguson Schools Her on Muslim Brotherhood and Caliphate
MSNBC won’t have him back on the show anytime soon! Discomforts the Obot cheerleaders. ~Bob.

FBI Arrests Suspected Terror Plotter in Texas
Nothing to do with Islam, of course. It’s a “Religion of Peace.” Probably a crazed Presbyterian. Happens all the time. ~Bob. Excerpt: Federal agents arrested a Saudi student in Texas and charged him with attempting to construct improvised explosives and compiling a list of possible targets, including the home of former President George W. Bush. Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20 years old, is charged in a federal criminal complaint with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Mr. Aldawsari is in the U.S. on a 2008 student visa and is enrolled at South Plains College, near Lubbock, Texas.
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have scrambled in recent weeks to determine whether Mr. Aldawsari has links to international terror groups and have found none, according to U.S. officials. The FBI alleges that electronic surveillance and searches of Mr. Aldawsari's apartment turned up Internet blog postings and a personal journal that expressed his desire for jihad and martyrdom.

Saudi College Student Khalid Alim M Aldawsari Accused of Plotting Bomb Attack on Home of George W. Bush
Excerpt: A notebook found in the suspect's Lubbock apartment indicated Aldawsari - who arrived legally in the U.S. three years ago - was plotting his personal jihad for years. "After mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad," he wrote in one entry. Aldawsari also maintained a blog where he expressed his desire to become a martyr for his anti-American cause. "You who created mankind ... make jihad easy for me only in your path," he wrote. The suspect e-mailed himself various targets considered for bombings, including the "Tyrant's House" - his code name for Bush's home in Dallas. That e-mail was sent Feb. 6. Another e-mail, titled "NICE TARGETS 01," listed a dozen reservoir dams in Colorado and California. And one of the notebook entries made it clear Aldawsari was bent on avenging U.S. involvement in Muslim nations.

Obama dispatches Clinton for talks on Libya
The full range of options: First he apologizes, then he bows and if that doesn’t work, out comes the dreaded Strongly Worded Note! Bob. Excerpt: President Barack Obama on Thursday condemned the violence in Libya as "outrageous and unacceptable" and said he was dispatching Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Geneva on Monday for international talks aimed at stopping the violence. Obama said he was studying a "full range of options" to pressure Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime to halt attacks against Libyans as violent clashes spread throughout the North African country. He said the options included possible sanctions that the U.S. could take with its allies.

Gaddafi's son denies crackdown; loyalists reportedly continue attacks
Excerpt: Moammar Gaddafi's son denied Thursday that Libya has killed large numbers of protesters through airstrikes and other attacks, while a former top Gaddafi aide said he quit the government to protest its violent crackdown. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Gaddafi's son, disputed the death tolls that have been reported since the protests began 10 days ago, saying allegations that hundreds have been killed are a "joke." "Tripoli is quiet," he said in an interview aired on Libyan state television. "Life is normal." The junior Gaddafi said Libya intends to provide Western journalists on Friday access to Tripoli, the capital, and other cities, so they can corroborate the government's claim that the country remains under Gaddafi's control.

In eastern Libya, town keeps shaky hold after fighting off forces loyal to Gaddafi
Excerpt: The young men of this idyllic town nestled in the Green Mountain region of eastern Libya took control here in a days-long battle. First they fought their way into a security camp protected by 2,000 mercenaries and other forces loyal to the government of Moammar Gaddafi. Then they took over the streets. When Awad Mohammed's five sons joined the battle, he stood on the sidelines with his wife. He felt fear and pride. "They had nothing - just sticks, stones and bare chests. They took the guns from the mercenaries and used them against them," said Mohammed, an Arabic literature professor. "We never imagined the young people could do this. . . . I will die for them. These are all my sons." Now these sons of Baida - some just 13 and armed with rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and knives - man the lawless roads as they brace for the next possible attack. They are keenly aware that their leader of 41 years has shown no qualms about killing his own people.

Meet the Man Who Took Tobruk from Gaddafi
It remains to be seen if these are the forces of freedom—or of Islamist tyranny. If it wasn’t for wishful thinking, some folks would do no thinking at all. ~Bob. Excerpt: The city of Tobruk evokes memories of epic battles between the forces of utter totalitarianism and freedom from the previous century. Perhaps with some luck and fortitude, especially by younger Libyans, it might represent the same kind of victory for freedom in this century as well. Fox News correspondent David Lee Miller speaks with the young man who directed the liberation of Tobruk from forces loyal to dictator Moammar Gaddafi yesterday, Mahtoub Hussein Mahtoub:

In Libya, an al-Qaida Ally Lurks in the Shadows
Excerpt: The mounting violence in Libya could have the unintended consequence of reviving radical Islamists including the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a terror organization aligned with al-Qaida. As Muammar Gaddafi's 41-year-old dictatorship totters on the brink, U.S. policymakers should pay close attention to reports that LIFG members are being released from Libyan jails, according to Jonathan Schanzer, a former Treasury Department official who monitors jihadist organizations. Until now, the LIFG has been essentially moribund inside Libya since Gaddafi's regime launched a repression campaign against it in the late 1990s. But last week, more than 100 members of the LIFG were reportedly set free under mysterious circumstances from a jail near Tripoli. It is unclear whether they were released by anti-government forces or by order of Gaddafi, whose government says it has freed close to 850 purportedly reformed jihadists from prison in recent years. Whatever the reason, news that LIFG members are getting out of jail is very troubling, according to Jonathan Schanzer, currently vice president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. "Either way, what we're risking is a resuscitation of the LIFG," he said.

Libyan Rebels Vow Offensive as Gadhafi Blames Al Qaeda
Excerpt: Libya's antiregime forces promised to mount an offensive Thursday against the capital, Tripoli, as leader Moammar Gadhafi accused his opponents of being under the sway of al Qaeda. Speaking by telephone to state television, the increasingly isolated leader directed his 23-minute address to citizens of al-Zawiya, an industrial town just 30 miles west of Tripoli where gun battles raged Thursday. "What is this farce? You in al-Zawiya turn to [Osama] bin Laden?" he said. "He brainwashed your sons." Though pro-regime forces have largely kept protesters off Tripoli's streets, the violence flaring across towns in western Libya is cutting away at Col. Gadhafi's last remaining stronghold, and suggested his control over territory outside the capital was slipping. Until now, Libya's rebellion has centered mainly in the east, where whole sections of the army have defected to the opposition. But the fighting in al-Zawiya and other western coastal towns now pinions the longtime strongman between enemies on both sides.

Rough Waters Strand Americans in Libya
Excerpt: More than a hundred Americans seeking to flee the widening chaos in Libya remained stuck in the capital, Tripoli, on Thursday as high seas prevented an evacuation ferry from departing for Malta. Philip J. Crowley, the State Department spokesman, said Thursday afternoon that the ferry could leave “within hours” if the weather permits. An official with the ferry company, Virtu Ferries, said high winds had tossed up sea swells as high as 16 feet throughout the day on Thursday. The United States chartered the seagoing ferry — a high-speed tourist vessel with flat-screen televisions and a small casino — on Wednesday, after being turned down for permission to land a chartered plane in Tripoli. The American Embassy in Tripoli said on its Web site that it was in the process of chartering a flight from Tripoli for Friday. “We do not anticipate scheduling another charter flight after the charter on Friday,” the embassy said. The passengers are expected to remain on the 600-person ferry, which has been secured, until it departs and were being given food and water, Mr. Crowley said. There were 285 passengers on board, including 167 Americans.

Saudi Nukes: The Game Is On
Excerpt: Mideast Arms Race: If you think surprise upheavals of long-stable Islamic regimes are scary, how does a nuclearized Saudi Arabia courtesy of France grab you? The fallout from Iran's nuclear program is arriving. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced a deal with France to collaborate on the research, development and handling of nuclear materials — for peaceful purposes only, of course. Why would the world's biggest oil exporter, the country with the most reserves on the globe, be investing in nuclear energy of all things? The Saudis' official reason is that they wish to reduce their country's consumption of oil and gas in the coming decades, good enviro-conscious players on the world stage that they are. The truth, however, is that Saudi Arabia has been more than mildly interested in nuclear-weapons capability for a lot longer than most might realize. In 1988, Los Angeles Times reporter Jim Mann revealed that an obscure U.S. official whose job was to keep track of airstrip construction around the world had recently "looked at a reconnaissance photo of the Saudi Arabian desert and noticed something extraordinary about a newly constructed airfield" — that the Saudis were installing Chinese CSS-2 intermediate-range missiles, which are designed to carry atom bombs. With a range of about 1,500 miles, Saudi Arabia could use such rockets to attack Israel, India, Russia — or Iran. (OK, perfect, now more Middle East countries will be scrambling to get nukes, as was predicted long ago when it became clear that Iran was well on the path to getting them and it didn't seem anyone was going to take steps to stop them. Can't blame the Saudis or anyone else there for figuring they need their own nukes if they are to avoid being totally dominated by Iran. This proliferation was expected, and is the direct consequence of the inability of the West to do more than talk about working some kind of deal out with Iran. Again, we are living in a time as sad and dangerous as when the French and British watched the Nazis march into the Rhineland. We all know how that worked out finally... yet we have no leaders anywhere who have to vision and cujones to deal with the steadily growing threat. I'm starting to think seriously about that storehouse of canned goods, weapons, and ammo. Maybe the bomb shelter too....Del. I don’t think that a terrorist nuclear device eventually going off in an American city is inevitable, but I think it is more likely than not. ~Bob.)

Answer to “Question of the Day” above: New Tone: Democratic Congressman Urges Union Protesters to "Get Bloody" With Tea Partiers
Excerpt: This is not Capuano’s first brush with violent rhetoric. Last month Capuano said, “Politicians, I think are too bland today. I don’t know what they believe in. Nothing wrong with throwing a coffee cup at someone if you’re doing it for human rights.” I know it's a cliche, but it's too applicable not to reiterate: If, say, Sarah Palin had said anything remotely like this to a conservative audience post-Tucson, the MSM would be seized by fainting spells. Every television interview with Republican officials would begin with a "will you denounce Sarah Palin..." question. Paul Krugman and Frank Rich would pen hysterical columns denouncing Palin's bloodthirsty dog whistles. And, inevitably, many conservative politicians and pundits would distance themselves from the remarks. There are two sets of rules in this country, as established by Democrats and their media henchmen. If you're a liberal and you engage in violent or plainly hateful speech, you may have gotten a little carried away in your otherwise laudable and passionate participation in the political process. If you're a conservative who's attended a rally where someone else's protest sign may have strained the boundaries of good taste, you're tarred as an angry, racist extremist, bent on the violent overthrow of the US government. 

VIDEO: Morning Joe Deserves Credit
It’s notable that someone at MSNBC put it on the air, though it’s not surprising it was Joe and not any of their prime-time hosts. Recall that Rachel Maddow did a 7 minute segment on Tea Party signs last year. She was outraged about them, and about Palin’s crosshairs map. Not so much about these signs apparently. Still, Joe did show them and ask the right question when Carl Bernstein tried to change the topic. Kudos to Joe for that. Also, you have to give the panel credit for calling this what it is: Liberal Media Bias. I haven’t checked MRC to see if Joe was accurate, but if no network has shown these signs that’s truly outrageous. {Are the media beginning to wonder on which side their bread is buttered? Wheat and chaff, dude, wheat and chaff. They are separating themselves.- Kate}

Wisconsin's 'Anti-Union' Hysteria
The Mayor of our small city in Illinois—a Union employee and Daley sycophant—having solved all our problems, found time to go off to Madison to join the protest. He bragged in the paper that he was offering his couch to the hide-out Democrats shirking their sworn duty. Perhaps the Wisconsin taxpayers would pay Illinois to keep them here? I’d certainly pay if Wisconsin were to take our Democrat legislators. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Wisconsin protests are proving that the era of unhinged politics is not over. If anything, the hyperpartisan hysteria seems to be catching, with Democratic lawmakers in Indiana running for the hills while a new round of union protests swamps the statehouse in Ohio. It’s an unwelcome recurrence of politics being treated as apocalypse. Neither side is innocent, but on matters of both style and substance, the left is coming out of this debate looking worse. We’ve certainly seen a full range of left-wing-nuttery at the protests, from the obligatory Nazi/Hitler comparisons on signs to Democratic elected officials getting into the overheated action. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) declared his solidarity with the mob, saying “every once in a while you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary,” while the esteemed Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) said, “There is an unbelievable parallel and a real connection that I can readily identify with the people in the streets of Cairo and Madison, Wisconsin.” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) just cut to the chase and called Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker a “dictator.”

The Petulant Child Form of Democracy
Excerpt: In a word, the Great Symbiosis between government workers and the government is unraveling. For decades, government workers at all levels — teachers, clerks and other bureaucrats, police and firemen — have extracted unsustainable promises from the politicians their unions have elected. The politicians, in turn, have gladly helped themselves to more and more of your money in order to reward their real constituents — not the public, which only furnishes the money, but the unions, which consume it. This corrupt and unsustainable pas de deux has continued for as long as it did only because the mighty engine of American capitalism managed, despite the best efforts of the Left to hobble it, to furnish a dynamic and growing economy. We see now how much of that economic vibrancy was based on the seductive illusion of debt.

ObamaCare ruling: Commerce Clause now reaches “mental activity”
I think, therefore I am regulated by the Commerce Clause. ~Bob. Excerpt: Another federal judge has found for the Constitutionality of the individual mandate. But if ever you’ve wondered what tortured logic looks like (made in an effort to justify something that just doesn’t fit) then you’ll be amazed to read the following from the ruling: As previous Commerce Clause cases have all involved physical activity, as opposed to mental activity, i.e. decision-making, there is little judicial guidance on whether the latter falls within Congress’s power….However, this Court finds the distinction, which Plaintiffs rely on heavily, to be of little significance. It is pure semantics to argue that an individual who makes a choice to forgo health insurance is not “acting,” especially given the serious economic and health-related consequences to every individual of that choice. Making a choice is an affirmative action, whether one decides to do something or not do something. They are two sides of the same coin. To pretend otherwise is to ignore reality. [emphasis added]

Post Traumatic American Syndrome
Excerpt: I have noticed fewer people around town this past weekend. First I thought it was because of the Presidents Day holiday. Then I realized it was because anarchists were being bused into Wisconsin! More for them, and fewer for us! The Midwest is getting a bit of a taste of Berkeley life. I'm guessing they are not liking it one bit. The violent, hostile vibe wouldn't sit well with decent Midwestern folks. Of course, around Berkeley, riots are nothing new; there are street uprisings whenever the spirit moves people. On
Telegraph Avenue
, the poor merchants have endured impromptu mayhem for decades. I say "poor" merchants for a reason: most of them are struggling, and, if you've visited the area recently, you'll find that a number of storekeepers have packed up and moved on. When the infamous BART police shooting occurred a few years ago, there was lawlessness all over downtown Oakland. Cars were destroyed, stores ransacked and looted, and people were injured. Of course, many joined in who weren't motivated by righteous indignation, but by the promise of free jewelry and clothes.

The Laws
A fun site with a lot of truth.

The Gratitude Campaign
Or you could just say, “Thank you for your service.” ~Bob.

Under kidney transplant proposal, younger patients would get the best organs
As an old guy with IPF, wonder what this might mean for lung transplants in the future. Current rule is you have to be within a year of dying, but healthy enough that they think you will survive the transplant. ~Bob. Excerpt: The nation's organ-transplant network is considering giving younger, healthier people preference over older, sicker patients for the best kidneys.

Saving our nation from debt
Excerpt: Uncle Sam is spending you into the poorhouse. Taxes, inflation, unemployment, interest rates – all could skyrocket if Washington keeps spending trillions of dollars it doesn't have. Unless we begin to cut spending now (a lot of spending) these four horsemen of debt will ride roughshod over families and businesses already struggling to get by. Fortunately, we still have a chance to kick the spending addiction and keep the American Dream alive.

Assange must be extradited, judge rules
Excerpt: Britain will honor Sweden's request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face sex-crime allegations, a British judge ruled Thursday. Speaking to a packed courtroom in southeast London, Judge Howard Riddle said Swedish prosecutors' request that Assange be forced to return to Stockholm was valid and dismissed arguments that extradition would violate the 39-year-old Australian's human rights.

Liberals to stage Tea Party-like revolts against GOP spending cuts
Let’s make up some signs for them: “Print More Money!” “Screw the Grandkids—let them pay more for our spending.” ~Bob. Excerpt: Democratic strategists believe their Tea Party moment has arrived. Working with labor unions and liberal groups, they are using the Presidents Day congressional recess to organize a public backlash against billions of dollars in cuts to federal programs. One labor organizer said that members have been urged to attend congressional town hall meetings to ask Republican lawmakers “pointed questions” about the cuts they supported last week. “We are targeting various House Republicans in town hall meetings during the recess to let them know these budget cuts are beyond the pale,” said the labor source, who added that it has been difficult to mobilize supporters to public question-and-answer sessions with lawmakers because “they’ve been pretty circumspect in giving out information about the meetings.”

Town hall 'rage' over spending
Excerpt: The two town halls couldn’t have been any more different — one a blue-jeans-and-ball-cap affair, rowdy and filled-to-capacity near an impoverished urban strip — the other a smaller confab of polo-shirt-and-Bermuda-shorts clad seniors in a sleek conference room outside Orlando. But one sentiment resonated through both Rep. Allen West’s Pompano Beach gathering in south Florida and Rep. Dan Webster’s in Winter Garden: voters are still angry, they still don’t trust Washington, and they’re saying, “hell yeah, shut down the government if you have to.” Webster, who preferred his constituents sound off on their opinions rather than ask questions, heard it this way: “If we have to shut the government down, don’t believe those polls you get out of the media. The people are behind you.” West, who entertained questions from a long line of voters, had this takeaway message from his constituents: “There’s a very good possibility that government will shut down. I know the Democrats have their talking points lined up. They’ll blame us for everything. What will we do?”

Where Will New Revenues for Deficit Reduction Come From?
Excerpt: If Washington is going to need new tax revenues to bring the deficit under control—which it inevitably will– I increasingly wonder where the cash is going to come from. If you listen to what President Obama has been saying in recent days, it appears that while corporations and nearly all individuals and families would avoid any tax hit at all, a handful of high-income households would get socked with major increases. These tax hikes would be so big, in fact, that top-bracket taxpayers might end up paying a rate of 67 percent on ordinary income and nearly 50 percent on capital gains. Since proposing his 2012 budget, the president has laid out three goals: He wants to reform the corporate income tax, but in a way that raises no more money than the current code. He’s repeated his long-standing vow to never raise taxes on individuals making $200,000 or less (or couples up to $250,000). Thus, he’d exempt 96.5 percent of households from any tax hikes. And despite those self-imposed constraints, he also wants to dramatically reduce the long-term deficit. As a result, a relative handful of individuals and families (fewer than 6 million) would foot the entire revenue bill for deficit reduction. The pain of spending cuts would be distributed very differently, of course. How big would these tax hikes have to be?

Internet Cop: President Obama’s top man at the Federal Communications Commission tries to regulate the Net.
Excerpt: Robert McDowell becomes effusive when talking about the World Wide Web. “The beauty of the Internet is that it has been somewhat lawless,” says the Republican, one of five appointees who run the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The lack of government mandates, McDowell says, has made the Net “the greatest deregulatory success story of all time,” a “sort of libertarian heaven.” Is that heaven about to crash down to earth? Julius Genachowski, the man hand-picked by President Barack Obama to chair the FCC, insists not. “I’ve been clear repeatedly that we’re not going to regulate the Internet,” he told The Wall Street Journal in February 2010. But his actions suggest otherwise. Since taking office in June 2009, Genachowski, a tech entrepreneur and former FCC counsel, has led the commission on an unprecedented quest for power over the Web’s network infrastructure, sparking a thunderous, confusing lobbying battle over who gets to control the Net. “If the government starts to get involved with regulation of Internet network management,” McDowell warns, “you’ll start to see the politicization of decisions in that realm.” At this point, there’s no if about it: From his first major speech to a hurried and secretive rulemaking procedure in the final weeks of 2010, Genachowski has made it his mission to plant the seeds of government control within the core of the Internet—all under the guise of “preserving Internet freedom.”

The Efficiency Costs of Tax-Financed Health Improvements
Excerpt: The fraction of gross domestic product (GDP) devoted to health care in the United States is the highest in the world and rising rapidly. Recent economic studies have highlighted the growing value of health improvements, but less attention has been paid to the efficiency costs of tax-financed spending to pay for such improvements. In a new study, Katherine Baicker and Jonathan Skinner use a life cycle model of labor supply, saving and longevity improvement to measure the balanced-budget impact of continued growth in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The model predicts that top marginal tax rates could rise to 70 percent by 2060, depending on the progressivity of future tax changes. The deadweight loss of the tax system is greater when the financing is more progressive. If the share of taxes paid by high-income taxpayers remains the same, the efficiency cost of raising the revenue needed to finance the additional health spending is $1.48 per dollar of revenue collected, and GDP declines (relative to trend) by 11 percent. A proportional payroll tax has a lower efficiency cost (41 cents per dollar of revenue averaged over all tax hikes, a 5 percent drop in GDP) but more than doubles the share of the tax burden borne by lower income taxpayers. (This is economist speak for, “we’re screwed.” ~Bob.)

It's Time for Washington to Get Serious About Job Creation
Excerpt: In recent weeks Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke has repeatedly expressed worry about the state of the U.S. job market. His concerns are well founded. Simply put, the last jobs report was dismal. Consensus forecasts of 148,000 new jobs collided with a reality of 36,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate fell only because half a million discouraged workers stopped looking for jobs and left the labor force. The labor-force participation rate of 64.2% is the lowest it's been since 1984, and the employment to population ratio - at 58.4% - is the lowest it's been since 1983. Total employment in January 2011 was 139,323 million, which means 555,000 fewer workers had jobs than in June 2009, when the National Bureau of Economic Research deemed the recession over.

Nevada prostitutes, brothel owners say they’re not afraid of Harry Reid
Excerpt: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s threat to shut down the regulated sex industry in his state doesn’t exactly have Nevada prostitutes shaking in their G-strings. “I will lie down for a lot of things, but Senator Reid is not one of them,” said Brooke Taylor, a five-year veteran working girl at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch just outside Carson City. (It seems not ALL the voters are willing to be screwed by Democrats, not even for money. Ron P.

Electric Cars – it’s all about the battery
Excerpt: I own an electric car (on my second one now) that I use for around town. It’s fine for short jaunts, which is the majority of driving. However the limiting factor is of course the battery and the range associated with it. While I can get about 40 miles of city driving, I could probably double that with a lighter, more efficient battery. While I know some people pooh-pooh electric cars, I think mine is rather fun. With gas prices headed toward $5 a gallon, I’ll have even more fun. (...) Scientists are reporting development of an advanced lithium-ion battery that is ideal for powering the electric vehicles now making their way into dealer showrooms. The new battery can store large amounts of energy in a small space and has a high rate capacity, meaning it can provide current even in extreme temperatures. A report on this innovation appears in ACS’ Journal of the American Chemical Society. (Unusually for WUWT, the majority of the 200-odd comments are unflattering to this concept. One from ew-3 stands out: “Have spent several years working with Li-Ion batteries in portable GPS devices. Virtually all Li-Ion batteries are made in China. Not so much for the labor cost, but because of the EPA. Making these batteries is a major environmental disaster. And mining the raw materials is also a problem.” It seems electric cars aren’t a quick, easy fix. --Ron P. Since most electricity is generated by burning coal, these should be properly called “Coal-Powered Cars. ~Bob.)

Will Harry Reid Also Hide in Illinois?
Excerpt: Over the past week the nation witnessed the spectacle of Wisconsin and Indiana Democrat lawmakers fleeing across state-lines into Illinois, Bonnie and Clyde-style, though in this case in hopes that their absence would stave off having to make tough decisions. Back home, their votes were needed to rescue their states from dire fiscal problems, and that is the case in states across the rest of the Midwest and the rest of the nation. Budget deficits are bulging and competition for scarce financial resources is growing more alarming. This Prohibition-era retro replay may indeed spread to the federal government and Washington, as a new Congress grapples with its first tough budget debate. Will liberals duck responsibility again?

Insanity and Chutzpah
Statement from Somali pirate spokesman Abdirahman Abdullahi Qabowsade in regard to the recent murder of 4 Americans and the taking prisoner of the surviving pirates-- "We have been killed and arrested illegally before, so we can't bear with such attacks anymore. We will respond to any future attacks aggressively." (See full article about what the pirates are doing and threatening now)
The murderous criminal gang pirates are complaining about being "killed and arrested illegally"??? This has got to be a new record for insane, idiotic, nonsense propaganda statements. It's like the sniper serial killer wanting to sue the police for the bodily harm he suffered when they shot him to stop his killing spree. Now the pirates are deliberately mistreating their hostages, and threatening wholesale slaughter of them if anyone comes after them. This is the final result of the utter, gutless folly of Western nations in not reacting a very long time ago to piracy on the high seas the way it was dealt with in the past. Now all that's happened is that the price of ransoming has gone way up, and the hostages are in far more danger than they were before, and there will be no way to stop the pirates now without the near certainty of hostages being killed. The answer? Well, the only one I can think of is a 3AM sweep of a large commando force into the area of the land where all the pirates are to be found, while jamming any forms of communication out to the hostage ships. To take as many pirate leaders prisoner as possible, and then to have them contact the ships and tell their men to surrender. And if that takes "convincing" the leaders to make those calls, do whatever it takes to motivate them. And promise the men on the ships that if any hostages are harmed, every single man on the ships will die, along with whatever friends and relatives of theirs that were taken prisoner. Yeah, I know. We'd never do that in a million years. So let's pay the Russians or the South Koreans to do it. They won't hesitate, and they have well trained commando forces. Or maybe the French Foreign Legion. Whoever has the capability in terms of men and equipment, and is not afraid to take "harsh measures". The alternate, to continue on tiptoeing around these people, is just beyond stupidity, and guaranteed to come out badly in any case. –Del)

Dealing with Pirates
My take from back in 2008. The four Americans just killed would still be alive if we’d had the courage to deal with the problem. ~Bob.

Pirates add ammo, men to ships after 4 US deaths
In my book, they should have already been tried, executed and buried at sea. ~Bob. Excerpt: Pirates in Somalia said Wednesday they are ferrying ammunition and men to the 30 hijacked vessels still under their control, and they threatened to kill more captives following the violent end to a hostage standoff that left four Americans dead. The U.S. military said that 15 pirates detained after the Americans were slain Tuesday could face trial in the United States. The military, FBI and Justice Department are working on the next steps for those pirates, said Bob Prucha, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command in Florida. The Somalis are currently being held on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, which is in the waters off East Africa. A pirate aboard the hijacked yacht Quest on Tuesday fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. warship that had responded to last Friday's hijacking. Then gunfire broke out aboard the yacht. When Navy special forces reached the Quest, they found the four American hostages had been shot and killed.

Obama's mystery links to Gadhafi uncovered
Excerpt: As pressure mounts on the White House to intervene to stop Moammar Gadhafi's bloody crackdown in Libya, many commentators have been wondering why Barack Obama has been cautious in his criticism of the dictator after the U.S. president so fervently supported the removal from office of U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. But Gadhafi has been tied to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's spiritual adviser for more than 23 years. The Libyan dictator also has financed and strongly supported the Nation of Islam and its leader, Louis Farrakhan. Obama has ties to Farrakhan and his controversial group.

"Intolerable" Bed-Blocking Crisis Threatens British National Health Service
Excerpt: The NHS faces an "intolerable" bed-blocking crisis as funding cuts lead to half of its wards being filled by elderly people who should be in care homes, a report warns today.

Democracy Versus Liberty
Excerpt: To highlight the offensiveness to liberty that democracy and majority rule is, just ask yourself how many decisions in your life would you like to be made democratically. How about what car you drive, where you live, whom you marry, whether you have turkey or ham for Thanksgiving dinner? If those decisions were made through a democratic process, the average person would see it as tyranny and not personal liberty. Is it no less tyranny for the democratic process to determine whether you purchase health insurance or set aside money for retirement? Both for ourselves, and our fellow man around the globe, we should be advocating liberty, not the democracy that we've become where a roguish Congress does anything upon which they can muster a majority vote.

Lobbyists: White House sends meetings off-site to hide them
So much for BO’s solemn pledge of transparency—not that intelligent folks believed that mush. ~Bob. Excerpt: Caught between their boss’ anti-lobbyist rhetoric and the reality of governing, President Barack Obama’s aides often steer meetings with lobbyists to a complex just off the White House grounds — and several of the lobbyists involved say they believe the choice of venue is no accident. It allows the Obama administration to keep these lobbyist meetings shielded from public view — and out of Secret Service logs kept on visitors to the White House and later released to the public. “They’re doing it on the side. It’s better than nothing,” said immigration reform lobbyist Tamar Jacoby, who has attended meetings at the nearby Jackson Place complex and believes the undisclosed gatherings are better than none. The White House scoffs at the notion of an ulterior motive for scheduling meetings in what are, after all, meeting rooms. But at least four lobbyists who’ve been to the conference rooms just off Lafayette Square tell POLITICO they had the distinct impression they were being shunted off to Jackson Place — and off the books — so their visits wouldn’t later be made public.

Huck trashes 'RomneyCare' in book
Excerpt: In his new book, Mike Huckabee trashes “RomneyCare” – saying it’s “socialized medicine” that has exploded costs, worsened care for patients, and proves why President Obama’s unpopular health care reform won't work. In a chapter in "A Simple Government," Huckabee uses Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care program to bolster his arguments against Obama's reforms, yoking the two tightly together.

A president of misrule
Excerpt: President Obama established a bipartisan debt-reduction com mission -- and then ignored its findings, which called for unpopular cuts in entitlements and spending. His first two budgets led to the largest deficits in US history. The ensuing $3 trillion in red ink prompted the Tea Party movement and led to the Democrats' largest midterm House defeat since 1938. No matter. Obama has proposed a budget with an even larger, $1.6 trillion deficit. That record federal borrowing prompted columnist Charles Krauthammer to describe it as Louis XV indulgence, an allusion to the wild royal spending that brought about the French Revolution. Even Newsweek's Evan Thomas, who once gushed that Obama stood "above the world" as some "sort of God," called the president's new budget a "profile in cowardice." After Obama leaves office, a perfect storm of rising international interest rates, an anemic dollar and panic on the part of foreign lenders may force an end to this unhinged American rush to borrow and blow what it has not earned. Gas prices in many parts of the country are nearing $4 a gallon; it could get even worse as unrest spreads in the oil-exporting Mideast. Yet the Obama administration seems to see no crisis. It has curtailed leases for offshore-oil exploration for seven years and exempted thousands of acres in the West from drilling. It won't reconsider opening up small areas of Alaska with large oil reserves.

Obama's Badger State Blues
Excerpt: President Barack Obama has joined labor's attacks, criticizing Mr. Walker's proposals as "an assault on unions." According to news reports, Mr. Obama's personal political machine, Organizing for America, was thrust into the battle, providing buses to transport striking government workers to the protests, mobilizing phone banks, and rallying protesters from nearby states. Why is the president trying to bully the Wisconsin governor? After all, Arizona, Utah, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia are among the states to explicitly prohibit collective bargaining for public employees, which is far beyond what Mr. Walker is seeking. The answer is found in four digits: 2012.

Mexico: Suspect says ICE agent slain in error
Excerpt: Mexican soldiers arrested six men Wednesday who they say carried out last week's ambush murder of U.S. Special Agent Jaime Zapata. The suspects told authorities they believed Zapata and his partner Victor Avila — who was wounded in the attack - to be members of a rival gang because of the vehicle they were driving. Those arrested belong to a cell of the Zetas, the violent criminal gang headquartered in the cities bordering south Texas. Officials identified the group's leader as Julian Zapata Espinoza, alias "El Piolin," or "Tweety Bird," who they said directed a Zeta assassination cell in the state of San Luis Potosi, where Zapata was killed Feb. 15.

Excerpt: Gallup has collected the data from their daily tracking polls throughout 2010 and contrasted the results to the same information from 2009. Not surprisingly, their findings show that Obama has suffered a decline in every state since 2009. His unpopularity is now ubiquitous. Overall, Obama’s national approval rating has dropped 11% from 58% to 47%. Furthermore, the polling data collected from nearly 180,000 interviews shows that Obama is viewed favorably by less than 50% of respondents in 38 states. He is above 50% approval in just 12 states, and is viewed unfavorably by the majority of respondents in 16 states. (The old political adage is still true: “You can’t beat somebody with nobody.” Much will depend on who the GOP nominates, and how the campaign is run. And factors beyond anyone’s control, such as what is happening in the Middle east. ~Bob.)

Former Galesburg mayor barred from using city equipment to clear sidewalks
Fear of the trail Lawyers—crippling America. And if someone slips on the snow covered walks—off to court! ~Bob. Excerpt: For at least 35 years, Gary Allen has used his own equipment to plow Galesburg sidewalks af­ter a snowstorm. Then about four years ago, while Allen was mayor, the city bought a snowblower for about $35,000 so a city employee could clear them. Later, after money for clear­ing the sidewalks was cut from the city budget, Allen went back to using his own equip­ment and doing the work for free. Sometimes, when the snow was too heavy for his equipment, he used the city snowblower. That will no longer be al­lowed, however, after the city attorney advised the council not to allow it. “The attorney told us that it’s a bad idea because Gary is not on the payroll and is not a city employee, and the liability that could rise from that is un­thinkable,” said Mayor Sheila Garrett. “If Gary got hurt or if something flew out from underneath that snowblower and caused an accident or hurt somebody else, he’s not covered for it.”

Excerpt: Federal bureaucrats will write checks totaling more than $3.7 trillion in 2011, paying for everything from alphabetical file folder supplies to zinc-plated radiation shielding. In the process, hundreds of billions of tax dollars will be paid to dead or otherwise undeserving people, spent on materials and products the government doesn't need or already has too much of, handed over to crooks masquerading as legitimate businessmen, or simply lost. But don't take our word for it -- that accounting comes from the government itself. According to the 2010 Financial Report of the United States Government, at least $125.4 billion was thus spent improperly. But that estimate was based on a review of only about $2.3 trillion, thus leaving at least $1.3 trillion unexamined. That means the true amount lost every year to waste, fraud and abuse may well be closer to $200 billion. In fact, according to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the total could be well in excess of that total because "the federal government is struggling to get control of waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement in the administrative departments and agencies. Almost two years ago, the Oversight Committee heard testimony from the Chairman of the Recovery and Transparency Board, Earl Devaney, who cited figures from the Association of Fraud Examiners that suggest that U.S. taxpayers lose as much as 7 percent of their government's spending to fraud and waste. If that figure is true, then the federal government lost $228 billion last year alone." A major reason why it is so difficult to know precisely the full extent of waste, fraud and abuse in the federal budget is because the government does not properly account for its spending with a consolidated statement that reflects all outlays, revenues and assets.

Democrats just don't understand the new populism
Excerpt: The Obama campaign and other liberals are looking to tap into the populist current of today's politics and turn the Wisconsin union fight into a national issue in the 2012 election. While the liberals can wield rhetorical pitchforks and light political torches, they should realize that it's their guys who are living inside the castle today. Specifically, public-sector unions -- by many measures the most entrenched special interest in American politics -- are not fighting against The Man, which is to say the entrenched powers of government. In this struggle, The Man is the government unions, which are sitting in the smoky back room divvying up the spoils of a crooked racket. And cronyism -- not wealth -- is the object of today's populist ire. The Left has misread the postbailout populist sentiment all along, assuming public anger was directed at the rich. But American anger, I suspect, is directed not at some people who have money or success, but at those who profit through cronyism and their connections to power. In other words, anti-bailout anger is not anger at the rich, but anger at those unfairly getting rich -- at the taxpayer's expense.

Obama's top funder also leads the nation in White House visits
Excerpt: Just look a different chief executive -- one who talks about taking government back from the special interests: The organization that spent the most to help Barack Obama get elected president: SEIU, which spent $28 million backing Obama. The individual who has visited the Obama White House the most: SEIU President Andy Stern, who has visited 53 times. Also, the company from which Obama raised the most money in 2008: Goldman Sachs, whose CEO Lloyd Blankfein has visited the White House 10 times.
Documentary about the extremists.

Oscars 2011: the terror survivor and the film nominated for an Academy Award
Excerpt: What was supposed to have been the happiest day of Mr Khaled’s life turned to unimagineable tragedy in Nov 2005 when a suicide bomber attacked his wedding party in Amman, killing 27 people, including his father, Nadia’s father and 16 cousins. He has since devoted his life to raising his genial voice and deploying fearless determination to combat the strident advocates of terrorism within the Muslim community. “Osama bin Laden and the people like him always get the airtime when they issue their messages,” he said. “Well, we want to get our message across and give a name and identity to the victims of their terror.” The documentary is the searing and inspiring story of a journey that takes him half way around the world to meet survivors and confront supporters and perpetrators of atrocities carried out in the name of Allah.

Are We Facing 'The West's Last Chance'?
Excerpt: In the first chapter of The West's Last Chance (2005), Washington Times Editor Tony Blankley presents a fictional account of a neck-and-neck political race in 2007 America. Entitled "The Nightmare Scenario," the chapter portrays a presidential candidate, facing polls that indicate an even race and rationalizing to seize an opportunity and secure his dreams for high office. In the heat of a political rally with a Muslim American audience clamoring for shariah law, he capitulates to their demands. In 2005, when the book was published, U.S. political pandering to American Muslims was already an established reality. Since 9/11 and continuing today, our government bends over backward to avoid even a hint of negativity toward the purveyors of Islamic doctrine whose very mission is to destroy us. Pandering to Islam has reached epidemic proportions and threatens our very existence as a free society. This dangerous trend began immediately after 9/11 when President George W. Bush reached out to Muslims, repeating the hollow-sounding mantra that Islam is a religion of peace. This occurred despite prima facie and doctrinal evidence to the contrary. Given that Muslims following the revered Koranic path of jihad had perpetrated (and continue now) the vast majority of worldwide terrorist attacks, the president's message was incongruous with reality. Of course, the silence was deafening from the Allah hu-Akbar ("Allah is Great") corner, which instead focused on fears of burgeoning Islamophobia rather than shared anguish over the loss of life and destruction or condemnation of the hijackers' martyrdom operation.
Public Employee Unions: Entitled to Their Own Views, but Not Their Own Facts
Excerpt: The Center for Union Facts is out with a new, compelling study that makes clear how shoddy is the analysis of the most widely cited pro-union study arguing that public-sector employees are actually underpaid. The study isn't long and should be read in full. But its findings boil down to this: A series of studies released by the union-funded Economic Policy Institute (EcPI) seeks to extend the myth of the undercompensated public employee. Authored by Dr. Jeffery H. Keefe, an associate professor at Rutgers University, the studies examine public employee compensation on a national level, as well as in Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, and Wisconsin. ... This conclusion does not withstand close scrutiny. In seeking the appropriate comparison point, the EcPI study inappropriately assumes that any state government employee would be just as likely employed in the largest-size private sector firm if they weren't working in the public sector. The study also excludes part-year full-time workers from the analysis, removing a significant portion of the public sector workforce (including one-quarter of all teachers) from consideration. It could be a coincidence that the EcPI study makes two substantial errors, both of which bias the results in its preferred direction. Regardless, what's clear is that when correcting for these omissions and inappropriate assumptions in EcPI's regression, you find that public employees are not underpaid relative to their private sector counterparts. In fact, according to their own analysis, public employees at both the state and local levels enjoy a compensation premium of close to five percent compared to an employee of similar education and experience in the private sector.
Anti-Abortion Billboard in New York Sparks Outrage
Excerpt: An anti-abortion billboard featuring a young black girl and the slogan "the most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb" has provoked sharp criticism in New York. The poster advertises a Texas-based group called Life Always, which campaigns against what it calls a "genocidal plot" against unborn babies. It is on display in the SoHo area of Manhattan. On its website, Life Always states: "Abortions among African-American women are three times that of the rest of the population. Over 25 per cent of the next generation is being wiped out as we speak". Bill de Blasio, the city's public advocate, described the advertisement as "grossly offensive to women and minorities". "This billboard simply doesn't belong in New York City," said Mr de Blasio. "Common decency demands it be taken down." Christine Quinn, the Speaker of New York city council, said: "To refer to a woman's legal right to an abortion as a 'genocidal plot' is not only absurd, but offensive to women and to communities of colour".

Iran Warships Dock in Syria, Israeli Fears Dismissed
the Trail Run is always peaceful. ~Bob. Excerpt: Excerpt: Coinciding with political turmoil in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world, Iran's decision to send warships close to Israeli territory has rattled politicians in the Jewish state. The ships arrived on Wednesday night after passing through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean, the first Iranian navy vessels to do so since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran's navy commander told reporters the warships were not performing any military exercises but were "on a routine and friendly visit and carry the message of peace and friendship to world countries." "The Zionist regime had been exaggerating this issue because it wants to create tension among the brotherly relations between countries in the region," Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari told state TV.

Obama stays above fray, lets Hill Dems fight GOP on shutdown
What I wouldn’t give to have RINOs in the senate from Nevada, Delaware and a couple of other states. ~Bob. Excerpt: President Obama has been able to keep the partisan battle over a government shutdown at arm’s length, reaping the political benefits of a Senate majority that President Clinton didn’t have in 1995. With a temporary measure to fund the government through March 4 set to expire, Republican and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have engaged in an intense back-and-forth over spending cuts and which party is trying to pave the way for a shuttered federal government.

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