Thursday, February 3, 2011

Political Digest for February 3, 2011

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Nor that I disagree with them, of course.

Book Recommendation: Up From The Projects
The autobiography of economist Walter Williams, PhD. A short book that I finished in two nights, despite three business conference calls. Well worth reading. William grew up poor and black in a Philadelphia housing project, has become a leading educator, economist, columnist and opponent of racism. That would be the liberal racism that says we need lower admission standards and lower grading standards for blacks, because they are mentally challenged and can’t compete with whites. An inspiring story.

Must Read: Black Education by Walter E. Williams my "Black Education Disaster" column (12/22/10), I presented National Assessment of Educational Progress test data that demonstrated that an average black high school graduate had a level of reading, writing and math proficiency of a white seventh- or eighth-grader. The public education establishment bears part of the responsibility for this disaster, but a greater portion is borne by black students and their parents, many of whom who are alien and hostile to the education process. Let's look at the education environment in many schools and ask how conducive it is to the education process. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nationally during 2007-2008, more than 145,000 teachers were physically attacked. Six percent of big-city schools report verbal abuse of teachers and 18 percent report non-verbal disrespect for teachers. An earlier NCES study found that 18 percent of the nation's schools accounted for 75 percent of the reported incidents of violence, and 6.6 percent accounted for 50 percent. So far as serious violence, murder and rapes, 1.9 percent of schools reported 50 percent of the incidents. The preponderance of school violence occurs in big-city schools attended by black students…. Another part of the black education disaster has to do with the home environment. More than 70 percent of black children are born to unwedded mothers, who are often themselves born to unwedded mothers. Today's level of female-headed households is new in black history. Until the 1950s, almost 80 percent of black children lived in two-parent households, as opposed to today's 35 percent. Often, these unwedded mothers have poor parenting skills and are indifferent, and sometimes hostile, to their children's education. The resulting poorly behaving students should not be permitted to sabotage the education of students whose parents are supportive of the education process.

Wish I could draw. I’d have a huge bus. Under it would be Tony Rezko, Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, etc. They’d be welcoming our former ally, Mubarak. ~Bob.

We are dealing with over 20 inches of Global Warming here in Chicago.

Mubarak supporters clash with crowds after army tells protesters: 'Go home'
Excerpt: The Egyptian army called Wednesday for an end to the massive demonstrations that have shaken President Hosni Mubarak's grip on power, and the atmosphere turned ominous as the anti-government crowds were confronted by angry Mubarak supporters. The peaceful, carnival-like atmosphere that prevailed during massive demonstrations on Tuesday gave way to a tense, charged standoff between pro-democracy demonstrators and thousands of Mubarak supporters who had been bused in. The two sides threw rocks and chunks of cement at each other, with several people reported injured. Soldiers posted around the square did not immediately intervene. "We must leave. Egypt is divided. There will be war," one young girl wailed. "A young man with the pro-Mubarak group sat on a railing and stared darkly at the anti-government crowds.”They will not sleep here tonight in
Tahrir Square
," he said.

Muslim Brotherhood: ‘Prepare Egyptians for war with Israel'
I have some concern about that “orderly transition” BO envisions. ~Bob. Excerpt: A leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt told the Arabic-language Iranian news network Al-Alam on Monday that he would like to see the Egyptian people prepare for war against Israel, according to the Hebrew-language business newspaper Calcalist. Muhammad Ghannem reportedly told Al- Alam that the Suez Canal should be closed immediately, and that the flow of gas from Egypt to Israel should cease “in order to bring about the downfall of the Mubarak regime.” He added that “the people should be prepared for war against Israel,” saying the world should understand that “the Egyptian people are prepared for anything to get rid of this regime.” Ghannem praised Egyptian soldiers deployed by President Hosni Mubarak to Egyptian cities, saying they “would not kill their brothers.” He added that Washington was forced to abandon plans to help Mubarak stay in power after “seeing millions head for the streets.”

U.S. 'held secret meeting with Muslim Brotherhood'
Excerpt: The Egyptian government has information a diplomat at the U.S. embassy in Cairo secretly met yesterday with a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the nation's major Islamist opposition group, WND has learned. The topic of the meeting was the future of Egypt following the "fall" of President Hosni Mubarak, an Egyptian intelligence official told WND. The claim comes amid charges from Cairo that the Obama administration has been encouraging the protests rocking Egypt and targeting the rule of Mubarak, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East. The Egyptian intelligence official told WND his government has information of a meeting that took place yesterday between Issam El-Erian, a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Frank Wisner, a former U.S. ambassador to Egypt. (If true, who will trust us now in the Middle East? ~Bob.)

The Iranian Revolution Echoes in Egypt
Excerpt: Abbas Milani, like most educated Iranians, detested the Shah’s tyrannical regime that ruled over his homeland until it was overthrown in 1979 by a coalition of liberals, leftists, and Islamists. Unlike the vast majority of the liberals and leftists, however, Milani knew in advance what the Islamists were up to. The Shah had cast him into the dungeon at the notorious Evin Prison and for six months his cell mates were the ideological and physical brutes who later would found the Islamic Republic. Today Milani is the director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University and a co-director of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution.

Obama: Future Egypt Gov't Must Respect the Will of the People
Like, if the people oppose something you think is good, say healthcare “reform,” respect their will by jamming it down their throats! ~Bob

Mubarak Supporters, Foes Clash in
Tahrir Square
Excerpt: Several thousand supporters of President Hosni Mubarak, including some riding horses and camels and wielding whips, attacked anti-government protesters Wednesday as Egypt's upheaval took a dangerous new turn. In chaotic scenes, the two sides pelted each other with stones, and protesters dragged attackers off their horses. The turmoil was the first significant violence between supporters of the two camps in more than a week of anti-government protests. It erupted after Mubarak went on national television the night before and rejected demands he step down immediately and said he would serve out the remaining seven months of his term.

How Cairo, U.S. Were Blindsided by Revolution
Excerpt: In Cairo, a beleaguered collection of opposition groups plotted another in a series of demonstrations, this time to coincide with Police Day, a national holiday to thank Egypt's police forces. To activists, it was the perfect irony: Almost a year earlier, a young man from Alexandria with no history of political activism, Khaled Saied, had been beaten to death by police. Activists had managed to bring national attention to the case, and they intended to use Police Day to build on that. Opposition activists rallied around a Facebook page called We Are All Khaled Saied. To call for a protest, Mr. Saied's death became the focal point for people who hadn't been involved in the rights movement before, says Ahmed Gharbia, an Egyptian activist associated with the page. "He was an everyman, and it was very difficult for people who wanted to paint him as an outlaw to do that." In the past week, supporters of the page swelled from 75,000 members to over 440,000.

The Story of the Egyptian Revolution
Excerpt: But beneath that, things were very different. The social media tools had given people something that they had lacked previously, an independent means of communication and propaganda. Hundreds of thousands of young Egyptians in a matter of minutes were seeing the demonstration videos being uploaded on youtube. For an apolitical generation that had never shown interest in such events the demonstration was unprecedented. More remarkable they were tremendously exaggerated. At a moment when no more than 500 demonstrators had started gathering in that early morning, an Egyptian opposition leader could confidently tweet that he was leading 100,000 in
Tahrir Square
. And it stuck. It should come as no surprise to anyone that after 58 years of organized state propaganda, people would not believe for a second the government's media machine and its coverage of the events. Why they chose to believe the alternative propaganda needs more explaining. People believed the twitter messages and the facebook postings because they wanted to believe them. Tunisia had broken the barrier for many people. It mattered not that the situation and ruling formula in Tunisia is very different than the one in Egypt. Perceptions were more important than reality. If the Tunisians could do it, then so could we. With 15,000 demonstrating in Cairo, Egyptians were already texting each other with stories of the President's son escape. The only debate being whether Hosni Mubarak would escape to London or Saudi Arabia.

'Al-Qaida on brink of using nuclear bomb'
Excerpt: Al-Qaida is on the verge of producing radioactive weapons after sourcing nuclear material and recruiting rogue scientists to build "dirty" bombs, according to leaked diplomatic documents. A leading atomic regulator has privately warned that the world stands on the brink of a "nuclear 9/11". Security briefings suggest that jihadi groups are also close to producing "workable and efficient" biological and chemical weapons that could kill thousands if unleashed in attacks on the West. Thousands of classified American cables obtained by the WikiLeaks website and passed to The Daily Telegraph detail the international struggle to stop the spread of weapons-grade nuclear, chemical and biological material around the globe. At a Nato meeting in January 2009, security chiefs briefed member states that al-Qaida was plotting a program of "dirty radioactive IEDs", makeshift nuclear roadside bombs that could be used against British troops in Afghanistan.

Vulnerable Senate Dems under pressure to vote yes on repeal
Excerpt: Republican and Tea Party-affiliated groups are pressuring vulnerable Senate Democrats like Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) to support the GOP's amendment to repeal the healthcare law. Democrats appear confident — privately, at least — that the party won't see a single defection when the Senate votes Wednesday on repeal. But activists are warning Democratic senators who are facing tough reelection campaigns in 2012 that they will pay a price at the ballot box for continuing to support the healthcare law.

Look to Sweden for School Choice
Won’t happen. Barack may want us to be more like Europe, but not if it meant putting kids ahead of teacher union votes and political contributions. ~Bob. Excerpt: In 1993, Sweden introduced a system of school vouchers inspired by the ideas of American economists Milton and Rose Friedman. Sweden designed its voucher system to follow the Friedmans' advice to keep it universal and simple. The answer was a system where funding follows the student regardless of their parents' income, says Odd Eiken, former state secretary of schools in Sweden. Under the system, every family has the right to choose a school that's right for their child, and every student brings with him the same amount of per pupil funding as the cost of the public school in his or her home district. If a school chooses to be part of the voucher system, it has to be all-inclusive, provide national standards and have its performance monitored. A school also has no right to charge its students fees beyond the voucher. In some areas the competition is fierce, with both public and independent schools closing as a result. The variety of independent schools is large in both ownership and in innovative pedagogy and practice. Vouchers are not the sole fix for education. But with real competition, independent schools are still generally performing better academically than public schools, even if the differences probably will decrease as their share increases and failing schools disappear. More important perhaps, is that all schools -- public and private -- perform better in areas where alternatives are plentiful, says Eiken.

Restoring Fiscal and Monetary Policy
Excerpt It has been three years since the financial crisis flared up and the recession began. Yet the unemployment rate is still over 9 percent -- double what it was before the recession -- and it has been stuck there for 20 consecutive months. Why the extraordinarily high and prolonged unemployment? Discretionary government interventions -- deviations from sound economic principles and policies -- have been largely responsible, says John B. Taylor, a professor of economics at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. At best, actions like the stimulus and cash for clunkers had a small temporary effect that dissipated quickly, leaving a legacy of higher debt, a bloated Fed balance sheet and uncertainty -- all of which slow growth and job creation. The best way to reduce unemployment is to restore sound fiscal and monetary policies. The government should start by laying out a credible plan to reduce spending and stop the debt explosion. If spending as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) can be brought to 2000 levels and held there with entitlement reforms, then the budget can be balanced without employment-retarding tax-rate increases. A concrete goal should be to establish a long-term budget that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) can credibly show would bring the debt-to-GDP ratio to 40 percent. If the plan is ready for this summer's CBO long-term projections, it will give an immediate boost to economic growth and job creation as uncertainty about debt sustainability falls.

Worth Reading: Employers as Doctors
Excerpt: Unless you spend a lot of time around health policy wonks, you’ve probably never heard of the term “value-based health insurance benefits.” In fact, you may not even know that it’s the hottest new fad in the field. It’s the theme of the November issue of Health Affairs and you may have missed my thoughts on it at the Health Affairs Blog. Here is my layman’s summary: If you are like most people, you are not a very good consumer of health care. Odds are, you will fall for the latest fad advertised on TV or follow the advice you get at the bridge club instead of buying the care that has been scientifically shown to be better for you. So as a corrective, a lot of employers are finding ways to “nudge” you into better decisions through financial incentives. Say you have a chronic condition and need to take certain medications. Your employer might drop your deductible down to zero (or may even pay you to take them) to encourage your compliance. But for services where there appears to be wasteful overuse (such as MRI scans), the employer might impose a hefty $500 deductible….I wish I could say this was a mere oversight. An error on someone’s part. Alas. It is not. Turns out that the “value” in value-based insurance benefits does not necessarily mean high-quality, low-cost, evidence-based care, despite all the rhetoric. There are other values at play here and they may not be values you share….I’ve offered a political explanation of this phenomenon before, in response to the puzzling fact that other countries seem to overprovide to the healthy and underprovide to the sick. Unregulated doctors and hospitals are likely to spend more than half the health budget on 5% of the population. But if you are the Minister of Health, you cannot afford to spend half your money on 5% of the voters — many of whom will die before the next election or will be too sick to make it to the polls and vote anyway. Redistribution from the sick to the healthy makes political sense, even if it makes no medical sense.

From The Fix
Excerpt: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) dressed down a freshman senator today, telling a tardy Dick Blumenthal (D-Conn.), "You can't do this." (He was probably at a reunion of Faux Vietnam Vets. ~Bob.)

Holding a Borders Gift Card? Better Use It Now
Excerpt: It's no secret that Internet book sales and the advent of digital books on dedicated readers like the Amazon Kindle has eaten into the business of book chains such as Borders. Now, it appears that Borders may have reached the final chapter in the tale of its corporate existence, and anyone holding a Borders gift card would be well advised to use it before the company goes belly up. (…) The likely next step? According to Publishers Weekly, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing or even a full liquidation of the corporation. In that eventuality, if you are caught holding an unused Borders gift card, you will likely be left holding the bag. An empty bag. (For the Constant Readers among us, this is really sad news. Most of the small book stores went away long ago, overwhelmed by Borders, Barnes & Noble, Waldenbooks and the like. Now, we may be left with only Amazon, E-Bay, and the publisher’s direct sites. Who would’ve believed this 25 years ago? “Landlord, fill the flowing bowl….” Ron P.)

Worth Reading: I Can Balance the Budget
Excerpt: The Congressional Budget Office says the current year's budget deficit will be a record $1.5 trillion. It also says that over the next decade we're on track for annual deficits of "only" $768 billion. I suspect the CBO has hired Rosy Scenario to do the bookkeeping, but let's take that number at face value. I'm now going to balance the budget, with the help of some experts. I'll begin with things I'm most eager to cut. Let's privatize air traffic control. Canada did it, and it works better. Then privatize Amtrak. Get rid of all subsidies for rail. That'll save $12 billion. End subsidies for public broadcasting, like NPR. Cancel the Small Business Administration. Repeal the Davis-Bacon rules under which the government pays union-set wages to workers on federal construction projects. Cut foreign aid by half (although we should probably get rid of all of it). So far, that's $20 billion. Oops. That doesn't dent the deficit. We have to do much more. So eliminate the U.S. Education Department. We'd save $94 billion. Federal involvement doesn't improve education. It gets in the way. Agriculture subsidies cost us $30 billion a year. Let's get rid of them. They distort the economy. We should also eliminate Housing and Urban Development. That's $53 billion more.

Babeu: Gunfight with cartels imminent
Excerpt: Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is anticipating an armed conflict between his deputies and cartel members within the next 30 to 60 days. Babeu made that prediction last week as he addressed an Ahwatukee Foothills Republican women's club, and reiterated it Tuesday on the heels of a speech by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asserting that border communities are safer than ever. A gunbattle is all but certain, Babeu told The Arizona Republic, because his deputies and members of a regional SWAT team are now routinely working to stop smugglers from pushing cargo through Pinal.

Bill Would Require All S.D. Citizens to Buy a Gun
well, if the Feds can require you to buy health insurance to protect yourself, why not this? ~Bob. Excerpt: Five South Dakota lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require any adult 21 or older to buy a firearm “sufficient to provide for their ordinary self-defense.” The bill, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2012, would give people six months to acquire a firearm after turning 21. The provision does not apply to people who are barred from owning a firearm. Nor does the measure specify what type of firearm. Instead, residents would pick one “suitable to their temperament, physical capacity, and preference.”

Leaked Cable Reveals Previously Undisclosed 9/11 Suspects
Excerpt: Officials spoke after The (London) Daily Telegraph published leaked diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks that were sent between the U.S. embassy in Doha and the Department of Homeland Security in Washington. The documents reveal that on Aug. 15, 2001, three men from Qatar flew to the U.S. from London. They visited New York City and Washington D.C., and made trips to the World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty, the White House and "various areas" in Virginia. They then flew to Los Angeles where they checked into a hotel and stayed for several days, checking out on Sept. 10. According to the memo, "hotel cleaning staff grew suspicious of the men because they noticed pilot type uniforms, several laptops and several cardboard boxes addressed to Syria, Jerusalem, Afghanistan and Jordan in the room." "The men had ... a cellular phone attached by wire to a computer," it added. "The room also contained pin feed computer paper print outs with headers listing pilot names, airlines, flight numbers, and flight times." The trio was scheduled to fly to Washington one day before the attacks, but instead departed for London. A subsequent FBI investigation found that the men's airline tickets and hotel were paid for by a "convicted terrorist," the memo said. (This is a result of the initial confusion on our part. Treating 9/11 as a criminal matter, the lack of direct evidence means no case. When viewed as an act of war, it becomes obvious these men should have been "found, detained, and debriefed." Once again, we need to thank the Clinton administration. Ron P. )

To Live and Die in Philadelphia
Excerpt: Many people knew what was going on at his Philadelphia clinic; several filed complaints with state and local agencies. But nothing was done, and at the time of his arrest, he hadn’t been visited by a medical examiner for 17 years. As the grand jury noted, with the change of governors in Pennsylvania in 1995—when the pro-abortion Tom Ridge replaced the pro-life Bob Casey—“the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all,” as “officials concluded that inspections would be ‘putting a barrier up to women’ seeking abortions.” Who could wonder why Kermit Gosnell was confused at his arraignment? No one had stopped him before. No one in more than 30 years had questioned him. No one had ever given him a signal that he might be prosecuted for performing abortions by inducing overmedicated third-trimester labor and then chopping through the spinal cord of the living result. No one had ever dared call his abortion business murder. No one, in fact, had ever told him he wasn’t the absolute ruler of his own little third-world country.

The Media Never Loved Reagan
Excerpt: (In reality, AIDS funding skyrocketed in the 1980s, almost doubling each year from 1983 -- when the media started blaring headlines -- from $44 million to $103 million, $205 million, $508 million, $922 million, and then $1.6 billion in 1988. This is what CBS calls "largely ignoring it.") But defense spending was, by contrast, an enormous waste. Take it from ABC's Jim Wooten in 1990: "The dreaded federal deficit, created, for the most part, by the most massive peacetime military buildup in America's history." (But in 1990, defense spending was a fourth of the budget and had decreased 16 percent in the previous five years, while entitlements were half the budget and grew sharply.) The reality of the Reagan years was a historic economic recovery, a strong defense posture that led to the demise of the Soviet empire and an America that once more burst with pride. But media liberals were so obstinate in denying reality that CBS's Morley Safer huffed just days after Reagan passed away: "When it gets down to the real substance, I don't think history has any reason to be kind to him."

A Christian Business in the Left's Crosshairs
Excerpt: Chick-fil-A is an American success story. Founded by Georgian entrepreneur Truett Cathy in 1946, the family-owned chicken-sandwich chain is one of the country's largest fast-food businesses. It employs some 50,000 workers across the country at 1,500 outlets in nearly 40 states and the District of Columbia. The company generates more than $2 billion in revenue and serves millions of happy customers with trademark Southern hospitality. So, what's the problem? Well, Chick-fil-A is run by devout Christians who believe in strong marriages, devoted families and the highest standards of character for their workers. The restaurant chain's official corporate mission is to "glorify God" and "enrich the lives of everyone we touch." The company's community service initiatives, funded through its WinShape Foundation, support foster care, scholarship, summer camp and marriage enrichment programs. On Sunday, all Chick-fil-A stores close so workers can spend the day at worship and rest. For the left, these Biblically based corporate principles constitute high social justice crimes and misdemeanors. Democrats are always ready to invoke religion to support their big government, taxpayer-funded initiatives (Obamacare, illegal alien amnesty, increased education spending and FCC regulatory expansion, for starters). But when an independent company -- thriving on its own merits in the marketplace -- wears its soul on its sleeve, suddenly it's a theocratic crisis. (Smearing, emotional blackmail, false claims, intimidation.... yep, that's our friends who call themselves "Liberals". I'm so old I recall when being liberal meant tolerance for all, respecting freedom of speech, opinion, and action, and treating even those whose positions you oppose with respect. Apparently such thoughts became obsolete and have been wiped out as thoroughly as the paper bits that Winston Smith stuffed into wall holes that took everything into a flame, in the book 1984. I haven't done much business with Chick-Fil-A, but I will now start going out of my way to explore their menu. --Del)

The British Left's Betrayal of America
Excerpt: The latest revelations that Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government advised Libya on how to secure the release of the Lockerbie bomber may have destroyed the Anglo-American relationship. Leftists, no matter where they are situated, appear to have a number of things in common -- one of which is a deep seated hatred of the United States of America. Whether it be because the founding principles of the nation are deeply conservative or simply because of the extraordinary success that America has generated since its inception, the fact is that the hatred that leftists feel towards the US is deep-seated, and leads to all sorts of bizarre, often shocking behavior. This week's revelations from Wikileaks have stunned even British commentators like myself who are acclimatized to the usual rabid anti-Americanism that infests the British left-wing. It has been revealed that under the previous left-wing Labour government -- led by hard-left socialist Gordon Brown -- the British government not only made a deal with Libya to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on "compassionate grounds," but also actively coached the Libyans as to how to proceed legally with the case and obtain that release. This happened (as far as we can see) without the knowledge of our American allies. The release of the Lockerbie bomber, which resulted in sickening celebrations in Libya when Megrahi returned, was already an international scandal that had shaken the already fragile Anglo-American relationship to its core.

The Left and their "Good Victims"
Excerpt: When Obama was an Illinois state senator, he refused to protect live babies who survived late-term abortion. While abortion is a hot-button topic, who among us would not agree that if the baby is born alive, he or she should be allowed to remain in that state? Another disturbing example: progressives have had a field day blogging about how Palin should have aborted her Down Syndrome child, Trig. Part of the reason Palin resigned her governorship is because of the vicious things said about Trig. Isn't it offensive in the extreme when people wish death by abortion on a fully formed child? It makes me wonder: what has happened to these people to make their hearts grow so cold? Perhaps it's all the violent TV shows and movies desensitizing people. Maybe it's a result of the left's Alinsky-like tactics that pit groups against each other for limited resources. More profoundly, in our secular world, people are alienated from the life force, from the Source of all love in the universe. You can see it; the light has gone out of so many people's eyes. And they reveal this darkness by sexually degrading Palin, wishing bodily harm on Rush, or promoting the early deaths of our old people.

The Constitutional Moment
Excerpt: Judge Vinson introduces ObamaCare to Madison and Marshall. 'If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself." Federal Judge Roger Vinson opens his decision declaring ObamaCare unconstitutional with that citation from Federalist No. 51, written by James Madison in 1788. His exhaustive and erudite opinion is an important moment for American liberty, and yesterday may well stand as the moment the political branches were obliged to return to the government of limited and enumerated powers that the framers envisioned. As Judge Vinson took pains to emphasize, the case is not really about health care at all, or the wisdom—we would argue the destructiveness—of the newest entitlement. Rather, the Florida case goes to the core of the architecture of the American system, and whether there are any remaining limits on federal control. Judge Vinson's 78-page ruling in favor of 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business, among others, is by far the best legal vindication to date of Constitutional principles that form the outer boundaries of federal power. (As others have said in the past, a broad enough interpretation of the Commerce Clause would amount to enabling Congress to do literally anything at in regard to what the people can and cannot do, similar to the old "divine right" of kings. Absolutely against everything the Founders believed in, stood for, and wanted to capture in the Constitution. Hooray for this judge. --Del)

'Jihad Jane' Terror Suspect Pleads Guilty in Pa.
Excerpt: A Pennsylvania woman who called herself "Jihad Jane" online pleaded guilty Tuesday to her role in a plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist who had offended Muslims. Colleen LaRose, 47, helped foreign terror suspects intent on starting a holy war in Europe and South Asia, prosecutors said. LaRose, who also was accused of using the online screen name "Fatima LaRose," has been in custody since October 2009 and faces a possible life sentence under the four charges to which she pleaded guilty. Speaking clearly but quietly, LaRose said Tuesday she had never been treated for any mental health problems and was entering her plea freely. She whispered a few comments to her lawyers, some of them prompting a smile from public defender Mark T. Wilson. Wilson declined to comment afterward.

Carbon Dioxide and Earth’s Future
This article by Craig and Sherwood Idso compares real world results against "climate model" results over a series of ten specific concerns that are at issue between warmers and skeptics. The article contains a link to a PDF of the original study that can be browsed or downloaded (2.5MB). I strongly urge readers to view, at the least, the Executive Summary. I think this will be fought over for a long time because it is so thoroughly critical of the AGW position. Ron P.
Excerpt: This week we announce the release of our newest major report, Carbon Dioxide and Earth’s Future: Pursuing the Prudent Path. Based on the voluminous periodic reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the ongoing rise in the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration has come to be viewed as a monumental danger — not only to human society, but to the world of nature as well. But are the horrific “doomsday scenarios” promulgated by the climate alarmists as set-in-stone as the public is led to believe? Do we really know all of the complex and interacting processes that should be included in the models upon which these scenarios are based? And can we properly reduce those processes into manageable computer code so as to produce reliable forecasts 50 or 100 years into the future? At present, the only way to properly answer these questions is to compare climate model projections with real-world observations. Theory is one thing, but empirical reality is quite another. The former may or may not be correct, but the latter is always right. As such, the only truly objective method to evaluate climate model projections is by comparing them with real-world data. In what follows, we conduct just such an appraisal, comparing against real-world observations ten of the more ominous model-based predictions of what will occur in response to continued business-as-usual anthropogenic CO2 emissions....

The Ellen DeGeneres Interview That Will Haunt President Obama
Excerpt: Long before his administration went into federal court to fight 27 states that are now challenging the constitutionality of the federal government forcing people to buy health insurance, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama told Ellen DeGeneres that—unlike his opponent Hillary Clinton—he opposed forcing the uninsured to buy health insurance, saying that it would be like forcing the homeless to buy homes. “Both of us want to provide health care to all Americans. There’s a slight difference, and her plan is a good one. But, she mandates that everybody buy health care. She’d have the government force every individual to buy insurance and I don’t have such a mandate because I don’t think the problem is that people don’t want health insurance, it’s that they can’t afford it,” Obama said in a Feb. 28, 2008 appearance on Ellen DeGeneres' television show. “So, I focus more on lowering costs. This is a modest difference. But, it’s one that she’s tried to elevate, arguing that because I don’t force people to buy health care that I’m not insuring everybody. Well, if things were that easy, I could mandate everybody to buy a house, and that would solve the problem of homelessness. It doesn’t."

Valerie Jarrett to Uniformed Officer at Alfalfa Club Dinner: Get Me a Glass of Wine, Would You?
Excerpt: According to our tipster, Jarrett was seated at the head table along with several other big-name politicians and a handful of high-ranking military officials. As an officer sporting several stars walked past Jarrett, she signaled for his attention and said, “I’d like another glass of wine.”…White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, who was seated next to Jarret, began “cracking up nervously,” our tipster said, but no one pointed out to Jarrett that the man sporting a chestful of medals was not her waiter. “The guy dutifully went up and got her a glass of wine, and then came back and gave it to her and took a seat at the table,” our tipster said. “Everyone is in tuxedos and gowns at this thing, but the military people are in full dress uniform.” (Maybe an urban legend. Hard to believe even an Obot could be that dumb. ~Bob.)

ObamaCare Repeal: Harry Reid Confronted in Gourmet Market
Excerpt: U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) may never go grocery shopping for his wife again. While shopping this past Saturday afternoon amongst the food aisles at his local gourmet grocer in McLean, Virginia, Sen. Reid came across a fellow shopper who recognized him and asked a question that the senior senator from Nevada plainly did not want to answer. The private citizen acknowledged upfront to the U.S. Senate's most powerful Democrat that he was a Republican and wanted to know from Mr. Reid himself why the Majority Leader was refusing to allow the just-passed House bill to repeal ObamaCare to come to the floor of the U.S. Senate for a vote. Mr. Reid, walking beside the store's imported bottled condiments, responded to his questioner that he was focused on his shopping right now and did not wish to discuss the matter. Mr. Reid's Republican antagonist was not to be put off and persisted in his questioning. Leader Reid, who by now was perusing the store's extensive cheese selection, refused to say anything further. Unfazed by the stony silence emanating from the Majority Leader -- and apparently not at all bothered by the unamused look on the face of the plainclothes Capitol Police officer shadowing the Majority Leader -- the persistent questioner was not yet ready to withdraw.

Excerpt: Overall, the Obama administration's record on legal reform has been poor. The solicitor general's office has asked the Supreme Court to expand product liability and securities litigation; Obama has signed several bills that also expand liability.
All of this benefits trial lawyers at the expense of jobs and the economy. The medical-malpractice bill that Republicans have created isn't perfect. For example, its "collateral source" provisions, which require damages to be offset by insurance recovery, act to punish plaintiffs for buying insurance. And unlike product liability or nationwide class actions, medical malpractice is more of a local than a federal issue: if Pennsylvania or Illinois want to chase their doctors away to Texas with a bad legal environment for medical malpractice, why should the federal government care? President Obama may be sincere about the need for legal reform. But before we give him credit, legal reformers should insist on something more than words.

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