Thursday, March 3, 2011

Political Digest for March 3, 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.

Power to the People!
Turns out this old leftist mantra didn’t mean that the poor and working class folks would be able to afford power to drive cars or heat and light their homes. Gas is now at about $3.40 nationwide, about $3.70 here in Chicago. I wish it would go back to $2.78—the level the left was bashing Bush over a few years ago!

It’s starting to be a real hardship for folks at the lower end of the bell curve on incomes. While I don’t qualify as “rich” even under the low standard set by the Obots, I can pay the higher cost without too much of a pinch. But it means fewer dinners out, perhaps a shorter or no vacation, fewer consumer goods bought. When the middle class and the rich cut back on these things, dollars that would go into the pockets of waiters and cooks and clerks and truckers got to the Middle East to fund terrorism instead.

And don’t mention the number of poor worldwide going to bed hungry tonight because the left pushed investment and tax subsidizes in ethanol, so that inefficient, expensive corn fuel goes in gas tanks, instead of tortillas into bellies.

Energy is an interconnected world market. Obama is playing to the economically-ignorant crowds on taxing Big Oil more. Big Oil pays it’s taxes out of the pockets of average Joes who buy gas and heating oil. Except for the left, we could be getting a much larger percentage of electric power from nuclear plants—like Socialist France does! (Then electric cars wouldn’t really be “coal powered” cars!). We could be pumping oil from off shore and ANWR wells—safer for the environment than deep water drilling. We could be exploring technology to pull out shale oil economically.

Instead, the left is pursuing their quasi-religious chimeras of light-rail, solar and wind power (as long as it’s not in the view of liberal mansions like the Kennedy Compound), all expensive and requiring more tax dollars from your pocket to keep operating. And as long as they spout slogans about “helping the poor,” the poor won’t understand who is screwing them. But the collapse is coming.

Editorial: Drill, baby, drill, Pt. II Detroit News Editorial
Excerpt: The turmoil in the Middle East has pushed oil above $100 per barrel again, and gasoline prices are following suit. In Metro Detroit, many stations are posting prices above $3.30, with predictions that they will move higher unless oil supplies increase. Unfortunately, at the same time foreign supplies are falling, domestic production is being curtailed by policies of President Barack Obama's administration. The Interior Department continues to defy a federal court order that lifted a ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, put in place during last spring's oil spill. Rather than complying with the judge's order, federal regulators have stalled the issuing of permits so that almost no new drilling has occurred in the Gulf in more than six months.

Networks Link Bush to 'Skyrocketing' Gas Prices 15 Times More Than Obama
Polls show more people trust Fox than any other cable network, and more than don’t trust Fox. The others are underwater. Things like this are why. ~Bob. Excerpt: As gas prices rose in 2008, network reporters mentioned President Bush in 15 times as many stories than they brought up President Obama in a similar period in 2011. Bush drew gallons of coverage in 2008. Comparing a 20-day span of rising gas prices in 2008 to 24 days of rising prices in February 2011, the Business & Media Institute found the networks did more than 2 ½ times as many stories during the Bush years versus Obama. Unrest in the Mideast has hit American consumers hard, driving up gas prices that had already been above $3-a-gallon since Dec. 23. The national average for gasoline hit $3.36 on Feb. 28, the highest ever for the month of February according to The Associated Press. But the amount of network news coverage of rising gas prices did not reflect it.

2 US airmen killed in Frankfurt airport shooting
Kosovo. That would be the home of the Muslims Bill Clinton sent our Air Force to save from the Serbs. Guess they aren’t as grateful as Bill expected. And, again, we get the “spare no effort to bring them to justice” speech. ~Bob. Excerpt: A man armed with a handgun attacked a bus carrying U.S. airmen outside Frankfurt airport Wednesday, killing two Americans and wounding two others before being taken into custody, authorities said. Boris Rhein, the top security official in the German state of Hesse where the shooting took place, identified the shooter as a 21-year-old from Kosovo. In Washington, President Barack Obama promised to "spare no effort" in investigating the slayings.

Kosovan Gunman Shouted "Islamic Slogans" Before Shooting Dead Two U.S. Airmen at Frankfurt Airport
Didn’t get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: The airport, continental Europe’s second biggest after Paris, is routinely used by American soldiers based in Germany for arrivals and departures. ABC News reported that when the gunman opened fire, he shouted 'Allah Akbar'. He was said to have fired nine times before his gun jammed and he was subdued by other passengers. While being wrestled to the ground he shouted either 'Allah Akbar' again or 'Jihad Jihad', according to sources.

Pakistan's Only Christian Minister Shot Dead Over Blasphemy Law Opposition
Didn’t get the memo. ~Bob. Excerpt: Mr Bhatti normally travelled flanked by two security vans with armed guards, but officials said he refused security when he visited his mother's home in Islamabad's I83 neighbourhood. He was ambushed close to his mother's home this morning by four gunmen in a white Suzuki Alto car. According to the minister's driver, two men got out of the car, fired in the air and then raked the rear passenger seat where Mr Bhatti was sitting. The driver, who was wounded in the attack, told police he had survived by crouching down in the front of the car when he saw the men approaching the car carrying weapons. The minister was rushed to the capital's Shifa hospital but doctors said he was dead on arrival. He had died from twenty bullet wounds. "Three or four armed men riding in a white Suzuki car intercepted his official vehicle. The attackers were clad in shawls and fired bursts on him, and he died," said Islamabad's police chief Wajid Durrani said. Yusuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan's prime minister, visited the hospital where Mr Bhatti was taken after the attack and condemned his killing.

High court rules for military funeral protesters
The ruling doesn’t surprise me. But I think the WBC protests will lead to violence at some point. I hope the Court is as eager to protect speech aimed at Islamic Supremacists. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the First Amendment protects fundamentalist church members who mount attention-getting, anti-gay protests outside military funerals. The court voted 8-1 in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. The decision upheld an appeals court ruling that threw out a $5 million judgment to the father of a dead Marine who sued church members after they picketed his son's funeral. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the court. Justice Samuel Alito dissented.

Politicizing Everything by Ronald G. Pittenger
The Supreme Court of the United States has just ruled that funeral services at the graveside are an appropriate place for political protest. This 8 to 1 decision shouldn’t be stunning. Every veteran always knew he was fighting for the right of others to spit on his grave. Frequently, the protest act was because the veteran had fought for that right, which somehow made the non-veteran feel morally superior to the unfortunate dead.

Having an all-volunteer force just seems to separate the warriors and the protected even more. Many families have no veterans among their numbers—except, maybe crazy Uncle Joey who married in, but he’s older than dirt and nobody likes him, anyway. The average person feels no connection to those manning the barricades, and perhaps even resents the idea of having to pay for a standing military. Now that the Iraqi and Afgani wars are firmly the property of President Obama, we hardly ever hear about them in the news anymore. Didn’t he end them already?

Not even having 46 states and a bipartisan group of 42 US Senators join the suit persuaded the Justices that expecting solemn respect for the grieving families of the dead was valuable to the dignity of the nation. From now on, private family grief will be a matter of luck and whether or not someone felt like protesting that day. Instead, we can now look forward to graveside hoopla for any American who can’t afford to be buried in a private cemetery.

I can see future funerals of politicians already. Imagine Al Gore’s. On one side of the grave signs could say “He should have been the President;” on the other, a cheering section chanting “He invented the Internet;” and by the foot of the coffin, a small sign reading “The world will be cooler without his hot air.”

An 8 to 1 majority is pretty solid. As Al’s favorite climatologists might say, this is now “settled,” and we will be living with its implications for the foreseeable future. No doubt this ruling will eventually be extended to its logical extremes: weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and birthday parties for 5-year-olds. Family functions can no longer be private. Like everything else, family functions are now political. It shouldn’t be stunning. But, it still is.

Lt. Gen. John Kelly, who lost son to war, says U.S. largely unaware of sacrifice
Excerpt: Without once referring to his son's death, the general delivered a passionate and at times angry speech about the military's sacrifices and its troops' growing sense of isolation from society. "Their struggle is your struggle," he told the ballroom crowd of former Marines and local business people. "If anyone thinks you can somehow thank them for their service, and not support the cause for which they fight - our country - these people are lying to themselves. . . . More important, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to this nation." Kelly is the most senior U.S. military officer to lose a son or daughter in Iraq or Afghanistan. He was giving voice to a growing concern among soldiers and Marines: The American public is largely unaware of the price its military pays to fight the United States' distant conflicts. Less than 1 percent of the population serves in uniform at a time when the country is engaged in one of the longest periods of sustained combat in its history. President Obama devoted only six sentences to the war in Afghanistan in his State of the Union address in January.

Interesting quotes from A Patriot’s History of the United States.
“Our true choice is not between tax reduction…and the avoidance of large federal deficits….It is increasingly clear that…an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough revenue to balance the budget—just as it will never produce enough jobs or enough profits.” John F. Kennedy.

“You cannot use tact with a Congressman! A Congressman is a hog! You must take a stick and hit him on the snout!” –Henry Adams.

“Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.” –John Adams.

“If ever a nation was debauched by a man, the American nation has been debauched by Washington.” –The Aurora. (Civility in the old days! ~Bob.)

John McCain Ranked Most Conservative Senator in 2010
Excerpt: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was labeled a moderate during his presidential campaign, had one of the most conservative 2010 voting records in the Senate, according to the National Journal. After reviewing all 96 votes taken in the Senate in 2010, the magazine found that McCain was tied with seven of his colleagues for the largest number of conservative votes taken. He tied with well-known staunch conservatives like Republican Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and John Barrasso of Wyoming. McCain even took more conservative votes than other senators known for their conservatism, like Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma or Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

Public Employee Unions By Walter E. Williams
Excerpt: According to the Department of Labor, most union members today work for state, local and federal government. Close to 40 percent of public employees are unionized. As such, they represent a powerful political force in elections. If you're a candidate for governor, mayor or city councilman, you surely want the votes and campaign contributions from public employee unions. In my view, that's no problem. The problem arises after you win office and sit down to bargain over the pay and working conditions with unions who voted for you. Given the relationship between politicians and public employee unions, we should not be surprised that public employee wages and benefits often average 45 percent higher than their counterparts in the private sector. Often they receive pension and health care benefits making little or no contribution. How is it that public employee unions have such a leg up on their private-sector brethren? The answer is not rocket science. Employers in the private sector have a bottom line. If they overcompensate their employees, company profits will sink. The company might even face bankruptcy.

Farrakhan: Jews are pushing the US into war
Excerpt: Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said Jews and Zionists are "trying to push the US into war" and are a cover for Satan, at the group's annual meeting near Chicago on Tuesday. “President Obama," Farrakhan said, "if you allow the Zionists to push you, to mount a military offensive against Gaddafi and you go in and kill him and his sons as you did with Saddam Hussein and his sons, I’m warning you this is a Libyan problem, let the Libyans solve their problem among themselves.” Farrakhan called Muammar Gaddafi "my brother" and "my friend."

Rioters Throw Flares at Seattle Officers
Sorry for the broken link yesterday.

So, What's it like having a Democratic colleague tell you, "You are ****ing dead!"
Excerpt: Presumptive answer to the question posed in the headline: “Ask anyone who’s worked with Rahm Emanuel.” The story of Gordon Hintz’s meltdown on the Wisconsin assembly floor broke yesterday via radio host Charlie Sykes; today, inevitably, comes the conservative media tour for Hintz’s target, GOP Rep. Michelle Litjens, to share what she’s learned about the Party Of Civility™. Three quickie points from the two clips below, one from Fox News and the other from Laura Ingraham’s radio show. First, as Litjens herself notes, although Hintz’s outburst happened several days ago, he didn’t get around to apologizing to her until Sykes started talking about this on Monday. Fancy that. Second, the Hintz incident itself is less alarming than what she says about needing a police escort in the Capitol. There were reports last week of Walker phoning Republican senators to warn them that their safety couldn’t be assured; this is how far it’s gone, evidently. And third, needless to say, after the left’s grotesque, groundless demagoguery of the Tucson shooting as some sort of indictment of Republican rhetoric, conservative media will happily grind their faces in each and every bit of incivility expressed by union protesters or their apologists. The videos and photos of protesters with incendiary signs are already old hat after two weeks, but for righties forever tarred with the worst excesses of cranks who show up at tea party rallies, the appetite for liberal hypocrisy is insatiable.

Conceding defeat this time, Senate Dems pledge to win next round
Excerpt: Senate Democrats conceded Tuesday that House Republicans won round one of the budget fight, but they are vowing a bigger battle later this month. Anticipating that showdown, Senate Democratic leaders are scrambling to unify their caucus as their colleagues express starkly different opinions on the best strategy to pursue. Centrists who are facing tough reelections in Republican-leaning states want to support additional spending cuts for the rest of the fiscal year. Some are more willing to accept reductions to social programs than to defense and agriculture programs. Disappointed and boxed-in Democratic senators suggested Tuesday they would win — next time. (“Get ‘em skeered, and then keep the skeer on them!” --Nathan Bedford Forrest, and execrable racist and Democrat my Civil War ancestors would have shot on sight, but an excellent cavalry tactician. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: How can the federal government encourage low-cost, high-quality medical care? There are basically two approaches: a bottom-up, market-based approach and a top-down command-and-control approach: The former is based on competition, markets and economic incentives; the latter is based on rules, regulations, fines and penalties. The former gets the economic incentives right for all of the individuals in the system, but does not try to dictate or even predict the final outcome; the latter decides in advance what the end result should look like and tries to free people to achieve it, even if it is not in their self interest to do so. The former pleads ignorance about how medicine should be practiced — letting that be determined by competition in the marketplace; the latter decides in advance how medicine should be practiced and tries to impose it from above. The former depends for its success on the intelligence, creativity and innovative ability of thousands of doctors, nurses and hospital personnel; the latter depends for its success on a small group of experts having all the right answers. In the bottom-up world, 778,000 doctors, 2.6 million registered nurses and thousands of hospital and facilities personnel get up every morning and ask themselves, “How can I make costs lower and quality higher today?” In the top-down world, all of those people get up every morning and ask, “How can I squeeze even another dollar out of the third-party reimbursement formulas?”

Benefits of Biofuels and Electric Vehicles Questionable
Excerpt: Cars remain the primary mode of personal transportation for much of America and account for a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions. However, promoting electric vehicles like the new Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf could actually cause more harm than the perceived good it provides, says Amy Kaleita, a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute. Both biofuels and electric vehicles are highly incentivized by federal actions; yet, the environmental benefits of both remain questionable. Policymakers must look beyond tailpipe emissions and consider economic sustainability, performance and functionality, and overall environmental health. Dr. Kaleita's research debunks several myths fueling the push for more biofuels and electric vehicles. It shows: Many biofuels, namely those sourced from corn and soybeans, can have significant negative environmental impact. Electric cars are only beneficial when the electricity is generated on-board or when the car is charged with electricity generated from no- to low-carbon sources. Plug-in hybrids are only cost-competitive and more environmentally sound than other options when they are short-range vehicles charged every 20 miles or less.

CBO: Jobs Created and Saved By Stimulus Cost At Minimum An Average of $228,055 Each
Jeeze, the government could have just hired…wait, forget I said that! ~Bob. Excerpt: The jobs created and saved by the economic stimulus law that President Barack Obama signed on Feb. 17, 2009 cost at a minimum an average of $228,055 each, according to data released yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). In a report released Wednesday—“Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output from October Through December 2010”—the CBO said it now estimates the stimulus law cost a total of $821 billion, up from CBO’s original estimate that the stimulus would cost $787 billion.

Why Boom Is A No-Show: A Lack Of Net Investment
Excerpt: Although the economy is showing some signs of revival, many people wonder why it hasn't roared back, as it did after most previous contractions. If consumer spending were the key, the economy would be going strong. Real consumer spending peaked in the fourth quarter of 2007, fell slightly (about 2.5%) over the next six quarters, and by the fourth quarter of 2010 exceeded its previous peak by almost 1%. So it is clear that a "collapse" in consumption is not to blame for the economy's anemic recovery. What is to blame is the collapse of private business investment. Until this critical component of the economy — technically, "private domestic business net investment" — fully recovers, the economy will continue to sputter. Don't confuse net investment with gross investment.

Interesting: Defining 'Essential' Care: Regulators Move to Specify Coverage Under Health Law; Insurers Seek Flexibility
Excerpt: The next big issue for the federal health law as it moves toward implementation is how regulators will define so-called essential benefits—the basic medical services that health plans must cover under the law. The legislation gives 10 categories of care that plans must provide for customers of the health-insurance exchanges that are launching in 2014. But the law leaves details up to regulators, who are now starting to develop the rules. (Right now, I’m too healthy, but at some point I will need a lung transplant for my IPF—or will die. To qualify to get on the list, I’m told you have to be within a year of dying, but healthy enough to have a shot at surviving. Age is a factor. I qualify for, and am required to join Medicare in April. Such transplants are quite expensive, well beyond my private means. At what age will it not be cost effective for the tax payers to pony up the funds to pay for my transplant? Who decides? One person’s “essential service” is another person’s “luxury frill.” If I face a “Death Panel,” I’m calling Sarah Palin! ~Bob.)

Excerpt: On Monday, on what would have been his 64th birthday, some of Broadway's finest -- Montego Glover, Sherie Rene Scott and Kevin Chamberlin, among them -- turned out at Birdland to celebrate Mike in an evening of songs. The event was also a benefit to boost awareness of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, the lung disease that contributed to his death. It raised $40,000 for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. Comic actress Julie Halston was great host and very funny, but turned serious when she revealed her husband suffered from the same disease. He had lung transplant and is healthy now. After Halston's husband spoke briefly to the crowd, she introduced his doctors and called them "real stars."

Ohio Senate panel approves union-rights bill, sending it to full Senate
As the fiscal collapse progresses, and the “entitlement riots” escalate, we will fondly recall these as the “good old days” of relative civility. ~Bob. Excerpt: An Ohio legislative committee approved a bill on Wednesday that would weaken the powers of public workers unions to negotiate their contracts. The vote came as union supporters protested the measure for a second day on the grounds of the state capitol in Columbus.

Republicans shift focus to Medicaid complaints
Excerpt: A day after President Obama said he would support amending the health-care law so states can opt out of key provisions sooner, Republicans sought to shift the rhetorical battle back to an issue that would be largely unaffected by the president's proposal: the impact of the law's Medicaid requirements on state budgets. Testifying at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday, two Republican governors returned to themes that had dominated the discussion at the National Governors Association's semiannual meeting over the weekend.

The Art of Politics
The old saw is that, ‘Politics is the art of the possible.” Increasingly, I think, “Politics is the art of promising the impossible, them blaming the failure on someone else.” ~Bob.

Gitmo may stay open beyond 2012
Hard political reality meets mush-headed political promises. ~Bob. Excerpt: Attorney General Eric Holder left open the possibility Tuesday that the Guantánamo Bay terrorist prison camp might live on beyond President Obama’s first term. Asked in a congressional hearing whether the prison would be closed by November 2012, Holder said: “I don’t know.

Rebels repel Gaddafi loyalists in battle for key Libyan oil port
Excerpt: Leaders of the Libyan opposition say they do not want ground forces coming in from outside the country, but they are increasingly coming around to the view that people power alone might not be enough to dislodge the longtime dictator from his remaining strongholds. They are seeking international enforcement of a no-fly zone, as well as supplies of weaponry and airstrikes. In Benghazi, some members of the committee formed to run the city said they expected to issue a formal request for military assistance to the international community Wednesday. U.S. military officials on Tuesday played down the likelihood of the United States setting up a no-fly zone. Residents also want foreign help in Misurata, a city about 130 miles east of Tripoli that is besieged by Gaddafi's militias.

Obama's 'Where's Waldo?' presidency
Excerpt: For a man who won office talking about change we can believe in, Barack Obama can be a strangely passive president. There are a startling number of occasions in which the president has been missing in action - unwilling, reluctant or late to weigh in on the issue of the moment. He is, too often, more reactive than inspirational, more cautious than forceful. Each of these instances can be explained on its own terms, as matters of legislative strategy, geopolitical calculation or political prudence. He didn't want to get mired in legislative details during the health-care debate for fear of repeating the Clinton administration's prescriptive, take-ours-or-leave-it approach. He doesn't want to go first on proposing entitlement reform because history teaches that this is not the best route to a deal. He didn't want to say anything too tough about Libya for fear of endangering Americans trapped there. He didn't want to weigh in on the labor battle in Wisconsin because, well, it's a swing state.

The bully's pulpit
Excerpt: On college campuses all over America, the First Amendment is trashed on a regular basis. Even when the courts weigh in, declaring that speech codes are unconstitutional, college administrators, professors and even students find a way to curb free speech. At least free speech that expresses conservative sentiments. At the same time, those very same groups either remain silent or encourage Muslims and left-wingers who regularly shout down conservatives and Israeli diplomats who have been invited to be guest speakers. It’s been a long time since college campuses have lived up to their reputation as venues dedicated to the free expression of unpopular ideas. At this point, the main difference between a college campus and a totalitarian state is that the former doesn’t require the secret police in order to shut down dissent. Things have gotten so bad that even certain words are now taboo, lest a member of any protected group — be it racial, gender or religious-based — be offended. (Free Speech... all the animals are equal... but some are just a bit more equal than others. Free Speech is really important to Progressives.... except of course, when the people trying to speak are just to primitive/racist/Nazi/rotten bastards that they really can't be allowed to spout their crazy stuff to the public....Del)

VIDEO: KRAUTHAMMER: If Walker Caves, His Power as Governor is Done
Excerpt: I do know one thing, if the Governor of Wisconsin and the Republicans cave on this, it will be a historic cave. Walker's career is done. His power as Governor is done, he's only been in office for a few months. He may not have thought that this was going to be the great issue of his term. He may not have foreseen it was going to be national or become epic, but it is. He is in the moment. I think he is right.

When Will Britain Wake Up to Islam's Persecution of Christians?
Excerpt: Shahbaz Bhatti was Pakistan’s Minister for Minorities and today he paid the price for belonging to the most despised Pakistani minority of all: Christians. He was shot dead in his car for the crime of campaigning to reform the country’s medieval blasphemy laws. Those laws are used to make life hell for Christians – but that doesn’t seem to bother Britain and the EU, which pour millions of pounds into Pakistan and don’t make a big deal out of anti-Christian persecution. I don’t recall an enormous fuss being made, either, when Egypt last week acquitted the suspected murderers of six Coptic Christians mown down as they left Mass in Nag Hammadi in January. That was the “justice” handed out to Christians in Mubarak’s Egypt. If the Muslim Brotherhood seize power, this sort of case won’t even come to court. Thank God, then, for our allies in Afghanistan. Following intense and secretive diplomatic pressure, they have magnanimously decided not to execute a man who converted to Christianity. So, you see, we did bring freedom to the Afghan people after all! Meanwhile, as my colleague Ed West has often noted, Iraq’s indigenous Christian minority is close to extinction.

Two interesting maps

Jane Russell Hustled for Conservatism
Not just another pretty face. ~Bob. Excerpt: Unlike friends Ronald Reagan and Charlton Heston—both of whom were active Democrats until they became Republicans at middle age—Jane Russell, I later learned, was a lifelong Republican who once called the Democratic Party “crazy.” Along with Reagan, Heston, and Robert Mitchum (with whom she co-starred in His Kind of Woman), she belonged to the conservative faction of the Screen Actors Guild that was always battling the Left in the motion picture industry.

Swedes Begin to Question Liberal Immigration Tenets
Excerpt: Nick Nilsson, 46, decided to vote for Sweden’s far-right party last fall because of a growing sense that his country had gone too far in letting so many immigrants settle here. A truck driver, Mr. Nilsson lives a half mile from the Rosengard section of this city, where dreary apartment buildings are jammed with refugees from virtually all the world’s recent conflicts: Iranians, Bosnians, Palestinians, Somalis, Iraqis. “No one has a job over there,” Mr. Nilsson said recently. “They are shooting at each other. There are drugs. They burn cars. Enough is enough.” For a time, Sweden seemed immune to the kind of anti-immigrant sentiment blossoming elsewhere on the European continent. Its generous welfare and asylum policies have allowed hundreds of thousands of refugees to settle here, many in recent years from Muslim countries. Nearly a quarter of Sweden’s population is now foreign born or has a foreign-born parent. But increasingly, Swedes are questioning these policies. Last fall, the far-right party — campaigning largely on an anti-immigration theme — won 6 percent of the vote and, for the first time, enough support to be seated in the Swedish Parliament. (Waking up too late—with a headache. ~Bob.)

Teachers' Unions 101: "A" is for "Agitation"
Excerpt: If public school teachers spent more time teaching in classrooms and less time community-organizing in political war rooms, maybe taxpayers wouldn't feel as ripped off as they do. Before the Big Labor bosses start complaining about "teacher-bashing," let's be clear: An increasing number of rank-and-file teachers feel exactly the same way. Retired New York teacher Vinne Cusimano, who was required to pay forced union dues in order to work, wrote me this week after receiving the March 2011 edition of his union's monthly publication. The cover of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) magazine reads: "Defend What Matters! Educate. Collaborate. AGITATE." Inside the pamphlet, NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi rails against "malicious politicians" in Wisconsin and elsewhere proposing "extreme anti-union" budget cuts. He urges his members to join "advocacy" efforts to "maintain critical resources" and lectures about the need to "value education over ideology and greed." Cusimano, who taught for four decades in the Empire State, fired back at Ianuzzi in an open letter: "As a member for over 40 years, I have never been so disappointed at the stand you are taking to call members to 'AGITATE!' We are trying to tamp down the rhetoric and you are outward(ly) inciting agitation. How dare you! You are supposed to be for the students/teachers. ... How can you support 'EDUCATE,' 'COLLABORATE,' and then encourage agitation?"

Fetuses Will Be Presented As Witnesses Before Ohio House Committee Considering Abortion Restrictions
Excerpt: Two fetuses will be presented as witnesses before an Ohio legislative committee that is hearing a bill to outlaw abortions after the first heartbeat can be detected inside a woman's womb. The fetuses will appear live and in color before the committee on a video screen projecting ultrasound images taken from their pregnant mothers' bodies. Janet Folger Porter, head of Faith2Action, an anti-abortion group, said the fetuses will be the youngest witnesses to ever testify when they come in front of the House Health and Aging Committee Wednesday morning. "Lawmakers are going to be able to see as well as hear the babies' heartbeats," said Porter. "We think this is going to do a lot to keep other babies' heartbeats going in Ohio." She said two Ohio women -- one nine weeks and the other 11 weeks pregnant -- have agreed to be scanned with ultrasound machines for the hearing.

Ruled by Regulation
Excerpt: How much fuel your car burns. What type of light bulb you buy. How much energy your appliances use. What kind of health plan you have. What do they have in common? Meet your hidden master: regulations. The devil’s in the details, the saying goes. And in today’s America, those details increasingly boil down to a long list of rules governing nearly every aspect of life. In fiscal year 2010, according to a recent report from The Heritage Foundation, the Obama administration adopted regulations that will cost more than $26.5 billion a year. The nanny state isn’t just a nagging do-gooder -- it’s a costly scold. Let’s look at regulations in three broad areas -- financial reform, health care and the environment -- for some concrete examples of what lawmakers can cut, and why.

Why Liberals Love Government Waste
Excerpt: Yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a 345-page report detailing 34 major areas of wasteful government spending that Sen. Tom Coburn (R–OK) says could save the federal government $100 billion or more every year. Conservatives jumped on the news, with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R–VA) office statement: “That is why House Republicans are hard at work cutting spending and getting our fiscal house in order – we need to prevent taxpayer dollars from being wasted and put Washington on a budget so we begin to live within our means and get people back to work” Liberals, however, greeted the report with polite applause but then predicted nothing would come of it. Why is the left so uninterested in eliminating wasteful government spending? Why can’t progressive politicians agree to cut programs that even the GAO identifies as duplicative or ineffective? The answer can be found in the left’s reaction to two reports issued in the last weeks, one by bailed-out Goldman Sachs and the other by failed stimulus architect Mark Zandi.

Wisconsin's Nuclear Option
Excerpt: "This has dragged on so long and with all the continuing attention Wisconsin has received, I'm surprised this hasn't come up more in public," said Brett Healy, President of the Madison-based John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy. "[Because] Walker's administration hasn't talked about it publicly or actually begun the process of splitting the bill, it would suggest that they are making some progress in getting the missing Democratic senators to consider coming back to Madison. Senate Democrats need something to point to so they can tell their constituents, ‘we ran off and got this in return.’ I would guess Senators are trying to figure out what token gesture, maybe a procedural consideration, allows Democrats to save face."

Chris Christie on 2012: "I already know I could win."
Excerpt: Believe me, I’ve been interested in politics my whole life. I see the opportunity. But I just don’t believe that’s why you run. Like I said at AEI, I have people calling me and saying to me, “Let me explain to you how you could win.” And I’m like, “You’re barking up the wrong tree. I already know I could win.” That’s not the issue. The issue is not me sitting here and saying, “Geez, it might be too hard. I don’t think I can win.” I see the opportunity both at the primary level and at the general election level. I see the opportunity. But I’ve got to believe I’m ready to be president, and I don’t.

Wisconsin Dem Intervenes to Protect GOP Senator Threatened by Mob
They are sowing the wind. This is the “new Civility.” ~Bob. Excerpt: You have to see it to believe it. The clip is long and the key moment doesn’t come until 2:50 in, but you won’t be able to look away. The savior here, in the orange union t-shirt and sportsjacket, is Democratic Rep. Brett Hulsey; behind him, with white hair and glasses, is Republican Sen. Glenn Grothman. Watch and try to imagine what might have happened had Hulsey not been there. Even some of the protesters are sufficiently alarmed to start a chant of “peace-ful” to calm the more unruly ones down. Ann Althouse, who lives in Wisconsin and has been covering the protests since they began, reports tonight that her husband just got back from the statehouse with video of at least one person who seems to have lost his mind — either from sleep deprivation or who knows what else. Quote: “Someone needs to go around to everyone who is still there and check them for mental stability.” If you want to know why Michelle Litjens and other Republicans need a police escort around the Capitol, now you know. Click the image to watch.

Angry Protesters Confront a Locked-Out Sen. Grothman
Excerpt: Protests against Gov. Scott Walker's budget and the battle for access to the Capitol took a tense turn last night when GOP Sen. Glenn Grothman was locked out of the building and was eventually surrounded by hundreds of angry protesters, according to the Cap Times. The paper reports that State Rep. Brett Hulsey, a Democrat from Madison, intervened and tried to calm the crowd. The incident lasted 5 to 10 minutes and firefighters eventually cleared a path for Grothman and Hulsey to make their way to a side entrance to the building. "This guy and I disagree on everything, but we're friends," the Cap Times quotes Hulsey as telling the demonstrators. "This is a peaceful protest. You need to back away." Grothman downplayed the situation and told the paper he didn't think he was ever in any real danger. "I really think if I had had to, I could have walked through the crowd and it would have been okay," he told the Cap Times. "They're loud, they'll give you the finger, and they yell at you, but I really think deep down inside they're just mostly college kids having fun, just like they're having fun sleeping with their girlfriends on air mattresses. That's the guts of that crowd."

Fun read: Gaddafi: The Steyn Collection
Excerpt: Dr Ayoub described himself as a loyal Canadian citizen who shared Trudeau’s vision of a harmonious multicultural society but had moved to America because Canadian taxes were too high. At this point I leapt to my feet and cried, “Objection, your honor! Every loyal Canadian knows that confiscatory taxation is an indispensable part of Trudeau’s vision of a harmonious multicultural society.” Well, no, okay, I didn’t. I let it go, and soon Dr Ayoub was testifying that we’d all got the wrong end of this “jihad” stick: It was nothing to do with blowing up infidels and such, but was a benign lifestyle concept that translated out of Arabic means “healthy, nutritious, lo-fat granola bar” (I quote from memory). The usual Islamoguff. May Allah bless the Canadian taxpayers who sprung for his round-trip airfare.

Congressional bosses from Hell: Sheila Jackson Lee
Excerpt: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas also hands out nicknames to the people who work for her. The Houston Democrat addressed one of her employees as “you stupid mfr.”(edited by Mellie) And not just once, but “constantly,” recalls the staffer, “like, all the time.” Another Jackson Lee aide recounts the time her parents came to Washington to visit: “They were really excited to come to the congressional office. They’re small town people, so for them it was a huge deal. They were actually sitting in the main lobby waiting area….[Jackson Lee] came out screaming at me over a scheduling change. Called me a ’stupid idiot. Don’t be a moron, you foolish girl’ and actually did this in front of my parents, of all things.” Yet another staffer remembers requesting a meeting early on in her tenure to ask how best to serve the congresswoman. Jackson Lee’s response: “What? What did you say to me? Who are you, the Congresswoman? You haven’t been elected. You don’t set up meetings with me! I tell you! You know what? You are the most unprofessional person I have ever met in my life.” With that, Jackson Lee hung up the phone. According to the same staffer, Jackson Lee “would always say, ‘What am I a prostitute? Am I your prostitute? You can’t prostitute me.’” Capitol Hill is famous for its demanding, insensitive bosses. Yet even by the harsh standards of Congress, Sheila Jackson Lee stands out.

Yemeni president blames U.S., Israel for ‘destabilizing the Arab world’
Excerpt: Country has received hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid in recent years….Saleh's accusations marked a departure for the president, a longtime ally of the United States in the war against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and the recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid in recent years. "Every day we hear a statement from (President Barack) Obama saying, 'Egypt you can't do this, Tunisia don't do that,'" Saleh told students and professors at Sanaa University. "What do you have to do with Egypt? Or with Oman? Are you president of the United States or president of the world? (We have the same problem with Obama. Can’t do this….can’t do that….~Bob.)

3 (Indian Union Muslim League)workers killed in bomb explosion
If you screw up, do you only get 36 virgins? ~Bob. Excerpt: Three persons died and eight others injured in a bomb explosion that occurred at Narikkattery, near Nadapuram, on Saturday. The deceased are Riyaz, Shameer and Rafiq. The injured have been admitted to Baby Memorial Hospital in Kozhikode. The condition of one person is said to be critical. The incident took place around 10.30 p.m. According to Nadapuram SI PJ Noble, the persons belonging to the IUML were involved in bomb-making when the incident occurred. Several of the bomb-manufacturing devices were seen shattered at the site, police said

Radical Cleric Demands Ouster of Yemen Leader
Excerpt: Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, maintained a tenuous hold on power on Tuesday, blaming the United States and Israel for protests across the Arab world, while a prominent radical cleric joined the growing crowds demanding his ouster and called for an Islamic state. American officials expressed concern about the statement of the cleric, Abdul Majid al-Zindani, a one-time mentor of Osama bin Laden, which introduced a new Islamist element to the turmoil in a country where Al Qaeda is viewed as a grave threat. The protests that toppled leaders in Tunisia and Egypt and that now have spread to Libya, Bahrain and Oman have been largely secular in nature.

Taliban wound 15 girls in jihad attack on Pakistan college
Excerpt: As Hamas-linked CAIR swings into action to block Tennessee's anti-Sharia bill, here is a bracing reminder of the bounty Sharia brings to a land. "Taliban wound 15 girls in Pakistan college attack," from AFP, March 1 (thanks to Sr. Soph): PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Taliban militants on motorbikes wounded 15 girls when they opened fire with pistols and lobbed grenades at a college party in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, police said. Some of the victims were in a critical condition after the attack on the state-run girls-only institution in the town of Mardan, 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of the regional capital Peshawar. All the girls were aged 18 to 20, police said.

Texan responds to Muslims trying to close his pig farm
So he organized pig races!

Two planets found sharing one orbit
Excerpt: Buried in the flood of data from the Kepler telescope is a planetary system unlike any seen before. Two of its apparent planets share the same orbit around their star. If the discovery is confirmed, it would bolster a theory that Earth once shared its orbit with a Mars-sized body that later crashed into it, resulting in the moon's formation. The two planets are part of a four-planet system dubbed KOI-730. They circle their sun-like parent star every 9.8 days at exactly the same orbital distance, one permanently about 60 degrees ahead of the other. In the night sky of one planet, the other world must appear as a constant, blazing light, never fading or brightening. (This is also covered in the Astrophysical Journal ( ). This has long been believed possible, but has never before been seen. Every planet and star has stable points along its orbit called “LaGrange points.” In the middle 1970s, a group called the L5 Society formed with the objective of building a stable orbital city at the fifth LaGrange point between the Earth and the Moon (in the Moon’s orbital path, but 60 degrees trailing). It would have provided a zero-gravity place to have cheap power from the Sun for manufacturing and science, and to provide a jumping off point outside the Earth’s gravity well to make voyages to other planets and stars easier. Then, the USA pretty much abandoned manned space travel. The Society still exists, but in a very limited form. Perhaps they’re all learning to speak Chinese. Ron P.)

British Troops on the Front Line in Afghanistan Told They Face the Sack
Excerpt: The announcement came as a soldier from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps was shot dead in Helmand province yesterday, taking the number of British dead in the conflict since 2001 to 357. It prompted allegations that ministers had broken promises to shield front-line troops from cuts. Many of them have endured repeated tours of duty amid some of the fiercest fighting experienced by British forces since the Second World War. It also follows criticism that the Coalition had broken its promise to enshrine in law the military covenant, the duty of care between the nation and its servicemen and women. Two weeks ago, the MoD was forced to apologise for using email to inform dozens of serving soldiers that they were to be made redundant.

Cornstalked: As the 14 Wisconsin Democrats Run, Meet the Numerous Illinois Tea Party Activists Giving Chase
Excerpt: To say that 14 Wisconsin Democrats are “on the lam” in Illinois is an understatement. Relentlessly hounded by Illinois Tea Party members, they are, truly, on the run. No matter which podunk border town the senators try to hide in, they are running all the time thanks to highly effective efforts of conservative activists who have streamlined their “search party” by utilizing Facebook, email blasts and quick video posts. Who knew the Tea Party would be so good at bounty hunting 2.0? On Thursday, The Missing 14 unsubtly crashed the Clock Tower Resort’s Chocoholic Frolic in Rockford, Ill. David Hale and his camera began stalking the resort, pestering the senators. By Saturday, some of the Missing 14 had skipped over to the city’s Holiday Inn — and were reportedly seen at Hooters having a last supper of sorts — when Hale waltzed into the hotel’s lobby and confronted them with his camera, asking questions like, “Senators! Why won’t you go home and do your job?” (It's so American! Go Get 'Em, Teapers! - Kate)

Gallup: Americans Maintain Broad Support for Israel
Excerpt: In measuring Americans' sympathies toward the disputants in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1988, Gallup has found support for Israel consistently exceeding support for the Palestinians. However, the percentage who are neutral -- saying they sympathize equally with both, sympathize with neither, or expressing no opinion -- has shifted, with corresponding changes in support for Israel. While the reasons for these changes are not always evident, public neutrality was generally higher in the 1990s as the Palestinians and the Israelis often met at Clinton administration-sponsored peace summits. Conversely, support for Israel increased during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, as well as immediately after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and during the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war -- all events that may have enhanced Israel's perceived value to the U.S. as a Mideast ally. Sympathy toward Israel was also higher in polling conducted shortly after Hamas' victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections compared with the year prior, perhaps for the same reason.

Shocker! Almost 20% of Campaign Contributions Taken in by Wisconsin Fleebaggers Came From Unions…
Excerpt: It’s almost like the Democratic party is in the union’s back pocket. (Journal Sentinel) — The 14 Wisconsin Democratic senators who fled to Illinois share more than just political sympathy with the public employees and unions targeted by Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill. The Senate Democrats count on those in the public sector as a key funding source for their campaigns. In fact, one out of every five dollars raised by those Democratic senators in the past two election cycles came from public employees, such as teachers and firefighters, and their unions, a Journal Sentinel analysis of campaign records shows.

Free' E-ZPass doled out to NY state workers, retirees
Typical vote buying. ~Bob. Excerpt: Every time you drive through that E-ZPass lane it costs you. But the Waste Watchers have learned not everyone pays. Thousands of state workers and retirees are getting a free ride. Tolls that are never collected. Money that never goes back into the Thruway budget.

D.C. reneges on aid to install solar panels
Excerpt: It isn't easy going green, and it may also prove costly. Dozens of District residents who installed solar panels on their homes under a government grant program promoting renewable energy have been told they will not be reimbursed thousands of dollars as promised because the funds were diverted to help close a citywide budget gap. In all, the city has reneged on a commitment of about $700,000 to 51 residents, according to the D.C. Department of the Environment. The agency has pledged to try to find money in next year's budget, its director, Christophe Tulou, said.  "It just doesn't seem fair to go through a process with them and have them make investments in solar panels under the assumption they would be reimbursed," Tulou acknowledged. "It's really sad we are having these economic woes when we are." (…) The District established its incentive program in 2009, joining a growing renewable energy movement among states and the federal government. The D.C. program is funded by a dedicated tax on city residents' and businesses' gas and electric bills. The fund reimburses participants about a third, and sometimes more, of the cost of their solar energy systems. (This should make anyone think twice about making economic decisions based on what politicians suggest and/or promise. Politicians can lose in the next election; they can be out-voted or out-maneuvered; in this case, they were out-spent by other parts of their own government. If a private company did this, you could sue them and eventually win, but when it’s done by a sovereign government, it doesn’t work that way. It’s not like they ran out of state or federal money, either (see the bolded text). If I was a rate-payer for gas or electricity under this scheme, I’d be very unhappy right now. I might even vote for a non-Democrat next city election. Never mind. They’ll forget. --Ron P.)

Glenn Beck, History and Why Tolstoy was Wrong
Excerpt: So, for the purposes of American public education, the whole canon of classical history, with its political debates and experiments, has been largely left out. Americans are taught some post-Roman European history today, but only in a few predictable variations on the thematic terms in which Marx conceived it. When a Glenn Beck comes along and discovers he has been sold a bill of goods about the themes of history, what he doesn’t realize – because he has never been taught any other history – is that mankind’s memory banks know all about the patterns and archetypes he is detecting for the first time. American education has much to answer for. Creating generations of Americans whose thought processes are poorly defended against conspiracy theories is one of them. It is an old, old story that nefarious groups collude against the interests of the common man and the status quo, but those groups have yet to succeed in subverting the future of mankind. They’re usually not even the force that makes the biggest difference to a given outcome. If you don’t know how common this pattern has been, it looks urgent and startling the first time you detect it. And if you see yourself – understandably – as awakening from years of misleading indoctrination, you will be that much more inclined to perceive what you didn’t know about as a conspiracy.

All Our Destinies: Why I'm a Calvinist
Excerpt: I used to think I had some control over life. I used to think that I could chart at least a part of my life's course and that my virtuous inputs would lead to better outcomes. Life kept shaking that conviction, but deep down, it persisted. I still believed—in my heart of hearts—that I had some say over my destiny, that while I might not exactly set the ship on its way, I could at least turn the rudder a few degrees. But that belief literally blew up—not once, not twice, but again and again and again in Diyala, Iraq. I watched in horror as IEDs blew up under Humvees, killing good men, better men than me. Men more courageous than I am, more virtuous than I am, who loved their Lord with all their hearts . . . all gone in a series of flashes and shock waves. But then I would ride on those same roads, past the craters that marked their deaths as surely as the crosses on the side of an interstate, and nothing would happen. Nothing ever happened. I came home without a scratch—well, except for a broken nose after I dropped my own helmet on my face. I came home . . . yet I owed my return not to my own decisions or my own excellence as a warrior (that's a joke; I was a JAG officer trying hard not to screw up) but to God's choice alone. Shortly after my return, a Christian reporter asked me if I felt "closer to God" after my experience in Iraq. The answer was no, I did not. In fact, I didn't know what I "felt." That changed from day to day. But I did know what I learned. "I don't feel closer to God," I said, "but I do know that I depend utterly on Him for the next breath of life in my body and for the breath of life in my wife and children."

Iran Claims the London 2012 Olympics Logo Spells the Word 'Zion'
Excerpt: Iran has threatened to boycott the London Olympics unless the organisers replace the official logo, which Tehran claims spells out the word "Zion". The logo, a jagged representation of the year 2012, has been said by its critics to resemble many things, from a swastika to a sexual act, but the Iranian government argues it represents a veiled pro-Israeli conspiracy. In a formal complaint to the International Olympic Committee, Tehran has called for the graphic to be replaced and its designers "confronted", warning that Iranian athletes might otherwise be ordered to stay away from the London Games. According to the state-backed Iranian Students News Agency, which is frequently used to convey official pronouncements, the letter says: "As internet documents have proved, using the word Zion in the logo of the 2012 Olympic Games is a disgracing action and against the Olympics' valuable mottos. "There is no doubt that negligence of the issue from your side may affect the presence of some countries in the Games, especially Iran which abides by commitment to the values and principles."

Wisconsin ethics board: Dems can use campaign funds to pay for life on lam
And of course the unions can contribute to their campaign funds. Does this not stink in your nostrils? ~Bob. Excerpt: One still-unanswered question in the Wisconsin budget standoff is who is paying the expenses -- hotel, transportation, etc. -- of the 14 Senate Democrats who fled the state rather than allow debate and a vote on Gov. Walker's budget proposal. "We have no idea how they're funding their out-of-state costs," a Republican Senate aide said a few days ago. "We would love to know." Now, it turns out at least one of the fleeing Democrats asked the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, the state's key interpreter of campaign and ethics laws, for an opinion on whether Democrats can use campaign funds to pay their expenses in exile. The Board said yes. "The Government Accountability Board staff has been asked whether campaign funds may properly be used by the 14 Democrat senators currently absenting themselves from the state to pay for hotels and other expenses incurred as a result of the decision to leave," wrote Board general counsel Kevin Kennedy in a February 22 letter to state senators. "In the opinion of the Board's staff, campaign funds may be used for this purpose."

Obama Revolving Door: Top White House aide cashes out at Swiss bank
Excerpt: The Obama revolving door continues to spin, with another top policy aide cashing out to become, in Obama's words, "a Wall Street fat cat." Mona Sutphen, Obama's deputy chief of staff, was one of more than 50 ex-lobbyists in senior Obama administration jobs. Now, she's a macro analyst at the Swiss Bank UBS, according to a company press release.

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