Sunday, May 15, 2011

Political Digest for May 16, 2011

Longer Digest today as I was out-of-pocket Saturday, no computer time. So two-days worth, lots of great articles, worth the time.

The Coming Collapse of the American Republic
Info about my book. All royalties go to wounded veterans. Please forward and post where possible.

Worth Reading: Mark Steyn: Romney's Fix
Unfortunately, I'm not the only one who thinks a collapse is possible. ~Bob. Exchange: Unless things change, the man (or woman) elected in 2012 will be the last American president to preside over the world’s leading economy. If things get really bad, he will find himself presiding over the early stages of American collapse. Not “decline” but “collapse.” “Decline” is what happens when you’re Britain in the 1940s and you cede global dominance to a major ally that shares your language, legal system, cultural inheritance, and broad geopolitical objectives. That deal isn’t on offer this time round.

N Korea and Iran 'sharing ballistic missile technology'
Excerpt: The report was written by a UN panel of experts monitoring Pyongyang's compliance with the sanctions. It said that "prohibited ballistic missile-related items are suspected to have been transferred between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [North Korea] and the Islamic Republic of Iran", using regular scheduled flights on national carriers Air Koryo and Iran Air. For arms and related material, "whose illicit nature would become apparent on any cursory physical inspection", Pyongyang appeared to prefer the use of chartered cargo flights, Reuters quoted it as saying. The flights would travel "from or to air cargo hubs which lack the kind of monitoring and security to which passenger terminals and flights are now subject". This presented "new challenges to international non-proliferation efforts", said the panel. The report said North Korea's uranium enrichment programme was "primarily for military purposes" and so Pyongyang should be "compelled to abandon" it and have it placed under international monitoring. It also raised concerns about safety at the nuclear complex at Yongbyon, warning of an "environmental disaster" if it were to be decommissioned or dismantled without care.

Worth Reading: Fantasies, Present and Future
Excerpt: One thing is certain; we have now seen the blueprint of the 2012 campaign. It consists of four parts: 1) There will be no reference to or defense of four years of record massive debt, sky-high gas prices, creeping inflation, 9% unemployment, or slow growth— only on the “mess” that Obama inherited 48 months prior. 2) Constant demonization of a bogeyman “they” and “them”: Sometimes it will be old George Bush, sometimes John Boehner and his House, sometimes BP-type CEOs, sometime tea-party reactionaries. Such partisan selfish types want to throw Down syndrome children into the street, deny Juan Lopez his PhD because of a minor immigration technicality, and insist on tax breaks for their junkets to Costa del Sol, Martha’s Vineyard, or Vail. (Hanson opens this column with 10 extremely good questions that, taken together, show a consistent theme. His suggested answer “d” appears correct to me. Ron P.)

Huckabee says he won’t run for president
Excerpt: Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee will not run for president in 2012, taking himself out of contention despite polling that suggested he would be a strong player for the nomination. “All the factors say go,” Huckabee said during a live, final segment of his eponymous Fox News Channel show. “But my heart says no.”

Excerpt: Like no other president in American history, President Obama supports the domineering use of government over every facet of our lives. Yet, when it comes to one of the few core functions of government, like border security and the regulation of immigration, he is suddenly tepid about asserting power. Worse, he uses the power of executive agencies to disregard and subvert immigration laws that were duly passed by Congress. Now he is denigrating those who suffer from gang violence along the border and those who seek to fulfill our core constitutional responsibilities.

Sunspots? Obama calls bin Laden "jihad" leader
Excerpt: Watch for the tsunami of "Islamophobia" charges to inundate the White House, and even more ferocious pandering from Obama in response. "Despite adviser's warnings, Obama calls bin Laden 'jihad' leader," by Josh Gerstein at Politico, May 12: It didn't get much attention over the weekend, but, in his interview with "60 Minutes," President Barack Obama described Osama bin Laden as a leader of a global "jihad." That's a word that he and his advisers generally avoid. "For us to be able to definitively say, 'We got the man who caused thousands of deaths here in the United States and who had been the rallying point for a violent extremist jihad around the world' was something that I think all of us were profoundly grateful to be a part of," Obama said. He didn't repeat the term during the exchange CBS broadcast Sunday night.

'We need another 9/11': Bin Laden's captured journal reveals horrifying glimpse into plans of terror mastermind
Excerpt: It may be the most valuable find of all - a written record that takes readers inside the mind of America's greatest enemy. Osama Bin Laden's handwritten journal has been found at the Pakistan compound where the terror chief was killed in a dramatic U.S. raid more than a week ago. In it, he directed Al-Qaeda operatives to not only focus on New York City, but spread their operations to target smaller cities such as Los Angeles. The discovery shatters previously held beliefs that Bin Laden was a 'has been' - acting simply as Al-Qaeda's spiritual leader rather than its operational chief.

White House Hoping Triumph Will Transfer
Excerpt: After hearing the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed, who among us didn't joyfully shout, "Yes! This is a huge triumph for wind and solar energy!" Or, "Wahoo! Now we can get immigration reform passed!" Personally, I would like to thank every member of SEAL Team 6 for taking such huge risks for high-speed rail and for streamlining the bureaucratic regulations governing salmon fishing. If you're confused, it's only because you haven't heard the White House explain the true significance of bin Laden's death.

Photos you won’t see on the evening news: Border residents protesting Obama
Excerpt: Here is a photo, taken in El Paso, TX on Tuesday as President Obama was mocking Texans on immigration there. El Paso is at one end of the Texas-Mexico border, while McAllen is down south on the other end. Both cities and everywhere in between suffers from the chaos on the border, as Mexico’s drug war death toll reaches 40,000. Click the photos to enlarge. I found the photo on facebook, where GOP state House candidate Rebecca Cervera linked to it. Cervera, another potential star in the making in Texas politics, lives in McAllen and deals with border issues and politics every day. Here is her caption for the photo: To enroll children in my border school district, a citizen is required to present more documentation than illegal immigrants are. English speaking students are also ineligible for programs offered to Spanish only speakers such as full day Pre-K. Even our school teachers can not enroll their kids in these programs and must pay for private Pre-K or daycare while they work. *photo taken by Sammy Carrejo at a demonstration of legal border residents opposing Obama’s immigration policies during his recent El Paso speech.

Obama Faces Solid Senate Opposition on Aid to Hamas-Fatah PA  
Excerpt: U.S. President Barack Obama faces stiff opposition from his own party’s senators on continued funding of the new Palestinian Authority’s Hamas-Fatah government, but opposition is weaker in the House of Representatives. Half of the Democratic Senators signed a letter to the president objecting to American aid for a Palestinian Authority that includes Hamas, which the United States officially designates as a terrorist organization.

The Next Bin Laden
Excerpt: "We firmly recognize that the umma [nation]of Muhammad is a nation whose destiny is independent of its leaders, no matter how great," said American-born al-Shabaab commander Omar Hammami about the death of Osama bin Laden. For terrorists like Hammami, ending the life of bin Laden hasn't ended the jihad against America. His statements match the mantra echoing across jihadi forums, as branches of al-Qaida and its allies pledge new terror attacks. Although bin Laden may be dead, the jihad lives on. Putting aside the rhetoric, al-Qaida is not an anarchist group, despite the loose connection between its regional branches. As long as al-Qaida lacks a clear central leader, it risks being lost in unending attacks without reason. That's contrary to the group's desire to establish a new Caliphate or at least oust the West from Muslim lands.

Extensive Porn Stash Reportedly Found in Bin Laden Compound
Excerpt: A stash of pornography was found in the Pakistani compound of Usama bin Laden raided last week by Navy SEALs, U.S. officials told Fox News. The pornography taken from the compound, first reported by Reuters, is said to have included modern, electronically recorded video and is described as fairly extensive. But officials told Reuters they did not know if the terror leader acquired the porn himself or even viewed it. 

Demagoguery 101: Obama’s immigration speech was meant to gin up votes, not advance sound policy.
Excerpt: I’m going to do my part to lead a constructive and civil debate on these issues. – Barack Obama, speech on immigration, El Paso, Texas, May 10. Constructive and civil debate — like the one Obama initiated just four weeks ago on deficit reduction? The speech in which he accused the Republicans of abandoning families of kids with autism and Down syndrome? The debate in which Obama’s secretary of health and human services said that the Republican plan would make old folks “die sooner”? In this same spirit of comity and mutual respect, Obama’s most recent invitation to civil discourse — on immigration — came just eleven minutes after he accused opponents of moving the goal posts on border enforcement. “Maybe they’ll need a moat,” he said sarcastically. “Maybe they want alligators in the moat.”

Republican senators drop legislative bomb on National Labor Relations Board
Excerpt: Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jim DeMint of South Carolina introduced the Job Protection Act Thursday. If passed, the legislation would prevent the NLRB from blocking a company from moving jobs to another location, guarantee employers the ability to decide where to conduct business, and protect employers’ ability to discuss the costs associated with unionization without fear of an anti-union discrimination claim. The NLRB’s decision on Boeing stated that unionized companies cannot bring facilities into states with right-to-work laws.

Obama Calls CNN‘S Fareed Zakaria For ’Wisdom & Advice’
Excerpt: How would you feel if you knew the president regularly sought the advice of a magazine editor/columnist and TV host? It’s true. According to CNN, Obama has made a habit of seeking “wisdom and advice” from host Fareed Zakaria. In an interview with fellow CNN host Elliot Spitzer, Zakaria admitted Obama and he talk regularly about the Middle East and international policy, a point that Spitzer said makes his heart “warm:”

Posted on YouTube by GovJanBrewer: President Obama: Stop the Jokes - Secure the Border

Border Community Organizing Petition to Protest Obama's Immigration Speech
Excerpt: The residents of the Chiricahua-Peloncillo drug and human smuggling corridor that runs from the Mexican border north through eastern Arizona and western New Mexico are circulating a petition to send to the White House in response to President Obama's recent immigration speech. "It is with great wonderment and sadness that we listened to your May 10 speech on immigration issues. All of the joking about moats and alligators cut residents of Portal, AZ, to the core as we sheltered with friends or at a Red Cross evacuation site, to survive a terrible fire that still threatens our lives and property, as well as our ecotourism-based economy," the letter reads. On Sunday, a massive fire broke out in Horseshoe Canyon, about 50 miles north of the Mexican border, which residents and law enforcement say they believe was started by criminal illegal aliens. Last year, a fire in the same location caused more than $10 million in damages.

Abandoned on the Border
Excerpt: As the fight over the law, Senate Bill 1070, carries on — Gov. Jan Brewer has petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case — violent crime rooted in unchecked illegal immigration continues to spread here in southern Arizona. It makes me wonder if the lawyers, judges and politicians involved grasp what it is like to be a law enforcement officer on the Mexican border. As sheriff of Cochise County I am responsible, along with my 86 deputies, for patrolling 83.5 miles of that border, as well as the 6,200 square miles of my county to the north of it — an area more than four times the size of Long Island.

Report: Social Security, Medicare Funds Running Out Sooner Than Expected
What the difference? The “bonds” are IOUs from the Feds who have spent the money to buy votes and borrowed it from the income of these programs. Bonds or not, every dollar they pay out over dollars coming in they must tax, borrow or print. The “bonds” mean nothing. ~Bob. Excerpt: The trust funds of Treasury bonds that provide back-stop funding for the programs will be exhausted sooner than anticipated: the Medicare hospital insurance fund will exhaust five years sooner than previously expected, in 2024, and the Social Security trust fund will expire in 2036, a year earlier than last projected. Social Security expenditures exceeded its tax receipts for the first time in nearly three decades last year with a deficit of $49 billion. The trustees project a similar deficit of $46 billion in 2011, largely the consequence of a weaker economy.

White House bans cameras at daily news briefing
Excerpt: What is going on at the White House? First, Obama announces that he will no longer provide 'staged' news photos for reporters. Then, today it was announced that the White House will 'go dark,' that is, the press today was barred from live-casting the daily news briefings provided by Press Secretary Jay Carney. Increasingly the White House is distancing itself from news reporters, withholding vital information from the press and the public, and essentially dictating to the media when and where they are allowed to video or take pictures of the President. In what was supposed to be 'the most transparent Administration in history,' the Obama Administration has increasingly miffed reporters, leaving them totally in the dark concerning the decision-making process, with former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs declaring curtly, 'Some things should not be done in public view,' meaning of course that this White House and this President have become perhaps the most closed and hidden Administration in history. 

Obama's immigration arguments faulty
Excerpt: In his big immigration speech in El Paso, President Barack Obama described immigration reform as "an economic imperative." This is an odd pivot. What's holding up immigration reform is the question of what to do with the 11 million illegal immigrants already here. Obama wants to give them legal status. Heretofore, the argument in favor of legalization has been based on practicality, justice and compassion. There are too many of them to effectively deport. They followed our de facto immigration policy - we'll try to nab you crossing the border, but if you make it across and keep your head down, we'll leave you alone. There are too many families made up of members with mixed legal status. Breaking them up would be cruel. These still seem much stronger grounds on which to advocate for legalization than Obama's newly minted economic imperative.

Arab World Still Unsettled, So What Can Obama Say?
Excerpt: This litany is presented so you can study up for President Obama’s speech on the Middle East, which White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said would be coming "in the relatively near future." Other than Tunisia, no other nation involved in the "Arab Spring" has a settled government, at least four are still under martial law or dealing with active revolts, and one -- Egypt -- appears to be bobbing up and down in the waters of democracy. (This is a pretty good recapitulation of events in the Middle East since the middle of December. Ron P.)

The Right-Wing Talk-Radio Flame-Out
Excerpt: “This civil and smart approach—like [John] Batchelor and Michael Smerconish and some other shows—to me is kind of a ‘duh,’ '' adds Hobbs, indicating that it should have been obvious long ago. “The numbers that NPR is drawing clearly portends to something. I’ve seen it myself in research. It’s the tone; it’s the approach. Some people don’t want to be engaged at that loud, angry level—that hard right or left ideological approach where it’s my way or the highway.” A Republican turned Independent who supported President Obama in 2008, Smerconish is a pioneer, putting himself out in the world of daytime political talk radio as a radical centrist, surrounded by the old hyper-partisan voices. He is currently an island, but he is far from alone, reflecting the 41 percent of American voters who now identify as Independent but are seriously underrepresented in our political and media debates. This is no mushy middle. Smerconish memorably described his policy profile in The Washington Post as “someone who supports harsh interrogation, thinks we should be out of Iraq but in Pakistan, doesn't care much if two guys hook up, and believes we should legalize pot and prostitution.” (Note the Pakistan comment—Smerconish has been beating that drum long before most Americans had heard of Abbottabad.)

Authorities Order Detention of Suzanne Mubarak
Excerpt: Egyptian authorities on Friday ordered the detention of Suzanne Mubarak, wife of deposed President Hosni Mubarak, and a doctor said she passed out on hearing the news. The detention order was reported by the government-run MENA news agency. It was issued a day after the government said Hosni Mubarak and his wife were questioned over suspicions they illegally amassed vast wealth. MENA said prosecutors ordered Mrs. Mubarak, who is 70, detained for 15 days pending further investigation of the allegations.

Obama's Running Mate: Mitt Romney's ObamaCare problem.
Excerpt: For a potential President whose core argument is that he knows how to revive free market economic growth, this amounts to a fatal flaw. Presidents lead by offering a vision for the country rooted in certain principles, not by promising a technocracy that runs on "data." Mr. Romney's highest principle seems to be faith in his own expertise. More immediately for his Republican candidacy, the debate over ObamaCare and the larger entitlement state may be the central question of the 2012 election. On that question, Mr. Romney is compromised and not credible. If he does not change his message, he might as well try to knock off Joe Biden and get on the Obama ticket.

Notes from The Patriot Post
Memo to Barack: E pluribus unum does not refer to immigration.

Barack Obama certainly has made a show of "spiking the football" in the days since better men than he took out Osama bin Laden. Indeed, the Navy SEALs are the real heroes, but now Obama has one more trophy to add to the shelf -- an action figure depicting him as a SEAL. MSNBC called it "fitting" that the newest action figure from Hero Builders "is a fierce-looking President Barack Obama as a SEAL." After Emil Vicale of Hero Builders heard Obama's May 1 speech, he couldn't wait to make "Rambama" -- a muscular Obama dressed in fatigues and a Punisher t-shirt, and armed with an M1. We're not sold. First, Obama never served in our military, much less its Special Forces, and second, as Rush Limbaugh pointed out, "They used Obama's head but Michelle's arms." On the bright side, though, this new toy will give the MSNBC guests and anchors something to play with in the green room. (Real SEALs must be ill. ~Bob.)
The Muslim Brotherhood's Salafi Pact Puts Egyptian Christians in Danger
Excerpt: The Muslim Brotherhood has announced an electoral coalition with a host of Salafi groups in Egypt, under the banner of seeking an Islamic state. “It was the recent attacks on the Islamic groups that brought us together,” the Brotherhood’s lawyer Sobhi Saleh explained to an Egyptian newspaper on Tuesday. Saleh’s newfound siege mentality is at odds with the confidence he displayed on Newsnight a few months back. A woman or a Christian, the Islamist attorney told Tim Whewell, could never be president of a post-Mubarak Egypt because Muslims constitute “95 per cent of the population” (not true) and this is the “same policy as in Greece, Spain and in England” (what’s the Arabic for “Iron Lady”?).

Are Lawyers Taking Advantage?
Excerpt: A few days ago, the Associated Press reported on a San Francisco lawyer’s crusade on local businesses. AP reports that Scotty Johnson, a disabled lawyer, “routinely sues” hundreds of small businesses through the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires a “minimum level of access in all public places.” The controversial law has put people on either side of the fence. Business owners call individuals like Johnson “legal extortionists” while Johnson calls himself a “crusader for the disabled. Johnson’s tactics for seeking equal justice for all seem to be the problem here. Is it necessary to sue and collect on those claims to achieve equal access? In the AP story, a Johnson target said, "There is no place in the world that can meet all the requirements all the time… He comes only to harass, not to improve humanity. He uses the law as a knife and sword rather than a shield to help humanity.

Boeing vs. the NLRB: A Naked Power Grab by Radical Pro-Unionists
Excerpt: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) contends that President Obama’s chief of staff, Bill Daley, threatened and made coercive statements against Boeing employees. You haven’t heard about these charges? Daley was on Boeing’s board of directors when the company unanimously decided to open up a second assembly line for the 787 Dreamliner in Charleston, S.C. The NLRB argues this illegally violated the rights of Boeing’s unionized employees. The complaint against Boeing thus implicates Daley in any supposed wrongdoing — although the mainstream media has avoided mentioning this. Of course, anyone familiar with the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) will tell you that the NLRB’s charges have no merit. Daley would have never got past White House vetting otherwise. In short, Boeing made a legal business decision that unions opposed, and the NLRB is using this as a pretext to unlawfully expand its power. (…) What is really going here is a direct frontal assault against right-to-work states being engineered by an out-of-control federal agency staffed by union activists.

Pat Condell on OBL
from the forward: Some of you may not be familiar with British humorist, and anti-Islamist Pat Condell, but if not, this is one of his better pieces.

VIDEO: Mark Steyn Gauges 2012 GOP Field: 'Happy to Go with Pawlenty-Bachmann Ticket'
Excerpt: Imagine an all-Minnesota GOP ticket on Election Day in 2012. Although it’s not likely happen because it wouldn’t bring a good geographic mix to the ticket, Mark Steyn’s two favorite candidates come from the North Star State. On Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” on Thursday night, Steyn offered his views on a handful of the Republican contenders — some complimentary, and others less so.

Brussels' energy taxation revolution
Excerpt: The European Commission has issued proposals that, for the first time, attempt to regulate fuel taxation rates in EU member states, rather than simply setting minimum values. It wants to see motor and heating fuels taxed according to their energy content and CO2 emissions rather than by volume as is the case today. If the proposals are accepted, diesel will in future cost more than petrol, biofuels will become relatively cheaper and LPG and CNG (compressed natural gas) will become more expensive. From the perspective of climate policy and the internal market, the proposals are not unreasonable. The question is, will the member states be willing to bite the Commission's bullet? (Hey! Let’s beat up on trucks, ships, and airplanes! Nobody needs those things to live every day, right? They only move 95% of all long distance freight (including food). The best news is this tax must be accepted—and implemented—in every member state or it won’t work. Getting agreement from all the EU countries may be more of a challenge than Brussels is up for. I hope. Keep watch for some leftie to introduce the idea here, too. Ron P.)

Denmark Announces Decision to Reintroduce Border Controls Ahead of Schengen Meeting
Excerpt: The idea of controls at borders in Denmark was pressed by the far-right Danish People's Party and its head Pia Kjaersgaard, who argued that it would counter illegal immigration and organised crime. The People's Party has been a key ally of the centre-right government since 2001.EU interior ministers will today [Thu] meet in Brussels to debate proposals for restoring temporary border controls within the visa-free zone. Denmark thus went ahead with tighter border controls before a possible EU decision on the matter.

First Pictures of Anti-Semitic 'Lone Wolves' and the Arsenal they Planned to Use to Attack Synagogues Dressed as Hasidic Jews (Scroll Down for VIDEO)
Excerpt: These are the first images of the alleged terrorists who plotted to attack New York synagogues dressed as Hasidic Jews. Mohammad Mamdouh, 20, and 27-year-old Ahmed Ferhani were caught as they tried to acquire a fearsome arsenal of weapons from an undercover NYPD officer, police said. Police displayed the haul, which included two Browning semi-automatic pistols, a Smith and Wesson handgun, ammunition and a hand grenade, at a press conference this afternoon after the suspects were arrested during the undercover sting operation. In dramatic scenes, officers seized the pair as they allegedly tried to buy the weapons in exchange for drugs - with one of the pair allegedly confessing to the plot moments before the bust. (Boy, if it had been Jews or Christians planning to attack a mosque, it would have been big news, But Islamic violence is so common, it hardly makes the national news. ~Bob.)

Hot Christmas Gift Item: Obama SEAL Action Figure
Excerpt: This is hysterical. I bet the only people buying this will be conservatives who give it to friends as a joke:

Yes, Mr. President, I Do Want Alligators in My Moat
Excerpt: So while Hezb'allah trains Mexican drug lords in the arts of firearms and explosives and sophisticated tunnel development, President Obama believes that extensive plans to secure the southern border are just an irresistible opportunity to slap the GOP that takes the issue quite seriously. If building a moat and filling it with alligators is what it takes to protect the American people, my children, family, neighbors, and friends, then I expect our elected leaders to do just that. What I do not expect the President of the United States to do is laugh it up at his adversaries' expense in order to gain political momentum in the face of falling poll numbers. American values, freedoms, and lives are on the line daily and I am sick of this administration calling me racist, Islamaphobic, conservative, evil, or whatever label the next hired gun comes up with to describe U.S. citizens who recognize that the country is at war and secure borders are no laughing matter. I want a President who will not demean me, his fellow citizens, the other elected officials chosen to lead at the State and Federal level, and those who disagree with him. That is beneath the office of the President and it shows contempt for the very people who elected him.

How Health Reform Affects Current and Future Retirees
Excerpt: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will fundamentally alter Medicare. If its provisions remain in place, in the long run it will dramatically reduce Medicare spending relative to recent projections. This change will lower the burden for future taxpayers, but it could also reduce access to care for future beneficiaries, say Courtney Collins, an assistant professor of economics at Mercer University, and Andrew J. Rettenmaier, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. The difference the ACA makes in aggregate spending can be calculated by comparing the projections in the 2009 Medicare Trustees Report (which assumes that Medicare spending will largely keep pace with health spending for the country as a whole) with the 2010 report (which reflects the cuts required by the ACA). Over the next 75 years, the ACA reduces total Medicare spending by about 24 percent. The impact of these changes on individuals born in different years can be quantified: In the absence of the ACA, today's new retirees would have received $53,500 in lifetime benefits over and above lifetime taxes and premiums paid. Because of the ACA, however, they will now receive about $20,700 less in net benefits. The impact of the ACA will be even greater on younger workers. For example: In the absence of the ACA, individuals who are 45 years old today would have received $44,900 in net benefits at retirement. With the ACA reforms, however, they will pay $11,400 more in lifetime taxes and premiums than they are expected to receive in benefits. Their reduction in net benefits due to the ACA reforms is about $56,000.

Can Liberty Thrive in an Illiberal Culture?
Excerpt: The desire for freedom is something hardwired into the fabric of the human soul. Unfortunately, so is the desire for power and control. This tension is playing out today in cities across the Middle East, as protestors eager for reform find themselves targeted by brutal dictatorial regimes. As inspiring as these cries for liberty may be, it is questionable whether stable, authentic democracy will ever triumph in the Middle East. Why? Quite simply, because the region lacks some of the essential cultural foundations necessary for democracy to thrive.

Second Amendment Rights not Assured Despite Court Victories
Excerpt: In the aftermath of the Heller decision, which established the Second Amendment as a fundamental individual right, and the McDonald decision, which incorporated that right, applying it to the states, some have felt that the debate over guns in American life is essentially over. Anti-gun groups such as the Brady Campaign have had no real successes in years, and with Heller and McDonald decided, they seem likely to be relegated to being a nuisance around the margins of a debate that no longer holds the limelight. Unfortunately, such thinking ignores the realities of the administrative state and of the imperial judiciary. Despite the aforementioned decisions, state and local legislators and bureaucrats in cities such as Chicago and Washington, D.C., continue to ignore the clear intent of the Supreme Court decisions and impose regulations, such as licensing requirements, excessive fees, and zoning regulations, so restrictive as to effectively prevent the sale and possession of firearms for all but the politically connected and the very hardy and determined few. It often seems forgotten that the Supreme Court has no armies to enforce its decisions. Enforcement has to be done by the executive branch. If the executive doesn’t choose to enforce…. Ron P.)

Bush vs. Obama
This is from a circulating e-mail. Not verified and no one listed to credit, but interesting.

George W. Bush speech after capture of Saddam: The success of yesterday's mission is a tribute to our men and women now serving in Iraq . The operation was based on the superb work of intelligence analysts who found the dictator's footprints in a vast country. The operation was carried out with skill and precision by a brave fighting force. Our servicemen and women and our coalition allies have faced many dangers in the hunt for members of the fallen regime, and in their effort to bring hope and freedom to the Iraqi people. Their work continues, and so do the risks. Today, on behalf of the nation, I thank the members of our Armed Forces and I congratulate 'em.

Barack Obama speech after killing of bin Laden: And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network. Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

I think he did well to mention that there were a couple others besides himself involved in the tracking down and elimination of bin laden. See, he's getting better! --Anon.

Media Stonewalled as AFL-CIO Boss Scadalizes Catholic University
Excerpt: The Catholic University of America (CUA) may have thought that AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Sweeney’s May 2nd speech on campus would be non-controversial. But Sweeney, a Catholic who doesn’t hide his commitment to socialism and a progressive takeover of the Democratic Party, promised controversy from the start. He attacked conservatives, in particular Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and told the event that opponents of organized labor were out-of-step with the teachings of the church and Jesus Christ Himself. Then, however, Sweeney unloaded on the sponsors of his appearance, attacking university officials as union busters.

IMF Head Strauss-Kahn Charged With Attempted Rape Of Hotel Maid
Excerpt: The trouble began at around 1 p.m. yesterday when a 32-year-old housekeeper entered Strauss-Kahn's $3,000-a-night suite at the luxury Sofitel on West 44th Street -- apparently unaware he was still inside. The married Strauss-Kahn was in the bathroom, and emerged naked, chased her down a hallway and pulled her into a bedroom, where "he jumps her," a source said. "She pulled away from him and he dragged her down a hallway into the bathroom where he engaged in a criminal sexual act, according to her account to detectives," [NYPD spokesman Paul] Browne said. "He tried to lock her into the hotel room." Soon afterward, Strauss-Kahn got dressed and headed off to JFK for a flight to Paris.

Arrest Throws France Into Disarray and Disbelief
Excerpt: For months, France has been buzzing with speculation that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the popular chief of the International Monetary Fund, would quit his job in Washington to take on President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s presidential elections.
On Sunday, French politicians and media met news of his arrest in New York for alleged sexual aggression with stunned disbelief and expressions of national humiliation. The incident threw Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s political party, the Socialists, into confusion and set the stage for a new political calculus that could allow the National Front, the far-right party led by its founder’s daughter, Marine Le Pen, to become a more dominant force during the election campaign.

Secret Desert Force Set Up By Blackwater's Founder
Excerpt: Late one night last November, a plane carrying dozens of Colombian men touched down in this glittering seaside capital. Whisked through customs by an Emirati intelligence officer, the group boarded an unmarked bus and drove roughly 20 miles to a windswept military complex in the desert sand. The Colombians had entered the United Arab Emirates posing as construction workers. In fact, they were soldiers for a secret American-led mercenary army being built by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom. Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times.

Court: No right to resist illegal cop entry into home
Excerpt: Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes. In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer's entry. (Talk about opening the wrong door.... With reasonable cause, judges can already issue “no-knock warrants to search and seize” evidence of wrong-doing. Unless there is a reasonable belief that someone is in immediate danger or a violent crime is being or is about to be committed, this is a complete abrogation of the Fourth Amendment. It doesn’t even allow slamming the door in their faces. I hope it is quickly overturned. In the meanwhile, folks in Indiana should go out of their way not to irritate law enforcement officers or they can expect unscheduled midnight visits. Ron P. Suppose the cops bust into your home by mistake or on a false tip. You, knowing you have done nothing wrong, assume it's a home invasion by gangs shouting "police" to stop you from resisting. You pull you S&W out from under the bed and someone is killed. Are you at fault? ~Bob.)

SEAL-spotting becomes local sport in Virginia Beach after bin Laden raid
Excerpt: “They could kill you with a straw 13 different ways, but they’re really nice,” said Allen Norfolk, 52, the manager of Chicks, a rumored SEAL hangout off Shore Drive. Other supposed SEAL habitats include the Ready Room, Hot Tuna, C.P. Shuckers, Waterman’s Surfside Grill and, not so long ago, Guadalajara Mexican Bar on Shore Drive. Several seem no different than any seaside joint whose decor is a mix of contemporary American frat house and pirate ship: beer, monster-size burgers, NASCAR or ESPN on giant-screen TVs, fruity-slushy cocktails and some big, dead fish on the walls. (How stupid are liberals.  I just hope none of these alleged hangouts get car bombed because that is exactly what the Washington Post has set in motion. Disgusting. --John R.)

Abbas orders amendment to 'honor killing' law
Excerpt: President Mahmoud Abbas has directed the judiciary to award the "utmost punishment" to perpetrators of honor killings, his secretary-general said Friday. The announcement was made during a talk show on satellite channel Palestine TV to discuss the murder of 20-year-old Ayah Barad'iyya by her uncle. (Some Jordanian laws passed between 1948 and 1967 still operate in the West Bank. A Jordanian penal code from 1960, which commutes sentences for men who kill or attack female relatives accused or suspected of "dishonoring" their families, has never been repealed by the Palestinian Legislative Council. --Dave. He better check his Qur'an, which provides an exemption for a father killing a daughter. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: The inability of the Democratic Party to come up with a budget that it can even propose to the American people is the biggest news story of the day. It would be nice if somebody decided to cover it. Yesterday, the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee commented on the Democrats' paralysis:

Obama Admits Sneak Attack on Gun Owners – Media Could Care Less
Excerpt: “I just want you to know that we are working on it,” Barack Obama told Sarah Brady regarding gun control. “We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar,” Obama said according to Brady. This interesting bit of news was reported in an April 11 Washington Post Lifestyle section story about Obama’s gun control and regulatory policy wonk Steve Croley. Toward the end of the article the writer, Jason Horowitz, mentioned a March 30 meeting between Jim and Sarah Brady and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney during which the President “dropped in.” He then quotes Sarah Brady relating how President Obama gave his personal assurance that he and his administration were working hard on a gun control agenda. Brady reported that Obama then told them about advancing the agenda “under the radar.”

New Tax Would Penalize Electric Cars for Not Using Gas
Excerpt: Here’s another entry for the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished file: Environmentally conscious drivers may soon get hit with a charge to make up for the gas that they’re not using. Aiming to cut use of gasoline and dependence on foreign oil, the federal government gives you a $7,500 tax credit if you buy a new electric car. Various states add their own tax credits ranging up to $5,000. So far, so good. But now state and federal proposals would penalize electric cars for not paying gasoline tax, by imposing a tax on the miles they travel. And here’s a hackle-raising detail: to make it work, states would have to track your mileage with a mandatory GPS device on the car. The cost of highway and other transportation expenses are (partially) offset by gasoline taxes — an 18.4 cents per gallon federal levy and widely varying rates at the state level. (Check the rate in your state). The federal tax, unchanged since 1993, already has fallen short of financing the federal highway trust fund, with $19. 5 billion transferred from general revenues this year. And revenues may continue to decline: Federal regulations require vehicles to average 35.5 mpg by 2016, which has already cut into gas tax revenue. (See What You’ll Be Driving in 2016).

I Don't Hate Jews, I had nothing to do with this: Tearful terror suspect pleads his innocence as NYPD releases video of arrest
Excerpt: One of the terror suspects arrested for allegedly planning to attack New York synagogues dressed as a Hasidic Jew has pleaded his innocence in a tearful interview. 20-year-old Mohamed Mamdouh, who was caught on Tuesday in a dramatic police sting operation, said he ‘had nothing to do with’ the synagogue slaughter plot. Speaking from prison on Rikers Island, the taxi dispatcher blamed his 27-year-old friend Ahmed Ferhani for talk of the planned killing spree. ‘I was at the wrong place at the wrong time,’ he told a U.S. newspaper. ‘I don't have problems with anyone - not Jews, not anyone.’ Mamdouh was arrested on Wednesday, along with suspected plot ringleader Ahmed Ferhani. They men are charged with terrorism and hate crimes.

Japan Nuclear Crisis: Worker At Damaged Power Plant Dies
Excerpt: A man died on his second day of work at Japan's tsunami-wrecked nuclear power plant Saturday, and the plant operator said harmful levels of radiation were not detected in his body. The contract worker in his 60s was the first person to die at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan since March 11, when an earthquake and tsunami damaged the facility and caused fires, explosions and radiation leaks in the world's second-worst nuclear accident. The worker was carrying equipment when he collapsed and died later in a hospital, said Naoyuki Matsumoto, spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co. The company does not know the cause of his death, Matsumoto said. (After wasting a lot of time in a futile effort to find better coverage, I ended up with Huffington Post. Their coverage is actually fair, if uninformative. The worker was in his 60s and had received no more than 170 micro-seiverts of radiation (about what is delivered by one chest X-ray). I’m no doctor, but this sounds like classic symptoms of a sudden heart attack (one of these nearly killed me on 28 Oct 2000). Ron P.)

The Chinese Dragon Sweeps Through Latin America
Excerpt: Over the past decade, China has been on a wild spending spree throughout the Western Hemisphere — targeting Brazilian iron ore, Chilean copper, Peruvian zinc, Argentine soybeans, Venezuelan and Ecuadoran oil, Uruguayan meat, Bolivian lithium, and other economic resources. The Chinese have flooded the region with both investment and cheap labor (about which more later). They are funding construction of a hydroelectric plant for Ecuador, a satellite for Bolivia, and much else. Beijing already built a satellite for Venezuela, which launched in 2008, and a national soccer stadium for Costa Rica, which opened this year. In March 2010, the China National Offshore Oil Company announced that it was purchasing 50 percent of the Argentine firm Bridas, and Bridas subsequently bought a $7.1 billion stake in the Argentina-based Pan American Energy. In October, another Chinese energy giant, Sinopec, agreed to invest over $7 billion in the Brazilian operations of Repsol, a Spanish company. (It seems not quite all the dollars the Chinese get from us in trade are re-invested here directly; some go south before returning home. If this doesn’t get a “wow” from you, reread it and think about these numbers. Then recall China has no truly free economy or companies. Ron P. Wish I'd had this article to include in the China chapter of my book, The Coming Collapse of the American Republic. ~Bob.)

Syria offers ‘dialogue’ to opposition as protests continue
Excerpt: A top government adviser said Friday that Syria plans to respond to what she called the legitimate demands of peaceful protesters, after Syrians again defied troops and tanks to demonstrate around the country, suggesting that the regime is starting to realize that its strategy of using overwhelming force to quell the stubborn opposition movement is failing. (…) It was the first time the government has acknowledged that widespread and peaceful demonstrations have been taking place, indicating that it realizes the ineffectiveness of its massive security crackdown. Until now, the regime headed by President Bashar al-Assad has blamed all the demonstrations on “armed gangs” and Islamist extremists, summoning images of chaos and instability should it fall. Hours earlier, Information Minister Adnan Hasan Mahmoud told a televised news conference that Syria plans to pursue “national dialogue” with opposition members, in another sign that the government is seeking to adopt a different response to the biggest challenge yet to nearly five decades of Baath Party rule. (Most telling is this story is filed from a nearby, more peaceful city—Beirut, Lebanon. Ron P.)

The Awkward Exit of Mideast Envoy George Mitchell
Excerpt: Two days after Barack Obama's inauguration, George Mitchell was named special envoy for Middle East peace. With the new president standing beside Mitchell and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden took the podium and extolled Mitchell's reputation and experience having brokered peace in Northern Ireland, calling him an "outstanding public servant" with "incredible capacity." In the press, Mitchell was praised as the right man for the job at the right time. On Friday, though, that capacity had reached its limit, and Mitchell told his bosses in the West Wing that he'd had enough. His reasons, he said, were personal—the kind of nebulous rationale that leaves ample room for interpretation. Unmentioned were the months of frustration that Mitchell had built up as direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians became more difficult and the peace process further off. (While this seems another black eye for the administration—like they needed more of them—it might offer a chance to reassess and try something different. Aside from armaments, our largest lever in the region is the money we pay to help maintain the status quo. If we really mean to pressure any of those players, what happens if we withhold that money? Perhaps the oil-rich countries will pick up the slack? Which would leave less for them to invest in madrasses.  Ron P.)

Billionaire Babies
Excerpt: One of the rites of initiation to high-level Democratic politics used to be the rundown on which of the Democratic dons you had to be sure to call before lunch so he could tell everyone whatever it was you just happened to tell him that morning. That was the second part: Have a few tidbits to spread around every day. Spread them to politicians. Spread them to the press. Spread them to anyone you were trying to reach out to and bring into the fold. They didn't need to be great tidbits. No worries about staying up all night thinking of tidbits.

How one Japanese village defied the tsunami: 51-foot floodgate was costly, 'but without it, Fudai would have disappeared'
Excerpt: Ten-term mayor : The man credited with saving Fudai is the late Kotaku Wamura, a ten-term mayor whose political reign began in the ashes of World War II and ended in 1987. Fudai, about 320 miles north of Tokyo, depends on the sea. Fishermen boast of the seaweed they harvest. A pretty, white-sand beach lured tourists every summer. But Wamura never forgot how quickly the sea could turn. Massive earthquake-triggered tsunamis flattened the northeast coast in 1933 and 1896. In Fudai, the two disasters destroyed hundreds of homes and killed 439 people. "When I saw bodies being dug up from the piles of earth, I did not know what to say. I had no words," Wamura wrote of the 1933 tsunami in his book about Fudai, "A 40-Year Fight Against Poverty." He vowed it would never happen again.

Irish Muslim arrested in Dublin over Obama threats
Excerpt: Police arrested Ireland's most notorious Muslim convert Thursday over his reported death threats against President Barack Obama. Police said Khalid Kelly, a 44-year-old dubbed "Taliban Terry" by Dubliners, was arrested at his Dublin residence on suspicion of threatening to kill the U.S. leader. He could be held for up to three days before being charged or released. The arrest came 10 days before Obama's arrival in Ireland and four days after a British newspaper, the Sunday Mirror, printed an interview with Kelly. He is Ireland's most outspoken supporter of al-Qaida and its slain founder, Osama bin Laden. (What kind of Irishman would want four wives and no whiskey? ~Bob.)

When will Obama crack in public?
Good thing this writer is black, or they'd call him a racist to shut him up. ~Bob. Excerpt: At a time when many Americans can barely afford Burger King and a movie, Obama boasts of spending a billion dollars on his re-election campaign. Questioned at a recent appearance about the spiraling fuel costs, Obama said, "Get used to it" – and with an insouciant grin and chortle, he told another person at the event, who complained about the effect high fuel prices were having on his family, to "get a more fuel-efficient car." The Obamas behave as if they were sharecroppers living in a trailer and hit the Powerball, but instead of getting new tires for their trailer and a new pickup truck, they moved to Washington. And instead of making possum pie, with goats and chickens in the front yard, they're spending and living large at taxpayer expense – opulent vacations, gala balls, resplendent dinners and exclusive command performances at the White House, grand date nights, golf, basketball, more golf, exclusive resorts and still more golf. Expensive, ill-fitting and ill-chosen wigs and fashions hardly befit the first lady of the United States. The Obamas have behaved in every way but presidential – which is why it's so offensive when we hear Obama say, in order "to restore fiscal responsibility, we all need to share in the sacrifice – but we don't have to sacrifice the America we believe in."

Raw Video: Syrian Troops Fire at Protesters
Excerpt: Lebanese security officials say scores of Syrians have crossed into Lebanon fleeing violence in their country. The officials say that among those who entered Lebanon Saturday was a 26-year-old man who suffered a gunshot in his back. He was admitted to a hospital in northern Lebanon, the officials said on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. The officials said cracks of gunfire in the western Syrian town of Talkalakh could be heard on the Lebanese side of the border. Hundreds of Syrians fled the area in past weeks.

Osama's Dirty Mind
Excerpt: Last year, Google ran an analysis of its search queries and concluded Pakistan is the leading nation in sex-related, porn content searches, leading Fox News to dub the nation “Pornistan.” Iran came in third on the overall list, and Egypt was fifth. (Google later partially backtracked on its findings, saying that its sample size was too small to be definitive.) Small or not, we don't need Google to tell us Muslims are looking at porn. Pakistan is home to a bustling porn black market, as well as a lucrative business enterprise and tradition of exotic dancing, called mujras. Just last month, a Muslim member of parliament from the Islamic Prosperous Justice Party in Indonesia resigned after being caught watching porn on the floor of parliament. He was, ironically, a proponent of anti-porn legislation, a hypocrisy that may sound familiar to Americans who are used to seeing their conservative lawmakers busted for the very behaviors they speak out against. (There are those who think the violence in Islam stems from sexual repression. ~Bob.)

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