Saturday, May 21, 2011

Political Digest for May 21, 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.

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

For those who want further information about the topics covered in this blog, I recommend the following sites. I will add to this as I find additional good sources.

Alligators, Moats and Other Such Nonsense
Excerpt: President Obama gave what was billed as an important speech on immigration last week near the border in El Paso, Texas. Unfortunately, it was one of the most demagogic moments in recent presidential history. Nearly everything Obama said was either factually incorrect or deliberately misleading. Why, 28 months into the Obama presidency, is there now a sudden push to pass "comprehensive" immigration reform? After all, from 2009 to early 2011, Obama had large Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate. Why hasn't Obama already rammed through his own immigration bill, as he did with health care? The answer, of course, is that about 70 percent of the American people consistently poll against the president's initiatives on illegal immigration. Obama simply did not want to sign an easily passable bill that would earn him further unpopularity. But now he has lost the House. A close re-election bid looms. The president is enjoying a sudden bounce in popularity after the capture of Osama bin Laden. He needs to firm up his base of Latino supporters. Presto: time to blame Republicans for his own past unwillingness to get a bill through his Democratic Congress.

Judicial nominee Goodwin Liu blocked by Senate Republicans
Excerpt: Setting a new precedent, Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked the nomination of President Obama’s nominee to a high-profile federal appellate court, formally reversing their past opposition to filibusters for judicial nominations. On a 52-43 vote, law professor Goodwin Liu fell 8 votes short of the 60 needed to overcome the GOP filibuster to his nomination -- the first time ever that Republicans had successfully filibustered a judicial nomination. All but one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), opposed ending debate on Liu’s nomination to the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

PMO Announcement following President Obama's speech by The Prime Minister of Israel
Israel appreciates President Obama’s commitment to peace. Israel believes that for peace to endure between Israelis and Palestinians, the viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of the viability of the one and only Jewish state. That is why Prime Minister Netanyahu expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both Houses of Congress. Among other things, those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines. Those commitments also ensure Israel’s well-being as a Jewish state by making clear that Palestinian refugees will settle in a future Palestinian state rather than in Israel.

Desert Pupfish Forces Border Agents to Patrol on Foot
Excerpt: Federal agents must abandon their vehicles and chase drug smugglers and illegal aliens on foot through 40 acres near the Mexican border because of a pond that is home to the endangered desert pupfish. It’s part of the agreement between the Homeland Security and Interior departments on how best to protect the ecosystem, frustrating lawmakers who say it also prevents agents from conducting routine patrols. Drug cartels and other criminals could care less about these so-called memos of understanding, or whether they are trampling through a protected species' habitat, Rep. Rob Bishop (R.-Utah) told HUMAN EVENTS. (Not enough. They should have to chase the bad guys without breathing, because breathing adds to carbon in the atmosphere. ~Bob.)

Obama's Middle East speech missed ‘historic opportunity,’ say many Arabs
Excerpt: Those from nations where opposition movements are fighting brutal crackdowns welcomed the president's messages of support. But what was billed as a major speech left some in the region nonplussed. They said that the speech didn't cover new ground, was short on policy prescriptions, and that the president missed a chance to apologize for America's history of supporting the dictators people revolted against.

Obama's great gift to the Palestinians
Excerpt: Barack Obama to Israel: Drop dead. He announced Thursday that a Palestinian state, soon to be decreed by the United Nations General Assembly, must be drawn to 1967 borders. This tells the Palestinians and their Arab allies and enablers that events do not have to have consequences. We're not supposed to remember that the Arab states attacked Israel in 1967 (and again in 1973), betting they could crush the Jews and take the looted land. Instead they were themselves squashed like bugs. (Hummm. How about Germany gets it's 1939 borders, Mexico gets it's 1847 borders, etc.? ~Bob.)

The news in Obama's speech
Excerpt: Herewith President Obama’s Middle East speech, annotated: “It will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy.” With this Barack Obama openly, unreservedly and without a trace of irony or self-reflection adopts the Bush Doctrine, which made the spread of democracy the key U.S. objective in the Middle East. “Too many leaders in the region tried to direct their people’s grievances elsewhere. The West was blamed as the source of all ills.” Note how even Obama’s rationale matches Bush’s. Bush argued that because the roots of 9/11 were to be found in the deflected anger of repressed Middle Eastern peoples, our response would require a democratic transformation of the region.

President Obama’s Message To Israel: Go To Hell
Excerpt: President Barack Obama wants Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders, with a few minor agreed upon swaps. He might as well have told the Jews living in Israel to pack up their belongings and leave or take their chances in the Hell that Hamas has waiting for them. In his stab-Israel-in-the-back speech delivered on Thursday at the State Department, Obama declared:

Netanyahu Urges U.S. Return To 1845 Borders
Excerpt: Speaking to reporters accompanying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his long flight to the United States tonight, Netanyahu spoke of the injustice and hardship Mexicans have endured since American forces annexed Texas in 1845. “Tens of thousands of ordinary Mexicans were driven out of their homes – the only homes they had known for centuries – and forced to live in poverty and squalor south of the border imposed by American aggression,” Netanyahu said. “The Israeli and Mexican people agree on this: This festering wound will never heal until America takes bold steps to return to the internationally accepted lines of 1845. Clearly the settlement activity that’s taken place in occupied Mexico since then is illegal. When I meet the President tomorrow I will tell him to halt all building activity in Texas immediately. Two lands for two peoples, yes, but not on land taken by force from Mexico,” the Prime Minister said. Asked if his hard-line stance could hurt the U.S.-Israel relationship, Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s commitment to America’s security and the unshakeable friendship shared by the two countries, then added, “But who was it who said, part of friendship is being able to tell your friend the truth. The ball is now in Obama’s court.” (Satire. But why not? ~Bob.)

UW-Milwaukee Fights to Defund College Republicans
Excerpt: The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is the latest school doing everything they can to shut down and silence any conservative voice on campus. I am an alumnus of this school who luckily had great teachers while acquiring a major in film studies (of all things). Unfortunately, there was nothing but horror stories from my friends taking courses in communication (some of which I took) and sociology. Even worse was trying to find anyone who would refer to anything conservative as something other than “controversial.” This is a university that prides itself on bringing Martin Luther King to campus decades ago when he was a “controversial” speaker. Today, controversy is anything Right of the leftist mafia on campus. (The public universities are now leftist reeducation camps. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: I half expect Benjamin Netanyahu to come to the United States today and demand the U.S. cede all territory gained from the 1848 Mexican cession back to Mexico. It, like Obama’s Middle East speech of yesterday, would be a key distraction from a date and duty Barack Obama has had 60 days to get ready for. Under the War Powers Act, today is the day Barack Obama must either get congressional support for the Libyan operation or begin a full withdrawal from Libya. The media will probably not get the significance of the day. Richard Nixon vetoed the War Powers Act, but Congress overrode his veto. For years the left has hailed the War Powers Act as a restraint against Presidents and the military. As John Yoo and Robert Delahunty observe in today’s Wall Street Journal, Obama originally said he was acting in Libya “consistent with” the War Powers Resolution. (Except in the 1848 case, we attacked Mexico. Israel was attacked in 1967 and 1973. But maybe better not to give Obama ideas. ~Bob.)

Libya and the War Powers Abdication: A Vietnam-era law meant to hamstring a Republican president now puts Barack Obama in a bind.
Excerpt: The clock is running out on President Barack Obama's military adventure in Libya. Today his campaign of pinprick air strikes and half-hearted support for the rebels will run smack into the War Powers Resolution. The law, passed in 1973, requires that the president withdraw U.S. forces from hostilities after 60 days unless he secures Congress's approval or a formal declaration of war. In the depths of the Vietnam War and Watergate era, a Democratic Congress enacted the War Powers Resolution over Richard Nixon's veto. On the positive side, it recognizes that the president may constitutionally introduce armed forces into potential or actual hostilities. Nothing remarkable there: For over two centuries, presidents have deployed our armed forces into conflicts large and small without congressional approval. But the resolution veers into unconstitutional ground by limiting the president's unilateral ability to continue military operations beyond 60 days. The law, hailed as an overdue exercise of Congress's war powers, instantly became a liberal icon against the "imperial presidency." Yet when Democrats control the White House, they tend to see things much as Nixon did.

Excerpt: Barack Obama has many sinister friends who are egregiously subsidized by taxpayers, but at least they aren’t terrorists. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for his foreign patrons. At a time when Congress is searching for any morsel to cut from our domestic budget, Obama wants to expand foreign terrorists and terror filled nations. His push for expanded foreign aid comes as part of a broader endorsement of the “Arab Spring” uprisings in his latest foreign policy speech.  Bin Laden is also endorsing them from the grave. Republicans need to call for an American Spring and categorically oppose all aid to enemy nations and entities in the 2012 budget. Over the past few months, Obama has helped blow up the Middle East by supporting radical Muslim uprisings in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. Simultaneously, he has hypocritically remained silent on Bashar Assad’s violent repression in Syria until this week when he announced vapid sanctions on the Syrian dictator. He is still refusing to recall his ambassador from Damascus that he sent in 2009 as a gesture to Assad. He didn’t even call for tough measures against Syria’s puppet master; Iran, while claiming to support the Iranian protesters, despite his indifference when it really mattered in 2009.

A Teachable Moment on American-European Faultlines
Excerpt: So far what confuses Americans the most, superficially at least, is that a man of the Left like socialist Strauss-Kahn should seem so comfortable with the elite tastes of the damnable aristocracy — the astronomically priced suits, the $3,000-a-night suite, the Air France privileges, and the medieval Norman baron’s sense of entitlement regarding an immigrant housecleaner — while the supposedly neanderthal, right-wing Americans and their primitive “accusatory” legal system (read the French press on all that) so far are treating the rights of a maid as equal to a Eurocrat’s. The wonder about the French cultural furor over the incident is not that they consider us parochial and “hung up” on sex, but that the press and its op-ed writers are so blatant in their expressions of class snobbery and national chauvinism. For all the Euro-lectures about Western imperialist colonialism, this story (fairly or unfairly) casts the Americans as the everyman and the French as the haughty technocrat furious that rules of equality under the law apply to him — not to mention modern notions of feminism, about which one would have expected a sophisticated Frenchman to be sensitive.

Meanwhile at the UN, Muslims complain of "Islamophobia." ~Bob. Excerpt: Islamic extremist groups disrupted two post-Easter services in Cirebon, a city on the border of West and Central Java, as police failed to stop the violence, this according to Hendardi, chairman of the Setara Institute, an NGO fighting for human rights and religious freedom in Indonesia. The activist slammed police for its “powerlessness” vis-à-vis “hostile” acts perpetrated by radical movements, which interrupted religious services.

Hamas: Obama speech total failure
"All we are saying, is give appeasement a chance..." ~Bob. Excerpt: President Barack Obama's Mideast policy speech Thursday was a "total failure," Hamas said Thursday evening. "The (Arab) nation does not need a lesson on democracy from Obama," said Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip, Sami Abu-Zuhri. "Rather, Obama is the one who needs the lesson given his absolute endorsement of Israel's crimes and his refusal to condemn Israel's occupation."

Hamas TV Extols Female Palestinian Suicide Bombers and Jihad Fighters: Jihad-Fighting Mothers Urge Their Sons to Seek Martyrdom
Quick! Send them more money! ~Bob. Excerpt: Hamas Minister of Women's Affairs Jamila Al-Shanti: "Palestinian society is, by nature, a society of resistance. Resistance does not mean only the bearing of arms. The people who aid those who bear arms are sometimes even stronger than them. The [Palestinian] woman is the wife of a resistance fighter, or the mother of resistance fighters, or else she herself is on the frontline, or she opens her home to resistance fighters. She is capable of doing everything. During the incursions [into Gaza], the women fought in every way possible. They confronted the tanks, they confronted the Zionist enemy.

Supreme Court gives police a new entryway into homes
Excerpt: The Supreme Court on Monday gave police more leeway to break into residences in search of illegal drugs. The justices in an 8-1 decision said officers who loudly knock on a door and then hear sounds suggesting evidence is being destroyed may break down the door and enter without a search warrant. Residents who "attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame" when police burst in, said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Obamacare Waivers Granted to Nevada and New Hampshire
Excerpt: President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), headed by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, has now granted Obamacare waivers to the entire states of Nevada and New Hampshire. In its letter to Nevada, HHS admits that, without the waiver, “there is a reasonable likelihood” that Obamacare would result in “market destabilization, and thus harm to consumers.” Thus, to try to keep insurers from fleeing that state, HHS has exempted Nevada from a portion of Obamacare’s long list of mandates and requirements. HHS also admits to a “reasonable likelihood” that Obamacare would “destabilize the individual market” in New Hampshire, and has granted it a statewide waiver as well.

Al-Qaida: New Leader or New Path?
Excerpt: The announcement of Al-Qaida's new leadership, to plug the hole left by the assassination of Osama bin Laden, may be more than just a changing of the guard. Tapped to be the new leader, according to CNN, Saif al-Adel was at times strongly critical of bin Laden's style and choices, including the 9/11 attacks. Questions also remain about his alleged capture by Iran, and whether the Islamic regime may still have him in custody or under their control. The appointment has not been confirmed by al-Qaida and it's unclear whether this is an interim move. Longtime al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawhiri remains the figure many consider likely to assume control of the terrorist group.

Energy Fact of the Week: Trains and Gains
Yeah, but I peg the start of America’s decline when they took the caboose of the freight train. Doesn’t look right. ~Bob. Excerpt: Typically, we measure energy efficiency in transportation—especially automobiles—in a simple metric of miles per gallon (MPG). It is a little more complicated in the freight world of planes and trains, however. If you look only at MPG for locomotives, you would think we haven’t made much progress in energy efficiency. Since 1960, the MPG for rail cars has only improved 23 percent (from about 8 to 10 gallons per mile), while automobile gas mileage has more than doubled. But this is highly misleading, because the weight of the average rail freight car has increased by 44 percent, and the amount of total freight miles (which is not the same thing as rail-car miles traveled) has tripled. In fact, the energy intensity of locomotives has improved substantially, with BTUs per freight mile falling by 65 percent since 1960. In other words, although total freight-rail miles have tripled since 1960, total railroad fuel consumption has remained about flat. If railroad locomotives had made no efficiency improvements since 1960, we’d have needed 9.2 billion gallons of fuel in 2009 instead of the 3.1 billion gallons actually consumed.

Nation Works until 11:13 AM to Pay All Taxes, Lunchtime to Pay off the Deficit
Excerpt: In 2011, Americans will devote 2 hours and 13 minutes of every eight-hour workday, or over a quarter of their working hours (27.7%), to paying taxes. In a nine-to-five workday, it takes until 11:13 a.m. to earn enough to pay that day’s share of taxes at the federal, state and local level. If we add the federal deficit to the picture—that is, if the federal government were planning to collect enough in taxes during 2011 to finance all of its spending—Americans would work until lunchtime, 12:07 p.m., for the government, before keeping any of their earnings for themselves.

Voting: You Gotta Pay to Play
Excerpt: America is drowning in debt. Taxpayers are demanding fiscal responsibility—but our leaders won't listen. What's the solution? This may sound like a radical idea, but our fiscal emergency demands radical intervention: Only those who pay taxes should be allowed to vote. Only those with "skin in the game" should be allowed to choose our representatives. (At first glance, this sounds like a screwy idea. And, I doubt a statistic or two cited in the article. But, the idea of “earning” a vote may have merit. But, we’ve tried giving votes away, and it has gotten us to here—which isn’t a very nice place to be. And, we’d have to limit candidates for office to those eligible to vote. Heinlein suggested (about 1963 in Starship Troopers) only those who had performed voluntary government service for two years or more be able to vote. His point was that the voters had to place the welfare of the nation above their own welfare. It’s an interesting idea that could never be accepted by the general citizenry. Won’t happen; we’ll die first. Ron P. This is the kind of reform the survivors will impose after the collapse. Along with, no work, no eat. ~Bob.)

Patriot Act Extension Agreement Reached By Congressional Leaders
Excerpt: The deal between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner calls for a vote before May 27, when parts of the current act expire. The idea is to pass the extension with as little debate as possible to avoid a protracted and familiar argument over the expanded power the law gives to the government. Support for the extension was unclear. (...) The provisions at issue allow the government to use roving wiretaps on multiple electronic devices and across multiple carriers and get court-approved access to business records relevant to terrorist investigations. The third, a "lone wolf" provision that was part of a 2004 law, permits secret intelligence surveillance of non-U.S. individuals without having to show a connection between the target and a specific terrorist group. (This shouldn’t be a partisan issue; it’s an existential issue. When our opponent in a war is a non-state group, amorphous, knowing no boundaries of geography or politics, with no organized, effective leadership capable of surrender, there can be no USS Missouri signing ceremony. Even if we “declare victory” and take our marbles home, the other side still gets an opinion about the future continuation and conduct of the war. For us to now declare ourselves the winners and relax back into our pre-9/11 slumber can only ensure our long-term defeat. And perhaps, if we value vigilance that little, we may deserve it. Ron P.)

Standing Strong with Israel
excerpt: When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits President Barack Obama at the White House today for three hours of meetings, he will likely ask the President a very important question: Do you stand by the long-standing U.S. commitments to Israel’s future as a Jewish state? He’s right to ask the question. In a speech yesterday on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East following the “Arab Spring” uprisings, President Obama broached the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Notably, he stated that, as part of finding peace between Israel and Palestine, the two parties should return to their 1967 borders. The Heritage Foundation’s James Phillips explains that the President’s proposal is a “misreading of the past” and an “underestimation of the terrorist threat” that Israel faces:

I don’t understand the title, but don’t think we can put this guy down as “undecided” for 2012. ~Bob. You did not speak for me when you said this today: “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.” Do not pretend that you do. One side (Israel) is a functional, prosperous, and legitimate democratic republic which also happened to be (prior to you) an ally; the other (the PA) is run by terrorists who cheer when their supporters sneak into people’s homes and murder babies. I can tell the difference: I am disgusted, yet, unsurprised, that you cannot.

Obama Jokes About Pirates Who Killed Americans?
Excerpt: Wednesday, May 18, at a DNC event in Boston President Obama took to the podium to tout his accomplishments to the local political scene. Along with illegal immigration and the economy, the President also took time to joke about piracy… “Along the way, we dealt with H1N1 and an oil spill and pirates. (Laughter.) Do you remember pirates? (Laughter.) Golly. (Laughter.) Thomas Jefferson had to deal with pirates. I thought we were past that. ” (Laughter.)

Rasmussen Poll: Americans support Israel and oppose Illegal Immigration. 60% Say Federal Government Encourages Illegal Immigration.
Excerpt: Most voters continue to believe that the federal government’s policies encourage illegal immigration but remain closely divided over whether it's better to let the federal government or individual states enforce immigration laws. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely U.S. Voters shows that 60% now believe the policies and practices of the federal government encourage people to enter the United States illegally. Twenty-one percent (21%) disagree and do not think the government encourages illegal immigration. Another 19% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.) The number of voters who believe the federal government's policies encourage people to enter the country illegally is in keeping with findings since October 2009. This comes at a time when voters are more pessimistic than ever about the possibility of stopping illegal immigration for good in the United States.

Excerpt: I am mystified by the various metamorphoses and general weirdness in the recent statements from John Brennan, Obama’s anti-terrorism czar. Since 2009, two characteristics unfortunately distinguish his all-too-frequent public proclamations: post-facto attacks on the prior administration whose anti-terrorism protocols he was knee-deep in, and commentary on current events that is either silly or soon proves untrue.

Adult Baby Syndrome
Excerpt: Welcome to the land of the freeloaders and the home of the depraved. No image captures America's regressive ethos better than that of 30-year-old Stanley Thornton Jr., self-proclaimed "Adult Baby." Profiled on a recent National Geographic reality television show, Thornton claims to suffer from a bizarre infantilism that leads him to wear diapers, lounge around in an oversized crib and seek constant coddling. The nappies may be extreme, but let's face it: Thornton Jr. -- let's just call him Junior -- is a symptom of our Nanny State run amok, not an anomaly. Junior came to Washington's attention this week when Oklahoma GOP Sen. Tom Coburn challenged the Social Security Administration to probe into how the baby bottle-guzzling 350-pound man qualified for federal disability benefits. A former security guard, Junior is handy enough to have crafted his own wooden high chair and playpen. Junior can drive a car and has sense enough not to go out in public in his XXL footie pajamas. Yet, welfare administrators treat him as an incurable dependent. Also collecting taxpayer-subsidized paychecks: Thornton's adult roommate, a former nurse, who has indulged Thornton's baby role-playing for the past decade.

Excerpt: A very large proportion of recent university graduates have soured on President Barack Obama, and many will vote GOP or stay at home in the 2012 election, according to two new surveys of younger voters.

Obama, Israel will NOT commit suicide! Demonstration next to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv
Jew making trouble again, won’t get quietly on the railroad cars. ~Bob. Excerpt: Obama demands withdraw to the '67 lines without the Arabs giving up the right of return means that millions of refugees on the fences of Kfar Sava, Hadera and Tel Aviv. It is the elimination of Israel. We are a living thing, and we will fight. Yes, even against Obama.

The Los Angeles Times has long refused to release a videotape in its possession of a farewell dinner, attended by Obama, for scholar and Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi. Obama spoke warmly of his friendship for Khalidi at that event. Unfortunately, the continuing mystery of that video tape has obscured the rather remarkable article that the LA Times did publish about the dinner — and about Obama’s broader views on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. In light of the controversy over Obama’s remarks on Israel in his address yesterday on the Middle East, it is worth revisiting that 2008 article from the LA Times. The extraordinary thing about “Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Obama” is that in it, Obama’s supporters say that in claiming to be pro-Israel, he is hiding his true views from the public. Having observed his personal associations, his open political alliances, his public statements, and his private remarks, Obama’s Palestinian allies steadfastly maintain that Obama’s private views are far more pro-Palestinian than he lets on.

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