Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Political Digest for May 4, 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.

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.

More thoughts on killing OBL.

If this had happened during the Bush administration, the headlines would have been, “Bush invades allied country, executes alleged wrong-doer without trial.”

Obama was wise not to notify Pakistan. It was reported on TV that in the 1990s, Clinton notified them we were filing cruise missiles at bin Laden’s training camp and he got away just before they hit.

The Obama administration deserves credit by how well they kept the secret. But Obama’s claim that suddenly when he became president getting OBL became a priority was horse pucky. It was no higher under him than under bush.

I wonder if Obama is grateful to Bush for ordering “enhanced interrogation” thus developing the intel that led to this positive PR for BO? The far left and the media has been very quite about this stuff—they’d be screaming if this had gone down the same way with Bush in the White House.

Obama is taking so much credit, I won’t be surprised to hear him clam that he personally water-boarded KSM to get the intel.

The guy who put the double tap into OBL’s head must want to tell people. On the other hand, he doesn’t want to get his name on the top of the “must go to Allah list” for 100M Muslims.

Obama says we are now united. In killing OBL, yes, except for the far-left, hate America part of his base. But on the deficit and the economy—not so much.

The suggestion that Pakistan didn’t know where he was and could have carried out the raid themselves is more high-order house pucky. He was living in shouting distant of their military school. There had to be a LOT of high level Paki government and military types protecting him. For this we give them $4B a year? Oh, yeah, they have 100+_ nukes.

They should have said that all paper and computers were destroyed by the terrorists as we attacked. Might have kept some of the cells from scattering or going to ground.

The hot rubber Halloween mask next October should be Osama with bullet holes.

Good DOD background on the OBL raid

Good thought
Much is said about the job Seal Team 6 did in getting to and double tapping bin Laden, and they deserve all the kudos that are being given. Nobody is talking about the exceptional job done by the crew of the Blackhawks and Chinooks that got them there and back. They deserve some of the glory as well. --MasterGuns

Incredible pictures show President and inner circle watching live TV feed as special forces shoot dead the world's most wanted man
Excerpt: Hillary Clinton has her hand over her mouth in horror. Joe Biden looks incredulous. And, sitting quietly between them, still dressed in his golf clothes, sits Barack Obama. The President is leaning forward, his jaw clenched, staring intensely at the extraordinary, historic, sickening scene before him - helpless to do anything but pray that the breath-taking gamble he has taken by ordering special forces to storm Osama Bin Laden's compound will not leave him with blood on his hands. These are the incredible pictures that emerged last night of the moment the President watched the assassination of the world's most wanted man by a crack squad of special forces troops live on television. The leader of the free world saw the terror chief killed by a single bullet to the head via a video camera fixed to the helmet of a U.S. commando. But it was only when he received the signal 'Geronino' that he knew Bin Laden was dead. The dramatic footage of the ferocious battle in a Pakistani hideout - relayed to the White House by satellite link - is also said to show the Al Qaeda leader using a woman, thought to be one of his wives, as a human shield. (Damn. They should have invited me. I’d have brought chips, dip and beer, made it a party. ~Bob.)
Do Not Go Back to Sleep, America
This isn’t very long, but it may be the most important editorial of the day. --Ron P.
Excerpt: So they’ve assumed all along that what was wrong with our relations with the Middle East was … Osama bin Laden. It had nothing to do, in their minds, with things like the Lockerbie flight bombing, which happened before bin Laden was an adult. No, it was all bin Laden. For the last ten-plus years I’ve heard over and over that the only thing we should have done is capture bin Laden. There was no call to go to war against terror-supporting regimes. The dancing in the streets was typical of end-of-war celebrations, and I woke to the sick realization that the soft left now thinks the war is over.

Excerpt: With the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Special Forces, some will be tempted to herald the end of the War on Terror and thus an end to the 9/11 era.
Many on the left are already jumping to this conclusion. At The Daily Beast, Peter Beinart writes, “The war on terror is over; Al Qaeda lost. Now for the really hard stuff,” which for Beinart means tackling our debt, the supposed new greatest threat to American security. Editor of The Nation Katrina van den Heuvel says that “it is time to bring an end to the senseless war in Afghanistan” and argues for a “new and more effective security template” that does not “allow ‘war’ framing to define the national psyche and our politics.” Minutes after the president’s East Room address, Robert Greenwald of the antiwar Bravenew Foundation sent out a fundraising appeal and online petition, writing: “With al-Qaeda driven from [Afghanistan] and Bin Laden now dead, the rationale for war has evaporated. It’s time to stop now.”

Officials: CIA interrogators at secret prisons developed first strands that led to bin Laden
You mean killing OBL was……all Bush’s fault? ~Bob. Excerpt: Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden's most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed's successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania. The news is sure to reignite debate over whether the now-closed interrogation and detention program was successful. Former president George W. Bush authorized the CIA to use the harshest interrogation tactics in U.S. history. President Barack Obama closed the prison system

When They Think the West Isn’t Listening, the Muslim Brotherhood Praises bin Laden
Excerpt: A few months back, as revolt stirred in Egypt, Obama flaks were telling everyone not to worry about the “largely secular” Muslim Brotherhood because the “moderate” Brothers really can’t stand al-Qaeda — you should hear the way they trash bin Laden. I countered that this was nonsense. The Brotherhood is terrorism-friendly (Hamas, after all, is a Brotherhood branch) but that it plays a sophisticated game to obscure this fact from gullible Westerners — a game that has very much included its treatment of Osama bin Laden.

On Bin Laden, Muslim Brotherhood Makes Different Statements in English and in Arabic
Excerpt: While al-Erian portrayed bin Laden as a cause for violence in the Reuters article, the Muslim Brotherhood’s statement on their Arabic-language page said nothing critical of him. The website refers to the killing of “Sheikh” Osama bin Laden, using an honorific title, and condemns the attack as an assassination. It demands America stay out of the internal affairs of Arab and Muslim countries, and blames the West for launching a media campaign to demonize Islam. Above all, the MB’s Arabic-language statement “confirms that the legitimate resistance against foreign occupation, for any country is a legitimate right guaranteed by divine law and international convention,” in reference to America’s presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. By supporting violence against America’s troops in Muslim lands, the MB essentially defends the al-Qaeda campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Is this supposed to be surprising? Ron P. yes, to the wishful thinkers. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: Naturally, some Americans couldn’t resist the temptation to ride their own hobbyhorses. We had it coming, said the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, for tolerating abortion and gay unions. (Falwell later apologized.) On the left, a veritable chorus of “blame the victim” analysis explained that America’s crimes had driven our enemies to terrorism. The Nation declared that America was “the world’s leading rogue state.” Noam Chomsky offered his own twist, calling the U.S. the world’s chief “terrorist state.” Michael Moore, who held a seat of honor at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, offered that we shouldn’t be surprised by the attack because “we have orphaned so many children . . . with our taxpayer funded terrorism.”

Osama bin Laden killing gives Obama quick but limited ratings boost
Excerpt: In the immediate aftermath of the targeted killing of Osama bin Laden, President Obama’s approval rating has jumped higher, with big increases in the number of Americans giving him high marks on dealing with terrorism and the situation in Afghanistan. But the new poll, conducted Monday evening by The Washington Post and the Pew Research Center, also finds virtually no movement in Obama’s numbers when it comes to handling the economy. That suggests that success on one front — even one as important as the death of the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — might not translate easily to other areas. Overall, 56 percent of those polled say they approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president, an increase of nine percentage points over April polls by Post-ABC News and Pew. That is the highest approval rating for the president in either poll since 2009.

Obama Approval Numbers After Bin Laden Kill
Excerpt: How much overall boost did President Obama get from the capture of Osama Bin Laden? None, according to an exclusive Newsweek / Daily Beast poll encompassing 1,200 American adults, conducted in the two days immediately before the president’s Sunday announcement about the terrorist leader, and then the two days immediately after. (Interesting poll results from left-leaning Daily Beast. Ron P.)

Obama took SIXTEEN HOURS to make up his mind about Bin Laden mission
Excerpt: Barack Obama kept military commanders hanging by declaring he would 'sleep on it' before taking 16 hours to give the go-ahead to raid Bin Laden's compound. Hit squads of specialist Navy Seals - who were not even told who they were preparing to capture - had practised the mission at two reconstructions of the terror chiefs sprawling compound. The mission looked set to be given the all clear last Thursday when analysts confirmed beyond doubt that Bin Laden was in busy town of Abbottabad in northern Pakistan.

CIA Chief Breaks Silence: Pakistan Would Have Jeopardized bin Laden Raid, ‘Impressive’ Intel Captured
Excerpt: Long before Panetta ordered Vice Admiral William McRaven, head of the Joint Special Forces Command, to undertake the mission at 1:22 p.m. on Friday, the CIA had been gaming out how to structure the raid. Months prior, the U.S. had considered expanding the assault to include coordination with other countries, notably Pakistan. But the CIA ruled out participating with its nominal South Asian ally early on because “it was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission. They might alert the targets,” Panetta says.

Bin Laden Killing Erases Democrats' Wimp Factor
Excerpt: It almost perfectly rewrites the narrative of Democratic weakness that Republicans have labored decades to build. First, the view that Democrats won’t use force. This was never true. Bill Clinton, after all, sent troops to Haiti, and bombed Bosnia and Kosovo. But barely anyone remembers those missions and because their rationale was humanitarian, they made the Democrats seem like armed social workers…. Obama, by contrast, is now fused in the public imagination with the most successful American military operation since Inchon. Symbolically, it’s the opposite of the Carter Iran mission; in fact, it’s America’s Entebbe. (The author has misplaced his brain The comparison may be almost valid to the much larger Israeli raid on Entebbe, but 40 troops in 3 helicopters don’t compare with Inchon in any way. Nor does it compare with Grenada (though that comes closer by a factor of 1000), or the first Gulf War that was, by all accounts, not only spectacularly successful, but POPULAR with the public (those guys even got parades for the first time since 1945). He also neglected to mention Somalia. Although politically important as a symbol, the richly deserved killing of Bin Laden has little strategic meaning. Those other operations changed the course of history (yes, violence DOES solve some things). In any case, one small operation planned and carried out by better men who had to await permission after the USUAL 3 months of dithering doesn’t make up for the unbroken string of years of military ineptitude by the Left and the Democrats they support. Just look at Libya. Ron P.)

Al-Qaida's New Battle Hardened, Difficult Leader
Excerpt: In the wake of Osama bin Laden's demise, his likely successor is his longtime deputy and collaborator, Egyptian jihadist Ayman al-Zawahiri. The U.S. government has offered a reward of up to $25 million for Zawahiri, who officials have said was responsible for the planning of 9/11, the bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. It remains to be seen whether Zawahiri will be able to recruit and inspire a new generation of jihadists the way bin Laden did. Veteran observers of al-Qaida say bin Laden was a media-savvy, charismatic figure and a good listener. Zawahiri, by contrast, has a record "of alienating his colleagues, fighting over dogma, even within the Islamist movement," said journalist Steve Coll. "And as a communicator, he is less effective. His books are turgid and dogmatic." During a recent online chat with fellow jihadists, Zawahiri sounded "defensive and argumentative. He sounded unappealing as a leader."

Funny OBL tweet
Jeremy Fugleberg: "I know from movies that the Navy Seal who killed Bin Laden is a loose cannon who often clashes with his by-the-book CO" (from friend P.S.)

In Praise of American Persistence
Excerpt: America, however, did not ignore the horror of 9-11. Another long struggle for the terms of modernity had begun, one that would pit multifarious America and its radical experiment in liberty against murderous religious fanatics whose vision of the future linked 21st century technologies with 12th century feudalism, 20th century dictatorships and tribal misogyny. The religious fanatics bet on their will to win, their will to persist. The U.S. special operations team that killed bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, was the tip of a very long spear made of intelligence agencies, military services and police departments. It is a spear wielded by the American people. The bottom line to bin Laden's death is this: Don't attack America. The line above the bottom line? Don't underestimate America. Ever.

And the anti-Osama rally for that peaceful majority of moderate Muslims we hear about was held where? ~Bob. Excerpt: Angry participants belonging to a religious party in Quetta, the capital of southwestern province Baluchistan, were led by federal lawmaker Maulawi Asmatullah. They also torched a US flag before dispersing peacefully. It was the first rally in Pakistan after the United States announced that bin Laden had been killed in an overnight commando mission in Pakistan.

WikiLeaks: Osama bin Laden 'protected' by Pakistani security
Hardly a surprise. ~Bob. Excerpt: American diplomats were told that one of the key reasons why they had failed to find bin Laden was that Pakistan’s security services tipped him off whenever US troops approached. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISID) also allegedly smuggled al-Qaeda terrorists through airport security to help them avoid capture and sent a unit into Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban.

Wind farm efficiency queried by John Muir Trust study
Well, they’d be more efficient located near the Capitol in DC. ~Bob. Excerpt: Wind farms are much less efficient than claimed, producing below 10% of capacity for more than a third of the time, according to a new report. The analysis also suggested output was low during the times of highest demand. The report, supported by conservation charity the John Muir Trust, concluded turbines "cannot be relied upon" to produce significant levels of power generation.

Health Reform Will Exacerbate Physician Shortfall
Excerpt: The United States already faces a growing physician shortage. At the same time, enrollment in medical schools has been essentially flat, meaning we are not producing new physicians at anywhere near the rate we need to. In fact, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges, we face a shortfall of more than 150,000 doctors over the next 15 years, says Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Existing government programs already reimburse physicians at rates that are often less than the actual cost of treating a patient. Estimates suggest that on average physicians are reimbursed at roughly 78 percent of costs under Medicare, and just 70 percent of costs under Medicaid. Physicians must either make up for this shortfall by shifting costs to those patients with insurance -- meaning those of us with insurance pay more -- or treat patients at a loss. As a result, more and more physicians are choosing to opt-out of the system altogether. Roughly 13 percent of physicians will not accept Medicare patients today. Another 17 percent limit the number of Medicare patients they will see, a figure that rises to 31 percent among primary care physicians. The story is even worse in Medicaid, where as many as a third of doctors will not participate in the program. The new health reform law will exacerbate this problem by increasing the number of individuals insured through government programs. Doctors that remain after reform is instituted are increasingly likely to join "concierge practices," limiting the number of patients they see and refusing both government and private insurance, says Tanner. A 2010 IBD/TPP Poll found that 45 percent of doctors would at least consider leaving their practices or taking early retirement as a result of the new health care law. An online survey found that 26 percent of physicians in solo practices were considering closing. Promising universal health coverage is easy. But what does universal coverage mean if you can't actually see a doctor?

A Decade of Debt
Excerpt: This paper presents evidence that public debts in the advanced economies have surged in recent years to levels not recorded since the end of World War II, surpassing the heights reached during the First World War and the Great Depression. At the same time, private debt levels, particularly those of financial institutions and households, are in uncharted territory and are (in varying degrees) a contingent liability of the public sector in many countries. Historically, high leverage episodes have been associated with slower economic growth and a higher incidence of default or, more generally, restructuring of public and private debts. A more subtle form of debt restructuring in the guise of “financial repression” (which had its heyday during the tightly regulated Bretton Woods system) also importantly facilitated sharper and more rapid debt reduction than would have otherwise been the case from the late 1940s to the 1970s. It is conjectured here that the pressing needs of governments to reduce debt rollover risks and curb rising interest expenditures in light of the substantial debt overhang (combined with the widespread “official aversion” to explicit restructuring) are leading to a revival of financial repression—including more directed lending to government by captive domestic audiences (such as pension funds), explicit or implicit caps on interest rates, and tighter regulation on cross-border capital movements

Excerpt: Sorry about the headline. Just trying to liven up the other news of the day. I think it’s fair to say the death of Osama bin Laden has reduced U.S. coverage of today’s Canadian election from 0 percent of network airtime to 0.0000 percent of network airtime. So, in the interests of driving down Corner traffic to near undetectable levels, I thought I’d provide an update: Canada’s Conservative party has been returned to office, and for the first time Stephen Harper’s ministry will enjoy a parliamentary majority. Always good to have one nation on the North American continent with a Conservative head of government. On the other hand, the NDP (that’s Canadian for the Socialist Loon Party) has near tripled its representation, thanks to a last-minute revelation that its leader, Jack Layton, had been found naked with a “masseuse” during a police raid on a bawdy house. One never knows what will finally cause a party to make a breakthrough with the electorate, but Mr. Layton’s was the money shot heard round the world.

IPAB Under Fire: Some Democrats are souring on the centerpiece of Obama’s Medicare reform.
Excerpt: Meanwhile, congressional Democrats jumped at the opportunity to accuse Republicans — however falsely — of “voting to end Medicare.” They shouldn’t get too comfortable, however, because Democrats may soon be forced to weigh in on President Obama’s alternative to Ryan’s reforms, namely the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a 15-member panel of “experts” that would be tasked with “improving” Medicare by “finding savings” in the program — which many fear is simply code for rationing (remember “death panels?”). In his speech at George Washington University, Obama doubled down on IPAB as his primary means of confronting rising Medicare costs, recommending that it be granted additional “tools” and “enforcement mechanisms” to control costs and that its creation (scheduled for 2014 under the new health-care law) be fast-tracked. “All we’re saying is if we’ve got health-care experts — doctors and nurses and consumers — who are helping to design how Medicare works more intelligently, then we don’t have to radically change Medicare,” Obama said at a recent town-hall event organized by Facebook. In fact, some Democrats have already begun to weigh in against the idea.

Fed Up with the Fed? By Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: The idea that the federal government has to step in whenever there is a downturn in the economy is an economic dogma that ignores much of the history of the United States. During the first hundred years of the United States, there was no Federal Reserve. During the first one hundred and fifty years, the federal government did not engage in massive intervention when the economy turned down. No economic downturn in all those years ever lasted as long as the Great Depression of the 1930s, when both the Federal Reserve and the administrations of Hoover and of FDR intervened.

UK: Making the Election about Islam
Excerpt: Readers who follow British political affairs know that up until now there has been no political party of any significance that opposes Islamization, with the exception of the British National Party (BNP). British Islam-critics who resist the destruction of their country through immigration, but are put off by the BNP — due to its long-time “whites only” policy, or for some other reason — find that there is no other party that they can turn to. They can vote Tory, and hope that (ha!) the “Conservatives” somehow regain their patriotic compass. Or they can vote BNP. Those are the only choices. The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is a Euro-skeptic party. Its defining issue is the European Union, and the fact that membership in the EU is dangerous and destructive to the traditional identity of the British nation. Up until now UKIP has declined to tackle the issue of immigration, or to touch the third rail of British politics: Islam. But all that seems to be changing. Abhijit P.G. Pandya is the UKIP Parliamentary Candidate for Leicester South in the by-election which is to be held this Thursday, May 5. He is a Christian of Indian extraction, and has broken with the normal practice of UKIP by making Islamization one of the major issues of his campaign.

Obama on immigration is nothing but unserious silliness
Excerpt: While President Obama said he had no time for birther 'silliness' earlier this week, his meeting with Latino celebrities and media stars was nothing but. The Hispanic community is apparently upset with Obama for his inaction solving the immigration mess during his first two years in office. After all, they argue, he promised to prioritize immigration in his first year. Deportations were discussed at the gathering. "Participants said Obama stressed his determination to change immigration laws. But they said that when pressed to do something about the record 393,000 illegal immigrants forced to leave the country last year, Obama indicated that without congressional action his hands were tied." What nonsense and what classic Obama. This president has never told an audience anything they don't want to hear. It isn't Congress deporting illegals from this country it is the Department of Homeland Security -- that is the Obama administration itself. And by the way, the deportees had no legal right to be in the country.

Canada’s Conservative Majority Trumps Left-Wing Revolution!
Excerpt: Take heart America! The Obama Regime-supported Liberals were not just wiped out in last night’s Canadian federal election, they were routed right off the map. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, attacked by Americans like Robert Kennedy Jr. for his “religiosity” made history with a third election victory—and first solid majority. The Liberals forced back from 77 seats when the writ was dropped to a paltry 34 elected and leading at the time of this writing, were the hope of President Barack Obama’s former financial advisor Larry Summers, Samantha Power, wife of Obama czar Cass Sunstein, among others. In the stinging humiliation dealt the Liberals, Leader Michael Ignatieff lost his seat.

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