Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Political Digest for June 1, 2011

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

Comment on Collapse from the UK

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.

A must read. Really: Reflections on the Revolution in France
Excerpt: Some of Mr. White’s chronicle will sound familiar. It was a new dawn, a day of hope and change, the ancien rĂ©gime and the theocrats and the plutocracy having been supplanted by fresh new faces dedicated to Reason and promising to fundamentally change France. That turned out to be an expensive proposition, and the new government found itself in a bind: It was unwilling to cut spending or to raise taxes. The country, Mr. White writes, “found itself in deep financial embarrassment: There was a heavy debt and a serious deficit. . . . There was a general want of confidence in business circles; capital had shown its proverbial timidity by retiring out of sight as far as possible; throughout the land was stagnation.” A source of particular annoyance to the Jacobins and the rest of the Left was the fact that businesses and investors were sitting on a great deal of cash but refusing to spend or to invest, and many were sheltering their capital abroad. The government decided upon a stimulus package — to flood the economy with fresh money in order to encourage new business through the magic of l’effet multiplicateur. The problem was that the Jacobins were, perforce, marginally less irresponsible than, say, the present government of the United States: They could not just go borrow the money. And they faced a real limitation: Their money was made out of gold, not good wishes. It was not a faith-based currency, or even a faith-and-credit-based currency.

Thank Speaker Boehner for Blocking Obama Recess Appointments
Excerpt: You need to call Speaker Boehner’s office right now at 202-225-0600 and thank him for the extraordinary step he took this week to slow down President Obama’s radical agenda. With the Obama legislative agenda stalled, the left has turned its attention toward using the Executive power to accomplish their socialist goals. The key to this strategy is to the pack agencies, boards, and commissions such as the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with leftists like Craig Becker and Elizabeth Warren who will advance the collectivist agenda, regardless of whether there is any legal authority to do so. The Senate has blocked several of the more radical nominees, but under the Constitution, President Obama has the power to appoint them during a Congressional recess.

Islamic Schools of Child Sexual Abuse
Excerpt: Recently released American diplomatic cables have revealed Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirate donors to be spending $100 million a year to fund a Pakistani network of jihadist religious schools. While these Islamic schools — known as madrassas — are better known as places to recruit and train young boys and girls as terrorist fighters and suicide bombers, they have other equally disturbing uses.

How ObamaCare Will Kill Americans
Excerpt: A major segment of ObamaCare will force cuts in drug and medical device research that “will kill more people than it will help,” according to an astonishing study quoted in Reason Magazine May 24. The government medical program was sold as better health at lower cost. But estimated economic cost will total $1.7 trillion, resulting in 32 million lost years of life. The administration’s program is called federal Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER). The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 provided $1.1 billion for research and development in CER. This was to create an inventory of CER therapies to give patients, clinicians, and other decision-makers help in identifying medical alternatives. It is coordinated by the Federal Coordinating Council, run from the excessively bureaucratized Department of Health and Human Services. President Obama obfuscated its role at the time of CER’s creation: “If there’s a red pill and a blue pill,” he said; “and the blue pill is half the price of the red pill and works just as well, why not pay half price for the thing that’s going to make you well?” Wrong supposition, Barack. CER is research that compares how different treatments and tests have worked on others, but are not necessarily successful on any specific patient.

Seductive Beliefs by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: One of the painfully revealing episodes in Barack Obama's book "Dreams From My Father" describes his early experience listening to a sermon by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Among the things said in that sermon was that "white folks' greed runs a world in need." Obama was literally moved to tears by that sermon. This sermon may have been like a revelation to Barack Obama but its explanation of economic and other differences was among the oldest-- and most factually discredited-- explanations of such difference among all sorts of peoples in all sorts of places. Yet it is an explanation that has long been politically seductive, in countries around the world. What could be more emotionally satisfying than seeing others who have done better in the world as the villains responsible for your not having done as well? It is the ideal political explanation, from the standpoint of mass appeal, whether or not it makes any sense otherwise. That has been the politically preferred explanation for economic differences between the Malay majority and the more prosperous Chinese minority in Malaysia, or between the Gentile majority and the Jewish minority in various countries in Europe between the two World Wars.
Consumers, not bureaucrats, should make healthcare decisions.
Excerpt: Better health care at lower cost. That's what comparative effectiveness research promises, but can it deliver? A new study argues that federal comparative effectiveness research won't generate cheaper, better medical care to the American public. Instead, it will force cuts in pharmaceutical and medical device research and development, resulting in 32 million lost years of life and economic losses totaling $1.7 trillion. Among lots of different possible treatments for a disease, comparative effectiveness research (CER) aims at figuring out the relative effectiveness of different medical interventions. As President Barack Obama explained, "If there's a blue pill and a red pill, and the blue pill is half the price of the red pill and works just as well, why not pay half price for the thing that's going to make you well?" Sounds very sensible, right? A provision tacked onto the $787 billion stimulus package passed by Congress in 2009 aims to help find those half-price blue pills. Various federal health bureaucracies received $1.1 billion to spend on comparative effectiveness research.

The Economic Value of College Majors
Excerpt: On average, bachelor's degrees pay off. But a new study confirms that some undergraduate majors pay off a lot more than others. In fact, the difference in earnings potential between one major and another can be more than 300 percent, says Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce. While there is a lot of variation in earnings over a lifetime, the authors find that all undergraduate majors are "worth it," even taking into account the cost of college and lost earnings. However, the lifetime advantage ranges from $1,090,000 for engineering majors to $241,000 for education majors. The top 10 majors with the highest median earnings are: petroleum engineer ($120,000); pharmacy/pharmaceutical sciences and administration ($105,000); mathematics and computer sciences ($98,000); aerospace engineering ($87,000); chemical engineering ($86,000); electrical engineering ($85,000); naval architecture and marine engineering ($82,000); mechanical engineering, metallurgical engineering, and mining and mineral engineering (each with median earnings of $80,000). The 10 majors with the lowest median earnings are: counseling/psychology ($29,000); early childhood education ($36,000); theology and religious vocations ($38,000); human services and community organizations ($38,000); social work ($39,000); drama and theater arts, studio arts, communication disorders sciences and services, visual and performing arts, and health and medical preparatory programs (each at $40,000). Liberal arts and humanities majors end up in the middle of the pack in terms of earnings and employment. They are the third most popular major group, and earn median incomes of $47,000. Moreover, about 40 percent of people with these majors obtain a graduate degree, reaping a return of almost 50 percent. Liberal arts and humanities majors generally fare well in the workforce, ending up in professional, white-collar and education occupations. As to the question of graduate degrees, the report reveals that obtaining a graduate-level degree does lead to higher earnings, but how much in additional earnings is also driven by what you study. The highest earnings bump in graduate degrees can be found in the areas related to health care and biology. (Old joke: What’s the difference between a Liberal Arts Major and a large pizza? A large pizza can feed a family of four. ~Bob.)

Video: ‘Bastard in the Sand’ Parody Sung by Martin Short Accompanied by the ‘Singing Navy SEALS’
Excerpt: A couple of weeks ago, actor/comedian Martin Short celebrated the killing of Osama bin Laden by singing, on the Late Show with David Letterman, “Bastard in the Sand,” a parody set to the tune of Elton John's “Candle in the Wind.” As he played the piano and sang, he was accompanied by five people dressed as Navy SEALs whom the Late Show blog, the Wahoo Gazette, called “the Singing Navy SEALs.”

Skeptic Strategy for Talking About Global Warming
Excerpt: What should a responsible Skeptic say to an astute audience? When recently invited by the “Technology, Engineering, and Science Plus” group in my community to give a talk and answer questions, I knew I would have an attentive room of tech-savvy professionals. However, they might not be fully tuned in to the details of the Global Warming controversy. Furthermore, they were likely to have opinions closer to the supposed “mainsteam science” orientation than mine. In this posting, I’ve summarized the main points I think are most likely to align people who are both intelligent and reasonable to the Skeptic side. (An excellent guest post by Ira Glickstein, PhD at WUWT. It also has a link to a PowerPoint presentation he made for his own use. Several of the 130+ reader comments are from educators who will be using this in classrooms at all levels of education. Ron P.)

Harassing climate-change researchers
Excerpt: FREEDOM OF information laws are critical tools that allow Americans to see what their leaders do on their behalf. But some global warming skeptics in Virginia are showing that even the best tools can be misused. Lawyers from the Environmental Law Center at the American Tradition Institute (ATI) have asked the University of Virginia to turn over thousands of e-mails and other documents written by Michael E. Mann, a former U-Va. professor and a prominent climate scientist. Another warming skeptic, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R), recently demanded many of the same documents to determine whether Mr. Mann somehow defrauded taxpayers when he obtained research grants to study global temperatures. (Interestingly, the WaPo thinks it’s harassment if the Attorney General of Virginia uses FOIA to compel compliance with the law. They have very different opinions when they dislike the subject of the FOIA demands, like if they happen to be Republicans or conservatives. Ron P.)

Worth Reading: 6 Things The Mainstream Media Would Say About Obama If He Were A Republican
Excerpt: Anyone who follows politics knows that the mainstream media has two sets of rules: one set for conservatives and another set for liberals. Conservatives spend most of their time correcting smears and trying to explain to the public what they really believe. Liberals, on the other hand, can count on the press to hide their unpopular beliefs and put the best spin possible on everything they do. This is why you often hear Republicans say, "Imagine what they'd say if a Democrat had said that," while you almost never hear Democrats say, "Imagine what they'd say if a Republican had said that."

Egyptian general admits 'virginity checks' conducted on protesters
Excerpt: A senior Egyptian general admits that "virginity checks" were performed on women arrested at a demonstration this spring, the first such admission after previous denials by military authorities…. At that time, Maj. Amr Imam said 17 women had been arrested but denied allegations of torture or "virginity tests." But now a senior general who asked not to be identified said the virginity tests were conducted and defended the practice. "The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine," the general said. "These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in
Tahrir Square
, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and (drugs)." The general said the virginity checks were done so that the women wouldn't later claim they had been raped by Egyptian authorities. "We didn't want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren't virgins in the first place," the general said. "None of them were (virgins)." (Remarkable. None of them were virgins. If this had happened here, the castrated corpses of these “soldiers” would still be rotting on the lampposts they’d been hung from by the rest of us. Oh, right, I forgot. All cultures are equally valid. How about the ones that practice human sacrifice? Or cannibalism? Are those equally valid, too? Ron P. Meanwhile, the Leftstream Media celebrates the rise of democracy and freedom in the “Arab Spring.” ~Bob.)

Facebook, Twitter block Saudi woman driver's pages
Excerpt: Does anyone know if the Facebook page calling for women drivers in Saudi Arabia to be beaten is still up? Given Facebook's sorry track record of supporting Islamic supremacists and working against counter-jihadists, I wouldn't be in the least surprised if it were. "Female Saudi Driver Said to Be Freed," from the Associated Press, May 30.

Iran cleric: Killing Israeli children OK
Funny that a cleric wouldn’t know that “Islam is a religion of peace.” ~Bob. Excerpt: Iranian Ayatollah endorses evil: Radical religious cleric known as President Ahmadinejad's spiritual mentor says attacks on Israeli civilians permissible, suicide bombings a Muslim duty.

I suppose you are too busy trying to figure out why Islamophobic legislators in states like Oklahoma are passing laws resisting the imposition of Shari’a law, to read this. ~Bob. Excerpt: A teenage Muslim girl was stoned to death under 'Sharia law' after taking part in a beauty contest in Ukraine. Katya Koren, 19, was found dead in a village in the Crimea region near her home. Friends said she liked wearing fashionable clothes and had come seventh in a beauty contest.

Pakistan: Former navy commando and brother arrested for providing maps to jihadists in base raid
Excerpt: It was obvious the handful of jihadists who destroyed multi-million dollar aircraft and held Pakistani forces at bay for 16 hours had help. They knew exactly where to go and where to find what they wanted. But these two are only the tip of the iceberg where infiltration is concerned, as military and police installations in the country have seen a wave of attacks, including one where a 300-kg truck bomb passed through 50 checkpoints. An update on this story, after one more question: Who's watching the nukes?

Free Speech Victory in Dearborn, Michigan!
Excerpt: Maybe I shouldn't say "in" Dearborn, since the city only sought to suppress free speech in this case. An outside court (the United States Court of Appeals) had to impose Constitutional law on the city. Dearborn hosts an annual Arab Festival on
Warren Avenue
. During the festival, the street is reserved, but the adjacent sidewalks are not reserved and therefore remain public property. Hence, prior to 2009, many people would distribute pamphlets, DVDs, CDs, etc., on the public sidewalks. However, when Ronald Haddad took over as Chief of Police, he announced that no one would be allowed to distribute materials on the public sidewalks. Indeed, he insisted that no one would be allowed to distribute materials within five blocks of the festival. (He justified his decision by claiming that he needed to keep the area clear for pedestrian traffic.) From a Constitutional perspective, this was quite disturbing, as the government was officially limiting free speech on public sidewalks. Moreover, those of us who attended the festival noticed that security only enforced the policy on Christians. Muslims remained free to distribute their materials.

Memorial Day Remembrance by Armstrong Williams
Good column. ~Bob. Excerpt: I mention this only to point out that those Americans, who grappled with man's worst, did so to preserve man's best. As we approach yet another Memorial Day, it hardly seems enough to remember these soldiers in cliques of gallantry.

Tax Hikes Are Not Government Savings
Excerpt: To review: Savings come from spending less, not taxing more. Higher taxes cannot be savings for the government, because the income wasn’t the government’s to begin with. The extra revenue that would come from those tax hikes belongs to the American families and businesses that earned it. The government cannot “save” it by taxing it away from those who earned it. Politicians, the media, and other commentators exhibit this troubling way of thinking far too often when discussing the federal budget. For example, it comes up often when they refer to the “cost” of tax cuts. Just like tax hikes can’t be savings for the government, tax cuts can’t cost the government anything because the money was never the government’s to begin with. Or, more accurately, it is only the government’s money once it has been extracted from the taxpayer. (One could easily say that the government’s failure to confiscate every penny that John Kerry, George Soros, the Obamas and the Kennedy’s have “cost” the government millions. Get on it. ~Bob.)

Memorial Day
“For the honor of the fallen, for the glory of the dead", Edgar Guest wrote of Belleau Wood, "the living line of courage kept the faith and moved ahead". They are all gone now, those Marines who made a French farmer's little Wheatfield into one of the most enduring of Marine Corps legends. Many of them did not survive the day, and eight long decades have claimed the rest. But their actions are immortal. The Corps remembers them and honors what they did, and so they live forever. Dan Daly's shouted challenge takes on its true meaning - if you lie in the trenches you may survive for now, but someday you may die and no one will care. If you charge the guns you may die in the next two minutes, but you will be one of the immortals. All Marines die in the red flash of battle or the white cold of the nursing home. In the vigor of youth or the infirmity of age all will eventually die, but the Marine Corps lives on. Every Marine who ever lived is living still, in the Marines who claim the title today. It is that sense of belonging to something that will outlive your own mortality, which gives people a light to live by and a flame to mark their passing. --Passed on to a Marine from another Marine! Semper Fi, --MasterGuns

Pentagon Declars That Cyber-Attacks Can Constitute an Act of War, Deserving an Armed Response
Yes, Popular Science misspelled "declares" in the headline. RGP Excerpt: On the heels of a cyber attack that breached defense contractor Lockheed Martin’s network defenses last week, the Pentagon is opening the door to new means of dealing with cyber attacks perpetrated by foreign nations. In a new, formal 30-page cyber strategy document--unclassified portions of which will be made public next month--the Pentagon has deemed that cyber attacks can constitute acts of war, and that responses can include traditional military retaliation. The question now is: what constitutes a cyber attack from a foreign land? Pinning the blame for digital skullduggery on a foreign government (or anyone else for that matter) is often difficult to do with any degree of certainty.  (…) We’ll learn more about the DoD’s philosophy here when the unclassified portion of the document is released, but we do know that the document will push for an international doctrine among America’s allies that dictates appropriate responses to cyber threats. One popular idea is a doctrine of “equivalence.” If a cyber attack produces death, damage, or some kind of economic or commercial disruption equivalent to what might be wrought by a military attack, it could be considered an act of war and a candidate for military retaliation. As one military official told the WSJ: “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks.” (In theory, this sounds great; in practice, it may be very different. I predict that any attack will appear to be from at least five countries other than the one truly originating it, and at least two of the five will be allies of the victim. A determined adversary might prepare an attack in one country, load it on media, and launch it from another, still routed through the five mentioned before. Either the “www” has to become the Region-wide Web, with little or no physical connection to other regions—which largely destroys its value—or we have to physically remove the systems that need to be secure—an expensive and perhaps impossible task. The risk of hitting the wrong target works in all directions, of course, but some countries need less excuse to launch attacks and invasions than others. And, does anyone remember the Reichstag fire? Ron P.)

Experts say cellphones are possibly carcinogenic to humans
Well, this should create a media frenzy and some short-term panic. People reading the scare de Jure in the paper remind me of a story from a friend who grew up in Florida. Her father decided to raise chickens. One day a wandering gator got into the chicken pen. Then it lay still until a chicken wandered close and SNAP! The gator ate the chicken and the rest of the flock squawked and flutter around in panic. But the gator lay quiet. Soon the chickens forgot and settled down. Then a chicken wandered close and SNAP! This went on while the frantic kids phoned the police until, several chickens later, animal control rousted the gator out of the pen. We aren’t much different. ~Bob. Excerpt: An international panel of experts says cellphones are possibly carcinogenic to humans after reviewing details from dozens of published studies on the matter. The statement was issued in Lyon, France, Tuesday by the International Agency for Research on Cancer — the cancer agency of the World Health Organization. The assessment by the cancer panel now goes to WHO and national health agencies for possible guidance on cellphone use.

The Revenge Killing of Osama bin Laden by Noam Chomsky
Can even the Marines protect us from Noam Chomsky? –TH Excerpt: The roots of the killing are deep. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the American desire for vengeance displaced concern for law or security. The May 1 U.S. attack on Osama bin Laden’s compound violated multiple elementary norms of international law, beginning with the invasion of Pakistani territory. There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by the 79 commandos facing almost no opposition. (People like Chomsky are always surprised to be put up against the wall and shot, after the folks they advocate for seize power. Their last words are often a pleading, “Why didn’t someone do something?” ~Bob.)

A picture is worth 1,000 words, they say. ~Bob.

Excerpt: You got a 20% debasement (roughly) in the currency, a 20% increase in the stock market (net zero) but look at what went for a rocket ride…. just all the things you need to buy….

Reelecting Obama: Memo to GOP: Obama will campaign against Bush (again) and play the race card. Don’t let him get away with it.
Excerpt: We are beginning to see the contours of the upcoming 2012 reelection campaign of Barack Obama. Whether always officially sanctioned or not, Obama’s campaign will focus on three general themes: a) the 2008 meltdown of the economy on Bush’s watch; b) conservative heartlessness in gutting cherished entitlement programs; and c) racial bias behind any criticism of Barack Obama.

Excerpt: Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas state legislature want the rest of the country to hear this message loud and clear: The Lone Star State is open for business.
In a unanimous vote last week, the Texas senate adopted ‘loser pays’ tort-reform legislation, which says that a plaintiff must pay the winning party’s legal fees if their complaint is judged to be groundless. On Wednesday, the Texas house concurred. Governor Perry, who had championed the legislation from its inception, signed it Monday night. The Wall Street Journal editorialized, “This Texas upgrade will build on reforms in 2003 and 2005 that have vastly improved the legal climate in what has not coincidentally become the country’s best state for job creation. Texas rewrote everything from class-action certification to product liability” — and I would add the state’s medical-malpractice reforms to that list. No wonder the nation’s CEOs list Texas as the best state for business.

Excerpt: This week I happened to meet one of the panjandrums of the British Foreign Office, a man who has been at the center of issues involving the Middle East and Afghanistan. What he had to say was a fine example of the FO’s persistent institutional personality. The invasion of Iraq, this man held, had been a mistake, and he was against it. The campaign in Afghanistan is an even more dire mistake. George W. Bush, he believed, had greatly over-reacted to 9/11. The Taliban were disposed at first to throw al-Qaeda out of the country, and a subtler president could have served the national interest better and at less cost by manipulating an open split between the two groups. In his view, fighting has achieved nothing, and never will. The only course of action now is to strike a deal that gives the Taliban what they want. You cannot put down an insurgency with military measures, he concluded as though this was the last word, and the Communist insurgency in Malaya, for instance, had not been defeated. Listening to this Foreign Office grandee, I couldn’t help being reminded of my old friend Professor J. B. Kelly, in his day the foremost authority on the Persian Gulf and who also coined the immortal phrase “the preemptive cringe” to describe the FO’s manner of operating. In a rather obscure but telling dispute, the Sultan of Oman had retained him as an adviser when Saudi Arabia seized the Omani oasis of Buraimi. The Saudis were completely in the wrong, but they were more important than the Omanis and therefore the Foreign Office was determined to let them have their way. Just a glance round the room was enough, John Kelly told me, to reveal officials whose careers had been devoted to internalizing all the bad things ambitious foreigners charged them with, and consequently devising how best to haul down the flag. They were so long accustomed to appease and surrender to strength and violence that they couldn’t imagine anything else. To come to terms with the Taliban now would expose Afghans and Pakistanis to tyranny, with many of them becoming refugees or corpses.

Will Obama Sink the Democrats?
Excerpt: The media are playing "divide and conquer" games against Republicans now, a strategy that worked in 2008 by leaving us with John McCain as the only candidate. This time they are swinging between viciously attacking Sarah Palin and her family, and hyping real or imaginary divisions between Republicans -- never among the Democrats, who present the image of a united front with Stalinesque unity. But you can bet there's a lot of vicious in-fighting among Obama, the Clintons, and all the rest, because Obama may be destroying the Democratic Party as we know it.

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