Thursday, July 14, 2011

Political Digest for July 14, 2011

Thursday Collapse Radio Interview
I’ll be on Thursday, July 14, 2011, 7:30 pm to 8:45 pm EDT., 6:30 pm to 7:45 PM CDT. You cal sign in to their blog on the web to hear and post questions. You can also call The call-in number, 347-857-4364, and press '1' to be placed in the host queue. (If you just want to listen, don’t press ‘1’.)

Best older posts for new blog readers

Multiple Explosions in Mumbai
Excerpt: Three explosions were reported in Mumbai on July 13 in the crowded Opera House, Zaveri Bazaar and Dadar areas of the city. The explosions began around 7:10 p.m. and occurred within minutes of each other. There are reports that a fourth bomb, likely at the Roxy Theater, failed to detonate. Current casualty estimates indicate five people have been killed and 100 injured thus far. This marks the first major attack in India since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. Though the magnitude of these attacks has yet to be determined, this attack does not appear to be as sophisticated as the 2008 attacks, which involved an assault team consisting of a number of militants that coordinated 10 shooting and bombing attacks across the city. The July 13 attack, by contrast, appears to have not involved suicide attackers but consisted of explosives placed in a taxi, a meter box and locations where they could be remotely detonated. This tactic is much more in line with those used by more amateurish groups, such the Indian Mujahideen, who have targeted crowded urban areas before. Nonetheless, the attack comes at a critical juncture in U.S.-Pakistani relations as the United States is trying to accelerate a withdrawal of its military forces in Afghanistan. The 2008 Mumbai attacks revealed the extent to which traditional Pakistan-based Islamist militant groups, such as elements from the defunct Lashkar-e-Taiba, had collaborated with transnational jihadist elements like al Qaeda in trying to instigate a crisis between Islamabad and New Delhi. Such a crisis would complicate U.S.-Pakistani dealings on Afghanistan, potentially serving the interests of al Qaeda as well as factions within Pakistan trying to derail a negotiation between the United States and Pakistan.

Rick Perry has “huge” opening as many in GOP establishment remain uncommitted
Excerpt: As he weighs whether to jump into the 2012 Republican presidential race, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been dialing GOP establishment bigwigs across the country. In phone calls that sometimes stretch more than a half hour, Perry asks the same questions: Is the door open for a new candidate? And how wide is it open? Perry is finding that a vast reservoir of the Republican Party establishment — broadly defined to include elected officials, donors, strategists and activists whose support fuels presidential campaigns — is so far untapped, according to interviews conducted Monday and Tuesday with 19 major donors, strategists and party officials in13 states.

Why Bachmann’s Iowa lead is larger than it appears
Excerpt: The big news Monday in the political world was that Rep. Michele Bachmann has surged to the lead in a new Republican poll in Iowa. The even bigger news is that Bachmann’s lead over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney may be significantly wider than the four percent margin reflected in the poll, and we may in fact be under-selling her surge in the Hawkeye State A closer look at the Voter/Consumer Research poll shows that among voters who are described as the “most attentive,” Bachmann leads by a much-wider 14-point margin, 32 percent to 18 percent. Those numbers matter for several reasons. One, of course, is that attentive voters are more likely to turn out to vote. And that’s especially true in Iowa, which uses a caucus system dominated by — you guessed it — more attentive voters.(Imagine Bachmann-Rubio, a female-Hispanic ticket for the stogie GOP. The media would destroy itself smearing them. ~Bob.)

PROTEST: Blasphemy is not free speech
Excerpt: I vehemently protest the planned staging of the blasphemous play “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,” sponsored by Oklahoma City University. Among other offensive blasphemies, it depicts the Virgin Mary as a lesbian. (Actually, blasphemy is free speech, no matter how distastefully you and I may find it. So is the right to protest it peacefully, as this group urges. It’s exactly because they know they can safely offend Christians with this tripe, while gathering kudos for being brave, that they dare put it on. Now if they put on a play depicting Mohammad as Gay or having sex with pigs, that would be brave. But they are too cowardly to do that, hide their fear behind not wanting to be “offensive” or “Islamophobic.” They have the right to put on this play. And I have the right to think the Oklahoma City University School of Theatre players and playwright are sick, cowardly bedwetters, beneath contempt. ~Bob.)

Tahrir Square
Comes to Fleet Street
Excerpt: The New York Times has shown an inordinate interest in the demise of Britain’s News Of The World, a newspaper 99.99 percent of Times readers have never read and I’d wager a majority had never heard of until a week ago. By contrast, the paper appears to have absolutely no interest in, say, the use of stimulus funds to murder a U.S. Border Patrol agent. One understands, of course, that the Times is rattled by Rupert Murdoch’s revitalization of the Wall Street Journal as a broadsheet with appeal to more than merely the financial world, and so it is in the paper’s interest to pile on Mr. Murdoch. But, even so, this is ridiculous:

Worth reading: VHPA (Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association) Reunion. Guest Speaker: Joe Galloway, co-author, We Were Soldiers Young Once, And Young
Excerpt: What I want to say now is just between us.....because America still doesn't get it.....still doesn't know the truth, and the truth is: You are the cream of the crop of our generation.....the best and finest of an entire generation of Americans. You are the ones who answered when you were called to serve.....You are the ones who fought bravely and endured a terrible war in a terrible place. You are the ones for whom the words duty, honor, country have real meaning because you have lived those words and the meaning behind those words.

Allen West Rips Obama Over Warning that Social Security Checks Might Not Go Out: 'This is fear-mongering, sad and pathetic.'
Excerpt: “That’s fear mongering that’s not leadership, that’s sad and pathetic,” West told reporters. “There’s revenue that’s coming into this country the president needs to prioritize.”

Video: Rubio: Every Aspect of American life is worse today than when he took over
Excerpt: Guess who 'he' is.

The Left Starts to Dump Obama
Excerpt: It appears that the left is washing its hands of Obama. In recent days we've seen a number of left-wing spokesmen ranging from Bill Maher to Frank Rich dismissing Obama as a disappointment -- too centrist, too moderate, not at all the American Lenin they'd ordered. Even Mark Halperin, who would fracture his nose if any Democratic politician ever stopped short, dismissed the messiah as a "dick" on MSNBC. (They must be racists, to oppose Obama on anything. Or so they said of us. ~Bob.)

These are all the programs that the new Republican House has proposed cutting.
Excerpt: Question is, what is all this doing in the budget in the first place? And what programs at still in the budget that should be cut along with these? (Why are these in the budget? Simple--vote buying from the groups that benefit. ~Bob.)

It's Okay to Kill Gays Once Sharia Implemented Says Local Muslim Crazy Person Jawed Anwar
Excerpt: He is not advising the Islamic judiciary to kill any gay person they found, but what he is “suggesting” is judicial punishment of death sentence for those who confess or are seen “performing homosexual acts” by “four reliable witnesses without any doubt.”

Debt Ceiling: Worst-Case Scenario
Excerpt: As I understand it, if the debt ceiling is not raised, the federal government cannot borrow any more money. That should mean it can only spend only what it raises in revenue. But what would that mean? Would the federal government have to default (stop making interest payments on its existing debt)? Would Social Security checks have to be cut? How big are the cuts we are talking about? For budget numbers, I will use Office of Management and Budget estimates (see Table 1.1 for total revenue and Table 3.2 for spending by function and subfunction.). By the time the debt ceiling is reached, most of Fiscal Year 2011 will be behind us. FY 2012 starts October 1. So I will use FY 2012 numbers to guide this exercise.

Give peas a chance

Afghan Dog Fights Like a Marine
Excerpt: Willy began to demonstrate the same protective traits of his mother as he grew. He also learned how to patrol with the Marines, what a patrol formation was, and how to react when they came in contact with the enemy. Willy has gone through three complete combat rotations since then as each LAR unit has taken charge of the area in the past two years. The veteran dog usually takes the lead when the Marines go on patrol now. He stays in front until the Marines pass through the bazaar outside the combat outpost. Local residents often look up in recognition of the dog, who seems to fancy himself a Marine. Willy relocates to a new position once he establishes a clear path for the Marines and begins moving from one side of the patrol to the other, warning Marines of anyone’s approach with a quick bark or a low growl. The many stray dogs in the area tend to be very aggressive and travel in packs. Marines routinely spot Willy scrapping with a pack of wild dogs that approach his Marines.

Cantor outlines $353B in Medicare, Medicaid savings during debt talks
Excerpt: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Monday outlined changes to Medicare and Medicaid he said would save $353 billion over the next decade. Cantor offered the ideas in talks at the White House. The suggestions were immediately criticized by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who said they would lead to benefit cuts. GOP aides said Cantor was not offering a new proposal, but was outlining savings identified in talks led by Vice President Bide. Cantor was a participant in those talks. A Democrat aide characterized the proposal as Cantor's. ... Most of the proposals in Cantor's presentation would not directly cut benefits, but rather would take money from states, doctors or other healthcare providers. The outline includes cuts in payments for imaging services such as MRIs, which Republicans in the Senate axed from a trade agreement recently.

Sebelius: Congress can avoid IPAB by addressing Medicare costs
If Congress has the will to tackle Medicare spending, it won't have to worry about a controversial cost-cutting panel created by healthcare reform, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday. Republicans charge that the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) will "ration" seniors' care. It has been a top target in the GOP's assault on President Obama's healthcare law. The 15-member board will recommend cuts in Medicare payments to doctors, which will take effect automatically unless Congress votes to block them. But the IPAB's power only kicks in if Medicare spending grows at a certain rate. So lawmakers worried about handing over control of Medicare payments to an unelected board can avoid that scenario by controlling Medicare costs before the IPAB is in place, Sebelius said.

Excerpt: How ironic that liberals and Democrats who have no difficulty believing that Islam has been hijacked by extremists have no notion that they have been hijacked by the far left. A coalition of 1960s’ New Leftists and what used to be called the party’s McGovernite wing has taken over using a brilliant strategy of propaganda and dissimulation. Ah, for the relatively good old days of Bill Clinton, a man who, for all his multiple faults, understood that he had to govern somewhere from within sight of the political center. Why is it that while liberals/Democrats constantly claim the Republican Party has been taken over by its far right wing, many conservatives/Republicans constantly claim that Obama is a typical liberal/Democrat? Why don’t more critics of the current policies say instead that the Democratic Party has been taken over by its far left wing and no longer represents the worldview of mainstream Democratic voters and leaders of the past? Instead, they play into the hands of the current government, helping it to mobilize support from Democrats and liberals by assuring them that the Obama administration is normative for liberals and Democrats rather than a radical deviation.

Ingratitude, Thy Name Is South Korea
Excerpt: South Korea has joined with only two other countries in the world in dropping the name of the forthcoming film "Captain America" and using the subtitle, "The First Avenger." The other two countries are Russia and Ukraine. According to the New York Times report, "Although that country (South Korea) is one of Hollywood's top-performing territories, resentment about the continued presence of the United States military runs deep." For years now, I have intended to write a column about the most glaring case of international ingratitude of which I am aware. The "Captain America" story has finally pushed me over the edge. For decades, there have been anti-U.S. demonstrations in South Korea. And each time I wonder the same thing: Do these people have any idea what the living hell known as North Korea is like? Do these people understand that the United States is the reason they are so free and prosperous, completely unlike their fellow North Koreans who had the horrible luck not to be liberated by America? Do these people know how many Americans died to enable them to be free? Whenever I confront someone who claims that America's wars abroad were fought for economic gain or to extend its alleged imperialist empire, I ask the person about the Korean War: What imperialist or economic reasons were there to fight in that country?

The political unknowns of a debt default
Defaults are inevitable, but I expect them at the city and state level first. The federal government can always print money to pay their bills, taxing everyone through inflation. But there is no way to raise the real money needed to pay off the vote-buying of the last 30 years. ~Bob. Excerpt: Twenty days remain before the federal government is set to default on its loans unless the debt limit is increased, and the two sides appear to be further apart than at any time in recent weeks. That distance — on both the rhetorical and policy fronts — has led to a creeping pessimism among elected officials and party strategists that neither side will budge before it’s too late. “Right now, I’m very worried,” South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told ABC’s Jon Karl about the prospects of a deal. “If I were a betting man, I’d bet no.” If Graham is right, both parties are headed toward a massive political showdown with neither side certain what lies on the other side. Polls taken in the runup to the default deadline suggest that the American public is deeply divided on who they might blame if a deal isn’t reached.

Excerpt: In "a shot across President Obama's bow," Democratic former Mayor Ed Koch yesterday urged voters in Queens and Brooklyn to make "history" by voting for the Republican candidate to replace randy ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner in the Sept. 13 special election -- as a protest against the White House's policy on Israel. Koch -- a staunch ally of Israel -- said he would "vote for Bob Turner" if the Republican-Conservative candidate backs Israel and opposes cutbacks to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. "If Jewish New Yorkers and others who support Israel were to turn away from the Democratic Party in that congressional election and elect the Republican candidate to Congress in 2011, it might very well cause President Obama to change his hostile position on the state of Israel and to re-establish the special relationship presidents before him had supported," Koch said in his weekly commentary.

You can leave the military, but it never really leaves you
Excerpt: Occasionally, I venture back out to the air base where I'm greeted by an imposing security guard who looks carefully at my identification card, hands it back and says, "Have a good day, tech sergeant." Every time I go back onto Charleston Air Force Base it feels good to be called by my previous rank, but odd to be in civilian clothes, walking among the servicemen and servicewomen going about their duties as I once did, years ago. The military, for all its flaws, is a comfort zone for anyone who has ever worn the uniform. It's a place where you know the rules and know they are enforced. A place where everybody is busy but not too busy to take care of business.

Distributed Solar Power
And when the Green policies means that working class and poor folks can’t drive, light or heat their homes, what will they do? Raise taxes on to pay for it, under some “justice” claim. ~Bob. Excerpt: Producing electricity close to the point of use -- called distributed generation -- eliminates the need for long-distance transmission lines. Solar photovoltaic technology ("solar") generates power using panels of semiconducting cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Solar is one of the most widely used distributed generating sources, say Olufemi Olarewaju, a junior fellow, and H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow, with the National Center for Policy Analysis. A key challenge to widespread solar power use is high equipment and installation costs. In the United States, solar power costs two to three times as much as the average cost of electric power in many states. However, unlike a centralized power grid -- power plants linked to distant consumers through transmission lines and transformers -- distributed generation does not require an extensive infrastructure, making it preferable for certain applications such as street lights and traffic signs. Many developing countries lack modern electrical grids outside of major cities, making distributed solar power an attractive option. In rural sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 95 percent of the population has no access to electricity. Cost is one of the greatest barriers to the spread of solar power in sub-Saharan Africa. Fortunately, in most of these countries, solar prices have declined, the efficiency of solar systems has improved and income has increased. Consider: A decade ago, a solar system capable of powering a few light bulbs and maybe a small television or radio cost the equivalent of 100 percent to 300 percent of the annual income of a rural household. Today, the cost of a comparable solar system ranges from half the annual income of an average household to approximately 150 percent. Solar power may not be the best choice for many uses, but it does have a role to play for a growing number of people. Developing countries, especially, can benefit from the increased use of distributed solar power, say Olarewaju and Burnett.

Green Technology Mandates Are Bad for Consumers and the Environment
Excerpt: Recent government promotion of "energy efficient" consumer products has increased sales of various household appliances, such as washing machines and toilets, and light bulbs. These products have been touted as environmentally friendly. However, the performance of these products is often subpar, reducing energy savings or environmental benefits. They also have other drawbacks, including safety hazards, say H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow, and Wesley Dwyer, a policy intern, with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Consider light bulbs. The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act effectively banned the sale of incandescent light bulbs, starting with 100-watt bulbs in 2012 and progressing to a ban on 40-watt bulbs in 2014. The alternative for most households will be compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Unfortunately, CFLs contain mercury -- a potentially serious hazard to consumers if the bulb is broken. CFL bulbs have also exploded spontaneously while in use, sometimes resulting in fires. In addition to the safety risk, a CFL bulb can cost six to 10 times as much as an incandescent. The energy benefit of CFLs is that they use less electricity to produce the same amount of light. However, because laboratory conditions rarely match typical use, consumers rarely save that much. Consider: CFLs must be left on for at least 15 minutes at a time and used continuously for several hours a day to achieve their full energy savings, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. CFLs can take up to three minutes to reach full brightness when turned on, say manufacturers, initially providing as little as 50 percent of their rated output. CFLs used for only a few minutes at a time, such as in closets and bathrooms, burn out as fast as incandescent bulbs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The federal government should cease interfering with consumer choices for household goods and appliances, say Burnett and Dwyer.

Important: Five Uncomfortable Facts About the Wonderful, Horrible Debt-Limit Debate: Don't believe the hype. And it's all hype.
Very balanced discussion. ~Bob. Excerpt: It's all debt limit, all the time, it seems. Everyone's talking about what may or may not happen when the U.S. government finally butts up against its legal borrowing limit on August 2. That's the date that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the feds will max out the credit lines that account for about 40 percent of all current spending. A quick explanation for the uninitiated: The debt limit or debt ceiling concept dates back to 1917.Prior to that date, Congress had to specifically approve any new borrowing done by the federal government. For convenience's sake, Congress then decided to periodically approve increases in its credit line so that the government could borrow without a vote as long as the total outstanding amount didn't bust through the cap. The current cap is $14.3 trillion. The debt limit includes both debt held by the public (that is, by outside investors, which comes in at around $9.7 trillion) and "intra-governmental holdings" or debt owed by one part of the government to the other, which comes in at around $4.6 trillion). The debt limit has been increased more than 100 times since it was instituted and 10 times in the past 10 years alone. The Washington Post's "Fact-Checker" column has recently called the debt limit a "MacGuffin," a term used by Alfred Hitchcock to describe "a device used to propel the plot forward, even though it may be meaningless." That's because while the debt limit is important, it really represents the pretext of a battle over spending and revenue between Republicans and Democrats, with each side waving away the other's claims. The Dems are basically saying that if the limit isn't increased yet again, all sorts of horrible calamities will befall the United States. A minority of Republicans are arguing that the limit doesn't need to be raised while most are using the looming deadline as a means of extracting concessions on spending and revenue issues down the line. Stuck in the middle are the American people, us poor schmucks who are footing the bill one way or another.

Is a Home a Good Investment? An analysis of home-price and ownership data for the last 30 years in California indicates that the average single family house has never been a particularly stellar investment, says Robert Bridges, a professor of clinical finance and business economics at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business. In a society increasingly concerned with providing for retirement security and housing affordability, this finding has large implications. It means that we have put excessive emphasis on owner-occupied housing for social objectives, mistakenly relied on homebuilding for economic stimulus, and fostered misconceptions about homeownership and financial independence. We've diverted capital from more productive investments and misallocated scarce public resources. Between 1980 and 2010, the value of a median-price, single-family house in California rose by an average of 3.6 percent per year -- to $296,820 from $99,550, according to data from the California Association of Realtors, Freddie Mac and the U.S. Census. Even if that house was sold at the most recent market peak in 2007, the average annual price growth was just 6.61 percent. So a dollar used to purchase a median-price, single-family California home in 1980 would have grown to $5.63 in 2007, and to $2.98 in 2010. The same dollar invested in the Dow Jones Industrial Index would have been worth $14.41 in 2007, and $11.49 in 2010. In light of this lackluster investment performance, and in the aftermath of the recent housing-market collapse, why is there such rapt attention to the revival of the homebuilding industry and residential property markets? The answer is that for policymakers whose survival depends on economic recovery, few activities have such direct, intense and immediate positive economic impact as new home construction. Owner-occupied homes will always be the basis for healthy and stable neighborhoods. But coming generations need to realize that while houses are possessions and part of a good life, they are not always good investments on the road to financial independence, says Bridges.

Gun Control explained

Brown supports pension forfeits
In a Capitol Hill crackdown on political corruption, U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Wrentham) is co-sponsoring a bill that would end pension payouts to members of Congress convicted on corruption charges — even if the charges target action that took place after they left office. Brown, who is facing several Democratic challengers in his 2012 re-election campaign, said he signed on to the measure in an effort to target “the whole go along, get along culture up here.” “It’s important. The American people deserve a high level of ethical standards,” said Brown, who has recently criticized Beacon Hill after a corruption conviction against former House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi. “You see what’s happening back home with three speakers indicted,” Brown said. “Members of Congress who are convicted of criminal offenses should lose their pension. It’s that simple.” The bipartisan bill, filed by Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, expands a 2007 law that revoked pensions of those convicted on corruption charges. (Well, hardly worth running for office if you lose your pension over a little larceny. ~Bob.)

Islamic Boarding School Siege Enters Third Day
Excerpt: The siege at an extremist Islamic boarding school in Indonesia dragged into a third day on Wednesday. Armed members of the security forces still being prevented from entering the compound of the Umar bin Khatab Islamic Boarding School in Bima, Sumbawa, after a homemade bomb exploded on Monday evening, killing school treasurer Firdaus. Reports indicate the deceased was an alleged Philippine-trained bomber, who was instructing students in bomb-making when the device exploded. School officials and armed students have prevented police from entering the building since Monday’s explosion. Eleven people have been taken in for questioning, but police on Wednesday were forced to admit that at least two teenage boys were mistaken as students from the school.

Obama Aims for the Money You Don't "Need"
Excerpt: Over the past several weeks, America has seen on grand display in Washington a singular mindset emanating from the White House: We must raise taxes so that we can keep on spending. This week, though, America was treated to something different—a glimpse inside President Barack Obama's mind, a roadmap of his economic worldview. And what was revealed was a philosophy that is fundamentally at odds with America's job creators.

Excerpt: Separation of mosque and state, anyone? More about the LASD's Muslim Community Affairs Unit from, via a somewhat sloppily written piece on their site: Steve Whitmore, LASD Senior Media Advisor, confirmed the Muslim Community Affairs Unit receives taxpayer funds approximating $128,400 per year for two full time Deputies. When this reporter asked Mr. Whitmore if any other , religions, had a LASD Community Affairs Unit and received equal taxpayer funds, Whitmore replied, "There are no other religious Community Affairs Units in the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department." For the LASD to meet the Establishment Clause threshold for "government neutrality toward religion" Sheriff Baca would have two options. First, Sheriff Baca would have to establish and manage Community Affairs Units with two Deputies and a $128,400 budget, for each recognized religion under his jurisdiction. The second option would be to dismantle the Muslim Community Affairs Unit in accordance with the Establishment Clause.

Egyptian Muslim Ring Uses Sexual Coercion to Convert Christian Girls: Report
Not everyone seems to be enjoying the “Arab Spring” so beloved by our media. But these are only Christian girls—who cares about them? ~Bob. Excerpt: The number of Christian girls abducted and coerced into converting to Islam since the Egyptian "January 25 Revolution" has skyrocketed, according to Father Filopateer Gamil of St. Mary's Church in Giza. "More than two to three girls disappear everyday in Giza alone," he said. "The cases that are brought to public attention are few compared to what the numbers actually are." Many Christians blame the military council for not intervening to put an end to this problem, which has escalated after the Revolution because of the "emergence of Muslim Salafists," says activist Mark Ebeid, "who believe strongly that converting a Christian Infidel is in some ways like earning a ticket to paradise -- not to mention the earthly remuneration they get from the Saudis."

Large contingent of Hindus from Pakistan arrives in India
FYI, “Restive” is media-speak for Islamic terrorism. ~Bob. Excerpt: As many as 600 Hindus, including women and children, arrived in India via Attari land border on Monday. Custom's deputy commissioner RK Duggal said that the group arrived here on pilgrim visas. Sources at Attari said that these Hindus, largely from Sindh province of Pakistan, had expressed their desire to permanently settle in India and have come with a large quantity of luggage and household goods. Many of the visitors had relatives in Indore, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, said sources. Their leader Banwari Lal told security forces and customs staff at Attari that this was for the first time that such a large contingent of Hindus from Pakistan had arrived to permanently settle in India due to restive conditions in Pakistan. In the past, some Hindu families had been arriving India on board Samjhauta Express to settle here. Many of them have been living in Amritsar also, they added.

Iran's Supreme Court misunderstands Islam, calls for death penalty for Christian convert from Islam
Excerpt: It is stories like this that make the smooth deceptions of Muslim spokesmen such as Salam al-Marayati, M. Cherif Bassiouni, and Ali Eteraz so dangerous. They assure us that Islam has no death penalty for apostasy, despite Muhammad's words, "Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him." If al-Marayati, Bassiouni and Eteraz were sincere, they would be denouncing the Iranian action here and working against it, instead of attacking Western non-Muslims who dare to point out the grim reality of Islam's death penalty for apostasy.

Thousands flee Nigerian city hit by Islamist attacks
Excerpt: Thousands have fled the Nigerian city of Maiduguri over the past two days fearing more Islamist attacks and after soldiers were accused of shooting civilians, residents said Tuesday.

Unruly passenger on flight diverted to Cleveland faces federal charges
Excerpt: The unruly passenger who caused a commercial jet flying from Chicago to Germany to divert to Cleveland Friday is facing federal charges. The FBI said Monday that Saleh Ali S. Alramakh, aka Saleh Ali S. Alramaleh, age 21, of Riyadh Saudi Arabia, has been charged with interference with flight crew members and attendants.

Hollywood cancels shooting of film about Jews in Malmö: Area too hostile toward Jews
Excerpt: Malmö in south Sweden is about to become one of the first cities in Europe with a Muslim majority. According to the newspaper The South Swedish, a Hollywood movie director has cancelled plans to shoot a film about Jews in the area due to the well known fact that Jews are not safe in Malmö. The many calls for suppression, violence and murder of Jews in the Qur'an probably plays a role in the precarious situation for Jews in Malmö.

AP sources: Feds eye CIA officer in prisoner death
Excerpt: A CIA officer who oversaw the agency's interrogation program at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and pushed for approval to use increasingly harsh tactics has come under scrutiny in a federal war crimes investigation involving the death of a prisoner, witnesses told The Associated Press. Steve Stormoen, who is now retired from the CIA, supervised an unofficial program in which the CIA imprisoned and interrogated men without entering their names in the Army's books. The so-called "ghosting" program was unsanctioned by CIA headquarters. In fact, in early 2003, CIA lawyers expressly prohibited the agency from running its own interrogations, current and former intelligence officials said. The lawyers said agency officers could be present during military interrogations and add their expertise but, under the laws of war, the military must always have the lead. (…)  The witnesses and officials agreed to discuss the case only on condition of anonymity because they were told not to speak with reporters. (…) Al-Jamadi's death has twice been reviewed by the Justice Department and prosecutors have declined to bring charges. Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed a new prosecutor, John Durham, to investigate CIA interrogation tactics. (First, I hope the judge overseeing the grand jury reads this AP report and finds these “witnesses and officials” in contempt—and in violation of all sorts of laws—and jails them—for speaking to reporters. (And, since they almost have to be CIA employees, it makes you wonder how “secret” they are keeping any classified information they know; so, revoke their clearances.) Second, this is clearly a top-down political decision if two previous investigations—and prosecutors—declined to go forward with the case. Ron P.)

President Obama Executive Order 13575 Rural Councils

Majority of voters want (Britain) to pull out of the EU because of economic chaos
Excerpt: An overwhelming majority of voters want Britain to withdraw from the European Union – with support draining away thanks to the economic chaos surrounding the single currency. A poll released to the Daily Mail shows the public would vote by 50 to 33 per cent to abandon Brussels if a referendum were held tomorrow, a huge lead of 17 points. The poll shows the euro crisis has turned conventional political wisdom on its head and will fuel demands for David Cameron to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Brussels.

Reading The Forbidden Fruit
Excerpt: …[O]ur society has told the kids reading was good for them and “important.” They’re not stupid. Of course they don’t want to do that. Now, TV and computer games, those are bad for you and therefore they must be fun, right? I got told that reading was a time-wasting, no-good folly. I got told books would rot my brain. I got told I thought too much and lived in cloud cuckoo land. And I read every chance I got and in the most unlikely places to do it. I did the same with the kids. It worked. (The writer, Sarah Hoyt, is the respected author of several science fiction novels. If anyone follows the link at the bottom of the essay to the longer version on her website, it’s titled “I am not the Arthur,” and it isn’t the top post. Ron P. Interesting approach. I was discouraged from reading comic books. Also my dad used to give me hell about being in my room reading a book, when I could be spending time with the family—watching TV! Go figure. I still average about a book a week, and pile them up faster than I can read them. ~Bob.)

Official Treasury Report: Coffers Full Enough to Cover Entitlement Programs, Veterans, Federal Salaries--without borrowing a dime
Excerpt: Specifically, according to the Daily Treasury Statements, as of the close of business on May 16, the federal government had taken in $1.333454 trillion in tax revenues since the beginning of fiscal 2011. By the close of business on July 7, tax revenues for fiscal 2011 had grown to $1.629630 trillion. Therefore, between May 16 and July 7 the federal government took in a total of $296.176 billion in new tax revenue. In that same time period, total interest payments on the national debt equaled $14.632 billion. Thus, the new tax revenue of $296.176 billion the federal government took in between May 16 and July 7 was enough to pay the federal government’s $14.632 billion in interest obligations during that period 20 times over.

Egypt's Rising Power Player
Excerpt: Amr Moussa is on track to succeed Mubarak. And that spells danger for Israel … And yet, with the vote planned for sometime this fall, the frontrunner is none other than Moussa. Drawing support from a whole array of disparate groups, he's far ahead of his leading challenger, Mohamed ElBaradei, even though ElBaradei is a big favorite among the anti-Mubarak protesters who filled Cairo's
Tahrir Square
during the winter. More than anything, they sought a sharp break from the policies and the regime that ruled Egypt for three decades of repression and mismanagement. A break, that is, from the likes of Amr Moussa. What's his secret? Many people admire the 74-year-old's dignified bearing and his smoky baritone, but that's only part of the explanation. What his supporters love most is his long and vocal history of anti-Israel diatribes. Speaking at his Arab League office looking out on
Tahrir Square
, he made no secret of his anger against Israel. "The peace process has become a dirty word, because we discovered it was just [an Israeli] trick to continue talking and make the cameras flash … but there's no substance. We shall not engage in such a thing anymore. Never."

The grass is greener on the ethanol model side
Excerpt: Miscanthus grows in thick stands up to 13 feet tall in test plots in Illinois. It does well on marginal land without being fertilized, so using it as a biofuel feedstock instead of corn would eliminate a major source of air and water pollution, Davis said. Nitrous oxide, a byproduct of the fertilizers used on cornfields, “is actually a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide,” she said. “Both switchgrass and miscanthus are perennial grasses, which means that you don’t have to till every year, you don’t have to plant every year, so there’s much less soil disturbance happening than with corn,” Davis said. “And because the root system remains in place year after year, there’s more carbon going into the soil.” (Ethanol from corn is now being attacked by environmental science. So, in 15 or 20 years, the subsidy might be seriously contested. We might even end it in three or four generations. Ron P. Notice the price of meat at the store? Feed, mostly corn, is more expensive thanks to ethanol. Whenever government tinkers with the market to do something “good,” unexpected bad things happen. But they never learn. ~Bob.)

Obama Tells Republicans They Should Cave On Debt Deal Because That’s What Reagan Would Have Wanted…
Excerpt: Do it for the Gipper. That’s the pitch President Obama made to Republicans on Tuesday as he continued to push for a “grand bargain” on raising the debt ceiling. In an interview with CBS News, Obama again invoked Ronald Reagan as an example of how a president and a Congress controlled by an opposite party can find common ground. “Ronald Reagan repeatedly took steps that included revenue in order for him to accomplish some of these larger goals. And the question is, if Ronald Reagan could compromise, why wouldn’t folks who idolize Ronald Reagan be willing to engage in those same kinds of compromises?” Obama said.

Hezbollah Sets Up Shop in Mexico
Excerpt: A Tucson Police Department memo from September 2010 has been leaked onto the Internet by hackers, and it warns that Hezbollah has set up shop in Mexico. The terrorist group has linked up with the Mexican drug lords, and is even said to have a large arms stockpile in the country. Terrorist groups are looking at the raging drug war in Mexico as an opportunity to further their deadly ambitions. The memo recalls that a member of Hezbollah was arrested in Tijuana in July 2010 who was tasked with setting up a network for the terrorist group. It also mentions the April 2010 arrest of Jamal Yousef in New York City, who told the authorities that he worked with his cousin to steal weapons from Iraq for Hezbollah. According to Yousef, a stockpile of 100 M-16 assault rifles, 100 AR-15 rifles, 2500 hand grenades, C4 explosives and anti-tank weapons is presently in Mexico.

I’ve come to believe we should pull all funding from the UN. ~Bob. Excerpt: Perhaps the most amazing attribute of the United Nations is its boundless capacity to discredit itself. Whether through inaction or action, it never ceases to show the world what a farce looks like. The latest example is North Korea’s accession to the presidency of the UN Conference on Disarmament. This is the same North Korea that has been caught shipping illicit weaponry overseas, testing long-range missilery and detonating nukes—all in violation of UN resolutions. As The Wall Street Journal reports, “The jokes are flying all around the world over this”—and rightly so. The UN is a joke. Here are some of the more recent punch lines. Given that the disarmament panel focuses on “cessation of the nuclear arms race…nuclear disarmament…and prevention of an arms race in outer space,” it’s ironic but typical of the UN that joining North Korea on the disarmament panel are China, Pakistan and Iran.

To Kill IPCC, Cut the Cash
Excerpt: I would suggest that many people think that the UN policies on “global warming/climate change/wealth re-distribution, emissions trading, etc” emerge only from the annual Conferences of the Parties, (COPS), such as Copenhagen and Cancun, but I would guess that not many are aware of the regular policy forums and meetings which occur almost on a monthly basis, driving forward the climate agenda, regardless of the serious and frequent blows dealt to the purported science behind that agenda.

Ayn Rand on Israel and the Middle East
Excerpt: The politically incorrect guide to why the Arab world hates the Jewish State:

Compassion vs. Guilt in the Age of Barack Obama
Excerpt: Surely at some point in his long-admired writing career Thomas Sowell has grown frustrated. What to do when the same issues arise over and over again in the national debate and he’s already addressed them many times only to continue to be ignored by a political Left unwilling to deal with inconvenient facts? Compassion Versus Guilt and Other Essays is the first collection of Sowell’s newspaper columns and features his selections from 1982 through 1986. Most of the pieces are as fresh and relevant today as when they were first published.

Sharia Comes to Public Schools in Toronto
Coming soon to a PC school near you. ~Bob. Excerpt: It’s rare that I see a photograph that makes my blood boil in anger. Or that leads me to share the opinions of Toronto Star columnist Heather Mallick. But a picture published in Saturday’s Star managed to do both in one afternoon. The photo depicts a row of girls, sitting in the cafeteria of Valley Park Middle School in Toronto. The row is segregated behind a mass of students who are participating in an Islamic prayer service. The reason the girls in the back are not praying is because – wait for it – they have their period. One is tempted to say: is this the Middle Ages? Have I stumbled into a time warp, where “unclean” women must be prevented from “defiling” other persons? It’s bad enough that the girls at Valley Park have to enter the cafeteria from the back, while the boys enter from the front, but does the entire school have the right to know they are menstruating?

Battleground America: The Presidential Wars
Excerpt: The temper of mind of the current occupant of the White House has led to considerable controversy and much speculation respecting causes and origins. For some, like Stanley Kurtz and Dinesh D’Souza, Obama’s strange and troubling attitudes are not hard to fathom and track to their source; his insecure past, random upbringing and dubious influences may well have given us the third-rate and self-regarding dilettante orating on the national stage today. For others, mainly among a skeptical lay populace, the president remains something of an enigma. But most of his critics agree that, as the intellectual ward of sundry leftist ideologues, his lack of any significant political accomplishments prior to his elevation to the presidency and the crippling dearth of fresh ideas and original solutions to national problems should come as no surprise. Whatever factors might account for his lack of fit—D’Souza, for example, believes that Obama is motivated primarily by an anti-colonial rage learned from his father—it is becoming increasingly clear that Barack Obama is egregiously unqualified for the highest office in the land. This is not to suggest that he is entirely without gifts. He does command a potent rhetorical flair, albeit with the help of his ubiquitous teleprompter. He flashes a winning smile when it suits. He knows how to target and malign his adversaries, a technique he picked up from the writings of his mentor, Saul Alinsky, which he has followed with exemplary fidelity.

Perry's Taxpayer-Funded Home Could Pose Political Hazard
Excerpt: For almost four years, Perry has resided in a lavish rental home tucked into the hills overlooking the capital city of Austin, a house that has been publicly financed to the tune of over $700,000 thus far. At a time when the language of belt-tightening drives grass-roots GOP politics like little else, Perry would likely face scrutiny over whether his personal lifestyle choices befit a candidate who has made vast spending cuts a cornerstone of his platform.

Weakening Washington's Middle East Influence
Excerpt: After a month in North Africa, the Levant, and the Persian Gulf countries, I am still unsure what these uprisings have in common, if anything. The regimes that suffered these blows are themselves different from place to place, for all authoritarian regimes are authoritarian in their own way—Husni Mubarak was no Saddam Hussein, nor even a Bashar al-Assad. Perhaps our eagerness to see the upheavals as one wider movement is less a representation of reality than a reflection of how the Middle East is understood by large segments of the American intelligentsia—a habit of mind that of late was most powerfully expressed by President Barack Obama. It was during the June 2009 Cairo speech,[1] after all, where Obama transgressed the borders according to which Washington maintained and advanced its interests, describing the region in terms of Muslims, a Muslim world that is by definition borderless, transnational, and not specific to the particular circumstances of history, geography, and politics that give nation-states their character. Obama's Muslim world is amorphous, more like a sentiment than a physical fact, something perhaps similar in nature to the "Arab Spring."

Quote Of The Week (So Far!)
From The Weekly Standard e-newsletter. You can subscribe here:
Jefferson is considered the founder of the Democrat Party.
"To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, 'the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.' If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra taxation violates it." —Thomas Jefferson, 'Letter to Joseph Milligan,' April 6, 1816.

Parting Shot: Tim Pawlenty
Excerpt: A few months ago I made a friendly bet that Tim Pawlenty would be the 2012 Republican nominee. Don't worry, it wasn't for much money. But I stand by my (counterintuitive) proclamation. Really, I do. Here's why. First, pay no attention to early polls. They are a poor, poor indicator of the race. The first caucus is half a year away. Second, recognize that Mitt Romney is a flawed candidate. His best decision in years has been to focus on the economy above all else. But his liabilities remain: his evolving positions on social issues, his single term as governor of Massachusetts, his health care plan, his failure to demonstrate broad appeal in the 2008 primary, etc., etc. Third, read the Henry Olsen essay linked to above. Olsen reminds us that ideological conservatives do not have a controlling interest in the Republican party. The "somewhat conservative"—dispositional conservatives who don't think ideologically and are more comfortable with the welfare state than the Tea Party—have determined the GOP nominee since 1964. That's why Republicans have nominated politicians like Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Robert Dole, and John McCain. Dispositional conservatives, Olsen writes, favor nominees with experience. They also prefer conservatives with mainstream appeal. That's why the two most conservative Republican nominees since 1964 have been Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. By 1980, Reagan was an established political commodity. And Bush was a two-term governor of Texas known for his "compassionate conservatism." Now use process of elimination. Assume that support for Romney is as soft as it was four years ago. Assume that Michele Bachmann's relative inexperience and rock-ribbed conservatism will be her undoing this time around. Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich are also too conservative for the dispositional types. Jon Huntsman is John Anderson in new clothing. Who's left? The two term governor of a purple state who's conservative but doesn't frighten moderates and independents. The guy with a working class background who can unify the right and center, who may not be flashy or charismatic but is honing his message and doing exactly what winning candidates have done in the past. Yes, all this assumes a lot. Romney is a stronger candidate than he was four years ago. Bachmann is savvy and likable. But remember: By this point in the 2008 cycle, everyone, myself included, had written off John McCain like they are writing off Tim Pawlenty now. I won't make the same mistake twice. See you next week. And don't forget you can write me at --Matthew Continetti

Bachmann Surges in National Poll, Perry Makes Strong Debut
Excerpt: A new national poll from Quinnipiac University finds Michele Bachmann climbing in the ranks of Republican presidential contenders, while Rick Perry makes a strong showing in his first appearance in the poll. Mitt Romney still leads among Republicans and Republican-leaning voters, netting 25 percent of the vote, but Bachmann is on the rise. She would get 14 percent of the vote if the Republican primary were held today. A month ago, she would have received only 6 percent.

Cleaning the cobra pit
And we complain about our jobs! ~Bob.

MAP: The Never-to-Be State of 'South California'
Excerpt: It will never happen, but if you’re wondering what that proposed state of “South California” would look like, geographically and politically . . . (That territory belongs to Mexifornia! ~Bob.)

'Pastafarian' wins religious freedom right to wear pasta strainer for driving licence
Excerpt: Niko Alm announced the decision on his blog saying that after three years of struggle a psychologist had passed him fit drive and so he could wear the kitchen implement for the official picture. A self-styled "pastafarian", Mr Alm said he belonged to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which lampooned religion. "Today I was able to get my new driving licence, and in it you can clearly see that I'm wearing a colander on my head to demonstrate my allegiance to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster," Mr Alm wrote in his blog. "My headwear has now been recognised by the Republic of Austria." The spaghetti church was founded in 2005 in opposition to pressure on the Kansas school board in the United States to teach the theory of intelligent design in biology class as an alternative to evolution, and since then it has engaged in a light-hearted campaign against religion. Key to the beliefs of pastafarians is that the world was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but, owing to the monster being inebriated at the time of creation, it has a flawed design. (If they didn’t let him, they’d be labeled “Pastaphobic.” May not be an issue, though, because I haven’t heard of any Pastafarian suicide bombers murdering folks for the Flying Spaghetti Monster. ~Bob.)

New York Times Posts Spanish Translation of Immigration Article
Excerpt: The New York Times has already attracted attention for an article published last week by Damien Cave that examined the apparent decrease in annual illegal immigration numbers, attributing the pattern partly to improvements in Mexicans’ quality of life. But the media has paid less attention to the Times’ relatively novel decision to post a Spanish translation of the front-page article on its website. The original English version was posted on the website on Wednesday, while a Spanish-language translation provided by Reforma, a Mexican paper that publishes regular Spanish translations of Times articles, was posted one day later due to translation delays.

What if the Right and the Left are both wrong about why the economic recovery is so slow? A new theory.
Excerpt: That’s the claim of Amir Sufi, a finance professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. The data tell a compelling story, he argues: “The main factor responsible for both the severity of the recession and the subsequent weakness of the economic recovery is the deplorable weakness of the U.S. household balance sheet,” which is, Sufi shows, “in worse condition than at any other point in history since the Great Depression.” Because Sufi’s argument makes so much intuitive sense, I started digging into the data for myself. And the information I found supports his thesis. … SO THE DATA seem to support Professor Sufi’s thesis, and, if Robert Hall’s Presidential Address to the 2011 meeting of the American Economics Association—which focuses on the housing collapse and the impact of high household commitments to debt service, as well as rigidities in financial instruments and policies—is any indication, academic economists are beginning to pay attention. (Hall cites Sufi’s work.) But what does this mean, in practice, for public policy? (I wonder if Professor Hall is tired of people sending him my essay, “I’m Tired.” This is a left-wing publication. Nothing about the administration pushing banks to write even more risky loans to minorities without the income to service them. ~Bob.)

Olympic National Park warns hikers: Don't wee in the woods
Excerpt: After a fatal attack by a mountain goat on a hiker last fall, officials at Washington's Olympic National Park are urging visitors not to urinate along some backcountry trails because the resulting salt deposits may attract the animals. According to the Peninsula Daily News, the no-pee advisory for Hurricane Ridge and other areas of "high goat use" is part of the park's new "mountain goat action plan" that includes keeping at least 50 yards away from all goats and closing trails for up to two weeks if visitors encounter aggressive, threatening behavior. (Yeah, this is a serious solution to a serious problem. I’m willing to bet there were more $10 million (or more) lottery winners in the USA than people killed by mountain goats in the past year. Maybe the goat was just irritated he didn’t win the lottery. Or, maybe he was just Gruff. And, did anyone tell the bears? Our tax dollars, hard at work. Ron P.)

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